Hallu, me mates! ChurchMouse up ‘ere again, bumbling amongst the Klieg lights
in the rafters where I can peer down upon the goings on as from a spy satellite.
It’s bloody warm up here. The thermals could levitate vultures as at the Sierras or Sinai.
Down below amongst the pews, air conditioning rules. It’s almost too cool, like at
a dental surgery when one shivers in one’s short sleeved shirt donned when one left
home because it was 107° outside. Inside, laid back on the dental chair – burr-r-r-r-r! Refrigeration chills out evil bacteria, the lovely dental hygienist explains with a warming
But back in the cool pews, young female shoulders and foothills of cloven chests
defy the chill and are as invitingly bare as cheese in a trap.
At my basilica, a modern expensively and well-designed streamlined version of a
New World conquistador cathedral and seeing itself as a big tent, the most heated
theological question besides ordaining women (no longer a simmering issue) is whether
the church is warm enough -– whether there’s enough warmth at the doors. Verdict: no.
So groomed greeters, grinning like Halloween pumpkins with candles inside, have been stationed at the entrance doors. And thus the Mega-Church Greeter Wars has been launched. Every cathedral on the block is out to have the warmest door, no holds barred.
Contracts with big-name cordiality consultants from Willow Creek and Hollywood have been inked, and the gladhanding used-car dealer at the end of the block mimed. In olden times air conditioning was puffed by theaters to lure sweating pedestrians inside. Super sanctuaries, never far behind theaters and increasingly in advance, still tout cool pews.
But warm doors are now the big bait, with uniformed maitre’ d’s and blinking marquees to match:
“Warm doors; cool pews, that’s heaven, that’s us!”
“Why spa when church warms you up and cools you down?” “We’re not holier than thou, just a whale of a lot warmer.”
“The church that shakes your hand rocks!”
“Welcome! Welcome To Laodicea. We may have a bum rap, but you’ll love rapping with us!”
This global warmth has brought out the deniers. A famously contrary journalist has tweeted that there is too much greeting going on for his comfort.
“I’d just as soon not be hassled and my hand yanked like a slot machine lever,” he huffs. Then he adds, “the sermon is cool enough, blessed be.”
He got that right. Beginning with the greeting, “Hey you guys! Howyadoin?,” the
sermon, delivered in costume (holey jeans and a sacerdotal robe) with overheated
sizzling award-winning in-house and Hollywood movie clips and backed by the church
drama team and drums and a full production crew, is really cool.
Never is heard a discouraging word about the lake of fire or consequences of any sort, or broken law.
The word “sin” is not mentioned except as applied to intolerance of what always had been scriptural sin, now sanctified, and legalism. Otherwise there is no sin, just “evil” or, worse, social injustice and hate.
Meanwhile the warmth at the door meets the cold front of the pews, but the only turbulence is the coffee percolating in the Holy Café. Chilled by evangelistic efforts, especially the old-time ones in real tents with sawdust floors and banners timelining the 2300 days, my current cathedral is currently hotly promoting a multi-million dollar fund-raising campaign for Centers for Media and Events. This place is a hotbed of record-breaking extremes of temperature.
But I, a mere mouse, fear that God judges this place as neither hot nor cold. And He shall spew them all – bare shoulders, grimacing greeter guards up for acting and affability awards, award-winning production crews, camera crews, pastors of promotion, everybody -- out of His mouth on That Day.
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent" (Revelation 3:15-19).