Sunday, September 13, 2009

Friday Night Blood Stripes





by Sister Al Hoff

I. Angley's Miracle Service

“The blood, the blood! Blood stripes! The blood!” Rev. Ernest Angley
has hit the stage for his Friday Night Miracle Service, and the
several hundred folks scattered about the 5,400-seat church clap and
stomp their feet. “Stomp out Satan, stomp him out,” Angley exhorts.

Akron, Ohio-based Angley is among the last of the weirdly entertaining
televangelists still soldiering on since the Glory Days before the
Fall of Bakker. Nor has modern science kept him from faith-healing;
he’ll lay hands on you in person, through the TV (“place your hand on
the screen”) and now, over the Internet at his Web site.

You can catch up with Angley on Sunday mornings – check local listings.
It’s stunningly low-budget, but you can catch “miracles” in action if you
can peel your eyes away from Angley’s astonishing wig. But for the
full-immersion experience, a day-trip to the home church is recommended.

Rex Humbard’s former Cathedral of Tomorrow is Ernest Angley’s Church
of Today. (Angley’s former Grace Cathedral in southwestern Akron now
houses his Bible college.) Built in 1958, it’s a totally cool round
domed structure. The circular auditorium-style worship area takes up most of the interior, with various offices ringed around the
perimeter. Inside, the domed roof is masked in black, primarily to
highlight the gigantic inset white-and-red cross set in the ceiling
and ingenuously constructed from transculent lighting panels.

There’s an enormous stage, draped in the widest gold curtain I’ve ever
seen; above the stage, suspended against a twilight-blue wall and
flanked by gilt columns floats an ornate red velvet and gold crown. It
looks, frankly, like the world’s largest car air-freshener.

This evening, Angley just has a few words early on – he reports that
on his recent trip to Africa “the fishing was good” (the catch of the
day being souls), he reminds folks about their tithe and still later,
“the bills go on.” Please – the pipe organ begins to play softly – can
we get out the best check, the best cash, and make a praise offering.

But most of the first hour is taken up with singing, first from a
large choir with a full band, and then from a trio with cheesy backing
tracks. The three sing a selection of interminable upbeat songs,
finishing up with a couple numbers in African languages that the Holy
Spirit helped them learn. The tepid African rhythms are more
toe-tapping, and let’s be honest: There’s not many places were you can
see a portly white guy who looks like the weekend weatherman for Des
Moines ActionNews enthusiastically sing in Zulu.

Angley retakes the stage to explain that he’s jetlagged and that he
fell asleep while driving earlier (God spared him and others), so, he
apologizes, tonight’s service will be short. He commences to speak
uninterrupted for over an hour, a low-key folksy ramble in a Southern
cadence about the upcoming Sunday service, the buffet next door and a
series of anecdotes about the miraculous regeneration of hearts, lungs
and ear drums to the afflicted. (Angley wears the most astonishing
wig; can’t the Lord intercede with some miracle hair?)

But it’s Africa, “the Kingdom of Satan,” that dominates his musings.
He delivers a lesson in the various “devils that vex the darkness”:
witchcraft, voodoo, wizards; the success of “demonology night” that
saw “wads of defeated devils”; and how “prayed up” you have to be just
to enter “the devil’s territories.”

And, a quantifiable scourge, AIDS. Rev. Angley says it can be cured
miraculously , and he has documented proof. But he and several other
Western evangelists have recently (and rightly) come under fire in
South Africa and other nations for publicizing such claims.

But here at the Cathedral, there won’t be any dissent or even
skepticism. Angley is preaching not just to the converted, but to
those who will soon line up for healing service.

Once again, Angley cautions he’s weary, but the indefatigable
86-year-old spends the next 75 minutes laying hands on, and extracting
demons from, the 100 or so folks who take the stage. A stick mic lets
us share in the litany of complaints -- from the horrifying (“the
doctor says my bone cancer is back”) to the prosaic (“I’ve got a boil
on my shoulder”) to the tricky (“I brought my brother up because he’s
a drunk”).

Angley performs his ablution – the waving of hands, the thumping of
afflicted’s forehead, the caressing of the diseased areas – while
calling on God, calling out demons, muttering in tongues and
delivering his patented “uh-HEEL-yuh!” Most congregants drop to the
floor, soak in the spirit for a few minutes, then return to their
seats. It’s a little sad, and possibly exploitive, but the unremoved
devil in me admits, also captivating.

I see no genuine miracles. A young man with crutches discards them,
then limps a few steps. Angley pronounces him healed, then returns the
crutches, telling him to “use them ‘til you don’t need to anymore.”
Well, duh.

Angley generally ducks the lawfulness of claiming miraculous healing
by asserting that he’s not the healer, God is. Then why not take it
directly to the Upper Room? But perhaps as one might hire an account
for preparing one’s taxes, it’s useful to have a third-party expert on
board.

As far as I can see, the truly odd thing about Angley’s service is how
it obviously validates both sides. If you believe in miraculous
healing or even just the power of its suggestion, step on up. But if
you think this is a racket designed to separate gullible desperate
people from their money and common sense, here’s a big dome full of
proof.


Services held EVERY WEEKEND as follows:
Friday Night Miracle Service - 7PM
Sunday Morning Worship Service - 10AM





II. Life of Christ Dioramas

Something extraordinary often happens at the intersection of
self-taught artist and religious fervor: works of art whose
earnestness can trump our normally rigid assessments of skill and
taste.

And so it is with the Life of Christ display, billed as “a
three-dimensional experience for the whole family,” created by the
late Paul Cunningham, who never even attended high school.

Located in the basement beneath the Cathedral Buffet, the exhibit
consists of 13 exquisitely detailed dioramas and a handful of
black-velvet paintings depicting scenes from “the earthly life of our
Lord.” Included are such popular life events as Meeting the Pharisees,
the Last Supper, Bearing the Cross and the Resurrection.

Similar to old-fashioned museum displays, a viewer pokes his head into
a dark cubbyhole and gazes nose-to-glass. The simple effect is to fill
your own field of vision with the scene.

The walls of the dioramas have been painted to mimic depth, but even
more extraordinarily, Cunningham has packed the scenes with
ever-shrinking people, structures and vegetation all the way to the
rear, a distance of a few feet. The sensation of three-dimensional
perspective is fantastic.

The primary figures – sculpted in clay, re-cast in plastic, then
hand-carved – aren’t much bigger than Barbies, yet are meticulously
garbed. A variety of simple materials – broom corn, aluminum wire,
rice paper -- has been transformed into the dense landscape of rocks
and plants. (The handout said Cunningham used real fingernails, but
honestly, you’d need a magnifying glass to know for sure.)
Cunningham’s dioramas clearly represent an astonishing amount of work
and dedication; each apparently took a year to build.

Truly, one could spend a lot of time marveling over these scenes,
finding the odd details at the edges, like a bumblebee or a woman
breastfeeding at the Sermon on the Mount. And intense study is
recommended: I was assured by the attendant that there was nothing
quite like gazing at the dioramas “to block the devil when you’re
trying to pray.”

Sadly, the diroramas have a vague patina of dust and perhaps benign
neglect from lack of visitors. Though I arrived well within posted
visiting hours, the display was locked and somebody had to be summoned
to let me in. I pleasantly killed time in the vaguely jungle-themed
anteroom which houses an assortment of African handicrafts, all
souvenirs and gifts from Angley’s overseas missions.

Other than a large selection of Rev. Angley’s tracts, the small gift
shop upstairs offers mostly generic knickknacks and jewelry. However,
the Lord, it is said, works in mysterious ways, and I found set of
drinking glasses depicting scenes from the Life of Christ exhibit at
the Goodwill across the street.


2690 State Road, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.




III. Cathedral Buffet

Nourish the soul; stuff the gullet: The third feature of Angley’s site
is the buffet. While it’s free of any religious trappings and
functions as a stand-alone eatery, it’s an integral part of the
complex. The restaurant is accessed through the gift shop, and one
wrong turn will have you breaching Angley’s TV studio.

Nothing fancy at the buffet: It looks much like a hotel banquet room
(and, in fact, is available for private party rentals). On a Friday
night, I joined a few dozen other diners scattered about the cavernous
space. Some, like me, may have been en route to that night’s miracle
service; others may have simply dropped in for an inexpensive meal
(dinner is $9.10).

Perhaps befitting Angley’s North Carolina roots, the fare here is pure
Southern comfort, and cardiologists beware. Among the offerings: fried
catfish, black-eyed peas, potatoes soaking in cheese sauce, broasted
chicken, biscuits with honey-butter, sweet-potato casserole, two kinds
of gravy, bread pudding, several fruit cobblers and red velvet cake.

It’s all you can eat, natch, but I was glad to see several polite
admonitions posted throughout: “Take all you want but eat all you
take.”

2690 State Road, Cuyahoga Falls. Tue.-Fri. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m; Sat., 10
a.m.-2;30 p.m.; Tue.-Sat. 4:30-8 p.m.; Sun. noon-5 p.m.

pssst - more buffet discussion here!










A shorter version of this story appeared in the Pittsburgh City Paper
as part of Sister Al's "Searching for Salvation ...and Other Roadside Attractions"
It's SO worth your click:

Inspired?

12 comments:

  1. One day you will have to answer for this! I hope you have a good answer.

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  2. To Al Hoff. I noticed you used 3 different copyrighted images on this blog "Friday Nights..." I kindly suggest you remove copyrighted images/photos from this blog. It's our duty as bloggers to produce original material, not copy and paste from other websites. The two photos of Ernest and the one from the Life of Christ are clearly copyright violations (I saw those on his site). Your photos that you took (I hope you snapped those) are fine, but remove the others. I don't care what people talk about in their blogs, but I can't stand laziness (using other people's images).

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  3. Hello, Brother Randall your humble blogmaster here. Just want to point out that Sister Al was kind enough to let me reprint her article and original pictures from the paper she writes for. The "lazy" use of other images was my editorial decision and input, not hers. But do let me share with you my understanding of the term "weblog," from which the term "blog" is derived. It is a LOG of interesting things you find on the WEB. Some of my favorite sites are well put together aggregations of things someone goes to the trouble of finding, then sharing on the web. It's not like publishing a book or a magazine article. So I really don't find your criticism valid.

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  4. You definitely are a Snake, that's for sure. You wrote the article just to find fault. You are a snake, it's fitting for you.

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  5. This guy is definitely a snake. He sits around talking about things he has know knowledge of and puts it on the internet. How dumb is that? My advice would be to talk this page down, it is obvious that you have know idea what you are talking about.

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  6. There was a time when I too was judgemental toward Rev. Angley. After the following experience, I am no longer judgemental: Years ago, I actually watched the Angley hour as though it were a comedy show. Back in the 80s. the father of a good friend of mine let some of his friends talk him into going to Ohio to see Rev. Angley. This man was told by his doctor that he would not live another year because his heart was three quarters dead. After his last heart attack, he was barely able to walk ten feet without loosing his breath. My friend and his sister tried to talk him out of making the trip from Maryland to Ohio, because 1. Like me, they did not believe in Angley, and 2. They did not think he would survive the nine hour trip. He said he was going and nobody was going to talk him out of it. Two of his friends, and one of thier sons took him to Ohio. He laid down in the back of the minivan, and virtually remained on his back the whole trip. He was placed in a wheelchair and rolled into the cathedral. At one point, Rev. Angley looked at him and said, "you have been told by your doctors that you have a short time to live because your heart is dying, but is you stand up now and give God the praise and glory, He will give you a new heart". I admit, this was very strange, but he did stand up with the help of two of the men, and began priasing God. On the return trip, he sat in the seat and did not lay down. His shortness of breath was not apparent, and he said he felt great. When he was examined by his doctor and his cardiologist, one of the comments made by his doctor was "I don't understand it, but it is as though you have a brand new heart. He was 72 at the time and lived to be 87 years old. Some people believe that his own faith convincing his sub-conscious mind was the healing agent, but you could not convince him that God wasn't the healer, and you would never convince him that Rev. Angley did not play a part in his healing. After this incident, I decided to see what God's word has to say. I found in scriptures that Jesus healed many and that He is the same yesterday, today and forever, and that He is no respector of men. Be careful of your judgements, because I found that God heals today, and that he can heal through anyone He chooses to use as a wiling vessel.

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  7. You sat through a fantastic miracle service just to give FREE ADVERTISEMENT!!!!????!!!!! Who knew the devil wanted to advertise Gods work? Hmmm and you thought you were being funny and wanting to put down the man of God....feel sorry for you. That Blood you were mocking is the only way into heaven.

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    1. We are now friends with a family that has gone to Earnest Angley's church for over 20 years. They all have serious medical problems, with zero healing all these years of strong unwavering faith. Ernest Angley admitted on camera to asking the men to pull their pants down so he could look at their testicles. Why? He strongly discourages people to have children and wants proof they got the vasectomy he strongly recommended. He discourages marriages from reconciling when one has left the church, and is upset with members for having children after he told them it's a horrible world that children should not be brought into. No marriage or parent/child relationship is safe at that 1 Corinthians & Galatians style church. Pastor admitted on camera too that he strongly discourages victims of sexual abuse at his church from telling other church members not involved or the police, and he will not tell the police either, but just like the Catholics, get the perpetrators out of there without the law involved, or they just pray over the predators and "save" them again. Your salvation isn't safe there too. In violation of Romans 4, 5, 6 and Hosea, and Jesus' teachings, they teach you can lose your salvation, and have to earn it back. They teach you can get saved more than once. And that you can lose your miracle healings (how convenient.) They promote wild emotionalism and that has been a super dysfunctional way to live at home, and the mom just says about her violent anger, verbal and physical, "Jesus got angry." Sad. Speaking in tongues is said in 1 Corinthians to always be interpreted so people can learn from it, but that church teaches you aren't saved unless you speak in an unknown tongue in public, no interpreter needed. All Bible healings were medically verifiable, and same day complete, so much so that even Jesus haters could not doubt the reality of the healing. It was obvious to all, no way to doubt....that obvious.

      Get to know the Bible, and ask Ernest Angley to teach about speaking in tongues as described in 1 Corinthians 14, the whole chapter, not just a tiny fraction of it. I read his teaching about tongues today, most of chapter 14 NOT included, he can't, and continue the practice of UNinterpreted tongues in church. I used to believe it was all faked, but not after studying 1 Corinthians 14. It is a language to God, BUT there must be order, a reason to do it in public, and a method that benefits the hearers, even visitors to the church who aren't yet believers. We are NOT supposed to seem like weirdos to outsiders, says the Bible, and there is a way to be winsome, rather than frightening.

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  8. It is amazing how you sit on your throne of self and criticize Reverend Angley when you have no clue what you're talking about. You are one of those that came to the service to make fun of people, criticize, and I'm sure God is not pleased with such as that. I know people that go to this church and I know it is for real. It's you that's going to be in trouble with the Lord for saying and commenting as you have. Why don't you get a copy of Reverend Angley's autobiography and read about the ministry instead of coming to conclusions. The problem with you is that you don't want to believe; it seems you are a dishonest hearted believer meaning you don't want to believe. I know many that go to that church and many have fantastic miracles. What are you going to say to God one day when you find out you were criticizing God's true prophet and minister? Like the other commenter, your name fits you... a snake, remember, God cursed the snake to eat the dust of the ground. Jesus called the so-called religious people of his day (but they were not really Godly) vipers, snakes, whited sepulchers which on the outside appear beautiful but inside were full of all uncleanness and dead mens' bones. Those pharisees did what you do, they watch that they might accuse, however, when their death and their end of life came, they found out the truth, and now they are paying for it in eternity. They found out they were accusing the son of God, but Jesus and his ministry were real the entire time, but they would not yield and they would not believe. If there's a chance for you, I do pray you will yield to God, but there is always a cut-off point with God called blasphemy of the Holy Ghost. The first time Jesus spoke of it was when the evil Pharisees had accused Jesus of casting out devils by the power of the devil, and that's when Jesus told them that doing this kind of thing, committing this kind of sin against the Holy Ghost, there would be no forgiveness in this life, or in the life to come. You were doing the same thing with Reverend Angley by accusing him that the power he uses isn't real, that it's fake and so forth and mocking. You should fear for your very soul if you have any feeling left and ask God to forgive you because of your ignorance. If you have trouble believing, ask God to deliver you of that evil. I would cry out to God before it's too late, before he cuts you off completely. Once God cuts you off, you can cry beg, plead, but the Bible plainly says that there's no forgiveness in this life nor in the life to come. I pray you yield to God, repent, and give your heart truly to Jesus. You surely know that Reverend Angley has a Salvation place on his site you can pray the sinner's prayer. You need to because according to what you have said, you are on thin ice. God help you.

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  9. Wow -- are you people Christians? You sure are judgmental and rude. This was not worth reading.

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  10. I'm shocked to find so many people on here defending EA. He is nothing but a slick used car salesman type selling "jesus". Yikes. I fear for humanity--we have got to stop believing in "woo" and deal with facts.

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  11. http://www.ohio.com/special-projects/ernest-angley-s-grace-cathedral-suffers-rift

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