Jim and Tammy's son turned out really well, and maybe we should remember his mother a little more fondly. Here he is in an interview with Don Lemon:
His Revolution Church is just a few blocks from where I live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It meets in the back of a bar on Lorimer street on Sunday afternoons (Pete's Candy Store, an old candy store made into a bar). Yes, I've been there a couple of times. I felt old there. The crowd was very young, I suspect mostly children of evangelical parents, alienated from their religion, though not from their faith. I haven't heard Bakker preach, though the sermons I've heard at Revolution Church were very good and spoke to my inner universalist and antinomian. On political and economic issues, they might even be a little to the left of my Episcopal parish which is saying a lot. Jay Bakker may look disturbingly radical in Dallas, but in Williamsburg, he vanishes into the crowd. A friend of mine had to point him out before I even noticed him, even at his own church. I plan to go back and visit again, though I can't imagine it as anything but a supplement to Episcopalianism for me, which is what I think he intended. I'm quite happy in the Episcopal Church and happy with my parish. Besides, as I get older, I get more Catholic. The sacramental side of Christianity matters a lot more to me than to most of those from evangelical backgrounds. I insist on Eucharist on Sunday mornings.
He points out in the interview that his take on faith has caused him nothing but trouble, including a round of bankruptcy. Despite that, he won't back down.
In the interview with Don Lemon (an openly gay man for those of you who don't know), he makes an excellent point that I've always thought since boyhood. The whole business of hell is for the purpose of frightening children and infantilized adults into conformity. So many of these fundamentalist and evangelical churches could not work without it. They can do without heaven, but they really need hell. They need members, and prospective members, to always feel those sulphurous flames upon their feet. I've never believed in such a place. If there is hell, then we make it for ourselves and can leave it anytime we wish. I agree with Jay Bakker, a loving God would never make such a place. God is not the stern frightening caricature of a father figure that these folks imagine (or as one Southern writer put it, the god of the Southern Baptists is "a mean old granddaddy home from a three day drunk"). God does not run a protection racket.
Here is Bessie Smith singing a really dark blues song for all of those who want to feel God's belt across their backsides.
Susan S sends this remarkable video. Watch the crowd reaction.
Watching again Jay Bakker in the interview with Don Lemon makes me miss the Summary of the Law which used to open the Rite I Eucharist:
Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment; And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
I wish they would bring this back into the Eucharist. To me, it all boils down to that. The only "test" anyone needs to pass is that of loving God and neighbor, and loving God is meaningless without loving neighbor. The rest is beside the point.
I read all the doctrinal and canonical quibblers in the comments thread over at Mark Harris' blog, all the ones going on and on about the fine particulars of who can be in and who is out and why, and I can't help but come away thinking that they are missing the whole point. I also come away from those comments feeling exasperated and asking "Why bother?"