Christian Right Weekly Round-Up: Pastor Pillow Lives Inside Me

arik-bjorn-pastor-pillowExtra, Extra! Read all about it!

Pastor Pillow Talks! is now an e-book!

“Pastor Pillow here!”

That’s how the “Christian Right Weekly Round-Up” usually begins. However, this week, Pastor Pillow is taking a break and hanging out in The Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh. Even though Pastor Pillow wants you to believe he only drinks sparkling grape juice—even to brush his pearly-gate white teeth—I don’t think even he could resist a Pipe Organ Pale Ale.

I’m Arik, by the way, creator of the “Christian Right Weekly Round-Up,” (“CRWRU” for short). That megachurch shuckster Pastor Pillow, Cubic Zirconia Ministries, the Noah’s Ark Petting Zoo, the Jacob’s Ladder Baptismal Water Slide, Glory Holy Ministries and Brother Bear—they’re all products of my somewhat disturbed imagination.

It’s hard to believe the “Christian Right Weekly Round Up” is already one year in the can! Here, have a cigar.

I wrote the first “CRWRU” last August on the heels of my essay, “What the Hell is Christian Fundamentalism?”

While writing that essay, I realized I take for granted my knowledge of Evangelical subculture. I grew up in a charismatic church that cultishly worshiped at the feet of Bill Gothard. I graduated from Wheaton College, that infamously dry Christian college where Billy Graham earned his college degree. I even know all of the lyrics to several Michael W. Smith albums.

It dawned on me that many people only have an occasional peek into fundamentalist subculture via CNN or the New York Times. To be honest—and you might be shocked to learn this—Fox News is somewhat lightweight when it comes to representing the hardcore Evangelical worldview. To really get at the heart of the Christian Right, you have to expose yourself to billion-dollar media empires such as Trinity Broadcasting Network and Christian Broadcasting Network. (By the way, I would only recommend that for highly-trained anthropologists.)

So I made a bet with myself that, any given week and with just a little research, I could find five articles in the Christian Right Media that would prompt Sistine Chapel-level facepalms and serve as obvious reminders as to why progressives need to show up at the polls in droves on November 4—lest the country descend into an outright theocratic plutocracy.

I haven’t lost that bet yet. Nor am I likely to lose it in the near future, unfortunately.

I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the 2014 Election Season in earnest than by anthologizing the first year of the “Christian Right Weekly Round-Up.” Along with the original articles, we added some pretty cool images—including one of Jesus surfing on a drone. Also, there’s a recurring banana peel. That said:

Pastor Pillow Talks! is available at Amazon and Smashwords.

And I promise that no proceeds will help fund Pastor Pillow’s upcoming missions trip to bring Bibles to the lost peoples of Ferguson.

What follows is the prefatory essay from Pastor Pillow Talks, which gives a bit more insight into the “CRWRU” background.

Also, as a side note: in case you’ve ever wondered, I LOVE hyperlinks. Sometimes they contain vital pieces of information. Other times, they’re just for shits and giggles—like this one.

Usually we open our service with a fun song like the “Super Bowl Shuffle” or something spiritually uplifting by Outkast, but this week, let’s go with something serious for a change.

Please open your hymnals to No. 1773.

I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

 

“Pastor Pillow Lives Inside Me”

Pastor Pillow isn’t an invention. Nor is he merely an amalgam of all the asinine televangelists and celebrity Christian leaders who overpopulate American media. He’s real. He’s me.

To clarify, he is the me I surely would have become—was on the path to becoming—until a sage anthropology professor started planting “critical thinking” seeds in my mind that ultimately converted me from fundamentalism.

I grew up in non-denominational, charismatic Christian churches. I attended private Christian schools, one of which was operated by what today a person would call a “Prosperity Gospel” church. We believed and did some pretty weird things. We spoke in tongues. We were convinced demons controlled everything from sex drives to carburetors. Also, we thought there was a satanic conspiracy behind Wonder Bread. (Actually, there probably is.) Certain types of rock music beats made you pee uncontrollably. Noah had sauropods on the ark. And on and on.

I didn’t just buy into this worldview. I was training to become a Radical Right banner waver. I played saxophone in the worship band. I delivered my first sermon at 16. That same year, I traveled to Haiti on my own and engaged in a one-man evangelistic crusade from one end of the island to the other. I led thousands of Haitians to Jesus. (Sigh, delusions of grandeur.)

I spent several days that summer in the Cité Soleil slum, which is essentially a floating garbage dump on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. It’s about the worst place on the planet to live. I met some missionaries who were handing out Creole Bibles to the impoverished, mostly illiterate population. The missionaries were connected with the most well-known Christian evangelist in the world.

I asked how much each Creole Bible cost; they were leather-bound and seemed fancy. The missionary leader told me each Bible cost $50. That’s about the annual salary of the average Cité Soleil resident, by the way.

So, Americans were handing out very expensive Bibles to starving Haitians who for the most part couldn’t read. That fact didn’t sit well with me for the rest of the trip. It still doesn’t sit well with me.

There were a few other “discovery moments” that ultimately steered me away from fundamentalism. And, as I mentioned above, there was one individual who patiently mentored me. (By the way, never hesitate to plant a “critical thinking” seed in the mind of a fundamentalist. You might never see that seed take root, but it could be the one that changes his or her life.)

Pastor Pillow lives inside me still. I can feel him kicking around right now, in fact. It’s so easy to assume his voice and say those ridiculous things with such sincerity. Sometimes he reminds me of Milo Minderbinder from Catch-22, that most frightening of villains who so earnestly believes his war profiteering is beneficial to society, yet, in effect, is ruining the entire planet.

I love letting Pastor Pillow out of his cage once per week. In the context of the “Christian Right Weekly Round-Up,” it’s so much easier to identify the insanity of fundamentalist Christianity, from its Mammon worship to its screwball biblical interpretations. Yet it makes me shiver to realize how close I was to becoming him.

The “Christian Right Weekly Round-Up” was ‘begat’ from my essay, “What the Hell is Christian Fundamentalism?” The day after I published that article, I wrote the first “CRWRU.”

And that essay was borne from a quote by Barry Goldwater in a July 1994 interview with the Washington Post:

“When you say ‘radical right’ today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party, and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”

If what the once and former Senator Goldwater said is true—and I believe it is—pucker up and start blowing pecks at pundits. Nah, there’s always hope. Just look at me.

 

 

Thanks for being a reader of the “CRWRU” these past 52 weeks!

As we always conclude:

One-third of your fellow countrymen are sort of warming up to seeing police officers in camouflage pointing machine guns at minority populations.

In this many days, you and they will be voting for the following political offices:

—All 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives
—33 seats in the U.S. Senate
—46 State Legislatures
—And 38 State and Territorial Governorships.

Just remember: a progressive vote is a vote for civilization.

 

Again, here’s the link for Pastor Pillow Talks!


Arik Bjorn

Arik Bjorn lives in Columbia, South Carolina. He was the Democratic Party / Green Party fusion candidate for U.S. Congress in the 2nd Congressional District of South Carolina. Visit the archive for Arik’s campaign website, and check out his latest book, So I Ran for Congress. You can also follow his political activities on Twitter @Bjorn2RunSC and on Facebook. And be sure to check out more from Arik in his archives!

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  • Pipercat

    “[S]omewhat disturbed?”

    • Arik Bjorn

      Well, Piper, you know, if by “somewhat disturbed” one means something that makes Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” seem as mild-mannered as “Family Circus.” 🙂

      • Pipercat

        Just to let you know, that’s the first time I’ve used brackets!

      • Arik Bjorn

        I too have renounced March Madness.

      • Pipercat

        I hate basketball and its 13 month season!

      • Arik Bjorn

        Oh come on, an orange ball being thrown into a metal ring. The global obsession makes perfect sense. Maybe Pastor Pillow needs to start a church league and arrange a mission trip to Moldavia.

  • Pipercat

    Oh, and just for the record, I am very glad the good Pastuh is just an avatar; and yet, I think my little avatar would be diminished or, at the very least, impeded from his journey without his Sunday Sermons presented through you as the conduit.

    • Arik Bjorn

      Piper, every writer has an ideal reader. You are such a reader to me!

      • Pipercat

        One of these days, I hope to get the screed factory going again. To kinda paraphrase (bastardize really) Clevon Little in that little Mel Brooks movie: Them workengrubens can really wipe you out!

  • dr__pepper

    I used to be afraid of Goldwater Republican politics, now it seems cute and cuddly compared to what we have now.