I’ve noticed a growing phenomenon here in the Portland area concerning Christian congregations.  If this is happening here (albeit in the much more conservatibe suburbs…), this must be happening everywhere.  It is a strange thing, this Christian entity that seems to be appearing in the unlikeliest of places.  I have seen, my friends, non-denominational Christian churches set up shop in business parks.  This seems strange to me, although, it does make sense.  In particular I’ve noticed that not only are these churches appearing in areas built for pure profit, but that there seems to be a wicked relationship being forged between the churches and the surrounding businesses.  Intriguing, to say the least and scary at the most.

After devoting some thought to the ideas that would push any group of people to set up a house of worship (and meditiation?  I don’t know if non-dems do that kind of thing…I think speaking in tongues might be more like it) in an area that does not seem akin to Jesus teachings, I’d given birth to a much more frightening idea: corporatization of church.  Is this even possible?  Is it already happening?

The idea that churches could become like their blood brothers bends the mind.  In our future, could there be church chains?  Could there be pastors rolled out like fast food burgers?  Could their sermons all be published from “corporate” and emailed to all pastors so that they all read and say the same thing?  It is a truly boggling proposition, but I don’t think we’re far off.  It is what comes as the church is raped by corporate wolves and the teachings of Jesus are sold with a monetary price; a bastard child so full of selfishness, hate, and desire for power.

All this comes as we approach holy week, in which Jesus casts out the money changers from the temple in His only display of anger (and digust) presented in the Gospels.  Following is a quote from a sermon Marcus Borg recently gave concerning this very topic.  You may find, as I did, an eerie connection between the temple and post-modern corporate churches:

On the next day, Mark tells us, Jesus performs what was one of his most famous symbolic actions: the overturning of the tables of the money-changers in the Temple in Jerusalem. And the issue here is not that the money-changers were mixing business with religion, rather the Temple in Jerusalem was the economic center of an exploitative domination system. Taxes upon agricultural production were paid to the Temple; the Temple was the center of wealth in Jewish Palestine in the first century. And the action of overturning the tables of the money-changers is clearly a symbolic protest against the economic role of the Temple in the exploitation of peasants.

The symbolism is all there concerning the temple’s involvement not in just bringing monied interests into a sacred place, but to involve themselves so as to exploit those lesser than them.  There is no better allegory than that concerning where Jesus’ priorities lie.

Holy week presents everyone an opportunity to look at where their priorities lie.  Much has been made of a new Social Security plan that places our welfare at the behest of corporations; this is not moral.  Much has been said about our education system and how it, too, needs corporatization; this is not moral.  Much has been said about our militaristic aggressiveness abroad for the good of Democracy; this is not moral.  All these behaviors point not to a government for and by the people.  No, it points to a government for and by corporations.  No, it points to a monstrosity of Christianity devoid of moral behavior succumbing to corporate interests.  Marrying all of these, we have given birth to empire.  More from Marcus Borg:

This theme raises for us both a collective question and a personal question, as Christians living in our time and place. The collective question: as a country, which procession are we in? The answer is not pretty. Whether we wanted to or not, we have become the imperial power of our time. The counter-procession of Jesus embodies a very different vision of what God’s Kingdom means. It’s not about control through imperial power, it is about the way of peace and non-violence. We, as a country, act pretty much like empires always have. We may have the best of intentions as individuals. We may even have good intentions as a country, but the record of imperial powers throughout history is not encouraging. It’s very difficult to find one that has used its power in a benign and benevolent way.

Here we have it, plain as it can possibly be: We have a responsibility to make our country one that works for peace and justice.  We are given these choices and through the utilization of a secular government with our own tempered religious beliefs, we can shift the balance of power.  What has been done in our name is done, but the future is always one second away.  What path will we take? 

Marcus Borg’s entire sermon can be read here.  Do yourself a favor and ingest what he has to say.