Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Strange And Tragic Example of Michael Jackson: When Mama Wasn't Happy

The struggling metropolis of Gary, Indiana is just to the east of us here, and was recently in the news when President Obama's flight to Chicago to fund raise for Governor Pat Quinn there ended up having to land there this past week. It brought a bit of visibility and positive news for a city that's not had much to cheer about as it continues to seek recovery from the economic evaporation of business and revenue in the past 30 years.

Gary can pride itself on something no other city can - it was the land of nativity for the Jackson family entertainment clan whose best known members were the Jackson Five, Janet Jackson and of course her inimitable brother, the "King of Pop" Michael Jackson. Jackson, who died tragically of cardiac arrest in 2009, was perhaps one of the most well known and perhaps one of the most complex pop singers of all time. His public and personal lives were a surreal mixture of spectacle and ritual in which his passion for chimps, children and cutting blockbuster smash music hits were offered for the world to see and partake.

His eccentric tastes along with his obsessive bouts of plastic surgery and other extravagant lifestyle choices were the result of a famously and yet authentically conflicted life. It would lead him to becoming a figure of ridicule in the press as its notoriously fickle attention it paid to him turned with the wind, even earning him the unflattering term of "Wacko Jacko". He seemed at once a cultural colossus, astride the world with sequined feet of clay that often couldn't help but blunder into personal problem after problem.

But the tragic reality behind Jackson's persona and the fabric of his soul was perhaps most famously woven by the shadow of cultic spirituality that he and his family came to be dominated by. His mother Katherine became a Jehovah's Witness quite early in their life and what is not commonly known is just how zealously Jackson was brought up in this faith. It was the tension between Jackon's desire to entertain and enjoy his life and the authoritarian cultic movement's demand for blameless appearances of piety and purity that did more to psychologically oppress him.

Just how deeply that inner struggle tore at him has long been one of the great burdens he carried even as he sought to keep the masses happy.  A telling read of the story behind his involvement with the Watchtower Society is worth the mouse click to read. It illustrates perfectly how cultism poisons the soul and warps the mind and sensibility of all who fall prey to it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Halloween: Still Another Day In The Life of End Time Apostasy

One of the many old blog articles started yarrons ago in Cleveland, Tennessee which I'm completing now .. this one was from the fall of 2012 ..

Once again in coming home from work, I'm driving through this sleepy little Southern town in the glow of an autumn dusk, a quarter century after arriving here in a reflective mood.

There's so much on my heart and mind about just how really dark things are getting even here in Cleveland, Tennessee a veritable buckle in the Bible Belt, where churches dot every corner and evangelical piety colors almost everything and yet with so uneven a coating and even more unequal depth .. and quality.  While it's pleasant to encounter believers all around you in a polite, discreet and conservative social vibe, it's equally unsettling and sobering to see how thoroughly so many others hold faith at length, or cynically cite it in their lives as needed by dipping from a spiritual penny dish at the convenience store counters of their souls.

I remember that Jesus commands Christians to be salt and light to a darkened world but I witness too much daily showing how horribly that mark is missed and tonight is especially no exception.

Once again, the cultural obsession with an observance of what we like to call Halloween has swept over the area. Each year, the whole city joins in the bandwagon, and no one seems to actually care that Halloween is a holiday entirely derived from pagan occultism. Seemingly harmless revelry, costuming, partying and a bizarre obsession for nicely tamed objects of horror and terror pops out of nowhere. Schools host costume parties and workplaces blossom with faux-spooky decor like bats, jack o lanterns and other stuff. For a time, middle aged women dress like zombies and little kids like Luke Skywalker or teens like vampires
from the "Twilight" movies. New movies premiere all over the place with gory, sensual bloodfests stitched loosely together by some pop occultism. Delight is drawn from things like ghost stories, haunted houses, dabbling with ouija boards and giving our imaginations and fancies over to the things of darkness.  We rise up and make the dark, violent and grotesque our playfields and reckon that such attention is harmless, hurts no one is and is American as mom, apple pie and Maglites.

So when I drove past a church in Cleveland with this sign prominently erected as seen above, it simply was heartwarming to see someone directly challenging it - apart from the "hell houses" or fall festivals many churches will supply as alternatives to the Halloween spirit. God's Word does indeed have a thing or two to say to us about this abandonment to a festival based on pagan spirituality: things that really might make you lose a little sleep at night if such things like His Word matter to you. Most people don't have a clue and even if they did, it wouldn't matter.

But we try to let people know anyhoo. We've consistently observed how this seasonal descent of our culture into a dabbling with the spooky is far from just harmless autumn leisure time.

Check out our articles on why Halloween should be considered a very unsavory time of tricking, not treating here .. and download PDF file versions you can copy and distribute.