Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Charismatics and Unitarians

So I took a service as well as operated the CD controls, and the issue was one of homogeneity, the method the Fuller Theological Seminary of California advised when in the 1970s it used sociology, psychology and theology to create a future as used in the Vineyard churches and charismatic-influenced parts of denominations. Sociology of religion is where religion is studied sociologically for its own findings, but here we had religious sociology which is sociology used for religious ends. Religious psychology too, in how to create a 'hook' that entertains an incoming individual spiritually and inculturates people into a church and its beliefs. The theology is that of the individual and the Holy Spirit - the individual to be the agent to built the kingdom, and the Holy Spirit that is supposed to be motivating, or at least to stop the whole worship experience being understood as purely subjective enjoyment.

So you focus on one age group and then create the lowest cultural barrier, indeed make an attraction, for that age group, and then use that to attach the higher barrier of the strange beliefs. The beliefs become the price you pay for admission into the group. The Unitarians, in contrast, have a low barrier in terms of beliefs, but offer a higher cultural barrier of the increasingly acquired taste of the hymn sandwich format. Can't Unitarians be more attractive: is the new hymn book 'supplement' more attractive?

But even with the hook, the idea of some nationwide revival is not so. Like the Salvation Army in the nineteenth century, the appeal to popular culture only fragments a group, and in the Vineyard case today recirculates evangelicals.

Reactions to the service were that the Unitarian target group is 50 years and over, that Sing Your Faith (I said it's an inconsistent move to better musical flow) is an inadequate book and not the future (a few hostile responses - I think it is an improvement, but its font and text between the music in some songs is difficult to follow), and that only by singing them through will we learn them. The point of the service was to put a point of view and expect different responses and this is what it achieved.

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