A Sermon for Conspiracy Theorists

I haven’t prepared a sermon since I left my church in November. Now that the country is doing “virtual church” and since I am a “virtual pastor” I thought I would create a “virtual sermon” for you to “virtually read.”

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Today is March 15th, 2020. It is Sunday. It is the Third Sunday of Lent. Many churches are closed. Many are offering instead “virtual worship.” The goal is of course not to gather in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus that has now been called a global pandemic.

It is this pandemic that made me think about my vocation. I am no longer the pastor of a congregation. Yet I still feel like a pastor. I feel the need to be pastoral to someone. A pastor should say something about our situation from the perspective of the Gospel. I wrote this on my Facebook page this past week:

“I am no longer the pastor of a congregation. It would be interesting to be one at this time. But still I am a pastor at heart. However this pandemic shakes out, either with massive death or sickness, or if it fades away, pastoral care is needed especially as we enter, in the US at least, unprecedented isolation and grave economic hardship as our economies (especially our individual household economies) are threatened by all of the shut downs. Perhaps we need more than anything a Gospel perspective as opposed to the partisan political perspectives that dominate so much of our discourse. Namely, I think we need to come to terms with fear in relation to survival and accepting anything authorities may do, whether illusory or real, that momentarily alleviates that fear. The reality is that we all will die someday. That fear of death must be faced. Life in the gospel is living as if one is ready to die. That of course is the gospel’s freedom. We live for this moment. For truth, for justice, for love with courage. When we die, we die as those who go forth to live. 

I am not sure what I can offer as a pastor in this unique time for me as a pastor without a church. Perhaps I am at this point an internet pastor. I have been spending my time since leaving my last church reading, researching, and sharing what I learn from others on this FB page. It doesn’t seem like much. But it is what I do now in this time of my “sabbatical.” But more I feel is coming. There is a lot inside me that needs to come out. 

Do know, whether you consider yourself spiritual or not from whatever philosophy or faith tradition or none, that I will do my best to communicate what I see to be real as uncomfortable and controversial as that can be. I will be wrong. I will not see everything. I will get stuck in a deceitful rabbit hole on occasion. But I will seek to explore what is real. 

From whatever your perspective on philosophy/faith etc., you are welcome here. 

I will do my best to be empathetic and hopefully kind as I do that. For those who find what I write and share too objectionable, then peace be with you in your journey. What will not work are attempts to silence me for following my path. 

I do this, and I still do it as a pastor, because I feel called to it, summoned you might say. I have no idea what is to come for us as a country and a world. But I know that those guides who are real for me (Jesus and Hussain peace be upon them) are worthy of my trust. 

Their example (and their presence that I feel) is stronger, more true, and more real than the enemies of humanity who I name here often and who I feel we are summoned to unmask, name, and engage.

I guess this is all to say that I am a pastor even at this moment—a brother in faith to some—a brother in humanity to others, and I am not afraid of what is to come for us, the human species, but I am ready and open to do what is to be done this day as a pastor.”

That is what I wrote a few days ago. Since today is Sunday, I wondered if it might be time to write a sermon. I started with the lectionary text for today, Romans 5:1-11, but my sermon didn’t seem to go anywhere. Although this line again sticks out as it always does. Paul writes that we

boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint…

I decided not to write a sermon. But I want to write something. There is much in me that needs to come out about so many things. So much suffering is now and is on the way for so many people, for the whole of humanity. The most vulnerable, the elderly, the sick, will be on the front lines of this virus. If exponential infection proceeds as it seems to be doing, perhaps millions could die around the world, including in the United States.  My prayers and my gratitude are with nurses and doctors and first responders who are caring for the sick. As Presbyterian pastor, Fred Rogers, who we know as Mister Rogers, said, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

I am taking precautions, not so much for myself, but so I don’t spread the virus if I am infected. We have been told that we can be contagious for weeks before we develop any symptoms. I am self-isolating with my wife and puppies. I don’t know what this is. I have no predictions regarding this virus. In this regard I am going along with the herd, but with a suspicious mind.

I could repeat the information we get from the mainstream media on our screens. But you know that as well as I do, possibly better, because I rarely watch it. My intuition tells me as well as what I have read and seen from people I trust, and from my understanding of recent history, is that something sinister is afoot.

I was asked if this is from God as a test. That is a question for which one can never be certain as are all questions about the workings of God. But I answered that I didn’t think it was from God. Yet in many respects, this is, as is all of life itself, a test.

Is this some random freak of nature such as the mainstream media tell us? Is this from eating a wild bat in a market in a China? My answer is again, I think not.

That answer puts me in the category of conspiracy theorist. A conspiracy theorist in the pejorative meaning of the phrase is someone who doesn’t believe what she or he is supposed to believe.

Aristotle is said to have said that “the mark of an educated mind is to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” So yes, I entertain many thoughts of conspiracy but I accept only those that are true. Aristotle might have been a conspiracy theorist.

The quote unquote “conspiracy theory” that I entertain in this regard is that this pandemic is a combination of bioweapon/PSYOP to push through a variety of agendas. Whether it was unleashed in a calculated way or by an accidental escape from the laboratory is a larger unknown. People I trust entertain this theory as well and given that biological weapons are being manufactured all over the world under the auspices of governments and their militaries, it seems logical that would be the first theory any thinking person would explore. But the mainstream media, a megaphone for the powerful, will not entertain this logical theory and instead it promotes the theory that this virus is a product of nature and was transferred to humans by wild bats. This is most likely a cover story. The Hollywood film, Contagian, is a blueprint for this story

The media cannot be trusted for the truth of what is really happening. 

I say this with confidence. One piece of evidence will suffice for my view of the media. At 5:20 in the afternoon on September 11th, 2001, World Trade Center Tower Building 7 was imploded by controlled demolition into its own footprint in less than seven seconds. Mainstream media has covered up this story to this day on behalf of powerful agencies that are supposed to supply truth but do the opposite, at least on this matter, such as NIST, the National Institute for Science and Technology. The mainstream media by this continued cover-up shows that it has lost all credibility regarding anything of importance. Obviously, what happened on September 11th, 2001 and especially who is responsible is of utmost importance to the human race. Those who really did it are still in control of the world today and are protected by their propaganda arm, their own media outlets. 

My working theory is that COVID-19 was created in a laboratory for the purposes of mayhem by the usual suspects and unleashed at this particular time and manner for a variety of reasons. Those reasons I do not know but I suspect these reasons have to do with population manipulation and control for the benefit of the world’s elite. Many people I trust and those I don’t have a number of views regarding what these agendas might be and I find it healthy to entertain them per Aristotle. As these new agendas are rolled out in the coming months and years, we will know, or at least those who follow Aristotle’s dictum will know.

The big question is whether or not the populace will know and with knowing will free themselves from slavery to the elites. I have decided that question is not mine to answer. I can only leave that to God. My calling or summons is to tell what I think is real to the best of my ability. That said I do believe that there are people who have a hunch that something isn’t what the mainstream media says it is in regards to all of this. Many are drawn to what conspiracy theorists entertain without admitting it to others or perhaps even themselves that these people may be right to question what we are told by official outlets. These curious people contain a spark in their consciousness that is waiting for ignition. That is my hope. But again, it is not my business. I just do my job. My job these days is assisted by an increasing freedom from concern about what others think.

Conspiracy theorists do suffer. They suffer from ridicule and censorship. They suffer from loneliness and from marginalization. Some suffer actual harm from what the author of Ephesians calls

“the rulers…the authorities…the cosmic powers of this present darkness…the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

Conspiracy theorists are like Old Testament prophets.

No one liked them then and no one likes them now. 

But as Paul says in today’s lectionary text,

we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint…

Maybe I did write a sermon after all. A sermon for conspiracy theorists and for conspiracy theorists in the making. The world needs you. You are blessed and you are a blessing.

Those who believe what they are supposed to believe and who follow what the mainstream media says to believe will not be happy with me. I am at peace with that. There are plenty of pastors for them. But there are not many pastors for those who are not in the mainstream.

Really I am not a pastor in my understanding of the word, because I have not been called to a congregation. But as a fellow seeker of what is true, I will hopefully be a fellow traveler to you should you decide this lonely path is yours as well.

At that I will heartily say, Amen. 

For further research I recommend exploring Kevin BarrettAnthony Hall, Veterans TodayThe Corbett ReportPhilip GiraldiScott Bennett, Helen Buyniski, Francis Boyle (and here with Spiro Skouras), Joseph Mercola, Whitney WebbLarry RomanovPeter KoenigRon PaulDavid Icke.

Bethlehem in Jeopardy!

I was on the Press TV program, “Palestine Files.” This episode entitled, “Bethlehem in Jeopardy!”, analyzed why the television game show, “Jeopardy” incorrectly ruled that the Church of the Nativity was in Israel as opposed to Palestine. Here is the story in The Intercept

The Press TV program, now available on-line, wanted to explore why Jeopardy got this wrong, what is the reality for Palestinian Christians regarding Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity, and was this Jeopardy error another sign of the calculated erasure of Palestinian identity.

I recommend watching the entire 25 minute program and sharing it widely. I was asked all the questions beforehand so I had prepared answers. The producers used two of my responses. I am on at 16:55. Here is the entire show.

Here is my response to the question:

According to several sources: Today, there are 23 settlements, which take up 8.1 square miles (21 square kilometers) of the Bethlehem area. 

Some 165,000 Israeli settlers — comprising about one-third of the total settler population in the West Bank— live here on hilltops, in houses marked by their red tile roofs what is Israel trying to do here?

These settlements are, of course, illegal, and immoral. Israel wants to take over all of Palestine and perhaps more, piece by piece by piece.  Why Bethlehem?  In part, this is my speculation, I think the immediate goal is to hassle relentlessly the Christian presence in Bethlehem. Wear the Palestinian Christians down. Drive them out. Bethlehem is a very important cultural and religious site for Christianity. 

Palestinian Christians are a problem for Israel.  For one, it goes against the so-called Muslim terrorist trope. For another, the Zionists don’t want Christians in Palestine to connect with Christians in the United States. Israel is working very hard to get rid of Christians in Palestine.  Palestinian Christians are the bad Christians. Christian Zionists are the good Christians, from Israel’s point of view.  For another, Bethlehem is a site of resistance. The Christmas story is a powerful story of resistance to oppression. The Zionists don’t want that story.  Finally, of course, Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem show that they have been there centuries before these new Zionists appeared. 

I think the endgame is to take over Bethlehem itself and make it part of Israel. Then they will include the Church of the Nativity as a tourist destination for American Christian Zionists. A Disneyland kind of thing.  Israel will be caretakers of this Holy Christian site. 

And the other question:

Who is trying to delete the Palestinian identity here? Is it just Israel?

This is the big question, isn’t it?  Israel is more than just a country. Israel has more influence in the United States and throughout Europe and elsewhere than most people realize.  When you talk about the United States and its military-industrial complex, that which President Eisenhower warned Americans about in 1961, you have to see that Zionism is active in every part of it. 

We should call it the Military-industrial-intelligence-finance-education-media-government complex. At the top of every node in this structure are ultra-Zionists.  They control the media, finance, congress, and the presidency. These wars in the Middle East against Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and now Iran? They don’t benefit Americans. They benefit the elite who make money from it. And they benefit Israel. Netanyahu said 9/11 was very good for Israel. To point out this truth is to be labelled anti-semitic.  

This is a global takeover. It is not by Jews. Jews are victims. American Jews more than any, need to separate Judaism from Zionism. They have been co-opted by these ultra-Zionists.  

In a very real sense, we are all Palestinians. The Palestinians and Gazans are on the front lines. May they continue to resist and may people of conscience around the world support their resistance. Our struggle for freedom is tied up with theirs.

Me and Paul: LIVE

Listen Here

What you are going to hear is a recording of a live show that Paul Roland and I did on KBOO. I engineered nearly every Thursday morning for about four years at KBOO. On Thursday morning, November 21st, 2019, due to a communication breakdown, the host didn’t show. Paul, who has a live show every Wednesday, happened to be in the station and he suggested that he go on live and asked me to join him. So we did. We took calls. I think it was the most fun I had there. I don’t miss the censorship at KBOO, but I do miss live radio and wish I had the opportunity to do it more. I think you will enjoy this.

Listen Here

In Between

Here is the latest piece I wrote for the Beaverton Resource Guide.

In Between

There is a hauntingly beautiful song by Mary Gauthier called “Mercy Now” with lyrics that I think fit our time, the time of in-between.

Every living thing could use a little mercy now
Only the hand of grace can end the race towards another mushroom cloud
People in power, they’ll do anything to keep their crown
I love life and life itself could use some mercy now 

Yeah, we all could use a little mercy now
I know we don’t deserve it but we need it anyhow
We hang in the balance dangled ‘tween hell and hallowed ground
And every single one of us could use some mercy now

Life is “hanging in the balance” and we dangle in-between. My personal life has changed and I am in between jobs, perhaps in between careers, even in between spiritual identities. One foot in a past existence and one in the next. Maybe you have been in a similar place or are there now.  Collectively, as a nation, as a world community, we are in-between as well.

As scary as it seems, the in-between is the place of mercy and grace. If we can accept this liminal place, this in-between that and the other and not attempt to force what is to come or hurriedly retreat to what was, we can find our truth. We can find ourselves and discover what is real and valuable and worthy of us.

The in-between is the space of our test. This is a place where we are given the opportunity to reveal who we really are. This is a place that invites the best in us to rise up and be beautiful, brave, generous, intelligent, creative and joyful. This is the place where we show the universe what it means to be human beings. This is where we prove that our appearance on this blue ball was not a mistake or a fluke but a planned gift.

This is where we put our opposable thumbs to good use and create homes and communities of justice and be a blessing to all living things. This is the in-between, the place of both meditation and action, where we discover that we are beloved, that we matter, and that come what may, we will be true to the better angels of our nature.

Let us not be afraid of the in-between nor fret over the “people in power.” They got nothing. For the “hand of grace” is indeed with us, now in the uncertainty, in the liminality, in the in-between. Let us trust that together, in time, we will reach that “hallowed ground.”

I have played this youtube of her song in church. Enjoy.

How About We End It Here

How about we end it here.
Do something unexpected,
courageous and wise.

Let the US leave Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Saud, Israel
and every other country to themselves,
and let’s make for ourselves a nice home,
spending our money on health and education
and sustainable, just living with Earth and our neighbors.

Let us bring our troops and equipment from all over the world home.
Let us melt down the useless bombs.
We need no more than the poorest anywhere and then everyone,
everywhere will live rich in spirit,
each with one’s daily bread,

like the beloved of God.




My Country’s Skies Are Bluer than the Ocean

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.

I thought of one of my favorite peace hymns, “This Is My Song” (tune: Finlandia) when I saw a photograph of Tehran, Iran on Twitter yesterday. Press TV, an Iranian English-speaking news outlet posted the photo and caption, “Tehran’s blue sky right now!”

I have no quarrel with anyone from Iran. Who does really? Only the elite who profit from war. It is time for human beings to take back our lands and sing with confidence a song of peace so the God of all the nations will believe that we really want it.

Here are the rest of the lyrics and a nice harmony on it from the Indigo Girls.

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is,
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.

Truth Jihad: A Conversation with Kevin Barrett

Listen Here.

In March 2018 I had a live interview scheduled with Dr. Kevin Barrett on my monthly show, “The Beloved Community” on KBOO. Through a smear campaign led by Rose City Antifa complete with name-calling, character assassination, and a deluge of tweets and phone calls, the station staff and management were pressured to stop the interview and actually ban Kevin Barrett from being on the air. (Staff and management claim they were not pressured.) I appealed the decision but my appeal was never addressed. Dr. Barrett never had an opportunity to defend himself. Volunteers or the membership never had an opportunity to review this process.

On December 13th, 2019 I broadcast a pre-recorded show that included audio from the last sermon I gave to my church, an interview with Dr. David Ray Griffin and a speech Dr. Kevin Barrett delivered at a KBOO-sponsored event at Portland State in February 2018 about US-Saudi relations. Staff, in response to phone calls, stopped the broadcast in the midst of Dr. Barrett’s speech and played Christmas music! In protest to this personal disrespect and censorship, I decided to take a sabbatical from my volunteer duties and support of KBOO and move my show to a platform that respects the spirit of the First Amendment. You can read my story here.

Over Christmas, Dr. Barrett interviewed me for his radio show, Truth Jihad, and gave me permission and encouragement to rebroadcast that interview on my program.

PODCAST

John Shuck on Kevin Barrett’s Truth Jihad Radio

Censored Presbyterian Minister and Radio Host John Shuck on Why He’s Leaving KBOO-Portland and His Church

December 25, 2019 Kevin Barrett

John Shuck: When they won’t let you tell the truth, it’s time to leave

Listen HERE

Presbyterian minister John Shuck is leaving his KBOO-Portland radio show “Beloved Community” and his church position. Apparently neither the radio station nor the church can handle the truth about 9/11 and related topics. John recently wrote me:

Dear Dr. Barrett,

A number of changes have happened to me. I am no longer pastor at my church. I was judged too radical opposing wars and their lies and saying too many good things about Islam.  Now I am done with KBOO too. Here is my last show that includes audio from you.

https://progressivespirit.net/2019/12/13/holding-to-your-truth/

I dedicated the show to you and to Dr. Griffin, two people who have for me modeled the spirit of sacrifice for truth that I saw in Jesus and Hussain. The audio I included of you was the speech you gave at the conference in Feb 2018 about the US and Saudi empires. I never broadcast it before.

Anyway in the middle of the broadcast this past Friday morning, while you were speaking, the station staff stopped it and played Christmas music! Naughty of me to play anything by the banned Kevin Barrett.  So after 20 months of the station’s inability to treat either of us like human beings, I decided it was a good time to go.

I want you to know how important you have been to me on a personal level. You model human decency in the time when the inhumane are in power.  Thank you.

https://shuckandjive.blogspot.com/2019/12/sabbatical-from-kboo.html

All the Best,

John Shuck

Progressive Spirit/Beloved Community Podcast

Twitter

Facebook

Progressive Spirit Website

Shuck and Jive Blog

shuckjohna@gmail.com

John Shuck’s church was vandalized with Antifa-style graffiti. Earlier, Portland Antifa had pressured KBOO radio to prevent John from interviewing me.

Holding to Your Truth

This is my last show on KBOO. During the airing of this episode on Friday December 13th, 9-10 am, the staff stopped the on-air broadcast in the midst of Dr. Kevin Barrett’s address and played Christmas music. In response to this act of censorship and the ongoing censorship and banning of Dr. Barrett from my show beginning in March 2018, I have decided to take a sabbatical from KBOO. I will move the show to another platform. You can read a full explanation here. Find my shows at Progressive Spirit.

In this special pre-recorded edition of The Beloved Community, you will hear John Shuck’s final sermon to his church (edited by ALIPortland) plus reflections on truth, truth-telling, and the importance of creating space and protecting truth-tellers, particularly those who expose the empire’s war machine. 

You will also hear an interview with Dr. David Ray Griffin about his book, “Bush and Cheney: How They Ruined America and the World” plus an address by Dr. Kevin Barrett that was given at the KBOO sponsored event, “The US/Saudi Coalition: Bringing Peace or War?” that was held at Portland State in February 2018.  

Clockwise from top left: Dr. David Ray Griffin, my last sermon at Southminster (11/24-2019), Dr. Kevin Barrett and Dr. Scott Bennett at PSU’s conference: “The US-Saudi Coalition: Bringing Peace or War?” February 2018.

KBOO

PODCAST