There are three rites of passage for American men, and a lot of you ball bearers don't know what they are, because you either didn't have a daddy, or your daddy didn't raise you right.
The first two are easy, and no, the OCeeker ain't talkin' a mamby-pamby trip to Wrigley Field and some backpacking-through-Europe poppycock. No, son! An American buck must get in a fistfight and break a woman's heart so bad she only thinks of him when another man gives her a "goochy-goochy-goo."
Qu'est-ce que trois, ye heathen ask? Why, it's watchin' a black man preach. And that's exactly what the OCeeker did on a recent Wednesday evening at The Rock in Anaheim.
June 20, 7 P.M.
The Rock is part of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a Pentecostal denomination erupting from the evangelistic teachings of Aimee Semple McPherson, who in 1923 founded the historic Angelus Temple in Los Angeles. McPherson believed in divine healing. Comedian Milton Berle claimed he fucked her.
Located on Orangethorpe Avenue where Anaheim and Fullerton bleed into each other, The Rock is one of the fastest-growing fellowships in Orange County, so much so, that its row of buildings stretches to Show Low, Ariz.
The OCeeker screwed the pooch three times upon his visit. Yes, he parked at the wrong building and had to walk a country mile. Yes, he accidentally walked into the youth service. And yes, he unwittingly sat in a seat reserved for old people. On the other hand, the long sojourn into the service was beautified by a Latina baby mama whose high-heeled boots click-clacked like a roadhouse whore cuttin' a rug to Cash. The gals at The Rock are pretty.
At every entrance, faithful greeters held the doors open wide, so the OCeeker didn't have to break his gaze-catching stride. A cavernous sanctuary saw at least a thousand people, who plopped themselves on seats with golden-looking foliage designed into the upholstery. The Rock's modern interior is painted dark green and gold/brown hues (unless the color-blindness is setting in), and a wide stage supported a full worship band with one great-looking blonde lady singing backup. She had a ring on her nuptial finger.
Praise and worship was short and sweet, with the standard fare of "Jesus is beautiful and I'm creaming my soul" lyrics. We all know churches would empty in the blink of an eye, but dang it'd be nice if real hosses ever took control of worship again and started singing songs about making Satan tap out--hell, I'd settle for some Elvis off the ol' iPod.
Assed out in the desert
Upon the final note of praise, a man who resembles legendary Boston Celtic Bill Russell took the stage and delivered a prayer, the likes of which the OCeeker hadn't heard locally in all his seeking days. It wasn't so much the content that struck the soul, as it was the cadence, kinda like when one has no idea what Ol' Dirty Bastard is saying, but when he says it, you can't help but "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" anyway.
As it turns out, the man's name is Carl McAulay, and he's a senior assistant pastor at what appears to be a Mexi-dominated church overseen by mostly peckerwoods. From Plymouth Rock to Anaheim, it always takes a whitey teach the natives how to be God-fearing Americans.
After some announcements and an offering, McAulay took the pulpit and preached the evening's sermon. His rich drawl at times exploded with prophet-like power, but his preaching style never plunged into the cliched patterns that turn so many men o'God into caricatures. Listening to McAulay is like sittin' a spell with Gramps on the back porch and downing a lemonade on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Yeah, he's cool and wise and all, but go knucklehead on him, and you'll find yourself behind the woodshed, takin' a strap to the ass.
McAulay straight-up knows Scripture. He quoted countless verses and Bible stories off the top of his dome, as he ambled about the stage and gave a one-hour lesson on Balak and Balaam.
The former was a Moabite king who hired the latter to curse the children of Israel. Beginning in Numbers 22, ye former Sunday schoolers may recall that the story includes a comical scene where the Angel of the Lord stops Balaam and his donkey as Balaam was headed to the Israelites. The donkey crushes Balaam's foot against a wall, and the prophet gets pissed and beats her. She walks on until seeing the Angel of the Lord again, then lays down. Balaam strikes her again, and the donkey says (loosely paraphrased) "What the fuck, asshole?"
"What the Lord did, he wanted to get his attention," McAulay said. "I've seen what's in your heart. I told you to go and only to speak what I wanted you to speak, but...you're gonna open your mouth and say something you shouldn't say. So I want to make a lasting impression on you, I want you to know if you don't do what I say, I'll kill ya, boy!"
McAulay said the Israelites had no idea God was protecting them, just as, in many cases, his people today can't see all the ways the Lord works to bless them and keep them. But later in the story, the children of Israel gave themselves over to their enemy's religion and all its perversions.
McAulay's take? God never leaves his people, but God's people often leave God.
A convicting sermon that rightly balanced heady knowledge with heartfelt wisdom, the OCeeker gave the sermon four out five offering baskets.
The Rock meets every Sunday at 9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., and every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at 295 E. Orangethorpe Ave., Anaheim, (714) 526-8233; www.gototherock.com