Pastors and Preachers who use the radio to reach the masses are a special breed of human being. Piously convicted and yet very often, marginally informed, they use the airwaves to invade the mind and draw others unto mostly themselves. Radio preaching, or shall we just say, preaching is one of the only places where a normal human being can loose his mind, act out and both speak and reason in ways that would get him or her kicked out of every other work environment in the world.
The radio preacher is on his own. He can say and do and express himself in just about any way he chooses and we are all conditioned to tolerate the sincere, no doubt we can hope, foolishness that assaults our senses and at times, tickles our funny bones.
Recently a radio preacher informed his audience the reason Bathsheba, who seduced horney King David, was named thus was because she was taking a "Bath." Argh, Argh and Half and Argh! I wrote and asked if she had been taking a shower, would we then call her "ShowerSheba." No response.
Also recently, I listened to a very astute, yep probably one of the most scientifically ignorant men on the radio, make a sincere effort to convince the audience that the story of Jonah surviving three days and three nights in the great fish, while he got to consider whether he wanted to obey God and become fish vomit, or disobey and become fish poop, was literally true. It's not literally true. My sense of being swallowed by a large ocean going predator would end in being suffocated or drown relatively soon after and digested beyond repair rather soon after that. Pinocchio sitting on a three legged stool at a small fire in the belly of the whale waiting for a solution to the dilemma just seems contrived, yet also seems to have captured the imaginations of preachers.
He cited the amazing story of a sailor named James Bartley who was swallowed by a sperm whale off the Falkland Islands. About thirty-six hours later his fellow sailors found him, unconscious but alive, inside the belly of the animal. The story is bogus. It never happened and ranks as one of America's earliest urban legends. However, in the world of radio preaching, emotional convictions, and men who refuse to do their homework first, this pastor once again used it to convince others of a literalism in the Bible that was never meant to be taken as such. Ministers in general, like the writers of the New Testament, are adept at making a scripture mean what it never meant. What would never work in a college term paper, works just fine in many religious writings. They called it Midrash. A critical thinker would call it dishonest and misleading.
At any rate, I sent the information on the urban legend nature of his story to the pastor because I just knew he'd want to know. Wrong.... After a brief comment about him noticing an Obama ad on the article which right there seemed to give him an out, and that the material was obviously from the "secular web", he simply said he'd check it out but didn't like my attitude. I'm pretty sure he'll find the confirmation for his view on the "religious web," but I had done my part.
Radio preachers LOVE the Book of Revelation! Well they all do actually. Now there is a money maker for them if ever there was one. Full of Vials, Plagues, Trumpets and Trombones, it can easily be updated to fit the times that anyone lives in. It is easy to filter out the words "to show unto my servants (2000 years ago) the things which must SHORTLY come to pass," along with an ending that assures the reader, "behold I come QUICKLY."
Preachers, (or was it the writers of scripture?) learned long ago that fear, guilt and shame sell and certainly motivate and control. You can grow a church well in the manure of hard times and fear mongering. Our day and age is the perfect time to start your own church or grow a complacent one. However, pious conviction, as I said, coupled with marginal information and spread with raw emotion and threats of eternal judgement is also a great way to breed down the road disillusionment and anger.
We can over look the fact that the Book of Revelation is an already failed early Jewish Christian rant against the great Beast of the Roman occupiers of Jerusalem in the early first century. Perhaps between January and September of 70 AD to be exact. We can ignore that the False prophet against whom these rabid Jewish Christians were raging against may well have been the New Testament's star performer, and ardent foe of Jewish Christians, the Apostle Paul.
It is Paul that wretched the Jewish Jesus out of all their hands and twisted him into a Cosmic, somewhat Pagan Christ. It was Paul, most likely that Jesus was praising the Ephesian Church in the Revelation, for taking to task, as an Apostle of Jesus and found him wanting. After all, Paul lamented that "all in Asia had forsaken him," and Ephesus, a Church Paul said he was an Apostle to, is in Asia. As with most Apostles, Priests and Kings, Paul was able to blame them for the problem and not himself. It never seems to dawn on some that when "everyone" forsakes you, it might not be the "everyone else" that has the problem.
The Religion of the Occident by Larson sums up the failed nature of the Book of Revelation about as well as anyone could.
"Revelation was the swan song of Militant Jewish Christianity. When Jerusalem was destroyed, when Rome waxed greater and more powerful, when the False Prophet (The Apostle Paul to Jewish Christians and the one found wanting in the letter to Ephesian Church in Revelation) gained more and more followers, when the book itself was proved totally false within two years , when it became evident that the Jewish messiah-Christ would not come, the Hebrew Christians lost their virility and their cult faded under the combined assault of orthodox Judaism and of Gentile Christianity." (Religion of the Occident. Larson. Page 479.)
This information about the nature, origin and ultimate failure of the Book of Revelation to come to pass as it was meant to, due to the unexpected and utter destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in the Fall of 70 AD is too hot to handle for those so inclined to read the book, to this day as a newspaper. One will not hear that the Book of Revelation is a failed first century Jewish Christian rant against the Apostle Paul and his Gentile and pagan views of Jesus, the Cosmic Christ, , who he never personally met in his life, ever quoted in his writings or spoke of any real life events of any earthly Jesus that died just a few years earlier in his hometown.
With Paul being such an ardent persecutor, as Saul, of "that way," we can hardly imagine this Pharisee of the Pharisees would pass up a shot at confronting the real Jesus in his own city. However, the Gospels never heard of any Saul the Pharisee evidently.
The Jesus of Revelation, not to be confused with the Jesus of the Gospels, summed it up rather nicely in the Letter to the Ephesian Church found in Revelation.
Paul to the Ephesians: "I am an apostle of Jesus"
The Ephesians to Paul: "No you're not."
Jesus to the Ephesians Church in Revelation: "Well done!"
Today, whether through religion screamed, yelled, panted, wheezed or shouted over the airwaves, or in the fundamentalist pulpits every week across the planet, ignorance is promoted. Pious conviction with marginal information. I'm speaking of those who feel they have the right to tell everyone how it all is and yet have little background in the very book they claim to know so well.
Many are mere Bible readers and able to tell the stories and proclaim their truths very well. The how and why of Bible story origins escapes them or does not fit into their own paradigm of what it is all about, however. This ignorance hurts others in the long run. Actually it can hurt in the short term as well!
Take Judaism, Islam and Christianity out of the news and world peace would break out tomorrow. From the most silly and entertaining antics of ministers and lone spiritual masters, to the most hideous and bizarre beliefs, demands and practices of those who follow, religion is a long way from making human beings better for it all. Christian soldiers just have to stop that "marching as to war" stuff.
Religion is what others pour into your head and usually requires one to be at certain places at certain times, hold a group belief, marginalize, attack or kill those that don't hold that belief and, of course, give ten percent of your income to the proper Deity. Spirituality however, is an inside job. It requires no one yelling at your from either your radio or pulpit to bring you inner contentment and peace. It has no demand that you show up somewhere once or twice a week to show you are on track with the group, and it certainly does not ask you for your money so the guy who gave you the information can buy a big house, new car or Rolex, so he can do "the work of God."
When assaulted by the fear, guilt and shame of radio preaching or even that from the pulpit, always ask if this pious conviction, for which we can't fault anyone, mixed with marginal information is true. Is it correct? Am I being given proper information on which I am supposed to make lasting decisions in my life? We have never lived in a time where checking out that which is meant to motivate us to adopt the views of others can be so readily checked out and other explanations considered. Frankly, the Internet is the bane of most fundamentalist preachers and any 15 year old in the congregation with a computer can give the Pastor hell over the views he affirms are literally true and just how the Deity sees it all too. A local fundamentalist college just down the stree here in Greenville, SC only allows select Internet access on the college system. Looking outside the Internet box will get you in big trouble. Sad isn't it?
Remember, if someone endeavors to convince you about the truth of Jonah by being piously convicted that the story of Jonah just has to be literally true, yet does it by promoting a false tale using marginal information, you might have to ask what else in this story each week may be suspect.
Pious conviction with marginal information is not our friend.