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Last updateMon, 27 Apr 2015 8pm

LOS ANGELES Monday, April 27th 2015 8:46

  • Issue: Bathing topless at Venice Beach

    Martha Groves

    Date: Apr 24, 2015

    Forty years ago, a cadre of Venice Beach sunbathers routinely basked in the altogether. 

    The Venice Neighborhood Council thinks the time is ripe to take a half-step back to that time of physical freedom. In a 12-2 vote Tuesday, the council said it "supports women being afforded the same rights as men to sunbathe topless." 

    There are so many more important things to be concerned about in Venice...this makes us look foolish. 

    The city and county of Los Angeles prohibit nude or topless sunbathing. But Melissa Diner, the Venice council community officer who sponsored the resolution, said the panel would draft letters to Councilman Mike Bonin, Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, which has jurisdiction over the beach, calling for Venice to be exempted.  (Read the rest.)  


Thu Apr 30, 2015 @11:30AM -
Town Hall: Raising the Minimum Wage
Fri May 01, 2015 @11:00AM - 02:00PM
Women for a New Los Angeles Luncheon
Fri May 01, 2015 @12:00PM - 05:00PM
Women for a New Los Angeles
Fri May 08, 2015 @ 8:00AM - 08:00PM
Greenlining Institute 22nd Annual Economic Summit in L.A. May 8
Wed May 13, 2015 @11:30AM -
Reflections on Leadership in the Museum World from an Outsider


Dr Oz digs in. I will not be silenced!

Puppy high for the day: Puppy battles doorstopper

 

 

 

 

  

 

 


Passing the Buck

The Buck Stops Here

Most men in the early west carried a jack knife made by the Buck Knife Company.  When playing poker, it was common to place one of these Buck Knives in front of the dealer so that everyone knew who he was.  When it was time for a new dealer, the deck of cards and the knife were given to the new dealer.  If this person didn't want to deal, he would "Pass the Buck" to the next player.  If that player accepted, then "the Buck stops here".

 


 

 

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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