I have noticed these places, although I don't know who is going there. I don't see these people; I guess we just don't travel in the same circles.
These places should be studied and understood by us outsiders because they seem important and potentially hazardous.
Read the article on "megachurches" in the March/April issue of Mother Jones.
The article seems not to deride these people or call them zealots or religious nutbags. It seems to point out, and correctly so, that these places of great flash and concentrated services, mixing heavenly and consumer bliss are filling a niche in the market for consumer services, community togetherness and religious fulfillment.
These sorts of places are not a distinctly urban or rural phenomenon. These are born directly of the suburbs, with the decentralized population, lack of community, breakdown of traditional small town/urban neighborhood faith/community networks. They are very aply compared to the Wal-Mart of religion. A no thinking needed, casual, easy, friendly, pre-packaged spiritual experience that fulfills a need with none of the old ceremony, foreign languages or shades of the old world.
Are these people stupid? No, but they are mentally lazy just like a lot of people these days. Religion, however you choose to define it, should involve a complex inner life coupled with outer acts. It should be an intimate part of who you are, not some base cheap commodity to be gawked at and consumed. And, no, I am not an unfailing apologist for the Catholics. What do you think all of the catherdals of Europe and pilgrimage sites were for? What FINALLY tipped off the Reformation (yes, I know that is a gross simplification...back off Ma'am; I'm a historian)?
Contemplate. Think. Argue. Engage others. If you want "religion," it must be a personal decision. Religion cannot be done unto you. If it is, that is evil and wrong.
Get off your ass and think about something for a change! Don't let the Wal-Mart mentality rob you of your spiritual life. It is one of the few things that is yours and yours alone.
"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world."
"Check the Box Sunday"
3 months ago