Category Archives: Americans

Revivals, Entertainment and Unsexy Christianity

I’ve just been listening (repeadtedly) to a great sermon by my good buddy Jonathan Martin, pastor of Renovatus in Charlotte NC. In it, he talks about ‘Drinking the Cup’; meaning surrendering to God’s will, even if it’s very bitter, regardless of whether or not it brings any reward. It’s not sexy. It’s not flashy and it’s certainly not easy, but it might just be the most important thing we’ll do with our lives. It’s a sort of antithesis of the Prosperity gospel, if you like.

He talks really honestly about our collective (and personal) addictions to performance, affirmation and entertainment. Of how we chase the dragon of spiritual highs, where really what we badly need is to be obedient in the small things.

The message was apparently borne “out of many questions that have been raised to me in recent weeks about different contemporary incarnations of “revival.” I tried to be honest, delicate, but candid”. I believe he suceeded on all three counts. The message got me thinking quite a bit about the whole nature of Revival.

Revival is something that I have heard talked about all my life. Between 1949 and 1952 my home island, the Isle of Lewis, witnessed an incredible and powerful move of God which swept through whole communities, particularly in the parish of Barvas, and transformed the entire spiritual outlook of a generation of islanders. It was not planned. It was not timetabled. It was not streamed over the internet or TV. It was just a spontaneous move of God which brought people to their knees, sometimes literally in the fields at work. Whole villages who had virtually no christians living in them spontaneously arrived at church buildings for meeting which were not even scheduled to occur. When I think of revival, this is what I think of. A tangible change in the spiritual temperature of a whole community on a big scale and not done to human timetabling. God starts it, God keeps it going, God ends it and the centre of the whole thing is Christ and people’s relationship with him.

That’s why I find it rather strange to hear, particularly from the States, “Such & such a preacher will be having a “Revival” at such and such a place… etc”. The use of the term “Revival” seems to have been hijacked and cheapened a little and has come to mean merely, “A Big Conference”. Maybe I’m wrong, but to my mind Revival is always something bigger than that. I think of the kind of thing that’s happening in China and Korea, where thousands of people are coming to Christ daily, rather than a planned local outreach campaign.

I’m not criticising specifically. It’s always a very dangerous thing to declare that something is or is not of God. I saw things with my own reformed evangelical hebridean calvinist eyes that have put me now in the camp of “Charismatic with a Seatbelt” (to quote Mark Driscoll); stuff that I’d always previously poo-poohed. People did the same with the ’49 Revival in Lewis. In fact it was actively preached against from certain well-meaning pulpits. What I AM saying is that sometimes I will watch Christian TV or hear of amazing things going on in various places around the world and I find my skepticism alarm beeping, particularly if the shadow of consumerism looms over things.

Am I just being cautious? Am I being overly skeptical? Am I doubting the power of God the Holy Spirit? Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve been checking out some footage from the current hot-potato of Christian TV, the Lakeland Revival in Florida, where Todd Bentley is preaching. I have very good friends who’ve actually been over there to see what’s been happening and told me of amazing things. And me? I have no idea what to do with it. I believe God can heal. I’ve seen it. I believe God can give incredible insight into specifics of a person’s life. I’ve seen it. It’s just that when something gets talked about to the degree that the likes of Florida has, and gets fired all over the “Christian Media”, I suppose I’m the kind of person who has to “put my fingers in the holes”, I guess. I’m not condemning or accepting. I just don’t know.

The loud and the flashy and the miraculous can be such a distraction to us. It can very easily entertain us out of maintaining the integrity of our walk with God, and by ‘Entertainment’, I mean “To keep something in between”. In other words, putting stuff between ourselves and reality, or ourselves and God. Even if it’s good stuff. This again is not a criticism of Bentley and others like him. I’ve seen just as much christian entertainment in traditional Scottish Presbyterian churches, although it’s of a very different nature. There are times to be loud and times to be still. There are times of Revival and fallow times. Whatever our denomination or our theological bent, we (and I) must be careful that we don’t fill our lives with so much spiritual “Munro-Bagging” that we lose sight of Jesus in it all. And of course, don’t forget that although it’s great that God is doing something THERE, shouldn’t we pray all the more that he would change lives HERE? Otherwise we’re like a Fireman watching ‘Ladder 49’ while his town burns to the ground.

I suppose what I’m saying is, as long as Jesus is being held up and glorified, as long as the focus is on him, it doesn’t matter whether we are in a spiritual high or a spiritual low. It’s not sexy, but we just need to keep ‘drinking the cup’.

Come and get some…

Amen?

“Barack Obama Antichrist” posts getting super-scary…

This is rapidly moving from silly to scary.

This was originally going to be a reply to a previous blog comment, but it outgrew itself. I simply cannot believe some of the ideas and arguments being expressed by certain individuals. Things were bad before, but they suddenly got worse.

For those who have just dropped by, I’d better explain briefly. Over a year ago I expressed the opinion that I liked Barack Obama’s political and religious attitude. Some wingnut mentioned that they thought he was the Antichrist and to my horror, I noticed my blog stats climbing from people searching for “Barack Obama Antichrist”. I posted some tongue-in-cheek stuff mocking this a bit, but soon realised that a lot of people actually believed it. I got two comments today though that simply terrified me. I shall post the highlights here…

Pattie says, “He is and always will be a MUSLIM. … He goes to an all black church to cover up his being a muslim… No one but blacks will ever benefit from his presidency. He will make sure whites never have power again, trust me.”

This is so unbelieveably appalling that I’m not even going to try and argue with it. I’m just greatly saddened at the fact that such views could still be held in a so-called civilised country.

Then Robin says, “barack h obama is related to osama bin ladin ya know. obama is the anti-christ. how can americans vote for a muslim after the 911 inncodent? this is a christian nation and obama wants to take that away from america, obama said this is no more a christian nation . then what nation is it? everything that is happening tells all in the king james version holy bible in revelations.obama is the anti-christ, he was born to do just what he was trained to do all his life, take over the most powerfull nation and make it vulnerable and weak for the biggest war of all time. i will note vote for a muslim due to disrespect to america and the families that lost loved ones in the 911 twin towers and flight 193 and pentagon. its a terrible shame that america is going to be in prison to the anti-christ obama. i hope there is going to be a christian assassinater. obama is the son of hell , the devil.”

Where do I start? Robin, if you check your “King James version Holy Bible” you may discover that the book is called ‘Revelation’, not in fact ‘Revelations’. If your reading of the book of Revelation is as accurate as your reading of its title, then I think we can safely discount pretty much everything else you just said.

I have no idea if Obama said America was no longer a Christian nation, but anyone who does say it is right. It ISN’T. And nor is the UK. Both countries may have a moral and legal system that was originally founded on christian principles, but in no meaningful way could either nation be viewed as Christian. In any case, what is a ‘Christian nation’ anyway? Short of everyone in the USA being converted, it never has been and never will be a Christian nation. Nations aren’t christian; individual people are.

As for THIS – “i hope there is going to be a christian assassinater.” Good grief, people! What on EARTH are you saying?? You want the man DEAD??? This is beyond a joke. What could possibly stir up such hatred in a person?

I am shocked. I am deeply concerned. And above all I am saddened that  anyone, regardless of colour or creed, could possibly express such worrying thoughts, bigotry and prejudice. You want proof that America isn’t a christian nation? There it is, right there.

More Obama Antichrist Ranting: This is Getting RIDICULOUS.

Obama as viewed through Eschato-goggles

People, people…. I am getting seriously worried about some of you. Since my tongue-in-cheek “Is Barack Obama the Antichrist” post and my brazenly facetious numerology post, traffic to Mackle has been getting busier, up until a crazy explosion with the beginning of the primaries when my visits increased thirty-fold. As a Scot, I entered this whole field with the curious interest of an outside observer. What I’ve actually observed has been nothing short of terrifying.

The whole end-times/prophetic/eschatological guesswork obsession which is rife on Christian TV has obviously infiltrated the popular consciousness in a big way.

I include here a selection of my favourite soundbites from the comments on my assorted Obama blogs, complete with typos…

I strive to be ever so careful when discussing such issues and placing names. Still, when I see this guy, something sits “wierd” with me. (It could be the eccentric name) “

I have just spent the last 30 minutes reading posts about Barack being the antichrist… I thought the idea must be crazy, but my curiousity got the best of me and I did a quick Google search.”

“I never saw his face but only GEARD his words, and his voice and his tone and REALIZED that WTF this man is the antichrist. I never even knew Obama or who he was prior to that “

barack obama is a wierdo!! he resembles the anti christ! is there any way we can determine if he is or not?”

“It just so happens that Obama is the anti-christ. I believe so and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with any logic I have employed or any racist attitudes that I may have. Fact is, this man is the antichrist. It was weird how it was revealed to me …”

“…and here it is a year before elections and people already are set on him for president. Has that ever happen to a president before? NO…

“isn’t it said that the antichrist will die and then come back? well, isn’t his middle name hussein???”

“I don’t trust him one bit. I don’t for a second buy that he’s now “Christian.””

“Tonight the answer was right there in front of me. When he took the stage to give his Iowa Caucus Victory Speech he seemed cold and distant. “

“I had never heard of him before these elections, he has never really accomplished anything that I have been informed of, and to be perfectly honest, he has empty eyes, very empty eyes. I refuse to believe this man is a christian, I am a christian, that man is not.”

Oh, it goes on and on…

Look, folks. You may not like him. You may have racist attitudes you struggle with. You may have listened to too many end-times date-callers and watched too much TBN. You may think he’s creepy. You may think his policies are bad. You may think his haircut is bad. He may just give you the heebie-jeebies (as my wife feels!) but you can’t go around saying he’s not a christian and even more bizarrely claiming that he’s the Antichrist based on a combination of your Heebie-Jeebie feeling, your TBN habit and his Surname.

As a Christian, can I plead with the Christians on here to get on with loving God, living as salt and light, spreading the gospel and loving each other instead of getting hung up in eschatological craziness. Nobody knows who the Antichrist is – it hasn’t been revealed yet. In fact, who said it was a single person at all?? It could be a whole system, just as Babylon is a personified system. The point is that we have the victory in Christ, these things MUST happen (whoever they will involve and whenever they will occur) and calling dates, times, names and such just makes you look like idiots if you’re wrong, just as everyone who claimed to know who it was over the last 2000 years look like idiots now that it is apparent that they were talking nonsense.

Enough with the wild claims, people, and concentrate on living the life God called you to.

To quote Skank Bangerton (!!!!), the most profane commenter on my blog so far, and who added his nugget while I was composing this post…

Barack Obama may be the Antichrist. I doubt it.”

Spot the Plant

Spurred by the recent Led Zeppelin reunion gig at the O2 Arena last week, I searched for my favourite Zep song on YouTube. I turned up some pretty amazing stuff. In addition to some dreadful footage of the O2 gig from somebody’s camera phone, I found this rendition of “Rock and Roll” from 1979. Pity Plant can’t quite hit the high notes…

Then I played another video and to my delight, Plant was singing it as good as he ever did on record. Simply superb. But wait a minute… something’s not right here…

Yup, it’s a cover band. A bunch of immensely talented guys from the States called Yellow Brick Road. They do a show in Las Vegas called RockShow where they do covers of great rock songs over the years. Vocalist Brody Dolyniuk carries them all off beautifully, but none better than his Robert Plant. He actually outdoes Plant on his own songs.

And that, my friends, is quite an achievement.

Thou, Thee, Thy and Y’all

I just had the most bizarre conversation in the staff room. We somehow got onto the subject of the words ‘Thou’, ‘Thee’, ‘Thy’ and ‘Thine’; and specifically their use in prayer and ecclesiastical situations in this part of the world. Within certain denominations, these words are used consistently every time someone prays. I find it fascinating on a whole raft of different levels, mostly because I don’t often hear it in my own denomination, but heard my Uncle saying grace with ‘Thou’ and ‘Thy’ pronouns the other day and I was taken aback by how weird it sounded, despite having grown up with it.

In our Hebridean church culture it is often perceived as being an honorific term, hence why it is used when speaking to God: to give Him due respect. Interestingly, ‘Thou’ (2nd person sing.) comes from the Proto-Indo-European word ‘tu’ (as does the Gaelic equivalent ‘Thu’) and was originally used as a term of familiarity, whereas ‘You’ (2nd person pl.) was used to indicate deference to one’s superior. As ‘Thou’ fell out of fashion in everyday speech, this pattern inverted, probably DUE to the fact that the ‘Thou’ usage was retained in church settings, in particular its inclusion in the King James Bible.

So that’s why I still hear people in particular denominations retaining ‘Thou’, ‘Thy, and ‘Thine’ in prayer. It’s perceived as being honorific. Strangely, though, if I hear those exact same people praying in Gaelic (which HAS retained ‘Sibh’ as an honorific instead of the familial ‘Thu’), they don’t actually use the honorific! It’s ‘Thu’ (2nd person sing.) every time!

‘Thou’ and ‘Ye’ etc are linguistically nifty words. The 2nd person singular and plural are now blurred into the slightly inferior ‘You’ which loses a touch of the meaning, as in the following example…

Luke 5:24, “But that YE may know…I say unto THEE…take up THY couch, and go into THINE house.”

“Ye” = the crowd, but “Thee/Thy/Thine” = the man.

Ultimately, this doesn’t make a hoot of a difference, except that we can’t know specifically how many people are being referred to, and personally I would rather lose that and not have to worry about convoluted and archaic verb forms like ‘canst’ and ‘wouldest’. Some people are happy with their 17th Century pronouns, and that’s fine for them too.

And “Y’all”, for my North Carolina people, is the Southern Way of filling the gap left by the second person singular/plural distinction.

Now y’all know why y’all say it!

Letter to David Crowder

I found this lurking on my computer. It’s an e-mail I wrote to Crowder after hearing “A Collision” for the first time. I’d forgotten the story that went with it. I can’t believe this actually happened to me…

Hey David,

Well, you were right. It was all worth it. The wait, that is. My little bubble envelope with ‘A Collision’ inside it finally made its merry way over the sea to Scotland and into the hands of my local sub-postmistress who lovingly cared for it until I was able to pick it up. Heavens. What can I say? I sat in my lounge with the speakers bounding across the floor and absorbed every bit of it that I could. You have excelled yourselves. Nothing quite prepared me for this. You have captured everything from agony to elation in one unified, majestic work. Holy cow, have you ever! David, you have pregnant songs. By pregnant I do not mean that they are fat and ungainly and have the potential to cause unsightly scarring. I mean that they hold promise and explosive might and beautiful things that will pour out and change the world they interact with.

This has been a week filled with promise. For starters, on Tuesday of last week (The 27th no less!) I got engaged to Naomi. Talk about promise! I am so excited at the prospect of spending life with this woman who stumbled into my life. Amazing, and it’s been a long time coming. Then, there was the anticipation of the CD arriving. Then there was the actual arrival and the subsequent anticipation of getting the thing played. And then there was the unfolding, the revelation and the discovery of further promise in the music. The promise of finding new things in these songs for many moons to come. The promise found in ‘Be lifted or Hope Rising’ (now THAT is a pregnant song).

So I’m sitting there last night in my lounge with, as I say, the speakers bounding around my room, and I listen to the album in its entirety. I have read the notes on the website along with each track and have been absorbed and fulfilled by the experience. However, due to the fact that it is by this time 1.45am, I’m thinking this is a good time to go to bed. So I hop in, set my analogue alarm clock, reach over again and set my second digital alarm clock with the green LCD display (sadly a necessity as I am as loath to leave my bed as I am to enter it at a reasonable time – It’s 1.25am as I write this. Point made), I turn off the light, sink into darkness and the blissful rest of sleep.

Now, the events that follow happened in a very short space of time, but to me it aaaaaallll sloooooowwweddd dooooowwwn liiiiike thiiiiiiisssss. Usually I sleep right through, but last night, I dunno if it was that the album was still whirling round in my head or what, but in any case, in the middle of the night my eyes pop right open. I’m in the house alone, I live alone and nobody stays even particularly near me. So imagine my alarm and consternation when, as my eyes burst into life, I see the outline of another person in the bed next to me. So I do what any normal person would do. I freak out utterly and completely. I scream violently and my body involuntarily jerks into an upright sitting position. This sudden movement has obviously disturbed the slumber of the unknown entity currently inhabiting the other side of my bed, and they too leap up into a sitting position. This is simply too much for me to handle in my fragile state and so I fling my hand out, partly to protect myself from the possibility of attack but largely with the intention of whacking the person in the jaw. At this point I just about break my wrist as my fist makes positive contact with the wall beside me and I realise that my shadowy bed-mate is in fact my own shadow being projected by the green LCD display of the aforementioned digital alarm clock. I have seldom been so embarrassed in my own company.

All of this is to say the following; It’s amazing how we can each be so surprised by something so familiar. That’s pretty much what happened when I listened to ‘A Collision’. As a long-time lover of your music, there are elements there which seem as familiar as my own shadow, but in this context, they are so surprising, so insightful, so startling, so beautiful, so frightening at times that it kicks your senses into a whole new field and your spirit soars and sometimes, just sometimes, you punch a hole in your wall.

For this, my friend, I thank you.

Gum bitheadh sith agus sonas an Spiorad maille riut.
(May the peace and contentment of the Spirit be with you)

Iain MacKinnon

Numerology Proves Barack Obama is the Antichrist

****** NB: To save me repeating myself again and again, be aware that this post employs SATIRE. Read the post, the comments and my responses properly before adding yet another stupid comment.******

Also, I’d really appreciate it if somebody read something OTHER than this post for a change. Go on. I’ve got some good uns!

*********************************************************************************************************

Well, after everything I’ve said in other posts, I’ve changed my mind. I got this comment on my blog the other day…

“the anti-christ has the numver 666.
check out the sum of VICARIVS FILII DEI in roman numerals.
It adds up to 666!

it was written on the pope’s chiara… long ago. but they changed it now.”

It was THEN that I realised that Numerology had the key to the Barack Obama mystery! So here it is: PROOF!!

Barack Obama was born on 8/4/1961. If you use that guy’s Roman Numerals technique (add up all the letters that have a value in Roman Numerals, e.g. V = 5, L=50, etc), the word “ELECTION” gives you 151. If you add the individual digits, you get 7. If you then take this away from Barack Obama’s birth-year (1961), you get 1954.

You tracking with me? Good…

Now, if you implement the Roman Numeral Technique above you get the following –

DEMOCRATIC = 171

CANDIDATE = 1011 (we’ll ignore the 0, giving 111)

BARACK = 100

HVSSEIN = (No ‘U’ in Latin, remember!) 6

OBAMA = 1000

Now if you add them all up, you get 1288. If you take that 1288 away from 1954, guess what you get?

666!!!!!!

This is incredible. Please tell all your Republican friends.

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR THE HARD OF THINKING – The reason this works is not because it is in some way an amazing co-incidence, but because I spent all day trying to find a way to make it fit.

Try your own name!! You could be the Antichrist too!!