Sunday, September 19, 2010
A "Come Pray With Me" Rally Comes to My Hometown
I spent so long churning out my travel posts, that now they are complete, I am at a loss as to what to write about. One could well advise me--as I used to admonish my son--that it is okay to have an unexpressed thought. He did not take my advice either.
I decided to ease back into regular blogging by addressing this piece of fluff (h/t to Kirk for the suggestion.) Our local paper carried a lengthy article on a "Come Pray With Me" prayer rally to be held tomorrow. No doubt there are good reasons why I should not write about this event. As an Orthodox Christian, my time would be better spent in prayer myself and trying to acquire a little humility along the way, rather than poking gentle fun at the public prayering of others. But on the other hand....there are some events that simply demand a you can't be serious? response. And this particular prayer extravaganza--far removed from the guidelines of Matthew 6:6--seems to fit that category. Also, the whittling-down of my vices can charitably be characterized as imperceptible. If any progress is made, however, I expect that I will probably cling to sarcasm the longest. Finally, this rally is being held in my very own neighborhood. How could I possibly not comment on that which comes to my little community?
From what I read, over 50 churches from all over East Texas are planning to rally in Bullard. The organizer is pastor Dan Cummins of the "interdenominational" Bridlewood Church in Bullard. Frankly, I have never understood the difference between nondenominational and interdenominational. "This is promising to be the largest prayer rally in East Texas history," according to Cummins. That is no small claim for our area. More than 2,000 people are expected at the local Bushman Celebration Center. The prayers will be interspersed with "performances by a community choir...a mixture of patriotic and spiritual melodies." The Color Guard for the Sons of the American Revolution will also perform.
To be expected, the promoters are billing the event as nonpolitical, simply "praying for the direction of the nation." Around here, if an event proclaims itself nonpolitical, you can rest assured it will be anything but. But by stating this, they can at least claim that they are something more than the Teapublican Party at prayer.
I was intrigued by Cummins' motivation to host the event. Most preachers behind these "Wake Up America" rallies draw from the well-used well of Revelation, or perhaps Ezekiel. This one, however, found his inspiration in I Samuel (I Kingdoms.)
Cummins believes there is a strong correlation between what is happening in America now and what was happening in Israel 400 years after the Biblical exodus from Egypt. While studying less than two months ago, Cummins noticed the parallel between the Old Testament story, found in the first 11 chapters of the Biblical book of Samuel, and America's situation today.
"My jaw dropped," Cummins said.
"Here's your sign. Pay attention, wake up America."
Israel was facing "a fundamental transformation in government, redistribution of its wealth, a cry for globalism, a war on terror, the moral failure of a politically correct clergy, judicial legislation, the absence of God's presence in the town square and no Ten Commandments," Cummins said.
Really? That's an awful lot to get out of I Samuel. I have not spent a great deal of time in these passages through the years. But I have read them. Somehow I missed the verses about activist judges, the war of terror, socialism and globalism. This reminds me of a scene from Tuna Does Vegas, the last play of the Tuna Trilogy, a satirical look at small town Texas. Finding themselves in Sin City, Vera Carp quickly succumbs to the lure of the slot machines and blackjack tables, while Bertha Bumiller vainly tries to make her see reason. Having run through all available cash and credit, Vera frantically calls home, instructing Mr. Carp to sell her great-grandmother's china to raise more money. Bertha finally pulls out the religious argument, admonishing Vera that gambling is a sin--it's in the Bible. Vera looks at her suspiciously and asks, "Where?" Bertha replies, "Oh I don't know. It's in there somewhere." To this, Vera quips, "there's a recipe for tuna salad in there if you know where to look for it," as she resumes her slots. Maybe pastor Cummins just knew where to look for the war on terror in I Samuel.
But there is more.
Cummins believes America is facing many of the same issues today.
Jamestown was founded in 1607 -- 403 years ago -- and the stock market crashed on Oct. 9, 2008 -- the Day of Atonement that year.
Cummins believes all of these dates are significant.
"History repeats itself because we don't learn from it," Cummins said. "To expect a different result from the same behavior, that's madness."
Of course! It is a mystery to me why no one has never before connected the dots between the founding of Jamestown, the stock market crash of October 9, 2008 and the Day of Atonement, and drawn the obvious parallels between those events and Israel 400 years after the Exodus. This also causes me to wonder what believers in other nations do when they read I Samuel? By this, I mean how do they interpret scripture that was clearly written for us, the good ole U S of A, the new Israel? And let no one doubt that the rally has God's blessing, as He had apparently spoken to pastor Cummins about the matter. A fellow pastor assured us that "when I heard Dan's heart for the rally -- If I had ever seen anyone God had spoken to about something, it was him."
Seriously though, I should not be waxing sarcastic about this rally which, when you get right down to it, is really rather silly. And the abject shallowness of our Americanist public religion has been exposed time and again, by those much more eloquent than I. Piling-on yet more evidence takes no great skill, and if anything, showcases my own spiritual immaturity. And yet, this sort of thing continues to get under my skin. Individualism, patriotism, capitalism, conservatism (as understood), moralism, our national exceptionalism--it's all there, except perhaps the one thing needful.