Return Business

In Uncategorized on July 20, 2014 at 2:28 pm

snake oil

I spent a reverent hour this morning in pure worship, attuned the beauty in the very air, the holy sense of my Father’s presence, and the music being lifted all around me. No, I was not in some mortgaged church building. I was kneeling in one of our garden patches, pulling weeds from around the volunteer tomatoes and the blueberry and rose and hydrangea bushes. The sound the weeds made as I pulled them from the damp earth was precisely the sound the Black Angus cattle in the next pasture make when they crop God’s good green grass for their many-stomached strength. The friendly collie from one farm over lay near me, drowsing and watching, her presence a true fellowship. And while I pulled and prodded, trying to let any snakes know in advance of my benign intent and approach, the songbirds watching me from the tulip poplars raised their hymns, delicate and intricate, immediate and entire, like all good music.

When I pulled a stalk of ragweed, the earth disturbed a large daddy longlegs, who skittered up the tomato stalk and hid among the little yellow blossoms. A memory came back from years ago in Texas, a memory of a baking, still afternoon when I sat in the shade and watched the heat shimmers on the road and sipped a Lone Star. I noticed movement on the patio table, and watched in frozen interest as a daddy longlegs crept over to one of the rings of water where the beer had sweated down onto the glass surface. He went up to the water ring and lowered his body, as if doing a push-up. I saw the tiniest ripple movement in the water ring and realized that the fragile creature was taking himself a cold drink. I stayed as still as I could for a long few minutes while he drank, and then watched him as he crawled across the table, went over the side, and returned to his skinny-limbed business. I acquired that day a certain guarded fondness for the little fellers, and always try to avoid squishing or disturbing them if I can. As with crows, I have achieved a sort of wary friendship with a strange creature who glorifies my Father.

I came back in the house this morning to cool down, and as I sat barefooted in a chair, I absentmindedly stroked the bottom of my left foot. The tendon that runs along the arch felt odd; I rubbed it again and noticed that there are a series of knots, like rosary beads, along the tendon. Rubbing it again, I mused aloud to Mrs. MacP that it felt as if I had grown a spine in my foot.

A few years ago, I slept wrong one night and ended up with the worst stiff neck I’ve ever had. The pain was precise and penetrating, and I couldn’t hold my head up straight. At the recommendation of a friend, I went to see a chiropractor. He put me on his table and talked to me while cradling my head in his hands. He asked me a question about my family, and as I started to respond, he snapped my head to one side like as if trying to unscrew the largest Mason jar lid in the world. I screamed, not in pain, but because the movement and the accompanying loud “snap” scared the living hell out of me. By the time I sat up and rolled off the table, my neck felt better. My Atlas, the chiropractor told me, had been out of alignment.

The doc asked me to come back three days a week for the next two weeks to make some adjustments he’d determined I needed. I did this, trusting him because he’d made me feel 100% better in one visit than I’d felt before walking in his door. But after the two weeks, he asked that I come back once a week for the next month, and then once a month afterwards. Forever. I told him that I appreciated what he’d done for me and that I was impressed, but that I couldn’t afford a fifteen dollar out-of-pocket fee every time I came to his office. He was unhappy at my decision, but that’s how the spine cracks.

I imagine that chiropractors are like some other professionals. There are good ones and bad ones. I imagine there must be a small number who will do exactly what needs to be done, pocket their payment, and wish the client well. But I suspect that most of them preach the need for regular adjustments in the name of good health…and with the added bonus of a renewable stream of income. In other words, if the chiro cures you too well, you cease to be of use to him.

This is the sort of snake oil salesmanship practiced by every single pastor/preacher/priest alive today, whether they realize/admit it or not. This is why they dribble out their “wisdom” in tiny bits each week; it is in their professional (read: $$$) interest to keep their flock needy, dependent, unable to feed themselves. I used to think pastors’ inability to give good, sound answers to tough questions was simply because they are incompetent, the lot of them. While I still think most of them are incompetent students of the Scripture, I now believe they intentionally give vague answers because a clear answer would be the equivalent of “Your spine is now aligned; you don’t need me anymore unless you fall off a ladder.”

It’s sad how unexamined the lives and beliefs of churchgoers are — unexamined by themselves, I mean. They profess to believe the old covenant has passed away and the new covenant has taken its place, but they can’t tell you what the new covenant is. And even if they can find it in their Bible, they cannot or will not appropriate its promises. They flatly ignore the fact that our Father has said that under this new covenant, we do not need anyone to teach us or to tell us “Know Yahwah,” and that He will Himself write His words to us on each of his children’s hearts. No, they say, waving the heretic away. He has appointed pastors to act as our shepherds. We must feed on the provender they offer two or three times per week. And we must pay for it, and we must bring the tithe into the church house, just as it says somewhere in the good book. “It’s somewhere in the good book” will be the epitaph of every postmodern churchgoing Christian.



We watched a recording of 84 Charing Cross Road, the Anthony Hopkins vehicle about the twenty-year friendship-by-correspondence between a London bookseller and his American (Jew) customer, Helene Hampf. It’s a very nicely-paced movie, and Hopkins was much more enjoyable back then, before he settled into the series of irritating tics and mannerisms that have brought him fame post-Lecter.

Watching the movie reminded me of the horrific waste of WWII, and I’m not just talking about the body count. One standout plot element in the film is the food and fuel rationing that Britain endured after that war. While Americans were living quite well in the late Forties and into the Fifties, our British cousins were unable to obtain more than tiny bits of meat (most of it tinned) and dairy items. The seed of Satan did a really fine job of convincing the credulous English that they needed to battle Hitler on behalf of mankind, and the English heeded the call. The result was the destruction of the British Empire, the impoverishment and castration of her people, and the bleak, multicultural legacy one sees today on the sceptered isle. Way to go, Jewboys. I know you’re proud of the Kate Middleton Dynasty.


Many of you know that my favorite music is classical, including German opera, closely followed by bluegrass and Texas swing. But I regularly submit to a strong fondness for certain stripes of rock music, and it’s no accident that the rock music I like is largely classical in structure and operatic in tone. It’s masculine and martial, but not overly harsh (like the current “metal” music, all played at top speed and featuring vocals that sound as if they were recorded while the singer were bravely attempting to break through his latest bout of impacted constipation). The grindy, crunchy chords, the time changes, the soaring vocals….to me, it’s akin to the enjoyment of poetry by Dylan Thomas or Ezra Pound: one enjoys it as much for the sheer sound as for the sense. Bruce Dickenson of Iron Maiden has a voice that zips into me, and Yngwie Malmsteen’s guitar technique always galvanizes me, like a bugle call did for Patton and Forrest. And the lyrics of such songs are way, way down on the list of importance for me. Dickenson (who really shines on Iron Maiden tunes like “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “Alexander the Great“) could sing the instructions on how to assemble a gas barbecue grill and it would sound effing great to me.

I recently made a musical discovery. It’s a group called Stratovarius, and the best way to describe their musical presence is that it’s what a collaboration between Bruce Dickenson and Yngwie Malmsteen would sound like. I like ‘em a lot, particularly this composition. As always, remember to turn it up. I’m convinced that my heavenly Father loves loud music.


My good friend HKZ is writing some spectacular stuff over at his blog. Relevant topics, muscular prose, precise observations. Dylan Thomas once said that he wrote his poetry to the glory of God and in praise of man, and that “I’d be a damn fool if I didn’t.” Well, if you don’t regularly read HKZ’s blog, you’re a damn fool. And intellectually impoverished, to boot.

Enjoy the rest of this Sunday, dear ones. And look up — your redemption draweth nigh.

~ Wheeler


Infinite Synchronicity

In Uncategorized on July 18, 2014 at 6:29 pm


Here is truth:  people are beginning to leave the organized church.

There are various reasons for this exodus, but people are leaving.  Most make their way out for selfish reasons: “My needs aren’t being met. The pastor doesn’t remember my name. The nursery sucks. I’ve taught Sunday School for two years and no one ever gave me a plaque or a dinner. That deacon’s wife was rude to my wife. The preaching isn’t expository enough. The preaching is boring. There aren’t enough young people. There aren’t enough singles. There are too many old people. The hymns are tiresome. The contemporary music is superficial. We don’t have wine at the Lord’s Supper. We don’t have the Lord’s Supper often enough. People dress too casually. We don’t have wheelchair ramps. My wife wants to be an elder and the pastor won’t even talk to her about it. I hate wearing a tie…I don’t even have to wear a tie at my office. One of the elders said my children are ill-behaved and out of control. My needs aren’t being met.”

Most are leaving for the wrong reasons, just as most people join the church for the wrong reasons: “I felt like Jesus was calling me. I recognized my need for Christ. The gospel touched me. The invitational hymn was so moving. The message overpowered me. I felt like something was missing from my life. Church membership will help me in my political ambitions. My family always went to church. I never went to church when I was a child. I like going to a pretty building and hearing pretty music and dressing up. Some men came to my house and shared the Roman Road with me. I’m afraid of going to hell. I’m afraid I’ll never see my dead wife again. I’m afraid I won’t fit in if I don’t go to church. I want to marry this girl, and her parents insist that I be a church-going man.”

But a few join the church for the one right reason: they are seeking the Father through His firstborn Son, and they know no other way, and they are pointed to the church doors, and they remain there. For a season.

A few leave the church for the right reason: They begin to search the Scriptures for themselves, and when they recover from the shock of learning how extensively and systematically they’ve been deceived, they set their faces like flint, determining in their hearts to never again submit to a petty tyrant in a pulpit, walking out into the air of their very own Creation, looking for His face, tentatively confident that He will reveal Himself to His own children. They then find their own right reason.

Some join for the right reason and leave for the wrong reason. Some join for the wrong reason and leave for the right reason. There are many variations on these themes, played in many different keys, in many different time signatures.

And a tiny few don’t understand most of what has happened in their spirits, but their overpowering homesickness guides them, and their groping leads them to the sweet-scented hem of His garments.

Who can defeat His purpose in His children? Rejoice, brothers and sisters…rejoice!

~ Wheeler


Friday Music From Pendragon

In Uncategorized on July 18, 2014 at 5:44 pm


Three of my favorites on this blissfully cool and rainy Friday evening. Click on the titles to listen.

And remember to turn it up…some volume is essential.

Cheers to you, my friends.

~ Wheeler


This Green and Pleasant Land

Our country is cobbled lanes of London town
The valleys of Wales the Devon tides
Built on hard won freedom honour and pride

So it’s crazy it seems
We’ve become helpless like babies again
Just waiting for someone or something
To bail us out at the slightest twinge of pain

My grandad Michael Barrett took shrapnel in the neck
Uncle Ken was a padre in Burma he returned a living wreck
Uncle John was a major and was stranded on the shoreline at Dunkirk

It’s beyond my comprehension this kind of sacrifice
So many gave themselves up
And in the end so many would fall
It’s not legal to say what I think anymore
Cos I don’t believe in sharia law
But I can honestly say we’ve pissed it up the wall

Can we please stop all this madness before it’s too late
No one takes responsibility and wants a free life on a plate
He can close the door switch off the light
Stick his head deep in the sand
The death throes of this green and pleasant land

Is this really where our passion goes?
Is this really where our energy flows?

I awoke on Christmas day
But Christmas is a word you can no longer say

Is this really where our passion goes?
Is this really where our energy flows?

The hospitals are just another business plan
Like justice and the law of the land
An old war hero dies of cold alone in his flat
While Brutish Gas and their shareholders are getting richer getting fat

Take only what you need and be on your way
Is this really where our passion goes?
Take only what you need and be on your way
Is this really where our energy flows?
Take only what you need and be on your way

Everybody hears but nobody listens
Empathy oh empathy
The robot people with robot answers
Invasion of the bodysnatchers is here finally
10:58 Wootton Bassett every Tuesday that plane goes right over my head
Cos I can’t get the drugs for cancer of the kidney my life is in the hands of
Something called Nice how nice

Is this really where our passion goes?
Take only what you need and be on your way
Is this really where our energy flows?
Take only what you need and be on your way


Not Of This World: Green-Eyed Angel
All those friends I’ve known and lost they tell me it’ll be alright
Not with empty words or hearts they tell me I will be alright
And with her wings she shelters me and tells me it’ll be alright

Green eyed angel coming down from heaven
I never thought the one who loved me more than any
Would be the one to lead me to the gallows

Green eyed angel coming down from heaven
I never thought the one who loved me more than any
Would be the one to leave me

I sense those friends I know but can’t see, they tell me it’ll be alright
When they lay their hands on me I feel them near and I will be alright
And though my heart still has this dark place
Day by day it’ll fell more light

Green eyed angel coming down from heaven
I never thought the one who loved me more than any
Would be the one to lead me to the gallows

Green eyed angel coming down from heaven
I never thought the one who loved me more than any
Would be the one

Green eyed angel coming down from heaven
I never thought the one who loved me more than any
Would be the one to lead me to the gallows

Green eyed angel coming down from heaven
I never thought the one who loved me more than any
Would be the one to lead me to the gallows

Green eyed angel coming down from heaven
That summer day of ’94 was such a happy day

When they lay their hands down on me and I feel them near I know it will be alright
Hearts so young against a heart of stone not to love that child
And although my heart still has this dark place
Day by day I know it’ll feel more light
Hearts so young against a heart of stone


If I Were the Wind and You Were the Rain

If I were the wind and you were the rain
That blows from east to west that melts away this pain
If I were the sea and you were the sky
I could wash away those tears
And our hearts again would fly
And the pirates and the thieves might bring you to your knees
But they’ll never board your ship
You may have to sail through troubled seas
But the stars will always lead you
To the sun on the horizon
And you will feel life again
As the storm shows mercy on your sails

People my people
Captain my captain
Sail this empty vessel away from here to calmer shores
People my people
Captain my captain
Sail this empty vessel away from here to calmer shores

And the pirates and the buccaneers
Who fought you through the years
Now kneel and bow to you
They see a strength in you
And you will be their king
And the rest of the world will see
And want to follow right behind you
Because you fought them off with that weapon
The sword of mercy and truth

It’s all so fearless now
Now the dust has settled down
It’s time to say goodbye
To the lives I touched and left behind
But through this melody and rhyme
I’ll find some comfort here

On waters new we set sail
Our eyes set on a new world
It’s time to wave goodbye
Wiped from your memory
But so fair of face and a heart of gold
My son my son



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