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Last updateMon, 29 Jun 2015 7pm

LOS ANGELES Wednesday, July 1st 2015 2:08

 IT'S ABOUT R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Using The N-Word

Clinton Galloway
WHO WE ARE-Somehow it has become acceptable to use racial slurs as long as they are directed at yourself. The fact is they are rarely directed at you but to someone else. The most glaring example of this is the use of the N-word. I need say no more because we all understand what the N-word is. The extensive use of the word in modern hip-hop and…

‘LA Is Not Designed To Work’

Jack Humphreville
LA WATCHDOG-The City of Los Angeles is a sprawling enterprise with 32,000 employees and an annual budget of $8.6 billion. But according to Rick Cole, the City’s former Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation, “LA is not designed to work." Our City’s operations are relatively simple compared to Los Angeles County and other large cities such as New…

SCOTUS Supports the People, Okays California’s Citizen-Driven Redistricting Commission

Deirdre Fulton
NO MORE SECRET BACKROOMS RUN BY POLITICIANS-In a decision hailed as a "major victory for voters," the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld an Arizona ballot initiative, adopted by voters in 2000, which took redistricting power away from elected politicians and gave it to a nonpartisan commission. The 5-4 decision (pdf), which saw Justice Anthony…

To Latinos Trump Is Bad News

Fred Mariscal
LATINO PERSPECTIVE-This past week businessman Donald Trump announced that he will seek the 2016 Republican nomination for President. We all paid attention to his speech, not for great policy ideas but because he said that “When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending the best. They're not sending you, they're sending people that have lots of…

Supreme Court Aftermath: Meet the New Haters, As Repugnant as the Old Haters

Ken Alpern
HATE POLITICS-The Supreme Court has spoken...again and again and again. And now we're encountering a group of New Haters, as repugnant as the Old Haters, as we discover who is REALLY on the side of Love, Country and Humanity versus that once-marginalized group of emotionally- and intellectually-stunted individuals who now somehow think they're not…

About Time! Neighborhood Councils, NC Alliances: More Comment Time at City Council

Erik Sanjurjo
GUEST WORDS-On Saturday, Council President Herb Wesson gave the keynote speech before the 100+ Neighborhood Council board members and stakeholders gathered for NC Budget Day in City Hall. He announced that in the next Council term he will be folding in neighborhood council related issues under his Rules & Elections Committee, partly to help…

Councilman Parks Sidewalk Repair Plan: Bypass Union Workers

Sharon McNary
CITY HALL-The city of Los Angeles has fallen so far behind on sidewalk repairs, it took a lawsuit to get officials to guarantee more than a billion dollars for repairs. It could take years before the work reaches residential areas because the city must still come up with a strategy for which sidewalks to fix first. But some neighborhoods are…

I Never Believed This Would Happen In My Lifetime

Andrew Sullivan
GUEST WORDS-As Gandhi never quite said … First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they attack you. Then you win. I remember one of the first TV debates I had on the then-strange question of civil marriage for gay couples. It was Crossfire, as I recall, and Gary Bauer’s response to my rather earnest argument after my TNR cover-story on…

Changing the Way We See Ourselves: Every American Should Adopt a Second Country

Andrés Martinez
TRADE WINDS-About 10 minutes into the soccer game, Sebastian’s cries of “here,” “behind you,” and “cross it” became cries of “aquí,” “atrás,” and “al centro.” I’d never heard so much Spanish voluntarily pour out of my ten-year-old. There is nothing like a hunger for the ball. And nothing like full immersion in a foreign language. I brought…

 



Thu Jul 30, 2015 @ 6:00PM - 08:00PM
A Taste of Chatsworth


Golden Oldie-Johnnie Carson & Betty White-Adam and Eve

Rude. Rude. Rude … orchestra deals with rude cell caller

Whoa! More than 280 million hits. Taylor Swift hit-Bad Blood

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

For Sale: 10,000 Panes of Glass and an Organ

RELIGION AND DEMOCRACY, MORALS, MARKETING AND MEGACHURCHES - If this year were like years past, the Crystal Cathedral, the Philip Johnson-designed Protestant megachurch in Garden Grove, would be abuzz with the “The Glory of Christmas” pageant, with angels suspended from ropes and with a parade of camels, horses, sheep, and donkeys. Not so this year. Bankruptcy is dampening the holiday spirit at the institution that once embodied the megachurch movement in the United States, and the pageant is off. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange has put up the cash to take over the Crystal Cathedral.


The Crystal Cathedral is certainly among the most famous megachurches in the world, but it is just one of many. Los Angeles and Orange counties have nearly 80 megachurches. They range in congregation size from 2,000 to 25,000 and include all races and ethnicities. In all, they claim over 350,000 congregants.

The question, now, is what the demise of the Crystal Cathedral may portend for megachurches more generally. Was this simply a story of changing demographics in Orange County, which has become more racially and religiously diverse? Perhaps. But it’s also possible that the megachurch model is, ever so slowly, going into eclipse.

Megachurches like the Crystal Cathedral have become successful by doing two things really well.

First, they use professional-quality entertainment and familiar (and often secular) cultural themes in their services to make their members more comfortable. Second, through these programs, megachurches have turned themselves into a destination for their members on days besides Sunday, and this creates a distinct sense of community.

One result has been the creation of a huge market in Christian consumer goods like T-shirts, hats, bumper stickers, and music. The church grounds are often campus-like, with bookstores, public gathering areas, and food courts—which of course serve Starbucks coffee.

Yet this large-scale consumerist model also entails immense costs: not only employees to run and track the many ministries and programs but also maintenance of the physical plants that support all these activities. Just think, for example, of the cost of maintaining a building made entirely of glass.

For this reason, megachurches cannot easily withstand drop-offs in attendance or membership, and they are compelled to compete with each other for religious market share. Who has the most members, offers the widest array of programs, and produces the glitziest Christian-oriented media?

This “keep building, keep growing” mindset necessitates more and more new programs and products to keep attracting new members. The results are often a form of “religiotainment” for seekers, and, whether the product is Christian-oriented positive thinking (“possibility thinking” in the parlance of the Crystal Cathedral’s Robert Schuller), T-shirts, CDs, or bumper stickers, the goal is to get people into the pews and make them want more.

Unfortunately for the megachurches, congregants have not always wanted more. Over the past decade, the megachurch model has been showing signs of giving way, slowly, to a more intimate spiritual culture. Some megachurches have even tried to accommodate this apparent trend by creating multi-site churches to give the impression that they are smaller than they actually are.

The new form of religious infrastructure manifests itself in churches that focus less on physical sprawl than on cultivating what they call a more “organic” understanding of religious organizations. The new communities are expected to have a birth, life, and—yes—even death.

These are generally (not always) smaller groups that rent space for their weekly worship services and spend a lot of time creating a spiritual and physical community of mutual care. They don’t put on big, highly produced pageants to draw in the masses; instead, they create space for anybody to come and join in worship. They see themselves as a part of local civic life and seek to play an active part in those communities as an equal partner, sharing with others rather than imposing their programs and vision on them.

What these groups also have in common is a more democratic form of authority, in contrast to the more top-down model that characterizes most megachurches (and indeed most religious organizations). These newer groups are taking authority and leadership out of the hands of the few and putting power in the hands of the many who make up the religious community of the church.

Whether this newer model will continue to gain ground is of course uncertain. Organized religion, after all, is about authority, and democratizing it may threaten religious institutions in ways we haven’t even thought of yet. Quite possibly, some of these new movements will succumb to the inevitable temptation to create their own empires, regardless of how “authentic” they may appear. For now, a model of shared, democratic religious authority is on the ascent, and it has more in common with grass-roots political activism or NGOs than it does with a church modeled on American business culture.

Regardless of what format people choose to worship in, the biggest social contribution that religious groups can make is to lend their moral voice to the cacophony in the public square. The examples of figures such as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray, formerly of Los Angeles’ First AME, remind us that the prophetic power of religion in civic life is about more than giving us what we want.

Ideally, it encourages us to engage each other in the pursuit of a just and moral society. If the form of religious community that emerges after the era of Crystal Cathedral and other megachurches embodies this potential, the real glory of Christmas may be just a bit closer to reality.

(Richard Flory is associate research professor of sociology and Director of Research in the Center for Religion and Civic Culture [link] at the University of Southern California. This article was posted first at zocalopublicsquare.org.  Photo courtesy of Kwong Yee Cheng.)

-cw

Tags: Crystal Cathedral, megachurches, bankruptcy, democracy, Christian, Christian consumer, Martin Luther King, Cecil ‘Chip’ Murray, First AME, Robert Schuller, religion, marketing, morals, Roman Catholics






CityWatch
Vol 9 Issue 102
Pub: Dec 23, 2011

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