Baptisms, the Death of an Icon, and a New Doctor…

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[NOTE: This was supposed to be posted yesterday, but I forgot to email it to me after work; sorry about the tardiness – Uncle NecRo]

I have just emerged from a rather surprisingly full weekend. I never plan these as such; they just happen to…well, happen. Mostly, though, it was the Sunday of the two days that fall under my Blessed Days Off from my Place of Enslavement Employment. I wasn’t really running around a lot, but there were some things that made my head swim a bit.

baptism church birthday

The first thing that happened on July 16th was the first ever Baptism Service at my church. This also functioned as part of the One Year Birthday of the formation of said church that I’ve been involved with since the split with my former church. Fifteen…or sixteen, I can’t recall exactly…souls were baptized in the Blair swimming pool as an outward expression of their faith in Christ Jesus. We had set up in the parking lot for the worship service; I set up near them, at the best place I could find that was in the shade. Then, of course, after a few minutes, the Daystar found its way through the shade and stabbed me in the eyeballs. No matter where I moved to, it found me. Gads. So, for a little while, through the worship singing portion, I had to endure the angry ball of fire’s rays, and hope not to burst into flames in front of everyone. That would have been embarrassing. Fortunately, the trees managed to obscure the sun once again, putting me in some shade by the time the sermon came about. Fortunately, it was a truncated 15-minute sermon, so that it could include the baptisms. The sermon’s message in keeping with the event. Everyone was baptized, then it was time for the birthday celebration by way of a massive grillout potluck picnic, with a couple of bouncy castles set up for the kids. The heat of the day was getting redonkulous, with the heat index starting to soar as high as eagle. Weather sucking mighty buffalo. As such, I decided to forego the picnic lunch and the inevitable mingling that came with it (did I mention my anxiety level was starting to rise along with the heat? No? Huh…), and left as everyone was standing in line for their lunchy-munchy. I just picked up some drive-thru stuffs and headed back to the Haunted Victorian, ate my din-din and then settled in for a much-needed extended nap.

The thing about naps is, sooner or later you have to wake up from them. And so was the case with this one: I woke up, and had to once again exist in the “real world”. Eh, standard Sunday afternoon. Late afternoon. Okay, it was early evening. I sleep a bit more than your average individual. I think it may be hypersomnia due to my crippling depression issues. Either way, it was close to 6pm, and I wasn’t hungry yet due to the ginormous nature of the fast food item I consumed upon arriving back at the Haunted Victorian around 1-ish. So I fire up the Fun-Sized Lappy, summon the interwebs, and the first thing I am greeted with upon signing into my Facebook page is a news item that the legendary George A. Romero had passed away.

george a romero

For those of you sad, deprived individuals who don’t know who George A. Romero is, he is the man that helped to not only redefine the zombie horror genre to what we recognize as today with the release of Night Of The Living Dead in 1968 (undead ghouls who wander about and only want to eat your flesh and nummy brains…up until then, “zombies” were of the voodoo magick variety), he also inspired generations thereafter in the art of independent filmmaking. He made more than just a bunch of post-modern zombie flicks, and didn’t just stick to directing, either. Nor did his influence remain in movie making, as several novelists and artists cite him as a great influence in what they do.

As for me, Romero helped to rekindle my love for the horror genre as not only an entertainment outlet, but also as a genuine means of conveying a message in a subversive manner. I salute you, good sir; and should you once again rise from the grave, I shan’t forget to double-tap.

The next thing that grabbed my attention from my nap-induced haze that was slowly clearing off, was the official introduction of the next Doctor. At first, I thought it was one of those fake-outs that have been making the rounds, the ones made by fans and such. But, no, this was an official BBC release: The next Doctor on Doctor Who will be played by one Jodie Whittaker. So, after months of denying that the 13th Doctor was going to be a woman, they finally came out and said that, yes, the 13th Doctor is going to be a woman.

13th doctor

Up front, I have to say that I am completely on board with this. I’m intrigued with the possibilities with this new dynamic. Hopefully the writers won’t go the route of “Hey, I’m the Doctor, and now I’m a girl!” and really write some compelling yarns with the character. That said, there were two points of irritation that immediately hit me the moment I saw the announcement: first of all, they do this all the time, denying something’s gonna happen, and then it happens to be the very thing they’re denying. “It’s Missy in that vault, right?” “Nope, it’s something different.” Then it turns out it was Missy all along. Same thing here: “Nope, we’re not looking at a female actor to be the new Doctor.” I understand the need to play things close to the vest in these instances, especially with the show changing producers as well as lead characters, but this is the same thing the previous show runners did since the relaunch in 2005. I just can’t help but think my intelligence had been insulted a bit, is all.

The second thing that kind of irritated me about this, was that the reveal was so far in advance of the Christmas Special, where traditionally the regeneration into the next Doctor would take place in modern Who. More or less. Now…there’s really no surprise. I don’t know, and maybe I’m in the minority here, but I should think something as momentous as this would call for secrecy until the actual Christmas Special. I realize that trying to keep a lid on this in this day and age of instant news leakage is nigh impossible at times, but think about the impact that could have happened when, finally, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor–my favorite one thus far of the “New” Doctors–dramatically regenerates and finally emerges as the Jodie Whittaker Doctor…then end credits. Boo-ya. Chills, mouths agape, multiple cries of “WHAT THE [expletive deleted]….?!?” Now…we will never have that moment. Spoilers and all that. Oh, well.

Still, the upcoming Christmas Special will be awesome because it has the 12th Doctor and the 1st Doctor, together at last. I just squeed again. Cheers, all.

::END TRANSMISSION::

Membership Application Testimony

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rough draft writingIt’s been almost a year since the church that I have been helping to build up was birthed by way of an unfortunate at the church that I had been attending for ten years prior. Just now, we’re taking steps to have membership, and as I don’t count myself exempt for special treatment, I have filled out my application as well.

You might be wondering why I’m mentioning this. Well, on the back of it, it has one page with three questions pertaining to my personal testimony on how I became a Christian, and what that means and whatnot. One page, three sections with a short few lines to fill in.

Of course, as I have this storyteller’s streak in me as a writer, I looked at those brief sections and, after I got done chuckling, decided to just add an attachment of the testimony, and just get out what I have to say without fear of running out of room. Or atrocious handwriting. You get the idea. It came out to four pages. Single spaced. Standard 12-point Times New Roman font.

I’ve decided, then, to post those Testimonial Questions here on my bligity-blog, and share with everyone my answers, to not only show off my scribblins, but also give some of the more curious as to my back story as a Christian, how it came to be and where I went from there and all. That, and I needed something to post to prove I was still alive, here…you’re welcome…

1) PLEASE DESCRIBE YOUR LIFE BEFORE YOU CAME TO KNOW JESUS:
Thinking back, I guess you would say that the majority of my “Before Christ” period was rather unremarkable. I spent the first nine years of my life the son of a Navy Seabee and a Nurse, both of them having been raised by farming families. We were always traveling to wherever Uncle Sam had my father stationed at for as long as I could start remembering things. Thinking back as I write this, I have to emphasis that I was very much blessed with not only parents but the entire family on both sides being completely loving and caring. I was never abused, I never felt scared, and even when I had to be disciplined both Mom and Dad would explain why it was happening, and were always quick to forgive and such. Even after they divorced when I was 9, both refused to use me and my sister as leverage against the other one; to the contrary, I remember my mother chastising me more than once if she heard me say anything derogatory about my Father, regardless of what she was emotionally going through (I can’t even begin to fathom what that was like for her). Even the man that would become my stepfather, while having a, shall we say, old school philosophy when it came to child raising, never abused his position of parental figure…regardless of how hard headed I could be. Believe me, i would have smacked me a few times for my attitude, if you want to come right down to it.

I needed to get all of that out of the way, because I wished to highlight the fact that, for everything that transpired for three or so years before I became a Christian, I’m not blaming my family, my upbringing, the society I grew up in, and especially not the mental condition that began manifesting when I was 9. My actions, my attitudes and especially my decisions were because I chose to do them and be that way.

That said: As I mentioned, at the age of 9, I began manifesting the symptoms of an odd neurological disorder the name of which I’m not going to share, due to the pop culture media typifying it as something it’s really not, and would rather not be met with a chorus of “Oh! The swearing disease!” (if that didn’t already tip off what that is). Of course, it wasn’t properly diagnosed as such until I was 13 (I had one psychiatrist convinced I had schizophrenia at one point…that was a fun time, let me tell you); so up until then, I was experiencing sudden depression and anxiety at an age where I should have been more concerned about playing and doing other kid-like activities. Instead, I was making fast headway to being That Weird Kid that carried over into Junior High and High School. I started getting suicidal thoughts at a rather young age, and was finally checked into a psychiatric ward at a hospital in Omaha for observation and treatment when I was 12. That’s how I spent my summer vacation that year. Later that year, I was put back in after an actual suicide attempt. I would eventually go back to that ward three more times between then and my Freshman year in High School. It was like I could feel myself mentally disintegrating, and I was helpless to do anything. The nurses were starting to take bets as to how long before I was back in the ward. I wish I was making that last bit up.

So, there’s the context. 15 years old, and already been in the psychiatric ward five times in three years. Not to mention having quite the legend going around school as to that nutcase James. Let’s move on with the story, shall we…

2) PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW YOU CAME TO KNOW JESUS AND WHAT YOU NOW BELIEVE ABOUT WHO HE IS AND WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR YOU:
A couple of years ago, Pastor John asked me if I remember exactly when I became a Christian. I told him “Yes, kind of”. It was about a week or two before my Sophomore year in High School, about a week or so after my final stint in the hospital, which puts it around mid-August, 1989. I was 15. But, I’m getting ahead of myself, here…

As is part of the cliche that is Midwest rural folk, church was an active part of our lives, even if only nominally. My father was raised Methodist, and my mother was raised United Church of Christ, which I half-jokingly refer to as “Methodist Lite”. You get all the Wesleyan religion with some coffee and pastries in the basement afterwards. Maybe a potluck every other month. Those were the best. Point is, we were church goers. Every Sunday, we were there. When I hit 8th Grade, I got involved with the Pilgrim Fellowship (which is what they called the youth group there), helped out the pastor when needed, and participated in the choir and got confirmed. I knew about Jesus: He was the guy who was born in late December, then died a few months later as a grown man (he got better, though). You get the idea. The classic “I go to church and I’m a good person’ kind of setup, where my only encounter with the word “Gospel” was when I landed on the starting page of the first four books of the New Testament while flipping through in boredom during the sermon. It really did become more of an enforced obligation, come to think about it.

This is not to say that no one tried to share the Gospel with me, in whatever form. It’s just that, they were afraid to. There was a High School Bible study that was going on at the time I knew nothing about, where I was told one night the kids were asked to name the last person you would ever expect to become a Christian, and I was named almost unanimously. To say I was “weird” and a “misfit” would be like saying “Van Gogh had an interest in painting”. Being a long-time psycho ward alumni notwithstanding, I developed into quite the antisocial freak, mostly by accident. I liked hard rock and metal, I was always off by myself reading some kind of dark fantasy or science fiction novel, and I was never seen without my denim jacket with the customized band logo on the back. So, obviously I worshiped Satan. That’s rural High School in the late 1980s for you. But, the truth was, I was alone and pretty much resigned to that fate. I can understand how the thought of coming up to someone like myself at that time was fear-educing, but had an upperclassmen came to me and just said something that wasn’t derogatory…I was starved for that. Would I have been open to receiving the Gospel from them? Maybe. We’ll never know, because they never did.

The one thing that preached the Gospel to me and let me to respond to Jesus’ gift of salvation and grace? Metal. Specifically, it was a copy of an album entitled To Hell With The Devil by Stryper. You may have heard of them. I got it when I was 14, and I listened to it all the time, nearly wearing out the tape in a year. Admittedly, I did get it because it had the words “Hell” and “Devil” in the title, but this album was…different. The lyrics were not like the songs that the other bands in my collection were singing about; they were talking openly about Jesus, being “The Way”, we were “Free” to believe in Him, His victory over the devil, so forth and so on. It was the final song, though: “More Than A Man”, when I first heard Jesus referred to something other than just Jesus; they referred to Him as God. I’ve never had anyone tell me that Jesus was more than just a guy who lived long ago who said a bunch of interesting things and did a bunch of mind-blowing miracles somehow. I began thinking about that concept. Then I began thinking maybe the song was true about this. Then, months later, in that mid-August evening, late at night, I was laying in bed, thinking about how dark the previous year had been, and not seeing any light at the end of this current tunnel. So, I asked Jesus to save me. I believe the exact words were, “Jesus, save me.” That was it. No flowery speech, no reciting of a specific pre-written prayer, just a simple “Jesus, save me.” That very moment, I felt a very tangible sense of relief and release wash over me. That was it. Simple, yet genuine, and Jesus did.

As to what I now believe about who He is and what He has done for me, well…simply put, He is not only my Saviour, but also Lord. He is God, the Son of the Trinity. The more I study the Bible, the more clear I begin to see how everything in the Old Testament pointed us to understand the plan for Him to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins that we inherited from Adam’s fall. Not only that, but because He was resurrected, He broke the power of sin and death. Think about that…Jesus conquered sin and death. Tell me of anyone who has even come close to doing that. His righteousness has been imparted to me, I have been reconciled to God because of this, and I have hope in the resurrection one day, and of Jesus’ promise to return. Until then, I am his humble servant. His grace and mercy abounds.

I sincerely hope you’re still awake. Again, my apologies. If you’ve made it this far, I applaud your tenacity. Moving along…

3) PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW YOUR LIFE IS DIFFERENT NOW THAT YOU KNOW JESUS AS LORD AND SAVIOUR AND HOW YOU ARE GROWING IN YOUR FAITH, OBEDIENCE AND SERVICE FOR HIS GLORY:
The summer after I graduated High School in 1992, I went to a youth retreat in Colorado with a couple of other guys in my graduating class who have had the (dis)pleasure of knowing me in my days before I became a Christian. We got to talking about when we became Christians with each other, and after I mentioned my story, both of them said they could sense something was different with me when the tenth grade year started. This was the first time they said anything about that. Granted, it wasn’t until my Senior year in High School when I first began to actually realize and explore what truly being a Christian meant, but before that I could very much sense a difference that I couldn’t really put my finger on. It was business as usual, but there was more of a clarity, like a light switched on. After graduating High School, I believe God started putting me through the refining process, as not only did I develop a strong desire to read the Bible and study it, but there were people placed in my life that very patiently instructed me in my growth.

I wrestle with my faith continuously. I am not perfect, but it is the Holy Spirit that is constantly sanctifying me, instructing me, encouraging me, and convicting me. It’s been almost 27 years as I type this since I gave my life to Christ, and not only have the most interesting parts of my testimonies, my story have come after I became a servant of Christ, but I get the nagging feeling I’m not done here by a long shot. I still struggle with my mental condition, and while I have more than once begged God to take this away, I do believe that I’m square how Paul was with a certain thorn not being removed. His grace is sufficient. I am weak, but He is strong. That, and also there are the teens from the youth group I helped out with that have told me that they probably wouldn’t have paid attention to my preaching the Gospel during the lessons, had I not been openly candid about my condition and how it pertains to my faith. There are many other stories, too, but we’ll leave them for other times. You’re welcome.

As I said, I’m not perfect. I suppose at one time I fancied myself Mr. Super Christian, but you know what they say about pride coming before a fall. I’ve had plenty of those. All I can say is, throughout this journey, I’m not the same as I was back in my 20s. Or my 30s. Or even five years ago. The only constant has been God’s faithfulness. I am compelled to continue serving Him in whatever capacity. That’s all I can really say.

May the God of peace soon crush Satan under your feet. Cheers, all…

::END TRANSMISSION::

Farewell to the Youth Group…

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haunted hallwayFor the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:10

I’ve been silent. I know I have been silent, not posting my brain droppings or reviews or such these past few weeks. There have been some paradigm shifts, the major of which was where I said goodbye to my youth group last night.

It was known that this was Shelli’s last year of doing the youth group, as she had been faithfully doing so in the Student Venture capacity for 25 years. Not counting the few years before when it was just a weekly Bible study in the late 1980s and early 1990s. While she had said she was retiring every two years or so, this time she meant it.

It just so happened that I had gotten involved with Student Venture when it was started back in February of 1992, and have been involved in some capacity for approximately 17 out of the 25 years. There was that wilderness period between 2000 and 2009 that I’m not going to go into right now. Sufficed to say, I needed that time. When the Lord saw fit, He drop-kicked me back with the youth group to serve the leaders. Then I moved up to one of the co-leaders. We kept the name Student Venture long after Campus Crusade decided to change their organization name to CRU, and then the last year it was decided to break off entirely with being associated with CRU, more because we were affiliated in name only. The break was very amicable, really. That was also the last year we would exist as a youth group as we know it.

The original plan was to pass on responsibility of the group to myself and another friend–Darla–who were helping co-lead (for lack of a better word, this early in the mourning as I write this). Then, a few weeks into the new season, Darla left to to focus on her family (I swear I didn’t mean to evoke Dr. James Dobson’s old ministry, sorry); I realized that I would be the one taking over the lessons and teaching the group after Shelli was gone. And, after the initial period of anxiety, I  fell back to what I knew best to do: leave it up to God to do what He does, and let the Holy Spirit guide me as I merely serve to the best of my ability. Remain faithful in presenting the Truth of the Bible and Who Jesus is, and let God do the heavy work in the kids’ hearts and minds.

You know, what I’ve always been doing. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, and all that.

Then, without getting bogged with the details, a chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes was started at the High School, and Shelli decided that the torch should be passed to those starting up FCA and dissolving Student Venture entirely. It’s logical, really, as there are so many more opportunities for the kids to grow and mature in their faith and interact with peers from other FCA groups, and it’s headed up by a couple of instructors from the high school. I would be lying, though, if I said I wasn’t a little bit upset at the sudden shift. Then again, the group wasn’t mine to begin with.

So, last night I said goodbye to probably the best bunch of kids I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with. To watch the Holy Spirit work in their lives, seeing them want to dive into what the Bible says, reading it chapter-by-chapter, and most importantly getting to introduce them to Jesus. It was the one day out of the week I looked forward to. It was…difficult, to understate the situation. Hugs and tears and laughter all around.

So, the torch has been passed for the kids in Hooper, Nebraska. And various surrounding communities. It’s difficult to imagine not being a part of their lives in the future, but I believe they’re in good hands. As for me, I foresee a bit more Wilderness Wandering. Or to put it another way: While it’s true that when God closes one door, He will open another, no one wants to talk about the period where you’re wandering around the hallway waiting for Him to open up the other door.

Can I praise Him in the hallway? Do I have a choice? Am I really going to end this with rhetorical questions? Sure, why not? Cheers, all…

::END TRANSMISSION::

AUGUST 16

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let's see who reads this

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. – 2 Corinthians 7:1

Tuesday. The further along this post-Evangelical wilderness I traverse in my ongoing daily wrestling with my faith, there are certain things that have come into focus that I had taken for granted previously in my early days as a Christian. For instance, Grace.

 

Grace has become just a codeword for works in a lot of evangelical minds. The point to see here is that we tend to get anxious about the way God is doing things. If he starts getting all overly generous on us, we want to call him off to the side and see if we can’t add a few rules and expectations in there so WE feel better. Michael Spencer, internetmonk.com

 

Grace is messy. Grace is scandalous. If I’m honest with myself, I would rather not have anything to do with grace, because of the simple fact that, as someone who acknowledges being made in God’s image, I tend to be wired for justice. So whenever I see someone receiving grace, instead of the justice they deserve (some might use the word “karma” instead)…well, it bothers me, to understate things.

Which is why there’s always a constant reminder of how much grace I’ve been shown throughout my four decades here on this planet. About how I’m a great sinner who fortunately serves a Great Saviour.

It’s not enough to say that I’ve been saved by grace. I have to be willing and able to constantly show grace. And in that aspect, I am a great failure. I suppose I will be until the day I’m gone from this world.

::END TRANSMISSION::

MLK And The True Form Of Radicalism…

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indexToday is Martin Luther King, Jr. day. And depending on your disposition, this is either a day to remember a key figure in the Civil Rights movement, and his inspirational “I have a dream” speech, or this could be the day that’s an inconvenience because banks and other government buildings (and some schools) are closed in observance of someone you could care less about. For the record, I view Martin Luther King, Jr. as an inspiration, less because of what he said, but because he was a very flawed individual who none-the-less acted on the faith that he needed to speak out on matters of justice and freedom, not just for one segment of America, but for all of humanity.

On the Relevant Magazine site, there’s an article with 15 MLK quotes that I was browsing before work this morning, and one of them I found rather interesting:

“I imagine that the first question the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’ The good Samaritan engaged in a dangerous altruism.”

See, I’ve been going through the entire book of Matthew recently. That’s the one Gospel of Jesus where you can find a lot of rather convicting statements made by Jesus, not just to the religious people, but to everyone who would listen to Him. And the stuff He says runs so counter to the ideologies of what the world says, it’s easy to see why He was considered, among other things, a dangerous radical in His day.

And the sociopolitical climate back then really wasn’t as different as it is today, really. While the world is shouting “Eye for an eye!”, Jesus proclaimed that we needed to turn the other cheek after being struck, so that they can strike the other one. When the world is shouting, “Do not infringe on my rights!”, Jesus told us that, when someone forces you to walk with them for a mile, go with them an extra mile. And when the world is shouting, “Don’t show love to someone who won’t show you love back!”, Jesus said that we should show love and compassion to everyone, regardless of whether or not they’ll show it back.

That last part, there, is probably the biggest hot-button statement today, considering what’s been going on these past few months, with the Muslim population and the refugees, and the majority of those identifying as Christians on their social medias saying to keep ’em out. After all, Muslims would never take in Christian refugees, and some of them might be terrorists trying to sneak in.

I’m torn, really. On the one hand, I understand the fear and desire to protect yourself and your family for any potential danger, speculation or not. On the other hand, as I take my faith rather seriously, I am obligated to show compassion and love to all people, not just those who share my same ideology or world view. I am fearful of coming to harm by those who would repay my kindness with evil; on the other hand, Jesus did say that we shouldn’t fear humans, who can only kill the body, but instead Father God, who can destroy our souls as well.

So, really, I understand that I am commanded, as someone who proclaims to be a follower of Christ Jesus, to follow His commandments as such. I’m also not ashamed to confess that the prospect of doing so, especially in this climate of fear and uncertainty (and with the prospect of being misunderstood by my fellow Christians), terrifies me. Which means that I need to pray for courage to step out in faith. Which brings me to another Martin Luther King, Jr. quote that sticks out to me from that article:

“We must learn that to expect God to do everything while we do nothing is not faith but superstition.”

::END TRANSMISSION::

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.

::END TRANSMISSION::

The Story Of NecRoSarx (aka Uncle NecRo, aka Me)

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weird mirror twisting the soul--smallSince today is my birthday, I felt it would be fun to share an older article I wrote ten years ago, giving some insight as to part of my personality. Dusting it off, shining it up a bit, enjoy.

Let’s see…how do I tell this without becoming long-winded and downright boring? Wouldn’t want anyone to catch narcolepsy at their monitors…drool hurts the keyboard…begin with a brief synopsis, shall we?

Born in 1973, the year The Exorcist was in the theaters. I was at the original showing, albeit in-utero…my mother tells me I enjoyed the movie immensely…grew up a Navy Brat, lived in various countries and states within this great nation of ours (U. S., for those of my brethren and sisteren reading this from over seas)…been a bit weird since childhood, discovered a taste for horror after sneaking downstairs to watch HBO and catching the transformation scene from American Werewolf In London when I was 7; my father once told me that he considered it odd that, at the age of six, I was rooting for the robot Maximilien from the movie The Black Hole, despite being an obvious villain…at the age of 9, I received my first radio, and discovered the dark enchanting sounds of the New Romantics, New Wave and European music, particular favorites being “Hungry Like The Wolf”, “She Blinded Me With Science” and “Der Commissar” (never knew who the artists were at the time, just knew I preferred them over the overtly happier pop sounds)…parents divorced that same year, although traumatic, my younger sister and I were still brought up in very stable and loving family units, due to the strong German and Swedish families we came from…

My parents were quite straight-laced and Ozzy-n-Harriet, so it’s been a great matter of debate as to where my sister and I got our morbid streaks. My theory is that, they repressed their dark sides so well that, while in-utero (that’s the second time I used that word, w00t), the residual backwash saturated us to the point of genetic mutation. Or, we just got off on making them freak out. Either one would hold up in court…

From third grade on up through High School, I was always considered to be “that weird kid”. Things got weirder in Junior High when I discovered Stephen King, speed metal and Evil Dead 2, not necessarily in that order. I was also diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome (not a “swearing disease”…my ticks were physical, and involved head twitches) coupled with severe manic depression, and put on several medications. My Freshman year was the darkest period in my life, culminating in several suicide attempts, destructive antisocial behavior, and several trips to the psychiatric ward. Long story short, after my fifth trip to ze loony bin, I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, due less to the Christians who avoided me like the plague and more to the lyrics of a Stryper song. Go figure.

Here’s an interesting paradox. Even after I became a born-again Christian, my tastes continued to get darker. Only this time, they got darker with a decidedly Christian world-view to it. Which, of course, made me a bit of an oddball in the accepted Christian circles.

In college, I discovered through a friend the music stylings of Mortal, Under Midnight, Dead Artists Syndrome, Saviour Machine, and of course Circle Of Dust and Brainchild. At the college station I DJed at, I would bring out the old vinyl copies of Sisters Of Mercy, The Cure, Art Of Noise, and other obscure and weird artists that caught my fancy. I also helped plan the Halloween film fest, discovering the old silent German impressionism films like Nosferatu and Metropolis. All the while, not once did I think that enjoying these kind of things conflicted with my faith.

From 1993 through 1997, I was involved with a church that was very charismatic. At first, I thought I found a place where I could truly worship Jesus freely without being shackled by tradition and rules. Near the end of my tenure there, I found myself under more rules and shackles than I ever thought possible. I was constantly being told, usually through the guise of a “word from the Lord”, that the kind of outreach I was going for wasn’t of God, that the music I listened to wasn’t really “Christian music” (I cannot tell you how many times Argyle Park and the like were referenced by name while they were channelling the Big Giant Head), I was being oppressed (if not totally possessed) by demons, that I needed to constantly submit to God to ever be used by Him…yadda yadda yadda. At first, since I was a bit naive yet zealous in my desire to serve God, I would agree and try to conform to what they thought was considered Christ-like and Godly children of our Lord. Yet, all that time, as time went on, there was a massive conflict in my being that said something wasn’t quite right.

The straw that finally broke the proverbial camel’s back was the night after a midweek evening bible study, when my presence was requested in the back office, where I was ambushed by the pastor’s wife, the assistant pastor, and one of the ladies of the congregation that had that oh, so special anointing that someone like me can never obtain. It was surreal- I was sitting there, silent, and for forty-five minutes those three ripped my spirit to shreds. I was told that unless I shaped up, God would spit me out. My ideas for reaching out to the so-called Mansonites was mocked. My faith was questioned. The lady who was specially anointed with several herbs and spices (also came in extra-crispy) wept openly as she described the demons that were constantly hovering around my body. My music wasn’t godly. My clothes weren’t godly. The fact that I wanted to work and pay off my debts instead of spending every waking hour inside the church submitted to their authority wasn’t godly. I was essentially told that I was about to be spit out of God’s mouth.

And in the end, I agreed with them. Stupid idea? Yes. But remember, this is how depraved my personal relationship with God had gotten. I was an empty shell of what I once was.

For three weeks after, I still attended Sunday morning services, though not as alive as I was. I was miserable. Then, the last day there, sitting through yet another one of those “if you proclaim your wealth and health, you’ll have it” that have been dominating the sermons for the past couple of years, something inside me said, “You’re done here.” I got up and left. And I was followed out by the assistant pastor, who let me know outside in no uncertain terms that I was fallen away, and will be accepted back if I ever decided to go back to God. Funny thing was, I knew I was following God out of there. Again, delicious irony.

For several months afterwards, I prayed. I found myself still attracted to the darker side of things as a Christian. I started wearing all black due to the Johnny Cash song. I kept my fingernails painted black as well, as a statement of how I viewed things. I found myself a lone darksider (for lack of a better word) Christian, stuck in a culture dominated by CCM, Tooth & Nail alternative, and the whole “Jesus Freak” catchphrases. I prayed to God that, if this is what He wanted me to be a part of, then change my heart to fit in with the normal and accepted trappings of Christianity. If not, then it was definitely up to Him to lead me to others that are at least like-minded that I can learn from each other, and had some experiences like I had.

Then came that fateful Jan. / Feb. 1998 issue of HM magazine, that featured on the little-known Goth and Industrial scenes in Christian music. That was a complete answer to prayer, as it was my first official look into a culture that I consider home. That year, I officially took on the moniker NecRoSarX, which is translated to Dead Flesh, which reflects my slightly morbid Christian outlook. In 1999, I attended the Cornerstone festival for the first time, and became well acquainted with The Asylum tent and its multitude. I was a complete newbie, and I’m sure I ruffled quite a few feathers from the elder attendants, but I was eager to listen and learn, and gain a more rounded sense of my new-found group (whether I was accepted or not). I made some very good friends there, and the other two times I attended deepened my commitment to who I really am. I also joined Xnetgoth that same year. I just lurk a whole bunch.

To wrap things up, I don’t necessarily consider myself “Goth” in the traditional sense. I do, however, praise God that I was lead to this extended family of mine (whether you count yourself a Christian or not). You might say that I’ve always had gothic tendencies…it just took me a while to figure this out. And now, in my early 40s, it’s just getting weirder and darker…and I wouldn’t want it any other way…

And believe it or not, this was the super-condensed Reader’s Digest Edition of things…trust me, I was merciful…

::END TRANSMISSION::

p.s. – I started referring to myself online as “Uncle NecRo” back in 2003, after my sister and brother-in-law told me I would become one in real life…and because “Cousin NecRo” sounded too Dukes Of Hazard-ish…

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