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December 8, 2008

Your Turn: God’s Bailout

Hands Together.jpg

hybrid hope.jpg

I’m interested in your thoughts on this imagery.

The scene is The Greater Grace Temple, an 8,000 member Pentecostal church in NW Detroit. Three hybrid SUV’s, each representing one of the three U.S. automakers, were melded into a service yesterday to ask for God’s help in delivering government support for the industry. The Bishop’s sermon was titled: Hybrid Hope.

NYT story here.

(h/t: DW)

(images: Carlos Barria/Reuters. December 7, 2008. Detroit, MI.)

  • Gasho

    I wonder if anyone in the crowd, say the gentleman in the brown jacket, is offended by what he sees. If I were a churchgoer and came to get closer to Jesus and God and ended up being given a car show.. I’d find a new church!

  • Gasho

    I also have to comment on the top photo.
    It really is striking. The preacher is praying for the Salvation of the SUV. He’s asking GOD Almighty, here represented as a wonderful and mysterious black void, to intervene on behalf of these automobiles. Is this because they are sinners looking for redemption? Have they given up their evil ways? Are they ready to be reborn? Does a car have a soul? Can it get to heaven if it has good enough mileage and a full tank of grace? Would Jesus approve of this sermon.. or would he be severely angry at this blasphemous farce?

  • momo

    If the context were unknown, it would appear to be an introduction of new vehicles at an auto show.
    If you’re not from Michigan, it’s difficult to understand that virtually everyone in the Detroit metropolitan area relies on the auto industry for their livelihood. It’s what puts food on their tables and roofs over their heads. Pastor Ellis at the Greater Grace Temple could have achieved his stated aims…that is, blessings on those whose jobs rely on the auto industry (see ) … without the hybrid SUVs. But that would not garner the national attention he was seeking.
    Since the purpose of the service was well advertised in advance, these people attended, knowing what was in store. Apparently they feel that praying to God is more effective than talking to George W. Bush.

  • Matthew Platte

    I’d like to see ‘em sacrifice the goat (the gray Ford).

  • Jesus Reymundo de la Cruz

    This Do In Remembrance of Me. An honest communion

  • James Robinson

    It seems to me like a bit of savvy politics, the kind you can only pull off in a huge church: the presence of the SUVs is, as momo says, the visual stunt that gets media attention, but the rest of it is actually interesting: They’re SUVs, but they’re hybrids. Is this building a prayer from the confession of sin and the struggle toward redemption? Are these ambiguous vehicles really metonyms for the state of the state of Michigan, or of the nation as a whole?
    Is the subtext of the car-show presentation effectively a plea to the congregation–which, if that church is any indication, is well-to-do on average–to buy the cars? Or merely to present them as attractive, as worth saving? Or offered in the hope that they are sacrifices pleasing to the Lord?
    I noticed they tried to get all white trucks, but the Ford’s silver. Considering that Ford is the furthest along in turning itself around, it’s interesting that it gets the grey.

  • ice weasel

    This is an excellent visual commentary on American religion. Really, I could go on and on but it would be pointless. This is ridiculous for all the reasons any rational immediately sees when they look at the picture. Megachurches need fodder like this. I have to say, I’m almost surprised we don’t have shots of some of the Southern California megas with little model homes/condos on their stage.

  • Rightwingsnarkle

    Sorry, but I think organized religion is just crazy.

  • leitmotiv

    Creepy….This seems to be a scene right out of a J. G. Ballard story.

  • donna

    I thought Jesus kicked the moneychangers out of the temple.
    Do these people ever actually READ their Bibles at all?

  • dermot

    It was only a few weeks ago when we had Christians praying to the statue of the Bull on Wall Street.
    To a Golden Calf.

  • Grassrootsorganizer

    My sister wasn’t in that congregation, but I’m sure if she was she’d be praying to God with everyone there for a plan to save the American auto industry. If even one of the three goes under, she’ll be unemployed and trying to figure out how to pay her husband’s mounting medical bills when her company closes it’s Detroit office. It goes without saying she won’t find another job in the Detroit area too easily, or health insurance for her disabled husband.
    My neighbor wasn’t there, but he’d be praying too. He’s looking at losing overnight the pension and health care he worked for, sacrifice for, fought for, planned for and was promised, and he won’t qualify for either SSI or unemployment. With no one hiring, his house now worth a fraction of what it was a few years ago and nothing selling, he’ll be completely SOL.
    I see something different from the rest of you when I look at those photos because I know the people in them — folks who are proud of what they help build, who sent their kids through college sweating on the line for 30 years, who fear for their neighbors, friends and family destine to lose everything because they produce cars and not worthless pieces of AIG paper.
    These are people who made sacrifices to turn the industry around — who trained, who acquired new skills, who were proud of the way all three corporations were pulling themselves out of the muck before the credit crisis that blind-sided all of us. These are the canaries in our shared economic coal mine — not praying TO cars or FOR cars but for their futures and the futures of most everyone they know and love.
    Or maybe they’re just praying that the American people will wake the F-up and stop believing what their daddy told them fifteen years ago about American cars. Or maybe they’re praying for an end to class snobbery and the insensitive insulated ignorance of their fellow man.

  • SaltRock

    Had the same reaction to the photo as I did the first time I heard of “HYBRID S.U.V”
    - The holy ghost of detroit’s past

  • jtfromBC

    “A cargo cult may appear in tribal societies in the wake of interaction with technologically advanced, non-native cultures. The cult is focused on obtaining the material wealth of the advanced culture through magical thinking, religious rituals and practices, believing that the wealth was intended for them by their deities and ancestors.”

  • lytom

    Nation of mass fundamentalist religions.
    So what is next?
    After “saving SUV’s” will they be praying for the environment? or for the oil wars to get them more cheap gas?

  • Victor F

    If the US auto industry wants to survive, it does have to be humble and hope for divine (government) intervention. It also has to change its sinful (wasteful) ways and reform, repent (adapt). If the auto industry crumbles, so will its workers’ faith (jobs).
    Like too many things in America, the auto industry refused to change early enough to be relevant in today’s economy. Maybe cars are actual things people use, but they play a large role in destroying our planet.
    If the industry should survive, they will have to be exponentially more innovative than they have been. If the industry should fail, perhaps Obama’s new deal can help Michigan install electric commuter railroads. It is akin to a spiritual rebirth, except people are the ones in control, not a god. I just hope that if the industry is born again, it doesn’t get all preachy and invite itself into my home to give me pamphlets.

  • BlakeIncarnate

    I hate to say this but the only people i see driving around in Cadillac Escalades in my town are minorities. Now if they were praying over an energy efficient window unit as made by the strike plant in Chicago I might bow my head too.

  • MeToo

    That’s a lot of weight on that stage. For a stage so dramatically prepared, the photos lack a sense of meaning, as well as a sense of place and effect.
    Now, as these are published, what matters most is how this congregation will refer to this time. It would seem though, that this church is open to donations to pray for rain. How to keep going with any sense of profound mystery is something the congregation has now got to determine. I mean, explain this to the children. Or do they have a kidney shaped whirlpool that can accommodate 40 for baptisms too?

  • putnam

    Autos have been demonized. This is an attempt at redemption. Not on the terms of the demon preachers (eco-liberals), but on the terms of these people (through Jesus). It’s all about love.

  • JayDenver

    The worshipers gathered around the altar to be anointed with “consecrated oil.” (From the NY Times story.) There are just so many underlying meanings here. What a story.

  • bluinky

    ANTHRO 101: “How do ‘cargo cults’ arise, and what is their aim?”

  • Molly

    Is there a key to each of these autos under every seat? Oprah, eat your heart out!

  • Molly

    Grassrootsorganizer, I am sorry I didn’t read your comment before posting. Thanks for putting some flesh and blood on this.

  • Black Jack Shellac

    Another example of why america is completely fucked in the head. America or at least American Christianity. I didn’t know that American black churches were subject to the same sort of christian insanity.

  • zyzzx

    “Please Santa, bring me a nice big check for Christmas.”

  • AikeaGuinea

    A “Solidarity Service”? Really?
    Drink to your annihilation.

  • futurebird

    Great comment Grassrootsorganizer.

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