Pastor Swank's Story Hour
I've decided to make "Pastor Swank's Story Hour" a weekly feature here at Superhappyfun Blog. Basically, I'm going to post excerpts from his acclaimed "I Believe in Miracles" series and add in my own constructive criticism.
The last time we saw the good Pastor, he told us a delightful story about his plan to run away while his adopted stepson tried to murder his wife. Needless to say, it was pretty crazy.
This week, we're going examine his piece "Faith Survived" to see if it's any saner than his last story:
I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES: FAITH SURVIVED
By J. Grant Swank, Jr.
Mar 9, 2005
The demons crawled our church walls.
Hm. Not a promising start.
Then I knew what the missionaries were talking about. They said they were attacked by devils on the mission field. Sometimes it was a witchdoctor. Other times it was the invisible spirits. But devils they were. And those agents were after blood.
SINNERS was sprayed in letters 10-feet high across our American church parking lot. Thats what welcomed me when returning home from visiting a parishioner in the city hospital. SINNERS. That one word was meant for my parsonage family. We evidently were tagged as the "sinners."
I'm not sure what the demons were trying to accomplish by spray-painting "sinners" on Pastor Swank's church. Back in the old days, they woulda possessed one of his altar boys and made him vomit pea soup on the whole congregation. The Forces of Darkness don't just don't have their hearts in it anymore.
I looked out my church study window. I saw the custodian a woman running from the church to the fellowship hall. I thought nothing of it. She was simply in a hurry. Another day I walked by the same window. There she was again running from the side door of the church toward the fellowship hall entrance. Running. She was simply in a hurry, I reasoned again.
I learned that Linda was not in a hurry when going from the church to the hall. She was running from me. I noticed that when I was in the church, she was working in a directly opposite part of the building than I was. And when possible, she left the church for the hall. You see, she informed others that I was filled with the devil; therefore, she could not be near me.
It's pretty frightening that Pastor Swank ministered a church with people even crazier than he is. I mean, if you went to church and you thought your minister was "filled with the devil," wouldn't you make an effort to find another church?
Linda would come to worship. She sat with her husband. During the entire service, they glowered at me. As soon as the service was over, they left immediately, rushing for the door. She let others know that I was filled with the devil.
Let's take a look at the Fourth Commandment:
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God."
Now admittedly, the Fourth Commandment is rather vague and doesn't give many specific instructions for remembering the sabbath. Even so, it's pretty clear that going to a church and glowering at a minister you think is possessed by Satan is NOT what The Big Guy had in mind.
One Sunday I had preached the gospel sermon, then pronounced the benediction. While walking down the sanctuarys side aisle to shake hands with worshipers at the churchs front door, I saw Fran and his wife, Barbara. But what I noted in particular was that Fran was holding a tape recorder. Recorder? It was not customary for parishioners to bring tape recorders to worship. I learned that Fran was recording my sermons in hopes of finding something demonic.
So it looks like a large portion of Swank's congregation thought he was some type of demon (and if his sermons were anything like his columns on Men's News Daily, I can see how they'd get that impression). But really- tape recording him to look for hidden demonic messages? What is he, a Led Zeppelin album?
Next, Swank tells us about another parishioner who called him evil:
Jeff had been quite the Bible student. I appreciated his intelligence. So it was with surprise when I got in the mail a caustic letter from his professing Christian father informing me that I was not of God... With his father showing his real colors, Jeff and wife sent me their own caustic letter. Dominoes fall down together when pushed in the same direction.
OK, back when it was just Linda and her husband telling people Swank was "filled with the devil," I thought nothing of it. But when large numbers of people you preach to think you're "not of God," you're just not doing your job well.
Life was a bit stressed out throughout those several years. Finally, the ones who concluded I was of the devil logged their nonsense complaints with the district superintendent. This is the man who in 1991 was told by another pastor that I had said concerning the superintendent, "Weve got to get rid of him." I had never said that. That was a lie manufactured by another minister. But the superintendent believed the lie, never finding out the truth by asking me about that statement.
"And because he never talked to me about it, I told everyone we had to get rid of him!"
OK, long story short, Pastor Swank gets kicked out of his congregation:
The cluster had got its way. The devil had climbed the walls and outside the walls. My wife and I were left housing in an old trailer, substitute teaching without health coverage and paying over $500 a month for temporary health insurance. Our furniture was stored in friends houses, garages, basements, attics and backyard sheds.
This is kinda sad, and I don't want to make fun of Pastor Swank for hitting hard times, but maybe he should work harder at convincing his parishioners that he's not possessed by Satan. I mean, if you're in the priest industry, you should understand that being on Beelzebub's payroll is a definite "no-no."
Time passed several years, in fact. Since that devilment, Jim was found dead in his camper bed one summer morning. Mike collapsed, died. Barbara died. Many in the "mens cluster" pulled out of faith altogether, their children having lost hope in anything Christian. Theyre now listed as "non-churched." Sunday mornings that church building is still begging for bodies years after the devil set up shop to undercut Gods work.
OK, let's recap so far: several members of Pastor Swank's church thought he was demonic and had him booted out. Since then, many of the people who plotted against him have died, and many more have left the church altogether.
Where, exactly, is the miracle in this story? I mean, if this is an example of the Lord's blessing, I'd really hate to see what His wrath looks like...