Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jay Bakker

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?"


susan s. said...

Thanks, Doug. The link led me to this one
which is very telling. . .

Now I will listen to Bessie.

June Butler said...

Wow! The apple fell far from the tree on the paternal side but perhaps not on the maternal side. Jay is amazing. Thanks for the video. I knew nothing about his church or his ministry.

Tammy Faye was way ahead of her time in extending a compassionate hand to people with AIDS. Her compassion bore much fruit in her son. Credit due.

Is it possible to outdo Tammy Faye in camp dressing?

Counterlight said...

Thanks Susan. That was great and it's now posted here.

Underneath all that campy pancake makeup, Tammy Faye turned out to be a real mensch ... and the gay boys loved her for all of her campiness.

June Butler said...

Whoa! Suddenly everyone went quiet. Jay has courage.

Peter Schweitzer said...

I love the comment he makes around 13 minutes in, when talking about the way religion is used in political campaigns, that "it's like a skit".

PK Phil said...

Amazing how someone can be accepted by taking extreme positions and others fall all over them like their intelligent and cutting edge. Where is the objectivity? When will the opposing view get such an undersranding, non critical host? Jays comments that Jonah in the whale was not literal, but, "satire"?
I suppose the crucifixion and all the apostles persecuted deaths were a joke to Jay as well?
All the Christianity I grew up with made it clear that we hate the SIN but love the SINNER. Come on Jay, from one pk to another pk, what an embarrassment. The Bible was not given to us for us to temper it to our own liking. Learn it, live it, love it.
Oh the three words given for hell, that's no new revelation. How about defining each one and figuring out which one Jesus came to save us from?
Or is that satire too?

Counterlight said...

The Bible is not a science textbook, an oracle, or a cudgel, either.

PK Phil said...

No the bible is not a science text book, but science has never hurt the bible only helped it and even validate it. The bible surely is not a cudgel, but even the apostle Paul said we should preach the word as the Oracle of God. Where is your scripture for the bible as a novel?

Counterlight said...

The Bible is what it says it is, a testament, witness to God's acts in history. It is witness recorded by very partial and fallible human beings. The Muslims are the ones who believe that God wrote their holy book.

Counterlight said...

Besides, truth for Christians is not a book but a Person, the Word made Flesh.

pk phil said...

So you separate God from his word? Again a sorry anti bible ideal. "Holy men wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." Many writers, one author. If you have so little faith in the bible, why do you bother to talk about it? The falliblity of the men ought to testify to us the power of the God who authored the infallible Bible. Suppose you don't believe the bible is the infallible word of God, right? Just. A good novel.

Counterlight said...

I don't believe the Bible is the Quran, as you seem to believe.

"The letter killeth. The Spirit giveth life."

As I say, Truth for Christians is a Person, not a book.

pk Phil said...

I am a Christian. "We have found him of whom Moses and the prophets wrote about". The Old Testament pointed to Jesus the New Testament does the same! I am thankful for the infallible Word of God for without it Jesus would have slipped into obscurity. I understand that in Christ alone we have salvation, but you can't separate Jesus from his word, the word written foretelling him or by him or about him. To just discount the Word and call ourselves "Christian" because we like portions of things Jesus said, would be like following Ghandi, MLK, Confucius or some other leader or philosopher. Jesus said; "if you reject him and the words he says you have one that judges you, the words that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."
My comments have been strictly within the context of the Holy Bible, I never referenced anything remotely about the Quran, the Bible in my opinion is unrivaled by any other writings. But, I guess in summary to our communications, readers will certainly know by all that you have written, that counterlight has at the least a lack if trust of the Bible, at worst almost a disdain for it. Thanks for the open forum, I've enjoyed the freedom!

Counterlight said...

I trust the One that the Bible is about.
Because of that, I take the Bible very seriously, but I don't take it literally.