Good morning, y’all. I see by the news that North Carolina is having trouble once again with their massive mega-pig farms. Residents are complaining of a “putrid pollution” being spread through the air waves. The stench in the air is so strong that residents are forced to stay inside to escape the stench. In a related news item, I see where The Donald is touring the state seeking support from the Tarheels. If the Republicans believed in science you could say “cause and effect”, but, they don’t.
Speaking of cause and effect brings us to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. During the customary Wednesday morning breakfast at the Blairsville Denny’s, Elder Barry Diggum declined the opportunity to have himself immortalized on the wall of the restaurant. The Denny’s manager wanted to have Elder Diggum’s picture placed on the wall along side of the other choking victims saved by the manager. It was just a small tribute to the manager, and in his opinion, it was the least the victims could do to say thanks for the life saving action provided by the manager. If Elder Diggum wanted to send the manager a short letter expressing his thanks, that would be ok, too. The manager would be happy to have that framed, if the Elder was camera shy. Elder Diggum told the manager he would “certainly think about it.”
After the manager left their table, Elder Diggum turned to his friends and said, “Looks like we’ll have to be finding a new place for breakfast.”
“Yeah, I hate it, but it looks like that guy ain’t going to be happy until you give him a picture, or a letter, or a car or something.” said Elder Cheatum.
“I vote on IHOP”, said Elder Wiley, “I always feel so international when I eat there.”
“All in favor”, said Elder Diggum between large bites of his double stack.
“Motion carried”, said Elder Cheatum without looking up from the latest edition of the North Georgia Gazette. “Well, I guess the phrase ‘better them than us applies’, but this religion reporter seems to really have a thing for Pentecostals”, he said as he handed the paper to Elder Wiley. Elder Wiley folded the paper long-wise so he could read with one hand and continue to drink his coffee with the other. The article read:
Today I’d like to talk about misogyny. To keep you from running for your Webster’s or having to do the Google search, misogyny is defined as “a dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women“. Truth be told, misogyny is the 11th commandment for organized religion. Very few religions allow the ordination of women into their clergy. One could easily ask the question of how women are so visibly serving in so many ways in various religions, and yet are denied the opportunity to hold positions of power.
There is no denying to any rational thinking human that the males would not be capable of their accomplishments without the widespread support of the females. Whether the women serve as nuns, members of an auxillary, or other type of support group, they are there, working long hours with scant recognition. And yet, organized religion seems to hold its female members in the same regard as a biker gang holds their ‘old ladies’. They are there to serve the male’s needs, remain quiet and keep their opinions to themselves.
In this one instance, the Church of God appears to be forward thinking.
Probably the most famous female clergy ever was Aimee Semple McPherson, a Pentecostal evangelist in the early to mid 1900’s. Her use of the radio to broadcast her sermons was the precursor to modern day televangelism.
In her day, Aimee Semple McPherson was the most widely known Christian evangelist. She is widely credited with reviving the evangelical movement. Through private donations, McPherson built the Angelius Temple, considered to be the largest single Christian congregation in the world. The church was believed to have hosted over 40 million visitors in the first seven years of operation. McPherson referred to her teachings as the “the Foursquare Gospel”, in which she blended contemporary culture and traditional religious teachings.
As we all know, scandal seems to follow success like smell on a skunk, and Aimee Semple McPherson was not without her alleged scandals. Extra marital affairs, a possible fake kidnapping and financial issues plagued Mrs. McPherson in her later days. She died in 1944 of a possible drug overdose. Over 45,000 people attended her wake. Today her church claims over eight million followers and her legacy has tentacles throughout the evangelical movement all over the world.
Some of these tentacles include assorted neo-Nazi militia groups that can trace their roots back to McPherson’s principles of British Israelism. British Israelism was a principle based on the belief that the Anglo Saxons were one of the supposed ‘lost tribes’ of Israel. McPherson’s association with the Jeffreys brothers in Ireland, and their church, the Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance, certainly played an influence on her teachings. These teachings gave rise to the Christian Identity movement, which was originally incorporated in Los Angeles in 1948. Offshoots of the Christian Identity movement are the Posse Comitatus, Aryan Nations, The Christian Patriot branch, The Committee of the States, the Unorganized Militia and others. Many of these groups are rumored to be well armed with military grade weapons and capable of defending themselves against any aggressor, including the U.S. Army.
Maybe we can conclude that McPherson’s message was perverted by some of the men who followed her. Hard to say, it’s just a shame that one of the few female religious leaders ever, certainly the most successful, has had her legacy so tainted. All the more reason to give women more chances at leadership, in my opinion. Women deserve to have the same opportunities of influence as men, even if their influence sometimes turns out bad.
“Well looks to me like this young fellow heartily approves of our current situation, if I’m looking at the silver lining”, Elder Wiley said as he passed the article to Elder Diggum. “Of course I’m having to ignore being called a militaristic, heavily-armed racist to look at the silver lining.”
“Now Alvin, don’t be so sensitive”, said Elder Cheatum, “They’re not going to make you give up your Sherman Tank.”
“Well, I hope they don’t try”, Elder Wiley said as he left the tip on the table and got up to leave. “They’ll have to pry it from my cold dead hands,” he said with a grin.
The three friends parted company in the parking lot to carry on their normal daily activities. They would meet later that night after Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting to discuss another matter of great importance.