A God Amongst Them, Chapter 1

Sunday, July 13th 2014

First Presbyterian Church of Oceanside – http://www.fpcoceanside.org/

On a cloudy Sunday morning in Oceanside, CA I arrived a full hour early before the nine o’clock service at an older, late 60’s era model building with red, sloping roof shingles and pasty cream brick walls. The First Presbyterian Church of Oceanside is nearly an hour drive from my own location in southern San Diego, CA, but I enjoyed the time spent traveling alone to ponder, reflect and perhaps in some small way prepare myself for what lay ahead. Other than for several funerals, I had not stepped foot into a place of prayer and worship in over ten years, at least not for the reason I had on this fine California morning. I’ll admit that it felt every bit as I had desired it to be; exciting, mild-caution with a dash of pride and a strong interest in how the service would play out.

I found myself sitting in my car, waiting for my friend to show up and listening to a little music with the windows down. Within Temptation on Pandora kept my mind company while I wrote out the structure for this review. Nothing fancy, but it helped pass the time and as it so happens, turned out to be a catalyst for the several pages of running notes I took during the service.

My interest in coming had been relayed a couple of weeks ago to a friendly work acquaintance of mine, Anthony, whom I had discussed religion and philosophy with at some length on a few occasions. After a little research into his brand of Jesus-juice, I felt comfortable with asking if he had any interest in having me accompany him to church one day. He, like a good Christian was more than amicable and greatly supported my coming. Few people at work know I am a Satanist, and he happens to not be one of them, as it never presented itself as a question where I felt it appropriate to answer with the truth. He simply knows that I am a curious and intelligent individual with the ability to articulate and extrapolate upon various subjects, and of course that I am an I-theist. Minus whatever mumbo-jumbo his preconceptions first were in hearing the term, after a bit of explaining of course.. Simply another responsible, if misguided atheist.

I had to postpone my first coming the Sunday prior (pun intended) as Anthony had an old friend come into town and they wanted to go play golf and catch up. Despite the slight irritation at being held up, I could certainly empathize with his desire to play golf with an old friend over another stuffy day at Church. And the irony, hypocrisy and casually aloof attitude did not escape me. I may have to write a golf joke involving a black sheep and a nose snub to God made with a nine-iron. But I digress.

While I was informed that the early morning service was the contemporary worship for the younger crowd and that the dress code was more relaxed than usual (I guess God is pretty OK these days with jammies and flip flops), I normally wear button up shirts, a vest and slacks at the very least when I go out to any function but I did leave the cufflinks, tie and fedora at home. I even rolled up my sleeves to let my tattoos enjoy some balmy air. While I tend to always have my Baphomet on its chain around my neck, the Horns were hidden (as I call it), tucked beneath my collar against my breastbone. Contemporary enough I say. And when I had asked Anthony about why the contemporary service for children wasn’t later on, as most kids these days would be more apt to sleep in and go to the later service, he made the remark about how a good number of the parents with older children like to just get up and “get Church over with” which I couldn’t help guffawing at. Get Church over with indeed. But why not just take it a step further and not show up at all? No, I did not remark that last bit.

Around half past eight Anthony drove into the parking lot, accompanied by his wife Alessa of whom I had the pleasure of meeting, bubbly in personality and body with a tasteful dress of white polka-dots and a her hair smartly done. They were serving as transportation for a venerable fellow, George who was reliant upon a cane and a slow pace to get from the car to the refreshment area inside. I inquired about Anthony’s two children (delightful young girls, ages nine and six whom I had met a few months earlier at a work function) and was sheepishly told they were playing hooky. I was beginning to like this family more and more.

After assisting George into the refreshment area, an auditorium of sorts with breakfast pastries and the other usual fare, we sat down and enjoyed some coffee while talking about work and the other usual topics to pass the time. Barely did we finish when Alessa came by and commented that it was time to head into the worship hall. Sweet Satan here we go!

We said our good mornings and hellos to young and old church-goers alike as we made our way throughout the complex with its faded walls and stucco interior. The older attendees were decently attired, casually traditional in their garb while the younger ones were in everything from jeans and t-shirts to the aforementioned flip-flops and Super Mario pj’s. Not that I am judging, I do have an old set myself.

Greeting us at the door and handing out the daily worship information and agenda packets was Ray, a paunchy and aged individual with a firm handshake to go with his jolly smile. Ray had a name tag on, as did other functionaries of the church and like my friend Anthony’s, Ray’s read Elder. Alessa, Anthony’s wife read Deacon, and as it was explained to me when we sat down, third row dead center for all to view (joy of joys) the Elders were the leadership functionaries of the church who made decisions and who oversaw the supervision of the other roles. Deacons were more actively responsible for participating in functions and heading the activities outside the church.

Preparing my journal and situating myself as comfortably as possible on the worn, pinewood pews, I passively observed the congregation. A small crowd this morning I remarked, not uncommon Anthony said, of around fifty to sixty people was spread out among the aisles. Four drop down screens were placed around the room, facing in for all to see and the center stage set up with a mic-stand and amp, acoustic guitar leaning casually against it. Oh yes, there would be music.

I took in hand a Bible sitting in front of me in those little wooden book nooks that all pews are known to have, and recorded the version and brand for reference later; The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments – NSRV (New Standard Revised Version), from Thomas Nelson Publishers. A standard book of hymnals was present next to every Bible but I convinced myself not to bother, as I was sure that over the next hour I would have quite enough music of the “Oh my God!” variety to poison my curiosity.

As I finished flipping through the “Good” book a middle-aged, heavyset woman in white (who’s’ name I didn’t catch, so shall I dub her Mallow) accompanied by a scrawny older fellow in backwoods country attire (whose name I also failed to catch, henceforth called Rusty) took the

stage. Mallow with mic in hand and Rusty picking up the guitar, the congregation around me rose and proceeded to sing a rousing and different (than I had ever heard, though that isn’t exactly surprising) version (of which I am sure there are many) of Hallelujah.

No, despite my desire to “experience” the atmosphere, I did not stand, clap, sing or cry Amen when appropriate. I did not shut my eyes when prayer was given nor read along out loud when it was asked of the crowd. I may choose to do so at another place and time, but that will depend upon how far I wish to take my… immersion into a fantasy world not of my own devising. Not for fear that I’ll never return, but simply from the absurdity of it all. And honestly my singing voice is truly blasphemous… wait, perhaps there’s something to that…

After the opening song of worship, a hearty God Bless Alyce Williamson was shouted into the mic and answered back. This ancient old black lady, wheelchair bound had reached her 98th birthday the past Friday and her family wanted to have the service say a prayer for her. Hooray Alyce! A flower dedication was done, which is apparently where the person simply receives flowers from the church that the family paid for… so the church can give the person flowers in from of the congregation. Again, hooray Alyce. Not hooray enough that I didn’t have to check the copy of the paper agenda to remember her name while typing this… but hooray indeed.

Once this introductory hullabaloo was completed, Mallow asked the congregation to take the time to say hello and welcome everyone (of whom I would have to assume they already knew) and just basically make nice. Of the amount I observed through the scanning from my seat (no I did not prance around and shake hands) a fair amount of the interactions seemed genuine and sincere, and an equal amount were smiles that didn’t reach the eyes and contained monotone greetings. During this time, t the head pastor did come over and ask Anthony who the fine looking young man was, and I didn’t even look up from my writing my notes until Anthony put his hand on my shoulder. Pastor Tim Beal truly looks like the stereotypical, contemporary yet older gentleman pastor. Plain but dressy button up shirt, casual slacks and that ruddy flushed skin a lot of older people tend to get. Almost a Fred Phelps look alike… but seemingly pleasant and polite as one would expect. Anthony introduced us and we shook hands, him thanking me for attending and I thanking him for having me. He didn’t seem to wish to inquire further, so I sat back down while he and Anthony talked about sports. If you want me to switch you off and put my mind elsewhere, mention sports and I will happily ignore the fuck out of you.

The social hellos and how do you dos lasted a solid five minutes, upon which a skinny lady in a punky peacock fabric sleeveless blouse tucked into a high above the knees black skirt, snazzy brass zipper up the backside mounted the dais. Meet Pastor Liz. A pleasant face, nice legs and obviously salon style hair did well to detract from the flaring zeugma, odd colored and flaky birthmark, or chemical burn (I honestly could not tell which) that covered her left shoulder and most of her arm, most likely continuing onto her torso. Now, I admire a person that doesn’t give a shit about their oddities. Though in her case, the reason for her boldness would most likely be from the idea that Jesus loves her just the way she is instead of a kind of true inner strength. And the irony of her suggestive and “contemporary” ensemble, along with the representation of the peacock as Christ-like with a bucket of “Look at me I’m sexy” thrown in made her quite a lovely visage to this young Citizen. And then I sighed resignedly, remembering where I was.

She greeted the congregation and discussed the various upcoming activities of the church over the next few months. (Much of this Churches activities are heavily mission based and they are services and community oriented. An admirable goal, even though it is promoted with the message of Jesus’s love and God’s desire for you to be happy, and unfortunately while these people say that they are “good”, it is ALL taken from verse and scripture as doing God’s work.

This next part of the service was perhaps the shortest, but also perhaps the most disturbing. As I am a staunch advocate against the manipulation and indoctrination of children, and myself being a father, it comes as no surprise that the “Children’s Time” segment was the hardest to stomach. The seven small children present, three to seven years old in appearance, cute little fonts of adorable innocence all, were called to the front to begin their “lesson” for the day. Pastor Liz asked them, “What do we do here at Church?” and one little girl replied, “Sing!” and another, the youngest of the group echoed her. Liz told them good, yes we do sing at Church. What else? “Pray,” said a young boy, the oldest looking of the group. Liz smiled and nodded, proclaiming him right.

But then she asked, “And what do those two things represent?” A question a small child couldn’t truly fathom the insinuating inference of. When the little ones did not respond, she gleefully and with an almost sadistically wide grin of rapture cried, “That’s OK, you don’t have to know. Because I’m going to tell you.” She paused and looked around at each of them, then continued. “We worship,” she said slowly and conviction. “When we pray and sing we are worshiping God. And why do we do these things?” With nary a pause, she flashed her toothy grin upon them, like a shark eying a group of young fish too slow to keep up with the school and gushed, “Because Jesus wants us to worship him.”

I have to relate with all honesty that it truly was exactly as I describe it, no exaggerations inserted for effect. And it was also rather nauseating as she went on to query the children, albeit rhetorically, “Isn’t that great?” “Isn’t that the most wonderful thing ever?” “God loves us and we can love him back by worshiping him.”

After several other exclamations of God’s love and Jesus being the best thing since… ever, she said that now was the time to take the kids away for the Children’s Program. The vision of children being fed to the grinder in Pink Floyds music video, We Don’t Need No Education came to mind. And with that flitting image, she led them out the side door. I could only watch, sigh and hold my head from shaking.

I would love to admit that it wasn’t as bad as I make it sound or that it simply is much more dastardly now that I have time to reflect…but it was in my view, as bad as all that. And I don’t think my analogy is that far off from the reality of things. The sermonizing to the adults is one thing and can be debated heatedly concerning their choice in being there, but children do not have that luxury. I am one among us that views the forced activities and indoctrination I described as child abuse, and I wholeheartedly think that it should be a crime to perpetrate such actions against impressionable and easily molded innocents. A topic I can talk on for some time. But the show must go on.

Next was the Installation of Deacons by Pastor Tim (think light bulbs being screwed into place… if the light bulbs were from a dollar store and being used for a night-stop gas station restroom, creepy flicker and all), a lodge style “passing of the faith” so to speak where past and current Deacons come forth and gather round the newly appointed Deacons for a sort of “Repeat after me” and “state I will or I do” when asked prayer. All in all, it seemed rather lackluster and dry, considering that the people were supposed to be champions of “promoting intelligence, community, worship and imagination” which, according to the ceremony are ‘Gifts given from the Spirit to those that would be great who must in turn become the servant of all.” The affirmations from the recipients was sadly, anything but convincing. If Linda, Catherine and Mary have been gifted with the ‘Spirit” of, as was intoned at the end of the ceremony, “The One God! Father, Son and Spirit” (yes, the whole one god through three representations and entities… but actually one hypocrisy) then this Citizen is not overly worried overmuch as far as this Church is concerned. “May they serve merrily in body, mind and spirit to the lord our God Jesus Christ, for his honor and glory” indeed Pastor Tim. Best of luck with that ladies.

Two more songs, Open the Eyes of my Heart and Fill My Mind, both of which I honestly only listened to in passing as I casually looked around the congregation and took notes were enjoyed half halfheartedly by the throng. Mallow and Rusty were back up on stage, clapping and eyes closed, praising that oh (as my ears were assaulted with over a hundred times by count) “holy holy holy holy holy holy”, ad nauseum, “spirit”. Not that I use it on any regular basis anyway, but the H word is now being relegated to the vault of “Never use this shit again” when you speak. By the time I tuned back in from being stunned into a holy vortex of insanity, specific parts from the music I did catch, came from the song Blessed Are the Humble. Who couldn’t feel that good ol’ Christian holy (GAH!!!) spirit with lines like, “Blessed are those who hunger!”, “Those who show mercy will have mercy shown in return.” and “Blessed are those oppressed.” A more despicable song of victim worship, promoting of the weak and downtrodden I cannot remember hearing, though apparently these “desirables of God” are assured a place in heaven. Damn, won’t that be the party of eternity come judgment day with all of those awesome examples to rub shoulders with eh? I’d have said elbows, which would I suppose have been correct given the meaning implied, but it appears my subconscious was correct as I typed. With so many of Les Miserables granted access to heaven, it would no doubt be standing room only. I am thinking along the lines of cattle cars in Poland. No thank you. Elevator down please.

And then it came, the true reason I had sought out and wished to sit in on a worship service. The sermon from the Head Pastor, Tim Beal. The title? How Badly Do You Want to Be Good? Had I been asked, I might have replied with, “Your brand of good? Not badly enough to get out of my seat for all of the songs and prayers in the world or to shake hands with a wooly member of your congregation for that matter.”

The preaching was taken from various revisions of the Bible and chapters contained therein, which are related as follows;

Matthew 5:5 (NRSV) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” I almost couldn’t keep myself from chuckling as the thought, “yeah, filled into their grave” sprang to mind. Nothing like some starvation and dehydration to keep things righteous though.

Romans 3:23 (NCV) “Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard.” This was promoted by the proclamation that, “Although most of us want to be good, we are not naturally good.” Which mislead the hell out of me as basically speaking, I think that is true in the loosest sense. Though not from the way perhaps he was inferring to. But then, he quoted Romans and told everyone they are horrible pieces of shit and God is disappointed as hell (I’ll say literally in this case) that although he created us, knows everything and is omnipotent to the extreme… he is discomfited just a tinsy bit by our actions. Well boo-fucking-hoo! Let’s give God a hug. Who’s on spiked nail-jacket duty today? Lucy? HUGS FOR GOD!!!

Philippians 3:9 (GN) “I no longer have a righteousness of my own, the kind that is gained by obeying the Law. I know the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is based on faith.”

The concept that was alluded to as the definition of Righteousness, or the state of being righteous was “Righteousness is a product of a faithful relationship with God.” Where-for the faithful relationship with God was produced through the following four concepts;

To open ones heart through prayer;

Ephesians 6:18 (NLT) “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

To learn from the Bible for it is the word of God and should be used in all things;

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

To implement your convictions by managing your money and time;

Luke 16:11 (NLT) “And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the riches of heaven?”

Ephesians 5:15-16 (LB) “So be careful how you act; these are difficult days. Don’t be fools, be wise: make the most of every opportunity you have for doing good.”

To learn compassion in a faith community;

Romans 12:5 (NLT) “So it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body and we all belong to each other.”

In the method so often used by the late Christopher Hitchens, I’ll address the core aspects of Tim Beals “Righteousness” in reverse order.

The key to Learning Compassion in a Faith Community is the simple idea that you cannot learn righteousness alone, and that you require other people like you, believers, for fulfillment of God’s wish that you be righteous. The quote from Romans described us as all being parts from one body (Jesus’) and that as such we all belong to each other. So on top of the vampiric communion of blood drinking and cannibalistic eating of the body, we are also some sort of Frankenstein-Esq amalgamation which requires each other. I’m not touching the topic that, as we are apparently part of Christ’s body, and the communion requires we eat Christ’s body… we are actually eating our own bodies… and each other’s. Now THAT is an orgy of blood, sex and flesh that would put anything the Romans had to shame. Caligula eat your heart out!

The premise for the quoting of Luke and Ephesians is that, as was stated in the sermon “Money and time are the key indicators to Righteousness, how it is spent determines whether you are serving God and through this, your righteousness through him.” This “Implementing my convictions by managing my money and time” (though no actual parameters or guidelines were given in how to achieve this) was described as a litmus test, in the sense of if you’re unable to manage your “gifts” on earth, how can you be trusted to do it in heaven. I have to hand it to Pastor Tim on this one. I know it is his job after all, but the use of such passages to promote “appropriate usage” of your money and time according to Gods Will would naturally ensure that he remains in the employed sector of the population, and that as we all know God’s will is never done, plenty of time can be spent proving your Righteousness through God. Kudos Mr. Beal and thank you. It was very enlightening to see and hear first-hand the perfect example of how the Church has kept things going through the ages.

On to the verse from Timothy. As apparently all Scripture is “God-breathed”, of course being “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”, everything espoused in the Bible is writ and wrote the law of God and to be upheld by the righteous. A frightening proclamation considering the many passages of genocide, infanticide, rape, murder, torture and various other actions of ill repute that can be found, multiple times, in that most supposedly sacred of texts. As the “good” Pastor described the Bible, “It contains generations of faithful people who have lived their lives to be righteous through God.” Never mind that the aforementioned teaching, rebuking, correcting and training sounds an awful lot like the nightmarish theme in the book 1984 by Orson Wells. Or from the Religious Right ruled countries of today and Theocracies of the not so distant past. I hope I never get used to the surprise and awe of revulsion I feel when I hear such things articulated as positive practices, because it is during that time I think that past orthodoxies are forgotten. Something any rational and intelligent individual should shudder at the thought of. Ever vigilant!

The fourth and final product comprising Righteousness, to open your heart through prayer, allowing the word and will of god to direct your every action. “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion”. It was stated during the sermon that when praying, “One should have the expectation to find God in your life, always pray and every time to make a decision based on what God wants of us.“ I can only describe this assertion and command of constant attempt at divine communication as a complete disassociation with responsibility and accountability for everything and anything that one does, has done or will do. No surprise here.

Thus we come full circle, if in reverse, to the original Gospel and sermon of the day; Righteousness is a Product of the Faithful. Those products in brief being, Opening one’s heart through prayer, Learning from the Bible, Implementing Conviction through managing money and time, and of course being a Frankenstein monst- I mean learning Compassion in a Faith community. And the reward for all of this? A righteousness that is not your own, and thus not one that comes from obeying the law… because, you know… who fucking needs that pesky shit anyway, but a righteousness that comes from faith in Christ and the righteousness from God. As I see it, the idea promoted was; throw away the logic and reason of societal judgment and practices for… the voices in my head told me to do it. So we have righteousness that is make believe, as cannot be proven and has no truly discernible basis for causality other than individual hearsay and scriptural substance which is given authority and precedence over the law of man and the righteousness of the self. Righteousness, as I understand it (and am supported by the World Dictionary in this regard) relates to the state of being righteous, or being characterized in accordance with accepted standards of morality and justice. As a law abiding, rational and pragmatic individual, the concepts of morality and justice I follow come from the laws of my county, state and country as well as those I respect and uphold in the Social Contract when interacting with others, whether they be human or another usually more agreeable species, of which there are many. This righteousness with God was also described as being the basis for ethical and moral definitions, as they cannot be determined by man. “There is more than personal regard at hand in this.” An idea in lunacy that has been judging, condemning and killing people, both deserving and not but most probably in the majority (in my opinion) innocent for more years than I honestly believe anyone truly knows.

Ultimately, the ideal that was given as a goal for everyone to aspire to was, “That the lifelong quest of a person is to become more like Christ and to grow in righteousness.” As dictated by the products of righteousness. But “As we are not good naturally, there is always a struggle. Human nature is to be self-interested people, automatically sinful from the start. And because we reject God’s rule in our life we have trouble being good, even though we want to be. It is not our goodness in ourselves, but that which God thinks is good and provides the inspiration in us to produce that matters.” I found myself at first agreeing with this, despite his use of the word “good”, and the struggle of course is true, along with being self-interested… but then he lost me at being sinful (read: guilty) from the start and as he proclaimed the automatic rejection of God’s rule, had me back again… but I got back off the ride and waved goodbye with a middle finger when he started into how we have trouble being good because without God, we have no inspiration.

I find I hear this directive more and more, that mankind needs a supreme being, something greater than itself to know right and wrong, good and evil and to be able to discern between the two. Well, history is filled with pious, God-fearing, Jesus loving people that didn’t know a skid-mark from a skirt-steak and would be just as liable to eat one as the other while burning you alive, branding you with acid or any other number of “meet God through suffering” options that were the sole jurisdiction of the Church. But hey, who doesn’t love a tasty skid-ma- I mean skirt-steak?

Pastor Tim’s sermon was brought to an end by the following; which I truly should thank him for as I had not heard this analogy before and will strive to use such imagery in the future. He described the ingredients in our current supermarket, most pointedly the juice, and talked of additives and juice to water ratio, that being the percentage one finds on the back of the bottle tells you how much actual juice is in the bottle. He compared the amount of energy, effort and faith as being the ingredients that should be inside a Righteous person, a Christian… to the total juice content… in a supermarket bottle of juice.

My first thought was, most Christians have to be completely watered down, full of preservatives and rather lacking in flavor. And I’ve tasted a few in my younger days, that muted flavor that I thought might have been ivory soap was really just the unsavory lack of righteousness. Who knew?

But then an image of Koolaid came to mind, and I thought of Insta-Christian drink mix, a Kool-aid Christian in effect. I’ll admit I couldn’t help chuckling at this point, and I do feel that Tim thought I was genuinely getting something meaningful out of his sermon. If only he knew how right he was. So while a quick google of the term Kool-aid Christian shows I was not the first to relate such an idea, after all, Jim Jones was in the ground (along with a large number of innocent people) long before I was born, the term I think can be applied just as well to the watered-down variety Christian, a simple packet solution with really no juice to speak of. Like my buddy Anthony.

At this time, directly following the sermons end, Pastor Liz got up and a prayer was said for a recently passed member of the congregation. And as I was perusing my notes and the prayer was being given, the recently written term Kool-Aid Christian captured my gaze and I couldn’t help but chuckle. Honestly, it just escaped my lips. Luckily, all the good Christians had their eyes closed and heads bowed. A gentle cough covered up my levity and a slight shifting in my seat covered up the rest. I think.

Following the sendoff for (checking my notes) Paul Hefner (76 years old), a general prayer full of passion and zeal (read: pious whining and begging) was given for the other various prayer requests sent in, asking for guidance, cures for cancer, a good job… removal of whatever was on Pastor Liz’s body. (Sadly, that last one wasn’t said out loud, but I sarcastically murmured it in at the end anyway.)

Now, I must attest that before all of the “WHY, WHY, WHY, GOD?!?!?!” began, positive praise was given, though truthfully it was just as sickening to hear. Giving God credit for everything from someone else having found a good job, recovering from an ailment, a successful surgery to loved ones returning from overseas. We often hear it said in passing or seen on movies and interviews, but to see such baseless heaping of accolades upon God for the works of the individuals involved, the job seeker, the patient and more importantly the nurses and doctors, the comrades and brothers and sisters of the service member coming home, etc. etc. Simple justice is credit where credit is due. And I see none of “Gods” work in any of that. It is just truly amazing to see the reality that is staring them in the face when they look in the mirror ignored, that all of the “good” works that have been done are of their own devising.

And it is with that I close my review of The First Presbyterian Church of Oceanside. As much as I do not, and cannot respect the doctrine and sermon which was preached to myself and the other fifty to sixty in attendance, I would of course be remiss in my desire of relating as much as I feel possible, without telling you that everyone I met personally, either briefly or through having shared a few words with was polite, courteous, pleasant and amicable. The atmosphere was welcoming (as much as a Church honestly can be, especially being nothing special aesthetically) and there was no talk, at least this time of hellfire or eternal torments. There was no mention of any angel or entity beyond God, Jesus and the Spirit but I am quite sure that as almost a dozen passages of scripture were quoted, they no doubt get around to the supernaturally interesting parts. People do love their fantasy creatures after all. Sadly, quite a lot of them also believe in them too.

All things considered, I feel that a large number of them are misguided in their intentions to “be good” and simply just do not have the inner strength and conviction of self to accept responsibility for their triumphs as well as their failures.

Dare I say that I look forward to attending more sermons and chuckling to myself at the absurdity of it all, of sighing at the wretched and enjoying the enlightenment of coming to know better that which I for far too long have avoided… the words of those who may still be a threat, or perhaps whose time has come and past? I dare say I will.

And that is going to conclude this review of the First Presbyterian Church of Oceanside. As always, this Citizen wishes you the best in your dark endeavors and thanks you for coming along with him in this, another of adventures in being A Spy in the House of God.



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