Here's a story for you. A newspaper I was reading talked about a Reverend Billy in the United States, who although no ordained minister, was out with his church choir every day, preaching against consumerism. He is the founder of the Church of Stop Shopping. He marches into a shop and lays his hands on a cash register to exorcise the demon out of the machine. And his choir, acting like a Greek chorus, sings anti shopping hymns. In another example, the Church of Scientology is spreading its wings and opening up centres world wide. That religion is based on some writings of a science fiction author. Can it get any weirder one thinks.
Yet at the same time, the statistics of church goers to the more traditional churches in the western countries show a huge decline in attendance. The catholics, protestants, methodist and anglicans and others too numerous to mention, are not going to church anymore. And the evangelists are pulling them in by the thousands, are producing enough videos and films to keep TV channels humming and having the punch to populate radio stations. Let's see what they will get up to on the internet coming soon to a computer near you.
What is it that the hoopla of the evangelical movements can deliver to people that the traditional churches are missing out of. Is it the entertainment value to the sessions perhaps? Is it the fact that there are strong youth movements, the children are looked after, while the parents are also catered for, with other words it is a family outing? Is the preacher more enthusiastic than the ones found in the traditional churches? Possibly these are all factors, but I don't think they really put the finger on the problem. For me the reason why the evangelical movements are so powerful is because they preach a belief system that ensures that the followers, are true followers. You are told what to believe, and no analysis or thought is required or encouraged. Talking in tongues is pretty much an indication of the brain having shut down.
Does the traditional church spend too much time and effort on rationalising religion? No I don't think it is that either. The traditional churches had it right in the earlier years where they treated their followers with some peculiar ways. If you had sinned you had to pay, repeat a certain number of prayers and were promised hell and damnation if you didn't toe the churches line. Every now and then one member of the congregation would get tortured, a woman would get burnt as a witch, just to keep the ordinary folk in line. That doesn't mean that the evangelical movements necessarily are as harsh with their congregation, but they expect a blind following and adherence to doctrine. Of course there are some extreme movements where the followers have killed themselves for their chief and his beliefs.
So it is the blind faith that makes these fringe religious movements so popular. Or at least that is a large component of the whole package. It seems to me that the human race has a major problem in making decisions for themselves, which is what allows them to be lead, whether it is by some insane religion, TV advertising, popular opinion, TV reality shows where the audience actually buys into the fake scenario, soapies, movies, celebrity lives, thin models and many more instances where it seems that no logic pierces the befuddled mind of the man in the street.
Not being able to make a decision for oneself is one of the prime reasons for the unhappiness and restlessness that one can see everywhere. The huge numbers of gurus, life coaches, books, DVD's that are out to help people find their personal power, inner balance, passion, life journey etc indicate that there is a huge disenchantment in people. They know its not happening for them. But they just don't know what the solution is. Many people then attach themselves to religious cults because somehow this particular evangelist or guru seems to have the answers, and if they follow that, then possibly the answers will come to them as well. In terms of life coaching, I have come across one series of teachings which is worth considering, if you are feeling restless, powerless, unable to motivate yourself and generally disenchanted with life. For more to move forward to greater well-being and happiness visit http://www.anjamerret.blogspot.com
Anja Merret lives in Brighton, UK. She has recently started a blog and writes on issues that interest her from self-improvement, wealth generation, motivational thinking and anything else that amuses her. You are invited to follow her journey on http://www.anjamerret.com
She now looks after the business interests of her daughter who is a Flash and Accessibility expert at http://www.niquimerret.com