Sermonizing

Irony is delicious. I can truly think of no more decadently delectable delicacy. Hypocrisy in a preacher is my favorite flavor of this dish. And a preacher who practices a religion other than the one he professes is even better. It was my great pleasure to witness one of those preachers this week, and I enjoyed it far more than I should have. His church is an arena, and his professed faith is rock and roll. As far as hypocrites (and singers) go, he is one of the best I’ve seen.
When one buys tickets to a rock show, they’re buying them for a reason. They want to hear booming bass drums, screaming guitars, and some lyrics that they can connect with. If they can rhyme, that’s a nice plus; a verse, a chorus, a verse, maybe a bridge or two. That’s why you go to these things. You’re not there to hear a preacher, but the self-important lead singer can’t resist preaching a little bit. Preaching is different than singing. It’s more coarse and vulgar. If ideas are conveyed through song lyrics they can be parsed, wrapped in a metaphor, and delivered with some finesse. When spoken in a sermon, without rhyming, and without the guitar, it’s just not the same. Maybe that’s why Al Sharpton likes to rhyme so much when he’s preaching. Had the band brought Al along with them the other night, I think I would’ve enjoyed that more. “Hey guys, we’re going to take a break. Enjoy our special guest, Reverend Al.” The focus of the sermon at the show isn’t important. You can fill in the blanks. He talked about the same things that self-important, liberal, millionaires always talk about. It’s sad really. They love the money too much to spend it all on curing those things they’re professing to love more. They love their jet too much to give it up to save the planet. Think of the pretzels they must twist themselves into rationalizing about these things. They don’t really have to conserve fuel with the semis that haul their equipment, or with the planes that fly them around the country. They can just preach a little to their 20,000 fans at the show that night about conservation. If each one of those people will just love the planet a little bit, that’ll do more good than the one singer could ever do by himself. Then they can buy a few carbon credits to offset their footprint. It’s all good. He wasn’t really preaching the green gospel anyway. It’s just an example of what a lot of the people from his seminary do.
This same band, this epic, one-of-a-kind, genre creating, perception challenging, hall-of-fame type act, also recently punished their fans in a particular state by cancelling a show at the last minute because some state politicians enacted a law. Knowing who makes up their fan base, I can almost guarantee that their fans were not the ones pushing the law. That’s who they chose to punish though; the fans that bought tickets, and posters, and t-shirts. They made plans to be off work, booked hotels, and hired baby-sitters to be there and see these guys play for a couple hours. As a reward, these self-important jackasses cancelled the show at the last minute. “Hey guys, thanks for the tropical island you helped me buy. I don’t like your governor, so we’re not coming Thursday. Peace out!” Luckily, our state hasn’t acted on the issue yet, so they went ahead and played the show here. It was a great show. They may not be my favorite band, but like most acquired tastes, I can see why they are such a big deal even if my palate is not totally refined.
Getting back to his profession of faith… On display this week was a rich guy, with a nuclear family, a wife, kids, and a congregation of predominantly white, middle class, middle aged fans. That is the life he leads, but it apparently has led to self loathing because that’s not exactly the gospel he was preaching. Like so many bleeding hearts, this particular preacher would prefer to be judged by his words rather than his actions. Were someone to look at his life totally objectively, they might conclude that this middle-aged, rich, white, upper class man was a rock ribbed conservative. What with his bulging bank account, beautiful wife, well adjusted children, and all. This man of unbelievable talent, unparalleled accomplishments, and the respect and admiration of millions still looked rather unhappy to me. He put on a great show, and it’s a night I will always remember. The irony was the most interesting part of the evening though, and it seemed lost on almost everyone.

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