“Not a Sermon, Just a Thought”

Okay, it’s becoming annoying. I mean really annoying. The radio commercials that end in “Not a sermon, just a thought,” after delivering what is exactly, undeniably a sermon.

They started out giving Christian ideals as real-life scenarios, ending with their catch phrase. I didn’t really have a problem with this.

Why? I’ll say it: I believe there is a higher power. I don’t know what it is, what (if anything) it wants from mankind, or if it even “wants” at all. I believe there’s more to us than our physical bodies. I believe our collective sense of what is right and what is wrong is based on more than just our natural “social software” keeping us from killing each other’s children in the interest of preservation of species. In regard to their messages, I do believe that what Christ taught (ironically, very close to the much-hated “Hippie” ideals: peace, love, and goodwill) is a good and just way to live your life. I just steer clear of organized religions in general because I find them largely corrupt and their followers often militant and wholly unpleasant. In short, everybody on this planet has about as much experience with and knowledge of god’s will and the nature of the soul (whatever that is) as I do. Nobody alive can guide me with any authority on these matters. Period.

That aside, I think their approach is a great way for the Christian community to put forth their ideals to “the unwashed” without the dogma. I actually believe this is noble and a service to their fellow man. “Live honestly. Treat others well. Be responsible,” etc., is a great message to send to people. That (sans religious context) should be taught to our children in our schools and in our homes. Philanthropy is a good thing.

Lately, however, the “Not a Sermon” folks’ messages have veered sharply to the same-old dogma you hear in churches everywhere. Less philanthropy and more of the intangible, fantasy-like elements, which do nobody any good at all. Those who might listen to the philanthropic message but prefer no religious dogma will only end up dismissing it entirely because their dogma-meter goes off the charts. Their messages have been leaning firmly in that direction lately, I’m afraid.

This morning, this message graced my ears: “Jesus Christ was crystal clear … no one shall enter Heaven except through me.” I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be annoyed when it was immediately followed by their tagline, “Not a sermon, just a thought.”

What?

If that’s not a sermon then I’m a singing, pet-eating houseplant. Unlike their early messages, this one has no philanthropic content whatsoever. It’s 100% pure dogma, a despicable, fear-based recruiting tagline.

Like so many other religion-backed goodwill efforts, they tried changing their tactics from “make them swallow the pill, it’s for their own good” to “wrap the medicine in a piece of bologna – they’ll never know.” Unfortunately, they invariably forget why they switched tactics in the first place and revert to the usual. Like all lapsed addicts, the “Not a Sermon” folks went back hard with a borderline-psychotic, “Swallow the fucking pill! SWALLOW IT!”

No.