Friday, January 2, 2009

Mormon 'Bachelor' show surprise: He marries them all

Dateline January 1, 2009 Lark News

SALT LAKE CITY — The producers of a Mormon version of the popular "Bachelor" television program were dealt a rude surprise when their lead man got down on his knee and proposed to all six finalists.

"I couldn't make up my mind," said Larry Whistall, 29, the bachelor. "I realized they all had good qualities, so I went the polygamy route."

Five of the six women said yes, and now say they look forward to moving to rural Utah and bearing Whistall as many children as physically possible. And in-fighting? Not a problem, they claim. "Me and the other women got to know each other so well, we're already like sisters," said contestant Meg Cook.

Whistall plans to build separate houses for each wife, and is trusting the state welfare system for provision. Producers say it's doubtful they'll recruit for a new show since they lost about $3 million in revenue because of unfulfilled episodes. "We were stunned, to say the least," said Cal Generador, head producer.

They are considering a new reality series, "Life With Larry," to show Whistall's transition from bachelorhood to having five wives.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Fetish mapping boosts church attendance

Dateline December 26, 2008 Lark News

MOLINE, Ill. — Mary Lynn Inchone attends Park View Christian Church, but not for the preaching or sense of community. Rather, she likes the feel of the door handles and the bubble gum smell in the lady's restroom.

"I get addicted to little sensory things," she says. "I look forward to it all week." She is unaware that the church planned it that way.

Park View and many other churches have begun commissioning demographic fetish analyses, or "demo-fets," which tell pastors which "fixations and tactile cravings" are most common in their area.

In southern Wisconsin a demo-fet found an unusually high level of people with feet fetishes. One church began projecting images of Jesus washing the disciples' feet on a screen during the sermon. Attendance shot up 10 percent in six months.

"We see nothing wrong in using people's abnormal or secret desires to draw them to Christ," the pastor says. "If the devil can use warped impulses to draw people into darkness, why not use them to draw people to the light?"

Some people, like Inchone, crave milder fare: certain textures, like ribbed metal surfaces, or smells of strong fertilizer. An Arizona church found that cowboy paraphernalia was a major turn-on to locals, so ushers began wearing cowboy hats, boots and bolo ties. Attendance zoomed and people are happier than ever, the pastor says. A church in Madison, Wis., changed Communion plates, nursery pagers and more to give people "touch thrills" all through their church experience.

"We want everything people handle here to be like an iPod — you just want to hold it," the pastor says. Without being specific, he says tithes are "definitely up." Most people never realize they've visited a fetish-serving church because the cues are so subtle. Others know it, but don't mind.

"I figured they were up to something with the feet," says a Wisconsin man who began attending the church because he "likes toes," he says. "I'm willing to sit through a sermon for it."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

4theluv's Top 12 Country Artists

So, I thought it would be worthwhile to list my favorite Country Artists (as opposed to Country Singers/Performers). I will, for sake of not creating any arguments, exclude Bob Dylan from the group, even though his country music I think would place in my top ten.

  1. Garth Brooks
  2. Johnny Cash
  3. Dolly Parton
  4. Willie Nelson
  5. Vince Gill
  6. Kris Kristofferson
  7. George Jones
  8. Hank Williams, Jr (I think he is better than Sr.)
  9. Waylon Jennings
  10. Merle Haggard
  11. Allison Kraus
  12. Alabama (Technically, not an artist, I know)



Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pastor laments, 'My son won't raise hell'

Dateline October 12, 2008
Lark News

LOUISVILLE — Pastor Sean Welch and his wife Eleanor are concerned that their 16-year-old son isn't turning into the hellraiser they thought he'd be.

"We've always heard how much trouble PK's are, so we spent years reading parenting books and attending seminars," said Eleanor. "It looks like all that preparation is wasted."

The boy, Adam, is admittedly mild-mannered, even annoyingly so. He likes to sit in his room and strum his guitar and play computer games with his friends. He wants to be an orthodontist. His teachers say he's a good student, if lacking in creativity.

"Dad sat me down a few weeks ago and told me it was time I start causing trouble," Adam said, clearly uncomfortable with the subject. Pastor Welch handed him the keys to the car, a fifth of whisky and a baseball bat and shooed him out of the house, then waited by the phone for the police or an angry parent to call. That call never came.

"I went out and hit a few mailboxes with the bat, but it didn't feel good, so I poured out the whiskey and came home," says Adam. "If I have a police record, dentistry schools won't take me."

Welch faces humiliation at pastors' conferences, where other men confide in each other about their troubled teenagers.

"I've started lying and telling them Adam is having problems, too," Welch says. "I make up drug use, promiscuity, all sorts of stuff. Then I go back to my room and cry. I'm missing the whole father-of-a-PK experience."

The Welches fret that Adam's testosterone level may be low, though he tested normal. Sean and Eleanor sit at home most evenings, their boy upstairs playing worship songs, and stew.

"I've lost some respect for the kid," says Sean with a sigh. "I've tried to be the model pastor, and I'd hoped he would be the model PK. I feel I've failed somehow."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pastor Becomes Seekerlicious

Dateline September 19, 2008
From Lark News

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — Pastor John Taylor, 43, once a winsome and compelling preacher, has lately embraced film clips as a way to illustrate his sermon points. Last week his sermon was finally overwhelmed by them.

"He used fourteen clips, totaling 33 minutes of a 35-minute sermon," says one observer. "I forgot he was even on the platform."

Taylor’s speaking portions consisted mostly of short introductions of scenes.

"It was all, ‘Have a look at this clip. Now have a look at this one,’" says one man. "I felt like I should have brought popcorn."

The selections included such disparate fare as The Simpsons Movie, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Atonement, Juno and Live Free or Die Hard. Many found the point inscrutable.

"I think the common thread was loyalty or friendship or something," says one woman. "I believe there was a message in there somewhere but I’m still trying to figure out what it was."

Taylor insists that film clips offer "unparalleled emotional impact and common language." He used to write sermons with emotional variation — humor, poignancy, personal examples and exhortation. Now film clips perform those functions for him. He likes to start with a humorous scene, segue into a more serious one, then build his argument using clips from a variety of movies. He usually ends with an emotionally impacting scene, such as one from Titanic, intended to leave the congregation deeply moved. When the lights go up he simply says, "Let’s pray."

Taylor, who enjoys reading Variety to see what movies he might use as spiritual illustrations, has already planned his preaching schedule through 2012 based on future DVD releases.

"Spiderman 4 comes out in 2010," he says. "That should make for a great Sunday."

Of all the people in the church, the youth are the most supportive of the new direction.

"It’s Sermon Mash-up every Sunday," says one young man. "It’s awesome." •

Friday, July 4, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fuggedaboutit: Missionary to Sicily gets the job done

Dateline May 25, 2005
From Lark News

PALERMO — Long known as a pastor's graveyard, Sicily's capital city now has its first mega-church, pastored by missionary Robert Bendeto of Cleveland.

"We've got a good outfit here," Bendeto says, sitting in the office of Palermo Christian Church and Waste Management Company. "I adapted to local culture. Now the church family is getting bigger every week."

On weekdays, evangelism teams go door to door to "persuade" locals to attend. On Sunday morning the worship band, made up of a dozen violins, plays a tense version of "Lord, I Lift Your Name On High."

"Get up right now and praise the Lord!" the song leader commands, and people jump to their feet. Later, the associate underboss gives the announcements and invites everyone to "pay tribute to the Big Don" with their tithes and offerings. People stream forward to drop money into a basket held by a no-nonsense usher in a pinstripe suit and dark sunglasses.
Bendeto's sermon from the book of Proverbs is titled "How to be a Wiseguy, Not a Jamook." He ends with a "shakedown" as a lone violinist plays a haunting rendition of "Just As I Am."

"God did a favor for you a long time ago," Bendeto says. "It's time to return that favor. The books are open for you right now. If you don't come forward, who knows? You might have trouble this week. Crazy things happen. Come show your respect to the Big Don."

Ushers nudge some people and indicate they should go forward. Dozens kneel at the altar, some warily.

As the church gains control over more neighborhoods, Bendeto's ambitions are growing. He recently planted a church in Newark, N.J., with the help of financial backers in Sicily. He hopes one day to have churches up and down the East Coast of America.

"We succeed because we get the job done," Bendeto says. "End of story."