Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The bait 'n switch in Baytown, Texas

"Just give me some truth. All I want is the truth" -- John Lennon
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There's a Website, Bored in Baytown, that caught my eye recently.

Like in any refinery town along the Petrochemical Underarm of Texas, the young people there complain there's nothing much to do.

So the Website is capitalizing on this common refrain, which is probably a smart thing to do. Plus, it's a good-sounding title ... bored, Baytown. Twang-twang.

The thing they don't tell you about Bored in Baytown, however, is that it's a surreptitious recruiting tool for the local Episcopalian Church, with the idea being, "Hey, kids, let's have a battle 'o the bands and have an outdoor movie night and other cool stuff like that, and, by the way, would you be interested in learning more about God?"

It's a free country, with freedom of religion (within certain limits), so it's all legal, yeah. And, after all, it's good for young people to have alternatives to meth and beer, which, let's be honest, just make you act stupid and not get enough sleep.

STILL, it's too sneaky for my sensibilities. Just go ahead and disclose that Bored in Baytown is a church-related endeavor, run by a paid staff member of the church, because we are sure that it's this sort of nondisclosure that leads to cynicism and alienation and other negative vibes that lead our youth to grow their hair long or get mohawks or whatever the hell they're doing with the coiffures these days.

Why would I even care about this? Well, I grew up in Baytown and went to the Episcopalian Church. I not only went to the church, but I sang in the youth choir as a kid and later served as an "acolyte," which entailed dressing in a white robe and handling various duties such as carrying the cross and flags up and down the church aisles during the processional and recessional hymns.

(I always begged off helping the minister prepare the wine and wafers at Communion Sunday, figuring I'd have trouble remembering all the ins & outs of the ritual. Damn! If only I drank back then!)

No, I haven't been back to that church (or many others, frankly) for many, many years, but I still know people who go there, so what happens there is of moderate interest.

I therefore was interested to learn that the church, officially called Trinity Episcopal Church, is building a big new facility well away from its traditional neighborhood, which is just down the street from the ExxonMobil refinery (biggest oil refinery in the country!) in a part of town that is now dominated by taquerias and rent houses under lease by Hispanic immigrants who don't speak English.

The really interesting thing is that the sign that has been erected at the site of the new church says, Trinity Church.

The left out "Episcopal."

I investigated and learned that some of the old-time church members are not happy with this omission, as the suspicion is that the powers-that-be left out "Episcopal" as a way to lure in newcomers who might think they're walking into one of those nondenominational churches where attendance these days is going gangbusters while Episcopalian attendance continues to dwindle.

So it's a bait 'n switch, pretty much like the Bored in Baytown Website.

Does the end justify the means? You could argue that. That's what the Moonies say when they surreptitiously recruit young people into the fold of Sun Myung Moon.

But me, though I'm a lapsed "Whiskeypalian" (so called cause the church believes in "moderation" when it comes to demon rum), prefer that other thing in the Bible that talks about the truth setting you free. So if you believe in that, you shouldn't have to bait 'n switch. It doesn't seem right.


Anonymous said...

why does it have to be labeled a church event?

doesn't matter as long as you are fulfilling the great commission.

Banjo Jones said...

i don't think JC would resort to bait 'n switch tactics to fulfill his directive, but i could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

i think jc's standard is a little higher than earthly man. we strive to be like him, but don't think we're there yet.