Thursday, December 14, 2006

One Punk Under God..emergent or therapy

I watched the premier of the Sundance Channel's newest series(?) "One Punk Under God" following the life of Jay Bakker, pastor of a church called "Revolution" that meets in a downtown Atlanta bar. Heavily tatooed and pierced, Jay shares a message of non-judgemental grace with his rapt audience/congregation. "Just walking through the doors makes you a member here. We just want to love on you." Then the camera catches a series of testimonies from people society often marginalizes. They give witness to the power of Jay's message of grace and unconditional acceptance.
We go to an auto-body paint shop where a large man in a bright shirt mentors Jay in how to organize and structure this new church. They struggle with a flat and equalized structure and one of order and responsibility. We meet Jay's flaming red-haired wife Amanda, who has a massive tatoo of Jesus down one arm. She is strong and caring for Jay, but does not like the ministry or the church. So far, it's a story about building a church off the denominational grid, alone and stumbling along.
Then Jay shares his pain of being the son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker with the PTL club and Heritage USA. He was 11 years old when his world collapsed. We drive with Jay into the ruins of Heritage Village; abandoned buildings with peeling paint, bulldozed swimming pools and empty malls and arcades. According to Jay it was the third largest theme park in the US at the time, dwarfed only by the Disney parks.
He talks compassionately about his mom and her struggle with cancer. But when it comes to his dad, Jim, now remarried with 5 adopted kids and running a TV show on cooking, he viscerally aches. We see Jay making several calls to his dad, asking him to call back, signing off with "I love you." But dad doesn't call. Dad has checked out of Jay's life. And Jay needs his dad.
That's where the show became more of extended therapy and nedw-style reality TV than anything about church. It was a TV preacher's boy following in his daddy's shoes with his own new TV show, looking desperately for approval, just a call. I left the show feeling sad about this abandoned preacher. The content (what we heard of it through clips) was seeking reconciliation, not so much with God, but with his absent father.


At 4:07 PM , Anonymous Isaac Johnson said...


for pictures


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