When one decides to pursue God, life itself comes alive;
out of the ashes, as though risen from the dead.
It will have been twenty-five wonder-filled years in a few short months, in summer 2019, since that Glorious Midsummer's Day when Life himself rose and stood upright before these eyes, and began to paint all things new. As though the grass grew more greenly, the sky spread more broadly blue, and every moment was fairly bursting with meaning, purpose, and now also, promise and potential. it was truly only the beginning.
As with so many during the fledgling years -- clearly noticeable now after these many of my own that provide better hindsight, a longer and better aligned sight radius, and clearer foresight, especially watching those others as they come to Life -- so it was for myself back then -- in the beginning was that Light, yes, but as goes one of the Parables:
And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:
A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.
And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?
But till that Glorious Day, the seeds spread in my field had been quickly devoured by the fouls of the air and trampled underfoot by this foul. Having been on The Wrong Side up till then, I had been content in so many ways to remain right where I was, pursuing this or that vanity, some or other fleeting, empty pleasure or fad or pop-culture offering, but mostly, simply to go with the flow in whatever direction the prevailing current so carried me along, being spoon-fed and loving it, and when occasion presented itself, to dish out the same vulgar, self-centered shovelfuls that lept into my empty little head and out my dirty little mouth, performing any and all or none at all if I felt so lackadaisical and by dint of whichever good or bad attitude might have gripped me upon rolling slothfully out of one or another side of the bed on any given day, on my way to perform, permit, promote, and prop up with my dirty little hands some part or other of my default, American-childhood religion du jour.
I was content. Smugly self-satisfied. At ease and comfortable. Except for this one, nagging Thing that gnawed at my curious little mind and that kept thumping my stiffnecked little heart. What didn't help my goal of remaining right where I was, were a few cleverly poised and positioned relics that were not entirely unfamiliar, but that were mostly not a concern as I went about as described above. One such point of concern arose when I discovered, around age ten, that my Dear Old Pop took seriously this collection of ancient, cryptic writings, that comprised to Me the Ignoramus, little more than a few cartoonish, quirky stories that I was told on occasion by the Pop and by churchy types, actually represented what they referred to as "God's Word", whatever that meant, not that I much cared. There were plenty of other similarly exalted books that I similarly could hardly care less about, having been taught so to think and behave by the officially Godless American Public-School system, and besides that, I had a lot of television and movies and rather unwholesome music to indulge, and what little time remained in that busy schedule was consumed with trying to look cool to a bunch of other likeminded and like-mannered punks, another purposeful outcome of those by whom I had been being raised and trained five days per week, until returning home, where I would, via remote control, further indulge my appetites utilizing a wide selection of their training videos and other modes of after-school curriculum delivery. If Christians would be so deliberate in their designs! we should overspread the globe with a Cross-shaped ensign, the Sun itself in the dreary daytime diminishing at the brightness shining from its pinnacle of such strength, like a million lighthouses ablaze in the storm of night.
But alas, the surrounding Christians were not. So, even in "Christian America", and growing up in a Christian home, the efforts and exploits of those who truly rightly can be called enemies of God himself, had a field day with me, and also with my friends, as I watched so many of them plummet into the abyss and even end up with drugs in their veins and with shotguns to their own faces, being lost in the despair of Nothingness, and with little else standing between them and the very gates of Hell except a very gossamerized Church, consisting of very translucent and flimsy Christians, to put it kindly, for now.
I considered my options. I looked around. I was honest enough to admit a couple of things:
First, that I was surrounded by quite a mess of what I had been increasingly aware of, approaching a grand total of thirteen years of existence, that things were not as they should be; and yet, even at these boring, dusty echo-chambers called churches that I attended now and then (by force), although themselves in such a mess of weirdness and mostly spewing what I considered to be drivel, I still heard, again and again, slivers, shreds, flecks, of what I could discern even then had some kind of truth to it, the logic, rare as it was to come by from Christians, being rather inescapable at certain intersections, and coming up against some inescapably insurmountable walls now and then, I often did what most do, which was to ignore the obvious and stick with my irrationalities; and then, as if all the other dysfunctional lunacies weren't enough to drive me far from anything smelling of "Christian", there were these messes of Christian households, including the one I was a part of, and these churches, so called because they put up four walls and sang some sweet songs and everyone carried the same black, genuine-imitation-leather book he rarely opened and even rarer came to understand and enjoy? Was this really Reality? There had to be more to it than all this nonsense. The very fact of having been endowed with the abilities to perceive and reason about the ridiculous reality I was living were themselves enough to prove this latter.
There I was one bright school day walking around doing a lot of nothing during lunch break (to distinguish the scenario from the rest of the school day during which also was done much of the same), with a fun friend I still remember fondly, one M. Vogel whom I'll refer to here only as Mishael, for privacy of course. Twelve years old. Public-school brats. And yet -- "Do you ever have those days where you can't stop thinking about God?" It was out of nowhere. Mishael was the first to say it, but I had been thinking the same thing right then -- no lie -- and I burst out and slapped his arm. "What?! I was wondering the same thing!" It was quite amusing to me to hear him ask the question. We hadn't had any such conversation before, though we had become loose friends through a loosely and occasionally attended and unattended church.
A brief pause here for those reading this who either 1) Are not Christians, or 2) Call themselves Christians, but find themselves in the slumps, amidst a world gone mad and with few answers from a vast array of churches gone stale. One or both of you are rolling your inner eyeballs at what you have been brainwashed into presuming what's coming next, or somewhere down the line here. Granted, with the ridiculous thing touted today as "Christianity", the odds are in your favor, to think there are rainbows and bunnies and acoustic hymns to top off another pointless, feel-good pile of horse pukey from another zany Christian nut. I'll even grant you the zany, but the rest you shall be reproved for. I am not the brainwashed one here. I have been subjected to, and in very great quantities and to very high degrees, the philosophies and addictions common to your false religion, and your false, powerless version of Christianity (directed to the churched reader). To the both of you: I lapped up many years worth of waking hours of both your versions of the charred remains of what you try to pass off as Reality. Then it blew away in the wind. Then again, and then again came the same methane-wind. And rather than chase after it like a fool, I very intentionally, rationally, conscientiously, and to a great extent (as I believe I can prove), also honestly, chose to pursue something else entirely, something mocked, ridiculed, scorned, shunned, by all your teachers, all your professors, all your dirty movies, all your slimy websites, all your profane and pointless music; and by all your denominations and "small groups" for the Christians here; so ask yourself and with the courage and honesty to admit: Who is the brainwashed one here? Please continue.
Secondly, then, I admitted I was quite the aforementioned ignorant little thing. The stage, thus, was set ... for Truth to come flowing in like a mighty river.
Because, as simple as those two little shifts in perspective were, they were what made the difference between living a constantly dying misery that so many choke on and throw up and throw up their hands and give up over, or as do the remainder, create some subsystem they make their refuge from the raging storm all around in order to block it out and either gloss over it with that ease and comfort I was likewise trained to seek and enjoy, or instead of simply ignoring it, participate in its growth and expansion as a means of justifying what a short moment of brutal honesty would reveal to be a gigantic, living lie.
And so I strayed from the bleeting, grazing flock I was so familiar and friendly with. I decided, despite all the peer pressure and stigmatization, all the enticements and allurements, from the one camp, and then all the whacked, ludicrous, incoherent slop poured forth from the pulpits and pundits in the other camp, -- I bucked up, laced up, girt up, stood up as tall as I could, and took another path, one evidently overgrown, strewn with jagged, sharp, uneven rocks, barely discernible from its lack of through traffic.
Sometimes, despite all those uglies grown up and choking out the sunlight and fresh air, one simple act done in the honest pursuit of goodness can make a world of difference. That was the case for me, when I decided to find out for myself if what was being claimed by these rather inconsistent blitherers calling themselves preachers, among others, was or was not true. After all, so I reasoned, we had an entire universe against which we could compare their claims, whether historically, scientifically, philosophically, or otherwise speaking. I was up for it. It was summer break. Why not.
Besides that simple act of going against the flow on my part, there were gratefully of course plenty of good deeds done me up till then that combined to help point me in the right direction (don't ever withhold the good when it is in your power to do it, even if there is no immediate, apparent payoff; it will still make an impact, one way or another). Two acts of goodness in particular were key to my finding the way out of the mess and into what would become The Great Adventure. First, the latter. It was one of those goofy, church-sponsored "activities" Christians have become famous for -- getting together, pretending to Let's all get along and like each other, Let's pretend the pastor's jokes are funny and that he really knows what he's talking about, Let's all pretend we care what the Bible is telling us about how to live life and about who God is because in secret we are all so much smarter than all that but hey this is tradition and When does the sermon end so we can get home and watch the football game?
There I was, clack-clacking upon the smoothed wooden planks of the roller rink with those awkward things called skates tied to my feet, pretending to look cool and making it happen like a pregnant retarded ostrich trying to achieve flight, when over the intercom the poor sap stuck with babysitting all the junior kiddies for this outing and doubling as deejay, called Guess who's name as the lucky winner of a ginormous Bible! Yippee! Just what I was wishing for! Um, could I trade this thing for a roll of quarters so's I can play some more video games at the arcade? But hey, thanks anyway.
Did I mention the one good thing about public school was the thre-month summer vacation? Man, that was sweetness.
Bobbing around trying to find something to do, I came across that huge brick-of-a-book from the roller rink, and all those swirling thoughts and curiosities of the young mind got the better of me. Opened came the book, at some random place, and the reading was underway. And what a bunch of gobbledygook. What in the world? I never heard any of this in any church. I kept reading a bit, then a bit more, and it was all very much a foreign language without so much as aninkling of what was being said and in what context and to what end. And it was somewhat poorly written. No, really, it was. It was one of those "modern" translations made for fifth-graders. Although I could tell the stories themselves were way above my head, I could also tell, from bits and pieces picked up from the years of pretend education, that this was not quite the height of English literary skill. And from those years of scattered instances of churching: Didn't someone say something about different "versions"? I think I might have one of those somewhere. Hm, yes, now that I think about it, I think in one of the boxes in my closet, rests a Bible my Dearest Old Pop Ever presented to me when I was about half that summer's age; so I went a-hunting.
Sure enough, there it was, still like new and in its original gift box. Minus all the shallow commentary on every page of the other version, this one was of a more manageable size, and there was also that leathery smell of the cover these bibles are known for. I can still smell that fond smell in my mind's nose.
It had those thinly-cut pages that made a slight crinkly sound as of tissue paper when turned, some still stuck together at the gold-gilt edges. I opened it up, starting this time at the very beginning, with those fancy introductory remarks addressed to that high and mighty prince, King James. I looked over the table of contents at all the crazy names attached to the sixty-six books. It was right around July 4th.
"In the beginning..."
I was paying more attention now. I was absorbed by the words, the stories, the insights, the wisdom, the histories ... Before reaching the end of Genesis, I had made the commitment in my mind; and remembering all those times I had heard, but had been till then, so ready to quickly forget, from the various pastors and others throughout the years of being exposed here and there, to the notion that God desired for us to pray and ask him to grant salvation based on what Jesus Christ had done to afford the possibility of being accepted by God, should we but humble up and be honest during that prayer.
And so I did. And so he did.
Back to my incredulous audience: You know, if you keep rolling your eyes like that, they'll eventually get stuck up there. How do I know what God did that day? How could I and so many others so readily delude ourselves into believing in this "god" that you can't even see or hear or touch? And you think my answer will be something idiotic like "Just have faith"? Wrong. But I have a question for you too: How do you "know" anything?
Come on, let's hear it. Let's hear the make-believe story, like you know what you're talking about when you talk about how you know what you know. Let's see how long it takes for you to contradict yourself and-or your prescribed religion.
Tick. Tock. Crickets.
Come on, Omniscient One! Fess up! If you dare.
And that's where your false religion leaves you -- and you over there, pretend Christian, that goes for you too -- not only not knowing the most basic elements of any given subject -- even though, as a gifted human being, a mechanic, a chef, a nurse, a police officer, a doctor, ..., a creature endowed with reason, awareness, the ability to learn and invent, ..., can somehow amass to yourself the minutiae of quantum physics and politico-legal structures of your own design -- but also, as evidence that screams you are living a lie, you are left not even knowing when, how, or why you know anything. Yes, I know very well you have further invented many stories to satisfy yourself in trying to make sense of things, and such is the decayed root of the tree of your religion, planted in quicksand. Yes, I know you have devised very clever means to keep it from sinking so quickly, up to and including deluding yourself that you somehow do not ascribe to any religion, but just as you cannot resist the effects of gravity upon your own saggy face, you will not escape the truth; your fortress of foolishness will not stand, and you will soon enough stand before the Living God -- not one of your graven images or imagined graves of nihilistic annihilation or reincarnation or whatever other bizarre story you have come up with to suit your fanciful pleasures and then pass off as some kind of sophisticated intelligence; and it is a fearful thing to fall into His hands an arrogant, unrepentant shmuck.
Trust his Blood.
Hope in his Resurrection.
And you shall surely be saved.
Again, you ask: But how can this be? How can I be so sure?
Excellent questions, my dear visitor. You shall surely have your answers. In the meantime, pick up The Book and begin to get familiar with it. There is nothing in all the world that will serve you better and more faithfully, as the pillar and ground of anchoring, steadfast sureness that can be counted on through any storm, in the face of all enemies, against all odds; there is no freedom and no confidence apart from its claims, which is only logical, if in fact the evidence shows that it it is what it itself claims to be, that Word of God I had heard of in my younger years, and now am fully persuaded is the fountainhead of freshwaters you cannot and will not live apart from as anything but a damned fool while you remain in your frail, deteriorating body, and as an ever-fretful, ever-regretful, ever-unfulfilled, empty soul, remembering clearly and forever all things -- the only things taken with you hereafter being those memories -- including the reading of this, in eternal damnation, should you judge yourself unworthy of God's goodness and wisdom, all he's done for you, all the patience he has shown you till now, and every moment spent not pursuing him another wasted opportunity bent in one way or another on selfishness and pride. What else would you call the act of ignoring Him? Go ahead, keep filling your days with grand schemes, and what you think are progressive, judicious, benevlent acts of what you have declared authoritatively though illegitimately to be "good", knowing so much the better and being so much the smarter than the God who made you and gave himself a ransom for your eternal soul. You have now been told of his goodness; should you continue to follow your own ways and continue to reject him, you will also learn one day of his severity. And that One Day could be today, should you but drink a glass of just-so badly tainted water; should someone fling a stone at just the wrong angle and thwack and crack your very breakable skull; should one of your friends the wet-braineds side-swipe you as you take the green and he takes the red. Dead.
Thus there is only One Assurance, and you will have none apart from God.
That summer when life came alive, time itself expanded and became rich and delectable; the value and preciousness of the good became all-encompassing, while the dark, luridness of the bad then having become starkly contrasted therewith and with such force, having seen in those pages so many things that shattered what I had previously thought, about myself, about others, about God. I took it quite seriously, as should be done with the truth of course. As with all good things, though, it wasn't long before sin crept in, and once again, I became mired in confusion, contradiction, and had to decide, once again, to confront and fight and do what it took to overcome, or, as most seem to do, resign, comply, conform. Give up, that is. I had no such intention.
A very few number of weeks past, and the battle not only got underway, but came into the home I naively thought would ever after be the sanctuary of peace and learning I so wanted it to remain, as I voraciously devoured the Bible and began to seek out evidence for what it was telling me, so much new and amazing; rich troves of discoveries daily. One of the most important of confirmations I was fortunate enough both to realize and accept, was, plainly and as more than implied heretofore, that I was being egregiously lied to at church, not to mention the glaring omissions at home that more than crossed over into negligence. Then there was this monstrosity called "school" I was compelled to attend and submit to. All travesties. All chock full of falsehood, passionlessness, irrationality. Then came the Evil Step Mother. Oh, she loved her "Christian" everything, from the Christian radio, the Christian books, the Christian activities -- all -- every last bit -- fake. I do not do well with Fake, especially when its veneer is overspread with cutesy Bible verses and feel-good moronics. Add to that the utterly atrocious two-facedness of putting on the plastic-faced smile at church, then behaving the witch at home, and you can begin to imagine how interested I was in those formative beginning months to participate in all the churchy politics, game-playing, and the generally treating one another like dirt on the shoe, all while "praising God" and "living for Jesus".
How valiant a fight the Dear Old Pop had put up just a few years prior, to win back his little guy from the EBM after Divorce #1, yet then how insanely scattering was that mis-Step -- way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!
Of course, then, with the ESM's presence, we had to attend church more often, because she so loved attending as per the Christian Playbook. I continued to read and study, and we continued to go to church, and the living hell of homelife was the battleground. Church was obviously a pretense. There were no answers there. No solutions. Why were we doing this? What was the point? "It's tradition" was what it boiled down to, really. It certainly was doing very little in the way of leading me deeper into the truth; it wasn't helping me to grow up into a man -- in fact, it seemed designed specifically to stunt the growth of everyone in attendance; I could tell the pastors had no idea what the Bible said -- or maybe they did and simply didn't care, after so many years of putting on the show, dealing with the bickering children who paid their salaries. It was quite the sad state, I could tell very early on. I would sincerely ask pastors, friends, people in the church who were apparently respected for some reason or other, What exactly were we to do about what the Bible was really saying? There was so much we never even glanced at, and when we did, there was, every single time, either some ridiculously inaccurate pronouncement that was a kind of default misunderstanding but that passed for the "accepted" answer, or there was a waving of the hand and moving quickly to other matters more easily generalized and also accepted as innocuously simplified to the point that tap water would have tasted like chocolate cake compared to what the entrenched, established goons were making all this out to be. It was, in short, a sham.
You will recall that I began reading in Genesis. You would be correct in assuming that next came Exodus. Then Leviticus. You will bear in mind the timeline here: Karl chooses Christ in mid-summer. Karl gets the gift of an ESM less than a couple months later. Karl questions the illiterate Church. Karl decides this Christian stuff is not worth bird droppings.
I looked at the Bible. I looked at these things called Christians. I chose God.
I actually went to my Dear Old Pop and told him as much. Instead of being reasoned with, encouraged, explained things to, I was given the pat "You're dead to me" line. Really? So a couple months ago everything was hunky-dori, then I "became a Christian", and now I was dirt on the floor? Whatever. I was unphased and unconvinced, like any good teenager who knew everything about everything, so that conversation ended as quickly as it began, and you can guess the smirk of satisfaction that came upon the coutenance and into the condescending tones of the ESM. As though she relished that I was lost and confused, and thought herself the pinnacle of righteousness for the relishment of the punishments I was obviously receiving from On High for not being likewise so righteous. Yes, the magicalness of thesuperstitious Christian's attributions of blessings and cursings. The topic will be revisited.
Having learned so early on to scratch from the List of Things I Care About, anything involving what corrupt people thought of me, I stayed steady on in my honesty and sincerity, leaving well open the possibility that Jesus was really the Messiah, but I would find out for myself based on the evidence, not based on these "traditions", these churches, on my messed-up family, or anyone or anything else other than the facts. The most obvious supernatural origin of the Bible was set in stone. The evidence was truly overwhelming. So I kept reading, studying, pursuing.
It didn't take long. Before Christmas, I had uncovered enough; the Evidence Demanded a Verdict. As with every man, I stood at that fork in the road; without another hesitation, I took the Way called Straight; and every single year since has, without fail, been better with God than the last. The principle solidified itself after all that upheaval and ugly realization: Do not judge God by Man. To do so is to lie to oneself that, Because Man is evil, God must be evil.
Um, no. Wrong. Whatever happens here on Earth, God is still in Heaven, waiting for us to get our acts together individually, bow the knee before him, and admit that his ways are better than ours, having set up this life as the proving ground, not leaving us without a path or without means to come back to him, but still, though seemingly so far off, he is ready at a moment's call to heed your plea for salvation; he will write your name in his Book of Life, as he calls it, and he will then, with the same wise, fatherly patience and encouragements to your soul, expect you to continue to pursue him, to the ends of the world and beyond, wherever the adventure might lead, whatever the cost. In other words, "salvation" does not include rescuing you from a dungeon. It does not include curing your cancer. It does not include any kind of monetary gain. In fact, following Christ may very well cost you everything, including your life. Walk down any street in Saudi Arabia and try to have a decent conversation with the next guy, and you will quickly learn how much Jesus Christ is hated across the globe he created. It is the ultimate brainwashing leading to the ultimate soulstaining, to reject God, the Messiah, the Savior, Yeshua, Salvation, Jesus Christ.
You question God's goodness? You question his wisdom? You think he should just appear to you and tell you, face to face, all the wonders and secrets of the Universe, of Life, pour out all his thoughts to Special You, and further, that you think he has some kind of divine obligation to Royal You, to keep you from every evil person's designs, from every criminal act, from every physical pain and heartache, because you are You! And You deserves it. God owes You. You've earned it.
And then there are the Christians. Stuck in the same fantasy-land of childhood Kidstuff Christianity. Ever praying for a miracle, ever demanding, in their "spiritual" tones and verbages, in those shows of humility on the outside that really are anger at God on the inside, not trusting him, not understanding his ways, ever learning yet never finding the truth, stuck on stupid. Non-Christians are not the only ones here who can love the lie and live in La-La Land. La-La-La!
Like all the others and as I by default was trained over the next couple of years so to be and to do, I groped about like a stumbling blind man, trying to find my way, eventually growing weary of the masses upon masses of tangled web woven around tangled web wrapped in twisted metal surrounded by gnarled roots overgrown by centuries of underbrush encircled and intertwined by thick, thorny vine, upon which stood a pastor! and preached ! as though he knew with certainty the Way of Salvation but somehow couldn't give anybody a clue about how to fix the most mundane problems his listeners were facing in their own lives, but could throw out a thinly veiled political endorsement for his Republican Party favorite-of-the-day, though not explicitly by name -- woudln't want to lose that tax exemption!
What a farce. But I knew better by then to forsake God based on the rantings of a bunch of pretentious loons. I kept studying, kept pursuing.
Another interesting aside: Finding God does something deep down in one's soul. It was enough that, for me, I soon grew to have a much greater love and appreciation for America, and I really, really wanted to join up and do my part by going somewhere in the outer, dark world where even grosser criminals reign, and kick down some doors and take some names of some bad guys in Beirut, Mogadishu, Panama, Colombia, wherever, so I began to acquaint myself with some men of uniform, and soon learned what a wuss I really was. I mention this because it is important for Christians to understand that we can become so myopic in our hypocritical little conclaves, that we fail to realize that Non-Christians have the same reasoning capacity, the same strengths and weaknesses, the same human nature, as we do. It's not like "becoming a Christian" makes one suddenly a great guy. What a laugh. In other words, whatever group one takes an honest look at, one will find a mixture of a few good men, a bunch of middle-mass mushies, and a few low-down scoundrels. The difference? God has saved the Christian. Do not boast, Christian, but fear, and care enough about your fellow Man to warn him of the judgment to come. It was therefore pivotal in my Christian journey to have stumbled upon a few good men who taught me what no pastor would ever dare risk teaching for fear of losing the predominantly effeminate dollars flowing into his coffers, and that was: How to think and act like a warrior. In combination with my faithful-as-I-could-make-it-under-the-circumstances studyings of the book left us by The God of War, I was more than ready to learn the lessons. Less than glorious though my attempts have been to live up to the standard of the likes of the decents you'll find among the Marines, SEALs, Green Berets, and even among the rank and file soldiers and sailors and tarmac crews and guardsmen and so on, but the spirit of such had been effectively stirred within, widening the gap, and gratefully so, that separated the seminary graduate from Yours Truly.
Unfortunately, as increasingly our boys are taught to be girls and our girls to be boys, they are effectively being made into anti-Christ socialists and communists, so that it has become more and more difficult to find the decent among the heaps upon heaps of grotesquely perverse, and if you think the phenomenon is any different among "Christians", you are sorely mistaken, and your mistake will surely come back to haunt you unless you take heed and shore up your defenses, and then learn how to wage just war. America still has the greatest number of decents in the world, but those numbers are dwindling fast, so that we may have passed the point of no return, short of a quite dramatic revival of truth and repentance toward God who is Jesus Christ. Personally, I do not buy the point-of-no-return theory. See the ministry page. Just as there is no such point for individuals -- any man, at any time, can repent and turn to God and be saved; none is beyond the saving power of Christ -- the same goes for any nation. The hard truth, however, is that apparently fewer and fewer are coming to that revival and repentance; and when was the last time you saw an entire nation turn back to God? Was it after the Muslims attacked New York City? when all those "prayers" were tossed flippantly emotionally skyward in sorrow and regret? Hardly. There was no revival, there was no repentance, just another ephemeral pretense and a hasty attempt by so many, including so many calling themselves Christians, to throw a wet towel on any such feeble attempts to bring America back to a knowledge of God; instead substituting a mish-mash of pluralistic vaguery that ended up in an explosive [sic] outpouring of "love" and "respect" for Islam and a similarly explosive growth in the number of mosques erected, the number of Muslim immigrants rushed through the ports of entry, and of course anything but a Christian government planned for the conquest of Iraq, but rather the installation of another Christ-rejecting, Christian-hating gang of thugs propped up with a smile and a handshake and a patting of ourselves on the collective back for being so tolerant and diverse. Your tolerance for wickedness and diversity of perversity has and will continue to get many, many people killed and sent to Hell.
The seas were rough. I spent the next couple of years still feeding as best as possible from the gold-plated troughs set up for the half-hearted Christian masses by the power brokers of all the "ministries" and purported churches, on television, in books, trying to find some kind of fellowship to enjoy and worth maintaining. There were none such to be found. Home life had grown worse; drugs entered the scene, though not mine personally thankfully, as was supposed to mollify the bruises taken from the world's slimeballs or simply to go along and please others at the local public church I mean school, the disintegration of the current iteration of the household being a foregone conclusion with a very painful interlude; the apparent uselessness of said churches/schools/churches having been established, the silliness of other things such as they were, I was rather hungry and desperate for something of substance.
Desperation, by the way, breeds stupidity.
But even so, and shaking my head at myself to think of all the bad decisions and even sin that came from such a life poorly lived, I also thank God, and all those decents I met thereafter -- after leaving the home scene to strike out on my own -- who helped me along The Journey in their own ways, most to all of them having been so poorly trained and living amidst and dipping themselves into such corruptions as are commonly found in America these days, yet they found a moment to lend advice, to give a lift, to be kind; and I have met many such along the way.
Leaving high-on-dope school and finding work at a Christian ministry that still had some life in it back in the day, I found some super-gracious and outstanding friends whose recollected memories still bring a warm smile to the soul, having received quite a bit of impromptu mentoring (Thank you, Moose!), participated in a few grand adventures, and generally experienced a great bit of time in preparation for the ugly battles that were sure to come.
I eventually found some serious Bible teaching and a somewhat cohesive group of people who took living for God seriously, so I up and moved to where they were, and learned a whole lot, more than I ever could have imagined would or even could be gleaned from God's Word and from putting it into action. It was, however, not to last, thanks to many a sin that crept in, my own and those of others; the gossipmongering and immaturities growing so thick and destructive that I decided it was time to move on after multiple unsuccessful attempts at reconciliation, and not at that time in my early twenties having any kind of skill at such things and so being wholly dependent on the return in kind of what great effort I had put into a sincere and honest attempt at sincerity and honesty among many an insincere and dishonest person bent merely on spite or whatever excuse Christians are highly skilled at coming up with to hate their fellow brethren; nearly to a man, from the pastor down, I learned the hard lesson that depending on any man or group for the making up of what went missing in one's former years, was really asking for trouble. It was apparent I was not going to become the man God intended for me to become if I were to stay, and so once again, I struck out in order to try once again to figure things out.
And once again, I stumbled upon one of those decent men remaining in the land whose hard work for God he chose not to keep to himself, and I learned a bit about managing personal finances; which among other things in my life were still a total disaster. In that same year, I finally came to admit a serious problem with addiction to the female sort, as was to be expected from the typical dysfunctional American upbringing that involved a lot of television, ppublic miseducation, and fake churching. So I gained two major, strengthening, undergirdings of principles, and not just pillars of support, but upliftings out of the sty: The first being Get out of debt, which I undertook with alacrity. The second, however, was even more important, as it was even more fundamental and essential to living as a strong man. I remember the day, where I was, the surroundings, being alone in my apartment, thinking and praying, realizing what a weak fool I was regarding the Female. I realized that I was actually in a way placing that creature in a place of worship before God himself. And so, once again, I had to man up and step up, after rising up from the muddy mire I finally admitted I was wallowing in, and declared to myself right then and there that Fall day in year twenty-six: It was time to choose: The Crown, or Corruption.
I chose the Crown.
Deciding then to love God more than my sinful lusts -- in fact, deciding to hate the evil and love the good -- The Journey out of that Valley of the Shadow of Death was truly on the upward slope; my emotions and self-control started finally to mature, so that the bouts of kiddie woe-is-me and woe-is-you and woe-is-all depression and despair that would tighten their dark grip now and then and sometimes last for days, lessened, weakened, so that I was eventually able to face the real storms and waves and laugh in the face of hurricanes. Or as one Marine friend puts it, "Spit in the Devil's eye!"
thanks in large part to the service of many men such as that old Marine, I was able to spend the next few years working in relative safety and stability. It was a long while and with many, many hard battles throughout and that still were to come, before I finally grew enough of a backbone to take things properly seriously and get things well enough together that I could begin thinking about how I might do similarly to the examples of such warriors: Take what gifts I had been given, what I could continue to develop, and use it all and to my utmost to do what God wanted me to do, which included first as always pursuing him myself, drawing ever nearer the center of the worst of the battle, where he was and ever is and ever will be, and then, to help and to lead others to him. I finally grew up enough that every day became rich and full with joy and excitement for what lay ahead. Closer and closer I came to freedom from the debt that had to be eradicated before I could hope to begin to build a viable life and ministry, and further and further from the siren shoals I sailed, realizing with each league what an utter fool I had been to ever desire, in place of Christ's awesomeness and goodness, the filth of equally foolish, mean women and the company of rotten, weak men who lived to please them and themselves.
Yet, on came the light of darkness, the darkness that had colored so much and in so many ways all things up till then.
You see, I never got my miracle. Early on, as a weak child-of-a-Christian, I had prayed for it, yearned for it, for relief from the thorn in my flesh that caused so many problems and limited me in so many ways. As I grew and learned from the Bible that miracles were rarely doled out, and then typically only for specific purposes during specific times, another of the many Christian Lies I thankfully learned early on was this: God is not going to fix your flat tire.
Nor your broken arm.
Yet, as the analogy continues, and as I had myself heard in person, Christians, standing hand-in-hand in those feel-good prayer circles, after another session of feel-good "Bible study" "small group": "Oh Lord, please make my engine start, please fix my car. I have faith you will do it." Rev-rev-rev. And eventually, the car starts. Sometimes. And when it does: "It's a miracle! Praise the Lord!"
And so goes many a Christian Lie. "He healed my precious child." "Every flower is a miracle." "I recovered from the flu. Doctors said it could have done me in, but God had other plans!"
How many Christians I have seen shaken to their core when they don't get their miracle. It's some kind of crisis of faith for them. That is what's called Kidstuff Christianity. And those who somehow delude themselves by diluting the meaning of "miracle", and so persuade themselves that they did in fact get their miracle, or that it's the height of wisdom when they admit otherwise, that it just must not be "God's timing" -- these are in as bad a twisted mess of skewed perceptions of reality and bad theology (the two go together, actually) as the other.
I have no desire -- as in Zero -- for a miracle, for myself, or for you.
If that angers you, as it has so many immature Christians upon attempting to discuss the matter calmly and reasonably, then you are in great need of help, and more than any miracle could provide, and that is precisely the divine strategy. Please attempt to discern what is meant by that last. Doing so will be an exercise of faith.
I can feel the Christian Hate seething through the screen.
And you see, that's how Modern Christianity works: "Love" the vilest, most unrepentant reprobate of a sinner, hate your brother. Put on that Smile of Nice and extend a nice hand to the parading effeminates, the shedders of innocent blood, the still-reeking drunk, but make sure others of your clique are present so you can get credit for your good work, do some bragging at church on Sunday about it, because it's all about keeping up appearances, right? It's all about self-promotion. It's all about the version of Sweet Jesus you've pawned off as being the real deal, and if anybody says otherwise, well, he'll get a good cussing under your breath as you head for the exit to find a better church. Or is he the visitor? Well then, we have our ways of making him feel unwelcome. A little gossip goes a long way. Everyone knows how it works. Everyone here is here because he's learned how to play the game.
Vote for the wrong guy at the booth, and you get The Shun. Not a well reasoned, Bible-based debate, but a shunning. Give the wrong interpretation of a verse, and you get The Shun. Ask a couple hard questions in sunday school, and you get The Shun.
Here it is, as taken from a long-forgotten source and adapted to avoid copyright infringement:
A stranger strolls into town. Down the long, lonely road he walks. He comes to a bridge. He crosses, but he notices afar off, perched relaxedly as though it were normal to be there, just enjoying the warm spring sunshine, halfway up, a man seated upon the railing. Approaching, he salutes.
"Well, hi there. Welcome to our humble little town of Deville."
"Can you tell me where I might find a church?"
"A church? You're a Christian?"
"Yesir, I am."
"Well! Me too! Great to meet you here on my bridge, Brother!"
The two shake hands vigorously as though long-lost friends.
"There's a Lutheran church just over the hill there, not far at all. Tell them I sent you and they'll take good care of you."
"Lutheran? You're a Lutheran?"
"Yessir, I am."
"Me too! What a neat coincidence meeting you here on my journey!"
They shake hands again and slap the shoulders in brotherly affirmation and unity and remark one to the other in perfect agreement how really of course there are no such things as coincidences.
"But tell me, is it Lutheran ... Missouri Synod?"
"Why yes! It is! You are Mo-Syn?"
"Indeed I am, my dear Brother!" More elation. "I can't tell you how refreshingly edifying it is to meet you here today!"
"Truly providential! But tell me, are you part of the Western Conference of the Cross?"
"I can't believe this! Yes I am! This is truly a divine appointment."
Both men well up with brotherly affection and hug as though there is no tomorrow, nearly causing the squatter to lose his balance on the railing.
"Whoa there!" the stranger helps him to regain his seating. "Careful! World can't afford to lose such a fine fellow. But tell me, did your conference division vote in favor of the Ecclesiastical Referendum on Reconstructive Recarpeting?"
"Oh, no, no. We were strongly opposed to that, and we have Bible verses to support our position."
Suddenly perturbed, the visage of the stranger changes, he stiffens up, clenches his fists, sticks out his bottom lip ...
And pushes the man over the railing of the bridge.
I once shared at work a double-cubicle with the kindliest old Nazarene pastor you ever have met. Gullible and lovable as a seven-year-old this gent was. But one doesn't gain the better part of seven decades and the white hair and pot belly to match, without learning a few things. Having some kind of discussion with him about his Nazareneness and their bylaws, Gene turned more squarely to me when I questioned lightheartedly the validity of forbidding people from reading newspapers on Sundays, and he says to me, "That's not the worst of it. You wouldn't believe how many church splits I've been through over the color of the carpet." I laughed. He got even more serious. "You think I'm kidding." I straightened up a bit. He turned back to his computer and got back to work.
And no, we cannot agree to disagree, because I disagree that we cannot agree. We have One Book, One God, and One Lord and Savior. One or both of us is wrong here. Let's agree instead to humble up and reason through this sincerely and honestly. If you can't handle that, get out of church and go hang out at a bar.
I find few takers when I make the offer (the offer of the debate and discussion, that is; there are takers aplenty who leave church because of their own or the congregants' insincerity and dishonesty). For the few that pretend to be grown-ups, it takes all of a few minutes to become arch nemeses during the simplest of disagreements. So shallow.
Just look at how you reacted to the miracles thing, should you doubt your own misbehavior and maladjusted attitude.
It's why religion and politics are no longer discussed -- anywhere, including and especially at church -- because everyone here knows everyone else is just as shallow and incompetently incapable, and that is how we're all trained to be by these wretched pastors; and really, it is what they want; it's how they're kept coming back for more; it's why they keep putting money in the plate. I mean, of course, r&p are not discussed "anywhere" and are shunned as much as those who would broach the topics, with the glaringly fake exception being those controlled, yes-man gatherings and forums where nothing is ever actually said, but somehow everyone knows how to conform to "the standard" imposed by some group of higher-ups somewhere who have voted and decided how we're all supposed to think and behave. Last I checked, that was God's province. (cr. kdj). I vaguely remember something muttered long ago by one of those silly old tyrants that called himself 'king', in a bout of supposed inspiration, something about the love of money being the root of all evil. And for your church, it started with the signing of that dirty rag-of-a-contract that should be shredded and burned as the papal bull of old was ignited 'neath the oak; that a lot of overpaid and overzealous rule-keeping and bean-counting numbskulls spent a lot of time researching and putting together and proudly signing, like the good little compliance-checkers the lawyers (especially the Christian-trained ones) have likewise taught us all to be: that little slip of paper on file that makes you an "official" church, attached to which are a few, little, insignificant (as you've convinced yourself) constraints and strings, but hey, we get our lucre kickback, and everyone is happy, because one of the rules we're reverse-pavlov conditioned to keep is ... No talking Religion & Politics in Church! Hey! We're already doing that anyway, so no big deal.
Actually, if honesty were to grip you for a moment, you would easily perceive that everyone is not happy. Everyone is angry. Everyone is foul. Everyone is miserable. And Non-Christians know it. And they readily perceive the hypocrisy of signing the document, then raking in the cash, and keeping your wiped-clean lips tightly sealed, and keeping all your sheep in a nice line and under the curse you have brought upon them in your professional version of Christianity. And the curses have greatly multiplied, as always occurs after allowing sin to creep in.
A few years ago, therefore, I made another mid-course correction: After experiencing a workplace ravaged by "the new healthcare law", as that yet other dirty rag is often called -- and after that aforementioned thorn in the flesh finally took so much of the eyesight that I could no longer make out street signs, then faces, then anything at all, over the course of about a six-month period -- I decided it was time to kick it into high gear.
What's that? You are asking what in the world I'm talking about, kicking it into high gear. After losing your eyesight? Didn't you throw in the towel, grow a bad attitude, sign up for welfare, and surf the web for some kind of audioporn?
Instead of all that weakness and instead of adding to the darkness, I decided it was time. It was time to fill out that backbone I had been trying to grow. I was nearly free from years of crushing debt, I had a bit of savings, and something like a dream. Time to make something move.
Here is where I lose even more of my thinned-out audience.
If my general Christianness hasn't set you off:
Or the miracles thing hasn't overly offended your royal sensibilities:
And if you survived the cutting off of your government-as-God corruptions of the 501c3 along with your (and many, many others') angry demands that I "sign up" for whatever government "program" that your misguided compassions had until now only underhandedly supported, but now upon reflection and confrontation of the corruption, you will likely double down and come up with some handy reason for one of the following Modern christian responses and stances and actions:
1. Partake of the ongoing bankrupting of America -- Quick! Grab the loot! This ship's going down anyway! And hey, it's so nasty anyway, I'll do my part to bring about its more rapid sinking -- as though some kind of personal declaration of war, but since you are too lazy to petition or form another government to undo the heinous wickedness of murder and mayhem that we agree is in full swing -- instead, you'll play this game of being Secret Agent Man Christian, pretending to be some kind of hero, and hey, you'll make a few bucks in the process. Uh huh.
2. Turn your back and withhold any kind of formerly considered help you might remotely have been considering to lend to Yours Truly -- "Die Sinner!"
3. Unthinkingly, reject out of hand a thought you haven't even thought through; or once the understanding has been presented clearly and Biblically, reject it anyway, since 'I weren't taught that there thang'; and ever after make vigorous defense of your corruptness, and with increasing intensity as you come to realize how steeped in it all you and yours really are, and so epiphanizing to yourself that surely God is on your side because look how wonderful a person you and yours are, what a shiny church "God has given us", and so digging deeper, you assure that none, especially yourself, will ever come to a knowledge of the truth, since that isn't your thang.
4. Pretend you never heard this, forget it quickly by distracting yourself with something else, and act like it was never brought up; the while, broiling inside and biding your time, awaiting the ideal opportunity for holy vengeance as only christians have been trained to mete out.
Way to exercise the Fruits of the Spirit, MC!
Almost like I've been around this block before.
One of the many lessons from this latest leg of The Journey: The Modern Christian is described quite aptly in The Gospels, Matthew Mark Luke John. Jesus had few nice things to say to or about them. Back then, they were called Pharisees.
Part of my goal setting out from my midwestern abode: Attend Christian college, ground myself in better thinking through serious study and learning, filling in many of the still remaining gaps, perhaps find a sweet gal somewhere along the way, and start some serious work for God to help with so many of the ailments touched upon here.
There I was, on my government-subsidized train ride across the country, to do things right. Surely, the good and right would carry the day. It was all I had to count on at that point. With just enough savings to get there, get settled, and a couple months' expenses to help find a job at or near "the world's largest Christian university"; so I landed in Lynchburg, Virginia, one sultry July night, 1030pm. A couple of boxes were what the train would allow, a couple of bags, and I needed a taxi. Found more of those decents to assist, got myself set up nicely, and got to work finding work. I had zero intention of "signing up" for any kind of government welfare loan (if you are not sure about how or if that whole student-loan fiasco is and has been an entirely corrupt thing from its inception, you need a lot of help -- I'm here for You! You thought I was going to say something like one of the hypocrite Shunners? and only tell you what a mess-up your philosophy has been, without offering help? Hardly.)
Nada. Zippo. Zilcho. Not a baker would give me the time of day. Some very neat folks I met there, but overall, having attended a couple of churches, and having called and spoken with many more, the coldness of the Corpse's appendage in that town became quickly apparent. Lest you should think I am being unjustifiably cruelly judgmental here (I am most certainly being judgmental, which if you think is any kind of sin, you need a lot of help -- I am here for You!), never fear! I have examples!
Sitting prettily atop a hill of chestnut trees was an old Baptist church there in the Virginian mountains. After weeks (no exaggeration) of calling around, I finally found a church that would pass along my contact information to their little groups, and then also, an older married couple that called me back to say they wouldn't mind navigating that vast metropolis far out of their way to pick me up and enjoy some Christian fellowshhip Sunday morning. Great.
Off we went, me explaining my mission in town, and it so happened that the husband was in charge of the old folks' Sunday School class, as we Christians often call the smaller group of people that meets before the main deal in "the sanctuary", where everyone gathers into a mushy mass of smiling, nodding bleeters, awaiting their forty-five minutes of what we refer to as the sermon from what is referred to as the pastor typically standing upon an elevated platform upon which stands what is referred to as the pulpit behind which said pastor stands for some kind of official effect.
At this point, you will be wondering why I continue to subject myself to the torture. There is an answer -- and it was and is not what I am often suspected of: Gold-digging! -- Please. I have more than sufficiently demonstrated that I do not make a habit of asking for handouts or seeking how I might bilk whomever or whatever, as per the abovementioned refusal of "the government check", which should be evidence enough of the absence of miserly intentions. However, I also have no problem asking for help from real-people-not-Godless-bureaucrats, which help I am typically in need of, as are you.
There we were in Sunday School. The (sort of) nice guy who stopped by to pick me up that morning at the head of the table, was making some point or other, and he landed in the first few chapters of Genesis. Oh, good. My favorite. One of the naifs (again, much as I love them, the truth must be stated, considered, accepted, and acted upon) piped up and asked a question. You know what it was: "What is the church's position on evolution?"
Depending on where you fall on that million-of-a-kind spectrum, will dictate your reaction to the class leader's response, and to mine. (Did you really think I wouldn't have one?)
He says: "We don't discuss that here because we've decided it's one of those side issues that isn't very important."
For those nearer the correct end of the Evolution Spectrum: You think I'm making that up. I'm not. This by the way was not one of those ultra-P.C., filled-with-perverts kind of churches.
Yours Truly somehow kept his composure, but without much space after the end of that dripping drool, I queried (as in 'commented'):
"There's this really neat book by Ken Ham called The Lie, all about evolution and how it is a very critical topic to get right, because how the Bible starts is extremely important to the rest of The Story."
And with likewise little hesitation, he says to me: "Well it's a really important issue." Then he moved on. End of stupid story.
This encounter and exchange is what I would call The Norm. It is not anomalous, an aberration, a chance occurrence that is likely never to happen again. Hardly.
Such is Example #1. If that didn't do it for you Christians reading this, wait till you hear #2; and then how #1 comes back to bite me again like the good cotton mouths these people were.
The effort over a few weeks to make some kind of real fellowship happen at that catacombs -- and that little church really was dying; a beautiful little building that no doubt once had its hayday -- I was told by a couple of other attendees that it was barely surviving, and they just couldn't figure out why. That endeavor being a failure, I could ill afford to invest more into their church at the time, but made a note to myself regarding one special old man in that Sunday School class whom I really wanted to help because of his simple sincerity and truly inspiring humility, I had to turn elsewhere. No time for the small churches, I made straight for the belly of The Beast:
Super-Opaquely-Dooper On-campus Megachurch!
All of my attempts to find work in that small town had failed (despite all the corrupt laws around hiring "disabled" folks that actually and predictably backfire always and in all places), it became apparent after two months of very diligent effort that I was not going to find work there, so I poured all my energies into convincing the school to let me scrub their floors, their toilets, their ceilings, whatever, I was sure there were at least four or five jobs they had listed, maybe more, I could do given the chance, and hey, I would be pouring the money right back into their school anyway, so the ROI would be awesome for them!
And how, you might ask, did I come up with the cash to pay for the taxi for the twelve-mile round trip to and from the campus in order to attend a church that almost surely would be like all the rest? Funny you should ask. Before I tell you how I got my ride there, Go ahead and find out for yourself. Call TRBC and hear their upfront recorded message bragging about their multi-thousand membership, view the images of their mighty Fortress for Christ, and then ask again, How could it be so difficult for dear Yours Truly to find a ride there Sunday morning, when the touted membership numbers are roughly a third of the town's population? Hard to claim there was no one "passing by that direction"! But no, dear reader, not only could I not find a ride among its vast membership, but I was stonewalled again and again as some kind of weirdo and outsider -- We don't have a procedure for that here, as the very, very common mantra is aped by the gatekeeping attorneys-in-training that run these churches. But I didn't need them for that just then, because I had Wally World!
That's right, one of my stops during my final push to remain in town and attend school there was The Wal-Mart, needing to pick up some packing tape in case things didn't work out and I had to pack it all up again for the next train. And that is where I met my neat friend, whom I'll here dub Chavelle. She got the call from Customer Service that there was a crazy blind guy waiting at the entrance for some kind of assistance finding a few items, and so she came up and introduced herself, a truly delightful person, though it was clear something was not quite right in her life, but she nonetheless made the very delightful presentation as she helped me around the store.
As it turned out, she sometimes attended TRBC! But with some girlfriend of hers, minus her husband. Ah, there it was; but I hadn't the resources to assist at the time, sadly -- very, very sadly, as you will soon learn.
We swapped email addresses, and a few days later, there we were, the three of us sitting in the amphitheatre of the castle-church called Thomas Road Baptist. Chavelle heard my story, and she was determined to help. Praise God for chavelle! The first eagerness I had come across so far; and thankful I was, having spent unto exhaustion much of the energy I had up to that point; so sitting back in the movie-theatre-style chair while she rushed to the front after the sermon to grab the pastor on my behalf, was another true delight. The friend helped me to the front, and I explained that I was not trying to ask for a handout, but I was really in need of work so that I could find some way to stay and support myself through school. -- I was ready for the question that inevitably came, most often and most readily from Christians: "Aren't you getting some kind of check?" So I was grateful that didn't come from the pastor. -- Instead, I got The Juke. He had staff for that! I was brushed off with a "Go to table #47 and the staff there will help you out." Chavelle was excited to hear the words "will help you out", but alas, yours truly was a little less convinced, knowing by then how things worked, especially with these snakes of pastors. Not that he owed me a dime; he didn't. But don't lie to my face and pretend We're here to help (if you fall within certain parameters and procedures and if we decide not to give you The Shun because we don't like your tone of voice).
But I humored Chavelle, we walked to table #whatever, had another listen-to, was told they'd "check on that", they would "pray for me", and that was the last time I set foot inside or heard from TRBC.
I had one more trick up my sleeve. I just so happened to have met another Falwell. That's right. I made myself an appointment, and waltzed on into his office. I was obviously out of my element. Way too ritzy and professional for little old Me, as was the impression I was made to have. And the dramatic conclusion after my appeal to The Top of the Liberty foodchain? not for a handout, but for productive work, something other than ...
Wait for it ...
"You need to sign up for welfare."
Time was up. I had to be out of the apartment I was renting on the given date, so I started calling every single Salvation Army, homeless shelter, rescue mission, anything I could find that might afford a bit of a landing place while I regrouped for round two.
Nada. Zippo. Zilcho.
As the more astute will have already surmised, as is the case with what are called churches and ministries, so it is with these other "Christian services", and my luck was equivalent to what I had when looking for work. As soon as they heard the cane tap-tapping, the clam-up clapped, Um, sorry, we don't have a procedure for that here., Um, that's a legal liability, sorry., Um, this is a recovery program, you have to be addicted to something to stay here ...
I began to have fun with it. "Okay, then you'll take me if I start snorting coke?" they didn't think it was so funny.
Nine states. No luck. Nothing in Virginia. North Carolina. South Carolina. Tennessee. Kentucky ... I was running out of time. I got the bright idea of calling only cities where I knew there were other Christian schools. If I'm going to land somewhere, it may as well be someplace I could potentially start school. City #1: Nope. City #2: Nope. Kept calling, kept denying. Pensacola Christian College? Ring-ring ...
I talked to a few folks at PCC, and things actually sounded somewhat promising. They had a student-work program, they didn't think it would be too much trouble finding housing, and so on. Sounded okay, but then I had to find that place to live. Did I mention that the "equal housing" laws are as effective as the "equal employment" laws? So I hardly bothered with all that. I went straight for the shelter, told my story for the hundred-seventy-third time in the past couple weeks, and got the usual, "Um, not sure. I'll have to discuss it with the other chaplains. Call back tomorrow." Yeah. Right. Scratch that one off the list. I kept calling, other places, other cities, other schools. Tomorrow rolled around. Still zero options. That chaplain's phone number was still on my list. Why not. Gave him a call. Got an invitation. Bought a train ticket with the last of what I had (and a little more from my roommate. Thank you, JDog!).
On my way!
A strange confluence of the Southern and the Beach Bum is what I found. Church is big business here.
But more than any of the surrounding milieu, I found some truly amazing guys at the shelter. I thought I had died and made my way through the Pearly Gates. On arrival, they saw I had obviously lost a bit of weight, so first things first: One of those amazing chaplains led me to the chow hall and found a crew member to whip up a heaping plate of the most delicious egg-cheese-bacon scramble I ever have had. And a second! I got my bed. The guys carried in my boxes. They did my laundry. I could have cried.
They were there to recover. I was there recovering too, but with what I had in reserve that hadn't been swallowed up by any kind of addiction, I freely gave in return: Bible. God. Jesus Christ. The power of His awesomeness.
All went so well for the first couple of months, I could have forgotten PCC and all that jazz, and just stayed right there and befriended every guy who stumbled, ragged, hungry, desperate, through those front glass doors -- just like I had stumbled in when I arrived. There were the chaplains and their keep-it-real Bible classes, which they also graciously allowed me to attend with the guys, who were their charges the remainder of the day, as they tried hard to steer those wandering hearts and minds as much as possible into the Straight and Narrow under some very rough conditions; laughing, crying, walking alongside the guys. There was chapel service -- twice a day! What more could I ask for? This was it!
But then, sin crept in.
The rumors started. "I don't think Karl is really blind." -- Leave it to some scrambled-by-narcotics wiring to come up with that one. And leave it to some racist roommates to decide to tell the chaplins that I was spewing profane, racial slurs. That's right. Made up out of thin air after calling out some of their very ugly sins. I got too flamboyant myself, began to run out of patience in the exhaustion kept constant by only a few available sleeping hours each night and by the constant battlings, and began to think more of myself than of the guys; and as I made plans to finally get to PCC and get to work, things were deteriorating rapidly at the Mission. It was somewhat hard to say for sure -- things were kept very much on the down-low, rumors abounded about the whole place not lasting more than a few more months, there were frequent, abrupt announcements about changes of policy and procedure, a few chaplains were let go, a couple more were hired, and things generally got weird. You wouldn't believe -- but you should by now -- how many welfare dollars were swirling around a Christian rescue mission -- and you wouldn't believe the volume of drug trafficking that goes on in a recovery program. Almost like those two are related.
[UPDATE /Dec24'18: Revisiting the Mission. I don't say it often for how much it is used and abused by hypocriticals, but Praise God! and Hallelujah to Ya, My Beloved Mission! The Spirit of the Living God is back! Restoration and Redemption! It has been one of the happiest and most joyful of reunions, spending Christmas with the chaplains and the guys, and I can report that the Old Mission is the New Mission of 2019. Truly a blessing beyond words, to see the chaplains and the guys thriving once again, and little YT here, trying to infuse another beam of That Light into the spectrum.]
It was time I moved to execute my plans. I made the appointment with PCC, the guys gave me a ride there in usual gracious fashion, wished me luck, and in I walked to get things rolling.
After being given a rather awkward tour of the campus, I was told there was always more work to be done around campus than students could be found to do it all, so there was no worry there, and I could start work right away. As I was talking to the manager of the student work program, that was music to my ears. Sitting then in the reception area, he asked if I'd like him to fetch an admissions person, and I said Yes, let's.
Out trotted Admissions Girl, and first thing she says to yours truly -- I kid you not -- "I'm sorry, this just isn't going to work out."
"What's not going to work out?"
"We don't admit blind students."
"We're just not equipped to support you, and it's a safety issue."
"Let me get this straight," says me. "Tell me the odds here, to make sure I'm hearing you correctly, 'cause I's come a long ways for this: If I could find a way to pay the admissions fee and applied to PCC, what would you say might be the odds of being accepted ... 50-50? 75-25? 25-75?"
"Well, let me explain how it would work. Your application would go to the Board of Evaluators" -- that was when I knew it was a lost cause -- "and I have never seen a blind person admitted."
"Gotcha. Hey, thanks for your time." Walked to the phone and called the guys, who were excited to hear the results of the interview until they heard the results of the interview.
There I sat in my 6x'4' space at the Mission. What in the world was I to do now? Lots of pacing.
A different strategy as relating to school occurred to me. If these backward Christian schools won't let me in ... I sure loathed the idea of going back to public school ... But then, what if ... what if I used it as a means to learn how these socio-communist pinkos think, how they operate at their higher echelons of elitism, and thereby be better able to help them, and to help Christians break the numerous shackles that ensnare so many, and to become better followers of Christ? Why not. I'd give it a try.
I waltzed on in to the local government church I mean school. I was immediately treated so much better than at any church I had attended in the past many years. Help galore! We'll get you signed up! Mo money! Another tally mark for the docket, I was. But as usual, credit where credit is due -- there have been some really helpful folks, of course; but like as with any of the multitude Christians given to government-as-God philosophies and profits, so these were aiding and abetting a most perfidious system, so debit where debit is due.
It took but a couple of days, all the paperwork was filed with the innumerable agencies, I was officially signed up for the government-student-welfare dole, and off to class I wen, having done my waltzing in on the day classes started. That was nearly right at two years ago now, writing this near at Thanksgiving 2018.
Man, these government churches are bizarre. Every imaginable lunacy and lunatic -- and then some -- lurks in every corner. But of course! Hand out the goodies, and "the people" will show up! These Godless bastions are truly a scourge on the land, and if you don't understand why or how, you need a lot of help -- I am here for You! The math of it is really very simple: Take Anything. Subtract God. And what do you get? Godlessness! And God-haters. And Christians intermingling with the worshippers of Baal, and calling it some kind of service to God. Just like I was doing! The sickness of it all.
Did I mention that my Pensacola job-hunting efforts were as fruitful as those back in Lynchburg? Lest you think I was sitting around watching sports with the guys. Oh, and I didn't mention one other thing: I had been told shortly after the PCC ordeal that my time at the Mission was coming to an end any day, so be prepared and have your belongings packed.
Regretful as the decision to sign up for the government scam was, it has been an interesting study in Christian corruption to see how the various stripes and flavors react to the situation. For the most part, relief comes to many who are glad to hear (as they want to think) that I'm somehow endorsing this criminal enterprise called public education; that somehow, my doing all this is justification for their own involvement and propping up of the sham-job that everyone knows it is, but while that all of seventeen of us will forthrightly vocalize. The time for cowardice and pretense has long since passed.
I was able to stay at the mission a few more weeks into the semester, but once again, a hard date was given, and so it was.
A few weeks before I had befriended a local pastor. He had invited me to his church, and he even found a family that would come by to pick me up Sunday mornings, so there I went, off to church! They knew of my predicament, and very, very graciously, in addition to being the only church to have not only invited but also provided a ride to service those past few weeks, then went a step further to lend a helping hand. Everyone there was great, as seems always to be the case when starting out fresh in a new venture. Then, sin creeps in ...
I knew something was quite "off" from the get-go, but hey, I liked them, they liked me, and so I kept attending. It didn't take long to figure out what weirdness these guys were up to, except I hadn't quite figured out the depth of their Total Depravity I would uncover in the coming months.
They knew of the date given for my vacation from the Mission. They had this little, vacant house, sitting there, all dark and lonely, smack in the heart of Crackville, Pensacola. I was told not to go out at night under any circumstances without someone, and as little as possible in the daytime. Bah! Forget that. Crack dealers and prostitutes be damned! Or saved! Who else was going to witness to them?
But I also had a Lot of schoolwork to keep up with. Then there were these very, um, interesting Christians I was beholden to. They came across as about the most reasonable folks you ever have met. And then there was the fact that they were letting me stay in one of their houses for some scant amount that only covered utilities and a bit more, but besides, they were all graciousness and encouragement.
Then there was the fact that they turned out to be a cult.
In the greater Christian scene, many might examine the evidence for the claim, realize it lands a little too close to home for their own cult-like comfort, and therefore the Modern Christian would likely give these guys a pass, like they do for so many other abominations.
I gave it my best effort to help these guys. In the sincere and honest mind I attempt to maintain, they had helped me, and it came time for me to help them. But if Modern Churches are given to such shunnings and are so averse to any kind of correction as portrayed here throughout, what do you think the odds would be of a couple of modern pastors leading around a bunch of immature sheep who turned out to be quite the goats, having built their lives and empires around this cult church of theirs, that they would have any chance of unstopping their ears and unwinding their stiff necks and fusing their forked tongues? The answer to this question is:
Meaning, just as you at every moment have the opportunity to use that moment to pursue God, or to ignore, reject, spit on him, so too these had the ability to acknowledge the truth and change their ways. Meaning again, they and you and all we frolicking Man-kinds have 100% capacity for faith, and for repentance. Always. No man, no tyrant, no power of Hell, can take these from you, your sole soul-possessions which have been delegationally gifted to every such, and by which we all shall be judged on That Day. There is no randomness here, no dice-rolling, only deliberate decision, and deliberate action. You will be held to account for every movement of the eye across this page and for every thought conjured and for every choice you make to do what you will with all.
But, given the overwhelming spoiled-rottenness of the American Christian Church, the gambling odds were another question.
Nevertheless, I tried. They held one of those "conferences" Christians are infamous for, a bunch of folks came in from out of town to speak and rub elbows and generally claimed to be encouraging one another toward some good things in their walks with God. Sounded nice. Sounded fake. Just like so many other conferences by similar loons.
But it was partly enjoyable. I got to meet some interesting folks, heard a couple of decent presentations, but overall, pretty much dead on arrival, as would be expected from any Modern Church, especially of the cultic variety. But I held my peace, I scoped out the demeanor, I looked for an opportunity; I wanted to wait till after the get-together before presenting the opposing side. The opportunity arose very quickly, as in the day after the end of the shindig, and I took it. I confronted those flakes with both barrels, and you should have seen them squirm. Stunned. And, as you could have guessed, the games began. Dodging, denying, double-talking, outright deceit and lying. I thought I had fallen asleep, been stuffed in a duffle bag, and dumped somewhere in the outer limits of Utah. I was dealing with a bunch of Mormons. The way they changed definitions of words, waved the hand at whatever didn't fit their "system", and so, knowing there was no way at that point that I would ever read their books or sign their confessional or whatever they called their corrupt, man-made document, the fix was in.
I had to call the police twice on those goons. They thought they were quite clever one time, when I was walking across the way to do some laundry, the "inner circle" comprising the real freaks among them surrounded me once again but this time played Silent Game with Blind Guy, real swell chums hoping I would take the swing they so deserved to come forcefully in contact with, recording away with their effeminate little phones I can picture only as Barbie-pink, thinking that my constant railing against them as liars and cowards and hypocrites would somehow work in their favor when they played it back to their brainwashed congregation of devotees. Did they really need it? Doubtful. The drones were all too ready for the churchy dramatics and to hear that they would be excommunicating a heretic, and that, a week before Christmas (which by the way they despise as of the Devil), in the cold of late Fall (yes, it can still get quite cold in Northern Florida), when everyone and his parakeet would be heading out of town for Grandma's and some homemade pumpkin pie.
They held one of those secret meetings -- Surprise! I was not present to defend myself and offend their dainty sensibilities -- after which they did their own waltz right into my living quarters unannounced, in the middle of a final exam I was taking remotely at that particular hour, and told me I was to be cleared out in one week.
Little did they know, I have no problem "not turning the other cheek", which, like the very abused "judge not", did not afford them the compliant little girl they were hoping to push around. Hence, the two phone calls to the police in the coming few weeks, to keep them from laying hands on what little property I had left, which they had, while I sat in their own pews, sent the goon squad in to the residence and dumped all outside and changed the locks. During church! Go Christians!
Some of them probably were actually saved, seeing as God makes it extraordinarily easy to obtain salvation; but then, to give you an idea without delving too deeply into their trash theology, and to show that their bullying and antics little deterred Yours Truly, I was found out front of their temple on Sunday, Christmas Eve (since I had been forbidden to enter the church on threat of arrest for trespassing - Go Christians!), holding a sign they found to be offensive in the extreme, and that they went to great pains to ensure was quashed, their precious children not needing to see any of that smut they knew took direct aim at their false doctrine, so that I got in return for my efforts but two words the whole two hours I stood out front with my graphic display that read as follows:
GOD BECAME FLESH
Some of you will be able to discern now what I mean by calling them a cult. For the others, you need a lot of help -- I am here for You!
And on to the next leg of The Journey.
Freeing myself from those Pharisaical Mormon-types passing themselves off as Baptists, I then had to look once again for living quarters. And once again, in such a place as Pensacola, the effort bombed. The waste of time trying to obtain a room having become so great, I finally abandoned the effort and went where I could -- Extended Stay Motel! Oh no! you might exclaim -- another ESM! Naw, it's actually been quite nice comparatively speaking,a and the front-desk gals have been super-helpful looking after your dear writer -- and once again, I'm fairly sure not a one of them is a church-politics-addicted Christian!
Yeehaw. But at least I was out of the rain and able to work.
I put quite a bit of effort into finding another church, at least somewhere I could hang out, talk with other Christians, generally have a decent time with decent folks, wanting very much to help with discipleship or however else I could, so I began attending yet another (mega-)church as soon as possible, not liking to be minus the fellowship, and needing the contacts to help make things happen in this crazy town.
I tried my hand at the official "discipleship" class. The leader of it became quite angry when I very respectfully answered No to his inquiry about whether I had yet signed up for welfare. Government is big business at this church, if I hadn't mentioned it. Even their food pantry is state-controlled. No doubt loads of welfare monies flow into and out of the offering plates as they are passed around. But at least your "love offering" is tax-deductible.
I also attended the old folks' class, where I met some other decent folks, and found one faithful friend there, thank God for him. I wouldn't have made it this far without him. The young kids' class I also attended was about the most drippingly self-promotive thing imaginable. I did not fit in well, but I didn't care (but they did), so I kept attending as long as I could.
"As long as I could": When I could no longer afford the taxi, when I could no longer find a ride to this 8,000-member monstrosity, where my direct questions to a number of long-time attendees, What is the Gospel?, met all of once with a correct answer, and where the pastors and group leaders and others faded away once the Wet Paint sign around my neck could be removed; they found other among many available, more entertaining activities with which to busy themselves. A whole lot of people at that church will not even speak to me after asking or hearing via grapevine that I refuse The Check. Christians are funny that way. 'Funny' as in ... sinful.
You'd think I would have learned my lesson. You would be correct, but it is not the lesson you are thinking of. It is our responsibility to keep the doors open to relationships, reconciliation, repentance, revival. However, with all the playing-at-church going on, there seem to be scant few others who take Reality as reality, and so, many of these folks' lives are nearly totally disconnected from God, even though they attend church regularly and participate in all the reindeer games and can whip out all the right lingo in a conversation. It's as though they have never even considered an alternative, the solutions to these many and great problems they themselves have, and that their modes and methods of doing things only exacerbate and perpetuate the falsehood and corruption. Yet, I am persuaded, as I read the Bible, as I learn more and more by attempting again and again to help these many misguided brethren and these ever-present and growing ranks of unbelievers (and of those forsaking these useless churches), who surely look at our disarray and at our pretenses, and can clearly see our ignorances, irrelevancies, injustices, and, we, being as is supposed the bearers of that Light and that Word, leave them nothing to be desired, nothing to pursue, no answers, no meaning and direction. The shame is truly upon us, and it is well deserved.
I have been quite diligent in my work, but giving oneself to all diligence can still lead to a crossroads, which is where I stand as I write this to you. Here, then, I lurk, working very diligently to get things together that I might once again, but in a much more organized and intentional manner, hit the streets, enter these churches, the homes of the surrounding neighborhoods, wherever I can, however I might, to help, by the surest and strongest, most effective and powerful means at our disposal:
The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What ever happened to Chavelle?
Glad you asked. She is not to be forgotten and left behind, so we'll hear the rest of her story now, though this is not its conclusion. If I have made no progress til this point convincing you that there is a big problem here, and there, where you are right now, and everywhere, surely what I am about to describe will open your eyes to the glaring fact that these churches we have established are a gargantuan joke; these homes we have created are outhouse pits; and this culture we have allowed to become the evil norm around us as wwe pursue our own sinful desires rather than pursuing God and establishing his ways in our lives, and then in the lives of others, must be confronted by none other and with no other wisdom than that of Jesus Christ. There is no other answer, but it is not as easy as "Love Jesus and everything else will be okay." That is hippiefied hogwash, ignoring about 99-something% of the Book of Wisdom we have been given for the express purpose of studying and implementing according to God's design, in every area of our lives.
A few months ago, after not hearing from her for quite a while, Chavelle sent me a very happy Hello, and proceeded to tell me about how her home was now broken by divorce, that she was glad for it because of the awful situation she was now free from, and that she had left all that behind for another man, with whom she was now ecstatically enjoying life. Unmarried. But that wasn't all. I didn't mention it earlier, but there was something else very apparent when we first met at that store back in VA: She was either one of these very, very improperly trained Christians, or she was no Christian at all. In the two years since our meeting and parting, I worried about her of course, and after her most recent note, the suspicions were confirmed. She had attended this Thing I can refer to here only as a bastard church; her family was a wreck, and she herself was most definitely Not Saved. Need I relay her answer when I asked what kind of help said corporation I mean church had afforded her situation? I don't think I do. I let her know I wanted to help, but that I could only do so if she would first acknowledge the mess, which gratefully she did. I then wasted little time relaying to her The Gospel.
I have not heard back since.
And that is the perfect picture of The Modern Church, of Modern Christians, and what is being $old as fundamental, Bible-believing, Baptist Churchianity -- minus the Christ, that is. Sure, you will hear The Name thrown out all over the place; how then, pray tell, is this net so widely cast nso widely missing its mark? There are answers, there are solutions, and they can hardly be discerned from your local church; and as everyone has so democratically and pluralistically been trained to believe, that each, judging himself the genius among lesser-gifted comrades, thinks his supremacy has what he is sure is the answer to the problem, everyone being taught and conditioned so thoroughly so to believe and so to despise one the other ..., you can mathematically deduce from the extreme variations and weirdnesses found particularly among American Christians, that none of them really knows what he's talking about.
Such is the place and condition we find ourselves in.
And here is where I must implore your help, that I might help others. There is a great deal to do and to accomplish, being so great a work as has been given us to perform; but it is not a request I make for my own sake, for my own ease and comfort or to enlarge myself, but that I might do all that has been stirred within me to do, that I might do it well, and not have to forsake the work and these people for even a short time. Please consider this Understanding of Things before proceeding to the Help page to learn how.
For those who have found themselves here and who are among the "unsaved", the "lost", as we honestly and sincerely refer to those who remain unreconciled to our Creator God, the rest is of little concern until you humble up and get right with Him. Admit you are not God, acknowledge Jesus Christ, read the Bible a few times so that we can have a meaningful conversation about The Important Things, then by all means, return here to learn more, and possibly even to help.
The Way Home
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.