Thursday, December 11, 2014

Changes coming for 2015

Back in January in a short post I said this on this blog:

So this year I intend to focus on self improvement, both physical and spiritual, as well as ditch a few bad habits that had been holding me back. And along those lines some major changes will be coming to this blog, chief among them I'm looking to start doing podcasts and even videos.

And looking back this has been quite the year for me. I did indeed expand into doing a podcast and videos, I climbed a damn mountain, and even got a paid writing gig over at Reaxxion. I've left some bad habits in 2013 and picked up a few good ones. There will be more changes to come here. For starters, the Review of the Week, in which I review a new comic book ever week, is done, after over 2 years of not missing a week. Truth be told I often had very little to say in these last couple months. In the future comic book reviews will go under The Bechtloff's Longbox. Articles on here will be longer, but also not as regular, as I am juggling this, the Youtube, Reaxxion, and a life outside the interwebs. Also I intend to work on my editing skills so I can do video reviews this coming year.

I want to thank everyone who reads this blog and watches my Youtube channel. I hope to have even better stuff for you in 2015.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Bechtloff's Podcast: Episodes 27 and 28.

My latest podcast is up, and I just noticed I forgot to put a link to my last one on here. So in episode 27 I talk about my recent trip to RetroGameCon, #GamerGate and #shirtgate, some drama regarding my former church, and the insane SJW reaction to Reaxxion.com. Check it out here.

And in my latest podcast Davis Aurini stops by and we discus Churchianity, my conflict with the Harvest Bible crowd, as well as the nature of suicide, grace, and various other theological issues. Davis and I disagree on a lot of theological issues, but he thinks deeply on these things, and is a pleasure to chat with. Check it out here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Review of the Week: Superior Iron Man #2

If you haven't already, check out my review of issue 1. So last issue Tony Stark got most of San Fransisco addicted to Extremis and is charging them an arm and a leg to keep getting it. In this issue Daredevil tries to stop Tony, only get his ass handed to him and then infected with Extremis himself, which has restored his normal sight.

The conflict between Matt and Tony is pretty interesting. As I said last time these two don't have much of a history together, so it's a chance to blaze a new trail. I don't much care for Tony's new look, but I'm sure it won't last anyways, nothing ever does as far as his armor goes. All and all there isn't much to even say about this issue I didn't say about the first one, but it's pretty solid and is definitely worth checking out.

Sorry I don't have more here folks, but there just wasn't much out I had anything to say on.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review of the Week: Mega Man #43

In this issue Mega Man continues to work his way through the Mega Man III robot masters, in this issue Gemini Man, Magnet Man and Needle Man, Dr. Wily gets caught sending unauthorized transmissions to his Robot Masters by Auto, who Dr. Wily then attacks and takes out Auto's memory chip, and jailed terrorist Xander Payne continues to prophesize about another Sonic/Mega Man crossover.

This was a solid issue, and it did explore the characters of these Robot Masters with surprising depth, but it still felt like filler. This book often suffers from being written with the trade paper backs in mind. Also, as I've said before, doing another Sonic crossover this soon is a mistake. All and all though this is a solid book and worth checking out, despite a few flaws.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The James MacDonald saga continues.

Several months ago I wrote a piece on this blog about the negative influence James MacDonald and his Harvest Bible network of churches had on my former church and how it was the reason I decided to resign my membership there. I tweeted the article out using MacDonald's Twitter handle rather than name because never say behind a man's back what you won't say to his face. He responded by blocking me. This month I wrote a follow up piece as new developments had happened between me and my former church, sadly none of which were pleasant. Kind of hoped I was done with the topic really. Then this morning who do I find following me, but James MacDonald's son Luke who is also a pastor in this web of churches.
That was a rather odd thing to wake up to to say the least. Why on Earth would he want to follow me? I had to know, so I politely sent him a DM saying "Not that I mind, but I'm rather curious why you would want to follow me." No answer. But some people don't get DM's so I figure I'll send a tweet asking the same thing. I wait all day and still no answer. Well, I figure maybe he just didn't see it, his mentions might be hectic after all, so I delete the tweet and then resend it. He then finally does respond.
That's weird right? It's not just me? You follow someone and then when they ask why ignore them? And then have a snarky response like that? Like I'm stalking you there Luke? You followed me. I didn't even know this man existed until this morning, remember it was his dad I criticized after all not him. Well Luke, if you don't want to talk that's fine, you just sit there and be a good little spy for your Borg collective, or whatever the hell it is you're up to.

Seriously, just when I think I'm done with this topic, things get weirder.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review of the Week: Superior Iron Man #1

So as a result of the events of Axis, Tony Stark as turned evil, or at least more evil than he usually is. Seriously, after Civil War, am I really suppose to believe Tony needs a magic spell to turn him evil? Seems like he's hanging out in the grey area on his good days. Anyways Tony has given everyone in San Francisco the Extremis so they can be super hot superior versions of themselves. But you only get a taste for free, after that it will cost $99.99 a day. This douchebaggery has him running afoul of Pepper Potts and San Fran's newest super hero, Daredevil (with the help of an old Iron Man armor he got from Pepper).

This is a damn good start to this series. As I said, Tony has always been just a bit of a shit bag to begin with, so having him pushed in this direction somehow feels far more like a natural exaggeration of his darker aspects than some of the other heroes gone bad in this. And the confrontation with Daredevil should be interesting, those two don't have a lot of history together so it makes them interesting opponents. And having them in San Fran rather than New York means its more likely to be just the two of them facing off without interference from a dozen other super heroes. All and all this was a very intriguing start to this series and other than Axis: Carnage, this is my favorite tie in so far.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

James MacDonald Killed My Church Part 2: The sorrow of being proven right.

A few months ago I told the story on this blog of how the influence of James MacDonald and the Harvest Bible network of churches poisoned my church with a spirit of authoritarianism. Since then new developments have made a follow up post necessary.

After writing that post I had determined I would simply seek another Church. I thought I might still go to the small group Bible study I had been attending, as I had grown quite fond of the people there, got a lot out of it, and by all accounts contributed quite a bit back into it. Beyond that though I thought I would simply move on. But I was challenged by one of the members and someone who was practically family to me to keep going to see if I may have been wrong about things. I accepted if for no other reason than love and respect for the person making that request, and in the weeks that followed actually saw quite a few tremendously positive signs. Despite the problems it seemed God was indeed working in wondrous ways with some of the people there. Call it hopefulness or naivety, but I was actually beginning to think things had turned around, after all it was almost entirely new senior leadership. Perhaps, I thought, the problem had left with the old guard. Then I was given the news that I had been invited to one of the Church Elder meetings.

During that Elder meeting I was challenged with the verse from Matthew 18 about how to approach brother's in Christ with grievances. And I will say publicly right now, that while I did indeed go to the leadership with my concern before resigning my membership and posting about it here, I should have made more of an effort. It was a difficult situation, I tried to do things right, but I could have and should have done them better. I do however have no reason to assume the outcome would have been any different. It simply would have added a few weeks to the process. But that doesn't excuse me of my responsibility. I did not handle this as well as I should have and I am sorry.

That being said, it seemed to me that many of the elders were saying at that meeting that I needed to take down the blog post, recant and repent of ever daring to question the church leadership, or be simply no longer welcome there, despite the fact that I was indeed invited back by a member of good standing. I say "seemed" because there was very little said of much substance, frankly just a lot of beating around the bush. The next night I talked with the one elder I was close friends with and he assured me that despite my getting that impression, they were simply concerned for my spiritual well being and want us to all be in unity and work things out and no one was thinking of banishing me, that would be ridiculous. He was wrong. Just a couple of weekends the one elder called to indeed inform me I was banished until further notice and the matter would be discussed at the next Elder meeting. I had amazingly been thrown out of a church I already quit, after being invited back no less.

This meant I was no longer welcome at the church or the small group. I must admit, the small group part actually hurt a bit. I will miss that, although thankfully I am still friends with the people from it. So I suppose I should give credit where credit is due, they managed to get me back for my critical article. They managed to get, if not a whole pound, at least a few ounces of my flesh. And they managed to cloak it in a veil of religiosity no less. A thin veil, but still. That's kind of impressive actually. Touche.

They banned me from a church. I don't think I've ever heard of that. Because I dared to publicly voice a disagreement with the leadership, I may not come into the church. Despite, and again I think this needs to be remembered so let me whip out the bold font, being invited back by a member in good standing and the wife of an elder. I have never heard of such behavior outside of a Kool Aid drinking cult. I've heard of church discipline, I've heard of taking away someone's membership and treating them as an unbeliever as is lined out in scripture for church members who defiantly persist in sin. But even that doesn't excuse banning someone from a church. I mean, you do let unbelievers in the door after all, you want them to hear the Gospel don't you?

I talked to the leaders, I went to the initial meeting, and spoke on the phone with the one elder a couple of times trying to work this out. Over and over again, I was told this was all motivated by a desire to see me grow spiritually, but the actions did not reflect that. I was willing to listen to them, even acknowledge where I went wrong, as I have earlier in this article. No such meeting half way, agreeing to disagree, or compromise of any kind seemed to be coming from the other end. It seemed as though nothing short of their domination would satisfy them. Again, I say "seemed" because all attempts to get them to pin down what it was they actually wanted proved futile. It ultimately reached a point where I simply had to say this was getting us all nowhere and move on, wishing them the best.

In these last few weeks I spoke to quite a few former members, and it seems this pattern of petty authoritarianism was hardly unique to just the leadership's interaction with me. And here in lies the hardest part of this post. What do I say about these things I was told? What can I say? These are second hand accounts I can't absolutely verify, even if I have no reason to doubt them. Ultimately I've decided I will not share the particulars of these stories, because as I said, I cannot verify these things first hand. What I can say first hand is I am clearly not the only former member who feels the leadership of this church is, to put it mildly, a bit intoxicated with its power.

In my last article I said that this former church of mine was dead. I should clarify that a bit; I in no way am saying that every member of this church is dead, or that God cannot use this church, or its members for his purposes. God can use whatever he pleases after all. And indeed he has used members of this church in spectacular ways and continues to do so. But I believe that to be happening in spite of the leadership there. I was asked to return to see if I was right, and it is with great sorrow I must conclude that if anything I may have underestimated the problem. This church is still possessed by a spirit of authoritarianism. Those in charge there grasp at their power with far too eager and tight a grip, and as life has often taught me, those who desire power the hardest are almost always the most unfit to wield it. And with that said, it is my sincerest prayer that I need never revisit this topic again.