Monday, January 30, 2012

Knocked out by the Holy Ghost

So, back in a former life, I worked for a Christian FM radio station.  It was mostly pop/rock music (back before some of the artists we played made a mass exodus out of the closet), but also there would be sponsored hours of talk radio, for example Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family.  Down the hall from the bigger studio was a glorified closet (a real one, not a figurative one with gay Christian singers in it) containing a pile of equipment that amounted to an AM station that was dedicated to 24/7 Christian talk--national stuff like Dobson, but also local stuff.  Basically, any yokel who preached, taught, or thought they could bought radio time, and we let them go to town.  My role was much like Roz's on the show Frasier, although I realize even as I type this that I need to update my pop culture references.

I digress.

Our station was located on the property of a large (but not mega) church that was very charismatic in its approach.  These were tongue-talking, hand swaying, jump up and down folks (predominately white, so it wasn't even good swaying and jumping).  They were also for the most part quite poor and were manipulated out of the little money they had by this institution on a regular, ongoing basis. 

One of the ways in which they were milked was the phenomenon of the REVIVAL.  REVIVAL seems like it should be something that happens spontaneously and on its own, and one would imagine that the community at large would see some evidence of God's people having renewed energy and dedication to do good in the world, but none of these things were true of the revivals in this place. 

Here, revival meant that some quasi-famous-only-to-people-in-a-certain-grouping-of-charismatic-churches preacher would be invited to come and preach for several evenings in a row.  The guy that they brought in who appears in this particular story was young and HOT.  This guy was dumb, dumb, dumb, but he could dance around a stage, string some words together, shout and get people riled up, and he was HOT.  Women in the choir (and a certain percentage of men) would really dress up and jump up and down during the singing.  Stuff bounced.  Parts were flying.  People wanted to snag this dude.

Because of his ability to get these people going on an emotional high for hours on end, he came back night after night, and the money rolled in.  At the end of the week, it was very quiet when the pastor of the church took the pulpit to bid fairwell to Mr. McHotness.  It was a sad, somber moment.  Congregants were in tears.  The lights were dim, and the worship band played something really slow and soft.  Prayer warriors walked slowly around the perimiters of the sanctuary, praying evil out of that place.  Praying for the spirit to keep falling, and for the will of the Father to be done.  This is how they did things. 

Each element was in place--the music, the lights, prayers praying, pipers piping.  Seemingly spontaneous, spirit-led, working in the way the Lord really wanted to work.    The silence was electric.  There were chemicals flowing through these folks, the kind you get when you're in a huge group of people all focused on one person or thing or purpose.

The pastor surprised them all when he announced that God did not want this revival to end.  Hottie was coming back for another week of revival!  Wooooooooooo hooooooooo!!!!!

Oh, Jesus God, the pandemonium that broke out.  The dimmed sanctuary suddenly lit up like Times Square on New Year's Eve, the music blared loud and raucous, and the body parts were flying up and down again.  The somber pray-ers in the aisles threw their hands in the air, faces to heaven, tears streaming...yes, Jesus!!!  Yes, Jesus!!!!  They shouted at the tops of their lungs, but it just mixed with the rest of the holy cacophony.

At the end of the second week of revival, repeat the above scene.

At the end of the third week of revival, repeat the above scene.

At the end of the fourth...

At the end of the fifth...

This went on for six weeks.  The dough rolled in, and Pastor was seen purchasing clothes at the local mall with and for McHotness, including a $300 pair of shoes.  Other little scenarios like that went around, and I don't know if any of them were true.  But there is no doubt about the fact that in this economically depressed area, that church raked in offerings night after night after night for six weeks straight.  The crowd didn't increase.  It was the same group on the last sad night as it was on the very first.  Some of the young ladies in the choir probably never repeated an outfit.  They brought it every night on the off chance that maybe...just maybe he'll see... 

This would all mean absolutely nothing to me, and I wouldn't know about it except for the fact that I worked at the radio station owned by this church, and on the same campus (if a campus consists of a church building, a radio station, a small K-12 Christian school and a big parking lot covered in goose shit because of the lake nearby--drain that thing, and I swear you'd find bodies).  It really only mattered to me, because I had to run the live feed of the revival on both stations.  The normal music and stuff was replaced by the revival, per the pastor (ring master).  That's where I come into all of this.

Somewhere in the middle of the chaos of these weeks, there was an issue with sound that I couldn't fix at the station.  I had to go over to the church to check something with the sound guy over there. 

Normally, I might've driven down the drive that led back to the church to expedite the solution, but the parking lot and drive were a huge cluster fuck of cars (98% piles of junk and 2% nice) due to the service.  I walked down there.  This was in the summer, and I was wearing cargo shorts, sandals and a t-shirt.  Probably some stringy-yarny-beady bracelet.  Very hippy-dippy-Jesus kind of a thing going on.  This attire didn't really matter, because people dressed all different ways there, but it plays into the funny of WHAT HAPPENED NEXT...

7 comments:

  1. I wanna know what happens next! Hurry! What happened to Mr. McHotness?

    In all seriousness, this kind of revival is alive and well today, particularly in New Apostolic Reformation circles. One need only look at TheCall and IHOP events to see that kind of calculated group ecstasy. Plenty of quasi-famous-only-to-people-in-a-certain-grouping-of-charismatic-churches preachers travel the preaching circuit in these communities. Ick.

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    1. I will conclude soon! I honestly meant to tell this story in one post, but ran out of time to finish. :)

      You're right. This stuff goes on all the time. I guess because it works so well. *sigh*

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  2. Oh, god... Revivals :p At least you were lucky and there was a HOT preacher who got asked to come in! ;) 9/10 times my church got some old fire and brimstone guy with grey or no hair who'd usually keep the group there late. I was always so glad when revival week was over. But 6 weeks! Yikes.

    I'm interested to read what comes next!

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    1. The church where I grew up was probably similar to yours. I also hated revival week, but these charismatic ones like what I describe here are a whole different breed!

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    2. Well, after reading the conclusion, I have to confess this is certainly above and beyond what they would have done at the church I went to as a kid :)

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  3. For 4 years that was all I heard about at Asbury. They wanted, NEEDED, revival again. Begging for it does not really help it happen naturally. Lordy be, I do so hate that word.

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    1. That word really is fraught with baggage. It means a lot of different things to different people. For me, it's more meaningful if you can see results. If I drive through an area that used to be a giant shithole, and I see that graffitied walls have been painted over with beautiful murals, dilapidated buildings have been rebuilt into community centers and libraries, and other improvements are being made...that makes me think, "Yes! Revival!" And to me, it has nothing to do with waiting around for some spirit to fall, but instead with people rolling up their sleeves and deciding together, "Let's do this."

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