The Varieties Of Religious Entertainment

Time was when church attendance was compulsory; in some parts of the world it still is. It may not be formally required, but non-attendees can forget all about doing business in the community. Networking is important everywhere, particularly for immigrants, the poor and the corrupt. Perhaps some people go in order to improve their own ethical conduct, although this has always been a minority sport. The more church attendance fails to cover these other bases, the more we will find people going to services primarily for the technology of emotional auto-manipulation.

Religion will always be a part of the entertainment industry. But people differ in their tastes: some are entertained by peace and quiet, others are entertained by glitz and spectacle, others again are entertained by righteous indignation and the persecution of their neighbours.

Christian services fall into three categories: Boring, High and Charismatic, and these attract quite different personalities. The deal with “Boring” is that you get to congratulate yourself on enduring it and look down on those who lack the Moral Fibre to do the same. “High” attracts those introverts who get off on stained-glass windows, polyphony and incense, which they find alters their brain chemistry to make them feel serene and peaceful. “Charismatics” are those with high cortical thresholds, which means that they need very powerful stimuli in order to feel anything at all; their services are therefore arranged to work them up into a state akin to hysteria, using the techniques of the rock concert, namely huge stadia, laser-light shows, earth-shattering sound levels, yelling and stomping. Rather than the peaceful space for thought provided by both Boring and High services, this Sunday Night Fever offers the dissolution of personality into the hysteria of crowd solidarity against demonised outgroups: what one might call “Nuremburg Christianity”.

Posted on February 5, 2010 at 10:46 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE LONGEST CON, Religion As Emotional Tech

2 Responses

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  1. Written by Urban Djin
    on February 5, 2010 at 18:24
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    Good, useful taxonomy. I must confess that I do enjoy certain aspects of the “high” style, “smells and bells” as I like to call it, even though I stopped believing in god over forty years ago. As entertainment the pageantry and polyphony does still work for me. So does the sophisticated visual narrative of the stained glass and the paintings. So does the classic, mostly Black gospel music of the 50s and 60s. I have no problem separating aesthetic appreciation from the underlying metaphysics which I reject emphatically.

  2. Written by Hugo Grinebiter
    on February 6, 2010 at 00:22
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    That’s funny, I was taught to say “Bells and Smells”. Must be a Pondian difference: you say tomayto, I say tomahto…… As you know, I too love the polyphony, and the vaulting, though I pass on the pageantry.

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