Pinky goes to Hillsong

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.

Pinky Beecroft, the sometimes-scrambled former lead singer of Machine Gun Fellatio, has been attending Hillsong and wrote about it for Manic Times. Long, but packed with ironic observations.

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.

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  1. Quatrefoil’s avatar

    I’d add fundamentalist atheists to my list of problems, but as for milk in first – there is a reason, but only if you’re drinking from fine bone china. If you put the hot tea in first you’re likely to crackle the glaze. I have the cup to prove it.

    On the subject of your clients, I think you have to take responsibility for your own decisions and allow your clients to take responsibility for theirs. OTOH, you’re also free to use your work as a protest. But you don’t in fact know that he/she uses the profits to support Hillsong – perhaps you could ask? Perhaps it’s a rumour, or perhaps they are not a good supporter of their church? But I think that individuals have the right to make a profit from their businesses and to spend that money as they see fit even if it’s not your choice. Perhaps the way to deal with it is to donate an amount of money equivalent to the amount you estimate would be 10% of the proportion of the profits you’re responsible for to an organisation with opposing views, and let your client know that you’re doing that.

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  2. Gustavo’s avatar

    In 2005 I attended a clpoue of services in Hillsong London. It was fantastic. Just like watching one of their Live DVDs, but there was a plus: the music was top nutch, but the people of the church (I mean, regular members) were so warm. They asked my name, asked my cel number. And during the week they actually called me back!!!I had to asked then why it was so perfect: this was their answer Our connection with what, and the way we do it, is gonna be seen by others, and they might like to engage in such kind of connection with God as well . It was a whole new concept for me: serving as a way of evangelizing!But last year, I returned to London, but this time I got the previlege of joining a team, to serve. I joined the Coffee Team, part of the Hosting Team. You can’t imagine all the things that are done before and during the service. To sum it up: everything is done ir order to create the right atmosphere for new commers to feel as much confortable as possible so that they can receive the God News. Sunday service is an evangelistic activity. And the regular members are there to help to create this atmosphere. It’s abour serving the cause of Christ. You dont have to be a pastor to preach, but you can help serving tea and coffee and offering a big smile, or try to remeber next sunday the name of the person you served coffee last week.After all this, you heart if so full of joy (for seeing people being served, returning to you a smile as they get in or out of the auditorium), that you really want to praise God.The joy we see in the DVDS comes from serving hearts, not from hearts that come to be served. That’s HUGE.

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