religion

When you look at the evangelical’s God, you have to ask: Is that the best we can do? With all the invention, discovery and intellectual advances since the birth of Christ, you would have thought they could have come up with a better model.

The God of the evangelicals is no more than an old brick cell phone. A dumb brute with little imagination, less finesse and an opaque and capricious method of dealing with his creation. He can’t speak plainly. It’s always a bush, or angels, or weather events. Why not start a Facebook page?

His instruction manual was written by non-English speakers — literally. And yet today’s American evangelical speaks with great authority on the Good Book’s meaning. These are people who I suspect have trouble putting Ikea furniture together, yet they know the meaning of every jot and tittle in the Bible? It strains credulity.

And what does the book cover? For starters, the planets are ignored. Stars — mere decoration. Bacteria? Not a mention. China, Ireland — the Americas, for that matter — completely absent. Suspiciously — and when evangelicals are around, keep your hand on your wallet — the Bible mentions nothing that would have been unknown to the scribes who wrote it.

In fact, when it comes to knowledge, the Bible is a disappointing also-ran to the first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

The Christian God is an underachiever. He shows less initiative than Coca-Cola. It took that sweet syrup less than a century to crop up everywhere from Galena to the Gobi. And yet after 6,000 years (and that’s the low estimate) God is still absent to the majority of the planet.

He did have a good start. And the middle innings went gangbusters — although you do have to give the son a lot of credit. The Romans bought Him. Europeans sliced off a large piece of the pie. Americans said we’ll have some. And Africans went along.

But then He hit a wall. The Near East said no thanks and went with their boy. The Far East showed polite interest but mainly stuck with theirs.

And now Europeans and increasingly Americans have had a relook at the merchandise and are moving in a different direction.

And that’s the problem when you don’t pay attention to your brand management. One minute you’re the Model T and everyone wants you – and the next you’re an Edsel.

The God of the evangelicals lacks everything the modern consumer is looking for. Compassion, empathy, tolerance, respect for women — here you can add what’s important to you.

In a desperate attempt to stay relevant, evangelicals — and the Vatican — promote the retro nature of their God. And let me say here that there’s nothing wrong with nostalgia — but you can’t live in the past. By all means, take some styling cues from the old models, but you have to incorporate the new.

And even in their love of tradition, the evangelicals promote all the wrong parts. The core of the Christian identity is a caring Jesus. The ex-working stiff who has the back of the poor and the needy. The guy who looked with a jaundiced eye at the powers-that-be – who had good things to say about foreigners and prisoners – and had not a racist bone in his body.

That’s something you could build on. But evangelicals went in a different direction. Now sales are slipping. And these religious folk have turned to government to boost their product. But command economies rarely prosper and never in the long run. Consumers know what they want, and they buy it. And they aren’t buying the evangelical’s God.

 

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When I was a boy, I went to schools that were unmistakably Christian. As it was in England, where parents think their children are vaguely criminal and too rambunctious to have underfoot, I was sent away to a low-security detention facility at the age of eight. A place called, in British private educational parlance, a ‘boarding school’. The authorities […]

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