Three decades later, the church that spawned 2,000 little Calvaries all over the world is devoid of the anytime-now anticipation of meeting Jesus in the air.
Instead, the former "little country church on the edge of town" is filled with sensibly dressed Baby Boomers more zealous for Colonial Penn than the book of Revelation.
Not that the congregation isn't peppered with younger people, but even they seem to have moved on from end-times readiness to real-time resignation. Or maybe it's just the Sunday morning crowd.
Jan. 29 9:30 a.m, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa aka Calvary Chapel Santa Ana aka Big Calvary aka The Mothership
A bumper sticker implored godly motorists to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Of course, how Calvary Chapelites earnestly pray for the peace of Jerusalem is always a mystery in light of their eschatological playbook, which has the Antichrist slaughtering most of the world's Jews during a future seven-year period known as the Great Tribulation.
|Smith: Gonna preach it till the wheels fall off|
"So, again, the Jews are gonna go through a great holocaust in which two-thirds of them will die. Only one-third will come through.
The antichrist is gonna make a covenant with the nation of Israel, but after three and a half years, he's gonna break the covenant as he comes to Jerusalem and declares that he is god, and seeks to show that he is god, and demands to be worshiped as god.
And the faithful remnant at that time will flee to the wilderness. The antichrist will then seek to destroy all of the Jews that remain in the land, and two thirds of them will be destroyed; one third shall escape."
Holy Hitler, Batman!
Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So in the name of Yoko Ono
, let's give the peace of Jerusalem a chance. "Dear Jesus, Pastor Chuck
says you have a perfect plan for the Jews. And that's for them to get damn-near annihilated before you come back. Uh, I dunno...peace out?"
On the brighter side of the cross, a message on the wall of Calvary Chapel's lobby reminded the faithful to "pray for our troops."
The OCeeker will! And, he will remember Christ's rather pacifistic words to Pontius Pilate: "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight."
Those red-letter words are a pain in the ass.
The OCeeker was last at "Big Calvary" several years ago when two bouncers practically tackled a friend who committed an act of Psalm 135:1-2 by standing to worship.
Not only are Calvary Chapel's suit-cladded ushers infamous for squelching rogue worshippers, but they are known also for barring potty breakers from returning to their seats during the sermon. Go ahead. Try it.
|Frisbee: WTF Chuck?|
Indeed, Calvary Chapel has come a long way from taking in the bare-footed believers of the 1960s
, those who would dance in the spirit on the streets that are golden. The church long ago crucified the counter-culture Christ on the cross of a comforting liturgy. They buried a dangerous Messiah
and raised a mascot. Where have you gone, Lonnie Frisbee
? Our Calvary Chapel turns its lonely eyes to you.
The church was packed, but had the atmosphere of a waiting room at urgent care, with folks looking like they had to be there or else whatever ailment they had would only get worse.