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Tom Cruise Is Just Weird

He looks like us but he is not like us.

Tom Cruise. A video captures his thoughts on Scientology. Might even be three or four years old. Gets posted on YouTube. Gets pulled from YouTube. But you can see it here. At least until Scientology central gets wind of it.

Very weird.

Tom Cruise

Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship

A number of emails have been coming in to me from a Walter Kambulow asking me, in caps no less, “SO DO THE WORLD A GREAT FAVOR AND LOOK INTO TORONTO AIRPORT CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP OR TORONTO AIRPORT CHURCH OF THE FLESH AS I CALL IT”.

I do not know the man, nor do I know much about the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. I do remember, about 10 or 12 years ago, that the pastor of our church took a field trip to this “movement” and came back shocked at what was taking place. People were barking and clucking. Acting as though they were possessed. And not in a good way. Another weird cult.

Apparently, TACF are suing this Walter fellow for several million dollars. According to their statement of claim, Kambulow falsely and maliciously published, to specific individuals, which may or may not include me, and to the world at large on the internet false and defamatory words. The defamatory words apparently included things like adultery, rape, robbery, exploitation, embezzlement.

I am not a lawyer, so I cannot comment on the merit of the claim. However, Wikipedia has a fascinating entry on the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship which reads, in part:

The church is also the source of the so-called Golden Sword Prophecy. Another notable phenomenon that broke out there in March 1999 was the outbreak of allegedly instantaneous, allegedly medically documented dental ‘miracles’ including amalgam fillings or porcelain crowns being ‘supernaturally’ changed to high-quality gold.

At TACF Revival services, worshippers have exhibited unusual behaviours that they attribute to an encounter with God and the “fire of the Holy Spirit”?. The most common described behaviours include laughter (or “holy laughter”?), weeping, deep bowing, shaking, ‘drunkenness’, falling to the floor under the Holy Spirit’s power (aka “slain in the Spirit”?) and speaking in tongues. Other less common behaviours include manifestations that resembled roaring like lions and crying like an eagle. At one time the TACF website described it thus: “The Toronto Blessing is a transferable anointing. In its most visible form it overcomes worshippers with outbreaks of laughter, weeping, groaning, shaking, falling, ‘drunkenness,’ and even behaviours that have been described as a ‘cross between a jungle and a farmyard.'”

If that is what these folks at TACF stand for, then I would stay far away. Here is one perspective that claims the group is led by false teachers.

Seven Days in God’s Army

CBC had an interesting segment last night. Mark Kelley has been developing a series of reports based on the concept of an embedded journalist. He spends seven days in a particular context.

Last night, his context was seven days in God’s Army.

He went to the U.S. Bible Belt to find out what is happening in evangelical Christianity. No need to look in Canada as the evangelical church here is basically a dead movement. Evangelical Christians in the U.S. have similar fears that in the next twenty years or so less their numbers will fall dramatically to less than 6 percent of Americans.

Mark provided an outsider’s view of this insular and often unusual world of evangelical Christianity. He initially was scared of the movement. However, after a mere seven days, he concluded that he was not scared, it was the evangelical Christians who were scared. Scared to become irrelevant, scared to see their movement die.

He repeatedly asked the folks he met what he himself needed to know about Christianity. As he put it: I am just an ordinary guy. What do I need to know?

And for whatever reason, these folks did not answer his question. 

Belief

The National Post had a front page story on the opening of a new museum. The museum presents creation as a viable scientific basis for the origination of species.

The organization behind this museum is called Answers in Genesis. I have a friend who works for the organization.

The National Post made an interesting observation that in Canada, the debate between creation and evolution was not very active. Our society has become so secularized that we either do not care about the debate or we do not think it important. Apparently, this is not the case in the United States.

By coincidence, the National Post also carried a story about Einstein’s belief in God. In his own words:

The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand those laws.

Scientology

This video of BBC reporter John Sweeney losing his temper has been making the rounds. Largely because of the very odd nature of the outburst. Without context.

Turns out that Sweeney was investigating Scientology. And investigating Scientology can be a very risky business.

Prior to Sweeney’s outburst, I did not know much about Scientology. I knew that a few movie stars like John Travolta and Tom Cruise (the Christ of Scientology?) had bought into the program and I knew that it had something to do with Ron L. Hubbard and Dianetics. Oh, and I knew that the Scientologists were not big on pyschiatric practices.

Wikipedia had this to say about Scientology. And this site gives a lot more insight into the very odd beliefs of this group. Xenu? Thetans?

Blackwater USA

A friend strongly recommended that I read Blackwater USA by Jeremy Scahill. I had never heard of Blackwater USA.

Blackwater USA is a a private military company and security firm founded in 1997 by Erik Prince and based in North Carolina. The company describes itself as a “military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping, and stability operations company.” Their services are for-hire. And there is some concern that fundamentalist Christians are bankrolling mercenaries. Blackwater specializes in training and deploying contract mercenaries, however it is simultanously reframing its mission, calling its work “humanitarian” and “peacekeeping.” I do find it a bit odd that Christians are in the business of selling contract soldiers to government and other agencies. But, digging deeper into the company, there are reasons why I am not surprised.

This article reports that the company does about $500 million in revenues and employs about 2,300 people with another 20,000 or so on call.

Erik Prince inherited a small fortune when his father died. His father had a very successful auto parts business and the family business was sold for over $1 billion. He used the capital to build the largest privately owned military training base in the world. 7,000 acres in North Carolina. And another 80 acres near Chicago.

His sister married into the DeVos family. The Richard DeVos family. Richard is the co-founder of Amway. Poor guy. Richard’s net worth is only about $3.4 billion. I guess someone makes money at Amway and Quixtar. And the DeVos and Prince families are strongly connected.

Amway. Blackwater USA. Isn’t it great that Christians are bringing these types of businesses into the world? Multi-level marketing and war profiteering. Wonderful.

Christianity Sinks Like The Titanic

James Cameron, the man who brought us Terminator, Rambo, Aliens and Titanic, now ushers in the fall of Christianity.

I am off to Bermuda tomorrow. I heard that the Bermuda Triangle is probably as reliable a source for finding the truth about Jesus as the upcoming James Cameron documentary. Sorry that I will miss the broadcast.

In case you missed the fuss, there is a lot of interesting reading in the blogosphere these days. Here are a few of my favourites.

Time Magazine offers this take on the claim that Jesus had a family tomb in Jerusalem. Overlooked it was for a couple of thousand years until the Terminator came along. Larry King waded in the rubble with his finely tuned journalistic edge. Other blogs chimed in: Darryl Bock, Hot Air and Andreas Kostenberger. I am sure the list goes on.

Oh well. The debate is a step up from the one that claims Jesus never existed at all.

Interesting quote from a recent James Cameron interview: “Everyone around me had basically said, ‘You stink. You suck. You don’t know what you are doing.'”

On this one, I have to agree.

Dwayne’s Journey

My wife and I had dinner with friends last night. A wonderful couple. They moved out to Saskatoon and it looks as though they will be returning to Ontario.

We shared stories about our respective experiences with small churches. They had gone through some challenges with their own church. And it led to a heart-breaking story about Dwayne Harm.

Dwayne was a 37 year old husband and father of 2. He was a church-planter and pastor of a 4 year old church. He was struck with renal cancer and died within a couple of months of the initial discovery of the cancer. His blog chronicles a brief and candid battle with the disease. In his own words: “my journey through this part of the adventure God has for me may be worth reading about.”

It is very difficult to read his journey. He talks to all of the human emotion that goes into life.

His journey is worth reading. You can find it here. The Mennonite Brethren Herald has more background on Dwayne here.