The Dark Side of Religious Performance by Frank Viola

     Performance is pretty potent. It can entertain, impact, and lead us to new realities. It does have a dark side, however.

     Like anything of power, performance can be abused. Those who pretend to be what they aren’t are engaged in “performance.” They take in the gullible and use them for their own ends. Con artists and Elmer-Gantry-esque preachers are examples of this abuse.

     By contrast, the performances we value all share this characteristic: we “know” the performers are performing. On the other hand, the manipulative kind of performance is shattered when we realize it’s merely a performance. A charade. Such performers need to deceive us for their “performance” to work.

     It’s this confusion about performance that lames the Body of Christ. Lots of people in lots of churches are performing and don’t know it. They go through the (admittedly limited) religious motions because they’re told to. This problem is rampant among the so-called “laity.”

     More alarming, some people are performing and don’t want anyone else to know it. Such is true for countless “clergy” today.

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