Monday, October 12, 2009

Philly LOVE

Yesterday we decided to head into Philly for the day to do nothing really, but just be in a new and different environment. We had no plan, agenda, or schedule. It was a gorgeous fall day so we just walked around...

We listened to a band outside on the Avenue of States, ate lunch at Buca's, ogled the giant clothes pin and jumped about on the huge game pieces across from the William Penn Building.We parked in a parking complex that spit us out right at a cool little street festival that was sponsored by local Gay organizations and honored gay pride. So, we walked around at that too. Go figure, what gay-oriented event would be complete without a small but loud ragtag group hanging out right in the middle of it shouting stuff about sinning and repenting into a megaphone. And, for real, can these people hook up with a good P.R. person or learn some better marketing because it's like they all come with these junky white signs with too many words handwritten in black marker crowded on the poster board and it always looks like those serial killer ransom notes where you cut out letters from magazines and tape together some loosely psychotic run-on sentences. No offense.

So, they've set themselves up at a festival acting as the mouthpiece of God. I guess God must have done a bunch of shouting and berating or something... That megaphone was just blaring non-stop with all kinds of antagonistic sounding stuff that's not inviting to ANYONE to listen to; gay, straight, Christian or non-Christian... I mean, this megaphone dude seriously never took a breath. He probably drank a bunch of Red Bull prior to his protesting. Or perhaps, just drank a wee too much of the proverbial Kool Aid.

And you know what I was thinking? Well, many things, but mainly I was having quite a giggle imagining the brilliant "think tank" behind Operation Convert The Heathens:

"Hey guys, I have an awesome idea! Though we go to every gay rights march and parade and we never seem to accomplish anything that puts Christianity in a positive light, let's go down and shout about sin and repenting and stuff. It'll TOTALLY work this time. Yeah, they'll hear us screaming at them in our megaphone... you know, just like how Jesus did... didn't He used to stand on the streets and shout at people as they walked by like a man who skipped too many doses of Lithium? It toooootally worked for him and all... "

Yes, I'm sure God was SO proud looking down at this display...

So, I start wondering if the goal of this group is to evangalize and "spread the good news" and all, ya know, to convince people to follow the Bible and become Christians, then I'm not sure how they're thinking this is the best way to do it. Are people really drawn to a group that is chastizing and shouting non-stop about nothing remotely helpful or loving? That tends to have the reverse effect. I'm wondering why they haven't found a different tactic to acheive their goal and then, it suddenly hits me!!

AH HA! The light bulb goes off. These megaphone shouters are SAYING they're trying to save our souls, bring us closer to God, to the Church, but NO -- that is NOT their true objective at ALL. You see the uber pious, "cast thy judgement" type people NEED us "sinners" or else they have no one to whom they can feel morally superior! And HELLO... that's their whole shtick - without the "heathen liberals" and "gays" and "baby killers" to look down upon, this group can't feel moral and self-righteous. And that's the whole gig - getting off on moral superiority, right? I thought I saw it in their mission statment once.

I mean, the self-righteous need people to sneer at... those who come to church not "dressed appropriately," have a child out of wedlock, or *gasp* voted the "wrong way" at the election! And on top of it all, this subgroup of people give Christians as a whole a bad name. I know quite a few Christians and they don't even OWN megaphones (unless they hide them from me) and are some of the kindest most generous spirits you'll meet.

And speaking of people giving others a bad name. I feel bad for Jesus. Like, seriously, was this innocent, kind hearted man reeeallly hanging on that cross, suffering one of the most torturous, gruesome, and undeserving deaths so we could shout out of megaphones at a gay festival or blow up an abortion clinic? I don't know... I'm only a liberal, non-church-going Episcopalian and all, but I'm going out on a limb here and guessing this wasn't exactly his focus...

I understand that the Bible does indeed address sin and rule following and right and wrong and repenting. But, while I'm no expert, I thought the main focus of the Christian bible was love. L-O-V-E, people. Isn't that the crux of all religious organizations? Isn't love supposed to be more powerful than hate, judgement, condemnation and pride? Isn't it what is supposed to save us all from ourselves and each other? Love. I totally stink at it myself, but I don't profess otherwise. And I certainly can't get down with anything that doesn't help me be a better person. I'm already good at being judgemental. I don't need any help with that.

Love. I wish I could read about it less and see it evidenced more. You want to sell me on something that will save my soul? Sell me on THAT.


And by the way, we had to wait like 20 minutes to get this picture taken so I'm pretending I'm not annoyed the dude cut off the top.


erika said...


Corrie Howe said...

Great picture. We went to Philly eight years ago...I'll never forget it because Jonathan screamed the last hour drive home and another hour in a restaurant. Then he screamed for a month every time I buckled him into his car seat. But other than that I'm really glad to visit. It was one of the places I wanted to see before I died.

I profess to be a Christian and it pains me to see and hear stories like this. I understand why many people don't care to know more about the God they are preaching.

I hope you don't mind, I thought I'd share my thoughts. And if you chose to delete them because you feel/think they are inappropriate for your blog, I will understand.

You are right that God is about love. His two greatest commandments are to love Him and then love our neighbors, as ourselves. I'm sure you are familiar with John 3:16 "For God so LOVED the world that he gave his one and only so that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have every lasting life." And Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own LOVE for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us." And John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."...

I don't know where it is in the bible, or even if it is actually in the bible, but one of my favorite hymns is "They will know we are Christians by our love."

But there is a balance between the "hell, fire and brimstone" message of people like you heard and the message of God's love, which many others share. If I didn't understand God's standard of justice, I couldn't fully understand the depth of his LOVE and sacrifice of his son for me.

I've been studying the bible for over twenty years and only in the last two years have found the liberty that comes with understanding Jesus' message. He came to free us from rule-keeping. He knew we couldn't live the type of life, free from sin, that he required. So Jesus lived that life for us. If we believe this and claim this promise as our own, then God will only see Jesus' perfect life whenever He looks at us.

After we believe this "good news" of freedom from rule-keeping, Jesus sends his Holy Spirit to help us in all the areas where we are weak.

For me, I'm also very judgmental. I've learned if I'm judging someone then I'm not loving them as God would want me to. It is hard to judge someone and help them, pray for them, encourage them, etc. Likewise, if I'm helping them, serving them, putting their needs above my own, then it is really hard to judge them.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I find it very helpful to know how I might be doing more damage to Jesus' message of hope and freedom. This way I can grow...hopefully in grace.

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

So with you on this, Alicia!

Jacquie said...

How is it some moms can admit to handpicking a booger out of their kids hair and others can't? I am of the booger picker variety, and my husband has two sisters who are not.
Good to know I'm not alone out there....
I grew up in the Philly area, and have seen a few of the people you speak of. My family went to the Phillies game, and it happened to be gay pride night. One ass was screaming away, and holding banners in the stand that they were going to hell. There's a womans clinic not far from where we live (cherry hill) and every Sat there's people protesting. A shame their not spending their time working at a womens shelter or habitat for humanity so the "choice" could be easier for those who may not see a choice.

Nancy Campbell said...

Thank you for following my blog. And, having just read this post, can I tell you that I AM SO GRATEFUL that somebody else sees that those people with the megaphones do not speak for me.

As a (gasp!) liberal Christian, I feel like my faith and worldview has been hijacked by bigots.

Beth L. Gainer said...

Really enjoyed this posting about the megaphone mega-idiots. As a Jewish liberal from NYC, I've been on the other end of the megaphone.

I agree with you that the crux of religion -- any religion -- should be "love." I have another theory why some people like to accuse others of sin: these self-righteous people feel insecure about their own innocence and salvation and take it out on the rest of us!!

Cristie Ritz King said...


Elizabeth said...

Yeah--it's good just to laugh at those folks. I recently saw some pathetic people standing at a nearby corner with the pastiest faces and the most godawful signs. I wanted to tell them to go home, get a job or something but I just shot the peace sign and walked on by. Maybe the shouters and screamers fancy themselves the modern day prophets, like Ezekiel et al -- those bearded, emaciated men screaming in the desert. I think we call them schizophrenic now.

Michelle said...

Hey it's Michelle from Welcome to my world...I'm just stopping by all of my followers pages because I had changed my url to reflect the new changes in the blog and blogger is not redirecting traffic like i thought it I want to make sure everyone has the new URL...hope to see you there!

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