Andrew Sullivan Goes to (Mega-)Church

Andrew Sullivan Goes to (Mega-)Church April 11, 2013

Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan attending David Kuo’s funeral. It was the first time that the Catholic Sullivan had attended an evangelical mega-church. The whole post is worth reading, but here’s the money paragraph:

What I guess I’m trying to say is that so many of us have come to view evangelical Christianity as threatening, and in its political incarnation, it is at times. But freed from politics, evangelical Christianity has a passion and joy and Scriptural mastery we could all learn from. The pastors were clearly of a higher caliber than most of the priests I have known – in terms of intellect and command. The work they do for the poor, the starving, and the marginalized in their own communities and across the world remains a testimony to the enduring power of Christ’s resurrection.

via The World Of Kuo « The Dish.

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  • Simon

    Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know that David Kuo had passed. It makes me surprisingly sad. (Surprising because I didn’t know him personally.) But he was young, and brave. He was willing to take positions that cost him jobs and friends for the sake of his intellectual and spiritual integrity. He also did this without being bitter (at least publicly).

  • When I hear of the great work for the poor, the marginalized, the starving, done by huge churches like the Roman Catholics or Evangelical mega-churches, I often feel like I am watching one of the TV commercials by Exxon/Mobile, or BP, explaining about how they do more work for the environment, and contribute more to jobs and the economy, than any other organization on Earth.

    Sure, these groups are doing a lot of good things. They certainly spend more money on “good work” than any other organizations on the planet. But how effectively are these large churches is addressing the core issues of poverty and marginalization? It seems, more often than not, the large churches work to maintain the status quo, rather than work for radical systemic change, and rather than effecting healing and empowerment at the local and individual level. Similarly, how much are petrochemical companies addressing core issues of economic disparity and sustainable energy use? More often than not, the large petrochemical companies work to maintain large concentrations of capital among the wealthy, and work to encourage the continued use of dirty, damaging fossil fuels while the discourage any alternatives.

    Just because the numbers are impressive does not mean a group is effectively addressing core problems at the systemic level, nor meeting real, human needs at the local and individual level.

    • Pax

      The social justice work done by the Catholic Church is very very decentralized and very local. The principle of subsidiarity is a big part of Catholic social teaching. There are thousands of charitable organizations within the Church that address different needs and operate independently. Some are big and some are small, and they pop up and grow organically. It’s not there’s some Catholic CEO somewhere ultimately directing all of the Church’s work on social justice. It’s nothing like big petrochemical companies doing some outreach to get the PR.

  • As a queer man, I actually have little use for Andrew Sullivan but that’s another post for another blog… This shows me how little he gets out of his own head. I have always known that good things that the Catholic Church has done for the poor and against the death penalty. I do not see things in black and white but realize the world is full of gray. Welcome to the real world, Andrew.

  • Vicki A

    A year ago, I attended my first funeral at an evangelical denomination. I was shocked. No twenty-third psalm, comforting prayers, and stately hymns. It was all a big warning to the bereaved that they had better accept Jesus. Good thing the deceased had or she’d be you-know-where.

  • This is a very encouraging quote. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • keith Titus

    two of my frustrations:
    1) I’ve never understood why it seems to be impossible to wed ecstatic joy to insistence on intellect.
    2) Through my years in the mission field i’ve observed that the theologically liberal write checks and the theologically conservative (and particularly, the theologically simplistic) get their hands dirty

  • Sounds like the guy went to a moderate evangelical church instead of a fundamentalist church. I started going to a mainline (episcopal) church in the past year and was shocked at how sharp our priests and congregation are. Which is why I found this comment puzzling: ”

    “The pastors were clearly of a higher caliber than most of the priests I have known – in terms of intellect and command.”

    Weird because generally the Catholic priests (and Episcopal) are much better educated than Evangelical pastors, who can get their God-chops from fundy churches, virtual degree mill or sometimes they don’t even have to have any formal training at all.