Route to Recovery

A trip through the epicenters of the recession

Emulating the greatest generation and avoiding “God Inc”

November 9, 2009

BELLA VISTA, Arkansas – Pastor Jonathan Watson says that he would like to be more like America’s greatest generation than the destructive one that followed it.

“Many people I know of my generation would like to be more like our grandparents’ generation than our parents’ generation,” Watson, 34, said in his office at the Bella Vista Assembly of God. “That was America’s Greatest Generation. They were children of the Great Depression and they were a generation of people who lived by a standard.”

The generation that followed – the Baby Boomers – were the “hippies of the 1960s, the disco goers of the 1980s and the power brokers of the 1980s,” Watson said. “That generation has eaten up everything that their parents left them and leave nothing but debts behind them for the rest of us.”

Watson, whose church is in this small town near Bentonville in Northwest Arkansas, which is home to retail giant Walmart, said he believes that America needs to rebuild its sense of community and rediscover its moral compass.

“The hippies wanted to do good things and change the world. Unfortunately, they changed the world for the worse,” Watson said. “Many of us have looked at our grandparents and think that their way was better. We think it’s better to buy a house and live in it for 40 years, spend your life with just one woman and love your children.”


In a country where many churches are aiming to expand their numbers and mega churches have become ever more popular this pastor wants to keep his flock small.

“Everyone in America wants a bigger church,” he said. “A bigger church brings more money, more clout and more power. But if you have thousands of people in your church it’s hard to minister to them and build relationships with individuals.”

“After a church reaches a certain size it becomes God Incorporated,” Watson said. “Not that that’s a bad thing, mega churches do lots of good work, but we prefer to keep our membership small so we can have a relationship with everyone.”

Watson’s church averages service attendance between 230 and 280. Attendance was higher, but he recently set up a new church in Centerton, about 10 miles away, with some 40 members of its congregation, which is now growing.

The pastor said that this is the model for expansion, that rather than growing beyond its maximum capacity of up to 700 people, the church would rather set up fresh congregations and church’s using a portion of the congregation.


Watson said that although his congregation has been growing, the average donation per capita has fallen 10 percent to 20 percent thanks to the financial difficulties some of his congregation find itself in.

“I hope that for everyone this crisis will help people learn there are people here to help,” he said. “And I hope that eventually more people will go beyond the idea of finding a dollar and spending it as soon as you can.

Photos by Lucy Nicholson

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I believe the pastor is right on. I don’t blame the hippies, but I do blame the promotion of “greed” that has been sold to the country. This comes when no controls are placed upon business, advertizing, and manufacturers. We have too much of everything and too much is the norm in everything. I do believe that the country will change and that our government will also change and get smaller.

Posted by f belz | Report as abusive

Wow. These pictures are scary!!

Cough* Sheep Cough*

Posted by Sebastian | Report as abusive

I just turned 60, which I guess makes me a member of the generation Pastor Watson characterizes so uncharitably. My wife and I have been married for 34 years, and expect to remain so for as long as we both draw breath. We’ve been in the same house for 33 of those years, paid off the mortgage long ago, raised two wonderful children and bought a plot in a cemetary where we’ll be buried together. We both made career choices strongly influenced by a sense of “giving back” instead of just “taking”–I chose to work in medical research instead of designing instruments of war (which would have paid much better) and she’s worked as a nurse, having taken a hiatus when we started our family. We don’t like to make a big thing out of it, but we participate in a number of charitable activities, mostly to help people who’ve for one reason or another fallen into dire straits as the “American Dream” as morphed into an orgy of rapacious corporate greed.

Perhaps Pastor Wilson finds something wrong with this, or thinks the fact that my parents’ generation struggled with the hardship of the Great Depression and had to fight a horrific war for the nation’s survival were “good things”.

If Mr. Wilson has realized that “God, Inc.” and the toxic mixture of religion and politics in which we’ve been marinating for the last few years isn’t such a good idea, good. My hat’s off to him for that. For his crass and wrong-headed generalization about me and my peers, I offer my middle finger.

Posted by Art Marriott, Seattle | Report as abusive

Sebastian – I don’t mind being called ‘sheep’. Jesus said people were like sheep, goats or wolves. I hope I am found to be a sheep when I face my creator.

Pastor Watson is 100% right. People are starved for community and belonging. Some of the ideals from the 60′s were very good ideals (peace, love, & question authority). Unfortunately some were ideas from the 60′s did not turn out so well (“free” love, drug use, etc).


Seems like another run of the mill right wing fundamentalist. So he wants to have a string of small churches and instead of one big church. Big deal. I think this type of mindless reactionary is part of the problem

Posted by pyotr | Report as abusive

The so called greatest generation named themselves that.

That generation also lived with racism (every ethnic neighborhood had its own turf) that burst out in the form of genocide, mass murder and destruction at a scale never seen before in the history of man and has not been seen since. Those that survived were the teachers in the primary, secondary schools and colleges of my generation.

The greatest generation was helpless and even stupid during the depression because the political and economic establishment that helped to create the Depression didn’t want to budge on fixing the problem. Every initiative that Roosevelt tried, to solve the mass unemployment, was overturned by the Supreme Court until Roosevelt was able to appoint most of them himself.

That generation was the children of the last wave of mass immigration – like my own Grandparents – who had no education or very little. My Grandparents could never speak English well but they were determined that their children would be educated in college if they could get there. Their grandchildren were also expected to go to college and rise to the top of the social order.

The greatest generation seems to forget that they left their children and grand children atomic weapons, the memory of the genocide and forced slavery (mass conscription itself is a from of slavery) and the seeds of a determination never to repeat the same mistakes which allowed them to indulged themselves in the almost unconscious extermination of the Jews of Europe (along with about 12 million others whom the NAZI’s deemed “undesirable” but who never seem to get memorials) and the death of about 80 million people world wide. The greatest generation was hardly aware of the death camps and may not have cared anyway.

They lived in a world where discrimination at every level of society was the fetid and very polluted air they breathed. There was also no clean air act and a visit to LA in the immediate post war years brought tears to this child’s eyes. The industrial cities of this nation were as filthy as China is today.

The greatest generation brought the collapse of the old colonial powers but their children brought about the collapse of the segregationist policies of this and many other countries.

Their children were educated to abhor the legacy of WWII , but had to live with the Cold War and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Their children lived under a cloud of potential death that their teachers and political leaders never forgot and tried to avoid.

Actually – the hippies came too soon. Now would be a good time to create the alternate societies and lifestyles as the old political and economic order seems to be withering and dieing under the over speculation that characterized the economy of the last 20 years or more. No one wants to buy or sell a house that they can’t sell for more than they paid for it. In fact they seem to want to get the entire cost of the mortgage financing as well. And that attitude was shared by any homeowner regardless of the generation they claim to belong. They all wanted rent free housing.

My generation lived in a world that was forced to adapt to an economy that was no longer agricultural, and saw the burnout of the industrial base as it moved to cheaper parts of the country and than left it almost entirely.

We were not a generation of farmers and factory workers and that – not abortion rights – spelled the death of the large families. They were no longer affordable or even practical. One should remember that the standard post WWII tract house usually only contained three bedrooms. One could almost say that the houses the GIs were moving into was itself dropping subliminal hints about how large a family the millions of new marrieds were expected to have.

And considering the dubious legacy of world wide religious influence now – especially from the Islamic world, and in my opinion, an equally reactionary and tragic refusal to smell the coffee in the ME by the Israeli’s regarding the future of those they displaced, the next generation will have a big problem for some time. My grandparents and even my parents could never quite visualize the world of Islam and even my Father (a WWII vet) still can’t understand that the religion is Islam and a follower is Muslim – not an “Islam”. Their generation thought of Mohammad as the anti-christ.

The next generation will either have to out grow those idiotic attitudes or they will very likely die because of them.

Posted by Paul Rosa | Report as abusive

I enjoyed reading all the points of view from the different ages. All had something right to say, however, I would suggest that some of these people read “In the Jaws of the Dragon” by Eamonn Fingleton. It will show everyone where the US is going for lack of understanding our country and Government and complete ignorance of other foreign countries’ motives towards the US. The answer to many of our problems is not in the hands of religious ministers but in the hands of the American people themselves to demand that jobs and manufacturing stay in this country and stop the imports that we can’t help but buy. To reform education and stop the choice of electives versus research and engineering. This country has become too lax in the control of so-called freedoms. We need to control immigration and the proliferation of drugs in the US. We need to build a strong Military around our borders and stop getting involved in other countries losing thousands of our own people for what? Not only that, everyone pays for it. In the future too, we might elect people who are not actors or because of charming personality. How about educating our prospective elected official before they get into government and teach them what governing a country is all about. This last election was a sad fact of personality election and who had the mastery of speaking best. Republican or Democrats have talented people among them, those are the ones to chose not by their color or religion.


for Paul Rosa, facts not opinions:

Islam is much more than a religion; it is a complete political form of tyranny (caliphate), jurisprudence (Sharia law), war (jihad), and a deliberately false “religion of peace.” The doctrine of Islam is found in three books: Koran (the literal word of Allah as “revealed” to Mohammed), Sira (Mohammad’s biography), and Hadith (stories about and sayings of Mohammed by contemporaries). The definitive text of Sharia law is “Reliance of the Traveller.” Allah and Mohammed are to be obeyed, not questioned. “Islam” means “submission;” a Muslim is “one who submits.” “Islam” does not mean “peace.”

Our national cognitive dissonance began immediately after 9/11 when President George Bush visited the Islamic Center of Washington on September 17, 2001, and said, “Islam is peace.” President Obama has reiterated this misperception of Islam specifically in his recent speech of apology in Cairo to the “Muslim World.”

The contradiction of Islam upon which our cognitive dissonance is based is this: Islam is benevolent and peaceful, and Islam is violent and hostile. Both positions cannot be true.

O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil). (Koran, 9:123)

The purpose of the Islamic doctrine is the destruction of all cultures that are not Islamic and expansion of Islam until the entire world is under Islamic rule and Sharia law.

O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and be hard against them; and their abode is hell; and evil is the resort. (Koran, 66:9)

- take no prisoners until Islam has made all submit. They were to forget the ransom and the money, Mohammed said, because submission of the non-believers was all that mattered. (Sira:Ishaq:484 – Mohammed and the Unbelievers: A Political Life, Center for the Study of Political Islam, 2006, p.71)

And fight with them until they submit, and religion should be only for Allah, but if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors. (Koran, 2:193)

It is difficult for many to accept that such an ideology can be real and that people kill and die for it; we see the truth of Islam in word and deed but pretend that it is not so. According to Sharia law (Islamic law) Islam abrogates, that is “cancels,” all other religions.

Previously revealed religions were valid in their own eras, as is attested to by many verses of the Holy Koran, but were abrogated by the universal message of Islam as is equally attested to by many verses of the Koran.

…It is unbelief (kufr) to hold that the remnant cults now bearing the names of formerly valid religions, such as “Christianity” or “Judaism,” are acceptable to Allah Most High after He has sent the final Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) to the entire world. (Reliance of the Traveller, w4.0(2))

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Koran:9:29)

You will find others who desire that they should be safe from you and secure from their own people; as often as they are sent back to the mischief they get thrown into it headlong; therefore if they do not withdraw from you, and (do not) offer you peace and restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them; and against these We have given you a clear authority. (Koran, 4:91)

Narrated by Abu Huraira: Allah ‘s Apostle said, “I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,’ and whoever says, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,’ his life and property will be saved by me except for Islamic law, and his accounts will be with Allah, (either to punish him or to forgive him.)” (Bukhari, Hadith, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 196)

62% of Koran is devoted to how Islam interacts with the kafir (the unbeliever).
98% of the Sira is devoted to the struggle against kafirs. (70% is jihad; 28% is argument and insults.) 20% of Bukhari Hadith is devoted to jihad.
The evidence to resolve our societal cognitive dissonance about Islam is readily available and painfully obvious.

Islamist mass murderers and terrorists/jihadists are not “hijackers of Islam,” they are not “misunderstanders” of Islam; they are the devout followers of a political ideology that is hostile to freedom, tolerance and democracy because we are not Muslims.

We will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they set up with Allah that for which He has sent down no authority, and their abode is the fire, and evil is the abode of the unjust. (Koran, 3:151)

Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due (jizya tax), then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran, 9:5)

The Prophet said, “Khosrau will be ruined, and there will be no Khosrau after him, and Caesar will surely be ruined and there will be no Caesar after him, and you will spend their treasures in Allah’s Cause.” He called, ‘War is deceit’. (Bukhari, Hadith, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 267)

CAIR’s founder, Omar Ahmad, said in 1998 that “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran . . . should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.” (San Ramon, CA., Valley Herald, 7/04/1998.)

So obey not the disbelievers, but strive against them herewith with a great endeavour. (Koran, 25:52)

If our democracy and freddoms are to survive we must accept the truth of Islam.

Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not. (Koran, 2:216)

Our cognitive dissonance will be resolved only with truth and knowledge. Islam is not a “religion of peace.”

Posted by Van Castle | Report as abusive

The Roman church model is to blame for stultifying the Christians. The Protestant reformation may have dropped the pope, but they continued with the state religion organization. The “laity”, the “pastors” and the “bishops” all assume this is the orthodox model of the church. It was created by the Roman emperors, not by Jesus and Peter.

When persecution hits, Christians start meeting in house groups. These groups have the Holy Spirit as their head, not a professional “pastor.” They grow leaps & bounds in maturity and fruitfulness. Revival starts. The New Testament model of “church” always does.

When a time of prosperity returns, the professional church folk call them back to the Roman model. The Christians are reduced to Laity. They languish in the pews, their gifts unused. THAT’S what happened to the Jesus People movement!

For the first 250 years of the church, the model was the house church. They had the gifts, the fruit and most of what is now called the Bible. They were turning the world upside down. There is evidence of them even getting to India and China.

Emperor Constantine, at the advice of his pagan counselors, adopted Christianity, stopped persecuting them and made Christianity the state religion. He made the giant Christian temples after the example of the pagan temples. He established government priests and bishops to oversee the organization. He started the “apostolic succession” and ordained these professionals. He never abandoned his pagan counselors for Christian counselors.

Reading material on this:
“The Healing Reawakening” by Francis MacNutt
“Pagan Christianity?” by Frank Viola and George Barna
“Paul’s Idea of Community” by Robert Banks


All you “christians” trashing muslims, take a look at your own history before judging others, and no, I’m not muslim. There are many lines from the Bible that are as negative and intolerant as the ones that are pulled from the Koran. Any guesses as to why that might be? I’ll give you a hint: religious texts aren’t written by god. Every religion has it’s version of bigotry. Don’t believe me? Go read all the religious texts WITHOUT skipping anything. Unfortunately, most people are to stupid to think for themselves, hence the state of the world. By the way, the so called “greatest generation” were silent witnesses to racism, bigotry, the holocaust, and the illegal internment of Japanese Americans (these people are US citizens, for all the dimwits who think being white is a requirement to being an American citizen). We the rightous USA wouldn’t let the Jews in even though we knew what the Germans were doing. I wouldn’t call that policy “great.”

Posted by BB | Report as abusive

Wow! He’s gone a short ways sense his days at CBC. His dad pastored one of the biggest churches in springfield, mo. Keep memebership down! Ha. You mean noone wants to come here him talk. There is no such thing as the greatest generation or the worst. There is good and bad in each generation. Sounds like reverand watson has grown out of touch with the rest of the world. I’m 32 and went to school with him. I don’t know a single person under the age of 80 that thinks the 40s was the best times. Arkanasas hardly counts as the rest of america.

Posted by joe stewart | Report as abusive

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