The Magical Mystery Listening Tour — Part I

“Heavenly Shades of night are falling
It’s Twilight time”


Calvin was a low intensity drug user until the day he mixed some bad “Boomers” with some good Quaaludes. After what he saw on that binge he had a “come to Jesus” meeting and swore off drugs forever.

He sunk into the couch the same way he sunk into his hallucination. Slowly, conforming to both the cushions and the alternate reality, Calvin was one with both sofa and the wormhole. As the mist descended Calvin found himself driving into a Church that had two signs. One, a 1950’s version, was hidden behind the church as if it had been shamed for its overuse while the other was a top of the line Electronic gizmo. The signs were in a tug of war and a company of Wesen and long dead former church members cheered in opposing bleachers, each for their respective signs. If the old sign won it meant irrelevance forever for the Church. If the new sign won it meant Church growth and lots of conversions to Jesus.

Calvin wandered into the Sanctuary, where he heard strains of a “Boogie Woogie” Gospel as performed by a Lounge Lizard nightclub act. Veal and shuffleboard were being sold along with Jesus. It was hard to tell which or who was more popular. The patrons seemed to be enjoying themselves as they raised their hands and cried out “Bingo,” every time Andy Williams belted out, “Because He Lives.”

A few people milled in the Narthex while Tony Orlando and Dawn sang a medley of “Knock Three Times” and “Rock of Ages.” The people in the Narthex were the unhappy ones. Maybe they had also consumed the same toxic combination of Boomers and Quaaludes? An octogenarian grabbed Calvin’s hand and vigorously shook it while asking at the same time, “What the Hell is this?” Calvin didn’t know if the Octogenarian was referring to the shared hallucination or to the Lounge Lizard act. Either way, Calvin didn’t know the answer. Before leaving, the Old Saint added, with a sweep of his hand and in disgust, “JEEEE-SUS!”

Calvin, was suddenly in the sanctuary again where Dean Martin, martini and cigarette in hand, was speaking up the glories of “Joel Osteen.” Calvin was wondering how it was that Dean Martin listened to Joel Osteen. Calvin was more of a Herman Rodeheaver fan himself.

“Right before your eyes we pull laughter from the skies
And he laughs until he cries then he dies then he dies
Come inside the shows about to start
Guaranteed to blow your head apart.”

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

At this point the meeting started. The assembled crowd was appareled in everything from Tuxedos to beach shorts. Calvin briefly wondered if this was a scene from the last judgment. Where was the Great White Throne? A man in a bikini was holding hands with sewer worker from the Bronx. A Rastafarian from Cleveland was batting her eyes at a female Punk Rocker from Detroit. Calvin recognized Kathryn Kuhlman sitting next to Elizabeth D. Wright and Abraham Kuyper and Malcolm X sitting next to each other. For some reason Calvin wondered what offspring of such couples would be like, then he remembered that two people of the same gender can’t have children. But … maybe they could in this wormhole hallucination reality?

Roll call was made while in the background “When the Roll is called up Yonder I’ll be there” was serving as elevator music. Everyone was present unless they were gone and the Presbytery was declared officially constituted.

Someone from the balcony shouted … “A Song, A Song,” and the next thing Calvin knew he was singing,

Let their be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

He didn’t want the words to come out of his mouth. Calvin wasn’t even sure it was a real song. He was pretty sure it wasn’t real theology. But like the hallucination itself, Calvin had no control over what was happening. He was more spectator than participant.

The assembled, Elders, Elderettes, Deacons, Deaconesses, Ministers, and Ministerettes were now suddenly all wearing dresses. For some reason it struck him as the most sane part of the hallucination.

Reports were read while nobody paid any attention. Votes were held while the gathered ministerial potpourri and paparazzis grunted out various “yays” and “nays.” The Clerk and the Moderator, dressed as the Mad Hatter and Mad Max respectfully had the meeting well in hand.

“The magical mystery listening tour
Is waiting to take you away
Waiting to take you away.”

John, Paul, George, & Ringo

The Trip suddenly changed gears and Calvin found himself in a gymnasium. Or was it a fellowship hall? Or was it the place where Firing Squads plied their trade? He couldn’t tell. It looked like all those venues at the same time. People pressed the flesh and somebody official arose and said …“Let us have a listening tour. Let us listen.”

Everything went quite. It was silent. There they sat in silence for what seemed like days. Somebody finally screwed up the courage to offer that it wasn’t possible to listen unless somebody talked. Everyone agreed that this was a stroke of brilliance and as one the assembled magpie Elders, Elderettes, Deacons, Deaconesses, Ministers, and Ministerettes began to talk.

The official rose again and said, “Let us talk and listen about something official?” The assembled Elders, Elderettes, Deacons, Deaconesses, Ministers, and Ministerettes marveled at such a profound declaration. Instantly before Calvin there was a sheet of questions to spur official conversation.

The hallucination intensified as Calvin looked at the sheet and read the questions.

1. What are the pastoral priorities should a same-sex couple begin attending your church?

2. Why do they use Monkees to test for both HIV and cosmetics?

3. What do you need most from the CRC to help you navigate questions that arise in response to same-sex marriage?

4. Why would anyone put Mercury in a Vaccine and why would anyone take such a vaccine?

5. The survey the committee sent out is revealing very diverse perspectives within the denomination. What would you see as implications arising from this reality.

Calvin saw that he had been seated at a table of 8. Indeed, the room had been filled with tables of 8 as far as the eyes could see. It looked like tables of 8 going on for infinity. At Calvin’s table of 8 was the Octogenarian who had vigorously shook his hand earlier.

The Octogenarian leaned over and whispered in his ear, in between tongue thrusts, I’m a Universalist.”

Calvin responded, while dabbing at his saliva filled ear with a table napkin, “We are all Universalists now.”

The other 6 at Calvin’s table were Twiggy, and Calvin’s sodomite Uncle Lester “the Molester,” who had done prison time for fondling boys in the family. Also seated there was Bruce, one of Calvin’s sodomite college friends that he used to visit “gay” bars with, Smokey Bear sat catty-corner in one direction from him while kitty-corner in the other direction sat Marilyn Monroe. Next to her sat Zoe Saldana. Calvin regretted that his Boomers didn’t include Marilyn’s and Zoe’s ordination.

Up front were the two officials who were conducting and facilitating the meeting. Why Sigmund Freud and Carl Rogers would be interested in leading a Church meeting only the Quaaludes knew. As the listening conversation rolled the officials paced about to observe.

One of the officials interrupted,

“A new Commandment I have for you, Thou shalt not reference your theology when discussing these questions. Theology is verboten in this magical mystery listening tour.”

All the participants immediately raised their hands to ask, Can you tell us what Theology is so that we make sure to avoid it.”

The discussions continued. The Octogenarian and Calvin were thumb wrestling while they each contended for their points.

With a thumb thrust to the left Calvin offered, “But what of Romans 1, I Corinthians 9, I Timothy 1, and Galatians 5? How can we support sodomy in any way given those passages?”

The Octogenarian countered Calvin’s left thrust thumb move with a up and under curl thumb riposte, “I knew a gay person once who was an excellent theologian and he wasn’t allowed to minister in the Church. Besides, two gay people come to the Church and want to get married and what does the Church tell them? What does the Church tell them? The Church tells them “no.”

Calvin went for the swooping head and shoulder fake thumb move, “Maybe the reason the Church tells them they can’t get married is because it is an ontological impossibility for two people of the same sex to be married. Such a thing is a surd. It defies reality. It is like asking for a woman to be her own mother”

At the same exact moment Calvin caught himself wondering at the irony of appealing to “reality” while participating in this drug induced haze. As he was thinking this through he heard Smokey Bear say that he wanted to talk about the Monkey and HIV / cosmetic question. Marilyn and Zoe were interested especially in the cosmetic side of the listening tour. Twiggy was furiously taking notes. It all began to bleed into one for Calvin.

The Octogenarian was the thumb wrestling champion of the Universe and he would not so easily be put off. He countered Calvin with a “But my Sister was a Transgender professional and he was a nice person.” The rest of the table began to chant, “So say we all.”

Someone at the next table sent a note that Zoe read saying, “Having to be right is poisonous.” It was written 10,000 times in chartreuse colored lipstick. Every time it was read the table of 8 genuflected and said “Amen.”

Calvin began to laugh the laugh of the demented.

End Part 1

Tales from the Ecclesiastical Post-Modern Crypt

Achilles had been trained has a minister in the flagship Seminary of APE (Apostolic Presbyterian Ecclesial) and had spent some 20 years in the Ministry. He was, by all accounts, well liked and successful as a Churchman and Minister.

Achilles had a standing appointment with his ministerial colleagues at the local pub. At the pub (named aptly “Haags Hall”) community ministers from liberal, yet diverse, backgrounds and denominational affiliations would show up to talk about their lives, their faith, and the times in which they lived. Usually matters were congenial. When hard disagreements did arise they were quickly followed by a shot and a beer which either made the various ministers gathered forget the disagreements or made them ready to fight. The ministers had a rule that if someone raised their voice in a discussion they would be forced to down a Boilermaker as discipline for their unseemly ministerial outbursts. This was supposed to keep hissing, clawing and pushing (what liberal ministers call “fighting”) at bay. Fortunately for all the ministers in attendance, ministers fight like Junior high girls and so little damage was done the very few times disagreements were raised to a level higher than what a Boilermaker could tame.

At this bi-monthly meeting Achilles decided he was going to probe the issue of gays in the church. He wanted to discuss, with his liberal counterparts, how it was that the Fundamentalists couldn’t see the necessity to accept the LGBTQ crowd into the Church. Achilles thought if nothing else the assembled clergy could have a good laugh at the way the Fundamentalist troglodytes read the Bible.

The Sherry, Margaritas and wine spritzers (the preferred drinks of liberal clergy) were flowing like the water off the head of a dozen baby baptisms. All assembled were in a good mood when Achilles tossed out the topic of conversation of “gays in the Church.”

The conversation went pretty much as expected. All the liberal clergy gathered drank to the health of gays. Many of them knew what good givers the LGBTQ crowd were at their local churches. They also knew that the quickest route to losing their positions was to stand up against the zeitgeist. And so they laughed and guffawed at their clumsy and backwards fundamentalist “brethren.”

After agreeing, over several rounds, at the nekulturny character of the fundamentalists Achilles piped up with a complaint about the few remaining old school Presbyterians that remained in his denomination,

“I think one of our problems in the Apostolic Presbyterian Ecclesial (APE) is that many of our Pastors belong to the intellectual class and they have this overwhelming necessity to be right. They sense that being right is of ultimate importance. They are always studying, always reading and so being right is important to them. And I think we must agree that is poisonous to the Church.”

All agreed but suddenly the waiter, who was serving up the girly drinks, couldn’t resist and asked,

“So, tell me Achilles, are you insisting that you are right about that observation you just made?”

This waiter was not unknown to the Liberal, Sherry-sipping clergy. This was the walking conundrum waiter they loved to tease good-naturedly. Christopher Roberts was an anomaly that the liberals couldn’t resist. They always insisted on his being their waiter. Christopher was a tent-maker minister who had no problem with an occasional stiff drink, salty phrase, or stinging pejorative. Christopher didn’t have a pietistic bone in his body and the only people he lampooned more than Fundamentalist preachers were the Liberal and “diverse” crowd that gathered twice a month during his shift.

Achilles was mute over Christopher’s question, and so he asked again, amidst the nervous laughter of the other assembled clergy.

“Achilles, you just noted that the problem with too many of the fundamentalist clergy in your denomination is that they insist on being right.”

“What I want to know Achilles, is if, whether or not, you are, as a non fundamentalist minister, insisting upon being right about the poisonous scourge that clergy are who have to be right?”

Achilles looked as if Christopher had just thrown a ice cold beer in his face.

All were looking on waiting for Achilles response.

Finally Achilles offered up,

“I don’t know.”

Christopher let out a booming laugh. The diverse and liberal clergy just stared at their waiter not getting the joke.

When Christopher looked at their puzzlement he doubled his laughter. Finally, upon regaining composure, Christopher, between continued intermittent peals of laughter, informed them,

“You liberals are hilarious. You can’t even see the delicious irony of Achilles answer. When Achilles says, ‘I don’t know,’ all you can hear is the idea that Achilles is being consistent with his statement on the poisonous nature of clergy on insisting on being right.”

“But,” Christopher continued, “the irony is that Achilles and all of you can’t see that Achilles and each of you, in the depths of your post-modern muck, can’t see the joke that you can’t even be certain in your decrying of certitude. You complain about Fundamentalists having to be right, but you can’t even own the fact that you are right in your complaint about them having to be right. You have to be uncertain of your claim on the wrongness of certitude. But are you even certain that you have to be uncertain about the claims of certitude?”

All stared up from their pretzel bowls and wine spritzer glasses with the look of a waitress that had just been goosed by an anonymous patron.

“And the really funny thing is,” Christopher continued, “is that all of you here are so dull that even after explaining this to you, you’re still either to dumb or to drunk on wine spritzers that you don’t have any understanding of what I just explained to you.”

“You complain about your Fundamentalist competition having to be right, but you can’t even be certain about your uncertainty … and yet you still have the moxy to complain, as if you were right, about the faults of other ministers, who you think, have to be right.”

“I could spend a week laughing at your idiocy, but other tables, who tip better then you guys do, are waiting to be served.”

“Let me know if you ever figure it out.”

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends — Kevin Alawine on “Heritage”

Kevin Alawine is a friend of mine who lives and works in Mississippi. Kevin is Reformed and has two young adult sons. This is a beautiful piece that he wrote recently.



Way back in a forgotten place in the wooded hills of Mississippi there is a maze of winding dirt roads. The way these aged roads crisscross with one winding around and leaving another and then circling back to cross yet another would cause one to think that they were designed by an intoxicated man or a lunatic. But the fact is they were laid out in a dear old time when families respected one another’s boundaries (and also when hill dodging was easier than digging) This was a time when roads were sometimes crooked because men were not. And somehow, for now at least, this hidden little part of the world has managed to elude the tyrannical state’s straight highways and crooked men.

One of these little gravel and dirt, “twist and turns” that can be found there is called, “Alawine Springs Road.” On that road is a one room church built by my great grandfather. No denominational name can be found there, just a sign that reads, “Alawine Springs Church.” We have family reunions at that old church and the building is so small that most people eat and congregate outside because it’s so cramped inside. The road’s name comes from the Alawine families who owned the many acres of land that they purchased after they migrated from South Carolina to Mississippi before the War Between the States. And there was (still is I’m sure and I aim to find it) a water spring, something that was very important to families and their neighbors in those days. No longer ago than the 1940‘s my dad remembers following his mother to the spring as she carried her wash board and clothes basket in front of her to do laundry in the cold spring water. Before they reached the path that led from the single lane dirt road to Alawine Springs they had to walk under the big limb that stretched out from the “hanging tree” and cast it’s eerie shadow all the way across the dirt road. My grandma would assure my daddy that the tales he had heard about the ghosts of dead men who had been hanged from that limb were just made up stories and there were no “haints” hanging around to grab and run away with him. She would sing a hymn as she made him walk behind her to keep him protected from the cold, winter wind.

Tomorrow I will be a pallbearer and we will lay my Aunt Jean to rest in an old graveyard just through the woods about a mile as the crow flies from that old church and the spring and the crooked roads. Her body will be laid next to her beloved husband who died nine years ago and by the way, whom she never stopped loving, my “Uncle Jim.” She will sleep just a few yards away from my little brother, my grandparents on my father’s side and many aunt’s uncles and cousins, as well as some relatives long since passed away of whom I never had the pleasure of meeting. Up the hill at the front of the graveyard, as if he was overseeing generations of his posterity, rests the body of Mr. Andrew Jackson Alawine, my great, great grandfather and his faithful and godly wife, Lucretia J “Wells” Alawine. Andrew fought for the Confederacy in the War of Northern Aggression. Of that I am VERY proud.

Whenever someone speaks the word, “graveyard” we sometimes flinch and think, “Let’s not go there.” But truly, there is a lot of heritage in a graveyard. There is a wonderful lot of heritage in our graveyard for certain. And be aware of our heritage and your own, whoever you may be. You see, nary a Negro or an Asian or a Jew or a Mexican rest’s with my family in our graveyard. And I hope you know, we don’t hate those peoples that I just named. But this is our land and this is our heritage. These are our memories. It was our ancestors who were the Germanic barbarian tribes who gave the Roman empire hell. It was our ancestors who many generations later traveled to America and who eventually found a home in these parts. It was their sweat and blood that made the Southron (yes, I spelled it correctly) united States our home. (And no, we didn’t steal it from the Indians so you can stop believing that myth. Turn off the TV and read a book sometime) It was also these ancestors who prayed for my good fortune, for me and for mine, their future kith and kin, their posterity. My people were concerned for me before I was born and I am very jealous for my people. I am jealous as a man is jealous of his wife. You see, I don’t hate your wife. But I don’t want her either. And I don’t want your hands on my wife. And my ancestors are as alive and as real to me today as when they walked this earth many years ago.

God bless you and your kith and kin,

In the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior,


Chief Justice Roberts and Tolkien’s Witch Of Angmer

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie

The Nine SCOTUS members parallel the Nine Nazgul who became servants of Sauron because they thought they were strong enough to wield their power apart from the Lord of Mordor. Our Nine black clad (more Nazgul parallel) Justices (what irony that appellation) likewise are under the control of the Dark Lord of Mordor on the Potomac. Further, Chief Justice Roberts, has just played the role of the Witch King of Angmar to a tee.

And the purpose in all this?

The purpose is to bring us all into the Marxist Land of Mordor on the Potomac. The purpose is to bind and enslave. The purpose is create a machine culture that belches fire and steel where the individual is just a cog that exists to serve the Marxist elite’s machine.

“And nine…nine rings were gifted to the race of Men…who above all else, desire power.”


The CRC Erie Canal District Meeting

The Erie Canal district of the Charismatic Renewal Church (CRC) was meeting for one of their twice yearly district conclaves. One of the items on the docket was to ordain a youth minister for the “Flowing River of the Spirit Church.” The “Flowing River of the Spirit Church” was one of the flagship churches for the CRC in the Erie Canal district. Ezekiel L. Bolton was the Pastor of the “Flowing River of the Spirit” Church. Old Zeke, as he was affectionately called, was one of the old war horses of the CRC and generally Old Zeke got what he wanted because people didn’t like to cross Old Zeke because Zeke had a way of making life miserable for those who crossed him.

Because of this everyone believed that the ordination of Zeke’s new Youth Pastor was a foregone conclusion. The ordination process was supposed to consist of the usual softball questions that one finds in Pentecostal denominations where experience, emotion, and the “feeling of the Spirit,” was more important than articulated doctrine.

However, this ordination was to be different. One of the members of the district who had been an outlaw since his arrival had determined that there had been far too many non-Pentecostals sliding into the denomination. Carl Davidson had converted to Pentecostal theology from dishwater Baptist 25 years ago and he was one of the few true believers in the Erie Canal district. Carl had, for years, been seeing the District ordain non-Pentecostals posing as Pentecostals. He had tried to hint at this problem by asking questions of candidates that exposed their lack of understanding of glorious Pentecostalism in hopes that some of the other Pentecostals might see the problem. This tactic hadn’t worked and Carl was becoming convinced that not even the Pentecostal ministers of Erie Canal District cared about Pentecostalism.

Carl decided to ask the candidate the most rudimentary question of Pentecostal belief. When the proper time came Carl rose on the floor and asked the earnest young candidate, ”Could you elaborate for us the three different works of grace that the Charismatic Renewal Church looks for in people?”

The whole reason for the existence of the CRC was to insist upon this doctrine in distinction from other denominations that did not hold to it. Carl believed that if a candidate for ordination unto the least of all offices in the CRC could not answer this most basic of questions to the life of the denomination then it would be clear that there were clearly problems in the District.

The candidate looked like he had been just asked to undress in public.

His first search for time tactic was to ask for the question again. The second delay tactic was to try to get Carl to give him hints. The third avoidance tactic came from the floor as a murmur of ministers began to audibly complain about how unfair it was of Carl to ask this question of such a young minister when they themselves didn’t know the answer.

The candidate, to his credit, eventually dove into the answer giving a fairly involved and complex answer to a question that had nothing to do with what Carl asked. Instead of giving the simple answer of “the work of grace in salvation, the work of grace in cleansing, and the work of grace in empowerment, “ instead the candidate went into a long monologue on the three persons of the Trinity.

The candidate was then excused so that executive session could be held to discuss whether or not the candidate should be ordained.

Carl was on his feet immediately, observing that while he wouldn’t vote against this candidate he was hopeful that somebody at Old Zeke’s Church would mentor Clay (the candidate) in the basic doctrines of the Charismatic Renewal Church. Carl also mentioned that he believed that the Erie Canal District was getting loose on the exam process for all candidates, allowing non Pentecostals into the denomination.

No sooner did Carl sit down then “Old Zeke” was on his feet. Ezekiel had been a mover and shaker in the CRC for decades and he did not appreciate someone exposing the soft under-belly of his low standards as Carl had done with his question. Zeke began to lecture Carl but he learned again, what he should have already known, and that was that Carl was nonplussed over Zeke’s huffing and puffing. Zeke went on and on about how unfair the question was. Zeke insisted that 50% of the ministers who belonged to the district couldn’t answer Carl’s question. Zeke said that this wasn’t about whether there were two works of grace or three works of grace. What Zeke seemed to be intimating is that this ordination process was about getting his youth director confirmed so that Clay could lead the youth in pizza parties and fun vacations that could be sold as “mission trips” to the unsuspecting parents.

Finally, the vote was called for and Clay was confirmed unanimously as a Minister associate, but Carl, with his question, had once again left a bad taste in the mouth of the fellow ministers in the denomination who thought that Carl was far too theologically oriented to be any good to the Christian faith. “Why couldn’t Carl learn,” the thinking seemed to be, “that Christianity was just about getting people to get along, and not about centuries of theology for which the saints had bled and died.”

And Naturally Carl believed that these fellow ministers practiced Christianity the same way that a tailor practices sewing who has no idea what needle and thread are.