For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Praying or Playing: a NASCAR Nightmare

For years now I’ve bemoaned the demise of holiness and reverence in the church. I’ve railed against the consumer mindset and the entertainment emphasis in our churches. This past weekend I think I finally saw the culmination of this attitude.

One of the reasons I’ve always enjoyed watching a NASCAR race, other than the obvious nature of the sport itself, is the fact that this was the one place in the modern media world where you could still hear prayer and the name of Jesus mentioned without apology. Every race begins with a prayer. And they actually show it on national TV. Often the prayers are more geared toward patriotism than piety, and it’s obvious that at times the pray-ers are trying to be ecumenical. But they are usually at least reverent.

This one was just a joke. Listen for yourself.

Now, from the comments I’ve heard and read, I guess he was making some reference to a NASCAR themed movie. Having not seen the movie, I guess I don’t get the joke. But the question is, is this the place for a joke of any kind? Many are saying this is great because people laughed and enjoyed it. Is prayer about laughing and joking, though? Isn’t it supposed to be about humbly coming before God, seeking His guidance and help, asking for His blessings? I mean even some "secular" NASCAR folks are questioning the appropriateness of this.

Maybe I’m asking too much. It is after all a NASCAR race. I shouldn’t expect Spurgeon-worthy theology. But still. This man is introduced as a Baptist pastor. He has the spotlight. Not only this crowd but thousands of others are at home listening. He has the opportunity to call upon the name of Christ on a national stage. I don’t expect him to preach a whole sermon, or even a short one. But does he have to make a mockery of Christ, His church, and the privilege of prayer altogether?

And yet, is this not simply the logical result of the consumer driven, entertainment oriented attitude the church has promoted for so long. After all, the crowd cheered, the race winner wants him to preach his funeral, so it must all be good, right? He’ll probably be asked to speak at Saddleback or the Crystal Cathedral, so he must have done the right thing.

What’s sad about this from my perspective is that it makes me embarrassed as both a Christian and a NASCAR fan. That’s sad indeed.


Anonymous said...

Wow. I think this is the website of the church this guy Pastors:

Ironic that their first line of their mission statement reads, "We want everything we do, from the singing to the sermon, to glorify our Lord Jesus." Maybe that's only when they meet as a church. :(

Gregg said...

Although I am not a fan of Nascar in the slightest, although I spent an afternoon with Dale Earnhardt, SR. assisting him during a "signing" at the dealership where I was a sales manager, my heart goes out to true Nascar fans after hearing this on several differnt sites now. The sad thing I think is I think he was being serious. I agree that is is mockery and buffoonery at its highest.

John Willis said...

Yes, that's his church.

The movie was Talladega Nights, a "comedy" about NASCAR that fans loved. Or at least most of them.

I got about 10 or 15 minutes in and when they started praying to "baby Jesus" and thanking him for sexy wives or girlfriends, and numerous other blasphemies, I got up and walked out.

I guess the good pastor has gotten what he wanted, he was a guest on Sirius Satellite this morning to talk about his prayer and the reaction he got.