Sep 13, 2015

Phil Ball: Confusing creeds sects in world of religion

Muncie Star Press
Phil Ball
August 21, 2015

I read the daily newspaper and get badly confused about events in Muslim countries.

This column is about religion, so if you think that I shouldn’t write about such, be my guest and tear up this column now.

In the Muslim world there are various sects--- and on and on. Then there are various political-military Muslim groups: ISIS or ISIL, Taliban, Al Quaeda, and so forth.

See why I get confused? And these various Muslim groups don’t get along or agree with each other or agree with other religions.

Why can’t Muslims all be as agreeable as us Christians?

Agreeable Christians? Well, hardly. Many of the wars in the past 2,000 years have pitted Christian sect against Christian sect. We’ve had Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholics and they didn’t agree. In the Roman Catholic Church at one time in the Middle Ages there were three popes conflicting at the same time. And we Christians went on holy Crusades to fight the Muslims in the Middle East.

Then along came Martin Luther and the Protestant movement, and the Protestants split into dozens of sects, arguing and fighting.

Who were some of the first colonizers of America? The Puritans. They got violently kicked out of England by the regulars of the Church of England.

Here in good, old, simple, happy, Muncie, we’ve got so many religious sects that it is embarrassing. Look in the phone book! Some 43 different Protestant sects, each proclaiming some particular creed difference from all the others. Holy cow!

Then there are the “evangelists.” In my lifetime some icons of the Protestant experience have been:

• Billy Sunday. Radio and stage evangelist. Appeared on stage as a baseball pitcher preacher. This endeared him to his public.

• Aimee Semple McPherson. Famous radio evangelist 60 or so years ago. Always wore a white flowing robe, like an angel. One of her boyfriends was reported to be the comedian Milton Berle. She may have died of an overdose of sleeping pills or from walking out into the California surf and disappearing in the waves.

• Jerry Falwell. Virginia evangelist on TV as all subsequent big name evangelists were. Appearing on TV brought jillions of dollars into the evangelists’ coffers. Falwell started the Republican “Moral Majority.” It’s gone. He’s gone, too.But we still have the “Liberty University” that Falwell started.

• Jimmy Bakker and his mascara-painted wife Tammy Sue. He was constantly in the news for years. Gone without a trace, after a sex scandal.

• Pat Robertson. Still on TV.

• Jimmy Swaggart. On TV for years. He disappeared — maybe after a sex scandal, but now has returned to TV---old and grizzled and sour looking.

• Oral Roberts. Tulsa TV superstar evangelist. Once went up in his “prayer tower,” not to come down until the last million dollars of a fund drive was raised for his church. A grateful millionaire wrote a check for a million. Oh, happy day! Oral came down. The check bounced! He started Oral Roberts University and Medical School and Hospital. Some of this is still around. Some has been converted into commercial venues.

• Robert Shuler. Built the Crystal Cathedral in California. He died. The Cathedral became available recently at bankruptcy sale for several million.

• Norman Vincent Orange Peale. Famous NYC preacher. Wrote the “Power of Positive Thinking.” Anybody read it? I did years ago. I still do negative thinking.

• Billy Graham. Nice man. High point in his career was when he became the semi-official White House minister — for Richard Nixon. Was that really a high point? Minister for Richard Nixon?

• Ernest Angley. The worst wig and the worst accent in the history of TV evangelism. He’s still on TV. Look him up!

• Joel Osteen. The latest TV superstar man of the cloth. Neat wife. He has a great hair do!

Tempus fugit! Time flies. Protestant super star preachers come and go. Some leave no trace behind.

Should we Christians be proud of all of this past history of confusion and conflict? Hardly!

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,”so it says in the Bible.

Phil Ball is a retired Muncie physician and a contributing humor writer to The Star Press.

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