Sunday, November 08, 2009
Read my story "Instrument"
I published yet another short story on the Fictionaut website, something I wrote several years ago. It's titled "Instrument."
For a long time I've had a morbid fascination with right-wing Christianity and its various flavors. I'm a regular listener to Christian radio stations, and I follow a few websites; the most recent person I follow is a Pentecostal preacher, web site designer and home products pyramid scheme maven named John Burton. (I've linked occasionally to his blog posts, like this one where he begs you to send him money so he can "minister" and work on his book.) The main reason I monitor these wack jobs is to understand how they think and how they work to influence the country's culture, essentially to understand the enemy.
After several years of following a particularly strange outbreak of Pentecostal fervor in, of all places, Florida, I wrote a short story based on what I'd learned about the event. I tried to make the story much more respectful of the sect and its practices than I really feel about them, so it's not just pure parody. I tired to use the writing to the story to understand the appeal of being "caught up in the Holy Spirit."
Read my story "Instrument."
technorati: THIS, THAT, TOTHER
Labels: cults, evangelicals, Florida, Focus on the Fundies, religious right
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Focus on the Fundies: Haggard refuses to go away
Though he dropped off the radar for a few months after the excruciating HBO broadcast of the documentary film about him, former evangelical leader Ted Haggard is back in the news pages of the Colorado Springs Gazette, which continues to cover him the way the FBI tails former KGBers in the U.S. Included in the latest visit with the disgraced megachurch ringmaster is a scolding and eventual forgiveness by a former church member, as well as the news that Haggard and his wife are appearing on an upcoming episode of the TV show Divorce Court. Yes! And it's a two part episode, starting appropriately enough on April Fools Day. Behold!
I'll pause while you pick your jaw up off the floor.
Oh, and he's going to begin guest-preaching at Colorado Springs megachurches, billed as "a Christian businessman," a nod to his current supposed career as insurance salesman. And thus begins his real rehabilitation -- not the one he supposedly underwent soon after his outing that supposedly turned him back into a heterosexual, but the one that will inevitably return him to the only job he can do: evangelical preacher.
technorati: Ted Haggard, Colorado Springs, evangelicals
Labels: Colorado Springs, evangelicals, Focus on the Fundies, Ted Haggard
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Focus on the Fundies: Obscure minister predicts calamity
Courtesy John Burton, that manic Christian "prophecy" guy I link to from time to time for laughs, here's another "minister" with an "urgent message" about "AN EARTH-SHATTERING CALAMITY ... SO FRIGHTENING, WE ARE ALL GOING TO TREMBLE."
For ten years I have been warning about a thousand fires coming to New York City. It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across America will experience riots and blazing fires -- such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago. There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting -- including Times Square, New York City. What we are experiencing now is not a recession, not even a depression. We are under God's wrath. ... If possible lay in store a thirty-day supply of non-perishable food, toiletries and other essentials. Yes, when the righteous tremble, at least they will have a thirty-day supply of toilet paper. I'd love to see their shopping lists, actually. Imagine what's on them.
technorati: prophecy, Christians, evangelicals
Labels: crypto-fascists, evangelicals, fanatics, Focus on the Fundies, over-reactions, zeitgeist
Friday, January 23, 2009
Focus on the Fundies: Ted Haggard may have another skeleton in closet
Now that disgraced former pastor Ted Haggard is promoting an upcoming HBO documentary about his 2006 outing and firing, the folks at his former church are none too happy about it. The current head of the congregation, seemingly resentful that Haggard is back in the public eye, has revealed that a former church volunteer alleged a consensual gay affair with the one-time evangelical superstar.
The documentary, by Alexandra Pelosi (daughter of the House Speaker), premieres on HBO this coming Thursday.
A Colorado Springs religion columnist separately interviewed Pelosi and Haggard, and also uncovers an odd note. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denied she ever met Haggard after the disgraced preacher said in an interview in US News and World Report that she comforted him while her daughter was shooting the film. Here's the statement from her office.
technorati: Ted Haggard, New Life Church, Colorado Springs
Labels: Colorado Springs, evangelicals, New Life Church, Ted Haggard
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Focus on the Fundies: Ted Haggard promotes HBO doc
Ted Haggard appeared yesterday before the press to promote the HBO documentary about him, "The Trials of Ted Haggard." (An ironic title, by the way, since Haggard has never been charged with any crime despite admitting to buying and possessing methamphetamine.)
Among the entertaining statements and revelations made by the formerly influential Colorado Springs megachurch pastor: In a separate story from the dozens covering Haggard's HBO press conference, the Colorado Springs Gazette said the current pastor of Haggard's former church has discharged him from the severance agreement, one of the terms of which was that Haggard would not discuss the scandal publicly. The generous severance package hasn't kept Haggard from saying that his firing from and subsequent treatment by New Life was the equivalent of being told "Go to hell," and complaints like that have some former supporters angry. "The fact that he's attacking the church or New Life Church, when they did so much to help him and his family, is below the belt," said H.B. London, one of the Focus on the Family pastors assigned to "rehabilitate Haggard after his firing.
technorati: Ted Haggard, HBO, documentary
Labels: Colorado Springs, evangelicals, films, Focus on the Fundies, HBO, Ted Haggard
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Focus on the Fundies: Haggard says 'I never said I was heterosexual'
The Colorado Springs paper has seen the documentary "The Rise and Fall of Ted Haggard," which will be shown on HBO next month, and has these tidbits:
He sure comes off that way. Welcome to the real world, Ted! Maybe that other foamer will have to get a job, too.
- Haggard, pronounced "one hundred percent heterosexual" after his three-week rehabilitation experience following his 2006 implosion, says "he never claimed to be heterosexual, as was once reported, and he continues to struggle with same-sex attraction. But he's committed to living a heterosexual life because he believes it's better for children to be raised by a mother and a father."
- Haggard's wife says she stayed with him to restore honor to the family, in some mixed-up way.
- Haggard now works selling insurance -- not so far from being a salvation-selling preacher -- but has not yet been successful at it and says, "Right now, I am a loser."
Update: On Open.Salon.com, a former member of Haggard's church and babysitter for Haggard's children comments on his attempts to parlay the documentary into more fame.
technorati: Ted Haggard, New Life Church, Colorado Springs
Labels: closet cases, evangelicals, Focus on the Fundies, Ted Haggard
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Focus on the Fundies: Give money so he can 'minister without hindrance'
For a few months I've been monitoring the ravings of a Pentacostal preacher who is madly trying to establish a nationwide "ministry" dedicated to ridding American cities of Satanic influence. I first noticed him when he made some passing comment about how the Colorado mountain tourist town of Manitou Springs is well-known as a Satanic base camp.* Since then, I've seen him move spastically around the country, from Kansas City to Detroit, attempting to gather followers.
Recently he's been begging openly for money, and a blog posting yesterday really takes the cake for shameless solicitation. Emphasis mine.
Biblically it's clear that believers live in a different economic system, and I'm convinced that the church is called to be financial forerunners -- we are called to lead the way by giving our way out of this recession.So he goes to economically devastated Detroit and invites followers to "Give our way out of this recession." And how will he use that money? To help the poor of Detroit? To retrain auto workers being thrown out of their jobs?
We pray you would consider this to be fertile and good soil for your seed in 2009. In fact, we have many challenges right this very moment, and we'd like to invite you to give before the end of 2008. Your gifts are tax-deductible... Would you invest in this ministry of teaching, planting and revival? Your donation will help us as we... (m)inister in the cities of the earth without any financial hindrance. God has moved powerfully in Detroit and other places through the ministry in 2008. Due to a timely rumbling in this city, we will be ministering in Detroit 6 times (at least) in the first half of 2009 alone.
Your donation will help us as we... (d)evote ourselves to the time consuming yet deeply important ministries of prayer and study. It's common for full-time prayer missionaries to devote 6 hours or more to prayer each day. (And to) Nice! He wants to spend hours of day in prayer, and the rest of the time writing a book. Me too, dude!
Focus on our call to author prophetic materials. I've had a book burning in my spirit for over two years, yet have not had the time to start it.
To top it all off, he illustrates his plea with a picture of his family. Is it a nice soft-toned picture of them wearing sweaters around a Christmas tree? No, they're all looking glumly into the camera with tape over their mouths with the word "LIFE" written on the tape. (A one-year-old baby is spared this discomfort; they stuck the LIFE label on its chest.) I guess the point is, If you don't send him money, it's the same thing as gagging him and his whole family.
If only it were so.
* cached web page
technorati: fundamentalists, Christianists, far-right, evangelicals, bipolar
Labels: bloggers, Colorado Springs, depression, dystopia, economy, evangelicals, Focus on the Family, Focus on the Fundies, religious right
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Focus on the Fundies: Ted Haggard is preaching again
For some reason, disgraced, defrocked religious leaders always seem to be able to attract new or old followers by allowing the suckers to "forgive" them and thus feel virtuous. And in America, there has never been a shortage of either. Disgraced Colorado Springs megachurch leader Ted Haggard, whose outing as a meth-snorting, gay prostitute-paying hypocrite played a role in 2006's Republican election debacle, and in the disillusionment of right-wing Christians with the Republican party, is preaching again, appearing at a rural Illinois church.
Then the 50-year-old president of the National Association of Evangelicals and a symbol of the relationship between the Christian Right and the Republican Party, Haggard was outed by the male prostitute whom he had patronized and bought drugs from over several years in Colorado. His very public fall, coming just days before the 2006 election, was preceded a month earlier by the fall of Mark Foley, and marked the beginning of the end of Republican domination of electoral politics in the U.S. for several years.
Be sure to read to the end of today's story where an elder of Haggard's former church compares him to a "mouse" in his present state.
Update: Courtesy Jeff Sharlett, here's an ABC News story -- with audio excerpts from Haggard's sermon if you play the video.
technorati: Ted Haggard, Christians, televangelists
Labels: Colorado Springs, evangelicals, Focus on the Fundies, Mike Jones, New Life Church, newlifechurch, religious right, Ted Haggard, tedhaggard
Friday, August 08, 2008
It's Bad Behavior Friday™! -- Gold medal edition
I know who's not going to be Obama's choice for VP. By lying about having an affair, John Edwards proved his presidential stature. Only bad thing about this? He fucked around while his wife was battling cancer, and that means we can no longer fault Newt Gingrich for doing the same thing.
Megachurch pastor Joel Osteen's wife -- a classic big-haired Southern blonde -- is being sued for an alleged air rage incident that started over a wet spot on the armrest of her first-class seat. They were kicked off a Continental Airlines flight in December, 2005 when Mrs. Osteen berated a flight attendant, who is now suing her. Victoria Osteen, who is the author of a new book, Love Your Life, was fined $3000 by the FAA in the incident.
The Osteens' congregation -- she is also listed as a pastor of the organization -- is called the nation's largest church, so huge it meets in a former basketball arena, capacity 16,000. Turning the arena into a space suitable for a televangelist cost $75 million. And the Osteens -- neither of whom seem to have had any training to be ministers -- weren't traveling on a mission to the poor on that fateful day in 2005. They were on their way to Vail, Colorado "for a family ski vacation."
The trial is being covered by The Houston Press's Hairball blog, which earlier this week alerted me to the difficulty Stephen Elliott's Progressive Reading Series is having getting getting Houston to accept a donation to buy more recycling bins.
Not content with playing second fiddle to China as the Olympics open, Russia started a war with neighboring Georgia yesterday. So much for the peacemaking effect of nations meeting on the sports field and all the other b.s. that's singing over the airwaves today.
technorati: John Edwards, Joel Osteen
Labels: evangelicals, JohnEdwards
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Why should the devil have all the good music?
Brilliant writer Janice Erlbaum posted an amusing tale about combatting an annoying subway preacher by singing as loudly as he was ranting. Her selections included "Let's Do It," "You Do Something To Me," "When They Begin the Beguine," and "It's All Right With Me." It didn't stop the guy's ranting but did raise her spirits.
The title of this post refers to a song by a Jesus rocker, Larry Norman.
technorati: Bad Behavior, subway+preachers,Janice Erlbaum
Labels: Bad Behavior, bloggers, democracy, evangelicals, writers
Friday, May 16, 2008
Students protest Schlafly's presence at graduation
Washington University in St. Louis gave an honorary degree yesterday to Phyllis Schlafly, one of the dinosaurs of the Christian Right. The 83-year-old founder of the Concerned Women of America pressure group lives in nearby Alton, Ill. As she was awarded her honor, dozens of students and some faculty members turned their backs in protest.
Schlafly is famous for her anti-feminist views, which she expresses in deadening language that is hardly quotable. She is also well known for being strangely obsessed with the teaching of reading using phonics, blaming other systems for everything from illiteracy to liberalism.
technorati: Phyllis Schafly, Washington University
Labels: evangelicals, feminism, focusonthefundies, free speech
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Focus on the Fundies: Nobody for President
Man, if the Democrats manage to fuck this up, there's just no hope.
Evangelicals find little to love in presidential fieldThis is one reason why Newt Gingrich decided not to run -- in the eyes of the fundies, with his divorces and all, he's no better than Giuliani.
Republican strategist Arnold Steinberg said that he has found "enormous confusion" among evangelical voters as they consider the GOP presidential field. Social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage remain fundamental for such voters -- but in an era of war and terrorism, "their concerns about national security have trumped their values concerns," Steinberg said.
"They'll say, 'I disagree with Rudy -- but I'm terribly concerned about national security and Islamo-fascism,'" Steinberg said. "Some people will say they will never vote for a pro-choice Republican, (yet) they're voting for him."
technorati: fundamentalists, evangelicals, presidential politics
Labels: 2008 president race, evangelicals, Focus on the Fundies, politics
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Focus on the Fundies: Swinging pendulum hits foamers
This NYT magazine article on the changing political winds among evangelical (formerly hard-right-wing) Christian churches is fascinating. Finally disenchanted with the Karl Roves and Dick Cheneys and perhaps becoming more sensitive to what their religion actually says about caring for poor people and the earth, the denizens of meagachurches can no longer be counted on to vote straight Republican. The more politicized see no presidential candidate to vote for; the less politicized realize they've sold their silk purse for a sow's ear.
Important milestones in the disillusionment include the fall of Ted Haggard and David Kuo's book about Rove's manipulation of Christians for political gain.
technorati: Republicans, fundamentalists, politics, churches
Labels: evangelicals, Focus on the Fundies, New Life Church, Republicans
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Spreading American values abroad
I was amused by this story from the Sydney Morning Herald about "an American chastity evangelist" whose show includes plenty of stories of bad behavior that his tearful listeners soak up before pledging not to imitate them. This is a classic American approach, letting its audience revel in that which it purports to warn against, as seen in hundreds of Hollywood "anti-war" movies. The preacher, one Denny Pattyn, says he thinks Australia is ripe for his message. It would be depressing if it weren't so stupid and obviously doomed to fail.
In Japan, a filmmaker has made a Japanese version of a spaghetti western, called Sukiyaki Western Django. The actors speak in "ornately colloquial dialogue that rolls out of monolingual mouths like someone reciting the Gettysburg Address while gargling water."
technorati: evangelicals, chastity, evangelists, Christians, missionaries, TOTHER
Labels: evangelicals, films, Focus on the Fundies, sex
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Focus on the Fundies: Dismayed at GOP candidates
I almost missed this, but a Google-alert link to a Daily Texan editorial tipped me off. There's a far-right christianist group, tellingly called the Council for National Policy, which meets every year to attempt to unite behind certain right-wing candidates and causes. They provided early support to G.W. Bush, for example, when Karl Rove pushed him out there in 1999 to begin his presidential run.
Well, this year they met a couple weeks ago and couldn't decide whom to support in the prexy sweeps. They know McCain and Giuliani can't stand them, and even deeply conservative Christian candidates like Sam Brownback are suspicious. Brownback isn't tough enough on immigrants, and he supports the growing pro-environmental movement among evangelicals. As for Mitt Romney, the "council" has decided he has held too many liberal positions in the past, though he's now trying to claim the mantle of Family Values Candidate and Ann Coulter loves him. So the "council" is bereft of choices.
What's really happening is a generational change. The founders of the Council for National Policy -- people like Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and Jerry LaHaye, are in their 70s. The new evangelicals are looking beyond the classic hot-button issues of gay rights and abortion to care for the environment -- even things that Jesus actually talked about, like feeding and housing the poor. They include people like Rick Warren, leader of one of the largest churches in the country and author of a book, "The Purpose Driven Life," which is hugely influential among fundies, Pentacostals and the suburbanites who pack the non-denominational megachurches, of which Warren's is one.
I have the feeling that power-hungry christianists like those in the "council" will figure out by the end of the year that they have to choose between Brownback (who could never win) and Romney (who is anonymous enough to squeak by under the radar, and besides, Ann Coulter...). Meanwhile I'm enjoying the notion that they're twisting in the wind.
And this just in: A Salon report on Republicans smearing each other in a primary state.
technorati: Fundamentalists, right-wing Christians, Council for National Policy
Labels: evangelicals, Focus on the Fundies, Jerry Falwell, Mitt Romney, politics, Republicans, Rick Warren, Sam Brownback
Hey, look, it's my new book! Click this:
How They Scored
I Saw You, Ed. by Julia Wertz
Best Sex Writing 2006 (contributor)
Lesbian Camp Girls
Too Beautiful and Other Stories
How I Adore You
Liz Henry, Ed.
Wiscon Chronicles vol. 3
Where I Stay
Take This Bread
A Radical Conversion
Best blogs ever
Other favorite links
My lovely publisher,
The best webcam