This weekend has been an entirely religion-filled weekend. Or, if you like, a God-be-praised hallelujah Spirit-filled weekend! I prefer the former. Be aware that this entry will likely turn into a rant. But you'll probably enjoy every minute of it. Anyways, let me go on about my weekend.
On Saturday, my youth pastor got ordained. Because 1) I haven't told anyone about my de-conversion, and 2) I wanted to support him (although not what he stands for), I went to the ordination ceremony. This is the ordination for the PAOC - Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. There were fourteen people who got ordained, and it was a pretty long and boring service for the most part. The district superintendent (I believe that's his title anyway) railed on and on about one verse in 1 Timothy about being in ministry. However, I noticed that he subtly compared himself to Paul, which I found quite arrogant. He went on about how he was thankful to be counted faithful just as Paul was, blah blah blah. I'm glad to know that the people of the Pentecostal persuasion get bloated egos as well - makes it easier to separate myself emotionally from the church environment. At any rate, they had a big long ceremony where this guy ordained each one and then anointed each on on the forehead with oil. After this, they had a time where the presbyters and leaders laid hands on them - to the accompaniment of music, of course. No Pentecostal prayer-time is complete without the soft, ethereal keyboard in the background.
After that, people were invited to my youth pastor's parents place for a big celebration. I went up with my youth pastor (big mistake...didn't get to leave until everyone else had), and before the actual festivities started, he gave me and another friend of mine a tour of his parent's house. This house was...amazing. Honestly, it was ridiculously nice. His parents live on the edge of Lake Ontario, in a well-to-do subdivision that literally overlooks the lake. Did I mention that his dad is one of the head honchos for the PAOC district? Right. Great way to get filthy rich, apparently. I mean, the house wasn't a mansion, but they still had the standard deck and patio, hot tub, nice boat, huge master bedroom suite with a balcony coming out of it, a fully furnished guest bedroom down in the basement with a kitchenette, etc. Very nice place. Oh, and let's talk about their cars. My youth pastor drives a BMW. Yeah, I'm sure he's pretty much the only youth pastor in existence who drives one. But now I know where he gets it from. His father - also has a BMW. His sister - yep, she's got one too. The only one in the family without one is his mother, who has a crappy Lumina, but that's apparently almost dead, and they are talking about getting her a BMW very shortly. Talk about flaunting your cash. And this guy is in charge of the PAOC? Hmm...seems to me that they need to put more into missions and outreach and less into their salaries. But of course, when Jesus said "sell all you have and give it to the poor", he was only speaking metaphorically, of course...
Anyway, I could go on about that night, but I won't. Today was Sunday, and since I was at home this weekend to celebrate my and my mother's birthdays, I went to church this morning. Today we had a guest speaker, someone who runs an outreach ministry in Israel. (You'd think they'd be less worried about converting God's chosen people, but apparently not.) Anyway, the first fifteen or twenty minutes was essentially him trying to sell books, DVDs, and calendars, and trying to get people interested essentially. He was like a salesman giving a pitch. After that, the senior pastor came back up and took up a second offering for this guy's ministry. (I'm sure you can tell how much I gave to him. I was thoroughly impressed... ) Once the offering was over, he came back up, and tried to do a sermon on the seven churches in Revelation. However, he spent about ten minutes on that, and then the rest of the time talking about himself and how he can see visions and dreams and stuff. He went on and on about a vision that God gave him that convicted him, and then started going into "prophetic mode." Here was my first very visible, in-person demonstration of cold reading. And boy was it bad. He pointed to one woman and told her that what she was doing would blossom. Didn't give any details, that was about it. At this point, I had picked up on the scheme of things. Here was a guy claiming to be in touch with the Holy Spirit right at that moment. I have prayed over and over during the past few months for God to give me some sort of sign, and I picked this opportunity to tell God, "Here you go. I said I wouldn't give you another chance, but here you are. If you get that guy to come over to me and tell me something specific, then you'll prove yourself to me." What happened? Apparently the Holy Spirit isn't that accurate - he missed me by two people. The guy pointed to one of my friends sitting in the same row as me, and told him some vague mumbo-jumbo about "God knows what you're going through and says that he knows about that thing that makes you angry whenever you think about it." Boy, what specifics there. Who couldn't that apply to? Anyway, then he went over to another woman and told her that he saw a "tree of God's covering" over her life. Something about palm branches and all that jazz.
Anyway, after "proving" his godliness, he then asked anyone who wanted prayer to come up to the front. I'd say about thirty or forty people went up (a fair amount for a church our size). They stood along the front roughly in a single line, and this guy went and prayed for each one, giving them "prophetic" words that, from what I could hear at that point, were just as vague as the ones before. Of course, the music had started playing for this time (because again, you can't have prayer without soft keyboard music), and I just sort of sat there watching the whole proceedings. I gave God a couple more chances - I told him that if he wanted to get my attention, he'd have to bring the guy over to me and have him pray for me. You know, have the "Spirit leading him" over to me. I figured that would be pretty simple for God to do. But apparently not. The guy started making his way over to the other side of the auditorium, so I left. I set myself up for rejection, and so I got it once again. On the way home I told God that if he was really up there, that I hated him for ignoring me and rejecting me. I punched the steering wheel a few times, then felt better. There is nothing God has ever given me that I couldn't have given myself - since all those years, it was me all along. Nope, God is dead. If he exists, then he does not care about me enough to bother with my questions or my doubts. If God is my Father, he is an absent father. So now, back at my place in the city where I go to school, I am writing this to let any of you readers know - religion is nothing more than a power-hungry money-grab tactic used to keep the masses in line. While the leaders get rich with their nice comfortable salaries, we pay the tithes that line their pockets. Then the "prophets" come along and try to sell you a rotten bill of goods. Don't listen to them. Listen to your own mind and your own heart and decide for yourself who is telling the truth. Look into yourself and find out where the real source of power comes from.