Friday, January 05, 2007

Pentecostals, Episcopalians and Ali G in da' house

I seem to be being followed around by fundamentalist Christians today, not literally mind, but still enough to be a bit spooky. Firstly I'm still ploughing through the Economist Christmas double edition that has lots of long special articles including one on the rise and rise of Pentecostalism. The article is here but I'm afraid you need a subscription to read it. I had heard before that the Catholic church in Latin America was in competition with various protestant sects, I just hadn't realised how big a phenomenon Pentecostalism has become - in Guatamala for example its now thought a third of the country is Pentecostal.

Then I read on Phil's blog, Finland for Thought, that 25 percent of Americans think the second coming will happen this year. This can't be true... can it?

On the bus home I read another Economist article about the splits in the Episcopal (American Anglican) church, with some of the oldest influential churches looking to leave their current dioceses and get a new Archbishop, probably in Nigeria. Why? It's all about that great threat to civilisations once again - boys kissing.
"The schismatic parishes included two of the oldest and richest in the country—Truro Church in Fairfax and The Falls Church in the town of that name—which occupy property worth a combined $25m. The Falls Church once numbered George Washington among its vestrymen. It is now the church-of-choice to Washington's conservative power elite, including Michael Gerson, George Bush's former speechwriter, Porter Goss, a former head of the CIA, and Fred Barnes, the executive editor of the Weekly Standard .

The breakaway congregations are putting themselves up for adoption by Anglican archbishoprics in the developing world. One would-be parent is a Nigerian bishop, Peter Akinola, who runs the largest province in the Anglican communion, and who has pronounced views on homosexuality: he supports legislation that would make it illegal for gays to form associations, read gay literature or even eat together."
And then finally back to the Pentecostals. On NPR's Fresh Air they had an interview with Sacha Baron Cohen on the making of "Borat - the Movie". It's the first interview I've heard with Baron Cohen not in character either as Borat or as Ali G and very interesting. But he mentions part of the film where Borat goes to a Pentecostal Church in the US and they try to "save" him. He recounts it as being a very over-awing experience but notes that just in case you don't go with the experience quite enough, you are held down by strong men as part of the ceremony and they shake you vigorously and this is what gives rise to the phenomenon of people supposedly writhing on the floor as the demonic possession (or whatever) leaves them. He also recounts another rather scary sounding experience of 60,000 Alabama American football fans yelling "faggot" at him. Perhaps the actions of the churches in Falls Church and Fairfax are just politer versions of the football fans' directness.

1 comment:

Akinoluna said...

It's probably the same 25% who believe the world will end every year. Funny how we're still here...