aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
A new “study” of Megachurches - Georgia has 73 (fourth behind California, Texas and Florida) - finds:
[V]irtually all megachurches share common traits of a dynamic senior pastor, emphasis on conservative values, and building small groups to offset its size.
They also know how to make worship entertaining. Roughly 80 percent use electric guitars and drums while nearly all use visual projection equipment for sermons and song aids.
The Rev. Randy Mickler, senior minister of Mount Bethel United Methodist Church in Marietta, said his church offers a full orchestra and a praise band and uses everything from dance and dramatic skits to movie clips to bolster worship. His church has 8,000 members.
“You name any instrument and it’ll be here,” Mickler said. “The churches that are growing are the ones using every technique available.”
Among the megachurch myths that the study “debunks,” Thumma said, are:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ All megachurches are nondenominational. Reality: Most are affiliated with a denomination.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Megachurches water down theology. Reality: Most have high spiritual expectations.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ They are extensions of the Republican Party. Reality: The majority are not politically active.
The survey also says megachurches don’t dwell on raising money, except when engaged in a building or capital campaign.
Their conservative values play out as Republican politics: abortion, gays, evolution. The Rev. Mickler’s band underscores the coddle-your-flock attitude. Where once one’s preacher was aware, now the pastor’s not watching. Not only that, you can wear shorts and there are no crosses! So how exactly do those “high spiritual expectations” manifest themselves?
I suspect a methodological flaw:
The conclusions were based on an eight-month survey of 400 megachurches undertaken by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research - a research arm of the seminary - and the Leadership Network, a church growth consulting firm based in Dallas. The findings are based on answers supplied by the churches themselves.
Variable pricing for movies is coming
So says the New York Times today:
Soon...you will pay more for a ticket on the weekends and less on weekdays. You’ll be able to buy a reserved seat in the center of the theater for a few extra dollars. One of these days, you may even have to pay more for a hit movie than for a bomb. The changes are under way, and they are long overdue. [...]
The theater industry’s attempt to ignore the laws of supply and demand is as good an example of corporate inertia as you will find. For decades, going to the movies was one of the rituals of American life, and competition among theaters revolved mainly around trying to land more hot films than the theater down the street.
But now theaters face a very different competitive landscape, thanks to DVD’s, high-definition TV’s, Netflix and TiVo. Family night at the movies, meanwhile, can cost $60. It’s no wonder that the share of disposable income spent on moviegoing has fallen a stunning 17 percent in just the last three years.
There is no easy fix for industry. But it’s clear that it can’t afford to leave easy money sitting on the table any longer, which is why executives are finally thinking about a more sensible business model. It is called variable pricing, and the first step is likely to be extending the old matinee discount to weeknights. “I predict we will see it within a year,” said Peter C. Brown, who runs the nation’s second-biggest theater chain, AMC Entertainment, which invented the multiplex in the 1960’s and the armchair cup holder in 1981. “There are people looking at it. I’ll leave it at that.”
Not all variable pricing ideas are popular. I missed this one:
But this is a tricky game, which is why so many companies are still struggling with it. You may recall that Coca-Cola announced in 1999 that it was thinking about installing thermometers in its vending machines and charging more on a hot day. Economically, it makes perfect sense that a cold soda is worth more when the temperature hits 90. But consumers thought they were being gouged, and the ensuing uproar caused Coke’s executives to insist that the plan was never serious.
Willie’s gay cowboy song
Country music outlaw Willie Nelson sang “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” more than 25 years ago. He released a very different sort of cowboy anthem this Valentine’s Day.
“Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other)” may be the first gay cowboy song by a major recording artist. But it was written long before this year’s Oscar-nominated “Brokeback Mountain” made gay cowboys a hot topic.
Available only via iTunes, do you think it will enable the country crooner to breakout into Blue State success? Nah, just another meme.
Lyrics & links at Boing Boing.
The cost of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
The Army is accepting more recruits with criminal and drug histories, the number of waivers issued is up 25%. Still it missed its recruiting target. But even worse, it’s spending millions of dollars to enforce Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:
It cost the federal government just under $364 million to discharge and replace about 9,500 gay service members during the first decade of the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
The figure is 91 percent more than previously estimated, according to a study conducted by a panel of military experts assembled by the University of California.
The 12-member Blue Ribbon Commission that conducted the study was scheduled to release a report Feb. 14 saying it was unable to obtain certain information from the Pentagon that likely would have indicated still higher costs.
More from the Washington Post.