Prayer

by steve chastain on January 11, 2015

Seriously thinking about prayer was the tipping point in my religious de-conversion.

I posted about it early and often when I started the Stupid Church People blog. Here I shared a quote from Karen Armstrong where she writes in “The History of God”:

I wrestled with myself in prayer, trying to force my mind to encounter God, but he remained a stern taskmaster who observed my every infringement of the Rule, or tantalizingly absent. The more I read about the raptures of the saints, the more of a failure I felt. I was unhappily aware that what little religious experience I had, had somehow been manufactured by myself as I worked upon my own feelings and imagination. Sometimes a sense of devotion was an aesthetic response to the beauty of the Gregorian chant and the liturgy. But nothing had actually happened to me from a source beyond myself.

I remember that unhappy feeling when I became truly awake to manufacturing the religious experiences in my life. Then it dawned on me how I had manufactured those experiences for others as a pastor for years.

Religion by and large is a manipulation of emotion, especially in a community or corporate setting. Prayer is used as a primary source of that manipulation.

The podcast we did early on prayer is important because I talk about these feelings openly. The “See You at the Pole” podcast also deals heavily with this subject.

Talking about prayer is a touchy subject because it is so personal to each person who regularly practices it. It’s touchy because pastors rely on it to carry on in front of their congregations as if they have a direct line to God. No one wants to be honest about prayer for fear people will realize the reality of it.

We are just talking to ourselves.

Click below to listen the “Prayer” podcast – recorded October 4, 2005

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Emergent Hoo-Haa

by steve chastain on December 23, 2014

SCP ARCHIVES – SHOW #11

First released on June 21, 2005.

This podcast contains the first ever mention of Tony Jones. Those of you in the church world probably know Tony by now, but if you don’t know who he is I suggest you google him for a frame of reference. Anyway, at this time, Josh and I had very little knowledge of the Emergent Church movement. They were just getting onto our radar, and the leaders of the group were (and are) very active on social media. We quickly found ourselves in their cross-hairs as they were seeking to engage those in a “conversation” about what emergent was and wasn’t.

To us, Emergent was no different than any other church movement in history. It was a new flavor of the church, but in the end it was heading quickly in the same direction as all the rest. And what was that direction? Irrelevance.

I share several quotes from the book “Wineskins”, but none better than this: The Church “continues to brew new wine instead of scrapping the old wine skins”.

Josh and I were so fed up with the church, we didn’t want change or a revolution – but a cataclysm. Sell all the church buildings. No paid pastoral staff and all pastors get “real” jobs. Churches should rid themselves of the “seeker” mentality and stop trying to market to the lowest common denominator. Churches would focus on the poor and spurn building kingdoms to themselves.

Churches and pastors don’t have the balls to be truly biblical. In this way most pastors are no different than I am. They don’t really believe the Bible or they’d lead their churches in the path I describe above. But it’s still a game, a job, a show and a money-grab.

I know these may be hard words for most pastors of small churches to hear. Those that don’t make a lot of money and struggle to get by and do real good work in very difficult places. But even you guys can do better. Actually it’s the small churches that have the best chance to initiate change.

So this podcast was probably one of our finest, because we get to the heart of the matter of what was bugging us about the church. We start to “dialogue” with Tony Jones. It’s starting to get good people. And I’m getting fired up again… so stay tuned.

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The Road Trip

by steve chastain on December 21, 2014

SCP ARCHIVES – SHOW #6

First released on May 14, 2005.

Road Trip. It’s a staple of Americana and this episode was a much needed one for me.

My life changed dramatically on May 1, 2005. It’s something I’ve never talked about very openly on the Stupid Church People blog or podcast, but it’s something I’ve alluded to often. On that fateful day, my (ex) wife told me she wanted a divorce.

In retrospect almost ten years later, I should not have been surprised. Our marriage was going through the paces and I was obviously disconnected from how bad it was because I was completely blind-sided by the news. So in the days that followed, I was a mess.

I didn’t eat, barely slept and was very very depressed. One night shortly after, I can’t remember exactly when, I found myself knocking on Josh’s door. I might have given him a call just before heading over, but there I was on his porch – a complete and total wreck.

Josh let me in and for the next several hours just sat with me. Basically we didn’t say much, he didn’t offer me advice, but just sat with me. There wasn’t much to say.

I believe it was sometime during that evening though that the mood changed a bit. We begin to laugh a little, talk about SCP and I think the idea for this show was born. “Let’s get out of town for the day and just go have some fun” was the basic idea.

This stupid little blog and podcast was my outlet during some very dark days in my life. Josh was and is one of the best friends anyone could ever want.

So in listening to this podcast, I hope you will hear it in the context of what I shared above. I think it’s a testimony to the power of laughter, friendship and living life one day at a time.

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Church Detox

December 17, 2014

http://traffic.libsyn.com/stupidchurchpeople/01_Church_Detox.mp3 SCP ARCHIVES – SHOW #4 First released on April 27, 2005. This podcast was recorded days following  the very last time I ever preached or spoke in a church setting. That seems so long ago. Life has surely changed. I am amazed in listening to this show how naive and innocent I am to […]

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Benny Hinn’s Road to Hell

December 16, 2014

http://traffic.libsyn.com/stupidchurchpeople/01_Benny_Hinns_Road_to_Hell.mp3 SCP ARCHIVES – SHOW #3 First released on April 24, 2005. Josh and I take on faith healing extraordinaire Benny Hinn. We dissect some of his more entertaining prophetic statements. Listen, I don’t even know if Benny Hinn is still in business or not, but it’s amazing he ever had an audience. There’s always […]

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Tickle Me Jesus… Please.

December 15, 2014

http://traffic.libsyn.com/stupidchurchpeople/01_Tickle_me_Jesus…please..mp3 SCP ARCHIVES – SHOW #2 First released on April 22, 2005. Listening again to this show you can hear Josh and I struggling with our involvement in the church. You can hear our growing discontentment with “the show” that the church had become for us. As insiders it was very apparent that each and […]

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Death and Burning Down the Local Christian Bookstore

December 14, 2014

http://traffic.libsyn.com/stupidchurchpeople/01_Death_and_Burning_Down_the_Local_Christian_Bookstore.mp3 SCP ARCHIVES – SHOW #1 Re-release of our very first show, around April 1, 2005. It was Josh’s idea to do a podcast. I had started writing the blog and Josh was a huge encouragement. We would get together and talk about church all the time. In 2005 podcasts were just taking off, and […]

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When Life is Hard, Stop and Think

January 24, 2014

Recently I have started following Mark Driscoll on Facebook and Twitter. Although he is good for a daily dose of SCP fodder, I have no interest in zeroing in on him. However, I would like to make an observation and respond to a recent group of posts surrounding one of his sermons.   Driscoll wrote […]

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BULLETIN: Fake Driscoll Isn’t Real Driscoll

January 21, 2014

Seems like Mars Hill wants it to be clear that the Twitter account called Fake Driscoll is in no way, shape or form related to the real Mark Driscoll account. Hats off to Stephanie Drury and SCCL for keeping it real by playing it fake!

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