This is Inferno 2008, themed Going Green....stream of consciousness style
8:20- I arrive at Inferno and a giant inflatable Reptar from Rugrats is greeting the crowd as they enter...
8:26-Ah, inferno…the one place where kids can be shielded from the chaos in the real world and the financial recession, and have a good ole' playtime where everyone dresses up and plays church and meets everyone else and we all put on a smile and have a good Go of life!
8:27-We are handed ropes to put around our wrists upon admittance…but what does it mean?!? I personally saw the rope bracelet as a symbolic representation as a return to a primitive state of consciousness before man had evolved in his current, selfish, self-aggrandizing industrial state of being. In this primitive state, where wood, rope, and wool were the customary materials of survival, life was much more simplified and less terrifying, and thusly, more God-centered. In the world of plastics that we now live in (as most bracelets are composed of plastic and such-like materials), life does not make since and we are running ourselves tired trying to chase things that are as useless as a plastic wristband. Henceforth, the rope bracelets signify naturalism and thusly, the concept of "Going Green." If you do not agree, then we have no frame of reference and I thusly have no reason to understand why you are even reading this blog.
8:30-Here's what I can tell you about the fashion of 2008's inferno: I thought I would look like a silly clown dressed in a silly vest with a silly bow-tie that does not match and consequently bring a little smile to everyone who would be dressing way too seriously. But then upon entrance, every dude there was dressed like a silly clown! There were so many bowties PeeWee Herman would have felt that he was in style. And don't even get me started on the cardigans…everyone was wearing their cardigan as if it was their investment to not lose money in this time of financial crisis….There was so much cardigan wearing that the only uncool thing to do at this years Holiday Youth Convention would be to wear a cardigan.
The point is for the men, the only truly silly clowns were the ones who did not dress like silly clowns….What once was black now is white, what once was a square now is a circle….
As for the style of the ladies, all I can say is life has become one great "wear whatever in the world you want and hope that no one wears the same thing." Girls should Dress unique enough that no one will be able to imitate, but don't dress too unique as to wear something attention-grabbing as to cause people to whisper to each other, "that dress looks horrendous on her" when deep inside the person is saying "I wish I had the guts to wear that but I don't so I will secretly loathe you in the meantime." Anyways, life is so much easier being a male in this time of high fashion.
8:33-"Freedom" is this year's version of "Say so" that will be played in every youth choir at least three times a month and every convention from here until a new terrible Pop/choir song is introduced at next year's Youth Congress. Seriously this song may be even more annoying than "Say So." We yell freedom a few times, then we clap louder and shout louder than then dance quite awkwardly. It puts the listener in such an awkward spot, "Should I listen or should I jump?" And if we are being truthful about this song, and we really do jump higher every moment we claim we are jumping higher, and shout louder every time we claim that we are about to shout louder with a gradual rate of increase each time, after singing this song ten times over, we should be the highest jumping, loudest shouting, loudest clapping demographic on the planet in two months… Freedom, Freedom, Freedom, Freedom
8:36-There are some people raising their hands at Inferno again! What is this?!? Don't they know that it puts me in such a terrible state of thinking? When I see someone raise their hands at inferno, I am thinking to myself, "Right, I should do that too…these are songs to God, so it only makes since and I wont feel like a heathen watching a show" but then there is the other half of me that says "But there is FLASHING LIGHTS AND SILLY PEOPLE DANCING ON STAGE and it's INFERNO and everything that is going on is like a giant snow globe full of awe-inspiring CIRCUS GOODNESS"….
To you praying people out there during inferno, I ask that next year during the worship service you keep your hands down from worshiping so I don't feel guilty while I am enjoying the presentation of Lights before my eyes. If you feel the need to pray, pray in silence with your hands down please….
8:40-For the 14th consecutive year, the Asian demographic is noticeably absent from Inferno this year…
8:45-Finally figure out that the people who sit on the highest elevated pews in the back are the 12-15 year old crowd who are all sitting next to their crush trying to work up the courage to gently make contact with the hand of the person who they have a crush on….
9:36- How do I describe how the next hour and a half transpired? I really don't think words could do what happened next justice…I will try my best, but if you were not at Inferno this year, you missed out….and with that said,
Tim Rutledge takes the mic…Now over the past year, Tim as grown to become one of my favorite speakers in the UPC just because he says it how it is w/o fear of repercussions…plus he is almost a little bit of a shock preacher whose messages seem to hinge on the ability to shock people…
With Tim preaching at Inferno, I thought we were in for one kind of bloodbath:
Tim Rutledge vs. The Sermon Expectations of the Inferno Crowd
The flashiness of inferno and all it's pretenses of the service being a shouting sermon where we can cry at the alter and get on with flirting and group conversation vs. A raw preacher who holds no punches, no matter the occasion, and if anything tries to act opposite of what is expected (Tim Rutledge)
Round One-Tim makes statement that he is going to make four simple points, let us come to the alter and then go on having our Inferno fun. Everyone in the crowd relaxes as he is playing into the crowd's desires and expectations
Round One Winner: Inferno Crowd
Round Two: Tim gives money to boy who has not taken girl out to a restaurant that serves bread before the meal. While this excites every female in the audience, it most importantly gives every girl who is single one more reason to justify why it's not worth her while to not have a boyfriend, when in reality she probably would take the first offer that would come her way of a guy who would ask her out. On the flip side, every guy immediately plots ways to perform a legal hanging of Tim Rutledge within the next 24 hours for being a traitor to his own gender.
Round Two Winner: Tim Rutledge
Round Three-Tim gives away dozens and dozens of cupcakes, ding dongs, and honey buns to a restless crowd of 12-16 year old boys who will look for anything of an excuse to distract themselves from a church service which in this case, are hostess snacks provided by the preacher himself. The style of the service increases exponentially in it's laid back fashion as no one in the crowd knows how to take such a strange occurrence of events such as a rash of snack thrown across the sanctuary, so everyone just lightens up. No one has any clue what this has to do with Jesus except some odd verse mention of bread.
Round Three Winner: Inferno Crowd (bonus points for the rapid boys who acted as if the chocolate was as valuable as Barack Obama's cheap unproven rhetoric was to win the presidency).
Sidenote: It was at this point in the sermon that one individual between the ages of 40-60 had caught one of the dings dongs and decided for some unknown reason to chuck the ding dongs as hard as he could to the back of the head of a girl standing forty feet in front of him. It was incredible
Round Four-Tim gives out a giant loaf of bread to someone in the crowd (with at least two dozen more loaves sitting on a bread cart on the platform) …but alas, where Tim thought he could give peacefully, he had underestimated the brilliance and courage of the 12-16 year old male crowd to show off to their female counterparts everywhere by breaking one of the ten commandments and rushing onto the platform when Tim was not looking and proceeded to steal every loaf of bread off the platform. Hilarity ensued as Tim was realizing tonight may very well be a challenge to claim victory.
Round four winner: Inferno Crowd
Round Five-At this point, I cannot overemphasize the emotions of the crowd…it appeared to everyone, in their flesh, thought this was the one service that they could count on to leave with out a mandatory prayer or feeling convicted. The times were joyous and worries were few. There were giggles and at worst confusion, but even the commentators like myself were disappointed at the lack of challenge Tim was putting up in this Inferno.
After the thievery and face stuffing, Tim tried getting serious, and I think everyone was like, "DUDE, don't play me like that!"
But Tim did play us like that!
In one of the greatest set-up/come-backs in Pentecostal sermon history, Tim Rutledge set up the crowd for a butchering! He ripped the crowd a new one that will leave us feeling guilty for weeks at least. Now I don't want to get into message detail because there is no way it could be put into words, but I will simply say it was the most convicting witnessing message I have ever heard (and we probably here 5-7 on average annually)..
After an hour of making the crowd feel like dirt and have them silenced…everyone was ready to start handing themselves into God's prison for not doing as the bible had orchestrated….He pounded the crowd senseless and the message was by the far the best I heard at Inferno. Tim was so confident that he could take the Inferno crowd he even gave the crowd a head start in the first few rounds to let the crowd feel even more laid back! This was the hare letting the turtle getting a five hour long head start, but then the hare doesn't even struggle to make a comeback…
The Inferno Crowd was sitting there waiting for the knock out blow, but the bell sounded leaving the crowd waiting for the knockout punch at the alter call..
Round Five Winner: Tim R. by a landslide
Round Six saw one last attempt by the crowd to take Tim out and what an attempt it was. Perhaps the greatest single moment in Inferno history, and definitely this year's inferno by far…. Tim threw out bibles instead of bread making a point that teenage boys are more excited about chocolate and food than they are about the bible when no one got and ran to catch a bible. Bravo…good point…
But alas the good Lord shined his merciful light on the weak crowd with one last attempt at a comeback. This individual's name shall remain nameless, but his bravery will live in the hearts of men for a longtime…instead of giving into Tim's insults of us not being hungry enough for bibles to use to witness, this nameless young man sitting in the their row stood up and screamed "I need one!" (referring to the bible in Tim's hand)… awkwardness filled the room and Tim quickly ranted back that it was too late to act like a good boy and want a bible (since of course Tim had made his point that we don't want the bibles as much as the food)…The young man, (who may have not been in clear consciousness), slowly, but diligently and powerfully (still standing), yelled back at Tim, "BUT I NEED A BIBLE!"
Tim was caught off guard and was now in the defensive (I was worried that there actually may end up being a physical attack). Not knowing that the invigorated sermon intruder was not of a logical human consciousness, Tim shouts back that he can get his bible after service which transpires in a staredown between the two for about 8 of the most awkward but enjoyable seconds of my life. And then Tim turns around and continues preaching as the young man slowly sits down.
In the next ten minutes, Tim puts the nail in the coffin as he proves champion over the Inferno crowd and everyone's soul rips in conviction and repentance.
Round Six Winner: Tim Rutledge by TKO
That's it and that's the show everyone….I have already wasted too much of your time so I will keep my comments about afterburn brief: It was every early pubescent teenage boy's dream: Unlimited pizza, unlimited soda (from bartender), and unlimited video games…As for the rest of us, I think it was quite enjoyable as it was much more laid back than the intense smells an drama of the afterburn's at OU.
In departure, I would like to thank the entire Impact Student Ministry crew and everyone else who made Inferno what it is…You are truly a testament to the human race. Inferno is one of the few church events that I look forward to every year in anticipation of what is to come. If you the reader have a problem with the way inferno is run and think things are getting "too secular" then do us all a favor and stop coming. No one is begging you to come and if you're too interested in tearing down an event that brings out half saved and wondering and lost souls more than your church ever could dream of, then we probably have no place for your judgementalism in our fellowship. Like I always say, Inferno is not church, nor should we treat it as such…we should treat it as something completely unique from what we are used to and if anything, it brings the church bodies from all across the country together to enjoy each other's fellowship for a couple of days.
And if I offended you the reader at all in this review, please forgive me. Everything I wrote was in jest, so please don't take it seriously.
Dateline: October 26, 2007. Auburn Hills, MI.
7:55-Once again the biggest controversy of the year was "what to wear?" Should I dress myself for my own wedding, funeral, or funday? Of course Glen snaps back that the whispers of casual service are a dirty yearly rumor started by the conservative churches across
7:59-There is a youth group from
8:01-It's Dark! And there's screams! And there's glowsticks that will be consumed by many! And there's Jesus…o wait… no, he will be late to the show tonight…And the two dudes next to me are jumping and chirping in gleeful excitement similar to those chicks screaming in 1964 when the Beatles landed in America….I wonder if some of the people here think that Inferno wasn't made for God, but rather God created just for Inferno.
8:03-The first song begins with solos abound. No descending drummer this time. No orchestra…but by golly, the drum kit is shaking quite violently, and judging from the "Here it comes!" comments from the lust buckets next to me, the drummer is gonna do something even sweeter than last year….Could he disappear in a haze of smoke and appear in the crowd? Could the drummer just fly? What is it gonna be?!? HERE IT COMES…..the kit is moving now towards the crowd! What is gonna happen?!? AND…..it tilts. What? All the hype, and the big climax is a tilting drummer? I quickly bark at the person seated next to me whose name may or may not rhyme with Blen, asking why he was so excited for a tilting drum cage and he asks me what I expected? I really didn't expect much but it was simply the fact that by the people's pre-emptive reaction next to me, I really thought we were about to finally see the "new and improved and saved" Britney Spears or something…
8:10-The praise team deceptively tries to act like they are really trying to worship…and then they remember…it's just not the time for that…How can you even think about praying when there's LIGHTS? AND SMOKE? AND a FREE iPHONE ?
8:50-9:40 My mind really draws a blank. I'm pretty sure my brain thought I was on drugs…I do remember walking out to go to the bathroom more than once and seriously all the best looking girls were out there (I think their mindset is "I can't be noticed in there, so better to just pay 15 bucks to get in and stand out here to get noticed and remind people that I have a myspace where they can find over 100 pics of myself taking pictures of myself")….Also Coldplay was there.
9:50-Wayne Francis finally gets on stage…Woodstock 2007 was a semi-success, way too many bands though. By the time the last band was playing, I think everyone had checked out wondering what they were going to be for their annual Halloween Rip-off Harvest Party. And why did the lights stop after the WLA 5? It's like those legendary childhood games of "hide and seek" when your parents come down to the basement and turn on the lights telling you it's twenty minutes until all your friends have to go home.
10:15-Wayne Francis is preaching out of more than one scripture? He's preaching a whole chapter? Jesus has arrived. Tongues are spoken throughout the preaching... Interpretation still pending.
Afterburn-Done in hyper-stream of consciousness-The girls lose their glow…guys realizing certain rejection from the girls they like proudly declare "the hot girls here are lacking."…Yes, it is true, there were after parties to Inferno and Afterburn (playing R. Kelly's Ignition Remix in their hotel rooms), Pentecost has reached a new low…WHAT IS THAT SMELL IN THE MUSIC ROOM?!?....and why am I sweating so profusely? Am I that nervous around my future wives? ….All pre-pubescent, non-deodorant wearing boys have been thankfully quarantined into the gymnasium forced to play basketball… Apparentely they oversold Afterburn tickets and they were going to have to turn people away this year, A great marketing ploy indeed…SERIOUSLY…what is that God-Awful smell?....The music room, once thought to be the best venue to hit on girls is quickly realized to be the most awkward as even screaming will not suffice for proper communication leaving all rejected boys having to turn from their lady of their fancy and just watch the band acting like they really care about the music. …
Conclusion: I consider overall, Inferno 2007 a smashing success and like always the