Monday, December 4, 2006

Heretic or "New Theology"? Bishop Charlton Pearson

Have you ever stood outside... some place where it's hot, and just wished for a breath of fresh air? Well, I just felt one while listening to NPR. It wasn't a great, cool, "Winds of Change"kind of breath ... it was just a faint one ... a small whiff that moved the grass tops just a bit ... so faintly that you could miss it if you weren't paying attention. I'm always talking about why American (and especially Black America) needs to update its theology, knowing that we'll never be a monolythic people, SEVERAL updates ... hell ... newer versions completely are in great need. But I'm getting a head of myself.
The story was about a modern American "Heretic" and "This American Life" began the story with:

"The story of Reverend Carlton Pearson (pictured), an evangelical pastor in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His church, Higher Dimensions, was once one of the biggest in the city, drawing crowds of 5,000 people every Sunday. But several years ago, scandal engulfed the Reverend, he was denounced by almost all his former supporters, and today his congregation is just a few hundred people. He didn't have an affair. He didn't embezzle lots of money. His sin was something that to a lot of people is far worse ... he stopped believing in hell..."
The power of this story is not that the good Revern got himself in trouble by using his God given brain to actually think about his subject ... it was that ... well, it's a viewpoint long overdue.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" goes the old saying. Well, it's obviously broke and the current nation-wide Meth / Crack / OxyContin epidemics prove it. Transpersonal Psychology says that addicion is a spiritual emergency.

In, "Reality Isn't What It Used To Be," Walter Truitt Anderson discusses the strange combination of issues we're currently walking around feeling ... or choosing not to feel. "We still have the same pre-modern Gods, yet we live in a postmodern world and it seems the theologians haven't kept up pace with the Space Age we entered 30 years ago ... let alone define The Divine in our post-modern, alienated, fantasy-fueled, drama ruled dysfunctional world of The New Millennium.

We're still battling with worn out, premodern concepts like:
  • "God took my parents" *sniff* (where? ... um ... WHY??)

  • God as Santa Claus (i.e. "If I'm a good boy, God will give me a new Mercedes!")

  • If Jesus Chist lives only at MY church ... what's going to happen to good old Hapka at work?

So ... what exactly should religion do for us?

  • Religion is supposed to help us make sense of our world.

  • It's supposed to help us see The Divine increasinly in ourself and in others.

  • It should give us the faith we need to be adults. (It's said you can't be a man without faith.)

  • It's tasked with providing us with enough strenght to embrace "The Other" ... and the other isn't just the man or woman we hope to marry ... in todays world ... it's pretty damn near every body other than the person walking around in our shoes ... most days...

We obviously have enough guilt and shame. Guilt and shame are the key ingrediants for addiction ... as well as for Mental Illness... so shouldn't we have more guys and gals like Bishop Pearson walking around instead of fearfully nailing him OUT of the chruch ... because ... well ... because he's showing the emperor's lack of clothing ... despite all the money we've been giving so he could buy some?


Dangerfield said...

Excellent post dog I to believe that the black church is out of date and even neglignent when it comes to issues like aids.

That said part about it is that thier negligence has resulted in hundreds of black people bieng infected.

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