December 13, 2017

Weird Uncle Harry — the Music Video

By Chaplain Mike.

Warning: Many of you won’t have the stomach to watch more than a few minutes of this.

One thing I have always appreciated about Michael is his courage to point out “Christian” craziness and call it for what it is. Some people object to that kind of truth-telling, thinking it is somehow disloyal to the family. I don’t.

Everybody in the family knows about weird Uncle Harry. We tell the stories. We laugh. We try to contain him at the family reunion. We hope to avoid encountering him so he won’t freak out the friends we brought. We size up the situation and make strategic moves so that we don’t have to sit next to him at the table. We excuse ourselves to go to the bathroom when he tries to engage us in conversation. We do our best to avoid him all day long. Then we go back to our normal lives and forget all about him for awhile, glad that’s all over.

Problem is, the Uncle Harrys of the world are multiplying. And with the almost unlimited access to information that we have these days, it’s getting harder and harder to keep Uncle Harry a secret. He seems to show up regularly, almost everywhere. People are starting to make the connection — Oh, he’s your relative?

You probably remember this outstanding example of contemporary Christian “worship“. I thought it couldn’t get worse. It has.

The following clip is from a so-called “outpouring” at MorningStar Ministries, Fort Mill, SC. Apparently they have discovered a new sacrament.

Hide the kids. Here comes Uncle Harry.

Comments

  1. Dan Allison says:

    It breaks my heart that millions of Christians have no interest in engaging with reality or in leading others to Christ. The insulated sub-culture of fundamentalism long ago became irrelevant to anyone who lives in the real world. What’s so sad is the pride so many fundamentalists express — proud of being arrogant, stiffnecked, unteachable, and tasteless.

  2. At what point does something stop being Christian?

    • When your spirit starts cringing and your gut starts to just hurt at the mere sight of whatever you’re witnessing.

  3. Who is that guy?

    Even back when I was in elementary school, that would have driven me psychotic.

    I was never into gimmicks, though. Either I was interested, or I wasn’t.

  4. In my seminary world religions class that I’m taking right now, we’ve watched several videos of religious practitioners from either Judaism, Islam, and now Hinduism. Some are fairly sedate, some are very ecstatic and very “foreign” to our own western and modern sensibilities. But watching this Holy Ghost hokie pokie just reminds me that mass hypnosis and the power of suggestion is a very powerful tool. I’ve seen the exact same techniques used by cults, whether religious, political, or even MLM scams. The formula in every one is almost identical, just switch out the particular ideology and terminology. In fact they’re completely incidental. What matters most is getting control over a large crowd to do your bidding. Scary stuff and I’m afraid it’s not going to go away anytime soon.

    • None of these people look hypnotized to me. That’s what makes it even wierder; they’re just going with it, uncritically but not mindlessly, as if the Holy Spirit Hokey Pokey made sense AND made them happy to do together.

      I don’t think we’re seeing the horrors of bad theology here so much as what happens when the Pentacostal’s idealistic thirst for an authentic religious transcendence ebbs into languid, knowing irony – it’s really not a long walk from belief to banality. You could get there in a day if you tried.

      • FollowerOfHim says:

        Patrick,

        That’s about as coherent of a description of this sort of thing as I’ve read in a long, long time. You’re right: they’re neither hypnotized, deluded, or, well, much of anything in particular. The Banality of Whatever.

  5. For reference, I have Pentecostal friends who have attended events like this and left because it too strange for them.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      You mean things got Too Weird for Pentecostals?

      “When the Vorlon goes to ground, I worry.”
      — Commander Ivanova, Babylon-5

  6. Now THIS is the kind of guy I want touching my kids someday.

  7. I have to ask: is this really serious, or is it some kind of April Fool’s or humorous joke video?

    Because the Hokey-Pokey??? Or, as we call it over on this side of the Atlantic, the Hokey-Cokey????? As an invocation of the Holy Ghost?

    • As serious as can be. What’s worse, I found it on another site of a “Bible teacher” who commended it as an example of a true manifestation of the Spirit in our day.

      • Which site?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Chaplain Mike, this is an age of Can-You-Top-This extremes.

        No matter how X-TREME you can imagine, there’s going to be a True Beleiver out there who’s going to be twice as crazy and DEAD SERIOUS.

  8. Cynthia Jones says:

    Now………………….. I’ve seen it ALL! It’s AMAZING what the power of SUGGESTION will do for people!

  9. Justin V says:

    “Short Term Memory is not Biblical”

    Check, please.

    As I heard someone else say, there is a bizarre mixture of the Hokey-Pokey and Pink Floyd’s “Eclipse” here.

    Apparently this is from Morningstar Ministries — run by Rick Joyner. He’s the guy who is attempting to “Restore” Todd Bentley after having an affair and marrying his mistress. Or something. There’s also quite an IHOP connection there too, which kind of puts pieces into place.

  10. Holy Spirit Hocus Pocus…What does Jesus think? How can this stuff ever bring glory to the Creator of the Universe. Surely we were not redeemed for this.

  11. My wife and I had to stop watching when they began taking “testimonies” of the power of the Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey.

    …and we are surprised when people make fun of us.

  12. I can’t believe people would think this is really Holy Spirit driven– the hokey pokey??! I’d be outta there so fast (or at least standing at the back!).

    It’s what keeps me more trusting and appreciative of the mainline churches where the Bible is preached and people aren’t always looking for the next unique spiritual experience, but rather an authentic relationship with God and his people.

    Just watching this made me nervous.

  13. My first reaction was, “No wonder the terrorists hate our freedoms.”

    But this seems on the level. The people who claim to be healed don’t appear to be faking it. Although this form of worship seems bizarre to me (and the one last year with the twirling socks is worse) I wonder if Paul would consider this “all things to all people in order to win some to Christ”.

    Or would he call down fire from heaven as Peter wanted to do? Dunno.

    • Not Peter. Although it would have been a very Peter-like thing to say, it was James and John. Could be why Jesus called them the “Sons of Thunder”?

  14. if anyone thinks studying theology isn’t important…you were just proven wrong.

  15. Clay Knick says:

    Charles Farah, a theology professor at ORU’s School of Theology, quoted Karl Barth in regard to the faith theology of the Charismatic Movement: ” Bad theology is a cruel taskmaster.” I thought of that when I saw this.

  16. dumb ox says:

    I mentioned this article once before, but I think it fits this post, too. Theology matters. Period.

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/march/13.22.html

    We can’t let others do our thinking, or sit passively in the bleachers while the great ones, like iMonk, take on these issues. This video is the result of apathy: the pastor thinks it’s ok; everyone else is doing it; people are experiencing “miracles”; no one’s getting hurt. What’s the harm, right?

    We need to create, rather than just endlessly consume. We don’t all need to wear the apologist hat and defend against craziness like this; rather, we can put our talents and efforts into creating art, architecture, literature, and worship which reflects the truth, grace, and goodness of God, rather than the capriciousness and lunacy of sinful man. Light a flame, rather than just curse the darkness, as they say. City on a hill, remember?

    Be of good courage all. This is just the beginning of good things to come. Let’s be a part of it.

  17. Lilymyrrh says:

    I know that this demonstration looks totally weird….I have been in some atmospheres like this and I really thought the presence of the Holy Spirit was evident. I’m not as “comfortable” in the midst of these types of gatherings anymore…and I’m really “back-tracking” and asking God a lot of questions…the people giving their testimonies seem so genuine…maybe I’m just gullible. Do the rest of you think that they are lying or that they are just under the power of suggestion? And what does everyone think is driving these “types of expressions” of worshipping Jesus or trying to experience His miracle healing power? Why are these groups so strong….like IHOP or the “Toronto Blessing” or I’m hearing of another one out in California, I believe…Bill Johnson? (I think…not sure)….oh, and Patricia King’s ministry (falling feathers, gold dust, gemstones just appearing). How do you all classify or explain these ministries….are these people genuinely deceived or do you believe it to be something more sinister.

    • I think the people are likely genuinely deceived and that there is nothing sinister going on. I grew up in a Pentecostal setting and I think the power of suggestion, of peer pressure, of bad theology and of overvaluing feelings and experience affect people’s actions (even the ones that seem “supernatural”) far more than they honestly realize.

  18. I had a pastor say that God isn’t hindered by the idiot on the stage. Genuine conversions can happen and the Spirit moves as he will. So I think maybe it’s safe to say some of these people may be genuine, even if the speaker isn’t.

    Listening. I’ve heard worse than this, which is sad.

  19. and the band played on…………………………………

  20. As a former Pentecostal who’s played in bands back in the 70s and 80s, ones similar to the one onstage here, my eyes naturally tend to check out what the band is doing when the preacher’s going on with his shouting/healing stuff. If things are real, the band will be really involved; if things are just the same as last week, and the week before, the band quickly switches off – as this band appears to have done. Notice the girl doing the huge yawn as she leaves the stage for some reason. Notice the glazed eyes on one of the drummers and the guitarist. The Holy Ghost may well be there, but if He is, he’s passed by the band…

  21. Oy vey!

  22. Bizarre, definitely. Manipulative, to a fault. Strange, surely. But fake? I cannot say.

    It is surely no less strange than “march silently around Jericho seven times, then shout” or “go dip yourself in the Jordan River seven times” or “when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees”…

    God is sovereign. He can do anything, at any time, with anyone. He can make a donkey speak if it will get his servant’s attention. I know this Holy Ghost Hokey-Pokey doesn’t jibe with what a lot of us want to see and hear.

    That having been said, it is not my cup of tea.

  23. Mosh pit evangelicalism

  24. Wow, that was painful to watch. I wonder if these types of “services” are not the result of a group of people who previously truly experienced God move in a powerful way in their lives and are now searching to re-create that? I’m talking about the pastor as well as the congregation. I believe that the Spirit moves as He wants and that it can seem strange to people who are not eyewitnesses but this seems like contrived emotionalism. I’m not saying the people are being false but that the pastor is leading them falsely. Perhaps he’s fallen to the belief that if next week isn’t better than last week then the people won’t come back? Hopefully a godly man will come along and steer this church back into the river of life and get them out of the white waters they appear to be in.

  25. It is interesting how man-centered worship quickly becomes dehumanizing. The answer is quite simple: man is created in the image of God, not man. When worship becomes about us rather than God, it strips us of who we are and that for which we truly hunger.

    • That was….really nicely said. Can I steal that?

    • dumb ox says:

      Having said that…worship which strips humans of their God-given creature senses – sight, sound, taste, touch, reason – isn’t necessarily God-centered. What makes liturgical worship so powerful is how it incorporates all of the senses – particularly in Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic worship. Jesus didn’t say leave your body and become one with the cosmos; He said, “take and eat…take and drink…”.

  26. Paul Davis says:

    That almost made me hurl….

    Talk about the power of suggestion!!, this is exactly why I struggle when I hear people start shouting about the presence of the Lord, people getting miracles and a call to ‘come down and re-commit your life to Christ’…

    Really?,

    In Proverbs it says ‘My People Perish For a Lack of KNOWLEDGE’

    Why don’t you learn more about your bible, some theology, a little church history (well actually a lot of church history) and maybe a little apologetics. It’s not hard, if I can do it then trust me anyone can.

    I need to go wash out my eyes…

    -Paul-

  27. dumb ox says:

    A relevant article from the iMonk vaults:

    http://www.internetmonk.com/articles/W/weird.html

    “My point is that ‘normal’ Christian experience is increasingly seen as “bad” or “abnormal,” while weirdness is increasingly seen as “normal” and proof that a person is really “spiritual.” This shift has enormous implications for Christianity in its essence, its witness, and its experience in the lives of believers. The principle that I would like to put forward is this: The supernatural character of Christian truth and experience does not remove the basic, normal, human experience of Christians. If ‘normal’ humanity is eclipsed, Christianity ceases to be Biblical, truthful or helpful.” -iMonk.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I’ve been “weird” all my life (and I’m the same age as IMonk).

      Does this mean I was really Uber-Spiritual all along?

      • dumb ox says:

        If this video represents “normal”, which seems to be the growing trend, then “weird” is definitely a compliment.

  28. Donald Todd says:

    If my memory serves me correctly, during the first or second Great Awakening, many individuals experienced a profound emotional release in giving themselves to the Lord. That particular release was referenced as the barking exercise. The people doing the barking would bark the devil up a tree. It was common enough that the evangelists working with Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians noted it.

    The response to that occurrence was a conflict. Those who were used to a more sedate form of religion found great fault with the emotional response that was occurring. Those experiencing the emotional response wondered if the majesty of God was evident in the sedate forms of religion and what appeared to them to be a severely retarded response to God.

    I watched the entire episode. I do not know if anyone got anything out of it. If someone got something that will last, it is outside of my understanding. If there was something preceding the episode, great or galvanizing preaching, it was not manifest in the video. If there was a movement of God, which has happened before, it was not something easily recognized on the video. If it a Peter preaching to Jerusalem moment, I did not see it. So I am hampered in my response.

    I do know one more thing. Many of my friends in the Assemblies had kids who went off to college and came back as unobservant Pentecostals. The religion of the parents – at least temporarily – had gone to ground and the children were not looking to make it their own or had rejected it for something else.

    I suspect that the practice I saw on the video above will find that whatever emotional high was achieved will be less than effective. I suspect that because emotional responses grow stale over time. I appreciate getting pumped up once in a while but don’t put undo credance on it.

    Love, forgiveness, and the acceptance of forgiveness are acts of will. There may or may not be an emotional effect associated with the decision, and certainly it is in my experience that there are times when love or forgiveness or the acceptance of forgiveness may be connected to a dryness. One obeys for the sake of obedience, in an attempt to imitate our Lord, and not for an emotional fling, although emotional flings can be good and may even be necessary if one is functioning normally.

    Having seen the above, I remember seeing the Who in Minneapolis in the Tommy/Live at Leeds days. They were great and it was a great concert if you like rock and roll and the Who. But I did not live in that moment and the emotional joy associated with that concert is long gone.

    Since I am married, happily, I would note that my wife and I have all kinds of threads that run back and forth between us. It started with a decision, followed by a public commitment, and was reinforced with children and vacations, and deciding that tenderness was more important than some lesser good and applying that tenderness to the other person. A million choices, shared joy and shared difficulties, and always turning back to check on the face of the other person. We did, and continue to do, a lot of things together.

    I have a suspicion that this is true in the eternal realm as well. The shared joys and sorrows and the application of tenderness and checking on the face of the other Person. We (the Lord, my wife and I) did and continue to do a lot of things together. It is relatively quiet, not a shout but a conversation, occasionally a monologue, sometimes even a whisper, and occasionally silence.

    If something of what was in the video brings one of the attendees a bit further down the road and the next grace causes that person to respond to our Lord a bit more fully, then some good will have come of it. Time will tell if that episode displayed above has any value at all. Truthfully, God will sort it out.

  29. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I think Tatted Todd and Tokin-the-Ghost Crowder have serious competition for the title of Dumbest Crazy Preacher.

    This was just STUPID. Even stupider than “You Spin Me Round Round Jesus Round Round,” and the breathless I’m-Not-Gay-Really-I’m-Not voice just adds to the surrealist angle.

    I am looking forward to seeing these guys on South Park.

  30. steve schromm says:

    Used to be heavily involved in something like that.

    People have a variety of needs. Some of them are psychological and some social and some spiritual and some physical. Churches sometimes tend to think that they are there to try to help them all and help them all now. Honestly they are often well meaning but don’t see that perhaps there are other ways to meet the variety of needs people have outside of some church gathering.

    Some need couseling, some need doctors, some needs friends, some need to learn how to work.

    When I first left the 25 years of this stuff I was pretty POed. I still disagree with it and if I were a preacher I would fight against it to protect people. I have mellowed though in my anger and what it (I) did to my kids.

    Mark this though: A group like this is going to become very law centered sooner or later. There are going to be some hurting disillusioned people and there are going to be some legalistic asses. Pray for the former to find comfort and pray that we don’t become that latter.

    • Mark this though: A group like this is going to become very law centered sooner or later. There are going to be some hurting disillusioned people and there are going to be some legalistic asses. Pray for the former to find comfort and pray that we don’t become that latter.

      No kidding.

  31. I’m at a church-owned cafe, and I kept looking back over my shoulder a few times to make sure no one saw me watching this thing 😯

    I grew up in the charismatic movement, so for me this is more of the same old, same old. If nothing else, though, it illustrates that the Charismatics are much more fun than the Truly Reformed 🙂

    • Kidding aside…I totally understand how one could be absolutely appalled by this.

      When I was in the charismatic “stream”, I saw all kinds of bizarre things. But nothing like what’s in the video.

      Please, however, don’t make the mistake of thinking Morningstar is necessarily the norm in the charismatic stream. There are plenty of churches where the so-called Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey would not be welcomed.

  32. Invoking the power of the Holy Spirit to heal with the Hokey Pokey? Where was God’s word? I admit I only could stomach the first 3.5 minutes, but in that time I never heard any scripture, and the “pastor” was already healing in the name of Christ. The absence of scripture is especially troubling. But not that long of a leap for a music-centered theology that allows for the Holy Spirit to work through the music (apparently any music) alone without God’s word, and that allows for any emotional response to be ‘Spirit-led and Spirit-filled.” That slippery slope is playing out in legitimate worship venues every week. This video is the sad extreme of perpetuating that bad theology.