Thursday, October 15, 2015

#288 - Not The Big Church In Your Town (They're Going Charismatic, Haven't You Heard?)

(*Side note - these people are all going to hell*)

Did you hear the big church in your town went charismatic? If they haven’t yet, then BREAKING NEWS: The bigger church in your town is liberal. I don’t know what town you live in, but that’s irrelevant. The big church only has all those people because they’re liberal heretics. But your church? You guys have been prophesied over. You’re going to be the revival center of your city. Yep. Any day now…

But I mean really, let’s break this down. Of course the big church has more people. They have girls in their youth group with cut hair. I saw one of the elders coming out of a movie theater when I was parked across the street looking at the front entrance through my binoculars. Why was I doing that? Because....reasons, shut up. Any church that lets that sort of riff raff go on is bound to have more people. Because that’s why people go to church, right? To feel like they’re going to heaven without having to make any real sacrifices. Not you though. Your church doesn’t even go to Applebee’s because it has a bar in it. Your train is bound for glory.

The big church couldn’t possibly be big because they have talented musicians and awesome music. That’s just another symptom of their charismania. I think the keyboard player is gay anyway. I saw him on Grindr when I was checking to make sure none of our young boys had fallen prey to the enemy.

They couldn’t possibly be big because of their relatable, articulate, intelligent leadership. I mean they don’t even spend time talking about standards. Sure, the sermons may sound good, but once you peel back all that post modern, down to earth, come as you are hippy garbage, all you have left is sharp dressed smooth talker with a killer smile, right? They don’t even have regular members meetings to remind you not to come to church dressed like you’re going to a Sunday school picnic for crying out loud. What kind of church is this? Get involved in the community? Not unless we’re selling peanut brittle.

They couldn’t possibly be big because of their creative, forward thinking, cool guy youth pastor. I mean sure, he’s good looking, his clothes are tailored and the kids love him. It probably doesn’t hurt that his wife is hot. But the lights? The stage décor? The multimedia? They didn’t have Pro Presenter in the upper room and by God we don’t need it now. Hashtag I’m going back to the heart of worship. Smoke and mirrors church, smoke and mirrors. It’s all just a big ruse and they’re all going to hell.

Not us though. Our church is sanctified. Those dusty old songs were good enough for my daddy, my grand daddy and all the way back to William J Seymour and A.D. Urshan. Like hell we’re learning new ones! That big church can take their love everybody attitude and whiny Hillsong, vaguely sexual music and follow the Osteens right down to Trinitarian Town but we ain’t followin’, amiright?!

I mean when is the last time they even preached about the denominal world???

My pastor preached about it just the other day.

Pastor Whitebread was in his groove Sunday. His tie was loose. His top button was undone. The handkerchief was out. He hit us with the opening scripture that had little to do with the following forty-five minute diatribe. He started the story that he flipped on its ear into some allegory that had nothing to do with the opening scripture.

And then he was talking about the Catholics, and the Baptists, and whatever the Duggars are. And when he needed to allude to the local megachurch and differentiate those other denominations from us: the spiritual jews, the crème de la crème, he dropped it.... "The denominal world would have you believe..." and brother as soon as that word left his mouth the anointing fell harder than an Oscar nomination on a conflicted gay protagonist.

Now never mind the fact that the word "denominal" has absolutely nothing to do with the concept of Christian "denominations,” because when Pastor Whitebread gets doused with a fresh dose of anointing he can make words mean anything he wants them to. Was Webster saved when he wrote the dictionary? NO! He’s burning in eternal agony right now and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let some hell-bound ecumenicalist named after a secular 1980s sitcom use his book-learnin to tell me what word means what!

Now I know we Apostolics are literally the only ones concerned with other Christian sects, much less comparing ourselves to other local churches. And even though it’s not a major part of denominal culture, brother it’s such a fundamental part of ours that there aren't even enough existing adjectives and verbs that can be used to talk about it so we have to make up our own! I’ll take any word that sounds like it could mean what I want it to mean and use it however I want, because I’m a man of God and I can!

By God, I’m keeping that proverbial measuring stick within arms reach because nothing is going to bring revival like subtly condescending other churches or denominations that have more success than mine does. They don’t have the truth. Even the ones who do have it are compromising. Yep. It’s down to us small church folk. We’re the sole banner bearers!

I’ll tell you what we’re gonna do – we’re just gonna keep holding onto that prophecy from 30 years ago, putting forth zero effort, not changing a single thing, keep singing those old three stanza hymns, and sooner or later, after us faithful few pray out everyone who’s been holding back revival and they leave for the big church, God’s gonna send us a wave of people. Hopefully I’ll still be alive to see it. Bless God.

We just have to be prepared, Church, because if the prophecy that $150 a night evangelist peddled to the last fourteen churches he preached at actually comes to fruition at ours, I expect our unlikely explosion of congregants to be followed with a litany of accusations of standard-dropping from the envious churches down the street.

And the church said amen.

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.