Happy Anglican with ordinary handkerchief

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. 


Lucy Mills said...

I feel I should say that I am not Anglican and am still appalled with that stuff - I've only caught it once, not having sky either, and some of it was jaw droppingly awful. Not all non-conformists are like that!!!

(Sorry - sometimes it feels like the world of UK Christian blogs in particular is divided into Anglican and not-Anglican - we are rather more diverse than that, I feel!)

'Give me your money and you'll be healed' makes me want to vomit, and I can't stand emphasis on the Prosperity gospel, either. It depresses me that people channel hopping come across these things and assume it is representative of Christianity.

Hope you had a lovely holiday! x

Rach said...

Thanks Lucy.

...and yes, of course, this kind of stuff appals us all.

I think, for me, it was just another moment, where again, I thought for a few minutes about the distinctives of Anglicanism as I reacted to the green handkerchief brigade. Sometimes I struggle with the liturgical rigidity of some aspects of the Anglican Way, but there are times when I am very grateful for the solidness of things like common Worship and the BCP, even if it is more often only when I am forced to consider scary manifestations of the faith.

It is the thought, indeed, that many think that this represents Christianity that worries me, as it does you.

I think it also makes it more difficult for people to perhaps go to their first gathering at places like Spring Harvest and New Wine or any of the more charismatic worship conferences, if all they have ever been exposed to is a load of religious channels. I think with discernment we can learn to separate what is of the Spirit and what is 'of (hu)man'. But this TV evangelism, unless it is very carefully put together, is doing little to grow the body of Christ, I suspect.

Holiday was very restful - thank you. x

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Er, as you mention Revelation TV, perhaps you need to do a search on my blog in the past about Revelation TV. It has been up against the regulator so often and seriously that it moved its licence to Spain. It is a Christian-Zionist station and carries significant intolerance towards selected others.

I used to have satellite TV and these rubbish stations used to be somewhat morbidly entertaining, but since moving I have reverted to Freeview alone and when the TV is no more I shall probably sling the lot and save on the licence.

Rach said...

Hi Adrian
Howard Conder made some candid references to this as he analysed the Darren Brown program that I missed when Dareen exposed some of the tactics of the so-called faith healers. I think they are cleaning up their act slot by slot and ridding themselves of the dross, they might still have a way to go. There seem to be some presenters there like Conder who have integrity.


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