Wednesday, September 30, 2015

#287- Not Marriage Equality (Part 1)

Editor's Note: So we have a guest post from a new blog called Thoughts and Prayers in MotionAnd from the two posts so far, it's definitely worth keeping in view. Not too preachy but forceful enough to make you stop and think. while it’s definitely not an establishment voice, the blog clearly has a constructive agenda and isn’t just another collection of bitter rants.” Anywho, enjoy the blog's latest post below:

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to them, and to which God has called them. This is my rule in all the churches. – Saint Paul (1 Cor. 7:17)

In response to the recent incarceration of a Kentucky county clerk for refusing to perform her duties, certifying marriages for all Rowan County couples, the General Superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church International, David K. Bernard, posted some of his thoughts on Facebook. Near the beginning of the post, Bernard writes, “As Christians, we can agree on the following points…”

While it is tempting to jump straight to a discussion of the following points, it is Bernard’s deftly phrased opening, “As Christians, we can agree” to which we must be most attentive. Who are these Christians or this we? Surely not all Christians, as it is quite clear that Christians in general rarely speak with a unified voice on anything, marriage equality definitely not one of those rare issues. Perhaps Bernard means Apostolics or Oneness Pentecostals or even United Pentecostals when he says we? Even so, such a statement would still be less than accurate, as dissenting views on marriage equality exist in all three of the aforementioned more narrow possibilities. This deceptively benign opening, “As Christians, we can agree” warrants our close attention, because it is a foundational prop in what can only be called a phantasmagorical production. A feverish bit of theater, in which we are confronted by the spectacle of a weeping woman, who having been maliciously persecuted for the sake of righteousness, nevertheless stands firm for Jesus. This carefully choreographed pageantry seeks to stoke the fear of an imminent loss of Christian freedoms, all the while ignoring the abdication of Christian values taking place in the humiliation, suffering and indignity inflicted upon hapless couples who had the audacity to seek equal treatment under the law.

This foundational prop of which I speak, is the carefully cultivated fiction — a fiction many Christian leaders (including Oneness Pentecostal and Apostolic elites) are desperately trying maintain — that frames the struggle for marriage equality as an external attack upon Christian faith by an assortment of worldly forces. That marriage equality is an internal issue of Christian debate/dissent (no matter how narrowly one draws the circle) is something that cannot be acknowledged by the reigning powers. Christians however, even Apostolic Christians, have never been a monolithic group, and framing marriage equality as an issue in which Christians are pitted against non-Christians (non-Christians we should add, who seek to undermine Christian freedoms) is disingenuous. Such a framing is vulgar propaganda that only feeds a false persecution complex currently in vogue among many conservative American Christians.

The truth is this: the gays are not out there waging war against all things Christian. Let us be clear. In their fight against marriage equality, church leaders and those who follow them, are not holding the line against an onslaught by godless heathens, but are instead committing the sin of Cain. Let us name this they whom we are told to resist. They are our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters, our musicians, educators, pastors, worship leaders, janitors, ushers and elders — they are faithful children of God. That it may genuinely surprise many to learn that nearly half of lesbian, gay or bisexual Americans identify as Christian (and that percentage is increasing) is just more evidence of how successful establishment propaganda has been.

Here is an uncomfortable truth. Whatever religious persecution of Christians is taking place in this country; it is all too often taking place at the hands of other Christians. As a little publicized victory by a coalition of clergy, same-sex couples and religious denominations late last year demonstrated, in denying LGBT Christians marriage equality, North Carolina's marriage laws violated the First Amendment rights of Christian clergy and the principle of "free exercise of religion.” While the recently incarcerated Kentucky county clerk does offer us an opportunity to confront religious persecution in America, it is not the example of persecution her supporters imagine. The persecution, to which she calls our attention, is one that seeks (among other things, namely the imposition of one’s own religious beliefs upon non-believers) to deny LGBT Christians and the Christian communities to which they belong, the freedom to exercise their constitutional right to the free expression of their religion. It is imperative that we see beyond the actors on the stage in order to unmask this tragic reality that both the victims and the perpetrators in this story are Christians.

While Bernard’s post appears to be a genuine attempt at finding some balance between secular authority and personal conscience, sadly, he doesn’t seem to appreciate the irony involved in citing Romans 14 to conclude a reflection in which he has attempted to impose a tendentious reading of scripture upon all Christians. In 1 Corinthians 7, Saint Paul acknowledges that even for faithful Christians, marriage is a complicated subject and that we should resist any attempt at homogenizing believers. May we hear afresh Saint Paul’s words that every one must be free to faithfully live the life to which God has called them, not forced into a life that other Christians may seek to impose upon them. A candid discussion about marriage equality might begin, “as Christians, we do not agree.”

Monday, August 24, 2015

#286 - The Stoneking Hypothesis: Sound vs. Air Theology

Years ago, Lee Stoneking gave this blog an audience without realizing it. Literally, discussing the science of his Holy Magic Hair Theory caused the blog to go from a few hits a day (thanks mom) to getting hits from my mother, two aunts, and any girlfriend who gets past the three date anniversary. And that's exciting. Except we at SAL have gone our separate ways from Stoneking.... 

And like two star-crossed lovers, I felt in my heart of hearts that a reunion was imminent. I just didn't know how to start a conversation again with someone who meant so much to the blog and myself. Yet luckily Stoneking started it at Youth Congress when this happened....

Let's get this straight: Stoneking has a theory that shouting attacks the air and conversely attacks the Prince of Air himself: Satan. The theory of evolution may not check out, but Lee Stoneking's theory of Sound vs. Air absolutely checks out. Because the Bible. And because,  hashtag loud noises matter.

The theory: Joshua decided to enter Canaan and kill anyone else living there (women and children alike) and had a whole lot of success until he got to Jericho and there were walls around the city, so some marching and loud noises caused the city walls to fall and thus we can conclude that sound noises caused wall-failure.

Except with Lee Stoneking, shouting causes air particles to get shredded speedily and a take-no-prisoners, wam-bam-thank-you-mam kind of recklessness. And for Stoneking, no walls will collapse, however, because that would be physical proof of a miracle and that's not his style. Instead, tongues are spoken. Crying happens. And this all checks out. Apostolic Sound vs. Air, and Apo Sound wins.

But the critical discovery regarding the Stoneking Shout vs. Air hypothesis is that while studying the issue scientifically and Biblically, Dr. Lee Stoneking realized that Satan himself was the Prince of that very Air that was shredded by Shout.

Further Hypotheses
Whilst Dr. Stoneking is currently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize about this discovery, several minor logistical questions remain.

Question 1: If Satan is the Prince of the Air, who are the King and Queen of the Air?

We may never know. But if, as rumor has it, that the King of the Air is God Himself, then aren't we attacking God every time we shout? (more research needed).

      Question 1. A: If God is the King of the Air and Satan is the Prince of the Air, is God the Father of Satan? Is this like the opposite of Darth Vader revealing "Luke, I am your father?" (more research needed)

Aside: I'm not an air particle expert here as the Shout vs. Air Science is a newly constructed field. Therefore I will have to to defer to our resident Air-depletion specialist, Dr, Lee Stoneking regarding such matters in the mean time.

Question 2: If shouting attacks air, is it possible that one of the main causes of global warming is humans having a loud shout? After all, scientists agree that the amount of O-Zone depletion has increased at silly exponential rates within the past two hundred years. Is it then a coincidence that during this very same 200 years that the rate of human shouting has increased at nearly the exact same rate?

And if I'm correct (more research needed), and the smoking gun of global warming is shouting humans, then can we just let the global warming blame-game about pollution be put to rest?

         Question 2. A. Does screaming count as shouting? (From the video of Youth Congress' Great Shout Invasion, it seems screaming was permissible to shed and deplete air particles.) And if so, how much damage did the Jews cause the atmosphere when six million of them were screaming for their life in the gas chamber?

                Question 2 A. 1. What kind of injuries did Satan sustain after the aforementioned Jewish Air-Scream invasion of the early 1940's?

Observations: Observed that a lot of the air particle depletion from Congress occurred in a setting where screaming and shouting was encouraged amongst thousands of youths. A setting where one could openly emit LOUD NOISES in order to kill Satan, and ALSO NOT be declared a crazy, a wimp, a rebel rouser or be suspected of possible terrorist intentions. Actually Congress may have been the only place in the world where screaming & shouting would be rewarded with a fist pump or a bro-hug even though tears were clearly stuck in your eye-lashes.

Testing & Results: Rumor has it that the Oklahoma Air Particle Assault did not end at Congress but found it's way to many a church the following weekend(s). And the scientific measurements of just a sample of these church confirmed that air particle shreddings were not limited to 23,000 insecure adolescents making loud noises for emotional effect. No sir. In fact, air particles were depleted at the exact same rate no matter the amount of shouters within a venue. One loud shouting home missions church of eight people and a pet cat named Steve reported that they were "having difficulty breathing and feeling slightly light headed" after  having a Shout alter call service for a whole twenty minutes. The good news is that inside sources tell me that after this shout attack, that Satan is nursing an ACL tear and is expected to be out of any spiritual warfare activity for at least 6-9 months,

Sound vs. Air Theology in Action:  After finding out that Satan was injured and in hiding over a bit of shouting at the air, I have taken up the task of shouting in wherever the Spirit compels me to. Sure I was alone in the shout each time, and sure it was way awkward to be amongst people who didn't have one clue about the amount of Air destruction they could commit with some loud vocals, but when Satan's on the retreat, there's no time to explain why you were shouting out loud.

And who care's if you found yourself escorted out of a TSA airplane line because you shouted. The air is being shredded and that's more important.

And sure you'll get sweared at next to a man in a urinal as the Spirit compels you to  give a loud shout. But even if the man next to you is mid-poop, be rest assured, that your very shout may be preventing a Satanic attack on his soul at that very moment. Tell him to thank you for your shout.

Conclusion: When the tried and true theory of the Lee Stoneking Sound vs. Air theology is confirmed within academia, we'll have more visitors in our church from the shouting revival services for the next week or two and as a result of all the outbursts of emotion, salvation will be easier for the seekers which means even more ridiculous and asinine pseudo-science theologies to manipulate a crowd to get a reaction. And in two months, we'll forget any of this ever happened.

P.S. More Stoneking Love coming soon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

#285 - #NAYC2015 (An Ode To Broken Commitments)

Editor's Comment: To ensure credit where credit is due, Glen McGee wrote this post (side note: goosebumps ahead)-

Fresh on the heels of North American Youth Congress 2015 it’s the Stuff Apostolics Like Recap of Events!

Nah, just kiddin. We actually have finally crossed the threshold of being so far removed we have absolutely no idea who sang, preached, screamed, got wifed up or anything else that may have occurred.

I've had a post on my mind for a while now and given that I spent last night looking at the Instagram hashtags from NAYC, and became very, very sad, I thought now was a good time to post it.

Looking through Twitter and Instagram there are countless posts of excitement and zealous emotion for the time spent there. And why wouldn’t there be? When you live in a culture that’s founded on isolation from everything that surrounds you, and you’re constantly reminded that you’re “in the world, not of it,” it’s absolutely intoxicating to completely take over a city. I recall being 18 years old, withdrawn from my school; my only social access was the thirty or so kids in my youth group. I felt like I lived in a bubble. I lived for the large gatherings the UPC fostered. I counted down to camp season like the rest of the country counts down to The Superbowl. Just like the countdowns on Twitter and Instagram for the last month… I only made it to two NAYC’s (2003 and 2005) before my work schedule couldn’t allow it, and by the time I could take off from work I no longer cared, but those two NAYC’s were the epitome of excitement for me.

I can’t describe the feeling of being in an arena with 20,000 people who think, dress and live the exact same way you do, when you’re the weird one back home. At your school you’re the goodie two shoes, the church boy, the Jesus Freak. But here? Here you’re in your element. Here the tables turn. Here the girl walking down the street in pants is the one who’s out of place. Here your bowtie is cool. Here the smell of Aussie hairspray permeates the air like hot garbage in New York City.

But that’s not all. It’s at these functions, the Congress’, the camps, the rallies, where “commitments” are made. Sermons are screamed with a practiced pseudo-sincerity that also acts as a calculated emotional spell being cast on starry-eyed teenagers.

And herein lies the tragedy.

This was me, on the regular.

I can’t tell you the amount of times I sat on my knees with my face buried in the carpet, my hands filled with tears as I BEGGED God for the strength to never give up. I interceded with the fervor of a dying soldier begging not to be left on the battlefield, asking God to never let me become…..

what I eventually became.

I committed with every fiber of my soul to never turn my back, to never walk away, to never stop believing. The fear the preacher had just put into me drove me to scream at the top of my lungs every articulation of commitment I could think of. I listened to the rhetorical idea that “we’re one generation away from losing the anointing,” and I told God I would never be a part of that fallen generation.

During the time when most everyone I knew at school were living normal teenage lives, having their first kiss, going to dances, listening to music and simply having the American Youthful Experience I spent my time at a Pentecostal altar. I, and my youth group, thrust ourselves into the emotional hurricane of guilted commitments prodded by a passionate solicitation for our most sincere devotion. Tearful preachers stood in pulpits Sunday after Sunday, Friday after Friday, telling us of the risks waiting for us every time we “stepped outside those doors,” and we bought right in.

And that’s what happened this past week in Oklahoma City. Thousands of teenagers, with no practical knowledge of this world, had their phobias reinforced. Junior High aged children bawled their eyes out, consumed with the fear of disappointing God. They committed their lives, not just to God, but also to a Pentecostal “Holiness” lifestyle and an Apostolic Identity.

The tragedy of all of this is not where the story ends, but in the regret from where it started. And for 20,000 kids last week, it started in Oklahoma City.

I love my life. I love where I ended up. I have a career I love, that pays me well. I have well rounded experiences, friends that are closer than my own family, and I live in a city that people fantasize about living in.

But I am everything I prayed I’d never become. I’ve broken every commitment I ever made to God. I am a caricature of the worst outcome of all those impassioned sermons. And while I am so happy about that, the happiness has had to evolve. I've been told several times, and agree, that I am in dire need of counseling. I ended up on my feet, but only after doing a triple axle through confusion, anger, bitterness and deep rooted resentment, and I still haven't stuck that landing. 

When I look back on my life and see the path I took to get here I become so, so sad for the child I was, but not the adult I became. My youthful, impressionable mind was held captive by a bleak outlook, based on biased conjecture. Instead of learning, and growing, and being matured through experiences I begged God for stagnation. I was told in dozens of sermons, and I believed, that life in the altar of events like North American Youth Congress was as good as it could ever be and I placed all my chips on that bet. “Progress be damned, life has to stop here.” Progress wasn’t progress; progress was the path to hell. Progress would lead me to a life devoid of purpose. New experiences, friends and ideas were to be feared. But when those inevitable experiences and friends and ideas came along they brought with them perspective. When I encountered something I had once prayed never to encounter the recurring word in my mind was “Really?” Really, this is what’s going to destroy me? Really, the highest I could ever be was at that altar? Really, these people are the bad ones?

With every new epiphany another youthful tear of mine became shed in vain.

Why did I allow my youth to be spent in trembling fear of a normal life? Why do people see a child or teenager, like in the video at the top of this page, with bloodshot eyes, a face covered in tears and snot, nerves and emotions shocked beyond that seen in court rooms and funeral homes, and think “how precious?”

This isn’t precious. This isn’t good. This is sick. The willingness to accept the image of a sobbing, shaking child is predicated on the idea that the child understands what they're doing. But guess what: they don't. The video at the top of this page should cause outrage, but it gets a pass because it's in a church. If anyone walked into a daycare center or a school and saw children that young crying and trembling on the floor they would call Child Protective Services. This is emotional abuse. Children like the ones in the above video filled the seats of that Oklahoma Arena this past week. I posit that there wasn't so much of a "move of God" in that arena as there was emotional manipulation and manufactured distress. These preachers have figured out how to do something very, very dangerous. If a psychologist was granted access to these events and observed the altar calls they, undoubtedly, would tell us we've engaged in amateur mass psychosis. They're "playing" with minds of children and it's not only unhealthy but carries extreme risk. These emotionally loaded situations carry the potential for trauma - real, psychological trauma, and it's treated so haphazardly.

Amidst the hashtagged posts on Instagram I saw videos of kids so young they’ve never had to learn how to burn a CD so wrought with guilt and fear rocking back and forth on the floor of an arena making those same commitments I made and I was on the brink of tears for them, but not tears of joy.

I see kids who will spend the next ten to twenty years locked in an emotional and psychological battle as they slowly have a curtain drawn back to reveal the truth of their situation. I see kids with the claws of manipulation gripping them so tightly they don’t even know who they are outside of their hair and their skirts, who worship people they will either grow to hate or worse, fetishizing these preachers as some kind of god among men. I see pastors sons and daughters holding hands and praying with the belief that they’re supposed to be together, who will grow to resent each other. I know because I watched this happen to almost every teenage friend I had that truly believed God had ordained their pubescent relationship. All the while oblivious chaperones and parents sit with plastic smiles of approval, not understanding the inevitable disillusionment these children are on a road to.

I’m not here to argue with those who never left. I’m speaking as a voice of experience, as a voice of those who have gone down this road. An often said remark by Pentecostals is "I know this is real because I felt it," or "You can't doubt my experience." Well I've had my own experiences and I'd say the same in return. While my feelings of animus may be more extreme than that of my peers, the sentiment exists in all of us to varying degrees. Those still filling Pentecostal pews can certainly agree that after a certain age it seems a disproportionate number of us who grew up in the church leave it. I know this because I sat under numerous sermons on Friday nights warning of the dangers we will face once we’re out of high school. The stories of those who went before us and walked away, only to be met with (presumed) grief filled sermon after sermon which prompted our tearful commitments.

But it wasn’t evil temptation that baited us to some debaucherous lifestyle. We simply matured. We reached the age of introspection and self-awareness. We entered the workforce, college, and other avenues of “real life” where our beliefs were challenged. While pastors and preachers would tell us otherwise, the simple truth is that beliefs that can’t stand up to questions are wrongly held beliefs. There simply isn’t substance to back the beliefs up. This is why instead of being taught answers to questions we were taught not to ask them. We were taught that those who do ask are distractions and tempters, thrown in our paths as “stumbling blocks.” Biblical phrases like “lean not to your own understanding,” were used to justify instructions not to think, just to obey, and that things didn’t have to make sense. We were taught, “God is not logical,” so that when the things that made sense to us contradicted what we committed ourselves to at those altars, we would stick with the ramblings of the mad man in the pulpit rather than our own hearts and minds. Catchy sermon titles and clever wordplay kept these sinister instructions seemingly light hearted, as we walked out of the arena's like the Manchurian Candidate.

Almost every person from the youth groups I grew up in have left their UPC churches. Some have gone to Non-Denominational churches, while others have become Atheists. I don't mean just a few. I could throw a backsliders rally and fill the pews with the hundreds who used to stain the carpet with their tears, yet now raise a glass to making it out. It could be argued that we've all lost the battle to the enemy but if those condemning us could just listen to us with an open mind they'd see that's not the case. We're people, just like them. We think just as much and just as deeply as they do. We're just as scared of hell, if it exists, as they are. No part of us is evil. But if we lay awake at night it's not with a gaping hole in our life as we wonder what it is that's missing. We lay awake thinking how much better life had been had we never been forced to buy into the Pentecostal message. Tears may sometimes stain our pillow, but we're not praising God, we're cursing him for letting people use his name to take advantage of us at the most impressionable point in our lives. We may be screaming, but it's not in tongues. It's the cursing and pounding as we look at our lives and our wasted potential because we were too focused on the youth group and not on our grades or our college education. We're cursing the uneducated, inexperienced, unqualified men who stood in front of innocent, blank slates and filled them with anxiety and unease about a world filled with beauty, but painted to be full of despair. We could have been SO much. We could have accomplished SO much. But we let them rob us of a future that hadn't even been written yet.

The memories of “awesome sermons,” “amazing altar calls,” and “let’s take this revival back home with us” became fleeting memories, dissipating with every passing year. The vehemence of promises to ourselves, to our pastors and to God became distant memories, and their value lost.

Why this pains me so much is because it’s cyclical. There is absolutely nothing I can do to change these kids paths. I would run into every Sunday School classroom, every weekend youth service, every camp and convention and tell each and every one of them that the world is too beautiful and life is too short to waste it on a fabricated story if I thought I could, but I can't. Not only would they kick me out, but at this point in their lives these kids would dismiss me as Satan incarnate, and follow my warnings with more commitments and tears. They are destined for the same path I've travelled. They will pray with the same fervency I once did. They will make the same commitments. They will ask the same questions. They will struggle with the same answers. They will have their characters assassinated by the same men and women who claimed to love them with the love of Christ. They will become bitter and dejected. Some will fall into depression. Some will hold grudges. Some will go a little too far in their rebellion. But all will look back at those sermons, those altars and those tears with regret, to varying degrees.

Because they should have just been allowed to be kids. Their youth was wasted, and they’ll never get it back.

Just like mine was. And that is what brings tears to my eyes again. 

There are high school seniors whose tears have barely dried from the concrete of Cheasapeake Energy Arena who, by the next NAYC in 2017, will have realized the lies and fear so ardently expressed to them this week. And with no guidance, and a lot of regret, they'll begin a journey in a direction they don't know where will take them. I hope they have the good fortune that I've had, but I've seen too many that haven't. And for that I am deathly afraid.

Monday, February 9, 2015

#284-Not Nathaniel Haney (A sequel) w/ Bonus Footage....

I've seen some things, man. Some weird and strange sights, initiated by people you would not expect in the least. But I'm not sure anything's been as weird as the 60 seconds unleashed by one Nathaniel Haney, regarding of all things: Underwear.

I mean... we got the weird, irrational rants that come up on occasion over the pulpit from pastors of the deep. But these sermons have some cultural context at least: Homosexuality, long hair, women in pants.  Basically stuff that would kind of make sense if it was preached in the 19th century.

But Nathaniel Haney and his underwear obsession... There's just no context for it. It's just....

Really Really Weird.

So last Friday I received some footage that may possibly be more weird and more disturbing than the sixty seconds of video  I received last week. Except this bonus footage is only thirty seconds long....

The one problem is that initially I could only get the audio to the video to work. So in the second mini-podcast below (downloadable), you'll only hear the audio included in my commentary. But if you want to see the actual video.... it's below the podcast or can be seen here.

Update: Here's the thirty-second video that referenced in the mini-podcast above:

Sunday, February 1, 2015

#283- Men's Underwear

We have become a denomination of TMZ nonsense. Our  most famous ministers:
-Lee Stoneking knows how to put makeup on and believes God judges people by how long the strands of their hair are. (yes, I admit the cliche)
-Jeff Arnold here, here, and if you want commentary: here

Our most famous youth pastors will be getting a salary of 30k for the rest of their life at best. And of those hundreds of QVC-like Apostolic salesmen who do what they do because it gives them the rare space to play dress-up, only a dozen or so will preach at some event beyond their local youth rally...

Unfortunately one of those dozen happened recently:

Apparently, there is an epidemic of sorts among the males of the UPC. And this epidemic is as "query as can be." And all I was thinking was, can you imagine a day-care worker or business owner caring as much about his/her's clients underwear as to discuss their underwear out in the open.....

 So in lieu of writing an overly long diatribe and pointing out how far the preacher in question has steered from the Cross (he's obsessing about underwear), I'll instead present a monologue against one Nathaniel Haney....

*Rant can be downloaded. Consider the audio a mini-podcast*

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Author’s Preface:  Some time in the early summer of 2014, the author was contacted by someone who he could call a friend in Facebook speak, but was more or less, an acquaintance....Let's call him a Myspace friend. The man was offering yours truly a solid week’s pay to visit to a specific set of camp meeting services that very summer in a chosen state of the acquaintances choosing. Author was confused at the least because of author's lack of interest into any sort of reporting situation after the Jeff Arnold BOTT incident which, not only included homophobia, racism, and antisemitism...but also found Anthony Mangun and the Pentecostals of Alexandria's  company mysteriously silent about the incident (the audio is still not available and yet they won't say why).... Let's let it pass? 

Hell No.

Cue Music
But yet money speaks loud at times (like the Pentecostals of Alexandria), and I was commissioned by this pastor to attend a couple of camp services..... And on top of attending said services, the author was to report on what he encountered in a manner he felt comfortable with. In short, he was to do a piece of non-fiction journalism covering the meetings. Yours truly agreed to the job, because, who wouldn't? The other, relevant piece of information, was that yrs. truly agreed to do the job on condition of the employer’s anonymity. In turn, the author demanded that the state which hosted these meetings be left unnamed along with the names of the preachers and attendees he encountered during the visit. While my employer was hesitant to concede such a demand, he eventually conceded. Likewise, names have been changed to protect the identities of the innocent, which according to the cross, is everyone.

The motivations of the potential  employer of this project were never inquired about, but if the author were to speculate, the intentions were not pure, nor informative, but most likely seditious. Yrs. truly can speculate on this based on the disappointment expressed by the potential-employer once the piece (included below in it’s entirety) was sent to him. Also, advice, it helped....

Frankly, the author’s employer was probably expecting an article full of sinister cynicism about the whole charade yours truly encountered at the camp meetings. This would also explain why yrs. truly was commissioned to write the piece, since it was he of minor and past Apostolic fame, who wrote extensively and cynically for an unnamed blog lambasting Apostolic culture proper (in the past). However, the employer did not know that yrs. truly had grown bored and weary of the whole blog at the time of the job, and was particularly dismayed at the whole cynical attitude which fueled the blog in the first place. The author did however, disclose his change of heart to his supposed employer, and is truly apologetic for whatever frustrations this caused his potential employer, but would also like to remind him that he is truly grateful for the initial subtle nudge to do this piece. Even though it ended up being funded by myself.

The author would also like to disclose to the reader that just because he is not as cynical as he once was about things in the UPC, this does not mean he is cool with the UPC either. In fact, he is more frenzied than ever about the amount of rhetorical garbage that is spoken of as truth within the organization, and if he had one motivational message to the preachers of the org., it would be to “get your crap together.” Also, he would like to thank God above all else, his "potential" employer for permitting the publishing of the article here, and his mother for putting up with his angry rants at the dinner table. Also the author would like to tell you that he too is sick to death of talking about himself in the third person….


I have seen water balloons slingshot hundreds of feet into the air. Miraculous water bombs. I have seen one water balloon slingshot like a canon taking out an unassuming bystander’s face. Literally, her face was destroyed. She was twelve yours old. The ambulance came. Never heard from her again. Nor the settlement (presuming there is one).

I have seen gentrification within the UPC itself and it's splintering. Splintering politely... until another org develops.

I have seen poop left in the shower without proper health inspections after being reported.

I have seen a preacher man lay his hand on a Holy Ghost seeker’s forehead in prayer in such a forceful fury, that the seeker’s knees collapsed under the weight of the hand causing him to “fold” to the ground which in turn, caused the man with the hand to fall on top of the folded body he was praying for.

I have seen a trailer dragged out of the camp real quick, because said trailer was making "hostile sex noises," Turns out the trailer contained a married couple.

I have seen a teenage girl and even one pastor’s wife have bathroom stints as long as forty minutes at a time during church service.

I have seen the fear of God in three different teenage boys’ faces, just after they were caught in the woods “getting fancy” with the girl of their dreams. One pastor talked to me about "like, hey now... My son... he's going through some kind of time in his life and let me tell you, our church is fasting.... so just like, hey now.....we're good right? We're cool? (fist pump)...."

I have seen a youth president unclog a broken toilet at 2 A.M . And by unclog, I mean the dude literally put on a plastic glove and stick his hand down the toilet drain, whereupon he pulled out a particularly large piece of fecal matter which, happened to be the culprit of the clogged toilet. The youth president with his eyes closed and his face turned, lifted the hand that was holding up the culprit poop for all those gathered to behold, proclaiming the poop as being “eerily dense,” and further declared that “it feels like there’s a matchbox truck in here!" This really happened. No Joke.

I have seen seen two youth pastors vomit in succession on a bathroom floor. This vomit parade directly initiated by one of the youth pastors viewing the aforementioned “culprit” poop as it was being held in the air by the youth president. This caused youth pastor 1 to vomit. The “culprit” poop, now famous, also caused youth pastor 2 to start gagging. Once youth pastor 1 vomited, partially on the shoes of youth pastor 2, youth pastor 2’s gagging immediately gave way to a full on vomit. As for yours truly, I would have probably vomited too, but luckily I was making a mental note about the how the whole “unclogging” incident spoke contrary to the popular notion that all the youth presidents “got it made” in terms of preaching invitations and pretty wives, and being revered by all young preachers-in-training.

As for the camp: It was like watching an addictive TV show that's available on Netflix/On Demand. The drama keeps you hooked, but it ends up a blur real quick... and all you got is "Hey I like that one mystery drama on Netflix...." And hope that a girl falls in love over common interest......

And yet, I'm here. And no way is anyone here watching House of Cards.


Topics / Titles of sermons, preachers names and service content has been omitted at the request of my sponsor so as to avoid any potential litigation.


So while my journalistic integrity has already been compromised by my employer.... I will say the following: Apostolic camps are becoming obsessively narcissistic and tribal. The sermons that get the biggest praises are the sermons "based" on scripture, but more-so a telling the crowd about who we are. And that's scary. Because from my angle, those were the most boring and self-indulgent sermons I witnessed. The one inspiring service I witnessed was from an allegedly subversive "ragamuffin" (as one preacher described him)... in the afternoon. All the subversive preacher did was delve into scripture. And it wasn't incredible or anything, but it's like the dude was studying... so it's sad when that dude could barely raise an alter call for 5 minutes. Outside of the aforementioned sermon, everything else was self-obsessive, cranky,  jumpy, contrived, and ultimately banal. If this camp was anything symptomatic of the UPC, it was just this: Adorable (jumping & screaming compensating for thoughtful preaching), comical (the exaggerated dancing is either a) appalling or b) trying to hide your face while you laugh real hard), and beyond those entertaining aspects....beyond the huffing and puffing and threats of blowing the house/enemy down (never happened), the sermons were simply: dull.  

Outside of the generalities I was permitted to describe... I can say nothing else...


Three nights and four days of fashionable antiquity and I’m flattened, exhausted and ill-postured. I’m at a Waffle Houseish diner/truck stop/all in one mini-market just outside of camp, which as it happens, is the toast of the town in terms of classy cuisine. Even though camp expired officially three hours ago, it apparently goes on unofficially for the rest of the day at Applebees,' Cracker Barrels, and town diners all across the state depending on what exit off the freeway a subsidiary group of Apostolics have determined to reunite at on their way home. Apparently, I’m the only one tired of “small talk” and/or gossip and/or pseudo-theological conversations. For the rest, today’s unofficial continuation of the last day of camp is more of a testament to how reluctant Apostolics are to let this beast of a camp draw to a close. If anything is true about camp, it is that Apostolics love it possibly more than ever, and further that Apostolics love each other’s company possibly more than camp itself.

Two of the tables at this particular diner are full of teenagers and one under 13 boy who appears to be the table’s mascot in that he dresses as fasionably as the teens, and is even more outgoing than some of the teens. However his childish face make it very clear that he is definitely not one of the teens, no matter how much he would like to think so. To the teens he is a novelty act. These teens look like me with the bags under their eyes and the fatigue in their face. Except the guys have their hair done and the girls have the mascara in their eyes on the slight. The biggest difference between them and me is they are smiling. Not like smiling in the way one smiles when they are having the time of their lives, but more like the way a boy smiles nostalgically when his mother asks him if he had fun after a long day at Disney World. I also notice this is the first time the teenagers look unkempt in their attire. Previously, it was very clear the teenagers at camp paid a particular amount of attention to their own appearance. The females always appearing festive, bulbous and shiny by night, while the boys looked uncomfortably sharp and dapper. Their daytime appearances were in the similar vain of the night services, but in a way that was more restrained. The teenage boys, paid particular attention to their daytime get-up by trying to dress like they didn’t care what they were wearing, but everyone really knows that even the dudes who tuck in their t-shirts into their blue jeans have thought long and hard about the particular t-shirt message they are displaying. The least popular and slightly creepy boys wearing “Crazy 4 Jesus” or “yo quiero God” t-shirts or other similarly themed shirts that were designed in such a way to appear “cool” and “hip” in that they either satirize a pop-culture phrase or mainstream brand logos in an ironic way by substituting a Christian allusion/pun in the place of the well known pop-culture phrase/logo. The point is today, after camp is officially closed, the clothes are now in a disordered way, and no one seems to mind. These Apostolic teens are tired, but they aren't deterred in the least.

The other noticeable table with Apostolic customers is the long table at the other side of the restaurant full of Pastors and their wives. I am jealous of their faces. Because they look how I want to feel. Everyone there is rested and laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Other than being a little more tan or burnt, these Apostolics appear to have been preserved perfectly through the week without the least sign of ware or tare from the gauntlet that is camp. God bless them for it, because I am certainly not.

This is only the end. And my mind is still spiraling downward in near madness. Trying to make sense of what has happened. I'm here eating alone... and only now does my presence bring a hangover-like reaction. Before now, I've hung out with the hipster counselors who don't know me and are also down to witness to dudes with strange beardage. Sure I've noticed a couple elbow-nudges and attempts at "INTIMIDATING STARE +5 Hit points" from youth pastors... which is was flattering... But nothing beyond that.

Maybe they're learning to accept the enemy in their camps perhaps? Otherwise, from the rightside of right, the old days would'a rebuked me to Satan's infirmary two days past.

'Cept now,.. there's a couple pastor/youth pastor types in line to pay bill and me on my cream o'wheat.... and one leans in to me at the table and says "Hey brother," (we shake hands). Make eye contact. He says "So what's your deal?"

-(spit out the cream o' wheat)... (find eye contact again)

-He: "You know exactly what i mean."

(second pastor  exits line and stands over me. Arms crossed, and breathing through his nostrils so much so, that you can hear it.)

-Me (to the interrogator): "Yeah, I have a deal."

-Him:"So what is it?... What do you have against us?"

(The second preacher, the non-speaking one is breathing heavier through his nose and then looks back, and I kid you not, looks back to the table where he, his fellow pastor, and two wives were eating....and gives a silent nod to the two ladies remaining at the table.... Because, he's got everything all under control here)

That's where I chuckle. Then breathe... then just start laughing real hard. Like awkwardly drawing attention to a 10:30 AM situation which would'a been more appropriate for a 2 AM conversation.....

And a midst my laughter and the pastoral looks of "hey, getta load of this guy," all I can think to say to myself is "calm down now" and after a few seconds of straight-face, I say aloud, "praying for you guys."

And after they walked away, and pay their bills... you give a real quick & silent "Thank God,"  and head for the long route home.... wondering what it means when your denomination has become a mob of dancers and prancers and loud screamers.... and between the services, they're playing the politics of  a 1920s gang.

Oh for Apostolic Identity in the 21st century.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, August 1, 2014

#281-Not Calvinists 2.0 (and how they think they're smart but only went to bible college). AKA how John Piper and Mark Driscoll should be preached against

Absence explained by illustration below (post is just a something until the podcasts gets going again,  Below are some thoughts that are probably way too nerdy in a theological sense,.. if none of the below makes sense, I apologies):

Calvin: Hello my name is John Calvin and my initials are J.C. which is not a coincidence and I wrote this: Okay scripture says that God controls everything. Because He's God. He knows everything too since yeah, he's totally.... God. And if He's God He must be awesome. He's God and his ways are above our ways, got that? And like, okay, if He knows everything then that means he knows the whole future too. Not to mention that everything has a meaning even if we don't understand the meaning (Yes that includes the holocaust). Yeah that's far out there, but it's the whole truth and if you question this..... well you're questioning the conductor of the whole know, God.... and compared to God, we are kinda crappy. Wait. No. compared to God we are really really crappy. So crappy that compared to God, we like a pile steaming good for nothing crap. Totally useless crap. And what is  useless crap in comparison with God you know?
Compared to the totally infinite God, the finite, ditzy us can't really say anything. Because like, we're sinners duh! And I was like we got scripture too for this. Like it doesn't matter that strangely the whole God-in-complete-control of everything business started coming about way late in the Old Testament after Greeks started philosophizing to us.... scripture is scripture and we can't question anything.... Remember, we're like really really depraved. So depraved that we can't really do anything to get saved. Because getting saved is Godly stuff.... and how can we humans do anything Godly in comparison to almighty-king-of this-whole creation, one and only God? Therefore it must be God who chooses to save us.... and  not only that, but God does the saving thing too... you know, atonement, redemption, when you have faith or get saved or what not... Well it wasn't you who got saved. Remember, you are crap. And how does crap get saved? Well not be doing things that crappy stuff does. It must therefore totally be God. He's a freak like that and he does whatever he darn well pleases you got me? And you can't say anything against that because you are depraved. And that's the truth.
And I can hear all you ego-maniacal self-loving liberals saying  things like... "well how can God say he loves us when he will knowingly send us to hell? Especially if he has the power to save all of us? ... God is love you know? And what kind of love would allow people to go to hell when God could do otherwise?"
And I'm all like "trick you crazy. You ain't God. God's love is a waaaay beyond the love that we know. Yeah some of this stuff doesn't make sense but I'm a crappy depraved human being like you so considering our limited mind...well......all I can say is I'll take God's way being above the way we think and reason."

Immanuel Kant:  and I have a sweet name and I like formal dinner parties and I wrote this: Yo Calvin I get what you're throwing down.... but like we got a few issues here man. I mean I'm with you about the whole infinite God thing...maybe... but I like the effort. But there's a problem....if we're so finite and depraved....which...I think we are too... then really we can't talk much about God and what he's like and not like. You may say that the Bible tells us the truth of God... but that truth of God  is mediated through a lot of human rationality and finite thinking and reason in terms of you as the Bible's reader and interpreter. It's written by humans in a human language... and like us humans have limits to our reasoning skills... so to say that we understand that God's love is above our version of love is still a kind of human logic right?

Calvin: You're lost in philosophy gettin' all 'ere smartsy fartsy. I got God's grace ya hear? You wouldn't understand none of that though. God loves me and I'm chosen. Ur not. And God'll knock you down a couple of inches if ya don't shut ur mouth. Don't come around here questioning God.
I Killed Michael Servetus and I'll kill you if you don't shut your mouth.

 Hegel: LOL. First off screw that Calvin guy. If God's love is above our love.... then that means our human version of love isn't love at all you nimwit. Stop telling your wife you love her unless you're that ignorant to think your human crappy love resembles anything like God's love that apparently is inconceivable to us.

Secondly Kant you were onto something. Except totally off... Making this whole thing about the limits of reason. Yeah that's cool and all, but excuse me while I spend a few seconds sticking my finger down my throat acting like I'm gagging and the next few seconds popping my gat in your metaphorical shins. What you say about our limited reason and our inability to comprehend God is true about us humans as a whole species... Not just on reason alone. It's not like we're sittin around thinking and rationalizing and knowing our limits. For instance, let's say that you confirm what God's will is in your life by the way you feel when you pray at certain times.... Well those feelings are limited too.... You can confuse feelings as what you think is God's confirmation that he has called you to be Christian... but that is all the interpretation and understanding of a limited human. How is this not obvious? Simple simple stuff really. This is why Mormons say they feel God and think that means anything. This is why non-Christians feel God and say it's proof that they're God is real... We can either say they are lying about their feelings, which is pathetic... or you can realize that feelings themselves are not really a confirmation of anything since it's something we humans experience and interpret in each of our lives. We're humans above all. This can't be escaped no matter how much you feel or think you have special insight about how your authority comes from someone on high. Every human wants to think they're special. And you may have God on your side... but let's use a little common sense and a little decency that treats humans likes humans and stop fooling ourselves. This is called ontology and if you stopped focusing on epistemology Kant, you could have been as gangsta as me.

Basically if you're human... and speak/think/feel/act like a human... and describe  a system beyond our human understanding, you are contradicting yourself. Because the description of God/heaven required a human language/thought. It's like a scientist who tried telling us what happened before the big bang and thinking he's still doing science. That scientist would be laughed at and possibly made into a creole pasta.

Calvin you can say you are depraved all you want.... and you can spend a whole lot of time working out a system that describes Christian theology..... but the fact that you are rationalizing and articulating your beliefs in human language is just making you look like your thinking privileges ought to be taken away. And you may say "it's not by flesh and blood... but by spirit...." and yeah I wrote a whole book on the philosophy of the spirit so don't even get me started on that issue. My point is you act like your theology is some-how safe from philosophical ridicule but c'mon man... all this has been was philosophy with the emotions of a preacher.

It's like those dudes who get lost in the trinity or even Oneness theology trying to explain it and then after coming to one contradiction or another... they say "well it's a mystery." What an escapist bunch of self-delusional drivel. If it's a mystery then we can't even talk about it. If you can articulate it.... then your very own description of the limits of our understanding of God's love is really just putting God in a box all over again... except it lies to itself and says it's not putting it in a box.
 Stop acting like you're depraved. If you're depraved you wouldn't have any ability to talk about God's love being beyond our understanding of love at all.

Calvin, I'm not saying that you're an idiot.... but you're kinda an idiot. You can't step outside of being human while you are here dude. Man up to your humanity and stop acting like you're above humanity by claiming to be depraved. If we're crap in comparison to God, then we'd never be able to come to any thought to communicate about God whatsoever. Calvin you need a time out.

 Calvin:"I'm America!, and this here is the chosen people and I'm special!"

John Piper: Don't worry about him JC Jr. What we have here is a good for nothing Armenian who loves himself some free will. And besides... tell those guys that this is where faith comes in.

Hegel: LOL. Who said anything about free will?  And who invited this guy? And Faith? .....Did you even read anything I wrote? Of course not, you're John Piper with a ph. d from a school that should have known better...At least understand faith outside of a definition that acts like faith is a  blanket that covers up all the holes in what we say God/Truth is."
As they say in some parts: SMH.


Name's Mark Driscoll and on behalf of me, the Bible and God...
Boyz Rule! Girls Drool!


Postscript Summary: The above is basically my attempt to call out the stupidity of Neo-Calvinists. Which yeah, don't worry about the term...

But basically, Ex-Apostolic males seem to have an unconscious gravitational pull once they leave the UPC. Basically they find that the UPC's logic about the truth isn't logical enough (true). And then shoot for the more logical theology (neo-calvinism).....which is even more wrong since it bases itself in cessationism.

Except they've never been educated on how to think for themselves. And that's the error. It's a sad world where the only "thinking" options are three authors who sell their books in barnes & nobles: Driscoll/Bell/N.T. Wright.

Those guys are cute and all.... but there's a reason why their theology makes sense: It's mucky muck.