God Ate My Balls
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• WWJD? 1, 2, 3
• Nun, Treasure Hunt
• Dress me up!
• Amazing Strangers
Ate My Balls
• Illustrated Stories
• My movie
of the Christ
Amy's Church Revisited
All Photos by Normal Bob Smith
|So I got asked back to Church by Amy, the Christian who loves me. She wanted me to see with my own eyes an authentic self-proclaimed Prophet! That's right! You heard me correctly! A Prophet chosen by God Himself who "literally" hears God talking inside his head, and translates those messages into useful, handy, holy commandments for you and me to follow! I'm also guessing he had the ability to prophisize, summon Holy Ghosts, etc. Oh, and coincidentally His wife is a psychic. So yeah, they're the real deal.
The Darling Amy
The Prophet's wife & her band
|We arrived at Church at 7 and the crowd inside was impressive. In fact it looked as if people had been bused in. Every seat was filled. We had a quick hello from Pastor Bojan who was clearly excited about the night ahead, and Amy and I were lucky to finds open chairs where we did at the back corner of the church.
I took a quick look around the place before it started. People were cheering for him before he was even introduced. So many of them looked desperate for whatever it was he had to give, and desperate even more to belong. This room was far from being filled with skeptics.
There was a new girl on stage this time. She was playing a keyboard and singing. She did a lot of story tellin' in between her songs. After admitting to being one of the worst sinners, she told the story of Saul, who as you might remember slaughtered Christians by the thousands until he was struck blind by God, then he changed his name to Paul and became one of God's greatest advocators! And she pointed out how amazing it was that Paul considered himself one of the worst sinners ever, and how humble he was for saying so! She said of him, "Can you imagine, one of the greatest disciples of God to ever live thinking himself to be the worst of sinners?"
What the fuck?!? He murdered Christians, for Christ's sake! He tortured and assassinated people for the beliefs they held, then repented to that very belief! And now you stand here telling that story insinuating that we perceive you as so great? As Paul??
|Then, still playing the keyboards, she went on to say, "I sense that there's someone in the room here tonight who's thought of killing them self. I know you're here. If you could come up to the front we will make sure that the Holy Spirit frees you of those thoughts tonight. And there's an Emily? Something to do with an Emily? Someone here knows an Emily who has something significant happening in her life right now?"
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the magnificent wife of the Prophet.
Then the wife had another premonition about us, the audience. "I sense a couple people here tonight who doubt us, and that's okay!" She laughed in a jolly we're-easy-going-blowhards laugh. "If you do feel a bit awkward with what you see here tonight or you're having some doubts, just shut off your mind, and open up your ears."
However, she did not need to offer any of this advise to the crowd. They were way ahead of her.
|The crowd was starting to stir. I could hear men and women in the back speaking in tongues. Some began to yell while others were laughing and crying at the same time. People in the audience are murmuring, speaking in tongues, hands above their heads shouting praise to their God. In fact, it seemed that all bets were off now when it came to maintaining any level of dignity. And so they introduced James LaVesque, the Prophet.
I was dumbfounded when he took the stage. He was one of those fat, wannabe Bronx tough guys reveling in the irony of also loving Jesus! And the worst of the worst, with the gargantuan sports jersey that could cover a fucking Volkswagen, and that obnoxious "I'm from the streets" bullshit! God chose this meathead?!?
The Prophet, James LaVesque
You know that annoying fat couple who sits around telling themselves what it means to be a true goth, or what it means to be a Deadhead, or how astrology actually works and if they could harness its potential they could rule the world? Well this is the Christian version of that couple. And boy did they LOVE Jesus. This wife actually sang in her songs about wanting romance with Jesus. No joke. "I want to romance you Jesus." She sang, literally. As for the Prophet husband, he described kissing Jesus with "literally" kisses from His mouth. You're gonna see me using this word "literally" a lot, because, boy, James sure did! And he's one of those who uses it in all the wrong places. Like, "I had a dream last night where I literally stepped inside Jesus' body" and "I literally had this pearl in my hand and it literally carried me up to heaven."
What awful people they were.
Then he said, "Open up those doors in the back, because I'm not just preaching to you people here tonight, I'm preaching TO ALL OF NEW YORK CITY!!"
That's when the madness began.
And when I say madness I mean blind leading the blind looney-bin chaos. People chanting and screaming waving their hands in the air (video), spasming (video) and falling to the floor and gay dancing (video). The most grotesque displays of self-indulgent behavior you'd hope never to witness (video). It ended up making my stomach turn.
Now you tell me any other scenario where it's acceptable behavior to take your friend somewhere then curl up in a ball on the floor for three and a half hours?
The Prophet pointed to the back of the room and told us that he could see a hole in the ceiling where all the knowledge of God was pouring down from Heaven. Right at the back of the room. Kinda to the left.
So while my date lay crouched in the corner curled up into a ball, I took a walk around the place to see what else was going on, because there was a LOT going on!
Towards the back of the church by the restroom there were two men pacing back and forth chanting to themselves in tongues (see video of that here). I thought they were just pacing and waiting to use the bathroom. And I was trying to ask them if there was a line, but it's really hard to get a word in edgewise with guys who are chanting to themselves in tongues. "Is this a line for the bathroom?" I asked? I took their lack of acknowledging reality as a "no."
James promised these people that he was going to eliminate all the trouble from their lives, and all they had to do was believe. And "believing" included letting him come up to you, put his hands on you and scream "THE SPIRIT IS UPON YOU!" in your ear.
It was hard to watch these grown adults behaving like children, each with their own scheme to somehow get noticed. Some found an open space of wall to press up against like they were in some kind of junky nod, while others danced as if they'd dropped 4 hits of Smiley-Face acid at a rainbow gathering. Over in the corner was somebody's father curled up in a ball hugging himself giggling. And just a few feet away from him was a 40 something year old lady sprawled out on the floor with people all around dancing trying not to step on her.
A funny thing I noticed, there came a point when most everybody in the room was basking in their own happiness, and the wife of the Prophet was up on stage behind the keyboard with no one really paying any attention to her. Her Prophet husband was out and about injecting people with The Spirit, and everyone was pretty much lost in their own world of bliss, and there was the wife, all alone, without any attention focused on her. I knew that this wouldn't last long. And sure enough, there was a loud bang of a microphone slamming against the floor, and there she was, collapsing onto of her keyboard making the most obnoxious noise burst out from the amplifiers. All heads turned to see her become one with the Holy Spirit, clutching her stomach in a fit of laughter. People were laughing FOR her and her good fortune for being the chosen vessel of the Holy Ghost. Not rejoicing was simply out of the question!
Brilliant. She'd topped them all with this move, successfully redirecting the show back onto herself. It was the kind of genius move that only a true glutton for attention could scheme up and pull off without a hitch.
How could this possibly be what any semi-decent God would want from His followers? This room full of weak minds blindly trying to interpret these random bursts of emotion and translate them into some incoming message from a Supreme Being.
Even Pastor Bojan came up to the stage in the middle of all this to express his discomfort. Then he found an excuse for it saying that even a man such as himself is flawed by doubt. I missed the rest of his excuses because the level of screaming and laughing was enough to drown out any attempt at logical thought.
I wonder why that couldn't have been God telling him that this wasn't right? Why wasn't his discomfort interpreted as a sign to stop this madness? The same kind of madness they'd condemn if these images had been taken at a rave, or a paganism ritual, or a rock concert. I'll tell you why! Because Pastor Bojan is no different than anyone who is swept up by a mob mentality. Nothing can make a man break off from his own scruples quicker than a mob. For him to say, "This has gone beyond what I am comfortable with. I want you all to know that I do not approve of this" and walk out would've been a far more honest thing to do. But that's not what any of this is about! It isn't about questioning or scrutinizing, it's about "shutting off your mind" and surrendering to whatever your heart wants! And as we all know the heart is like a selfish immature child, with wants that are far beyond reason. Truth? Who gives a fuck about truth? This is about pampering my heart's every desire!
Christ, this place was like a war zone. And as James LaVesque moved about the room soaking up every bit of glory, I did everything I could to avoid his sweaty hands of divine intervention. What he was doing was going from person to person, seeking out the ones who were in a self-induced trance, or dancing, or whatever, just as long as they were clearly participating in the charade, and putting his hands on the person's head, shouting a few words of encouragement, then thrusting them back into the arms of one of his helpers. Some would spasm, some would break into a fit a hysterics, and a few just stood there waiting for the feeling everybody else was feeling. All voting citizens.
|Oh, and by the way, I was a picture taking machine! I was snapping my camera at everything. Flash and all. So much so that the Pastor came up and asked me to stop, telling me that it wasn't appropriate, and to put the camera away. So the rest were taken without a flash.
Four freaking hours later I was more than ready to get the fuck out of this madhouse and never ever come back to it ever again as long as I live.
|It was just more than I could bear. It was such a parade of childish behavior that was so transparent to me. I saw one girl walking around reveling in her God given authority to assist those who were entranced in the Holy Spirit by placing her hand on their head and blessing them, telling them that God was moving through them. Like she had the slightest idea what was going on in that person's head. And then another one of these helpers came over and used the same excuse to put his hands on this high school girl dressed all in pink next to me, telling her that she had an "Amazing array of stars and sparkles around her that he couldn't explain" while she stood there blank faced as to what she should be feeling. He ended up awkwardly backing away saying "That's just what I see. I dunno?" with the authority of a mental patient in a surgical scrubs. And at the end of it all, they most certianly made sure to pass that plate around to everyone who'd gotten their drink of Spirit.
It was all too much. I'd just had enough.
I went to dinner with about a dozen of these folks afterwards and they were, of course, as nice as could be. All smiles and cheer. A little bit too friendly for my taste. Like, gameshow host friendly, you know?
The next day I got an email from Amy saying "everyone [from the church] is just nuts over you. They think the website is a blast. Everyone wants to hang out with you. I'm not sure if they want to convert you or if they genuinely like you. I think it is a combination of both. Should I tell them to go drop in on your coffee shop?"
How can I make this absolutely clear?
Read a response from one of them...
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All illustrations & designs are that of Normal Bob Smith (C) 2000 - 2009
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