SNCAT’s religious programming
“Have you seen the website lately?” asked Les Smith, executive director of Northern Nevada’s public cable access group, SNCAT, the subject of our 15 Minutes interview this week. “Oh, dude, you have to check it out.” So I went to www.sncat.org and realized I’d hit the Holy Grail of local religious programming. I’m sure this wasn’t Smith’s intention, but there it was, and here we are.
I’ve occasionally made trips into religious media with an eye toward showing homebound readers places to go where they can get the message without leaving the farm, but the media stops I’ve visited mostly came up a little short. Often, church sites have audio but no visual. Television churches often seem more like infomercial money generators than authentic spiritual experiences, but here, there is a wide variety of spiritual philosophies, some in Spanish, some in English. In fact, if this weren’t all on one site, there’d be many weeks’ worth of Filets of Soul in this one-stop shop.
I started my sampling with the broadcast of Iglesia de Cristo Palabra Miel. Pastor Rafael Reyes spoke on the topic, “La Importancia de la Lampara.” Not that it’s important, but I was a little stymied by the translation of both the name of the church and the topic of the sermon. Basically, as a direct translation, the church’s name is Church of Christ, Honey Word, and the sermon was “The Importance of the Lamp.” (A little investigation reveled that MIEL is an acronym for the church’s name: Ministerios Elim.) Be that as it may, one reason I like to attend Spanish services is they allow me to brush up on my language skills. The quality of the audio on the site is fine for these purposes. Pastor Reyes is a fatherly speaker, primarily working from behind a large wooden lectern with expansive gestures. I’ll also note that several Hispanic pastors speak from the church—just taste-test any of the 20 sermons and biblical discussions that are on the SNCAT site.
The next spiritual philosophy represented on the site is Eckankar. Eckankar, as I understand it, is essentially a karma-based religion. ECK is the name of God. As I listened to the discussion of the topic “Make Your Own Happiness,” led by Verla Jackson, I found myself interested in attending an Eckankar discussion, which are held at the Reno Town Mall irregularly. So if it piques your interest, too, check out www.eck-nevada.org. There are nine videos stored on the site, so it’s pretty easy to get the flavor of the group. The discussions basically revolve around how to live better and various exercises that are designed to help the individual achieve spiritual freedom and happiness.
Last on our little tour is the Ekklesia Cafe and Piano Bar on the topic of “Same Sex Love, Praise God.” I saw the Gus Van Sant film Milk, starring Sean Penn, the night before, and I was kind of in a mood. The show started with a Billy Joel sample, “New York State of Mind.”
“I’m just here at my little piano bar and Bible study. You’re certainly welcome to have a cup of coffee if you’d like. It’s good coffee,” said the speaker Jay Pearson temptingly. The pastor said that marriage is for the purposes of procreation, that Jesus said that anyone who gets a divorce and remarries commits adultery. I even hung right in there when he started comparing gay people to eunuchs. Still, I was pretty happy when he sat down at the piano and sang and played some jazzy tunes before moving back into his sermon. Surprisingly, even after listening to the entire sermon, I’m uncertain of exactly where he stands on the same-sex marriage issue. He quoted 1 Corinthians several times. That’s the bit where Paul said, “‘Everything is permissible for me’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’—but I will not be mastered by anything.”