I have just come back from a holidaying in a place with Sky TV. I have not watched TV for a few years. I know us vicar-types need to keep-up-to-date with what's going on and everything but the internet and the radio helps with that. I never meant to give up TV and it wasn't for pious reasons, I just got to the point a few years ago when I found myself channel-surfing more than actually watching anything, as I attempted to find something worth watching.
The children watch CBBC and so I now tend to forget that there are actually other options for our entertainment: our telly is set to default to CBBC.... So on holiday, I got to take a look at God-Channels and oh brother, did they make me glad to be Anglican.
These channels offered Spring Water, guaranteed to bring you miracles and the Bible Green Prosperity Handkerchief, which will supernaturally clear your debts.
When Peter Popoff, pops off, I rather wonder how he is going to explain his television campaign in the next life.
Now maybe Jayeeesus is not the Jesus of the Anglican Church, he certainly is hard to recognise. One of the worst lines that we heard from Peter Popoff, as we gave him a few minutes of our time, was that Jayeeesus came to give us life in abundance...but wait for it ...Peter tells us ...'how can Jayeessus expect us to do that without money.' Oh dear! I have a feeling that Jesus might have been saying that the abundant life has very little to do with material wealth!
I have looked at the Barth-Brunner debate over natural theology and point-of-contact. Barth speaks an emphatic 'Nein!' to the idea that humanity can come to know God through anything other than the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Brunner conceives a thesis for anthropology through which he can argue for a 'point of contact' whilst simultaneously preserving grace over nature. Personally, I think that both Barth and Brunner, for all their hair-splitting over Natural theology, would be united in their condemnation of Popoff's claim that Miracle Spring Water is "a point of contact, a Biblical tool ... something you can touch, something you can see."
My husband and I re-read Acts on holiday which left us in deep discussions about the power of testimony and how we hope to incorporate testimony in any services we lead.
In Acts 19:11-12 Paul sent handkerchiefs and aprons to the sick and the suffering but they weren't green and they weren't prosperity handkerchiefs.
With Popoff, items are sent for free but with all sorts of prophecies attached describing the amount of money that should be donated to Popoff for the release of the divine favour - this is seriously scary stuff!
...anyway, that was my flirtation with Sky TV and the religious channels. I think the only channels that might have something decent and trustworthy to say were UCB and Revelation TV, the latter had the late show with Howard Conder: very genuine and approachable.
I thank God that British perceptions of the Christian faith are probably more heavily determined by exposure to things like the Royal Wedding than they are from the Popoff brigade who should go and do precisely that!
Talking of popping off, I go to New York on Sunday for ten days to meet people in the Episcopal Church. Should the bishop of New York, Catherine Roskam, offer me a green handkerchief as I sniff my way through Cathedral services (my hayfever has started with gusto already) I will be nicely reassured by our liturgical rejoinders and choral hymns, no doubt and pop up a prayer for Popoff who probably gives less than two hoots about the rest of us as he relaxes in green satin and asks his entourage to stuff smaller green squares of the stuff into glossy envelopes.