Sunday, December 16, 2012

#268- Speaking in Tongues

 I was raised in church and now I am miserable. Did the Holy Ghost do this? I don't know.

I was 8 years old when I spoke in tongues. A child who was trying his hardest to do the things he was told to do.

All my friends received the Holy Ghost when they were five six or seven. But I was scared of lying to myself about having the Holy Ghost. So I waited until I could be sure I received it. I waited until it was true.

When I was 8 I spoke in tongues and cried and felt I was saved. They told me I was saved and they showed me a scripture to prove it and I believed it and I was happy.

My pastor, he died at the age of 35. I was 14 when he died. I was still saved then. That pastor, he was funny. Loving. I miss him.

I don't remember crying as hard as I did when I found out he was gone. The most wonderful man I knew at the time.

The man who replaced him, I remember him too.

I never knew a man who cared more about his people.....

He tried his best as I grew older.

As I grew older I became confused.

Because the love the he gave was not the love I was familiar with. He was my pastor and we read books under him about how we were to submit.

We were told about the Bible and our story about the Bible and we were told how any digressions about people leaving the church or criticizing our new pastor were a matter of the spiritual realm. We prayed and we fasted and I grew older.

I grew up in the same church until I was 24.

I saw things...

I saw my best friends kicked off the platform because they fornicated.

I saw friends who I barely knew get kicked off the platform because they went to the movie theater.

I saw one of my favorite Sunday School teachers get removed from teaching because another precious saint saw her in pants in the early morning picking up medicine for her mother.

I saw a woman in my church write countless books about how to be holy and she was celebrated and she  broadcasted how important it was to vote republican over the pulpit.

I was confused.

I saw veins of conviction preaching against not losing the truth.

I saw weed secretly smoked during church camping trips.

I saw three gay men leave our church because two of them claimed to be married... and even though they weren't on the platform they were asked to leave.

I saw a pastor from another church preach against me because I was against his Holy Magic Hair Doctrine.

I saw another man write letters to the UPC headquarters about who I was and how wrong I was.

I heard about a pastor of my church from before I was born. He brainwashed my parents. Made them fear God before they knew his love. Made them fear their own love. That pastor also ended up cheating on his wife.

I saw my  friend who grew up in church die of an overdose.

I saw a friend kicked out of their house because they smoked weed.

I saw a friend kicked out of church camp because their hair was too long for a dude...

I saw a friend kicked off the platform for listening to the wrong music....

I saw a youth pastor go to jail for being a pedophile to girls in his youth group.

I saw a friend kicked off the platform for cutting her hair.

I saw friends still pray with the Holy Spirit within them even though they were too worldly to be on the platform.

I saw one friend be applauded on the platform for being at the service of the Lord even though she had cover-up on her face (THIS IS MAKE-UP)... and another get kicked off the platform for having too much blush.

I have seen the face of SATAN in many churches and he works on the side of the preachers most of those times....

I saw my friends fall. Fall away from church. And then their own families because their family was still in church. All because they didn't know .... they never learned. Nor did I learn. About the Cross. About Jesus' love. About anything that mattered. Because Christ to them and Christ to me was about making sure we were right on the way to heaven.

We were told it was about being baptized in Jesus name man. We were told about Acts 2:38. We were told about the soon-coming revival. We were told about the necessity about witnessing. We had an annual tall "prophet" preach sermons of fear into our soul only to end up marrying a woman who wore jewelry.  We were told about I Corinthians 11. We were told why women were sinning when they wore pants. We were preached upright about not wearing jewelry or make-up. And we all danced and celebrated and were happy we had the truth because by God's grace and mercy ...

We were the Royal Priesthood and we were called and chosen and we were meant to save the world...

And it's maddening. And it will just about kill you if you're not properly equipped for it...

Do we not realize what love is? Love isn't about making sure the ones we love are "right." Love is loving someone as is. And hoping to God they will love us.... and if they reject us... well it should be a heartbreak every time. But no. That's not how we were raised when we were showed THE TRUTH. The Apostolic truth that has me so so confused about life. Because I was raised with a MASTER who they told me was God who they said Died for my sins so I would live as HE wanted me too... and when I or someone else dared fall.... they said my MASTER LOVED ME but that MASTER also said I needed correction and reproof....

And over time, I learned to see it....

I saw my MASTER's alleged Holiness from my teachers. They focused on things so we didn't have to worry other than praying harder and wanting us to thrust our way to salvation. The Old Master made me scared and fearful and He also liked it when I danced at the altar... even though I faked the dancing to make people think I was saved.

The Old Master... this was the God that was made for me in my head. Other pastors in the UPC will deny it and say  the Master that I was raised with was not the Master of the Bible.....

But the problem is....

 I saw Jesus on cross.... I saw a Jesus who loved me so much he died for me. And I have never seen such a pastor loving me so much that he would die for me other than the one who died when I was 14..

 I have seen Jesus and I see Him  warning against the very teachers and preachers who raised me. And perhaps raised you...

I saw Him the moment I started to obey and do the thing those teachers told me to do....

I read the Bible. And I say you should read the Bible too. Read the Bible. And read about your Messiah. And YOU SEE FOR THE FIRST TIME ABOUT LOVE AND GRACE AND MERCY and read Romans and you read the Gospels and you tell your pastors "NO! HELL NO! YOU ARE WRONG! YOU DO NOT LOVE ANYONE BUT YOUR FAMILY AND YOURSELF and those who looked like you! Just like the Jews of the Old Testament." You tell them  "YOU WILL NEVER KNOW MATTHEW 25 and YOU WILL NEVER KNOW THE GOOD SAMARITAN OR the Book of GALATIANS AND YOU ARE THE WORST OF JUDAIZERS!" ANd they will say you are rebelling and you will say, "I'm so so sorry.....but I found the Lord... and He is Absolute and resolute... and unlike your God, I refuse to make him to an image about what I want him to look like to think I am saved."

but my Lord and my Apostles, they rebelled against their tradition too...

and the Apostles, through my Lord spoke in tongues....

And yet... everyone outside thought they were drunk when they spoke in tongues. But they weren't. They were filled with the Holy Spirit.

And they never understood us who were filled with the Holy Ghost. They tried to constrain us by having revival and Youth Congress and telling us we were proud of our Apostolic Identity.

But I couldn't be fooled again. I had actually read the Bible. And read the only time that God's chosen ones were proud of who they were, and those were the Jews who lived before Christ had come back.

The same Jews who killed Jesus 2,000 years ago because they were so fixed on the truth that they couldn't recognize love right in front of them...

And every night I speak in tongues knowing God hears me.... hoping to God that His spirit will lead me to

More Mercy....

More grace....

More love.....

To those who don't deserve it. Like the kind kicked off the platform and out of church....

The poor, the widows, the lost and confused... and yeah, I fail at loving as such... and yeah because of my Old MASTER that was contrived from the Old Testament, I feel like I"m never doing enough to get saved....

but then you remember Jesus and Acts 2.... and that Love and the Holy Ghost won't make sense to those in church... they'll never get it.... they'll be lost to themselves in a story about themselves....

And all I want to know is among my salvation, why can't God give me back all those nights lost where I was taught to hate people when they didn't follow the holiness standards we were told to follow.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

#267- Twitter Preaching (and the demise of the UPC)

Introduction: Describing a room and, eventually how we're all going to hell

Serious pretend time here: Let's pretend we all grew up together. Like you, me and about 200 others...Best friends!

And we all grew up in the same room, under the same watchful babysitters and parents. And this room is really big. Huge really. Also: we can't leave the room. Ever.

Naturally, we grow up learning the same things. We go through the same drama and rumors and playtime together. If a fight breaks out, it's our business. If a break-up happens, we tell the break-upper that they needed to move on, and also tell the break-uppee that they deserve better. In this scenario, we are perfect socializers.

In this room, we like some people. We secretly hate others. Yes it gets boring. Often overly dramatic at times. But overall, life is pretty good. Not to mention that the social circle is still relatively small enough that we still feel like everyone knows us and we know everyone, which makes us feel important.

Growing up together, we are all taught the same material. We don't know much beyond what we're collectively taught. Which is really sweet, because we don't have to worry about making choices between living in this room or another room or whether or not our teachers are wrong. If life is good in this room and we have comfort and security, why would we ever wonder about what may lie outside these walls?

The reason why the UPC is leaning towards it's own demise

So let's say that in this hypothetical room, all is good...until one day we have a machine wherein each of us has access to everything that is happening out there... as in outside the Room.

Yeah, skip the symbolism, I'm talking about the internet. Or TV. These were the things that told us that our room was not the only room, and if you so chose, you could venture into seeing what these other rooms were about secretly and without anyone being suspect that we were traitors. We were curious. We weren't looking to rebel. Never would we backslide. We just found the Outside World all of the sudden very "available" for us to evaluate.

And so but like...

With all this new information available to us, we became addicts. We loved feeling like we were at once a part of the outside world we saw on our computer screens, but also feeling the comfort of being within the only room we knew. Best of both worlds really.

Plus the world suddenly moved fast for us. We forgot what boredom was like. We had facebook and YouTube to occupy our lonely, dull thoughts. And if church got boring, well, hey there's instagram!  Personally, I wasn't ready for it. Our digital age ate me alive. All the information available at once made it very difficult to not start questioning the very room I was raised in. The room I was standing in. The only thing I knew. Some days I wish I could go back to the innocence of ignorance in that room.

Okay, now back. So all of us, brothers and sisters, gathered in the room. Hovering over computer screens. Reading. And watching. And getting a good show of it all. Plus we had church. And the truth. We were all there once, happy.

Until, boy oh boy... we got busted. The teachers, the preachers, our pastors. They found us out. Err... they didn't find us out. They found the internet out. They found out all of it's horrors and possibilities.... and I think somewhere deep inside, the UPC scratched it's head and took a huge sigh and asked "How are we going to deal with this?"

And by then we'd all gone ADD in the room. All of the entertainment on the screens and all of the fun we were having... Well without realizing it, we had become so bored that we couldn't find the attention span to listen to one half hour sermon in the tabernacle.

So if you're the UPC, what do you do? How do you get our attention? Us, unwilling errant youths ready to slave ourselves to whatever pop culture fad is coming out. How do you get us on the straight and narrow?

Well instead of actually thinking, the UPC became more laughable. Like obscenely laughable. Seriously.

They found a thing called Twitter. And saw the 140 character limits. And saw how this was the latest fad we were into... and they said, "let's get their attention by writing the most shocking things possible in 140 characters!" And they said "Who cares if it's true? If it sounds good, they'll retweet it and that way we can fight the war against the Oneness Truth online instead of in our churches!"

Because, more than talking about truth, the UPC cared about getting our attention.

And so they sign up the most ridiculous preachers at conferences and conventions. People who can scream well and shout verses and get red-faced and just look like all out clowns, because, yeah they're entertaining. That's fun stuff. Crazy preachers never get old. They always will have my attention. It kind of reminds me of a quote: "If we amplify everything we hear nothing."

And a lot of those crazy preachers even say things that they hope will get retweeted. So think about this; they're even focusing part of their God-anointed sermons on little quick one liners. There's a lot of dudes getting famous off this stuff. Seriously. Go check twitter. If your sermon can't be hash tagged your so two thousand-late.

Honestly. Go check twitter. You will witness the bombardment of half-witted preachers trying so hard to write just the write maxim about God or holiness or love in 140 characters or less... hoping to God you'll read their tweet and say "Hey, that's good brother! Have a retweet." (as you secretly hope they follow you).

And so think with me here.. Honestly think... In a culture where the only preachers that matter are the one's who say catchy, shocking things that will grab our attention.... what leaves?


If we're all in a hurry to get each other's attention.... there's no time to think and contemplate and study. We just rumble around like cave men barking orders and getting all hot and bothered, reading the internet for the latest Harry Potter trend that we can preach against.

It's Pop-Preaching and it's all over the place and it's not good. Because say like, you're a preacher and you studied scripture a lot, and you realized things were a little more complicated or that you were even unsure about a correct Godly answer about something. And let's say you try to preach complicated issues or topics or decided to preach about an entire chapter of the Bible instead of one verse... What would happen to you in the UPC?

Nothing. You'd be a youth pastor at best. The UPC no longer has time to showcase boring preachers who care about truth enough to admit that following God isn't easy or quick. The humble preachers who reflect and think and study, who love God enough to know His Word can't ever be simplified into 140 characters will be left to be elders and nothing more. Citations in the ongoing struggle for the UPC to get our attention.

But if you're a preacher who just flies off the cuff and makes stupid jokes about how much he's sweating and taunts the audience for not amening as loud as he'd like you too... well there's a place for you in the UPC. Because it means you'll grab our attention.

And in the process we'll either argue loudly back against what the preacher is saying or we'll agree and retweet him. But all in all we are worse off for it. We become reactionaries or promoters of simple, stupid catchphrases that speak nothing of the Gospel. And that's not good. Because that means we're not doing due diligence to the Word. We won't be studying. We'll be vying for your attention. And wanting someone else to grab our attention at the same time.... and please, I beg you..... just think


The prophets of old were right... The Apostolic Pentecostal truth would be devoured by technology if we gave into it.

And we did. We gave in. And all those "fear of the end times because we can't control our churches anymore" kind of frantic rhetoric was absolutely correct. Except, the world won't be ending now. We, the Oneness Pentecostals will.

Sure there will be you still believing. And me. And your pastor. And a few others....

Because... well, just think....hold on....

Because if all we settle for at conventions and congresses is an attempt to make church shocking and entertaining.... then that means we'd be competing against other forms of shocking and entertaining media. And there's no way we in the church can compete with the kind of shock and entertainment that's offered out there where the world doesn't have to worry about pleasing older pastors in order or preach in front of thousands of people....

So for now, we're in here. In this room. All grown up now. And tired. And confused. But happily amused at everyone keeping us entertained.

But like dude, we're going to die some day. We're dust. Fragile cracker crumbs and we'll just kind of evaporate soon. . That's what we are here on earth. So even if we and David Bernard and everyone else up there in the Mother-Ship stay the course of this Apostolic truth.... by promoting it with loud noises and angry rants!

Ask yourself, where, or where is our survival going to come from past us? Think...

Because when I think about it... I get terribly anxious. Because if the UPC is still around in thirty years... it means we would have compromised ourselves that much more.... and probably just became a reality TV show that advertises Acts 2:38 at the end of every episode... or, we'll get it right. Learn to pay attention to the things that matter and shut our eyes off from the things that distract us. And we'll study again. And it will be hard. And maybe yeah, our denomination will be gone by thirty years from now if we do study...

But at least we stayed true to the Apostolic Truth the Apostles gave us.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

#266- The "Mark" that will always keep us separate from the world

Editor's Comment: Special Guest Author James Wilder has a blog where he writes his thoughts down about Christianity or culture or whatever else is on his mind. He is self-conscious about this. He shouldn't be. Today he wrote a post that really resonated with me about the denomination we grew up. I think you'll enjoy.

The post is copied in full below or can be read over at his blog, here...

A new "reality" show on the TLC network, "Breaking Amish," features five young adults who have left their Amish and Mennonite communities to experience life in the Big Apple, trying to make a decision if they want to permanently leave their communities. There has been a lot of controversy about the show's "authentic" factor (surprise, surprise, a reality show that isn't "real"), but the stories told, and the concepts viewed are all eerily familiar and even accurate.

The show opens each episode with some sort of wisdom quote or proof-text scripture that the episode then shows the young adults living out, and ultimately, "disobeying." From binge drinking, to tattoo parlors, compulsive intimate relationships, learning city fashions, etc -- this is set-up as a show about how former-Amish have "lost their way" in a big City, even a "big world" that is arranged as a metaphor inside New York City.

It got me thinking, seeing many obvious parallels from my growing up as a Oneness Pentecostal. Sure, we didn't forbid all modern conveniences and live in compounds, but we did forbid an awful lot of other things on similar grounds, and even lived in a social/cultural bubble that is sort of like a compound! The sense of ostracization is one that I identified with as well -- albeit, my experience haven't been personally as dramatic as what they are depicting in the show, again the similarities are close enough.

The element that caught my attention the most was the fear the young adults had about "never fitting in." This was warnings they heard growing up, that because they were "children of God," they would never "fit in with the world." And so, it almost seems like this sort of warning is correct as it got played out over the years. I mean, the eccentric and clueless behavior the young Amish often exhibited on the show is evidence enough that these kids will never be "normal" city dwellers. Their experiences have marked them. Marked. That's the word I heard a lot growing up. For us, as Oneness Pentecostals, it was our "encounters with the Spirit" that marked us. We would forever be "horrible sinners," and "never fit in." So I decided to unpack some of the truth and misleading realities behind such observations.

Children that come out of religiously ascetic and strict homes, even communities that hold to ideas of "separation from the world," (interpreted on a more fundamentalist and hyper-literal perspective) struggle to find their way in the world. This is a truth that cannot be underscored. These who leave experience a great loss, likely similar to grieving the loss of an entire family at once! Imagine that! Real, bonafide grief made even worse, since their friends and family are still alive and well. They lose the  community of those they grew up with, the positive affirmation that healthy humans need, a support network, and a lifetime of memories and experiences that others outside these communities hardly will ever understand. More, however, is the engrained belief system that makes up their worldview-- and as much as they are ignored for more shallow reasons ("I want to find my own way in life," etc), it is conditioned to breed constant fear that either makes them an anxious wreck, or an all-or-nothing "sinner," spinning out of control, trying to sample all of life's pleasures in a short period, sort of "making up for lost time." Binging. These are the ugly results. The former is depressed, frightened, confused and insecure -- the latter using deviant choices as a method of "putting their head in the sand," and somehow thinking that this is how the rest of the world actually lives. They believe they are living the life of an outsider, and any unhappiness is projected onto the whole of the fellow "outsiders."

Returning Home
Many of these types find themselves crawling back to their homes and communities. Unresolved tensions of what they believe, the draw of community and support is greater for them. They feel at peace in a system of groupthink (a huge part to maintain community: in Amish communities, even moreso than, say, a Oneness Pentecostal culture, that is usually maintained by a primarily charismatic central figure, and then carried out through the community), and the affirmation received works for them. Some, out of fear, head back. Others, feeling like they experienced the "pleasures of the world," then return to tell their stories to the insiders about how life on the outside is, and how it's "ultimately unfulfilling." They would call these "testimonies," and use them to contain and numb others' itches to leave the community in the same fashion. But the fearful types likely trade fear and anxiety in one sense, back to fear and anxiety in another sense, masked with community and social mores that are more suitable for them. They become lulled back into a deep sleep, away from their critical thinking and existential wondering by the community's rythmn of events, spiritual ritual, etc.

Hanging with other "Backsliders"
In the circles I grew up in, those who "left the Church," were often mocked for always hanging out with others that also left the Church. (This probably mostly happens as a result of a shared background and experience that is uniquely related to.) This helped paint the picture by the community leaders that they were all bitter, and had a hard time coping and living in the real world: "marked by God." Of course the sociological realities of this are largely ignored.

True, they are "marked," but by their experiences, lack of healthy interaction with the world around them, and a huge loss of community. The task of leaving is daunting on multiple and complex layers. Not being able to work through the theological layers, and unequipped to do so, they have an uneasy relationship with God and faith. Then there's the emotional layers,  and even some level of self-reflection... being cast into the world just to "figure it all out," is a complex and dangerous task. Any human in this predicament, not conditioned or even familiar with any of the attitudes of the larger society around them, going through loss of community and affirmation, will have a hard time finding their way. There's no reason to think of this devastating result as anything more uniquely spiritual than that (though to be sure, all of life is spiritual, so this is indeed, spiritual in a non-Platonic sense). The churches I grew up around would point to these people and situations, preaching as examples to others, to somehow make a point and support their claims about how they are "marked by God." The reality is, they are marked by a theological and sociological system. And the only point proven, particularly for these isolationist, fundamentalist types, is how dangerous such a system can be for people, and the reality that many will remain by some sort of subconscious prison, and fail to critically think, fearful of the heavy realities.

Metanarratives and Stories
We all buy into a story that we are part of, and living through. How we view our purpose in life, what we view as the problems in life, what the solutions are and what the ultimate Utopia would look like, varies from belief system to belief system, whether religious or irreligious, philsophical or some other ontalogical form. Many spiritual wanderers will, for one reason or the other, leave these circles while still living in the same narrative/story, which causes a great deal of tension. The world around them pressures them into throwing away their God narrative, and since they only know one God narrative, this brings more confusion. Some dramatically exchange the story they are living for a hedonistic or "carefree" alternative story. Of course, most don't realize they are "story-searching" at all. This isn't exactly a conscientious grocery shopping expedition of worldviews. But this is what is happening, and why the complexity of leaving a social community into a desolate wilderness (or an urbanly dense over-stimulated noise of ideas)-- this is why it's hard, and this is what the preachers aren't saying. Instead, it's overly-spiritualized sermon fodder to "warn others of the ways of the unrighteous."

SIDE NOTE: I embraced a Gospel story-narrative, one that I feel find tension with, but one that I feel almost too good to be true, and one I want to believe... one I really want to believe. One that points the solution/redemption away from me, and to a Perfect Other -- an Other than redeemed me not because of anything I did -- and an Other (Jesus) who paints the picture of redemption in something far more Utopic than any human can imagine. This One makes all things right, brings redemption to all the cosmos, and promises peace and justice.

So watching this new show, despite the production put into it, is like peeking in to a narrative I once knew and identified with,  and relating to the characters that I sometimes chuckle at, yet sadly understand, trying to "find their way in the world."

It's no wonder so many end up feeling abused and faithless, or move so quickly to another dangerous story-line to make their own. They are indeed, marked... marked by religion, broken systems, bearing wounds of rejection and hurt from the many false stories they've bought into. Fortunately, marked people can find healing too.

Friday, November 2, 2012

#265- The American Evangelical Love Affair With Mitt Romney

Various aspects of this post have been running through my head for some months now and I just thought I should get them out before the election. So, here it is. I'll admit that it's less polished than some of my other posts and it's not nearly as humorous, unless you take after the Horkheimer/Adorno school of comedy, where true laughter only comes from the pure horror, which in this case fits nicely. Anyway, please read and feel free to comment.

Antonio Gramsci died in 1937 after nine yeas of imprisonment at the hands of Benito Mussolini's fascist government. A member of the Italian parliament and the Communist Party, Gramsci died for his opposition to the actual oppression of the National Socialists, as opposed to the farcical fear mongering of conservative pundits over President Obama's insidious plans for the America of 2016.

(A helpful hint: history and common sense tells us real socialist dictators don't run for two terms or downsize the military as precursors to destroying democracy, but then again, no one ever accused hardline conservatives of making any sense or having a grasp of actual, non-made-up history.)

I can't help but to think about Gramsci when I see the wholehearted support for the Romney-Ryan ticket my fellow Christians have poured out since the sad battle of attrition that was the Republican Primary. Let us embark on a short comparison. Unlike Romney, Gramsci was an actual self-made man, born to a poor countryside family and making the best of his scant opportunities. Mittens and Ann would like you to believe that they know what it's like to struggle, that they're down with the folks on Main Street, but aside from having to tough it out in a condominium or classic townhouse right out of college—you know, in the bad part of town next to the trashy New Rich—their lives have been anything but a Rand-ian Objectivist Bildungsroman. The most glaring disparity is also the one that continually surprises and depresses me about the Christian support for Romney; that while Gramsci never wavered from his lifelong mission to better the lives of poor and working class Italians, even in the face of imprisonment and death, Romney has very famously done and continues to do the exact opposite. Gramsci wasn't perfect, of course, because no one is, but the instructive point here is that Gramsci's life and death are the very antithesis of Mitt Romney, a man whose campaign represents the very height of political cynicism.

Liberals will often call Romney a liar for his flip-flopping on everything from his policies to what he had for breakfast yesterday. It really isn't fair to call him a liar, though, because changing positions on an issue is a necessary strategy for all politicians. It makes sense to change your stance on something as public opinion shifts and every politician who rises to national prominence has more than likely done it. It's just that Romney does it so often and so shamelessly, you can't really put him side by side with other political opportunists.

Visiting the “Political Positions of Mitt Romney” Wikipedia page is like reading a doctoral dissertation on the “Edit” function. Seriously, the first paragraph of his Agriculture position reads thus:

“In his 1994 Senate campaign, Romney called for the "virtual elimination" of the federal Department of Agriculture and for reductions in farm subsidies. In 2007, when questioned about these views, a Romney for President Iowa campaign spokesman responded: "Governor Romney believes that investing in agriculture is key to our economy and families."

Get rid of the dates and specific issue and you more or less have the blueprint for Romney's political strategy. (1) Say one thing when it is politically beneficial to you. (2) Say something else when it's politically beneficial to you. (3) Rinse and Repeat.

EDIT: I thought I'd add this delightful tidbit, courtesy of Gawker: Rudy Giuliani has made his post-mayoral and post-failed-presidential-nominee career as the Republican Party's blustering mouthpiece lately. In 2008, he was an opponent of Romney for the Republican nomination and said this about the Governor: “This is a man without a core,” he said. “This is a man without substance. This is a man who will say anything to become president of the United States. I think that is a great vulnerability.

But maybe you didn't like that I used Gramsci as a comparison earlier—too Marxist for your tastes? How about this: Abraham Lincoln. It's actually pretty good; Lincoln was quite unpopular during his own Presidency and his decisions didn't often win him many fans. We remember him as the Great Emancipator, but although he was personally opposed to slavery, he felt it was a states' rights issue for the majority of his two terms as President (much like Obama on the issue of gay marriage. Just as Frederick Douglass was disappointed for Lincoln's lukewarm support of the rights of blacks, so are LGBT groups similarly disappointed with Obama's meager answering on promises. Also similarly, both of Lincoln and Obama have been attacked for their personal and private, but less than actual and tangible support for these groups). Lincoln eventually changed his stance, of course, and he paid for it (and the South's loss) with his life. Simply ask yourself, does this type of change in position, from one that was not popular to one that was even LESS popular, sound like anything Mitt Romney would do, given his history?


I've made it through the entire post so far without mentioning the infamous 47% video. You've seen it, right? Seriously? Well, go watch it, I'll wait.....


Back? So, yeah, there's that. I'm not going to go into a lengthy breakdown of it, because many people far more intelligent and better paid than I have already done so. With that said, I've argued that the video tells you less about what Romney thinks about many Americans—which we really should have already known by now—and more about how Americans view themselves. The fact is, huge swaths of the 47%, many of whom sit in UPC pews, can watch this video and be completely blithe to the fact that Romney is talking about them. He doesn't care about them, he mocks them at a $50,000 per plate dinner at the home of a billionaire who also hosts poolside orgies with Russian sex-workers (yeah, look it up), and they remain blissfully unaware.

I could really go on, but the information is out there, you really just have to look, and not even that hard. I'm tempted to rely on Gramsci's famous concept of Cultural Hegemony to explain the Evangelical Christian worship of Republican policy, even and especially when it has no actual direct benefit for their lives and basically never has, but that's too easy and a bit to high handed. And anyway, it's probably easier than that.

In as simple language as I can possibly muster, here's the deal: Mitt Romney does not stand for God, for you, your family, or your values, because he does not stand for anything other than what he needs to win the election in this moment or the next. Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and their campaign advisers have no respect and no concern for your intelligence and wherewithal as a voter and citizen. Some time ago the Romney campaign realized that American Conservatives, a great deal of whom are Christians, hate Barack Obama so much that he could literally say anything, even if it contradicted what he'd said previously and what he would say soon after, as long as it is delivered as some kind of attack on the President.

If he felt like it, Romney could stand in front of the press tomorrow and detail a tax policy that would eviscerate Americans making less than $250,000 a year and Conservatives would hail it as the sensible plan and the complete opposite of what Obama would do. That Romney can with a straight face critique the Affordable Care Act, a program which is an almost exact copy of the health care program his administration enacted during his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts, and and not even referencing the moral grounds Christians hate the Act for, sums up perfectly the kind of hypocritical blinders Christians have worn during the election cycle.

The overwhelming emotion I will have after this election, regardless of the outcome, is shame and depression, because if nothing else, this recent cycle has taught me that Christians have a powerful capacity for hate. It is telling, even incriminating for our alleged status as Christians, that we can in one breath pray for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to receive the Holy Ghost and follow Jesus and then in the next cross our arms when the pastor asks us to pray for President Obama, a fellow Christian. Need more? Why do Christians hate President Obama so much that they'd call Romney a “Man of God” when they would otherwise look down on him as a lost Mormon, as lost as a Buddhist or Muslim?

I can't do everything for you, use your imagination.

Oh shoot, let me make it a little easier, just for fun! Here's a list of some things Christians think President Obama is, even though we know he isn't and one thing that he actually is. See if you can find it!

1) He is a Communist.
2) He is a Marxist or Socialist or something else -isty and un-American.
3) He is a Kenyan, non-American (or something, I'm not sure)
4) He is giving the gays all of the rights they don't have yet.
5) He's turning America into the only non-sovereign state member of the UN, thereby turning us into the only non-nation in the United Nations.
6) He plans to legally force everyone to get abortions at least once and to make churches pay for them, solely.
7) He is a Muslim.
8) He wants to take everybody's guns away.
9) He wants to make all the drugs legal.
10) He wants to get rid of the military and paint a big sign that says "INVADE US" at every border patrol station.

Hmm....any more?

Ah, yes,
11) He is an African-American.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

#264-Turning General Conference Into Barnum & Bailey's

Over the past few years I’ve lost touch with a lot of people and a lot of events. Sometimes intentionally. For instance, I try not to pay attention to Music Fest, Youth Congress, General Conference, etc.

Joel called me a few weeks ago and, in passing, mentioned camps, which gave me great glee in the fact that I had been oblivious to the fact that it was camp season.  It’s always the same: one shouting service, one weeping service, words of ‘prophecy’ are given, everyone eats too much and we all go home.

I knew General Conference was going on last week but didn’t think much of it. I didn’t try to stream it, I stayed away from the speaking schedule, and I was blissful.


They made it impossible for me. It’s like I’m in The Truman Show, except it’s The Glen Show and there’s some guy in a control booth somewhere saying “Ok, send in the crazy in three…two…”

Act 1

A few years ago I saw a hilarious viral video of a guy who gets his first chance to preach at a southern evangelical church. The preacher's name is one I will never forget: Brother Barry.

You will not regret bearing witness:

I remember the first time I saw the video (full sermon is around 30 minutes). A preacher friend showed it to me and we could not stop laughing. So fast-forward to 2012. One of our dear preachers saw the video, and somehow, without any drugs or alcohol assisting, made the most drunk-guy decision I’ve ever seen: He decided that this guy needs to be affiliated with the UPC. He'd be one of those trinitarian-gone-Acts 2:38 ministers we all hear about. Bonus: He's Youtube famous. 

So, bless God, they tracked this guy down. Now, I wasn’t there but what I heard happened is this:

After the trapeze artists finished up and they got the elephant that walks on his hind legs out of the arena it was time:

A little purple clown car pulls up onto the middle of the stage. The door swings slowly open as Jukebox Hero by Foreigner blares from the speakers. Out steps a big red shoe.. then another… A clown stands up and dances across the stage. Then another. And another. And six more. And just when the audience thought there couldn't possibly be another clown in the car… one penny loafer touches the floor. Followed by another… And out steps….our hero… Brother Barry. The arena erupts. Young girls faint. The Board is in tears. Stoneking has two girls by the hair. It's glorious.

Ok maybe that’s not how it happened but it’s how it played out in my head...

Anyway, they take Brother Barry on stage, give some spiel about him to the crowd and over to the dunk tank they go.

Cue dozens of iphone cameras filming a the in-house big-screen showing the baptism.

Cue baptism.

"Brother Internet-Celebrity-We-Brought-In-To-Get-Exposure, upon the confession of your faith in what I explained to you on the phone I do now indeed baptize y..w..what's that? No you can't have the microphone...I do now indeed baptize you in the Name..."

Cue shouting music.

Cue shouts from the old ministers rejoicing that they acquired one more of those Tritheists.

Cue quiet chuckles of younger ministers who were all really big fans of Brother Barry two years ago.

Cue History.

Act 2

The next act was even more daring.

Perhaps you remember this sassy young senator from the great state of Missouri:

You heard it here folks. Women can’t get preggers from ‘legitimate’ rape. But this has been hashed out in the media and on Facebook for weeks, so I won’t bore you with my take.

But yes, this media darling spoke at General Conference too.

And in related news, I managed to get my hands on the minutes from the board meeting that planned General Conference.. sorry that’s #upcigc12 #GC2012.

It reads as follows:

“Gentlemen, thank you for coming today. I trust you've brought some great ideas to the table for General Conference 2012?”
“Yes sir, we have some very relevant ideas.”
“What word did you just say?”
“Um, ideas?
“Before that.”
“After that.”
“Turn in your affiliation card and get out.”
*Two large men in suits carry away the heretic*

“Now, does anyone have any REAL ideas for General Conference this year?”
“Well, I saw this video of a really awkward guy trying to preach at some Trinitarian church…”
“How do you know it was Trinitarian?”
“Because he had a mullet.”
“That’s all the proof I need. What’s the idea?”
“Well, I was going to say we baptize him, but I think he might be mentally disabled or at least socially inept, so maybe we shouldn’t take advantage of him for our own gain.”
“No no, I like it, someone call Chance, who’s got Delta Miles? Get this guy on a plane tonight!”
“What else?”

“Sir, there was a member of the House of Representatives that went on the news and said women couldn’t get pregnant from actual rape.”
“They can’t.”
“But….according to science…”
“I don’t care about some pinko, commie, atheist ‘doctors’! They can’t and that’s final. What’s your idea?”
“Well, the election is around the corner and he’s running, and it could bring a lot of exposure to us and him equally if we let him speak, and since this conference seems like all we're trying to do is get exposure and make waves...”
“That’s the most brilliant idea I’ve ever heard! Call his office. NO! I’ll go myself. We must have this man at our conference.”
“But sir, isn’t the point of the conference to gather the members of the movement together to network, handle ministerial business, raise money for our outreach programs/global missions, and just have good church? How does any of this contribute to that?”
“Don’t worry, we’ll get Arnold to do an hour long set.”
“You mean sermon?”
“Yeah yeah, sermon, that’s what I meant, sermon, right.”

And that, my friends, is the story of General Conference 2012.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

#263- Making a Commotion @ General Conference

For those of you who don't know what this is, it's called a Meme. Memes started as pictures in chain email forwards that you used to send directly to your trash bin without opening them. It's a descendent of the early internet humor of the nineties. Think of The Dancing Baby or The Hampster Dance. These were the progenitors of memes.

Basically, what a meme is is this: internet humor that not a lot of people get. The ones who do 'get' can sit on websites like 4chan or 9gag and scroll for hours, laughing incessantly and never getting bored, no matter how stupid, random, abstract or completely senseless the stuff they're looking at is. The ones who don't 'get it' just roll their eyes when they see it, and click onto the next thing.

There is no sense to a meme. It's like an inside joke that all you have to do to get on the inside of is say you get it, and boom, you're in.

"It's so funny!"
"But why is it funny?"
"Oh, you either get it or you don't. I couldn't possibly explain it to you."

About the UPC Meme

Allow me to introduce you to a list of characters. Your task is to figure out what they all have in common:

  • The guy most likely to use a prank handshake buzzer at a funeral. 
  • Possible kamikaze pilot in a past life. 
  • All-too-happy-that-you're-here Wal-Mart greeter. 
  • Semi-Pro Paintball player. 
  • Your Aunt Mildred.
  • Retired Auto-worker who has had it up to here with anyone who does not buy American. 
  • Aging mayor whose one goal now in life is your approval and your vote. Or....
  • On halloween night, he is the one guy who leaves Free Candy on his porch with the house lights off making it seem like he's gone for the evening, but lo and behold he was hiding in a bush the whole time and wouldn't you know it, he has a live chainsaw and is chasing the unsuspecting innocent children, but "don't worry mom and dad, there's no chain on the chain saw so it's safe!" And the kids are left in tears and half heart attacks, and are so worked up they just can't bring themselves to go onto another house free candy or not.... and all of this because the guy with the chainsaw likes watching kids cry.

So what do all of these have in common? If you answered that all of the above are possible analogies for Jeff Arnold's preaching persona, then you win. If you were wrong, well maybe next time. Because as a UPC meme, Jeff Arnold can be all of the above and more when he's preaching.

As for Jeff Arnold's sermons.... you will laugh. You will clap. You will become disoriented, but in a good way. This is because listening to a Jeff Arnold sermon is kinda like being on a tilt-a-whirl ride that has spun off the track. There is no way to tell where you are or where you'll end up, and the scariest part is you can't recall how you even got on the tilt-a-whirl in the first place. 

Other things you may encounter in a Jeff Arnold sermon:

  • Someone will find a lit firecracker in their pant pocket two seconds too late. The firecracker will ignite leaving a slightly blush-worthy hole in the victim's pants. Everyone there will laugh including the victim. They will say "Oh Bro. Arnold" and he'll have his hands up and say "Hey folks, it wasn't me" in a serious tone... but then with impeccable comedic timing, he'll break his stare and say "Naw I'm just playing.... It was me." And he'll laugh and the audience will laugh harder and then he'll give a noogie to the victim with the huge hole in his pants and the victim will smile as if he is the lucky one.
  • You will hear Jeff Arnold say the word "Shenanigans" in all seriousness and without irony.
  • You will see Jeff Arnold do what can only be described as The Geriatric Douggie, in which he will shuffle around the stage to a beat played by God that only Jeff Arnold can here. Whilst doing The Geriatric Douggie Jeff Arnold will tell you to get off your 'fanny' and dance, because if he and his robo-hips can gyrate then yours should too, you young whipper snapper.
  • You will hear Jeff Arnold rip into conservatives at conservative churches because he's Jeff Arnold and he's called by God. He will then rip into liberals at liberal churches because he's a licensed UPC minister. And at the end of the day he'll he walk past you with his suit over his shoulder and give you a finger point and a wink and he'll say "now that's how you play ball son." And you'll know right then that he's completely in control of the situation no matter how much his preaching style reminds you of  a circus-tent on fire during a circus' grand finale
Before recently, I had always thought Jeff Arnold a meme for the UPC. Like a meme, my only knowledge of him or his sermons came through the virtual world of the internet or preaching tapes. From what I saw, he seemed like a kind of inside joke meme that we hollered at in support, but always with a wink, a giggle, and an elbow-nudge to let everyone know that we don't take him too seriously, like he's comic relief. Sure he said some witty statements to tweet here and there, but it was just enough Truth to allow the show to go on lest we be accused of allowing church to decay into a one-hour stand-up comedy act.

The question in my mind was whether or not Jeff Arnold himself was serious or was voluntarily just playing the part of UPC class clown?

But then you hear that he says stuff like this...

(Please Note:  Typing the sermon words out to accompany the sermon and adding intense-Batman themed music cannot save the quote from it's comedy/bigotry/stupidity).

Jeff Arnold's witnessing abilities are flawless. And by flawless, I mean pathetic to someone who knows a homosexual or is one. Nothing says "Jesus loves you" like "fag/twinkie/queer!" Apparently he does this kind of thing all the time.

Which if you missed it, according to Jeff Arnold, since I'm an advocate of gay rights, I'm either a "Fag," "a twinkie," or "a queer." Note: I'm heterosexual. But Arnold's inference is that only a fag/twinkie/queer would actually care about gay rights...

Not to mention that parts of this clip were beginning to eerily remind of a minute long segment in the film version of The Wall:

Or maybe I'm taking Jeff Arnold way too seriously....and who cares if he's said such things many other times before?

"Which let's be honest. That whole queer/fag quote...well it's Jeff being Jeff right? It's what he does. He says bold things. Some of them silly, some of them true. And along the way you are bound to get some bigotry mixed in. It's part of the price I guess.... he's from the South and all... it's not that big of a deal. You should cut him some slack...."

And truth be told I was. Glen had told me about this stuff for a while, but I just said that it's "Jeff's gig." He's there to shock and to get laughs and to get us to pray a little and by the end of the night hopefully we'll be able to say the Lord was there and a time was had.

And Glen warned me that his preaching at General Conference was a cause for concern.

I didn't listen.....

Here is the sequential logic of the above clip:

1. Jeff Arnold likes puns.
2. Jeff Arnold has a Word from the Lord
3. Jeff Arnold declares Jeroboam an idiot and a fool.
4. Jeff Arnold reveals that Jeroboam birthed a spirit named after him and the spirit is sweeping the nation.
5. Jeff Arnold lets us in on the Spirit of Jeroboam's platform: Pro-Tolerance
6. Jeff Arnold reminds us that we sometimes have to confront things regarding holiness. We must contend with the faith.
7. Jeff Arnold exceptionally paraphrases the people who are under the influence of the Spirit of Jeroboam. AKA "The Pro-Tolerance" preachers.
8. Jeff Arnold announces that "that's not legalism. That's life."
9. Jeff Arnold has a loud voice and he'll use it if he has to.
10. Jeff Arnold quotes Jesus telling us that He will give us life and life more abundantly.1
11. Jeff Arnold declares there is nothing wrong with modesty, sacrifice, formality, or separation.2
12. Jeff Arnold sings "When I think of his goodness and what he's done for me."
13. Jeff Arnold doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.
14. Jeff Arnold is 68 years old.
15. Jeff Arnold does not have real hips.
16. Jeff Arnold is the original Mr. T.
17. Jeff Arnold announces he is a robot.
18. Jeff Arnold demonstrates that robots can dance.
19. Jeff Arnold wants to know what your problem is.
20. Jeff Arnold does not like non-emotional people.
21. Jeff Arnold thinks you are a liar.
22. Jeff Arnold wants you to be just as somber and quiet and unemotional when you catch a 5 pound bass fish as you are somber and unemotional in church.
23. Jeff Arnold thinks you need to do something.
24. Jeff Arnold wants you to get happy.

Glen's less rigorous, more honest interpretation of the above clip:
"I can't even tell what he's getting at. The last time I heard him preach he was all over the place, dropping 'zingers' and one liners. Back in the day he was a great speaker, but I think he's reliant on the whole 'Oh no he di'int" candor he was known for in the nineties and he just isn't shocking anymore. Oh you called someone a twinkle toes or a faggot and then shuffled around and said we should get off our "fannies" and dance? Don't push that envelope too far, you'll get a paper cut."


1. Note the bait & switch argument here. Talk about one thing (holiness) and back up the talk by talking about one of those Christian buzzwords that will get everyone worked up. Next, hope everyone is too rowdy to notice the shoddy logic that acts like "Life and life more abundantly" has anything to do with confronting and challenging "tolerance."

2. The inference here being that the "pro-tolerance" camp say that modesty, sacrifice, formality, or separation is a bad thing. (Which is so not true that even the angels are scratching his head over this one. Except for formalities. I personally don't care for formalities. But nor does God: He's the one who made Adam and Eve naked and turned water into wine and called a woman a dog ). Plus, irony here: Arnold upholding "formalities?" That's like Republicans supporting NPR.

3.  Another quote from later on in the evening: "So you think I'm a legalist? If I am a legalist then my Father is a legalist. It was He who said "Get out of my garden and put some clothes on."*

*God never said this*                                                                                                                                                                                            

So there you have it. We can chalk up the above logic to being orchestrated by the power of the Holy Spirit which apparently works in the same discontinuous, shoot-from-the-hip style similar to the way we imagine a 2 year old would attempt to spell "White Mans Paranoia" off the top of his head with a set of scrabble letters.

And maybe in the chaos we'll get a meme.

So ask yourself,  what kind of meme your'd prefer? One that says fag as if it was authorized by God himself...

Or a meme that also makes little-to no sense but will also never call you a fag since this kind of meme is a dog barking into a phone with a look of horror hoping to God that it it's not Jeff Arnold calling him on the other end of that phone line asking him why he doesn't dance in church.

Monday, September 24, 2012

#262 - Not Bitterness

A little listening music:

Although you weren’t asking, I would say the four most commonly used words I heard growing up, would be ‘bitter’, ‘rebellion’, ‘’reprobate’, and ‘backslide.’ The word I hear most often about myself (as in “out-of-church-Glen”) is ‘bitter’. I don’t think that’s a secret. Clearly I’m pretty jaded. My posts aren’t exactly filled with memories of puppy dogs and rainbows. Perhaps unexpectedly, I am 100% completely ok with this label.

So why would someone like be ok with this label? Well for one, it’s accurate. But there’s also more to it than that.

Let me explain:

I had a very, very shallow outlook as a young’n. I saw people on the fringes of my church growing up that carried the ‘rebel’ label. I saw people come around occasionally that had long since left church, and they carried the ‘backslider’ label.
But the word thrown around more freely than any other was ‘bitter’. At the time I bought right in. Someone has a negative opinion of the church/doctrine/pastor? They’re bitter. Someone doesn’t agree with the way something was handled? Bitter. They left our church? OUR church?! They’re so bitter I almost blew blood vessels from wincing too hard.

See, growing up that was the only logic I knew. There was no such thing as hurt, offense, mishandling, abuse, strife or anything else. Just bitter.

**Before I say the following I would like to say this: all of this is in the past. My family has made peace with our past and holds no grudges or ill will, nor do we believe any is held towards us. It’s all gravy baby.**

I was born and raised in one church. My dad was born and raised in that same church and his father before him came into it at a young age, and raised his family in it. Mom started going when she married dad.

Who cares right? Well, you know that guy at your church that pretty much does everything? He has the keys to the place, he’s on the board, runs the sound, he sets up for events, decorates for the holidays, buys the supplies for communion, and so on? That, and more, was my dad. My mom was active as well. After a while he had some disagreements with the church leadership. Not doctrinal disagreements, just political. So my dad decided to leave the church he grew up in, and up until that point, raised me in as well. To be 100% honest I still don’t know what his final reason was, because my parents have a rule: they never talk bad about the ministry, even to me. When they left I decided to stay at the church and stick it out, because they didn’t want to influence me or talk bad or anything like that, so I had no reason to leave. They were model Christians and left the church for another as quietly and politely as possible. However after leaving they received the same description as everyone else who has ever left any Pentecostal church: “they were prayed out because they were blocking revival and very…” wait for it….wait for it…..”bitter.” Yep, they got the red ‘B’ on their frocks.

Not that being called bitter is even a shocking thing these days. We who write for SAL get called bitter so often that Joel actually confused his own first name as Bitter once. It’s weird though. Weird that Joel gets called bitter. Because he’s not bitter. I am bitter about some things and have no problem saying as much. But Joel’s not. (I'd like to posit that I am ruled by emotion and Joel is ruled by intellect. I let things get to me and become bitter. Joel's concerns are based in logic and study. That's the dichotomy between us here.)

Bitter or not, it’s always amusing to see just how the word is thrown around. See, if we post about a touchy topic the word is dropped instantly.


Gotta love the “Therefore” in there. As if the commenter is doing some sound analytical logicizing in the same mold as Bertrand Russell. There was another guy who was throwing it around almost antagonistically, saying things like "ok bitter kidders," etc. Most of the time the word bitter is thrown around on the site it’s used as an escape. Rather than confront an issue head on, it’s easier to commit an Ad Hominem attack and discredit the person discussing an issue as if labeling someone bitter proves the issue false. Rather than deal with any uncomfortable issue at all it’s easier to label any dissenters to be bitter and act like that proves something. Lee Stoneking once said that if I talk to you and bring up anything questionable then you should just punch me in the face because I’m just so darn bitter.

Why is this word the answer to every question?

Now, as stated prior, I own up to the accusation. I like to use ‘jaded’ instead of ‘bitter’, because one sounds pretty and the other doesn’t. I don’t need to rehash or recap my life in Pentecost to any avid readers of SAL, but in case you’re really curious and have 20 minutes to kill, then you could go read my post on Value, and get a pretty good idea what I’m all about. And after you read it, perhaps you’ll see why I’m jaded/bitter.

Now, without getting into all the various stories of finger pointing and blaming I’d like to address the way Apostolics use “bitter.” 
Are there bitter people out there who can’t be pleased no matter what, who do nothing but find fault in whatever environment they’re in and who will continually buck whatever leadership is above them? Yes, absolutely. I am not, in any way whatsoever, excusing them or saying they don’t exist, because those kinds of bitter people do exist.

What I am saying is that disagreeing with your pastor does not mean you’re bitter. Expressing hurt does not equal expressing bitterness. Even if we think someone’s hurt is unjustified and overly dramatic. Complicated church drama is not necessarily full bitter people trying to get revenge. The word and concept of bitterness does not exist to absolve religious leaders of responsibility for the things they say and do. It is possible, and even acceptable, for ministers to be wrong sometimes. It’s fairly common in Christian counseling, as there is a pandemic of bad advice being given by people offering counsel without being credentialed to do so. It doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad pastor. It just means you made a mistake.

Where I see this word used the most is in cases of hurt people. They can’t be hurt because that means someone in leadership hurt them, and since we would never deliberately hurt someone and since the Holy Ghost prevents us from ever doing it inadvertently then we must conclude that the person wasn’t really hurt, thus they’re bitter and we remain innocent, if not even the victim here.

Hurt people rarely become bitter until their questions, concerns, and bad experiences are mishandled, ignored or worse; downplayed and condescended. Wounds heal, but only when cared for. When they go unattended to is when they rot, and decay, and begin to stink. It's then that the wounds become our identity, and the gangreen called 'bitterness' sets in. 

Bitterness becomes not just the scapegoat, but also a script-flipper. It takes your hurt, pain, and angst, and then dwarf’s it. Your problems now become mitigated, and those who may have caused them label themselves the true victims. You’re no longer someone who’s been hurt and deserves an apology, because you’ve become someone ‘attacking the ministry’. Vicious circle right?

In summation, there are people improperly labeled bitter, there are people who are going to be bitter no matter what, and there are people who are hurt, abused or maligned who wind up bitter. Simply slapping that label on something does not vindicate the church and/or its leadership. Instead of saying “they’re just bitter,” try “why are they bitter,” and “what brought this person to this point," and "can we rectify this situation?" Try to root out these issues and address them instead of attacking those who experience them with acerbic epithets and accusations. Admitting a problem and working toward a solution does not damage the church or the leadership, only denying the problem does.


We shoot our wounded, and we should stop. We need to abandon the self-aggrandizing sermonizing. Remember, please, that, as the great John Kennedy said, “For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal."

You’re a mortal. I am a mortal. We're a part of humanity whether we like it or not. You and I will make mistakes. Lots of them. It’s ok to make them as long as we own up to them. It takes a special kind of ego to look at the hurt, the wounded and the maimed and say “You brought it on yourself.” A common thread that's ran through all my posts lately is the lack of connection with humanity within the Apostolic movement. There's not humanity and then us. We're a part of it too. Dismissing other peoples hurt and angst robs them of some of the very things which makes them human. Their problems don't matter, thus they don't matter. Close the Strong’s, put down The Herald and repeat after me: “I am a human being and I am capable of being wrong.”

Good night, and good luck.

**There will be a post coming soon about the Good People in church that we still love, we respect, and we miss, and those people tend to buck the trends described in this post, so be looking for that.**