I suffer from insomnia from time to time. On nights when I don't want to pop a sleeping pill (which is most nights-they upset my stomach) I watch TV. One thing I suddenly have become fascinated with are late-night Christian ministry shows. Here in Lancaster we have a local TV station that's pretty much dedicated to shows like this (TV 49 over in Red Lion..you know the type.) You know the ones I'm talking about: the Super churches (I'm watching one show now out of San Antonio), the "university" ministries like Oral Roberts down there in Tulsa. Since the study of fundamentalism is a large part of my still-ongoing thesis, for once my insomnia is a help to me, and not a hinderance.
Observation Number 1, of course, is that every single last one of these late-night Christian ministry shows is Protestant Fundamentalism at its glory.
Don't worry, there's no chance of them converting me. I just find them interesting. But I have taken some notes on them.
1. Send me money and you will be saved.
All of them want your money. They call out to the lowest common denominator---the TV preacher will say "I feel there's someone watching with a problem..." Well yeah, everyone has their problems.
2. Our way is right, our literal interpretation is literal and therefore right, therefore we are right. So do #1 and you'll be Raptured and saved.
Which is interesting. They all use the same book---the King James Version of the Bible. Yet there are slight variations between shows. One may say "woman! submit to your husband!" while the other will say "woman! understand your husband, then submit." I've encountered this in my dealings with Millersville's myriad of Protestant groups. All say they are fundamentalist, and literal, but they often have different interpretations of things. One group says evolution is probably real. The other group freaks out whenever they have to deal with evolution. The scary thing: some of those kids are going to be science teachers. WTF?!
3. The Saved always cry.
Dunno what to say about that. Fervor is a powerful thing.
4. All of them think they have the power to heal.
This one is of particular fascination to me. They make people faint, and I have no idea how they do it. It's not fake...remember religious faith and fervor are powerful psychological and physiological things. Maybe that's it.
Lastly they all creep me out. Faith is one thing, many people have that. Fervor is something completely different. Many of them attack Muslims for their fervor and don't recognize it in themselves. But I'll keep watching, cause it's like watching a trainwreck.