Australian Idolatory – the growth and growth of Hillsong
So what did this godless impostor make of Christmas at Hillsong? Was it the riot of divinely sanctioned conspicuous consumption I had feared? Not quite, but it wasn’t far off. Did the kiddywinkles have fun? Probably.
Did it feel like congregation? Emphatically not – it was spectacle from start to finish. And that’s what bothered me, if I was bothered at all. It was a show, with high production values and a high impact soundtrack available in the foyer on your way out. If I was going to ‘get’ any kind of worship, then it should have been this. But Hillsong was more awards ceremony than gig – more exclusive media event than inclusive musical or spiritual experience. The live link ups were impressive and fabulously next generation, but in the end the action was always happening somewhere else. I needn’t have worried about ruining the party, because in more senses than one, I wasn’t invited.
It struck me that, right now, the opulence of Hillsong can only work in Australia, seemingly the only economy untroubled by debt, deficit or the danger of default these days. Anywhere else – including, ironically, America – the extravagant giving, the showing and the telling would seem a tad inappropriate. Shuffling out, I made my way by courtesy shuttle to my Christmas lunch engagement, where I handed a Transformer to my hosts’ going-on-three year-old as I walked in the door. He was thrilled of course, but I couldn’t help feeling that, in order to truly enter into the Christmas spirit, I should have splashed out on an iPod Touch.