EXECUTIVE ORDER #666
Nobody reads this anyway...
"My bologna has a first name, and Mohammed is his prophet."
TALES FROM THE SPAM-PURSE
Perhaps it really is better to give than to receive afterall!
I Have mail: Cerebus P. Lycanthropizer wants to increase the size of my penis, I don’t know what sort of personal stake he may have in this, but I figure it’s only proper to reply.
Thank you for your concern about my purple-headed yogurt-thrower. We both are flattered. However, as the enclosed picture verifies, I have no need for your services. As such, my girlfriend has also informed me, that if she wanted a bigger dick in her life, I could simply act more like her ex-lover, Jack. Enclosed is a picture of him, as well.
Thanks again for your concern,
Yours in Christ Jesus,
.Of course, my email bounces back to me, undeliverable. That’s what’s really rude. That is what is untolerable. You see, when a telemarketer harasses me, I can harass them right back (my favorite is to push them into phone sex). When a vacuum saleman or Jehovah’s Witness come to my door, I can have fun by trying to sell them something back, or best yet, by maintaining eye-contact and a conversational tone while I slowly disrobe in front of them. But I can’t even get a single shot in at the spammers.
At least this used to be the case. While this is not typical of every spammer, a larger and larger majority of spam seems to be coming from legitimate addresses. Sure, they might be “hijacked,” but that makes things even more fun. But largely, they’re pseudo-legitimate “direct marketers” who work for large companies selling legitimate products, who bought your name from a list, fair and square. Publishers Clearing House, BMG, and e-bay are good examples of this. Did you sign up to a list or a service lately? You’re now officially somebody’s third-party bitch (sort of like Pat Buchanan). Tip: get a disposable e-mail account if you’re going to mess with anybody. Anytime you reply to a spam, they sell your name to other spammers. The fun never ends!
Imagine my joy when I sent a letter back to Publishers Clearing House (which included a picture of my cats for added irony)—asserting that they have my name wrong, and that my actual name is Jesus Christ—only to have them send me back a return mail thanking me for the correction…and then a second e-mail proclaiming, “Jesus Christ—you’ve won a million dollars!”
It is my hope that one day, you too, can experience that joy.
One day, I received the best spam ever—a true opportunity (for mockery, that is). It was a particularly lurid piece of Nigerian Scam Mail (go to www.spamscamscam.com if you don’t know what that is). Not only did this fellow need my help getting $3,000,000 out of the country, but he also wanted me to care for the “two dear orphaned girls” that were part of the deal. You see, he clamed that I was a long lost relative of a certain missionary who had died tragically in Nigeria (despite not getting my name right), and that in order to claim this multimillion dollar “inheritance,” I had to not only do business with him, but also take custody of the girl-orphans.
He called upon my “Christian charity.” Sweet.
So, inspired by Dean Cameron’s plight (see above link), I replied.
I would be delighted to work with you regarding these funds. As a Christian, I would obviously be glad to care for these poor girls. As a Catholic priest, however, I was obviously hoping for boys. But I shall trust in the Lord regarding this matter.
Please tell me more about the girls. How old are they? Do they have long, silky, blonde hair, flowing past their frail, wispy shoulders? Have they encountered the tender bumps and patches of young-ladyhood yet? Do they like lollipops?
I will be happy to send you the information you require; but first you must swear to me that you are indeed a man of faith. I would hate to think that these girls, with their sensual pouts and comely faces, soft, delicate skin and untrod loins, are in the hands of a pervert. Also, have you taken the Eucharist? Can you convince me that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? Please send me a picture of you taking the blessed communion, and I will happily do business with you, sir!
Also, send me a picture of the girls.
In His Service,
Rev. Gabriel C. Zolman, Th.d, B.S.”
Mustapha never replied. Oh well. Money would have corrupted my ideals, I guess.
I needed to be in a spirit of giving, you see, I’ve decided that I should, instead, offer something back to those who offered me so much, and so often.
Using a throw-away e-mail address, and a template of the original Nigerian Spam Scam letter, I ran the letter’s nouns and adjectives through a Mad-libs type randomizer. I did a little cut and paste, tweaked it here and there, and—voila!—I have constructed the perfect Bizarro-World Spam Scam. I send it automatically in reply to every piece of “direct marketing” and spam that I receive. Surprisingly, these replies are rarely returned to me—perhaps these people are reading their e-mail after all! Read the blessed treaty they receive from me, in return for their generous offers (and feel free to copy this and use it as your own):
MY DEAR SPAM-PURSE,
I AM TZAR JESUS ABACHA, PHILLIPINO SEX SLAVE OF LATE GRAND IMPERIAL CYCLOPS CALIGULA ABACHA, HEAD OF STATE OF ARMENIA WHO DIED ON THE 8TH OF JUNE 1969 OF SYPHILIS . I CONTACTED YOU BECAUSE OF MY NEED TO DEAL WITH PERSONS WHOM MY FAMILY AND I HAVE HAD NO PREVIOUS PERSONAL, SEXUALLY INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS.
SINCE MY PHILLIPINO SEX SLAVE'S SYPHILIS , MY PERSONAL SAVIOUR HAS BEEN SUBJECTED TO ALL SORTS OF HARASSMENT AND INTIMIDATION WITH LOTS OF NEGATIVE REPORTS EMANATING FROM THE GOVERNMENT AND THE 700 CLUB ABOUT MY PHILLIPINO SEX SLAVE. THE PRESENT GOVERNMENT HAS ALSO ENSURED THAT OUR BANK ACCOUNTS ARE FLOPPY AND ALL TAINTMEATS SEIZED.
IT IS IN VIEW OF THIS, THAT I SEEK YOUR CO-OPERATION AND ASSISTANCE IN THE TRANSFER OF THE SUM OF US 23,000,000(23 MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS ONLY) BEING THE VERY LAST OF MY FAMILY FUND IN MY POSSESSION AND CONTROL.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SEIZED ALL OUR OILY TAINTMEATS AND PICKLED ALL OUR GRITS BOTH LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL AFTER THE SYPHILIS OF MY PHILLIPINO SEX SLAVE, BUT MY ONLY HOPE NOW IS THIS AVAILABLE US $23,000,000 CASH WHICH I CAREFULLY PACKAGED AND DEPOSITED AS PHOTOGRAPHIC MATERIALS WITH A SECURITY COMPANY IN LAGOS WHERE MY ILLIGITIMATE BASTARD CHILD IS A MALE PROSTITUTE.
IF YOU ARE WILLING TO ASSIST US IN RECEIVING THIS MONEY ON OUR BEHALF, PLEASE, CONTACT MY ILLIGITIMATE BASTARD CHILD, RASPUTIN ABACHA, IMMEDIATELY ON FAX NUMBER 1029384756 OR TELEPHONE NUMBER 5647382910. ON RECEIPT OF YOUR REPLY, HE WILL CONTACT YOU TO DISCUSS THE NARWHALES AND NEGOTIATE YOUR REWARD, WHICH I CAN ASSURE YOU WILL BE VERY PHALLIC.
MEANWHILE, OUR INTENTION IS TO INVEST THIS FUND IN YOUR COUNTRY BASED ON YOUR ADVICE AND PLEASE ENSURE TO KEEP THIS PROPOSAL VERY SECRET AND CONFIDENTIAL FOR OBVIOUS REASONS AND SEND TO US YOUR PRIVATE TELEPHONE/FACSIMILE NUMBER FOR EASY AND CONFIDENTIAL, MAN-ON-MAN COMMUNICATION.
WHEN REPLYING, PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR SEXY TELEPHONE AND FAX BOOGER FOR DETAILS.
WE AWAIT YOUR IMMEDIATE RESPONSE.
SINCERELY, TZAR JESUS ABACHA. ..
I then include a random photo of a moth or something as an attachment. Again, I am surprised that none of these are returned:
Jesus Christ—I think I’ve won!
SCREWTAPE RIDES AGAIN
I would like to personally thank you for your most excellent coup for the forces of Hell in Alabama. What victory! What gusto! I am most impressed, and don’t think for a moment that His Dark Majesty did not notice! He has most certainly got his evil eye on you (and Alabama!).
In your defeat of Amendment 2, you cleverly appealed not only to their prejudices, but also to their pocketbooks! Very evil! Splendid! Conservatives will protect their pocketbooks before even their “values”…very clever of you! Afterall, didn’t their “Messiah” say “You’ll always have the poor”? Of course! And they certainly always will at this rate, won’t they, dearest Minion?
Amendment 2, as you know, would have not only removed racist language and segregation-era rules from the Alabama constitution, but it also would have guaranteed a right to a public education. Alabama’s schools have always been the poorest because the state legislature doesn’t guarantee that they even exist in the first place. Taxes are low, as are the regional IQ levels. It’s really quite good for us—they’ll not only look like racists, but they’ll also appear greedy (since this was about a fear of taxation), and the children will still remain blissfully “stoopid” to the outside world. I couldn’t have worked this better myself!
This is almost as delightful as when we struck down science and sex education in Texas schools this year—now “His” children will be so verifiably ignorant, that—when they reach adulthood—they’ll be bona fide embarrassments to “His” cause! Wasn’t that striking?
That does remind me, however—we must remember to step up our “True Love Waits” and other abstinence campaigns among the “religious right.” You and I both know that teaching abstinence in place of sexual education and responsibility does not work, and that people—especially hormonal young people—will have sex regardless of what they are taught. And the Christians will gleefully accept the brunt of the backlash! They’ll actually lie for God about the statistics, or alter them in some fashion to show it “works”! It’s just like heaven in Hell! His children will be removed from the scientific community, and they’ll be swamped with STD’s and teen pregnancies (since, again, you and I both know that “real” statistics show that teen pregnancies actually increase as abstinence is taught!) What wonder! What Satanic prowess! We must keep up this fine campaign! Hail the Dark Majesty!
Oh Wormwood, the times are so exciting now! Under Clinton, the Christians were so united and so studious—they wanted victory so badly, that they often put aside their differences to fight us. Imagine—they actually united for a common cause. Fortunately, with our boy in office now, they’ll never stop to make that mistake again! It’s so easy to triumph over those who think they’ve won! You are correct in surmising that they will be arrogant and smug in the face of unbelievers now. And of course, these unbelievers will remember this unto their very graves! (I ran into a couple just last night!) It’s brilliant, I tell you! They’ll behave as imperialistic conquerors, while the lost stay lost, and the unloved grow that much more so! Parents will turn on their children, and brother will alienate brother. My oh my, how love can make such splendid hatred!
Your concern about the Supreme Court is touching, but reveals your ignorance of war tactics—it will be far easier to control Christendom once it believes itself undefeatable, and it will be doubly simpler to garner the proper opposition to it once it becomes enforced (Judge Scalia opposes the separation of Church & State, and this is a very, very good thing for us!). But I digress—we don’t want to destroy Christiendom—where would we be without them? We merely seek control of it. Which brings me to your interesting comment of earlier.
I will take your suggestion to heart about our Intolerance Campaign, and pass it on—it certainly seems in keeping with the infernal philosophy (and certainly our corporate culture!). You have argued that by only moderately tempting them with the traditional sins (lust, greed, etc.), they are reminded of their existence, and thus driven to the greater sin of hatred against those that deal such things…but truly, I think it’s a bit unnecessary; the Intolerance Campaign is moving on quite fine without adjustment. When that amendment barring gay marriage passes, there should be enough hatred and intolerance to fuel another civil war! It should be an utter delight! .
I know you wish we’d fought for the North last time, but Wormwood, hear me out:
The South’s gonna rise again!
I just don’t understand anti-Semitism; it seems silly to me. In fact, all forms of racism seem rather dense, when one gives thought to them. Yet there is a fine line between despising someone’s worldview, and despising that person themselves.
Personally, I find the doctrines and attitudes of Christianity detestable—but even I could not think of anyone in particular I would hate for it. If I dislike Jerry Fallwell, it is because I happen to know that he is not a very nice person, and because he is a businessman of dubious honesty and intent (put the words “Liberty University” and “Reverend Moon” into a search engine and see what you get). If I dislike Pat Robertson, it is because he is a fear-mongering Kingdom-Ager with dubious political intentions and even more dubious business dealings
Dubious….dubious…”dubious” is a funny word, isn’t it? (Put “Pat Robertson” and “African diamond mines” in a search engine, BTW.)
My point is, I have a lot of reasons to dislike people who happen to be “Christians,” and many more reasons to dislike Christianity as an organized religion (which have already been run into the ground in previous posts), but really, there is no reason to hate someone simply because they are a Christian, much less a Muslim, or a Jew. Islam did not bomb the WTC; terrorists did. Jews do not control the world’s banks; rich people do. I don’t pretend to know their nationality, or care. I don’t care if David Iche sees lizard people everywhere he finds a kosher dill; David Iche takes hallucinogens, and also quotes the Simon Necronomicon as a reliable source.
I like Judaism; I have no reason not to. It is not the Jews who fight against the Separation of Church and State; it is not the Jews who seek to cock-block the nation with obtuse obscenity legislation, or fight against the availability of contraceptives and reproductive choice. They rarely seek to enforce their beliefs on others, much less legislate them in a court of law. Quite frankly, the Christians have a great deal more explaining to do than the Jews ever will.
It may have been “the Jews” who crucified Jesus (if “He” existed at all), but it was the Christians who burned the witches and launched the Inquisition. And the irony? The charge to “suffer not a witch to live” appears in the Pentateuch (accepted by the Jews), but not in the New Testament (the main text of Christianity). By orthodox Christian doctrine, the laws of the Old Testament were “fulfilled” (i.e. made obsolete) by Christ’s great “Dispensation of Grace,” and Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you; this is the Law and the Prophets.”) So the impetus to burn a witch or torture an “infidel” appears in the Jewish canon—but the Jews have never historically burned anyone; yet there are no such imperatives for torture, capital punishment, or cultural discrimination in the Christian scriptures…and yet Christianity has become universally famous for these things.
It was, in fact, Judaism that gave us the Ten Commandments that have most influenced the ethics of the West; it was the superstitions of Medieval Christendom that was responsible for the Black Death (their rampant killing of rat-catching cats and lack of hygiene, both of which spread the bubonic virus, were results of common Middle-Ages superstitious piety).
While no one should be discriminated against or hated for things they were not personally responsible for (i.e. my Christian friend Mark did not personally distribute the bubonic plague in Medieval Europe; it’d be pretty silly to hold that against him--although, I admit it's a funny image), I am free to hold the doctrines of an acquired worldview accountable. Few, if any, Christians in my circle have done any great wrongs in my eyes, or have ever lent credence to a discriminatory attitude; but Christianity itself, as a philosophy, has much to answer for, in my opinion. “Hate the sin, not the sinner.”
So what brought out such introspection from me? Two things: my own misguided guilt regarding my own misguided attitudes, and a fateful visit to a most hideous website.
I like to send offbeat items to my friends. In the past, I sent them odd j-pegs with every e-mail; recently, I have taken to mailing them strange, seemingly random things. This practice will likely pick up when I have more cash to blow on postage. One day, while searching for something offbeat in an ethnic foodmart, I ran across the most delightful package of Chanukah cookies. These were no ordinary holiday morsels—they contained such arcane, eldritch symbols that the Golden Dawn itself would have been in awe. These were no mere cookies: these were virtual Abramelin Squares with candy sprinkles. I had to have them.
I conspired to mail these Kabbalistic sugar treats to my friend Rick. After an e-mail or two, Rick never responded to my request for his mailing address, so I was left pondering upon who else I should bestow them to.
And then something happened; I sort of felt…well…guilty. Well...almost. For a brief moment, I started feeling somewhat racially insensitive. Maybe these symbols were more common in Jewish culture than I believed, and I was just being ignorant and immature. So I began surfing the net for info. Fortunately, it turns out that I am not a total bastard—in addition to my having a father, the symbols were, in fact, rather esoteric, and the average Rabbi would probably find them more distasteful than divine. Good: Game on…time to buy stamps.
But while searching, I also ran across something quite shameful: an anti-Semitic website/blog that managed to disturb even my jaded, pervert eyes. I will not dignify his site by naming it here; nor will I lend him fame by mentioning his name. The Nazi need not be distinguished; therefore, I shall refer to him hereon as “Prescott.” “Prescott,” of course, believes the Jews are actively, covertly promoting all kinds of heinous international agendas; in his eyes, they run most branches of the Government, the Masons, most banks and corporations, and the Illuminati that oversee them all. They are also, apparently, cannibals and baby-killers, and “genetically inferior” as a race. Naturally, these charges won’t carry much weight to the rational mind; but I had to wonder what leads a person to such thinking.
The best case against and critique of these sorts of hysterical assertions was made by Robert Anton Wilson, in an offbeat chapter of his most recent book, TSOG: The Thing That Ate The Constitution. I will borrow from it freely here.
Leopold Bloom, a character in a James Joyce novel, may or may not be Jewish. Rabbinical law defines a Jew as the child of a Jewish mother. In this sense, then, Mr. Bloom “is not” a Jew. But according to Nazi law, a Jew “is” a person with a known Jewish ancestor. In this light, Mr. Bloom “is” a Jew, via his father. Strange, how a person can “be” and “not be” something at the same time, eh?
Yet, a humanist would define a Jew as merely a practitioner of the Judaic religion. By this definition, Bloom “is not” a Jew—he eschewed religion of any sort. But Madonna, who was born an Italian, and Catholic, but actively practices a mystical branch of Judaism, “is” a Jew, by that definition.
In the phenomenological sense, a Jew “is” someone considered Jewish by all or most of the people that he or she meets. By this standard, Bloom “is” a Jew again (and Madonna “is not”). Furthermore, in Existentialist terms, a Jew “is” anyone who chooses to consider themselves Jewish. In that sense, score another Hebrew-point for Madonna, and subtract one from Leopold—who considered himself an Irishman.
To quote Wilson directly: “I suppose Joyce made Bloom such a tangled genetic and cultural mixture to expose the absurdities of anti-Semitism; but I also suspect that he wanted to undermine that neurological habit which postmodernists call “essentialism” and which Korzybski claimed invades our brains and causes hallucinations or delusions every time we use the word ‘is’”
This explains a lot, really. Think about it. In some sense, the value of “x” changes with the direction it is viewed. How, then, can we discriminate against anything when we cannot satisfactorily, empirically, determine what something “is” or “isn’t” in the first place? If everything is true in some sense, false in some sense, and meaningless in another, how do we distinguish anything at all? Simple—by ascribing the values we’ve predetermined upon it, by sheer force of grammatical, semantic, or neurological habit.
So what did I do about dear old “Prescott,” then?
Simple… I sent him some cookies.
I have a story to tell. It is a long one. I know from the site counter that people tend to skip over my site when I have a longer post; but I think this one will be rewarding to the patient. It explains a good deal of my attitude, for those who may have wondered just what drives such bitter hatred toward Christendom. I believe these incidents to be oddly meaningful.
The truth is, I despise Christianity for a number of reasons; they’re largely unimportant. You will all have to wait for the book. Others have questioned why I seem so deadset upon protesting it so much—if it’s all a lie, why not just let the people dream of their pretty Heaven and fluffy angels and zombie messiahs? I’ll tell you: It’s because these people vote. And a lot of the things they vote for can affect even those who don’t believe a word.
I have no other valid reasons for relating this grandiose, off-topic tale, apart that is weird, and I also. Welcome to my world. It’s just sideways from here.
Here is some background to the story:
The year was likely 1990, or at the latest, early 1991. I was young—barely a teen. I had been through quite a bit, having been somewhat of a professional punching bag at my prior school, a redneck wide spot in the road, wherein collecting dust became a hobby, and all farmers merely grew cobwebs. Knuckle-dragging country boys and soon-to-be-a-teenage-mother girls reinforced over and again that I was not one of them because I wasn’t born there, and by the great god Bocephus, I’d learn, even if they had to pound it into me. Meanwhile the teachers verbally abused me for not standing up to get my ass kicked again, or participating in more sports (which apparently, through some rural “down home” wisdom that I fail to understand, is a cure-all for the ills of all mankind).
I had thus grown up within a rather small circle, and had become prone to staying indoors, as I retreated within my own strange adolescent world, where the bullies were dead, the girls were naked, and God did not create me just to suffer at the hands of “His” creations.
I had begun a new life at the Ministry; it was much different than before—people were friendlier, and less abusive towards those who might be different (unless, of course, you had doctrinal issues). Still, in retrospect, I was poorly socialized, from those years lived in the sticks: when I spoke, I spoke too much, and felt compelled, often, to confide in strangers details that none needed to know. When I was silent, it was awkward, as I would fidget like a junkie, or blankly stare into the vast reaches of space. I probably creeped people out.
I was going through an Awkward Stage: I was pale, and overweight. I had a peculiar walk. I had little tact in approaching people, and zero sense of timing. I was book-smart, but clueless interacting with human beings. I was desperate to find anyone who regarded me as human, much less warmly, or as an equal of some sort. So at 13, I sought pale shelter in the Church.
(Boo hoo. Are your innards gooey with empathy yet?)
Though a difficult transition, I found myself surrounded with fellows tripping over one another to mentor me. They seemed impressed by my potential—I was a fast learner; and once I understood a Biblical concept, I was frequently able to converse freely about it with even the passing pastor or professor (I may have been weird and aloof, but I had a terrific vocabulary for my age); they were delighted—not many 13-year-olds caught on so quick, or cared about such things. I embraced this newfound faith with vigor—albeit an awkward one. Puberty had me by the balls—I did everything awkwardly, in some sense.
Moving right along...
I’d begun attending Monday Morning Prayer. Largely, it was an excuse to hang out with these newfound friends and “mentors.” They prayed and wailed to God aloud, in what seemed to me as marathon pleads for mercy and for help. They often spoke in tongues.
Prayer was such a simple issue to me—I couldn’t imagine it lasting for more than a few minutes. In fact, I pretty much ran out of things to say after about five minutes. I kept it short; in my mind, “He” already knew how great “He” was, and the Scriptures said “He” already knew of all our needs. If “He” already knew what I needed, and what other people needed, and already understood that I worshipped “Him,” really, what was there to say but ‘thanks’ and ‘keep up the good work’?
Why did I need to spend two hours wailing for poor starving Shadrach of Kenya, when if God was truly God, “He” already knew who Shadrach was, and knew exactly what he needed. If God was letting the poor boy starve, it wasn’t any of my business—it was between the boy and God. Besides—it seemed to me that God declined such requests for assistance quite routinely; otherwise Sally Struthers would require fresh employment.
If I was crippled by a Buick in broad daylight, why must I tearfully wail aloud for Jesus’ help? Didn’t “He” see it happen? Do not the Scriptures teach that everything that happens on this Earth occurs because God caused it or allows it? And if “He” knows the contents of my heart, would “He” not also know full well that I desired such a healing to occur? What did I need to say, apart from “I don’t know why You allow(ed) this, but I hope You make it better, because I understand You can”?
It all seemed so unnecessary. Did the Creator of the universe really enjoy hearing the overwrought sobs and whispers offered unto “Him” by the millions—much less, hours upon hours of them? If so, it painted a rather sinister picture of the Divine. Did the Lord really have such an ego, that “He” required 24-hour gibbering praise? What did this prove? If you praised the Lord once in a prayer, and meant it, why did you need to babble on for hours in repetition? When you tell your wife or girlfriend that you love her, would you really feel the need to sob and plead it over and over again for another two hours? (That is, if you weren’t drunk or cheating…)
That was my attitude toward prayer at age 13. In some ways it was quite astute; in others, it was hopelessly naïve.
I didn’t get the whole “hands raised in submission” thing either, at first. When Rev. Joe sat quietly on the pew, head lifted to heaven and right-hand raised, I assumed he was signaling me, and high-fived him when I passed. I did this more than once.
And I certainly didn’t understand this “speaking in tongues” business. When Rev. Pat mumbled in silence, and in unknown tongues, I elbowed him and asked him what he said. When Pastor Dino paced back and forth by the pulpit entrance, head raised and mouth stammering, I’d walk on over, and tap him on the back—I wanted to know if he was speaking into the intercom, and if so, who was in the office to hear it (it was 6am, you know…).
The final straw was when we all joined hands in prayer, and formed some sort of “prayer circle” around some young man who was setting off to sail, a first-time missionary. Everyone was to pray and give their blessing, only breaking the circle for the laying on of hands. (Sounds a bit pagan, eh?). We would take turns, going in order, counterclockwise. This was not so fearsome. That is, until I realized that we were supposed to pray out loud.
They all spoke with those “tongues of fire,” and yelled grandiose commands of praise and blessing from on high. This was going to suck. When it came my turn, I froze at once…then babbled incoherently, and prayed dearly with dread within, that the others would assume I prayed “in tongues.” Then, following another awkward silence, I sheepishly raised my voice like the others, but since I had nothing to say, really, my prayer seemed understated. Everyone else had moaned and wailed for twenty-minute stretches; I had barely filled six minutes. My eyes were on the clock. (It was way up on the wall, above me, so I figured they’d assume that my eyes were “transfixed to yonder heaven.”). I began filling in space with whatever came to mind—I went way the hell off-topic, and began to simply copy prayers I’d heard cried out in church. I started rambling about abortionists and heathens teaching evolution in our schools, and those poor Catholics who didn’t know the true blessings of Pentecost or the pagan goddess-worship origins of their Virgin Adorations…I pretty much just started making things up at this point. Then, when I totally ran out of steam, I began lowering my voice and mumbling incoherently again.
After the service, Pastor Dino and Rev. Pat pulled me aside. It was time, they said, emphatically, that I was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Sounds naughty…) The concept scared me half to death. I didn’t want to be possessed! It was, however, made extremely clear that they were “ready…very ready,” for me to “grow in the Lord…as soon as humanly possible.”
I was told that when we spoke in tongues, God was giving us the words to say…to “Him,” that “He” is “speaking through us” (to “Himself.”) Wait…Let me get this straight…God knows all before we ask, making much of what we say irrelevant…and then “He” is going to give us the words? So “God” wants to speak to “Himself,” but through us… Perhaps I should digress.
I was told to kneel, with my hands raised skyward. This sounded suspiciously like a hostage situation. Everyone surrounded me, praying loudly, shouting. They proceeded with the laying on of hands (insert snide double-entendre here). It was very forceful; they kept pushing me, as if they were trying to punch me with their palms (I call it the “Christian Dim Mak”). Pastor Dino had his huge man-sausage hands wrapped tightly around the top of my scruffy teenage head; he shook so hard, I thought he would give me whiplash. From afar, it had to look like some sort of quasi-Pentecostal gang-rape. In the hour or so that this occurred, what with all the shouting, weeping and shaking, I seemed to lose track of the time. The next thing that I knew, it was over, and I was on my feet again. I don’t know how many minutes that I lost; it was all rather a blur.
I am told I spoke in tongues. Dino, Pat, and Joe insisted on it. I don’t remember a thing. They took me out to lunch afterwards, convincing me of all I’d “prophesied.” Whatever…it seemed real enough to make me wonder if God now lived inside of me. I was repeatedly assured “He” did, and that if I questioned it too much, “He” would leave (and we’d have to start again).
It might not have been divine, but it did keep me in line. If nothing else, my instincts did improve. I learned not to ask too many questions. This experience would, in fact, prepare me for something strangely meaningful that would occur much later on:
It may seem like this isn’t going anywhere, but I assure you that it is.
Fast Forward: Years passed; I matured into a ministry of my own. I never did get the hang of glossolalia, and I was still a strange young man, but I was confident in my attitude toward “God,” and had finally earned some semblance of respect among my peers.
I attended a morning chapel service at my school. I had not desired to go, but attendance was mandatory, though I was in my last year. It’s not that I dreaded school chapel—far from it, I’d actually preached there once. Rather, I resented the choice of speakers for the day: it was a newer teacher known for being a Fundamentalist’s Fundamentalist, topical and hostile, and straight-ticket GOP. As a student at Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, I had studied under some of the greatest Evangelical preachers of our day; admittedly, I had high standards, and knew a con job when I saw it. I had heard this fellow preach before, and thought he was derivative and simplistic, reactionary and ignorant. I was not alone; many of the adults, who were not obligated to attend, were conspicuously missing on that day.
The opening music—which he had requested—sickened and embarrassed me. This guy ranted and raved at every opportunity about the “evils of Christian Rock,” which he likened to “Christian drug use” or “Christian prostitution.” And yet, he chose to precede his fiery morning diatribe with a bastardized version of Joe Cocker’s “Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong.” This was not even a Christian song, and they had to change the lyrics to make it fit (it became “LORD Lift Us Up…”). And they sang like fifteen repetitions of it! It got worse…
His “sermon” was pure hatred—a virtual string of slogans, scare tactics, and Christian Urban Legends. But he was very emotional, and very loud. And when he ran out of topical items to rant against and popular prejudices to exploit, he started up the music again—that same damned song, and twenty repetitions to follow. And did I mention that the girl he handpicked to “lead the music service” was in fact, herself, about as “spiritual” as a rock, and the class whore? Did I mention that, no less than a month after the service, she was discovered to be pregnant?
But I digress, again.
His accusing, nearly all-inclusive altar call was highly effective: there wasn’t a “sin” in the book he’d failed to mention and condemn—the chances of nobody “struggling” with at least one of these things was infinitesimal, as was the intent. He didn’t want reflection or “repentance”—he wanted a widely sweeping roll call; he wanted a reaction from the crowd. Nearly everyone in the first six rows went tumbling, tears streaming, to the altar. That left us “sinners” on the back three rows. I watched and observed for what seemed like forever. It was like a dream—like I wasn’t really there. People writhed and swarmed at the base of the altar—it was like a gigantic, writhing orgy of limbs and tears. People made terrifying noises. People broke down. Certainly, some movement, some mass hysteria was sweeping across the chapel. And I was not involved, nor wished to be.
This created a problem; I was supposed to be a “spiritual example.” Now, I was “revealing” myself to be a “sinner” or worse yet, “out of the Will,” and “out of touch with God.” While the wailing masses swayed, en masse, a number of sweaty, nervous counselors and “spiritual leaders” began to approach me, one by one. They asked if there was a problem. I insisted there was not. They asked if I had “received the Spirit” or had even been “properly saved.” I assured them that I had and I was; I just wasn’t “feeling it” today…not from this mess.
One after another, they sat next to me, and prodded, chiding me to confess some secret sin. There was none I was aware of, above and beyond those things which all teens, Christian or otherwise, dealt with. I was not going to bestow my blessing upon this fiasco, or endorse it, by stumbling down to the altar just to keep appearance up. I was perfectly happy to pray where I was sitting—in fact, each time they bothered me, I was just reading my Bible.
At some point, perhaps in an effort to bring in the stragglers, one of the teachers having an “experience” at the altar, cried loudly into the microphone, “How can you people sit there?! God is moving in this place! If you don’t feel this, you are dead—you’re spiritually dead inside!!”
I resented that so fucking much. How dare her. How fucking dare her bait us like that. Something didn’t feel right to me. I would worship as I pleased, and I would not be moved by threats. Yet, I was almost entirely alone. Even the “unsaved” kids went up, because they didn’t want to be hassled after school, and because the longer that this madness took, the more of class they missed. But I was resolute: My principles were not for sale, not even to the “God” that made their lips to tremble; not even with “revival in the land.”
I was almost universally alienated from the “Campus Club” clique after that. I was suddenly quite unwelcome by the “upper echelons,” whom I’d fought tooth and nail to be recognized by to begin with. And the “prophet” teacher? He was later promoted to Principal.
I would go on to encounter much the same and more, much later on. I still resent them all, to some degree. Even though I no longer believe, I certainly believed, with passion, at the time. I don’t know why this seems so meaningful—but I can’t help but think it strangely significant, representative of what we all, as a nation, should be prepared to battle, as Christendom takes Washington by force. This is what we’re dealing with.
And really, this incident remains ingrained in my memory as Christianity’s Defining Moment. I never forgot it. I never will. And neither should you.
Ultimately, in summary, when God says “To-MAY-to,” I say “To-MAH-to,” and the Christians say “to-hoe-hoe-toe-hee-hee-ree-blah-blah-blah.” And, in the end, if God knows our hearts, and authors or approves all that transpires, and also knows what we have need of, knows what “He” wants us to say, and plans to either “give us the words” or “talk through us” when we talk to “Him” anyway, I say, save yourself the trouble—let the Christian God talk to “Himself” on our behalf without us—“He” clearly doesn’t want our input anyway. And besides, “He” is probably busy getting “Intelligent Design” into the schools, smiting homosexuals, and helping Bush destroy Social Security. Let’s not interrupt “Him;” “He” might have Gonzalez torture you in Guantanamo.
Send “Him” a card instead, preferably for “His” birthday; I hear it’s in December.
ECC. 5:2 “…and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” (KJV)