i was at the fitness club the other morning, sweating profusely on the treadmill, and nationally-known (but, coincidentally, local to me) tv preacher was on the tv (the same tv preacher i saw on the tv in my hotel room in lusaka, zambia, preaching a sermon for american independence day, about how the u.s. is god’s chosen country). there’s an array of tvs, and he just happened to be on the one i was near. actually, i was listening to serj tankian (lead singer of system of a down) on my ipod at high volume. but the tvs are set with no volume, but with subtitles on. i wasn’t actually paying attention, but i caught that he was preaching about mary magdeline, and how her life changed when she met jesus. ok, other than the suit, pretention, and entire format, i was ok with that premise so far. hence my not really paying attention.
until he turned it into a talk on addictions.
so… um… mary magdeline was addicted to what? sex? prostitution? what are you actually suggesting here about this biblical text, mr. tv preacher scripture twister?
now i was paying attention. enough to catch these final several sentences in their entirety:
(this is word-for-word, as best as i can remember)
“there are all sorts of addictions in our country. addictions to alcohol and drugs. addictions to pornography. sexual addictions. there are lots of programs trying to help with these. and some of them are helpful. but i want to tell you about a friend of mine who can really help you. i’m going to give you his name, and i’ll even give you his phone number. his name is jesus christ, and all you need to do is pray…”
(hold onto your seats — or treadmill handles, as it was for me — because here comes the must absurd, shallow, damaging, churchy lie i’ve heard in a while…)
“once you try jesus, you’ll never want that other stuff again.” end. let’s pray, and send in your money.
actually, they went to a marketing bit about an alaskan cruise hosted by this tv preacher and his wife.
i looked around to see if anyone was watching. i wanted to tell them, “look, i’m a follower of jesus. i know and believe the bible. and i just want to tell you that what you just read on that tv screen was a lie. and all christians don’t live in world of stupid-easy answers that don’t work and betray a shallow unexamined faith.”