Thursday, June 5, 2008

What the heck is this all about?


Hello Everyone, I'm Pastor Swope. I'm a Minister, Writer and have been an avid fan of all things Fortean since I was a child. I remember collecting books and magazines on UFOs, Bigfoot, and the Lock Ness Monster since I was able to read. I would by no means call myself an expert on any Fortean subject but my interests are varied and they also run deep.

I've been a Christian Minister for 15 years now. My experience ranges from serving in Evangelical to Mainline Denominations. I have a B.A. in Biblical Literature and an M.Div in Pastoral Ministry and Family Counseling. I've served in small churches and large, as a Missionary to the African Nation of Burkina Faso, ministered to the needs of the homeless in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen and traveled across the country helping local churches better serve their community in the changing world of our 21st century.

What this Blog will not be is a platform for self aggrandizing religious views. I loathe arrogant and inconsiderate people who think they have the answer to all the worlds problems and feel free to share their magnanimous opinion when nobody wants to hear it. I'm pretty laid back and very easy going. Heck when I served in a Conservative Evangelical church in the early 90's one of my best friends was a self proclaimed Satanist. We didn't always see eye to eye on things Theological but we both loved 80's Heavy Metal. I never saw him as a Satanist, and he never saw me as an Evangelical preacher. We just kicked back, rocked out and tried to contact the ghosts that lived in his home. You see it was an very old home that was converted from an early 19th century funeral parlor. He even had parts of an old horse drawn hearse in the basement. It was pretty darn cool. And as it turned out, kind of a paranormal hotbed.

I'm not one of those fanatical Christians who sees a demon around every corner, although I have had formal Seminary training in Demonology and Exorcism. I've been in a few Exorcisms myself but to tell you the truth while I have seen and heard very bizarre things I've seen some ignorant abuses by those who think another is 'possessed' also.

I've seen a lot of unexplained things. I've heard about even more from friends who live on the far ends of the Earth.

The purpose of this blog is to explore current issues of all areas Fortean, and sometimes share some personal experiences.

To those who are not of the Christian faith, those who might have a deep abiding dislike of the religion I would love them to find out here that we all are not ignorant fanatics. Many of us are just trying to synthesis our faith with our reason just as you are with whatever value system or world view you hold dear. While we might not agree on polemics, I think we can agree that we all live in a world of mystery and excitement that fascinates us. And if ever I wander into areas of faith I promise you I will forewarn you at the outset of the post.

To those of the Christian faith I would like to encourage them to not be afraid of the unexplained and view it as the domain of the Devil as some church leaders would have you believe. We live in such a mysterious world and rather than flee the unexplained we should use the brain that our Creator gave us and try to fully understand the world we live in.

And if you don't agree with my views, feel free to call me out. After all the first step to understanding is to acknowledge your ignorance. And as my wife frequently points out I can be pretty ignorant at times.

I hope we can have an interesting time together,

Pastor Swope


7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love the B/W church photo - looks eerie.

houseinrlyeh said...

Now, if all Christians (and atheists, seeing that others that share my beliefs aren't always very tolerant, either) would sound the way you do, the world would be much less aggravating place.
Good luck with your blog!

Missye K. Clarke said...

**WARNING! LONG COMMENT**

To quote you so I'm not taking anything out of context:

"To those of the Christian faith I would like to encourage them to not be afraid of the unexplained and view it as the domain of the Devil as some church leaders would have you believe. We live in such a mysterious world and rather than flee the unexplained we should use the brain that our Creator gave us and try to fully understand the world we live in."

I believe myself to be a Christian, although I refuse to attend church due to the countless examples of self-righteous elitism I've witnessed or been privvy to. As you stated, Jesus never thwomped wandering souls or broken hearts over the head with Scripture; one reason could be many souls who left churches, their hearts and spirits could be healed over in crooked places. That was when the Scripture thwomping should've been replaced with nothing BUT love, even when the thwomping fit the instance. But that's not the crux of this post.

All my life in churches is like you said: Everything in the paranormal realm, seldom did the clergy see this as from God and NOT all the Devil hunkering under every pew and in every rosebush. Didn't Elijah get taken to Heaven in a chariot of fire? Didn't Gideon defeat his 22,000 enemies strong with rocks in jars and with 350 men and entertain angels (Judges 6:11)? And, didn't Abraham feed three angels who told them both this time next year, they'd return when they had a son (Genesis 18:1-6)?

Yes. You see, I'm sensitive to those things. Angels have intervened in my life through several instances involving my children on seperate occasions and myself in more than one instance. That and from foreseeing furute events in my life via dreams, talking with those who passed on via dreams, strong intuitive urgings and having the uncanny ability to know when someone would leave this life for the next in more than a few instances (my great grandmother, a Cherokee Indian, called this a "deathwatcher"), I've come to accept this about myself. I've seen demons, angels, heard my name called across time and space more than once, have seen ghosts, visions and had "gut feelings" about things more so than the average person has, but I'm not "trained" to predict things. does this make me a sensitive? I suppose.

The biggest thing about God I love--apart from His grace, love and sending His Son for me--is that if He permitted countless Biblical references the OT and NT people to see that which I've outlined here, why wouldn't it stand to reason His children today don't experience these things as well? I've questioned this to clergy and laypeople alike; most reactions I got were "Oh, yeah, she needs to be committed" looks or polite smiles and given a wide berth in the future. So I never mentioned it. Before now. And it's programs like "Coast to Coast AM" and people like you, Pastor, that are open to God's marvels in this aspect, maybe a little street cred to our tales that can't be classed as crazy because they can't be measured scientifically but as unexplainable because they can't be measured scientifically and that's ALL they can be classed as. Who are we to say God's angels aren't playing in a lightning storm and visit one's dreams with a purpose that same night? Who ARE we to say or disbelieve anyone's recount of seeing a demon take form in smoke...or hear a demon's laughter in dreams, as I have? Both these things CAN and HAVE happened; to discredit them is arrogant, hubris and self-important.
Ephesians 6:10-12 says this eloquently--and if the churches believe in the this line of Scripture, they have to take into account some of God's children are sensitives to other realities, too.

Thanks for the forum, Pastor. Best of luck and blessings to you and your blog! I love it!

Pastor Swope said...

Dear Missye K. Clarke,

Thanks, and it seems we are of kindred spirits. It seems you have been blessed with many spiritual gifts, the chief it would seem by your testimony, being the gift of discernment of spirits. You might have more luck attending a more charismatic church that believes in and teaches as well as practices supernatural gifts. But you still might run into people who think that all paranormal activity is evil, even though scripture itself references ghosts, demons and paranormal happenings such as dreams and visions. Some people in the Vinyard movement might be more open to our world view than others, but still it's a dice roll. You are a thoughtful and intelligent person with a heart in the right place. Do not let anyone tell you different, clerical collar or not.

I have found a great church, St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Erie PA. I have actually stopped ministering independently (Unless a need arises for an officiant) and am seeking eventual ordination through the UCC. There are a few fellow believers here that are lovers of all things Fortean. One great guy, who has attended there for decades actually first turned me on the Coast to Coast years ago. Please pray for him, he has a recurring bout with cancer and has to go into Chemotherapy.

Chris said...

So, I had something happen tonight that was a bit strange, and wanted to get some opinions on it. My daughter and I were walking out of a restaurant, approaching my car on the street. I could see a guy across the street walking along. He was obviously disturbed, most likely homeless or transient. He was yelling. He turned towards the building on his side of the street and started yelling at it. But here's where it gets really weird. He spun around real quickly, and flipped me off. He started yelling obscenities that I wont repeat on this blog, but very aggressive and clearly at me and my daughter. And as he cursed at us, he said "you Christians." Now, it could have been just coincidental, but I don't get the feeling that it was.

As a side note, I have been greatly touched by God over the last few months. I have been going through some suffering, and have drawn close to the Lord. I have also been witnessing to some homeless people in a different city. Any way, it kind of reminded me of how when Jesus was just walking through life that the demons seemed to know who He was, and spoke out to Him. I'm not comparing myself to Jesus in this same sense. But, perhaps there was indeed something spiritual going on here.

The way he spun around quickly to curse us and called us "Christians" made me feel like he was possessed in some way.

Any thoughts?

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks for the comments Chris,

As one who has deal with the homeless for many years through many fascilities, I know what happened can be very disrturbing.

But it might or might not be a sign of possession.

He senses God is doing something in your life. Perhaps he too was a sensitive but he turned his back on God.

Many people have had a 'walk' with God but have yet to surrender themselves to Christ. This might be a way of God nudging you. Or if you already have a walk with Christ, this might be a sign that you have a ministry to others.

Things like this do not just happen.

They mean something.

God has some deeper life for you to examine and explore.

Just a few thoughts.

rohdil said...

Thank you for your blog! I am also a devout Evangelical Christian (I actually attended a CMA church at the moment) and am fascinated by the supernatural, having experienced some of it since I was a child. Your attitude is very refreshing and I immensely enjoyed reading through your blog, although it also terrified me. I also subscribed to your youtube account and messaged you and hope to make contact! God bless!