18 September 2010

A chilling thought

Has anyone noticed that, these days, the fundamentalist Protestant churches market themselves as self-help, positive-thinking seminars? The local scary Elim crowd have big billboards by the side of the motorway saying "LIVE LIFE", complete with a white middle-class looking woman looking ecstatically fulfilled on a beach. You know, this kind of unnerves me because I always though that their message was "REPENT". But you tell people what they want to hear.

I was reminded of this, browsing in the Self-Help section of my favourite secondhand book store and seeing how many of the titles ("Be yourself! Allow yourself to succeed!" etc) were surplus from the library of some fundamentalist Protestant church or other. I knew already about the "prosperity gospel", but it kind of woke me up a bit to realise that these people are marketing The Lord And Saviour Jesus Christ as something that can motivate you to success in love and business. The Church of the SubGenius without the sense of humour. Or Scientology with all the really loopy personality cult stuff shaved off.

But of course, it will work. You go in there, you raise the Holy Spirit through pentecostalist measures, and of course that energy will be yours to use for whatever you think is important at the time. I must admit being unnerved that the sheikh of my local Sufi congregation also enthusiastically espouses "Think And Grow Rich" mantras. But if the technology is given to the middle classes, they will use it for middle-class purposes, no matter the flavour of the wrapping of the tasty treat of "raising the Spirit". All that energy goes into increasing one's acquiesence to the dogmas of the market economy. We need to do the opposite.