Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Of Cartridges And Things: The Latter Day Saint Legacy Of Divine Violence

The ongoing occupation of a Oregon federal wildlife refuge's grounds by dissident rancher activists again provides for us an opportunity to look beyond the headlines to the bigger picture behind their protest. The leader of the group, one Ammon Bundy, draws his moral high ground for his actions as much as from deep seated convictions that the federal government has disrupted his livelihood and that of his neighbors as well as an earnest appeal to several generations of Latter Day Saint political pietism in the Northwest. 

A recent Religion & Politics column written by Benjamin Park is well worth a read to grasp how such a seemingly harmless faith like Mormonism has provided for Bundy and many of his following a platform to become a rallying point for dissent, even armed conflict:

Even on an issue as crucial as violence, the LDS culture has enough tools at its disposal to construct various, and seemingly conflicting, idols. ..

Indeed, examining the relationship between Mormonism’s tradition and the current standoff in Oregon is a reminder that the construction of political theologies is always an exercise in creating religion after one’s own image.

It's an article well worth the read and shows how quickly the acquired absolutism drawn from one's lifetime in the thrall of an authoritarian group becomes both the potter and the clay in the cottage industry of good old fashioned cultism.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

ICSA 2016 in Dallas on Recovery From Cultism: Hope To See You There!

It is an honor to have been accepted as a speaker at the 2016 International Cultic Studies Association. I've not been at a conference in quite a good while outside those Spiritwatch Ministries has helped facilitate so some great friends have encouraged me to consider providing my own input there for a while and so I applied, and was accepted.

I've spoken in evangelism conferences (like the one above) about cultism for my movement, the Church of God (Cleveland) as well as in those operated by the Midwest Christian Outreach and EMNR coalition over the years.  Speaking at conferences has always been challenging and yet profoundly encouraging. I hope to someday get more of our conference audio and video online this year. So when this opportunity came, I felt I should offer my own interaction. I appreciate the recognition of the work and plan to be there.

The ICSA was at one time called the American Family Foundation and I have watched it from afar off and have been too absorbed in too many other things to go the next step up to be involved there. It has done a tremendous job in being one of the major resources on cultism and cultic abuses that victims and survivors can look to. I have been working to help people in cults in one way or another since 1983 and have been aware that people of like minds have been doing the same all over the world. The ICSA is a band of professionals, survivors, ministers, lawyers, therapists and genuinely caring people - although diverse and global in populace, it is dedicated to pretty much the same thing I have tried to address in the one small segment of the Cultworld I've tried to work with.

The topic of the conference deals with recovery from cultic groups and I will be giving a talk on the development of a Christian model of cult recovery that is non-coercive and yet faithful to Christian principles. I don't believe recovery from the abusive manipulation of cultism and compassionate Christian ministry to those who have experienced it are mutually exclusive whatsoever. That is what I will be sharing with, in a 30 minute paper presentation (with of course, the obligatory PowerPoint) and 15 minutes of questioning.

I'm not sure what the date for that will be but it will occur during the conference in Dallas, Texas from June 30 through July 2, 2016. We hope to see some of you then. More information will follow ... the latest conference into can be read here at the ICSA website.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Who Said There's No Free Lunches Anymore? When The Criminals Can Help Run The Land

 Most people think that your life ends when you are sentenced to a long term of incarceration. Au contraire.

In fact, for a fair number of convicts, the American prison system becomes the greatest thing to happen to them. They get room, board, medical care and the chance to earn privileges which they capitalize on to change their lifestyle and "mend their ways."  It's unlike jail time in much of the world anywhere else.

In fact, it's a proven fact that convicts can remain involved and connected with their former external lives in ways thought impossible. Imprisoned organized crime lords still get their underlings to run the show while they're gone. Embezzling businessmen can still buy, sell and trade, drug traffickers get their destructive product distributed, and rapists and other misanthropes like cult leaders Charles Manson and Warren Jeffs can live pretty well empowered lives. Manson's murderous cult was largely broken up when he was brought to justice, but he still writes books, charms women, and dispenses his warped thinking via a website. Jeffs still runs his LDS fundamentalist people group with an iron hand even after his child rape conviction and does so with an authoritarianism that would make Brigham Young proud.

So, if cult leaders and other organized miscreants can run their empires from prison, why can't we re-elect and swear in government officials while they are arrested for suspicions of murder and drug dealing? Right here in Northwest Indiana, such a spectacle continues. An East Chicago council man, Robert Battle, is about to be sworn in while awaiting a court date for suspicion of homicide and drug trafficking conspiracy. Before his arrest, he was running unopposed for the position, got 308 votes for the job during the election which took place and was arrested shortly after his victory. His trial won't be until next summer, but until then, he's likely going to continue to draw pay and be able to run government.. from jail.

Only in America do you see this kind of pandering to the criminal element of our fallen society go on.

As I've said before, you can't make this up. Click here for the latest sordid details.

What was that old saw about the inmates running the prison?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Meat The Press, part 2015: How Pop Apostacy Pops Up In The Media

There's nothing .. and I mean nothing .. so jaw droppingly amusing when the media takes to its massive networks of print, internet, TV and radio mediums to take to task those whom it feels the need to cut down to size. 

There's perhaps no more pathetically hilarious season then when certain talking heads, steered by their producers pulling their strings by earpiece, want to remind us what "real Christianity" is all about when Christians and Christian institutions refuse to compromise to the social conventions everyone demands of it.
With polls and the cultural pulse takers of the day telling us how disconnected the church has become from the foundational truths which it has upheld for over two millenia, it's easy to feel that maybe we need to "evolve" and "revision" a more "user friendly" faith that isn't so intolerant, archaic, and out of touch with modern sensibilities.

So G. Shane Morris' biting response to the gainsaying day we live in is a refreshing reminder of just how countercultural that the Christian faith is and must be and shall be.

What matters, and what the media can’t for the life of them seem to understand is this: We, as Christians, do not worship a generic God-of-the-philosophers, non-trinitarian, and infinitely customizable to various faiths. Our God insists on being known as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as revealed in the New Testament.

When a Christian or a journalist demands we act like Jesus and just get along with everybody, I remind them that Jesus wrecked the Kumbaya of first-century Jewish theology by making exactly the claim about himself I’m making now: He is God in human flesh.
Do Christians and Muslims worship the same god? Well, is Jesus Christ God? You can’t answer “yes” to both, no matter how loudly the theologians in the media insist otherwise.

His throwing down of the gauntlet can be read in full here.   I can only wish I'd written it first.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

If It Quacks Like A Duck, And Walks Like A Duck: The Ongoing Cultism Of Remnant Fellowship

Cultism to this day still gushes out of the filthy cisterns of the Remnant Fellowship's authoritarian leadership as inspired by the micromanaging orations of its self proclaimed "prophet" Gwen Shamblin. The underlying spiritual terrorism of Shamblin's religion isn't lost on observers not dazzled by its bling and zeal.  Suzanne Titkemeyer, a blogger and administrator of the No Longer Quivering  online support community dedicated to helping women who are spiritually abused, did not fail to note Remnant's aberrance in a blog post from last year:

Years later I heard that Gwen (Shamblin) had said most Christians weren’t very Christian or serious about their faith. At the time I was shocked by her statement but after eight years out I have to say I agree with her. Where I disagree is in the fact that she started her own church, The Remnant, which has more in common with Michael Pearl and other dangerous theology than any movement to free Christianity from legalism.

Click the link above for the complete article of Suzanne's painful reminiscence and discovery of the cultism of Remnant and it's leaders.  It's well worth the biting, irreverent read .

Monday, January 4, 2016

When Transmission Belts Fail: One Columnist's Minority Opinion

A civilized society's first line of defense is not the law, police and courts but customs, traditions, rules of etiquette and moral values. These behavioral norms — mostly transmitted by example, word of mouth and religious teachings — represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experience and trial and error.

They include important thou-shalt-nots, such as thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not steal and thou shalt not cheat. They also include all those courtesies that have traditionally been associated with ladylike and gentlemanly conduct.

The failure to fully transmit these values and traditions to subsequent generations represents one of the failings of what journalist Tom Brokaw called "The Greatest Generation." People in this so-called great generation, who lived during the trauma of the Great Depression and fought World War II, not only failed to transmit the moral values of their parents but also are responsible for government programs that will deliver economic chaos.

And the United States pays for it daily, in both the ongoing moral and financial decay of our land. As much as we have to laud our forebears, there remains this stark truth: it failed us horrifically when it came to teaching and living out what it meant to live right from wrong. The apostasy today does indeed have roots and wings.

To read the rest of Walter Williams concise and brutally honest commentary piece, click here.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Clouds Without Water: The Shameless "Examples" Of Apostacy Roll On

On this blog, we discuss how much more of the slippery slope of apostacy from the Christian faith we have slithered down, how cultism, the culture wars and just life in general shows how utterly in need of a Savior humanity really is. We've reviewed a lot of the sordid, the sensual and the spiritually deceptive over the years and as 2016 dawns, I intend to continue that trend primarily because of the dark hour we live in that demands that discernment and truth be heralded in the face of a world of lies.

So, with that in mind, we often must be reminded that there's a real reason why things are written in the Bible as they are and as they sound. In a world that wants to make the 10 Commandments, for example, into 10 Suggestions and the nature of God so fluid as to encompass flying spaghtetti monsters and reincarnated lepers, the Bible stands alone as a standard to live by. It's not a book of mystery and fable, but one filled with honest accounts of God's dealing with his stubborn and rebellious creation, and how warped we can be.

So when Jude 12-13 perfectly and infallibly prophesies about just how shagnasty and loathesome an spectacle of carnal self-interest that "prophets" "very spiritual persons" and "church workers" today provide, we'd better listen: there's a reason why the apostle writes with a burning and almost lyrical passion there ..

These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear:clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;  Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

Without shame, such wolves in sheep's clothing continue to do their thing. Knowing the level of discernment and gullibility is at an all time high among those who wish to believe, they impudently, shamelessly, boldly offer themselves as morally pure repositors of Christian faith and balanced spirituality. The three examples above aren't even close to being a representative sample of this tribe of impostors. We trust you'll see why Jude says what he says here.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Art Still Imitates Life .. All Too Well

It's 2016 ... another year of apostasy has completed to seamlessly flow into another. In the last days, it's about the only thing we can really count on occurring in this crumbling world order.

Spiritual abuse, agenda-laden socialization and fallen human nature on every hand keeps breeding perfect storms of deceptive and cultic manipulation. It is so mundane that it can be found everywhere in human society. It's always noteworthy when it finds an uncommonly piercing light thrown on it.

The power of authoritarian social pressure that unethically compels people to make lifestyle decisions plainly inspired by the groupthink surrounding them is an old reality. People want to belong and be lead by those who promise them meaning, fulfillment and community based upon the allure of the group they are invited to join.  But this is not a phenomenon limited to religious cults. Oh by no means .. 

Click here to see a piercingly and painfully on target observation of how cults on college/university campus are often hidden in plain sight, thus allowing them to create parallel universes within them .. The young film student who created this exceedingly disturbing work has found her film being cut off from YouTube and other sources and vilified as a jealous wanna be. She's also lit up, in just a few months, a sizeable portion of the Internet.

We think as you watch this you'll get her point: Cultism truly is an equal opportunity scourge of humanity.