Saturday, October 21, 2017

Incipit

The following is my ongoing list of all the things that can happen at Starbucks.

If You Go To Starbucks Often Enough

  • Your clothes will begin to reek of coffee.
  • You will see young men with Apple laptop computers programming smart phone apps.
  • Ladies will sell each other Mary Kay cosmetics.
  • The homeless will be there.
  • Some of the homeless will bring their own laptop computers.
  • There will be occasional prayer meetings.
  • College students will study for their tests.
  • A genuine lunatic will sit down and talk with you. You won't understand anything he says.
  • You will eventually buy a Starbucks coffee cup.
  • The decor will change at least once.
  • A young man with a book by Dale Carnegie will sit next to you, smile, and compliment your Life is Good™ bill hat.
  • People will play Scrabble.
  • You will hear one of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.
  • Someone will walk in who is wearing outrageous bell-bottom pants.
  • Someone will walk in who has on a leash a Great Dane.
  • There will a fussy baby crying.
  • You might be MouseJacked and not know it.
  • You will see someone who looks just like Obi-wan Kenobi. Of course, he will be using an Apple computer.
  • Someone will come in, use the restroom, and leave without buying anything.
  • There will be someone who habitually gives advice to other customers about using their computers.
  • A famous celebrity will walk in.
  • Two moms will come in pushing enormous baby strollers.
  • Sure enough, you will see a dude who's wearing his pants so low his underware is showing.
  • Somebody will talk so loud on his cell phone that you can hear every word he is saying
  • You will see a tanned, short, skinny man wearing a muscle shirt who has a filter cigarette tucked on his right ear.
  • A lady will be doing needlepoint.
  • You will encounter someone dressed like a 19th Century mountain man
  • A young man, dressed in a spiffy suit and tie, wearing black horned-rimmed glasses and a very serious look on his face, will be diligently and intently doing something with his Apple computer.
  • Eventually the baristas will remember your name.
  • A old guy who looks like a department store Santa Claus (but without the red costume) will be there, talking yakkity-yak non-stop to someone, who can't get a word in edgewise.
  • You will be next to a table where a young man and lady are talking. He will look exactly like the character Wesley from the movie "The Princess Bride." I mean exactly.
  • You will encounter someone who is severely oppressed by a spirit, as if something had put the poor man's mind through a paper shredder. Very sad condition.
  • After a time, you will achieve enlightenment. And then you will understand why 95% of everything on the Internet is complete rubbish.
  • You will see Hutterite ladies who are in town to do some shopping.
  • You finally will understand that blogging is a pretty useless hobby and that the only way to succeed at it is to be the last man standing.
  • A mother will be discreetly breast feeding her child.
  • A young man will stand by the counter waiting for his drink. He will be wearing a lanyard and a very brightly colored tie-dyed tee shirt having a spiral pattern. On his feet, he will have on a pair of slippers that are shaped like the head of a moose, with little white horns and big eyes. I kid you not.
  • People will be playing chess.
  • And people will be getting tattoos, yes, right there in Starbucks. Can you believe it?
  • A young lady will be there wearing high, bright yellow wading boots while working on her laptop.
  • A young lady, with her hair dyed magenta and an enormous, swirly tattoo on her left arm, will be giving another lady a reading using tarot cards.
  • You will see little putti with spine shingle haircuts flying just above the customers, assuming, of course, that you had added Psilocybin mushroom powder to your strawberry smoothie protein drink.
  • You will sip a grande cold brew, with added coconut milk, in the penumbra of a solar eclipse.
  • You will talk with a lady in her 70s from Alaska who said she was once seriously ill in a hospital, died, had an out-of-body experience (OBE), and came back to this life.

Speaking of Starbucks, you will appreciate the humor in these 1st & Main cartoons.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Epistles to Lonnie Frisbee

Letter #2


Seraph Postal - Forever
Dear Lonnie,

This is my second letter, and I would like to share some recent news about a territory that's familiar to you. Before I do, however, please give Chuck Smith and John Wimber a big hug for me. I am sure you guys are having a great time there in Heaven.

Well, anyhow, a kerfuffle has arisen not long ago about a "split" in Calvary Chapel. Brian Brodersen, the senior pastor at the venerable Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, gathered up his gumption, quit the CCA (Calvary Chapel Association), walked out, and started a new outfit of his own, called the Calvary Global Network (CGN). There has been a lot of undue consternation because of this turn of events. About 95% of what is said on the Internet about it is complete rubbish. I decided to add to the mess and share with you a few of my observations regarding this situation.

I guess those who forget their history are doomed to being surprised when it repeats itself. No one should have been surprised at what has happened. Schisms in Calvary Chapel are really nothing new. As anyone can recall (who's old enough), back in the early 1980s, Chuck Smith kicked out John Wimber, his CC of Yorba Linda, and a bunch of other CCs because — when you boiled it all down — papa Chuck just didn't like the idea that somebody somewhere was getting excited or maybe "speaking in new tongues" right out in the open for everyone to see. And as you pointed out in the second book of your autobiography, you were right there in the middle of things when this unfortunate schism occurred, starting with your famous "Mother's Day" service all the way to when Chuck finally lowered the boom on what you had catalyzed. You also said that "as much as I love Chuck, it was not pretty." As you well know, the CCs that got the boot decided to conglomerate together with Kenn Gulliksen's churches, and under John Wimber's leadership, they became what is known today as the Vineyard USA. You would probably agree that the schism that happened back then was a sorry affair and very regrettable in many ways. I imagine that both Chuck and John now realize that they actually needed each other. Chuck needed John, and John needed Chuck. Tacos and hamburgers can do good when combined together, even if it doesn't appear that way at first. Nevertheless, I think this more recent "split" is pretty mild in comparison.

As you probably have heard from Chuck, he picked his son-in-law Brian Brodersen to be his successor at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. The extensive assets there are now under Brian's control and supervision. I am sure that Chuck knew Brian better than most and knew exactly what he was doing when he entrusted everything to him. And in a court of law, all that matters is what documents have Chuck's signature on them, and I am sure that Brian is all fair and square on this point as well. Case closed. And just like papa Chuck years ago quit the Foursquare denomination, Brian has decided to quit the CCA. Now If Brian wants to use his "Moses Model" prerogatives and to go out and start a club of his own, then there is nothing to stop him, and he has complete freedom to do so, every bit as much as papa Chuck had. Other pastors can join Brian's new club or stay in the old club, or both, whichever they choose.

If you remember those old church bulletins, Lonnie, they stated that Calvary Chapel is "not a denomination." This is the solemn truth, and I think that you would completely agree. The "Calvary Chapel movement" never has been and never will be a denomination. That is how Chuck wanted things. The CCA was never meant to be a unitary ecclesial government. Nor is the Brian's newer CGN for that matter. Each one is a "club for pastors." The CCA club was started by Chuck, when he was still here, to replace the earlier, now defunct, problematic CCOF (Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship), mainly because of legal issues that Chuck very much wanted to avoid. The CCA became a vehicle for Chuck to exert a wide, irenic influence without incurring any liabilities, or getting hit with lawsuits if someone misbehaved. And if there is anything that can be said about the church in Costa Mesa, it was successful, passing beyond even Chuck's wildest dreams — your autobiography shows the pivotal role that you had in all this. Being in the club provides the club members an attractive "brand name" cachet associated with it, and everybody wants to imitate success.

Clubs come and go. And I cannot think of a better term to describe how things actually operate. Each club provides a framework so that "like-minded" pastors can "affiliate" and get together and attend conferences, where they can hobnob and chew the fat, compare notes, swap sermons, and hang out with big name celebrity pastors. Well, Chuck has gone to Glory now, but he was the glue that made it all stick together and the motor oil that kept the CC gears turning smoothly. When you have gathered together a bunch of stout personalities who all believe that they are each the typological equivalent of Moses, eventually there is going to be some friction and a few sparks, especially now that the oil is gone. Lonnie, I don't think anybody should be surprised by this outcome. Most of the time the club members get along, and sometimes they don't. And if people no longer like the club they are in, sometimes they go out and start clubs of their own. This is precisely what pastor Brodersen has decided to do, as I have said earlier.

Nevertheless, I think it is very sad that Brian Brodersen and the CCA could not have worked out some sort of modus operandi for peaceful co-existence. Their differences seem trivial to me. Having a "Calvary Chapel Association" minus the eponymous Calvary Chapel that started everything looks pretty silly. But these guys aren't taking my advice, Lonnie, so I don't bother trying to give it. I don't think they would take your advice either if you were still here. But one thing is certain: there are no schisms up there in Heaven.

In any case, the people in the various CC congregations should not worry, because there was really nothing substantial to split. Each CC church is already completely and totally independent of the others. Absolutely nothing changed about this. Each CC senior pastor is a little version of "Moses" as far as the congregation is concerned. He calls the shots and is not "accountable" to the CCA or CGN or any other outside organization. Therefore, how a particular CC church operates is already determined by the character and methodology of the individual pastor. And I will wager dollars to donuts that, as far as the laity are concerned, it won't make ten cents worth of difference which club the pastor joins. Besides, as you well know, Lonnie, the people in the CC congregations don't have a vote about the matter anyhow.

I daresay that things at the local level will be business as usual. So everybody should just relax. The preaching at a particular CC will continue to be just as good or as mediocre it was before. The quality of the worship music will continue to fall somewhere in a spectrum that ranges from the downright dreadful to the just barely bearable, just like it did before. Nothing will really change. The most that will happen is that the church will get listed or delisted in somebody's "church locator" database. The pastor might get invited to attend a conference over here in this place as opposed to over there in that place. In fact, if he doesn't do anything, his church will end up being grandfathered into both databases. And the pastor's email box will fill up with invitations from both places. The congregations shouldn't fret themselves about this.

Unfortunately, many people believe the nonsense — which gets re-posted on their Facebook pages — coming from the "online discernment ministry" (ODM) bloggers out there on the Internet who are busy pontificating about this matter. The ODMs are mostly crackpots who suffer from special mental tics all very their own. You know this from the rotten treatment they've given you over the years. They're already making it out that Brian is some kind of apostate too. It's the Internet, Lonnie, so not much can be done about this. I try to tell people to ignore this stuff.

Anyhow, Lonnie, I have run low on vellum, but I thought I would share this bit of news with you. Please let Chuck and John know what's going on. I imagine that they would want to pray about the situation. In the end, everything will shake out. I will be writing you again soon, for I still have some Seraphic Postal stamps left. Unfortunately, I have to slaughter another sheep to make some more vellum.

Sincerely yours,
Troubles and Woes on Earth

Monday, October 09, 2017

Epistles to Lonnie Frisbee

Letter #1


Seraph Postal - Forever
Dear Lonnie,

It's been a long time, more than 24 years, since you crossed the Jordan river to the sweet bye-and-bye on that beautiful shore. For us here on Earth, time seems to drag on, slowly grinding and grinding humanity between its millstones. I am sure that 24 years barely seems like a blink of an eye for you now.

Nevertheless, I very much want to apologize for the long delay in writing to you. You see, sending a letter via the Seraphic Mail Service is a very involved process, which requires very strict adherence to protocols. It's taken me many years to finally learn the process and execute it correctly. The holy angels are sticklers for details, and any letter that doesn't meet their exacting standards will be refused delivery to any addressees in the Heavens. All letters must be written on lambskin vellum, and so I had to learn how to raise sheep in order to produce the vellum that is required. That in itself is a long and messy process, for the animal has to be fed a strict diet, must be without blemish, slaughtered, and its hide has to be processed just right. Besides that, I had to learn to make iron gall ink, because that's what you have to use to write on the vellum. The gall itself has to be derived from a specific subspecies of terebinth tree that grows in the vicinity of the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem. The iron oxide used in the ink has to be dug up from a particular spot near the Hill of Megido (also known as Armageddon). The pen is very specially constructed, having a nib made from a peculiar alloy of gold, osmium, ytterbium, and neodymium. Since at this point I don't have very much vellum and ink for writing this letter to you, I will have to keep things as short as possible. Please bear with me if my words appear to be terse. I don't mean to be harsh. Fortunately, I was able to obtain a good supply of the needed Seraphic Postage stamps.

I want to tell you that I appreciate the chance to read your autobiography, entitled Not by Might Nor by Power. So far I have read the first two parts of it, books one and two. They were fascinating and made me very much regret that I never had the opportunity to meet you personally here on Earth. It is very unfortunate there has been a delay in publishing the final and very important third book, in which you tie everything together. I am at a loss to understand the reasons for this long delay. Your friend Roger Sachs has never explained why he is dragging things out, in getting your autobiography fully out there for people to read. It is amazing to me that it took almost twenty years for Roger to even publish your first book. Especially now that Roger has more people helping him, you would think that that the third, final book would have been published by now. But no. It's still not out yet. I wish somehow I could appeal directly to Roger to please accomplish the finishing of your autobiography, but contacting Roger is a very difficult thing to do. All my attempts have failed. Writing a letter to a departed saint in Heaven is easier in comparison.

I must tell you that I hope that the third book will get published soon, for there are many questions remaining that you have left unanswered. The biggest one is why are you dead, Lonnie? Your passing on to glory occurred at age 43. You must admit this was a youngish age to die, and it appeared untimely or tragic, earthly speaking. Many people have their opinions about this. The Internet propagates and echoes those opinions far and wide, and since everyone believes what the Internet says, everybody assumes that this matter has already been settled. Back in your day, Lonnie, the Internet didn't exist, in all its ferocity. So trust me when I tell you that the Internet is a very hard thing to fight here on Earth. And because your friend Roger has delayed things for so long, there had been nothing around to show everybody that you, Lonnie, also had your own opinion about you, Lonnie. To speed up finishing this project, perhaps you can put in a request that Roger gets an "angelic visitation," where a couple of burly angels show up and give him a kick in the butt and a solemn word of exhortation. Maybe he will get on the ball and publish your third book.

Lonnie, the Devil tried to label you all during your ministry, as you have said in your second book. Although he cannot touch you now there up above, people on Earth continue to do this very thing. In fact, the whole labeling business has very much gotten out of hand in today's society, much worse than it was in your day. Everybody gets labeled by being assigned to an "identity group" of some kind, no matter whether you want it or not. This whole operation is very politicized now, with big agendas attached to it, along with complicated rules of "intersectionality" that regulate everything, from where in the hierarchy of victimology you reside to what your utilitarian value will be within the grand social dialectic. Your intrinsic humanity is replaced with a classification label, and the whole meaning of your life is reduced to what collective you have been pigeonholed in. In other words, "Lonnie was XYZ", where "XYZ" is your label, albeit nobody bothered to ask you if you agreed with this or not.

In your case, the XYZ pigeonhole gets utilized on the Internet, broadly speaking, by people in two different ways. One needs you to be an XYZ so you can be used as a poster boy. Then people can point at you and say that you were the poor XYZ guy who was stomped on by some mean old church leaders, and therefore the Church is bad, bad, bad. The other needs you to be an XYZ because this can be used to discredit your ministry and all its results. These will say that Lonnie was an XYZ and therefore of the Devil. And from there it's guilt by association all the way down the stack. Either way, you get shrunk down to being somebody's propaganda weapon, totally without your permission. Unfortunately, even if you came back from the grave (like Lazarus) and loudly declared "you guys are both wrong", they still wouldn't listen to you. For once the "identity" label gets applied, Lonnie, you can't shake it off — with either a crowbar or a blowtorch.

But I think you already understand this whole schtick, so I apologize for going pleonastic on you. It is not the main reason I am writing you. So enough said about this. Besides, I have run out of vellum, in this my first batch. I will need to prepare another batch. Believe me, I don't relish killing and skinning lambs. Although I try to do this as humanely as possible, it's still a yucky business. As soon as I can, I will write you more follow-up letters. It would be good, in the meantime, if your ghostwriter, Roger Sachs, got off his duff and finished publishing your side of the story. Lonnie, is there anything you can do to help speed things up? I know that there is an altar of incense up there, from which the prayers of the saints always ascend before the Glorious Throne. Possibly you can intercede and add a little more incense?

Sincerely yours,
Full of Sorrows.