Not every religion is doing so well in these horrifically materialist times.
We haven’t seen any Jehova’s Witnesses here in the Pond for longer than the Men’s Wearhouse has been advertising on TV.
And even the Salvation Army seems to have become mercenary, refusing to take away some of my fine clothing, deeming it not good enough for their poor.
So please raise a hosanna to the First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale.
This southern Florida city is a place where so many good people go to die.
It was refreshing to hear, therefore, that God is not as interested in the Hollywood Writers strike as you might think.
The First Baptist Church has employed Broadway stage producers to deliver a Christmas pageant that makes Jesus Christ Superstar look like some 70s has-been trying to make a quick buck selling pot to high schoolers.
They have spent $1.3 million, a veritable feeding of the five thousand (well, six hundred in the cast, to be precise) to bring alive the Christmas story in a way that has Cecil B. DeMille wishing he had invested in cryogenics.
The Church’s Rev. Mike Jeffries put things in appropriate perspective:
“We are having to compete against many theatrical things around the country, whether it’s MTV or the Rockettes.”
Why is this so hard for people to understand? Two thousand years ago, there wasn’t much information about anything. People were still prepared to worship effigies, animals, wheels.
Today, churches have to fight them over here so that they don’t have to fight them over there.
If the weapons of today are music, fashion and star power, then churches have to feel like Neil Diamond’s Love At the Greek.
Or Genesis at the HP Center in San Jose.
What can possibly be wrong about spending the hard-earned collection plate coffers on an experience that will lift up the sternest facelifted Floridian head?
As the estimable Cat E. Abrams, a First Baptist churchgoer who offered her views to ABC.com, explained: “I attend the Church. I agree it is a lot of money to spend on a paegent (sic)..how many of us can say that we show 1000 people to Christ and salvation in 3 weeks? Many of the people who attend the (sic) paegent are Jewish or Catholic or non-practicing and wouldn’t fathom stepping inside a Protestant Church, but having such an elaborate production is something of interest and draws people to the Church where Jesus can touch their life.”
Wouldn’t Cat E. Abrams be an improvement on Paula Abdul?
While Paula really doesn’t have much of a clue about the role that marketing plays in modern entertainment, Cat E. is channeling the spirits of Metro, Goldwyn and Mayer.
She understands that the role of the Baptist Church is to convert those Hollywood Jews, Catholics and non-believers who are polluting our media and our society.
If more megachurches had the marketing acumen of the First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale we would have more wholesome fare such as High School Reunion and less sinful entertainment such as Mean Girls and the CBS News with Katie Couric.
Cat E. understands the sheer redundancy of preaching to the converted:
“If just one person comes to Christ through this performance, it is worth it. It is everyone’s duty to feed the hungry and help those less fortunate, but the Church also has a duty to show the lost to Christ.”
I will admit that we in the Pond feel lost on a daily basis. And we are prepared to accept Cat E’s offer of $1.3 million in order to effect (no, no, not affect, no. Be gone, Satan) our conversion to the righteous way.
I understand that there are two types of Baptists.
Firstly, we have the General Baptists who escaped persecution in England for the Netherlands. General Baptists believe that Christ died for everyone.
Then there are the Particular Baptists, who believe that He only died for the Elect. The Chosen Few, in other words. The Chosen Few, one might assume, comprise only those who call themselves Particular Baptists.
Well, we are happy to become either.
In fact, we hereby open our hearts to the highest bidder.
Which megachurch is willing to bid for this poor PondDweller’s soul?
Please speak to my agents, Cat E. Abrams and Associates.