I’m a little bit surprised if you are still reading my blog. The last three posts were rigged to make a point and I took you on a ride without your permission so you could understand first-hand what it felt like. I tricked you and purposefully kept the majority of the post the same, but altered bits and pieces to make you think I was giving you a brand new post. The last post, I again interspersed the same message, but this time with growing feelings of exasperation and anger. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the thought that a pastor knowingly did this week after week after week after week . . . okay, I’ll stop 🙂
I know how I felt with those repetitious sermons. I felt like they were wasting my time, that he wanted to pound his message into my head, that it was a form of indoctrination. They were loud, felt strong, and sounded like hyper-authoritative lectures. I hope you were able to sense my rising emotions as I continued each post.
For the record, I normally only use the word “suck” as in, “my little boy likes to suck his thumb”, not the way in which I used it on the previous title, “All Smoothies are Good, Sermons Suck.” In fact, every time I see the title, I cringe because that is not how I speak normally. But it was used because it expresses how one may respond when dealing with something like this. Anger rose up from within me screaming: STOP THIS INSANITY! It’s interesting as I type these blog posts, I often emotionally connect to those times from years ago and the feelings come flooding back.
I know many congregants were annoyed with the repetitious sermons, while others sat and endured it quietly. We all react differently. Some people zoned out and their minds drifted. Others used the time to get some business done. Here are some ways people zoned or preoccupied their mind so they didn’t have to listen to the repetitious sermons. It was easy for me to see what was going on when walking out of the sanctuary to check on my little one in the nursery or to use the restroom.
|Some people worked on their checkbooks.|
|Quite a few kids drew pictures. I remember seeing some fantastic sailing ships with men and their weapons (hmm, the thought that the drawings related to war so often never dawned on me before typing this).|
|Grocery lists: this was a popular way to bide the time|
Another popular response as I briefly alluded to above was to leave the sanctuary and go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, check the nursery to see how the kids were doing, go outside the check the weather, etc.
It occurred to me that I may have just “outed” these “mental escape” methods to the pastor because I know he and his “spies” read this blog. Perhaps there will be a meeting soon to recruit spies to report this activity to the pastor – or install hidden cameras, or who knows what else. When you are dealing with someone who secretly records conversations without permission, goes to houses unannounced demanding information, keeps detailed files of “sins”, even sins repented of and long forgiven, this would not be out of the realm of possibilities, sadly.
I ran across another N. Korea story on CNN this weekend in the midst of this series – how timely. CNN covered a story of someone who defected from N. Korea and left his wife and 2 daughters behind. This part especially struck me:
Oh, a native of South Korea, moved his family to Pyongyang in 1985 despite his wife’s reservations on the promise of a good job and free medical treatment for his wife’s hepatitis, but when they arrived he realized he had been tricked.
He says there was not a job nor medical help for his wife, just three months of what he calls, “lectures from day to night on North Korea ideology, history and brainwashing.” He was then forced to work in a radio station broadcasting propaganda.
There’s that brainwashing thing again. That’s what it felt like for me.
My 25-yr old daughter, Hannah, who is also being sued for defamation along with Meaghan and me, discusses this in her Google review. I’d have to look up which words/phrases are actually part of the defamation lawsuit, but here is her reaction to the repetitious sermons that she posted on the original Google review and might very well be in the lawsuit:
The entire time I was there, we never got off of Romans 12 (over a year). I now think Chuck thought we were too stupid to grasp his “deep” concepts and so felt he had to hammer it in repeatedly week after week, and/or he likes to hear himself talk.
And here is also Hannah’s response to my recent blog posts:
HannahJune 11, 2012 8:02 PM
So the last three posts pretty typical of his sermons from what I remember from personal experience, except that you would need to have at least 50 minutes of verbal oration and add only maybe 10 minutes of new material, which is in essence only delving into literally the three next words in the same sentence of the half a verse we’ve been “exploring” for the last 8 weeks.
Hannah remembers it as I do. She was at the church for a little over a year and moved out of our home and 45 minutes away because she couldn’t handle this church and didn’t want to get sucked into it again. We stayed a little over 2 years and by the time we left, we had only progressed to Romans 13:6-7. So for the 2 years and 2 months we were there, we covered Romans 12 through Romans 13:7.
As I took good notes and checked the sermons noting key phrases were reused but in different order for the first 45-50 minutes of the sermon and then we’d hear fresh material for the remaining 10-15 minutes. Hannah’s assessment above is correct. My time would have been better served by reading the Bible on my own in the parking lot and then coming into the sanctuary 10 minutes before the end of the service to hear the new mini-sermon.
I brought these issues up to the pastor during our final meetings because the sheep were obviously disgruntled and crying out for food. They did the best they could do to communicate this, but it fell on deaf ears. Why did the crying sheep not matter? Why did this relentless, authoritarian, repetitious loud preaching continue despite the cries of the people? What kind of pastor ignores pleas from his congregants and plows ahead with his own agenda? What purpose did this serve? Who was this benefiting?
I look back on the wasted time, think of what it did to me spiritually. I kind of wish I would have had the guts to do this during Sunday sermons:
|Julie Anne’s knitting|
I always have a pile of UFO (unfinished objects) knitting projects that need to be worked on. I imagine they all would have been done if I used my time more productively. What a shame, because not much positive came out of that time.
I leave you with this comment from David Johnson that came through just as I posted this. It ties in beautifully because repetitious sermons as we endured can cause one to be spiritually weak and their growth to be stunted.
David JohnsonJune 12, 2012 9:48 AM
What is to give light must endure burning. – Viktor Frankl
As I’ve been mulling over Mark 9:42, and how these words of Jesus may actually relate to Pastor Chuck, I’m reminded of what was said elsewhere concerning Mr O’Neal, How Chuck had better hope the Judge don’t get all Biblical on his butt, ’cause the Judgement, just might include a Millstone and a Boat Trip!
“And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, to fall into sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.”
These ‘little ones’ refers to both children and those who are weak in the faith. On reading some of the comments on this situation at http://www.rawstory.com (where I, personally, found out about this madness a month ago) I read the words of many who appear either weak in the faith or possessing no faith at all being adversely affected by Chucks actions in ways that either cause them to stumble, or, more often, embolden them even deeper in their rebellion against the God who Chuck professes to be an Ambassador of.
* * *