By Alan Sorensen
The Brownsville Revival has been in town for a couple of weeks and is scheduled to run a couple more nights.
Doors open at the vacant JCPenney store in the Havre Holiday Village Shopping Center at 6 p.m. tonight and Saturday and the service gets under way at 7.
Organizers from several area churches invite everyone to join in the spiritual movement that they say will touch their souls.
I'm a big fan of religion, providing that religion does what religion is intended to do. The only times I get really discouraged with religion is when people use it to make others feel guilty, ashamed, less than, or out-and-out sinners.
For years, people like Billy Sunday, Oral Roberts, Billy Swaggert and Pat Robertson have attracted loyal followings by scaring the dickens out of their flocks. What better way to keep people coming back than to make them believe that their only hope of salvation is to think your way.
What minister worth his salt could keep a congregation coming back by telling them that all religions are basically the same, just the dogma is different? How could he keep the coffers full by telling his sheep that it didn't really matter which church they went to as long as they lived good and decent lives?
I have to ask myself, "What makes Christianity so powerful?"
My answer has to be, "Christ."
It's those very qualities in Jesus that I admire most that so many Christian denominations discourage their congregants from pursuing. The Indians grasped the concepts of Christianity easily because the Bible told them that Christ did what they did went on vision quests. He fought his demons in the desert just as they fought their demons and sought their spirit guides in the wilderness.
Being swept away by music, lighting and sing-song preaching is hardly comparable to facing ones mortality. Little Elian, whether he spent one minute or one week alone in an inner tube on the high seas, was indubitably closer to the glory of God than any whose journey was down an aisle and onto an altar.
Will I get a lot of angry mail for voicing my opinions on this subject? You bet. Just like Barb Hauge will probably get a lot of angry letters for her opinions on the military.
We had a gentleman in here the other day who was very upset about what Hauge had written about World War Two. He said that he was a paratrooper in World War Two and that what she wrote belittled what he and hundreds of thousands of others had done to ensure her life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
He was right. But what he omitted, and he admitted as much, was that the battles he had fought were also fought to ensure that she could have the freedom to write what she did.
That, too, is something I think that Jesus stood for.
Want to attend the revival on the hill? Go ahead. But don't try to make me feel guilty if I'm not there.
And if this column creates even a modicum of controversy, dialog, communication, thought and circumspection, good.
Have you seen the commercial for a tobacco alternative in which the lady says that doctors prefer that people quit smoking gradually, in steps.
What? I've never heard a doctor say anything about "Sure, take your time, there's no hurry to quit smoking." On the contrary, they've usually told me something more akin to "I'd take your pulse, but one more puff and you're not likely to have one."
I shouldn't talk. I've only been a nonsmoker for about a year and a half. And as the woman on TV suggested, I used an alternative to cigarettes to try to kick the habit. Instead of a patch or gum, though, I opted for snuff. It's cheaper and didn't require a prescription. Unfortunately, I became hooked on it, too, and vacillated between the two, sometimes doing both simultaneously, as a means of quitting the other. That lasted for about 10 years.
I'd have been better off, no doubt, had I quit cold turkey.