Sunday, Oct 5th 2014
The Rock Church, Point Loma, CA – http://www.sdrock.com/
With four campuses (yes, just like a college) throughout the San Diego, CA area, The Rock Church is a prominent and highly involved ministry, serving a massive congregation. According to its website, there are eight weekend services available, a Christian Academy School, Rock U (University) and hundreds of active Life Groups and ministries which are “committed to making a difference in the community”. It has by all accounts, a huge following and as I was to find out on another beautiful Sunday afternoon, is incredibly committed to preaching and proselytizing the word of God, Jesus and all of that ooey gooey goodness throughout the community. Quite a bit more so than most it would seem.
My inside acquaintance and congregation member of The Rock, Nelly, had not prepared me for or truly explained the “Ministering to the World” festivities which would assail me when I arrived that Sunday. Hole. E. Shit. While I had been informed it was quite a large affair, with many booths and stations available concerned with dozens of interests, I had never before been to such a carnival of this sort. For a carnival it was, stands and postings manned by multiple individuals of all types, stripes, dress and decor. This massive venue invited one to step up, converse and sign on to preach the word of God through a nearly inexhaustible number of ministering’s; Home Improvement, Computer Services, Literacy, Medical, Makeover, Comedy, Straight Up Praise!, Street Evangelism, Nutrition, Same Sex Attraction, Teen Moms, Safe In Heaven, Human Trafficking (Hidden Treasures) and Business Life were a handful of the more interesting and noteworthy promotions.
For a complete list of their ministries, it can be found on their website.
For the layperson, (of which I include myself among this number) in defining a ministry as it relates to the above outreach programs, I will refer to quoting The Rock Church’s explanation; “to develop and send out specific forces of lay ministries which engage every segment of society for the sake of culture transformation through evangelism and the work of the ministry.” I am, by no promotion of my own, an erudite and masterful wordsmith. And I could put the terms Obfuscating Indoctrination no better than they have in their promotional definition of “culture transformation”. Pervasive Hope is their established motto.
Kidnappers and abductors quite often do the same thing. “Come closer child, I’ve got candy (or a $100 bill for you)… just a little closer and help me out for a few minutes.” I view it all as the same thing. If you truly desired to help for the pleasure and gratification that it gave you, your beliefs and feelings aside, you would simply go out and work your will upon those who asked for succor. If, and only if they asked why, should you and would you tell them that, “As a Christian, this is what we do. It is what I feel is right and worthwhile. And that it is through God and what I have learned of his ways that I seek to do what makes me happy.” But as usual, I futilely digress.
There were an insane amount of people milling about outside the massive Church proper and the campus area, which is situated next to a shopping center and strip-mall. Parking, this time around was at first not situationally convenient, but as it turned out later in the day I was indeed parked close to where I would be sharing a tasty burger and fries with my hostess. The walk was pleasant enough in any event, traversing the enormous parking lot and dodging mini-vans filled with children and disgruntled soccer moms that drove around in an endless loop trying to find that spot just a “little” closer. Have no fear reader, my agility and reflexes served me well that day and no harm came to my well garbed and stocky frame.
As is my habit, I arrived early and this gave me the time desired to stroll along the aforementioned booths, staying in the lovely shade of trees which lined the main causeway through which the ministering’s were situated. I must say, part of the appeal in attending these functions is all of the lovely individuals in their skirts and dresses, seeming so innocent and at the same time throwing one particular well-dressed devil admiring glances. Lecherous minxes that they are. My standards for men are too high for me to usually take notice of my fellow man’s allure, if any indeed presents itself. But for those of you who think it rude to stare, or should anyone ever boldly call you on your observations, you may find the following explicative of use, “My apologies, but I grew up in a world where beauty should be admired, not ignored or looked at with disdain.” It has always served me well, and you’re welcome in advance.
The main entrance on the south side of the building includes wide reaching concrete steps and a twin set of double glass doors which lead into a vast atrium. No less than seven individuals with name tags were present from the Church staff; two to conduct the rifling of bags and strollers, and the rest for directions and general oversight of those coming in. I’ve been through airports with less security, though they didn’t have a wand or X-ray machine. Unless you count God of course. After all of the lovely flesh outside, I could indeed have used a good pat down. Alas, no baggage did I have. Or desire for infidelity.
So I stood and observed for a solid twenty minutes, getting more than a few concerned glances from the Greeters at my lone wolf status and interested appraisals of those who mistake my dress and decor for faith-based dapperness. One thought that pervaded my mind as I took notes and leaned comfortably against the wall was, “Damn, this is where it’s at if you want to be involved with God and Jesus.” For those with the need for herd-conformity and that indoctrinating sense of community oriented services, I would direct you to such a place. Hopefully to never cross paths with you again, I’m sure.
But lo’ there, soon enough did my partner for the day come. In a pink shirt, green pants and wavy brown hair, did Nelly come up the stairs and greet me with the hug of a mature person to one younger, as is our way with each other. She is an older lady, though still fit and attractive in her own way with a most pleasant demeanor and shyly sassy disposition. Our relations have always been most amicable, even on the day she spied my Sigil of Baphomet peeking out from my shirt and commented on its “Satanic imagery”. As I applauded her observation, I asserted that indeed it was, and that I was of that most Infernal of Empires. We had had a short conversation on the matter a while later on the corporate computer text messenger and while I believe I was able to explain myself appropriately, I realize that it is hard for those believers long steeped in the dogma of their Christ to get over the whole, “Battle of Good vs. Evil” thing. In any event and as befitting two adults of class, we remained able to continue our cordial relationship after that.
We made our way through the atrium and down a hall to walk up a wide stairwell leading into the vast and massive chapel proper. Not as ridiculously immense as the mega-churches one sees on television, it is still an incredibly huge venue and must be able to host a few thousand people at the least. Its website boasts that there are 16.000 members who attend the five services every Sunday, either in person or online and I wouldn’t honestly dispute such a claim. Ah, such is the wondrous invention of the internet. Why get showered, dressed and brave the crowds when one can roll over upon awakening and click on the worship? As long as you’re not working on the Sabbath, what’s a little sloth between you and your immortal soul?
As we made our way to the rear of the second story balcony seats, Nelly’s favorite haunt to situate herself, she ran into an old friend which used to work at our place of employ. Some minutes later after catching up on the happenings of life, we appropriated seating in the very middle of the double balcony area which afforded a perfect view of both the floor above us, and below. Perfectly placed in front of us for our viewing enjoyment were the immense stage and projector screens. The stadium seating with its anorexic proportions did not lend much room for movement, but did make me pause to appreciate my proclivity to keep a fit and appropriate physique.
While I was observing and jotting down notes, Nelly and I discussed the various ministries I had observed being promoted and desiring participation from congregation members. She admitted that she had never partaken in the activities and espousing’s, but that it was good work because they bring the word of God and Jesus to those who need it. As I figured we could discuss this topic later over our preplanned lunch after the service, I made a note and continued to jot down my observations.
The stage was quite a thing, with forty-some choir members on a tiered structure and a full rock band setup, including no less than six well dressed and charisma oriented singers. Three massive screens projected the live feed from the camera man that was recording the entire service and at times, the audience. It certainly had the presence conducive with wishing to overpower the senses and feed you with the faith you need to feel better about your hollow and empty existence. Them, not me. I had had a late breakfast in the form of two venti soy vanilla lattes and a maple scone an hour before that. Perfectly sated in my carnal self thank you.
As the screens kicked on and the music started to jam (yes, it was a jam type beat) the main singer took up the mic and everything just seemed to explode into this vibrancy of palpable worship. The first song came in the form of (after looking it up) This Is the Day, by the Planetshakers. Quite the upbeat rejoicing of there “being a supernatural praise in your heart” and plenty of God being “good” in there. Lots of that actually. It truly always amazes me how much reinforcement faith tends to need. Some people by personal accounts go to church three to five times a week… A WEEK!!! As interested as I am in the social science of worship and believers… no, no thank you. I suppose it tends to keep the crazier of the faithful off the streets for a few more hours. Good point Citizen, I recant my previous bitch.
After that, hooo boy the gloves came off. Psychedelic lighting played across the lyrics on the screen in some kind of colorful aura that drew the eye to each and every word as it was sung. Again, I shouldn’t be amazed at how perfectly well done the manipulation of the masses is done by these good guys of the world. They have been in business all these years after all. If only they would give the devil his due for that one eh?
Everybody Clap Your Hands by a band called Joshua’s Troop had people standing and stomping and clapping along with many worship wavers coming out of the wood works to raise those mighty meaty antennas to God. A lull in the song was given so that the main singer could shout out a calling for praise. He explained how the Bible teaches us to praise in different ways and that in cheering for Christ and striking our hands together we show him the adoration he deserves. After this reminder, the song kicked back into full swing and with renewed vigor did the congregation join in.
(While I write this, I would like to expand upon the fact that A) I have had perhaps imbibed a tad too much and B) everyone I have visited their Church with has seen fit to join me in my reserved status instead of taking part in their usual activities. Being the tactful individual I am, I did not ask them to explain their subservience to my own proclivities, something I had and would never ask of them on my behalf. I simply find it interesting that perhaps they are embarrassed, ashamed, out of sorts with me nearby? Though it could in all honesty be some type of sacrosanct attempt to present me with companionship which is comfortable and allowing with my lack of desire to join in? End stupor rant.)
It has also come to my attention that my less than stellar enthusiasm does have an effect upon those around me. Once my person, demeanor and activities of recording are observed there are a vast majority of people who act in a much more subdued manner than before. I would like to assert that, while it is not and never will be my intention to disrespect the needs of people I do not agree with when I subject myself to their arena, or in regards to their manner of belief, I would not have them remove themselves from the enjoyment they find in something they need. Though if my actions, no matter how far removed from their own “truth”, instill in them some manner of doubt and introspection than I do indeed take pride in the pall of restraint I seem to carry along with me.
After the exuding of energy (palpably so) from the masses in attendance, a more somber tone picked up and an ambiance of cyan color pervaded the auditorium, leading into the next song. Lift Up Holy Hands by Norman. L Wagner is also known as the adjective song. Words describing God in this subdued ditty are completed in one list which happens to be the verse sung with the most inflection, “Holy, Wonderful, Marvelous, Glorious, Omnipotent, Righteous and Mighty”. Not the dude in the Bible I’m familiar with, but maybe they knew I was in the house… Hey it could happen!!!
A couple of other songs were sung, but as I tire of espousing the lyrics that you either identify with or have no use for and find silly (depending upon your religious bent or lack thereof) I’ll leave them to remain in my handwritten notes. But the main point I would like to touch upon is the clapping, shouting and whistling which took place after each song. Much like a rock concert. I couldn’t help muse that indeed, THIS was the energy of fanaticism. THIS is what makes people feel the rush and the power of belief and faith. This is what has caused so much blind hate and judgment throughout the centuries. That sugar-coated veneer of joy and love can so very quickly become the flames of a fire burning passionately to send the heretic to the “fiery beyond”.
You know, it is often proclaimed that atheists would have no morals or ethics if not for God, or a higher power. That it is through the Bible and the word of God that we find our scruples and it is this that allows us to live in a society. But I must not so humbly disagree, that it is in fact because of this faith and belief in something that tells you to commit unspeakable acts that we have had so much pain and fear and terror throughout our species history. Only through rational thought and the upholding of secular laws based in pragmatic reason is it that we now enjoy being able to walk down the street without worry of being set upon for our differences of opinion. At least in a reasonable measure. I honestly posit that if we did not have such a secular basis for our American standard, and a vast atheistic culture rooted in its own intelligent right created by doubt in faith, we would still have witch hunts and inquisitions. And with the technology and advancements of our world being brought to bear, it would truly be a decimation of the ranks in a horrendously obtuse fashion.
After the worship and jovial revelry found in the music of the aforementioned Gospels, Miles McPherson took the stage. He is a good-looking, in a strong yet comfortably goofy sort of way, black man with the charismatic appeal that one would expect of the head pastor of such a church. He is also the founder of The Rock Church and previously played for four years in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers. His bio and story are available on the churches website for those further interested in this Born Through Christ individual.
His and the churches main message is one of Pervasive Hope, which is in his own words, “For every way someone can be lost, we want to provide a practical way for them to be found in the very place they ended up.” This explains the myriad of ministering’s that the church promotes and seeks to slide its slimy tentacles into. Sorry, but telling people they need to believe in an imaginary dude in the sky and in a hobbled together text of ancient babble to fix their problems just doesn’t ring true with my idea of someone who REALLY wants to help others. More like fill the seats and build more churches. Which, one did just open in San Ysidro.
From the lips of the man himself, “We have to experience God through giving of ourselves, sacrificing ourselves. We as human beings need to give to feel God.” I found this to be quite the contradiction in terms, as didn’t Jesus already sacrifice himself for the sins of the world, yada yada blah blah ad nausium? With simple acceptance of that sacrifice, we should be saved. What the hell do simple beings as us have to give such an awe-inspiring entity as God? Oh, right. Singing and clapping and shit. Because you know, God loves that kind of thing. Give me a break.
He spoke of letting God have control of your life and raising your hands up in awareness to him and all his glory and majesty. He asked for God to set a fire in the heart of every person present that couldn’t be contained, and that couldn’t be controlled. It was at this time I did a personal assessment to ensure I wasn’t having an odd onset of heartburn… but it was just my bile reflex reacting to such an incredible insinuation of the inciting of fanaticism. This was supported by several rapturous cries from the audience which took the form of “Oh Jesus!!” Yes, much like an orgasm. How’s that silly saying go… oh yes, “Touched by God, Fingered by Jesus?”
There was a brief intermission and an interesting Rap music compilation of prayers was projected on the screen, playing for several minutes. My apologies that I cannot relate much of this experience for review, as when Rap music comes on I tend to turn off. I have my favorites, being an eclectically inclined individual, but not at that particular moment. Ya feel me, yo?!
During this time, it is of note that a woman and her teenage daughter came to our row and sat down next to us, taking up the remaining seats next to the aisle on my right. Both in tasteful skirts and smelling quite nice, I wished them a good morning and they smiled and greeted me as they sat down. Better late than never I suppose. God doesn’t mind right? Well as you’ll find out in the next paragraph, he does. He really, fucking, does.
At this time, Pastor Miles asked the audience two questions, and expanded upon them both in his self-styled segment called “Word of God”. The first being, “Did you pray today?” This was explained as giving God his time with you and you allowing yourself to feel his love. Have you shown God you love him and told him how you’re doing? That sort of thing. Which really leads one to ask… wouldn’t God already know? Sorry there Miles, unless you’re going to allow me the license that I consider myself my own God, and that I talk to myself quite often… no I haven’t prayed to God. Negative one for team Me. Boo-hoo.
The second was, “Did you arrive on time?” Yes… that was the entire message. All about how showing God you love him and that he is important to you depends on whether you show up late for the service or not. To quote those most annoying of people, we all have them at our place of employ… “Seriously… seriously?!?!?” Punctuality is apparently close to godliness. It was at this time I looked over at the woman and her mother, and while the former ignored me, the latter looked over at me and smiled sheepishly. I kept my supportive and purposefully blasphemous reassurances to myself.
After Pastor Miles had laid his two-toned guilt trip in everyone’s ear to ruminate and fester, he asked those gathered to turn to the person to their left, and then right and ask each other these two questions. Because personal guilt with God wasn’t enough, instilling some shame through the masses by the masses certainly does the trick no doubt. After I asked Nelly the questions, yes she had prayed, and she did indeed arrive on time… she asked them of me and of course I replied in the affirmative I had showed up forty-five minutes early but no, I had not prayed as I do not in fact pray. After some friendly and good-natured chuckling, Nelly turned to the person on her left and I turned to the young lady on my right.
She looked so very downtrodden and ashamed as I asked her the questions. Not only had her and her mother not arrived on time (from the likeness, age difference and bearing I must assume they were mother and daughter) but the poor girl hadn’t even given God a prayer yet. Yet she gleefully proclaimed she would, she always did in the evening by her own accounting. And when she asked the questions of me, I parroted back the same answers I gave Nelly, “WAY early but as I don’t pray, I certainly didn’t give this God fellow the time of day”. “Oh!” she exclaimed, and awkwardly smiled and went silent.
Her mother though did not feel any reservation in continuing this question and asked why not? In my most polite of reckonings, I responded that, “It is simply not something I require. I never have.” And like her daughter, “Oh!” was the response and silence prevailed. I think I got off easy though, as the Pastor was now speaking again.
His prayer, “We pray that you would allow us to work your wonders. Let there be hope. We pray that you will allow us to serve you and be your instruments,” upon which he closed with a “1… 2… 3… WORD!” Hut hut, holy huddle anyone!?!?! But how pretentious can you get? It sounded more to me that, “Please let me be a superhero and let you pluck me like a monkey on a fiddle” would have been more appropriate. The audacity that some higher being would give some puny mortal power instead of just doing it themselves in all their omnipotence is just hubris on the grandest scale. Oh well, everyone wants to be a big shot, and through imaginary “wonder working” they can be. When you believe in miracles, anything that goes right can take the fantastical form of a supernatural happening.
And thus, I lead you into the sermonizing portion of the service. And boy howdy is it a whopper of a good time. Whopper being used in the terminology of bullshit, not too terribly far removed from the charbroiled junk of the same name.
He first started by talking about how we are all Ambassadors of Christ, as can be found stated in the following verse;
2 Corinthians, Chapter 5 verse 20 – We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf; Be reconciled to God.”
Now, this would appear to be a direct edict for those who believe in the ways of God and Christ to go forth and “implore” (also see; beg, entreat, beseech) of those non-believers to amend their ways and be reconciled. Obviously promoting proselytizing and evangelical preaching to those with not a care for such ways. And what is more, this edict is said to come from God directly, a divine calling of sorts. Sounds like an easy lead into the fun and ageless practices of holy brow beating and indoctrination. If you cannot see through this simple verse and the implications it could imply, how the wars and witch hunts and inquisitions from the past and present were and are able to so easily go from scripture to … you’re part of the problem. And with a Theological hierarchy so very present within the power structures of the past, how could power hungry politicians and those with totalitarian agendas NOT use such a tool?
For context, as is my want and perhaps one of my main purposes in understanding the dogma as is SHOULD be presented, I offer for you the next verse which was left out of the sermon;
2 Corinthians, Chapter 5 verse 21 – God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Please reread that verse, and then come on back to us.
Very good. So… God made people who originally had NO sin, as in… were pleasant and naturally decent people, or at the very least not murdering, adulterous and blasphemous in being, but “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us…” I’m not sure how else I could take that verse other than that God took perfectly decent folks and turned them into something to be reviled and full of sin so that the “faithful” could become righteous. Isn’t that like setting someone up to be a criminal so you can be the hero with the good guy badge to ride in and save the day? How. Very. Despicable.
(Amendment; in the above paragraph I was incorrect in my contextual definition, understanding the verse to mean “him” as in people or persons. This is in fact a reference to Jesus, which in some ways makes it a more heinous crime though one more readily seen and understand. The creating of any being to be a scapegoat and led into the jaws of torture, ridicule and depravity for the sacrificing of others so they need not be held accountable for their actions is deplorable on every level that counts. Never mind that it was supposedly his son.)
But then, that part was left out. I would invite you to read all of the 2 Corinthians Chapter 5 as it is chock-full of goodies to appease any appetite for incredulity, with verses like;
2 Corinthians, Chapter 5 verse 7 & 8 – For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body (i.e. meaning existence in your material human form) and at home with the Lord.
2 Corinthians, Chapter 5 verse 13 & 14 – For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
Now, Pastor Miles talks of how the United States of America has Ambassadors nearly everywhere, and as God has a spiritual Kingdom, we too are his Ambassadors. He says, “You are to serve and rule in his name, according to his will.” More of the same malarkey, about serving something which cannot be seen or heard or measured, and then to rule through this supposed “understanding” of him, but also to do so according to his will. Well, as is so often promoted, the Bible is his will and thus we have these sermons and services which seek to tell us in a myriad of ways of how to live, what to do and how to do it. To know the mind of such an infinitely vast and powerful being belies belief… though apparently not so much.
But it’s ok, because you are not just Ambassadors, but also according to Pastor Miles, “We are diamonds through which his light shines. You have no glory of yourselves, you must shine through his light. You must make sure God is using you. You must SHOW UP and serve God.” And to do this, you must give God your fifteen minutes of prayer (this was called out as a challenge to the congregation) and to put God first in the list of your priorities. “You need to check that box for God!” “BE ACTIVE!”
Note: For those interested, I would direct you to Romans 8, which parallels 2 Corinthians, Chapter 5. It gives a very detailed accounting of why Jesus had to be sacrificed (what is quoted as a “sin-offering”) and goes on to how that offering affects those who accept Jesus into their hearts. It also speaks of how the “mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” If we were created in God’s image, we are some damn flawed creatures. And if we are flawed, it holds true that God must be as well. Why worship a cruel, jealous and ultimately flawed entity at all? Oh that’s right, because he created a part of himself in the form of a son, then sacrificed the shit out of him for the sake of other people. Because that’s totally a beautiful thing. Now I get it.
At this time the Lord’s Prayer was said, heads bowed, which can be found in Matthew, Chapter 6 starting on verse 9, the whole of which goes like this (King James version being the most commonly used edition of the Bible according to multiple sources);
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen.
Now, I only include the entire prayer for reason of reference and to expand upon the context which I will now expound. The part you have probably never heard of, found several verses before the prayer and in fact comprising the entire first of the chapter of Matthew before the Lord’s prayer speaks thusly, instructing Christians on how to practice righteousness in contrast to how the Jews do so (or did in millennia past);
Comments to follow each verse in its turn;
Matthew, Chapter 6 verses 1:8,
1 – Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. (Or don’t pray and show yourself being righteous to others. One can only wish.)
2 – Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (Again, a more pointed proclamation of not spouting your righteousness off to others as they do in the synagogues or as those town criers do in the streets. Do not do this for the glory of men. There is a proposition I could get behind.)
3 – But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: (I would take this to mean that you should live a double life and not show those others who do not believe as you do that which you reverse and worship. Sound advice no doubt. If only they would use THIS one now adays.)
4– That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. (Keep it secret, keep it safe. Sorry Tolkien, I guess God said it first.)
5 – And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (A redundant statement from verse 2.)
6 – But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Hide in the closet and refer to verses 2 and 4, which talk of the super-secret secretiveness that God requires of you.)
7 – But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. (Speak to God plainly, because those long winded heathens use far too many descriptive anecdotes for such a busy cosmic power as God. Ain’t nobody got time for that!”)
8 – Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (In fact, say as little as possible because God knows what the hell you need before you say it. Maybe you should just grunt a bit and blow a raspberry. It would probably get better results anyway.)
The King James Version uses the term “alms” which is actually a form of giving or offering to others as a virtue, while the other editions of the Bible use the term righteousness which would be more closely in line to the context of worshipping in secret. But my main point, which will also carry forth into the main promotion of what The Rock Church uses as a tool, or guideline to “focused and powerful prayer” is that according to the section before the Lord’s Prayer… Christians should not be showing their righteousness in public for others to observe. In fact, according to the reference to how synagogues are for hypocrites and cast in such a disparaging light… Church’s should not even exist, being blasphemous against God.
So while those among us who accept the human condition and revel in the various personalities, proclivities and preferences that our species entertains, I would invite every believer to please go back into their closet, as their God wishes them to do. And THAT would be a worthwhile charity wouldn’t it? Closets for Christ! “Out of our hair and back into his! Don’t worry about coming out because they’re going back in!!!” Pretty sure I could sell that.
But let’s get back on track shall we? One of the main promotions of Pastor Miles and the Rock Church is in the form of an acronym (isn’t everything); AWCIPA. It uses the Lord’s Prayer as a format for its definition and with various pick and choose verses, serves to form a sort of, fill in the blank prayer structure.
(for the churches lesson plan format, see here; http://www.sdrock.com/uploads/docs/lessonplans/2014-10-19-lessonplankey.pdf)
I’ll not recreate the format in full, but I will define the acronym and give my accounting of it in relation to the aforementioned verses in Matthew;
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Matthew 6:9
A: Admiration and Praise; or Appreciate with praise.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it in heaven. Matthew 6:10
W: Ask for Thy Will to be done.
Give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6:11
C: Pray for Communion with God.
And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. Matthew 6:12
I: Intercede for other people.
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13a
P: Petition for power.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6:13b
A: Admiration and Praise; or Appreciate with praise.
So here we have (along with a great deal of other verse references and fill in the blank statements which I left out, but that can be seen in the link above) a praise and prayer filled guide on how toi create a “focused and powerful prayer”. My huge issue with the popular and wide-sweeping promotion is that it quite goes against everything that the first verses (1-8) actually tell one to do. The instructions as they were listed before included; not being righteous in public, not preaching for the glory of men, keeping your righteousness secret and keeping your prayers short. Pastor Miles has essentially reformatted the Lord’s Prayer into his own version, which not only increases the length of the prayer which is to be used (this being such a thing that those other “heathens” did) but is also being preached as righteousness in a “synagogue” (read; church) type setting for the glory of men (glory of man through God, which can be the only glory there is apparently).
I really must submit that the entire AWCIPA guide is quite blasphemous against the teachings of God as stated in the precepts set forth before the Lord’s Prayer is given. But I’m just a simple and curious non-believer, what do I know?
As each of these sections from the AWCIPA was explained, after each letter a one minute silent prayer was called for to reflect upon the following;
- A) On How Awesome God Is (I didn’t have a mirror handy so I couldn’t check my current condition)
- W) For His Will to Be Done (I shifted myself around my chair to stretch a little and switched which legs were crossed)
- C) For Him to Fill you Up Spiritually (I’m pretty sure I mused for the whole minute envisioning some heavenly orgy with a fat bearded guy dipping his holy schlong into a conveyor belt line of people)
- I) Intercede for Other People (a short prayer was said for this one, no note available to relay its context)
- P) Beseeching for Power (I ran over in my mind what the next week’s workout routine should look like)
- A) To Thank God (I thanked myself by closing my eyes and enjoying the silence. Mmm, silence.)
Overall, I would say that this portion of the service took the longest, as far as any one espousing went. Which just further cements the heathenism of creating such an incredibly convoluted prayer process which God (again, according to the Bible) doesn’t need or even want to hear.
Next, came something straight out of the snake-oil salesman bag which believers and followers of religion have been using since time immemorial. He then makes the following proclamation (paraphrased);
“We are now going to pray for healing. There are people in our congregation and throughout our ministries that are being healed all the time; cancer, arthritis, carpal tunnel, chronic migraines and other debilitating diseases. Through the power of prayer we have healed them and they continue to get better to do God’s work.” Yes, that’s right. Apparently… cancer has been vanquished. Everybody line up at the door, no more chemo is required. No need for science, we’ve got the power of Christ here!!
He asked for people to clap and pray and give praise to Jesus that others might be healed. This was followed by a prayer, “Lord, we have your authority to build your kingdom, for your glory and your wisdom. Through you we have the power to do your will.” Pastor Miles called out several, “In Jesus’s Name” whereupon he asked for those who felt the power of God to stand up and tell the crowd if they felt better. A few actually did;
One relayed how his thumbs had pained him and hurt for over a year now and suddenly, miraculously the pain was gone!!! HALLELUJAH!!!
Another talked of how her chronic migraines which had pained her for a long time were just all of a sudden not there. She felt amazing! AMEN SISTER!!!
Yet someone else talked of a cluttered mind filled with scatterbrained thoughts that was now suddenly clear and free of worry. AMAZING GRACE INDEED!!!
There was much clapping, fanfare and plenty of Praise Jesus’s exclaimed for these miracles of the faith. Now, while I am a skeptic of the tallest order, I’ll certainly not renounce the possibility of channeled energies being used to alter physical states if used appropriately. There is still much we do not know of the energies that our bodies give off, and if one were able to harness and project this in a large gathering perhaps some effect could be produced. But I’ll call bullshit on it for now in this particular instance. Especially as this wasn’t being offered with any sort of empirical or scientific promotion, but as a gift from God.
Pastor Miles went on to say, “Will God do this all the time? NO! But when he does it…. WHEW!!!” Please imagine that being said with something akin to the voice of Robin Williams playing Mrs. Doubtfire, the part where he pops out of the fridge with the cake face screaming, “WHOTALOOO!!!”
The next and last portion of the service was the calling on for tithes and offerings. Reinforcement of alms took the form of a prayer, as collection plates were not being handed out in such a large venue. Options for online payment or drop boxes were available.
“Bless the offering. Bless the will to give, the coffers have been dipping lately and we pray for the strength to serve you. Encourage us to give, which is our responsibility as you have a purpose for us. Let us cheer for tithes and offerings! Our faithfulness allows us to serve God and bring him to San Diego! God I pray you poor out your blessing on those who offer! In Jesus’s name, Amen!”
Which, is really much the same as all of the other proclamations I have heard and listened to in previous church services. Riddled with duty and responsibility, guilt and rewards being offered to those who give money to the church it is just as pandering as all the rest. God really is a terrible accountant isn’t he? He needs to budget his checkbook better. But nobody seems to mind. Because he heals thumbs and scatterbrained people.
At this time, the service wrapped up and Pastor Miles said a last and final prayer for the congregation to serve God and to step up and be active in the ministries which get the word of God and The Rock Church out there for the world to hear.
As Nelly and I rose to leave, I collected my things and waited patiently for the two ladies on my right to leave. Nelly was asking me what I thought, and as I answered I felt a tug on my shirt sleeve. When I turned around the girl was really close and asked me sweetly if she could give me a hug. Now, who am I to turn down the fantasies of some misguided creature? A chaste and warm hug it was, where she held on quite a while and squeezed me close. Rather pleasant all things considered, and I am a great hugger from what I’ve heard so perhaps that had something to do with it. But in any case, she finally detached herself and I thanked her, wishing her and her mother a good day. The older woman smiled curtly at me and lead her daughter away, but not before the young lady flashed me an innocent smile of chaste lust… if that makes any sense. It was passionate, but not of the sexual sort luckily.
I could only sigh and smile to shake my head. Such a pleasant seeming person, being completely ruined by such a system as religion. I honestly feel she would be much better served learning to be a strong and secular individual, putting her apparent compassion and whatever gifts she might have to good use in the service of things she wishes to promote. But, then again she could be just another person that requires belief in that man in the sky. But I will say, despite my knowing her intention for the hug, I’ll admit she had an effect upon this crusty and misanthropic young heart of mine and I can only wish her the best in whatever road she chooses to travel.
True to our plans, Nelly and I enjoyed a burger and fries at the Five Guys joint a short walk from the Church. We had quite an amazing conversation in my opinion, which cemented certain understandings for me as well as opened up other avenues of inquiry to research, while hopefully enlightening Nelly just a little more about what Satanism is and what that means for an individual that finds they identify with it.
While what we said shall remain confidential as always, I’ll relate that while we are most certainly on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the differences between a believer and a non-believer, we continue to have a fun and amicable relationship as co-workers and in being acquaintances during the times we cross each other’s path. We rib each other good-naturedly on our diametrically opposed life’s paths and I think that, knowing now where each of us stands in regards to life we have that bond which people who have shared themselves, if only in words and over a delicious meat-sandwich, have.
And that is going to conclude another chapter of A God Amongst Them and my assessment of The Rock Church in Point Loma, San Diego California. As always, this Citizen wishes you the best in your dark endeavors and thanks you for coming along with me in this, another of my adventures in being A Spy in the House of God!