Whaddya think about the Hillsong Church, eh? No, actually, I’ll go first. It worries me.
Of the various controversies about Hillsong, two stand out for me:
- Fundamentalism is A Very Bad Thing, whether it’s about Islam, Christianity, Marxism, Free Market Economics, wind power generation or whether the milk goes in first. The Church of Virus lists Dogmatism as one of the Three Senseless Sins, and while CoV is somewhat tongue in cheek it’s nevertheless spot on. Fundamentalism denies individual thought or adaptation to changing circumstances. Fundamentalism is nothing more than intellectual bullying: “I will tell you what to think.” This is dangerous. When people cease to think for themselves they become slaves. Hillsong is a Fundamentalist organisation: internal debate is not permitted.
- Prosperity Theology is a hypocritical perversion of what that Joshua bar Joseph bloke was actually saying. OK, the gold-plated silk-clad parasites of the Vatican aren’t exactly a shining example of his teachings either. But to appropriate the Jesus brand and leave out all the difficult bits is a lot like that Che Guevara t-shirt as a symbol of enlightened rebellion.
Now I’m all for freedom of religion. Please, everybody, think for yourselves and decide your own beliefs! That’s a fundamental human right. I support you in your endeavours. But another fundamental right is freedom of speech. I get to say why I think you’re wrong (and vice versa), and out of that interchange some glorious new synthesis might arise.
Hillsong denies those fundamental human rights to its own members — by suppressing thought through Fundamentalism and suppressing free speech by denying dissent.
If it’s all about Jesus, why is The Big Screen usually full of imagery of the band or, especially, the pastors? Why is there a raised-arm gesture that we all recall from movies about WWII? Why are so many of the messages about people who’ve had their lives changed once they decided to write a cheque?
Pinky gets deeper into “the vibe” when he moves to Hillsong’s mothership at Baulkham Hills…
It’s incredibly like an Eskimo Joe gig except that the music’s hookier and there are more females at Hills, with the vast majority of them quite hot-looking.
Outside, there’s a sausage sizzle, hot coffee and lots of space to hang out and chat to other Hillsongers. In the last few weeks it’s mostly just been Hey, how’re you doin’? and stuff like that, the odd chat about mobile phone plans, harder to understand than God himself, and one weird conversation with a 21-year-old redhead girl who confessed to me “Hillsong makes me so excited, I always want to have sex with my girlfriend straight after.” We swapped phone numbers. True story.
… and eventually he’s gripped by a life-changing revelation.
I can see a future, for the first time in years. I think I’ve been really depressed, for a long time now, with my career in trouble and my finances mostly non-existent. Too old for record companies, too weird for radio, too thin to be the next John Farnham.
But here at Hillsong, none of that matters. I’m a champion. I’ve been worried that I would be too old to fit in, or not conservative enough, or that my voice is not sufficiently trained. But now I think maybe I’ll be OK. Maybe I don’t have to be young and beautiful. It occurs to me: this is not some fascist organisation, leeching the tax-payer, run by evil, youth-exploiting despots — that’s in Ultimo, and it’s called Triple J.
Pinky’s article triggered lots of thoughts. Some of them led to this essay. Others led to a question. I’ve discovered that one of my business clients is owned by a Hillsonger. By helping that business, I’m helping 10% of its profits go to a “church” which, if not exactly evil, is at least an organisation which I do not wish to support. What should I do?
Happy Sunday. God Bless. Merry Meet. All Hail Eris.