Article: POKIN’ THE SHEEP + KILLING JESUS

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skull spiderI do admit to being what others would refer to as provocative. Blame it on my tendency to not being satisfied with mere pat answers, or just taking things at face value. It’s not that I set out to play Devil’s Advocate with everything and everyone; part of my wrestling with my faith involves examining things from multiple angles and perspectives and not settling into a comfortable pathos.

For instance, I once made a shirt that said What Would Satan Do? Aside from being a response to the popularity of the What Would Jesus Do? merchandise that was everywhere at the time, I think that’s a good question for Christians to consider. Wise as serpents and innocent as doves, and all that.

One particular shirt, however, seemed to really get under everyone’s skin when it really shouldn’t have. I was at Cornerstone 2002, and was perusing the merch tents one hot and sultry afternoon. One table set up sold an array of shirts, one of which had I KILLED JESUS in big letters on it. This shirt called to me. It perfectly communicated, in shirt form, that because of my sins Jesus died on the cross. I was found guilty, but Jesus died in my place to atone for my sins. Also, the cotton blend was lightweight yet durable, and most importantly, it concealed my upper torso. So, I bought it, and immediately changed into it outside behind the merch tent.

To put a context to the reaction to the shirt–earlier in the fest, I was wearing the previously mentioned What Would Satan Do? shirt. Nobody bats an eye. As a matter of fact, I had a couple of people ask where they could buy one for themselves. I change into the I KILLED JESUS shirt, and suddenly I find myself unable to go ten minutes without someone stopping me to ask what my problem was. What was I thinking, wearing a shirt that said I KILLED JESUS at a festival that catered to Christian music and arts? You would have thought I was wearing the Cradle Of Filth shirt that said JESUS IS A [derogatory misogynist slur] on the back. Several times, I had to explain the meaning behind it, that not only did I kill Jesus, but they did too, for the same reason. It finally got to the point where I began answering with, “He got better,” and left it at that.

Mind you, I’m far from naive, thinking that everyone who attended Cornerstone was a professing Christian and were familiar with the core doctrines of the faith. But, I did find the nature of the questions and statements interesting. Could it be that, in this day and age, that the reason for Christ coming in the first place is becoming taboo in Christian circles? I admitting to any kind of sinful nature, and thus necessitating a perfect sacrifice for atonement, just not in keeping with living a victorious life? Or are some just simply unaware of Jesus’ death and resurrection to begin with? Like, they read the Gospel accounts and just stop reading when things get to the Last Supper, like shutting off Old Yeller before the dog gets rabies, unaware of the ending?

Or, perhaps they are aware of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but are still squicky to admitting it was our sins and separation from God that lead to His death on the cross? We’re quick to place the blame on the Jews, or the Romans, or whatever. I know all too well, however, it was I who nailed Him to the cross. As well as you. And everyone else who has ever lived. And I will continue to admit it openly: I killed Jesus. But fortunately, it didn’t end there.

I am a great sinner. But I serve a great Saviour. Cheers, my wonderful freaks…

::END TRANSMISSION::

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Obligatory Memorial Day Post (2017 Edition)

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arlington cemeteryToday is Memorial Day here in the United States of America, where I dwell. A day where we remember and acknowledge those veterans and soldiers who have fought for our freedoms in the past, and are currently fighting for them now. Also a day to remember the loved ones that have shuffled off this mortal coil, some far too soon.

Since I hold my family to be a very important part of my life, I thought I would take a moment to share a list of the names of the family members I remember fondly while growing up:

Bill Wheatley (Great-Grandfather)
Charlotte Marie Case (Great-Grandmother)
Robert Case (Grandfather)
Esther Case (Grandmother)
Gerald Strand (Grandfather)
Betty Strand (Grandmother)
Orland Krohn (Grandfather)
Fern Krohn (Grandmother)
Douglas Erickson (Great-Great Uncle)
Natalie Erickson (Great-Great Aunt)
Janice Nuzum (Great Aunt)
Bill Rabe (Great Uncle)
Murial Rabe (Great Aunt)
Barry Rabe (Second Cousin)
Janet Donahey (Aunt)
Janel Case (Sister)
Allen Donahey (Cousin)
Jerry Donahey (Cousin)

…this is not a complete list, of course. And by no means is it by order of importance. These are the ones that I remember as have being part of my life. There have been others, and there will be others to come. Such is the nature of living.

Anyway, happy Memorial Day, and thank you for all who have served, and are still serving in some capacity. Cheers, all…

::END TRANSMISSION::

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Well, here we are. The end of another year. And as a year, overall, I think it’s safe to say that the majority opinion is that the year of our Lord Twenty-Sixteen SUCKED on so many levels, I’m pretty sure its effects can be felt on alternate dimensions and frequencies. Yes, there were a lot of celebrity deaths this year; however, this being a personal bligity-blog of mine, I’m not going to focus on all of those (though I really could, there have been many childhood favorites that have fallen this year). Instead, to at least make an acknowledgment of the ones that have been an inspiration to me, I’m going to pepper this post with YouTube clips of some favorites of mine while I wax nostalgic for the past year. However ugly it was.

First, I would be remiss if I didn’t start off with perhaps one of the biggest losses my family had this year: In the very first week of June, my Grandmother Betty Strand passed away. She was always a constant anchor in my life, as she was a strong, tenacious and lively cornerstone of the family, raising three children on the farm and being active in the community and such. Her loss has left a void in the lives of many.

And as long as we’re on the subject, along with Grandma, two Great Aunts also passed away this year: Aunt Janice and Aunt Muriel. Aunt Janice was Grandma’s younger sister, and was also a presence in the family growing up. Aunt Muriel was Grandpa Strand’s sister, and was another presence in the family growing up. We have a big family, and for better or for worse, we’re still pretty tight as a unit. I’m thankful for that, and thankful for having known them.

In July, there was a massive shakeup at the church I was attending. I really don’t want to go into the details (as we’re still healing and moving on), but suffice to say, there was a split. And after much deliberation, I decided to go with the ones who left, in helping to be a part of the healing and moving on. A new church was birthed out of what essentially started as a Sunday morning therapy group for those who were hurt from the split. Fortunately, this wasn’t formed out of spite, but out of a genuine desire to continue to serve God and Christ Jesus despite of the circumstances. Almost immediately, we’ve been seeing the Holy Spirit work with us to that end. In case you’re morbidly curious, here’s the website to peruse.

Of course, no year-end blog post would be complete without mentioning all the wackiness that happened in the culture. And this was probably the wackiest of the wacky. As in, the world just threw up its collective hands and went, “Okay, we all go crazy, now.” Besides all the celebrity deaths (which, as of this writing, still hasn’t stopped, it seems), who could forget the year-long freak show that was this round of Presidential elections? To quote one of the best parts of the movie Resivuar Dogs, “Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right”. On the left of the Presidential ring, the Senator wife of a former President. To the right, a business mogul/former reality show producer-star/comb-over enthusiast with little to no political experience whatsoever. After months and months of mud-flinging, passive-aggressive public whining, really bad ideas and desperate character assassinations (among other things), at the end of the day, it turned out that we all collectively stepped in some Trumpy-Dumpy. Gads, that episode of MST3K is so endlessly quotable. And given the fallout and the various updates on how Trump is lining up his next four years…yeah, this might make 2016 seem like the Golden Years in comparison. We shall see, as always. The road to Idiocracy stretches out ever before us. Still, I’m trying to figure out why so many of my fellow professing Christians seemed to treat his election as the next best thing to the Second Coming of Jesus.

And lest the Presidential elections overshadow the other bits of wackiness of the year: Britan decided to leave the European Union, citing “It’s not you, it’s me” and further stating “We can still be friends, though,” before deleting them from their Facebook lists; a cartoon frog is now declared a “hate symbol” because…reasons, I guess; the President of the Philippines threatened to burn down the UN; for several months, the entire country freaked out over clowns (well, moreso than usual); and last but certainly not least, there was that Dakota Access Pipeline protest that got rather ugly before an agreement could be made, only to have the protester’s point made for them by the pipeline itself. Delicious irony.

Okay, on to some more pleasant stuff. For all the downers, at least there were some really really good \,,/METAL\,,/ that was released: Megadeth came back in form with Dystopia in January, and then Anthrax released the melodic-yet-heavy For All Kings in February. Babymetal released Metal Resistance in March, which was more of the mutated J-Pop/Metal hybrid I somehow find irresistible. Death Requisite released some rather good death metal with their Revisitation release, while I found myself disappointed with the debut release from Becoming Saints, Oh The Suffering. Ricky Puckett unleashed his In Darkest Dreams project with The Vanishing, a much-needed injection of dark and brutal for my earholes. And then Hell apparently froze over, as Klayton dropped a surprise brand-new Circle Of Dust album, Machines Of Our Disgrace. And finally*, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Metallica releasing Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, which turned out to be quite decent.

On the movie front, this year started off strong with the most excellent Deadpool. The year had some decent ones, like 10 Cloverfield Lane (a lot better than what I expected), the new Ghostbusters, the Magnificent Seven remake, the Pete’s Dragon remake, Suicide Squad (surprisingly decent), and Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them (sorry, no review posted yet). The rather good movies this year were Captain America: Civil War, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Star Trek Beyond, Doctor Strange, and of course, the year’s capper, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Of course, there were some stinkers in this year’s mix, which for me were Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Independence Day: Resurgence, and the surprisingly “meh” X-Men: Apocalypse.

And last, but certainly not least, in the more happier aspects of my personal life this year: This last Spring both my Nephew/Godson Christoper Rinas and one of my cousin’s eldest son Trevor Donahey graduated High School. Gads, I’m old.

So, that’s my year in a nutshell. To quote from one of my favorite episodes of M*A*S*H: “Here’s to the new year. May it be a damn sight better than the last one, and may we all go home before it’s over.”** Take that as you will. Whatever you do, celebrate heartily, but also somberly. Don’t be stupid. Me, I’m going to be doing my yearly Haunted New Years horror movie marathon whilst deciding what part of the clutter in my domicile is going to get the heave-ho. And there may be a bacon pizza in the mix, somewhere. Until next year (see what I did there?), I remain your humble servant Uncle NecRo. God bless, my wonderful freaks.

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*– While I did review the new Klank album, the official release isn’t until January 13th, so that’s actually one to look forward to.

**– Season 9, Episode 6: “A War For All Seasons”

CALLING IT A YEAR, FOLKS (A Metapost)

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2016-badLet’s just cut right to the chase, here: 2016 was a trying year. I’m not saying it was a bad year, per se; here we are, a bit less than two months to go, and looking back there seems to have been enough bummers to send even the most sunny smile-wearing optimist into a downward spiral of existential quandary.

Mentally picturing that last part I wrote just put a smile on my face. Excuse me for a bit while I regain my composure.

2016-good

There we go. Where were we, now? Oh, right.

I’m gonna call it a year right now, folks. I know, I know, it’s only the beginning of November. And no, I assure you it has nothing to do with any “Post-Halloween Depression”. It hasn’t been that bad this year, as a matter of fact. It’s just that, given the recent happenings in the ongoing dramady that is my life, I thought it prudent to take the rest of the year off to regroup, deal with the fallout that’s happening right now, and try and look forward to the near future. Namely, next year.

Without going into detail, there was another death in the family on Halloween night itself. As of this writing, tomorrow (November 5th) is the funeral. Then there’s the beginning of the period of the year I like to refer to as the “Holiday Clusterbomb”, which is always a stressful time, regardless of how much I try to not get involved with this superficial time of the year.

I’m just tired right now. I need to try and get things reorganized, especially with my writing, and get some kind of rhythm back on. Writing and posting on this blog, along with producing sessions of NECRO SHOCK RADIO have been my few outlets of creative joy in my life, something I haven’t been able to get back to as much as I’d like.

So, until the beginning of 2017 in a couple of months, I’m going to take the time to recoup a bit. Focus on finally finishing up the backlog of articles and reviews I’ve started but put on hold for whatever reason, then scheduling in advance for next year. Work on getting some Sessions of NSR in the can. Mind you, there will still be your periodic post here and there in the remaining weeks of 2016, mostly reviews of the new theatrical movie releases (there’s Doctor Strange, and also Rogue One with the Exalted Geeks on the docket) and the yearly OBLIGATORY YEAR END REVIEW post I try and get out on December 31st-ish. But for the time being, please excuse the proverbial radio silence from here on out.

If I’m still alive by the end of the year, I shall emerge again in 2017. Have a happy something-or-other, my wonderful freaks. And please disregard all the blood.

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July 31, 2016

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I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life. – Psalm 119:93

It’s been a while. A while since I’ve posted something substantial as far as brain droppings go. A while since I even posted some kind of general update to at least prove that I still exist on this plane of mortality. Did’ja miss me? I’m sure there’s at least a couple of you that did. Hi, Mom.

As it stands, I wish I had something positive to report. Even something as innocuous as “Doing fine, life is good, totally blessed,” and other similar posts I generally gloss over in my social media feed. Then again, even if I posted something like that and meant it, I’d have friends and acquaintances calling me to see if I’m feeling okay.

It’s not easy being the negative charge on the proverbial battery of life.

Boy howdy has 2016 been a trying year. I believe I began wishing for some kind of reset button around May or so. Here we are, the tail end of July, in the middle of the wicked season that is Summer, and there were two events in the past couple of months that have made me want to count this year as a wash. Just to give you an idea of what’s been happening to keep me from wanting to keep up with the content on this blog o’ mine:

My final grandmother passed away at the beginning of June. She was a week or so away from her 90th birthday. She passed away in her sleep; but it was the months leading up to her passing that took the most out of me and my family. It was tough, watching her fade away like she did. I’m still mourning her loss. I suppose I will for a while.

The second thing that hit me pretty hard this summer was something that I really did not see coming at all. Which is why, three weeks after it happened, I–and sever others as well–amĀ  still feeling the whiplash. I can’t really get into the details at the moment; I’m still processing things, and I’d like to get as much information as possible to make a fair assessment of the situation. Let’s just say that, as of today many of us are finding ourselves without a church to call home. Like I said, I’ll probably go into more detail at a later post, I just want to be able to do so in a way that’s gracious and not falling into the realm of sensationalist muck-raking. Because we’re getting enough of that with this current election period, amirite?

Until next time, I hope to shake off the dark fog I’ve been in for the past few months to get back to posting my brain droppings, reviews and other fun stuff. It’s a struggle, buy by the grace of God I go. Cheers, all.

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Article: DEATH AND THE LITTLE GODS

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a lad insaneSo now David Bowie has died. Another in a long line of pop culture icons are dropping. Maybe not like flies, but considerable amounts to make one pause and contemplate our own mortality. I mean, if one of our gods can die (this one of cancer), where does that leave us mere mortals?

So now, I hope you can pick up on the tongue-in-cheek satire I’m aiming for. By no means am I gleefully celebrating the death of someone; another tender soul has passed on beyond the veil of this life, into the unknown, their fate undetermined by the rest of us who have yet to pass on. For that, I mourn. Not because I was I was particularly a fan of Bowie’s (I owned one album, and that was a fluke as it was sent to me uninvited by the record club I was a part of back in the later part of the 1980s), more of a casual interest because of his presence in pop culture (i.e.- Top 40 radio and odd movie appearances). Verily, his status as a god of the modern pop culture is unquestionable.

But the question remains: When a god dies, where does that leave us? Of course, nowadays we refer to them as “celebrities”, “heroes” and, with or without the irony, “idols”. But, if we want to be really honest with ourselves, let’s step back for a bit and call them what they really are to us: gods. Lower-case “g”, but gods nonetheless.

And while I could make this admittedly freestylin’ from-the-hip spontaneous article of mine a rant about how American culture worships these secular gods of our making, I’ll be as transparent as possible and let you all in on a bit of a dirty secret we Christians don’t normally want any outsiders to know: we have our own little “gods” that we worship, our own little Christianized pop culture idols that we look up to and worship, whether we know it or not.

I’m not going to list everything that we tend to worship. No, I’m going to just list the gods I worship: relationships, Christian metal and rock, pastors, sociopolitical causes, sex, food, certain Bible translations…these are the ones that spring right to mind. I’m sure there’s more, but right now these are the spontaneous ones.

And I know all too well what happens to my idols, my little gods that I want to place alongside my Father God in my adoration and worship:

After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and his hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshhold; only his body remained. – 1 Samuel 5:1-4

All of those little gods that I mentioned above, no matter how resplendent I make those, dressed in nice Chrisianised euphemistic finery, I’ve seen GOD not only toppel to the ground, but also destroy and turn to dust right before my eyes. But, the biggest little god is my own self, and I feel that being pummeled to dust by the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. Quite frankly, I can’t wait until that god is dead and rendered to ashes. Because I used to love that little god, but it turned out to be more of a destructive tyrant than I could ever imagine.

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Sunday A’ La Carte: January 25, 2015

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all about that grace no devilGreetings and salutations, my wonderful freaks. It’s once again Sunday night, so I now dispense with a bit of the ol’ weekly brain droppings I cheekingly call A’La Carte. Of course, you may have noticed that I skipped doing this last week. Or, maybe you didn’t, I don’t know. Point is, I took a bit of a breather last week due to a couple of things: my Aunt Jan’s funeral, and my final move to the old haunted Victorian house in Omaha, referred to lovingly as “The Vic”. Although, I personally like using the full Victorian when referring to the house, as it sounds much more…I don’t know, British? “I’m headed back to The Victorian.” Cue ominous minor-key chord.

Concerning the funeral of my Aunt Jan: it was lovely. Very touching. Got a bit long at the end, when the Eastern Star group she was a member of gave us an interesting ceremony chock full of symbolism, plants, and bad dry readings. Sad she’s gone, but given the circumstances, at least her suffering is done. The family reunions on that side won’t be the same, though.

As to my new place of dwelling: let’s just say, it’s very fitting for a reclusive, curmudgeon-y old recluse like myself. It’s a good place, very atmospheric, very much fitting for my writing sensibilities, and it’s in an area that I find ideally isolated while being nearby places to go. Which, of course, I will probably never really utilize to its full potential, but then again I’m not planning on going anywhere else any time soon. Especially after lugging all of those boxes of books to the second floor room. Gads, that makes a strong case for getting a Kindle or something.

nq150117As a third point of issue: Apparently, today was the day of something you…er, I mean we humans (I’m not an alien) celebrate by pitting our nation’s finest warriors to a battle to the death over an leather egg-shaped item of questionable inflation and size. I believe it is called the Superb Owl, and its acolytes mark this day of jocularity (pun unintentional but nifty) by feasting on copious offerings of adult libations and what are referred to as na-choos. It’s not the same as the roasted tender flesh of the fearsome Kryack washed down with a goblet of the fermented urine of a Kraphlar beast (what you…er, we humans would call “Mountain Dew”), but it is sufficient. Also, the commercials are delightful. I didn’t watch it. I was busy…not watching it. I’m not an alien.

hEAD850A3Do you ever find yourself getting confused when it comes to deciphering the coded language we Christians sometimes use ad nausium called Christianese? While I personally have made conscious efforts to not use it in my daily conversations with anybody, after over twenty-five years, I am fluent in the Charismatic, Non-Denominational, Baptist (both Southern and Independent Fundamental strains), and General Youth Group and Bible Study dialects. Which leads into this blog post here that deciphers Christianese for the common English speaker.

nq150116STUFF I’VE WRITTEN: The Year Of Metal continues on with some posts on the NWOBHM bands Jaguar, Raven, and Saxon, then I post reviews for the movies Knights Of Badassdom and Annabelle and the Star Wars zombie novel Death Troopers, and last but not least I posted the praise and worship playlist I listen to at church every Sunday in lieu of the music played by the contemporary worship band.

So, that’s all for this week. Tomorrow is another day, but I still have a bit of writing to do before succumbing to the siren song of the bed, there. Until next time, leave your comments, suggestions and rebukes down below, and I shall see you all next week. I leave you now with your nightmare fuel, brought to you by one of my surrogate nieces. Cheers.

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