Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Some churches eat grass, others prefer to smoke it

By Bishop Dave Chikosi
All churches are not created equal. They differ in spiritual architecture. There’s the good, the bad and the bizarre. In this light hearted, devil-may-care essay I shine the spotlight on the bizarre.
The church of the drunken flying monster

Pastor Lesego Daniel made church members eat grass
Welcome to the Church of the Spaghetti Flying Monster! Want to become a member? Done! Forget catechism, membership classes or water baptism. You become a Pastafarian as soon as your declare your intentions to become one!
There are many weird churches in the world, but the SFM has to rank as one of the most bizarre worshipping community there. This satirical religious group was founded in 2005 by one Bobby Henderson after his fight with the Kansas State Board of Education in US.
Mr Henderson was very angry after the Board ruled to include intelligent design an alternative to evolution in the Kansas school curriculum. As his way to “stick it to the man” Mr Henderson invented his own supernatural intelligence (the spaghetti monster) in an attempt to demonstrate that the Intelligent Designer that the Christian Board of Education call God can be anything. The Intelligent Designer could be a monster made out of pasta.
According to Pastafarian theology, an invisible monster composed of two large meatballs surrounded by a mass of spaghetti created the universe “after drinking heavily.”
But my dear friends, if you want to believe that you were created by a beer-drinking creature made up of a mass spaghetti, that is your prerogative.

Some churches eat grass, others prefer to smoke it
The church of El Diego
The Iglesia Maradoniana is the church of Maradona. Yes, that Argentinian footballer named Diego Maradona. His fans believe that he is the best player of all time. They therefore decided on Oct 30, 1998 to form a church with Diego as the object of worship.
But the best player? I thought the best soccer player was Pele of Brazil. Not so according to the church of El Diego. The last line of their “lord’s prayer” reads: “Don’t let yourself get caught offside, and free us from Havelange and Pelé.”
The world evidently needs to be delivered from being obsessed with the great Pele.
But folks, if anyone wants to worship an Argentinian deity with a history of drug abuse and alcohol addiction then that’s up to you. And what will become of El Diego when current Argentine soccer kingpin Lionel Messi’s star shines brighter than Maradona’s? A change of deity I suppose, with Messi being the new messiah?

Obama and gay demons
But there is also this pastor of a church called ATLAH in Harlem, New York. His name is Rev James David Manning. He recently made headlines in US by putting up a giant church sign at his church that reads: “Obama has released the homo demons on the black man; look out black woman, a white homo may take your man.”
Rev James David Manning is not some Ted Nugent racist guy. Ted Nugent recently called President Obama “a subhuman mongrel.” (And to think that as a high school student Nugent was one of my favorite heavy rock musician?).
No, Pastor Manning is Black. He says that under Obama, Black men “are being scooped up by white homos,” thus destroying the black family. “The white homo is now moving into the black neighborhoods, looking for Black men that have been converted into homosexuality. Black woman let me say something to you: You will have a very hard time competing against a white homosexual male, he’s usually got money . . . has an American Express card . . . “
Phew! Pastor Manning’s sign was unveiled last week, Sunday Feb 23, 2014 in front of the ATLAH World Missionary Church near the corner of W. 123rd St and Lenox Ave.

The church where you can come (naked) as you are

At this church, forget dressing up in your Sunday best. Most church members at White Tail Chapel in Southampton, Virginia, USA just show up in their birthday suits. If reading scriptures in the nude is your thing, they would love to have you this Sunday.
White Tail is pastored by the Rev Allen Parker. He says this church has been in existence since the 1980s. He preaches in the buff every Sunday. But don’t go there expecting to worship alongside swimsuit models like Beyonce or sculpted male stars like the Rock. If you go there purely to gaze and behold, then you will be disappointed. Most of their members seem to be grossly overweight, with plenty of spare tires around the waistline. It might gross you out.
But what White Tail Chapel (what a name for a church of mostly White nude worshippers!) seems to miss is that God wants us to bare our souls not our bodies. They seem to have missed the point in Genesis 3:21: “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” God wants us clothed not naked, and that is the naked truth.
For Pastor Allen Parker, I have only one question: WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?). Streak through the Jewish temple or synagogue? I don’t think so.

Grass-eating or weed-smoking?
Last but not least, is the interesting contrast between two churches with two different approaches to what to do with grass during church services.
The United Cannabis Ministry of Rev Steven Cherms is a non-denominational US church. Part of the welcome message on the church website reads: “Our main goals are to help each other, enlighten the people, and heal the world. Our main belief is that cannabis is sacrament and helps us reach and communicate with our higher power or to connect with our spiritual side.”
Only in America! You have to smoke a reefer to be able to connect with the Almighty? Seriously? And pastor, have you thought about the possibility of someone accidentally burning down the church while lighting a joint?

But if you think that this church is bizarre, try visiting Rabonni Center, a church in Johannesburg, South Africa. There the people don’t smoke grass: they eat it. The pastor, Rev Lesego Daniel, recently ordered part of his congregation to go outside the building and eat grass. Why? For the same reason that Rev Steven Cherms of United Cannabis Ministry has his congregation smoking marijuana i.e. to get closer to God.
I have seen the YouTube video. It is extremely hard to watch. And to defend. To see fellow humans grazing on green pasture like beasts of the field is very disturbing. Pastor Lesego calls the grass “food from heaven.”
Does God sometimes use strange or even bizarre methods to effect a cure on sick or dying people? Absolutely. We have Biblical precedence of individuals who were cured by non-orthodox religious means. But it’s always a case of a single or two individuals on the receiving end.

But when almost half a congregation goes out to graze on church lawn in order to get close to God, one can’t help but think that a line has been crossed in the spirit. I am not privy to the pastor’s relationship with the Lord and what God might or might not have instructed to do.

However, one hopes that his mentors and/or ministry peers in the city have already paid him a visit and taken the opportunity to review the activities of this sad one-off event.

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