Office Hours is back this Friday 9/22 2-3pm EST. Join the pack to check it out.

Men of God in the City of Man, Part 2: Carriers

Download a PDF of Men of God in the City of Man, Part 2: Carriers (paid subscribers only)

Listen to an audio recording of Men of God in the City of Man, Part 2: Carriers

Also available at:

At some point, Eric went from idolizing people like Os Guinness to idolizing Ann Coulter and Tucker Carlson — right wing political firebrands who live to ‘own the libs.’ I think there’s an adrenaline rush or dopamine hit from engaging in full-fledged culture wars that otherwise thoughtful souls on both sides of the political spectrum can find intoxicating. For some, life is worth living only when ‘the soul of America’ is at stake. So the soul of America is ALWAYS at stake.

Phil Vischer, evangelical Christian author, podcaster and creator of Veggietales

Men of God in the City of Man is a nine-part essay series that tells the story of a powerful narrative virus whose ultimate unintended target was nothing less than faith in American democracy as an institution. Part 1 introduced the idea of the narrative virus as a mechanism for astroturfing (fake grassroots) campaigns, and the idea that the danger may not come so much from forcing new common knowledge, but changing what some of the population needed to be true. Part 2 is the story of the carriers of its chief ultimate symptom: a rabid belief in rampant electoral fraud.

I am deeply indebted to the work of Jim Beverley, Matthew Taylor and Paul Djupe in various areas of this essay series. I have attempted to source their work where possible, but if you see something unsourced that makes a clever observation about our subject matter, please do me the favor of assuming it is the work of their dutiful scholarship.

Before we can really understand the narrative virus, its design, the mechanisms of its spread, or how this ought to make us think about how AI might accelerate similar efforts in the future, we must understand what it is that distinguishes the carriers – and what that tells us about the underlying memetic structure of the narrative virus.

Where do we start? How about the carrier that is still fighting “Stop the Steal” battles today: Kari Lake.

Kari Lake

If you have been following along since 2020, you will know that the former news anchor has been a major vector for general claims of electoral fraud for years now. She has pursued those claims aggressively, both in advance of and following her failed gubernatorial bid in Arizona. More specifically, she was vocal about claims of electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential election and in her own 2022 loss, going so far as to call for Maricopa County election officials to be imprisoned.

And she was just getting started.

I have a message tonight for Merrick Garland, Jack Smith and Joe Biden and the guys back there in the fake news media. You should listen up as well, this one’s for you. If you want to get to President Trump, you’re going to have to go through me, and 75 million Americans just like me. <standing ovation and cheering> And I’m going to tell you, most of us are card-carrying members of the NRA. <louder cheering> That’s not a threat, that’s a public service announcement. <laughing and cheering>

Failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake at a June 9, 2023 speaking event in Georgia

While often described generically by media as a Christian nationalist (and by anonymously reported friends as a Buddhist), since her claimed conversion during the pandemic, Lake has quickly integrated her persona into the informal networks and narratives of the charismatic Church. Charisma News wondered if she was being raised up as a “new breed of prophetic politician.” At a “Freedom and Faith Revival Night” she hosted in 2022, worship was led by Sean Feucht, the minor charismatic worship artist who emerged to some prominence in 2021 through his protests against lockdowns and his alignment with the anti-vaxxers and Stop the Steal proponents at multiple Reawaken America events. Before the service, she was anointed with oil. It is a Biblical practice, and one that has a long association with the Pentecostal and charismatic church in America. This kind of Pentecostal anointing differs greatly from Catholic and some mainline Protestant use (i.e. this is not the Anointing of the Sick).

The older man with the microphone applying the oil in the image that kicked off this section is Dream City’s Tommy Barnett, one of the most prominent Pentecostal ministers in the country and an establisher of nationwide networks of Dream City community centers. Laying hands on Lake to her immediate left is Mark Driscoll, a famous pastor and former church network builder who sits at the periphery of the mainstream evangelical church and the charismatic world.

Lake has been a frequent fixture on Flashpoint, an evening commentary program hosted on the Victory Channel, the Christian TV network owned by the ministries of famed charismatic / prosperity gospel preacher Kenneth Copeland. I suspect it is the first time you have heard of the network or program, but it won’t be the last. In the last few years, it has been deeply influential and connected to the promotion of electoral fraud claims AND to the spread of the underlying narratives that integrated those claims with charismatic Christian nationalism.

How connected? Well, by way of example, Flashpoint also hosted a live program from Phoenix, Arizona in October 2022 as a de facto Kari Lake rally. After the introduction video showing various self-named apostles and prophets from the charismatic-Pentecostal movement, the host begins to rattle off a who’s who of Arizona voices from and individuals involved with electoral fraud claims, asking them to stand to be celebrated.

Guys like Mark Finchem, the Arizona state representative and failed candidate for secretary of state that you may remember for his promotion of the sophomoric analysis of tens of thousands of missing votes on social media, or perhaps for his quickly dismissed lawsuit to overturn his election loss that resulted in his paying legal fees to his opponent. Finchem was also a speaker at multiple Reawaken America tour events, the charismatic political/religious rally where we spotted Ken Paxton.

Or like Wendy Rogers, founding and proud Oath Keeper in the Arizona Senate. She made herself famous for a time on social media promoting 2020 electoral fraud claims, suggesting that citizens’ response to Biden’s victory should be to “buy more ammo”, and pushing the Maricopa audit that found positively nothing of consequence. Thereafter, she pivoted to a national campaign to decertify electors. Rogers is likewise a recurring guest on the charismatic Christian Flashpoint program, where she speaks to the host and panel of prophet/patriots about important issues, such as issuing arrest warrants for people involved in the “stolen election” of 2020.

Source: Flashpoint, 10/14/2021 Episode

If you want a picture of the complete integration of these movements and have 30-40 minutes to invest, simply watch the live broadcast from Arizona. Flashpoint’s ongoing obsession with the 2020 election and reinstating Donald Trump has even meant that newly lawsuit-shy Fox News Corp is now banning its on-air personalities from participation in their programming.

But wait! There’s more.

For example, during the 2022 election aftermath, the response of the Lake campaign and its supporters was anything but “mainstream evangelical” in nature. On November 12th and 13th, Lake’s supporters arrived at the building where the Maricopa County results were being tabulated and conducted a “Jericho March”, circling the building seven times. Now, Jericho Marches or Jericho Walks are not explicitly charismatic. The idea behind them is that a group of Christians across the spectrum of beliefs and denominations will walk, and often pray, together in belief that their unity and prayers can bring down figurative (or literal) walls. Sometimes the walls are things like gang violence, injustice or racism. Sometimes the walls are things like abortion or perceived degradation in cultural values.

And sometimes the walls are legitimate election outcomes that we just don’t like very much.

Still, there are Jericho Marches and then there are Jericho Marches. This one, along with the one we’ll talk about later when we get to the ringleaders of the D.C. version that preceded this Arizona display, is the latter kind. And the ‘latter kind’ means shofars. If being prayed over in tongues while being anointed with oil was unfamiliar to you, I am guessing this will be, too. Shofars are hollowed horns (usually from rams) that are a traditional part of various Jewish rituals, but mostly ceremonies and announcements. They were also used in the siege on Jericho described in the Book of Joshua in the Old Testament. In the original story, after the besieging army blows their shofars on the seventh circling of the city, the walls fall down…after which, apropos of nothing, the soldiers rush in to kill everyone in the city. As an imperfect rule of thumb, if you see a shofar and no non-Messianic Jewish people, it’s probably a charismatic-Pentecostal thing. If you also hear people chanting in tongues and “prayer languages” as they do so, it’s definitely a charismatic-Pentecostal thing. This, and the D.C. march, were unequivocally that flavor of event.

Lauren Boebert

Representative Boebert, one of the leading promoters of electoral fraud claims in the 2020 election, doesn’t simply speak and participate in the charismatic vernacular. By her own description, her home church during and following her recent rediscovery of her faith (a recurring theme in this list, you will find) was the New Creation Church in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. It is a non-denominational charismatic church that sits very clearly on the Pentecostal end of the spectrum, its statement of beliefs emphasizing the gift of tongues in particular alongside the other 1 Corinthians charisms.

She frequently tours with and speaks at events hosted by various non-profit initiatives of the aforementioned former Bethel charismatic worship recording artist Sean Feucht, including the capitol worship service pictured below. Like many others listed here, she is regular guest and panelist presented alongside prophets and apostles on the Flashpoint program on Kenneth Copeland’s Victory Channel (you may have noticed her cameo with Wendy Rogers above).

Marjorie Taylor Greene

Marjorie Taylor Greene has similar credentials to Boebert when it comes to the promotion of electoral fraud claims, once famously wearing a cloth mask embroidered with the text “TRUMP WON” to the floor of congress in January 2021. It was a sentiment that led her to file (unsuccessful) articles of impeachment for President Biden immediately after his inauguration.

Greene’s and Boebert’s associations with charismatic practices and language are similar, too. In July 2022, for example, after giving a speech about the revelations of 2,000 Mules, Representative Greene had hands laid on her by four of the more prominent charismatic and Pentecostal apostles and prophets (all of whom have preached that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump). From right to left, that’s Mario Murillo, Hank Kunneman, Dutch Sheets and Lance Wallnau, all self-described prophets or apostles, all deeply embedded in the very spiritual gifts-oriented wing of the charismatic and Pentecostal church in America.

Her language in public statements and on social media is rich with the language of this vernacular, much of which would be seen as a bit much to the average “white evangelical.” She commonly describes spiritual battles, struggles against demonic, Satanic and occult forces of evil arrayed against her and America more broadly, and the need for Christians to exercise their authority to oppose those forces through spiritual warfare.

Unlike Boebert, Greene’s home church sits well in the more traditional evangelical end of the spectrum. Andy Stanley, the head pastor at her church and son of recently departed evangelist Charles Stanley, is a lot of things. Pentecostal isn’t one them. Like Ken Paxton and many others on this list, MTG appears to be an evangelical whose association with conspiracy theory-laden political narratives necessarily brought her into the mesh networks, as Matthew Taylor first referred to them, of charismatic and Pentecostal apostles.

Dinesh D’Souza

Like Greene, D’Souza was raised Catholic. Like Greene, D’Souza adopted a reformed protestant faith later in life. Unlike Greene, his conversion immediately led him into the charismatic movement. He professes that he went from lukewarm to mature and devoted Christian within the Calvary Chapel that he and his then wife attended in San Diego. To be fair, while Calvary Chapel was at the very ground floor of the Jesus People movement that catalyzed the explosion of charismatic church growth in the United States (and is decidedly continuationist), it is also among the less wacky-seeming to outsiders of the charismatic-Pentecostal church families. Again, your mileage may vary.

Still, there can be no questioning his comfort and connection to charismatic language, practices and networks. For example, he has spoken publicly about the need for “prophetic voices,” in one case doing so in response to a podcaster conveying a dream from God about Dinesh himself. More importantly, the principal co-laborers in his work producing 2,000 Mules, the film in which D’Souza presents claims that phone geolocation data proved that paid mules were moving harvested ballots from stash-houses to ballot boxes, were deeply connected to charismatic networks that were key to the promotion and spread of electoral fraud narratives.

Catherine Engelbrecht, for example, led the True the Vote initiative that conducted the underlying “research” presented in 2,000 Mules. You may recall that Engelbrecht and her partner Gregg Phillips were famously and briefly jailed for contempt after the refusal to “give up” a source in a defamation case against them relating to electoral fraud claims. Prior to their jailing, they beseeched prayer warriors to intercede on their behalf. They had a ready-made venue to do so, as Engelbrecht and Phillips had already joined their stolen election soapbox with Intercessors for America, a charismatic organization with clearly stated beliefs in the prophetic and other gifts of the spirit, in a partnership that would be called “Pray the Vote.” In other words, it would not be very far off to say that D’Souza’s 2,000 Mules was, from top to bottom, a work product of the charismatic movement in the United States.

Roger Stone

Depending on whom you ask, Roger Stone either created Stop the Steal himself, inspired its creation, or else co-created it with Ali Alexander (who you may recall was recently in the news). He is perhaps as connected to the public-facing effort to dispute the 2020 election outcome as anyone save former President Trump himself.

Roger Stone with Pastor Greg Locke, after the former spoke at Locke’s Global Vision Bible Church in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. You may recall Locke from his various viral sermons insinuating that most autism spectrum symptoms were nearly always the result of demonic possessions, or else from literal book burnings and literal witch hunts.

“Famous man of faith” is probably not the first descriptor I personally would have applied to Mr. Stone, although perhaps I just haven’t been paying close attention. Or maybe I’m just hopelessly biased against lobbyists. Wretched man that I am, I find it hard to claim any high ground to doubt the authenticity of anyone’s faith. At any rate, the Catholic-born former lobbyist claims to have been saved during the aftermath of the Mueller investigation, convinced by the supernatural intervention of…Donald Trump. Stone recounted his personal Damascus Road like this in his pre-recorded speech to one of his rallies:

“It was Jesus Christ who gave our president, Donald Trump, the courage and the compassion to save my life when I was unfairly and illegally targeted in the Mueller witch hunt. … My faith is in Jesus Christ, and we will make America great again and we will stop the steal.”

Roger Stone

But simple conversion to Christianity or even evangelical Christianity is not enough if you’re going to lead Stop the Steal. To observe the proper forms, you must become a panelist on the Victory Channel’s Flashpoint program or join the Reawaken America tour (remember Ken Paxton from Part 1?), or both. Which he did. And he fit right in.

There is a satanic portal above the White House, you can see day and night. It exists. It is real. And it must be closed. And it will be closed by prayer. You can see it on the livestream of a video pointed at the White House. No, it is not an Aerostat Weather Balloon. No, it is not infracted (sic) light. No, it is not a reflection. It popped up after Joe Biden became President, and it will be closed before he leaves.

Roger Stone, in a May 13, 2022 speech to the Reawaken America conference event held in South Carolina

This is not typical evangelical rhetoric. Crusty evangelicals don’t talk about visible Satanic portals. They don’t prophesy about when and how those portals will be closed. Every word of this is the calling card of a prophetic, spiritual warfare-oriented charismatic dialect.

Mike Lindell

Lindell, like Roger Stone, underwent a recent conversion experience. Unlike Stone, however, Lindell’s path to salvation did not come through the hand of Donald Trump directly, but instead through a member of his cabinet Lindell met at the National Prayer Breakfast: Ben Carson.

Lindell’s attachment to the prophetic is, perhaps, unique among this group in that it is inextricably tied to former President Trump.

“I got to 2015 and I had a dream. I get these dreams, these prophetic dreams. And one of them was that I would meet Donald Trump in a room…divine appointments kept happening to me. I was invited to the national prayer breakfast when Ben Carson was still running for president. And I was randomly picked out of 12 people to pray with him in a room. And I wasn’t even saved yet. I’m going, ‘I don’t know how to pray’, I was all nervous. But that was set up by God, you know…and these things kept happening, to the summer of 2016 and I’m on a plane to California and I’m sitting in the bulkhead and I open this magazine and it’s about Donald Trump and I said, you know, of course, this was late July of 2016, and I said, “God, if I’m supposed to meet Donald Trump and be part of this, whatever’s going on in our country, I need to know right now.” And at that moment in time, my phone dinged, and it was an email. “Mike, this is Donald Trump. Will you meet me in New York City in Trump Tower.” And I go “GOD!”

“This has been a spiritual battle in our country for decades.  This is a spiritual battle. And this is the start of the greatest revival in history for one nation, under God and that God is Jesus. Amen.”

Mike Lindell’s speech at the Jericho March in Washington D.C. on December 12, 2020

Outside of his own prophetic dreams, Lindell is probably the most connected to each of the recurring charismatic-Pentecostal venues on this list. For example, he’s a regular on the Victory Channel’s Flashpoint, including traveling to participate in live recordings like this one in Omaha, Nebraska.

Mike Lindell on stage at Flashpoint Live in Omaha in September 2022. To his immediate right and speaking is former author and Jericho March emcee Eric Metaxas (more on him later in this Part 2), and to his left are Apostle Dutch Sheets and Hank Kunneman, prophet, pastor at Lord of Hosts Church in Omaha, and founder of OneVoiceTV, a Christian prophecy streaming service.

Lindell is also a regular participant on the Reawaken America tour, the General Flynn-led, Charisma News-sponsored tour we’ve mentioned a couple times now, at which prophets, apostles and other religious personalities share the stage with anti-vaccine activists, COVID truthers, local political figures and, on occasion, Cathy O’Brien. Lindell is typically a headliner at these events.

Beyond his direct participation, Lindell’s involvement often includes sponsorship roles as well, typically through the ubiquitous MyPillow advertisement model. In particular, Jericho March and Stop the Steal rally speeches are almost universally supplemented by offer codes to save on a new pillow at

Sidney Powell

If you’ve been following along closely, you have probably seen Sidney Powell already. If not, take another look at the Reawaken America Tour banner advertisement above. She doesn’t get Mike Lindell treatment, to be sure, but she’s also not part of the 40-speaker long undercard.

Like so many others on the list, Powell’s involvement did not stop at Reawaken America, but included the obligatory impartation of the spirit from the prophets and apostles on Flashpoint.

Unlike many others on this list, Powell’s personal church involvement historically is not only not charismatic, it is not necessarily even evangelical. As I explained (exceedingly poorly, as all such explanations tend to be) in Part 1, some Presbyterians would typically be considered evangelical. Her home church, reportedly the First Presbyterian Church of Asheville, North Carolina, would not. It belongs to PCUSA, typically regarded as the mainline, more theologically (and politically) liberal denomination of Presbyterian churches in the United States. As a general rule, when a church’s “About Us” page begins: “We believe God loves every person without exception. As followers of Christ, we strive to be a holy community that reflects the diversity of God’s creation through the welcome and full participation of every age, ability, socioeconomic status, family background, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, skin color, and racial identity,” you will typically not be referred to as an evangelical community.

But Ms. Powell is an outlier in more ways than this.

Perhaps because of her job performance and perhaps because of some, shall we say, rather extravagant views about the world and some other personality traits, Donald Trump and team ostracized her from the legal process associated with his election challenges relatively quickly. That resulted in Ms. Powell’s effective removal from many of these charismatic mesh networks over time, as well. She did, however, surface at some even further fringe events, such as the For God & Country rally that took place in Dallas in May 2021. And honestly, if you can’t break out the leather biker vest at a literal Q-Anon rally, where can you, really?

The long and short of it for Ms. Powell, then, seems to be what is has been in many other cases: a fringe personality with traditional evangelical, mainline Protestant or Catholic religious views brought into the orbit of charismatic practice, language and doctrine.

Rather than give Lin Wood his own section, let us instead stipulate that most of our observations would mirror those about Ms. Powell almost identically. He was an early part of legal efforts to resist certification of the election, he did the Reawaken tour, he had his remarks about flooding churches to conduct spiritual warfare published by Charisma magazine, he was ostracized due to outlandish behavior or incompetence (hard to say) relatively quickly, and in doing attached himself to the very same Q-Anon conference circuit type events to which Ms. Powell became a presenter. Sans leather vest, I think, but I would only be speculating.

Where things differ, I suppose, is that Lin also got involved in a spat in which Clay Clark’s charismatic conspiracy theory road show was accused of spreading anthrax. And then there’s the claimed recorded conversation recounted by Wood’s former law partners in a brief filed in December 2020.

“You’re sitting with Lin Wood. Or has the second coming already started…Maybe I’m already here. You want to take the risk that you might be wrong. And I might actually be Christ coming back for a second time in the form of an imperfect man, elevating Christ consciousness…That cause you to have a little bit of a chill? …Who would be more eloquent to say what the will of God is, the belief of God in me. I represent Moses. I represent Ananias the believer. I’m like the power of King David. Now look you all, I told you I was going to pray tonight to my God, not to myself, because to me there’s God and there’s me.”

Per Law & Crime, the transcript of a recorded conversation between Lin Wood and his former law partners as submitted by the latter in a legal brief

I…I don’t know what that is. I mean, when he wasn’t threatening to send Mike Pence to the firing squads, Lin Wood certainly attached himself to the charismatic-Pentecostal mesh network, so let’s just consider that settled. But whatever this is, it isn’t evangelical, charismatic, or anything else I’m familiar with. This is…just really weird.

Eric Metaxas

He had a vision from God! When God gives you a vision, you don’t need to know anything else. You just praise Him, that He cares enough to show you what He is doing! This is what God is doing! We are what God is doing in the United States today, by His grace. And today we’re gonna see heaven move. Heaven is going to move. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Before I introduce my friend Mike Lindell, who’s gonna tell you to use the discount code “ERIC”…

Eric Metaxas at the Jericho March in Washington D.C. on December 12, 2020

You may not know who Eric Metaxas is. But I assure you, in no person of note was the seemingly dual power of this narrative virus to push evangelicals toward the charismatic and fairly normal, ordinary, decent folks into rabid conspiracy theorists more evident than in Eric Metaxas.

Metaxas is perhaps best-known for his work on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the famed German martyr and now face of the Christian resistance against Nazi encroachment into the Protestant church during World War II. His work is not without its detractors, especially among theologians and historians specializing in Bonhoeffer, but neither is it disposable feel-good evangelical pablum. Of anyone here, and anyone who will be mentioned when we veer into the designers of this particular virus, he is probably the most serious person.

Among those fellow conservatives and Christians who knew him Before Trump, they might say he was known less as a scholar than he was as a consistently funny, gentle, urbane, decent sort of fellow. At least, that’s what evangelical conservative (yes, like it or not, he is a conservative) David French said. It’s also what stood out most to Orthodox conservative writer Rod Dreher. And to VeggieTales creator and former Metaxas collaborator Phil Vischer.

Now, it isn’t the purpose of this essay to delve into the degree, if any, that Metaxas lost any of those admirable qualities. Still, the violence of the rhetoric embraced by Metaxas in defense of Trump and in arguing that the election was stolen is striking. Not just the rhetoric, mind you. After a White House meeting, the gentle-by-reputation Metaxas allegedly punched a guy riding a bicycle who had attached one too many expletives to Trump’s name for Eric’s liking. But yes, the rhetoric, too. For example, it is hard for those who knew Metaxas to square the person they knew with statements like this at the Jericho March where he acted as M.C.

“What’s going to happen is going to happen. But we need to fight to the death, to the last drop of blood because it’s worth it.”

Eric Metaxas at the December 12, 2020 Jericho March

Or like this one, from a podcast in which he managed to get then-President Trump himself on the line.

“I’d be happy to die in this fight. This is a fight for everything. God is with us. Jesus is with us in this fight for liberty. Jesus is with us in this fight for liberty…there was a prayer call last night, you cannot believe the prayers that are going up. This is God’s battle even more than our battle.”

Eric Metaxas, speaking to Donald Trump on November 30, 2020, during an interview with Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano

The passion of his political engagement notwithstanding, the bigger surprise still has to be the rapid shift in his fellow-travelers in the Christian community. By any account, Metaxas was unequivocally a mainstream, down-the-middle evangelical Christian author. Fast forward to the late teens and early 2020s, and he is attending prophetic / apostolic rallies, emceeing Jericho Marches with celebrations of how the idea came to its founder in a prophetic dream and participating in the charismatic / Pentecostal podcast circuit.

To be fair, there have always been gradations of experience within the non-charismatic evangelical world. For example, you’d have been unlikely to hear “God gave me a prophetic vision”, but quite likely to hear something like, “I believe God is leading me” or “I believe God is calling me” or “I think God is putting something on my heart.” There’s a fine line, sometimes, between the evangelical conception of how the Holy Spirit works in subtle ways and the continuationist idea in which a Christian with the spiritual gift of prophecy receives the Word of the Lord. Maybe Metaxas was always further along that continuum than most thought, or maybe convictions, circumstances or something else caused him to move.

For our purposes, it suffices rather simply to say that whatever Eric Metaxas embraced at any point before, today he is thoroughly integrated into and suffused with the practices, language and doctrine of the spirit-filled charismatic American church.

Josh Hawley

Josh Hawley facing protesters at the January 6th Capitol riot before voting not to accept the results presented by the Electoral College.

If there were anyone on this list who is – or was once, I suppose – a more serious person than Metaxas, it would have to be the senior senator from the state of Missouri, Josh Hawley.

Hawley is not Lauren Boebert. This is a summa cum laude graduate of Stanford who studied at Yale Law and clerked for John Roberts. From the very beginning of his political career, he leaned into the role of the practical Republican intellectual. Both as Missouri AG and in the senate, he crossed the aisle on a variety of issues, from COVID support payments to opposition to abuse of oligopoly and monopoly power in Big Tech. Was he winning any popularity awards with progressive voters? No. Hawley was never a moderate. But “principled” was a word used not infrequently.

Whether the transition from conservative intellectual to populist firebrand happened gradually or in a sort of epiphany during the Trump presidency falls outside of the scope of our essay series. In any case, in January 2021, Hawley embraced his role as a leading voice for the Stop the Steal movement, ultimately casting the first vote not to certify the results of the Electoral College that were brought before the US Senate. Earlier that day, he famously raised a fist in solidarity with the rioters who would force him out of the Capitol a little more than an hour later. It produced the now-iconic photograph that leads this section, a photo which also adorns practically every item in Hawley’s campaign store.

So what is Hawley up to these days?

If you guessed talking to Gene Bailey on Flashpoint immediately after the segment in which a group of charismatic-Pentecostal prophets and apostles discussed how the Hunter Biden corruption investigation was God’s response to decrees of the apostles to unmask evil, and two segments after those same prophets watch the video of Joe Biden tripping at a speaking event and pretend that it wasn’t to make you laugh at him, you win a prize! Unfortunately for you, the prize is seven more of these essays.

Josh Hawley hawking a book and talking masculinity and the culture wars on Flashpoint on June 1, 2023.

As it happens, Hawley’s faith, ignoring the years spent in Jesuit school during his youth, appears to have led him to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The EPC is the Presbyterian denomination committed to unity on essential doctrine, and liberty on what is non-essential. Generally speaking, for the EPC, the cessationism vs. continuationism debate, the crux of the historical distinction between charismatics and non-charismatic evangelicals, falls into the non-essential doctrine category. As a result, the EPC is where nearly all of the charismatics within the reformed Presbyterian tradition can be found. Now, there isn’t any direct evidence that Hawley’s home church is among them.

It also doesn’t matter.

Either Hawley is himself a participant in the charismatic tradition through a gifts-friendly EPC church, or he is another traditional evangelical that was brought under the umbrella of charismatic language, practices and institutions in connection with claims of a stolen election.

Everyone Else

I suppose that at some point we must talk about former President Trump himself.

There is little evidence that Trump regularly attended church prior to his election, and positive evidence that he did not do so with any regularity during his presidency. It would be impossible, I think, to describe his doctrinal perspective in any meaningful way, if it even exists at all. We have even less reason to think he would have a theologically derived opinion on the question of the continuation or cessation of the gifts of the Spirit. What we do have is a remarkable body of evidence demonstrating just how aggressively Trump courted and accepted the courtship of charismatic-Pentecostals in a way that none of his predecessors had done.

I don’t know every person in this photo. I know enough of them to feel confident saying that at least two-thirds of this room believes in modern gifts of healing and prophecy. Hillsong’s Brian Houston is slightly obscured but present. That hand stretching to touch just the hem of Trump’s garment belongs to Sean Feucht. Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes are standing right behind behind the President. Bethel’s Brian Johnson and his wife Jenn stand just over his left shoulder, with a half dozen other Bethel folks sprinkled throughout. Jesus Culture’s Chris Quilala is back there, too. Micah Stampley is present with a few of the Shift Global team around the room, including Eddie James in black leather there on the left. With the exception of Britt Nicole and maybe some people I don’t recognize, this picture is charismatics and Pentecostals from top to bottom and left to right. We will even meet a few of them in a later essay in this series.

Now, of course many other religious leaders from all sorts of faith traditions visited with Trump on various occasions. There are more than a couple photos like this with mainstream evangelical figures and ministers from black churches, too. But this photograph is a microcosm of something unprecedented that took place during the Trump presidency: not just giving the charismatic fringe a seat at the table, but pride of place. Instead of selecting a mainstream evangelical to chair his evangelical advisory panel, former President Trump selected a charismatic word-of-faith preacher, Paula White-Cain. While a minor and disconnected figure even within that faith community by the time Trump took office, the connections she made for him were often not to famous preachers at Southern Baptist megachurches, but to worship leaders and pastors at charismatic and Pentecostal churches. And yes, she, too, ended up attached to the stolen election claims, delivering the invocation at the rally that would lead to the January 6th capitol riot.

In fairness, however, not everyone involved in the stolen election grift had clear affiliations to the charismatic vernacular.

It would be impossible to tell the story of the movement to claim electoral fraud, for example, without Rudy Giuliani. Perhaps alone out of everyone of significance in the movement, he not only seemed to have zero interest in any sort of charismatic Christian displays, he has been reluctant to demonstrate religious language or affiliation of any kind.

Jenna Ellis, at times a member of Team Kraken and at times a more personal attorney to Donald Trump, has not been reluctant to express her belief in a stolen election OR her religious affiliations. She is an evangelical through and through, of the conservative and seemingly anti-charismatic bent. Separate from her election work, she has acted as a lawyer defending John MacArthur and his church from various legal claims. Now, MacArthur is a giant in the evangelical world. He is also one of the most consistent stalwarts against continuationism and the idea of modern tongues, prophecy and other similar spiritual manifestations. It seems Ellis has largely followed suit, even withdrawing from the “America’s Revival” event featuring Pastor Greg Locke on account of unsound doctrine. Jenna Ellis, I think we can conclude, did not become enmeshed with the charismatic-Pentecostal movement as a result of her legal work asserting a stolen election.

Ali Alexander, nominally a Catholic, flirted at various times with light language of intercession and spiritual warfare, but otherwise seemed to have, um, other flirting priorities in mind.

Otherwise, it is virtually a clean sweep. If you were a public figure involved in the campaign to promote a stolen election narrative, you were either charismatic or Pentecostal by faith, or else you (willingly or kicking and screaming) subjected yourself as a Catholic, evangelical, mainline Christian or agnostic to apostles and prophets speaking over you, laying hands on you, anointing you, and praying away demonic portals next to you as a sort of precondition of influence within and access to the community that had formed.

This adherence is by no means a feature only of our narrative virus’s banner carriers, however. To wit, Denison University researcher Paul Djupe conducted a 2022 survey of Republicans, looking for the intersection of belief in modern prophecy and the belief that the 2020 election was stolen. It is an especially shrewdly formulated question, I think. The belief in the validity of modern prophecy is – or at least it ought to be – the clearest and cleanest line of demarcation between charismatic-Pentecostals with a continuationist belief in the gifts of the spirit on the one hand, and the rest of Protestant Christianity on the other.

And guess what?

Republican believers in modern prophecy were twice – twice! – as likely to believe that the election was stolen than those who disbelieve in modern prophecy.

Source: Prophecy Believers and Election Fraud: A Match Made in Heaven, from Paul A. Djupe, Data for Political Research program at Denison University

Without casting a single aspersion on whether any of this was good or bad, wrong or right, we are still left to wonder, “How? And why?”

How did adherence to the practices, language and, at times, doctrine of a religious movement broadly thought to be a bit weird and outside the mainstream come to be the most idiosyncratic and defining characteristic of those who embraced a fringe theory about election outcomes? Why did its association with that electoral movement seem to grant it increasing power in the religious world, empowering its practice, language and doctrine to make rapid inroads into more staid evangelical and mainline Protestant individuals and communities (read: how does Eric Metaxas happen)?

In our next installment, we will publish Part 3 of this series, which visits the underlying memetics that gave the narrative virus its power.

To learn more about Epsilon Theory and be notified when we release new content sign up here. You’ll receive an email every week and your information will never be shared with anyone else.


  1. Nine parts. I can only imagine how many hours of discussion went into this. Looking forward to all of it.

    @rguinn I was wondering: did you use the narrative machine retrospectively, whether wholly or in part, to identify the sources here?

  2. OK, I feel like I’m doing a crap job explaining this, so forget everything I just said and use this rule of thumb: if an American Christian willingly says “Yes, absolutely!” to the question “Are you a born-again Christian?” then they’re evangelical. If they cringe and grudgingly say, “Yeah, I mean, I guess so, but can you clarify what you mean?” they’re probably a non-evangelical, mainline Protestant. If they say, “OK, what are you selling?” they’re Catholic.

    As someone raised Catholic and currently attending an evangelical Baptist church I audibly guffawed at this paragraph. Absolute perfection.

  3. As a socially liberal and fiscally conservative Presbyterian who is probably more agnostic now and (yes a run-on sentence) am fully ingrained with the fact that our country’s laws are based on Presbyterian polity, I too laughed out loud at this statement.

    Levity, a good carrier for important considerations.

  4. Rusty,
    Curious to see what attention, if any, the doctrine of biblical innerancy will get in this series.

    As a teenager, I was baptized in and eventually pastored at a wonderful Foursquare church in Oregon. Additionally, for several years during that time, I lived with 4 Calivinist buddies of mine.
    During my years-long exposure to both charismatic Pentecostalism and Calvinism, I found over and over again how fundamentally problematic the doctrine of biblical inerrancy and literalism is for all churches, regardless of whether it’s the reformed Eric Metaxas/Wayne Grudem/John Piper type or the charismatic Pentecostal Benny Hinn type.

    In my experience, the “charismatic norms” (like prophesy), can be a really beautiful thing. But it’s when the charismatic norms (like prophesy) are connected to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy/literalism that things can go super sideways and do anything but “edify”. As I see it, inerrancy is the core virus that has been wreaking havoc in the churches (you name the tradition) and the world for centuries.

    Anyway, really looking forward to reading these notes.

  5. Three of the mentioned fellows will make at least a cameo appearance, but it isn’t necessarily a focus of the series. I agree that it would also be fascinating to see how that narrative - the soul of American evangelicalism, really - emerged and became common knowledge, but that would be a different series.

  6. In part, although as I think you’ll discover as we go along, our aim was to be thorough enough not to have to be stingy in our source selection.

  7. Avatar for jrs jrs says:

    Man, fascinating stuff. Can’t wait to read the rest.

    I was raised mainline Protestant in NY in the 80s. Never even heard of Charismatics until I moved to TX as an adult.

    I think I understand why it is the fastest-growing branch of Christianity. Vs the stuff I was raised with, my first impression as an outsider is the level of passion and… hmm… immediacy.

    I’m assuming that this is the basic story we’re discussing, I had not heard it yet. It explains what some prophets need(ed?) to be true and why.

  8. This was a great and insightful read, @rguinn.

    “Like the Widening Gyre, the most effective vectors for effective astroturfing campaigns may focus not so much on changing common knowledge but on changing What We Need to Be True.”

    Inoculation against direct responsibilities is one of the fundamental traits of human beings’ proto-centralized religions. In a context of apparent lack of control, agency was projected outward.

    Witchcraft was the reason for pain without feeling guilty and gods’ (God) wrath for pain when feeling guilty in ancient cultures.

    In this context of apparent lack of control (post 2008), changing what we need to be true is an escape from direct responsibilities when focusing on the excuses that explain the individual or collective failure as an out-of-control external factor (spiritual: evil-witchcraft- the devil or kind of real threats: immigrants - woke - deep state), that apparently has agency and goes directly against you as a cosmic good vs. evil fight. So, it’s the perfect context for this phenomenon to emerge in the American-style, spirit-filled charismatic Christianity.

    Low locus of control (direct control over outcomes) + belief in miracles (indirect control over outcomes) + best in class already system of memes (Christianity).

  9. You’ve got it nailed. Only I think that we will discover that there are many more areas of our society and culture which exhibit very similar traits in very different wrappers.

  10. Really interesting start…as someone who has walked among the movements you reference, I’m looking forward to your reflections and observations.

    I’ll just observe here that the role of discernment has always been the weak link when it comes to Pentacostal/Charismatic movements.

  11. I think increasing pursuit of experiential faith - whether that faith is in something religious or secular - is an endemic feature of the long now. So yes, I think this is right. I also think it’s a broader thing happening rather than anything idiosyncratic to this movement.

  12. 100%

    From John Gray:

    “ More than the faux-Marxian musings of postmodern thinkers, it is the singular American faith in national redemption that drives the woke insurgency. The self-imposed inquisitorial regime in universities and newspapers — where editors and journalists, professors and students are encouraged to sniff out and report heresy so it can be exposed and exorcised — smacks of Salem more than Leningrad. Saturated with Christian theology, Locke’s Enlightenment liberalism is reverting to a more primordial version of the founding faith. America is changing, radically and irreversibly, but it is also staying the same.”

  13. I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.
    -Thomas Jefferson

    I can’t think of any other group that can take on politics, economic and now religion like the ‘cast of characters’ at Epsilon Theory. Know that this note, IMO, is about the “widespread narrative virus” we have discussed over the last four years regarding politics and economics. I am comfortable adding religion to swim in these narrative waters.

    After reading Rusty’s note many times, here’s what stood out the most to me:

    “As we meet these people, I think it’s important to be clear: I have less than zero animus (hostility*) toward charismatic Christians or their beliefs. These are my people, my friends, my family. They’re who I grew up with. I LOVE these weirdos, even if the opportunity as an adult to consider my own beliefs has made all of this seem almost as weird to me as it will seem to you. Don’t read this as the old guilt-by-association game. I am not trying to convince you that those beliefs or language make any of these people guilty, bad, stupid, malicious or anything else (although some of these folks end up checking all four of those boxes for other reasons entirely).
    I’m simply trying to convince you that the carriers ARE adhering to specific charismatic norms, so that we can then start answering how on earth an edge-of-the-mainstream cultural sub-group ended up in a perfectly overlapping circle with all of the conspiracy theory symptoms of a particular widespread narrative virus.”
    (*edited by me: bold print and definition of animus)


  14. That makes one of us, Jim! :sweat_smile: But I am grateful for the vote of confidence!

  15. Avatar for KCP KCP says:

    Why do i get the feeling that Kirk just ordered Sulu to hit Warp Speed and it’s gonna kick in on Monday?

  16. I’m not comfortable - there should be something here to ensure discomfort for just about everyone - but focused and challenged to stretch my thinking.

    Looking forward to the chapter(s) with Francis Schaefer and Jerry Falwell.

    Thanks Rusty.

  17. “ there should be something here to ensure discomfort for just about everyone - but focused and challenged to stretch my thinking.”

    Yes. Thank you Ed.


  18. Parts 3 and 5, respectively.

  19. I don’t know the shape of the next eight parts, but is there a tie-in to the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ people in there or are they too far out of the umbrella of what you’re covering? Since I know admittedly very little about the Charismatics I find myself very interested to see where this all goes.

  20. The “prosperity gospel” preachers are a subset of a movement that claims much greater authority to decree various outcomes (i.e. more than just personal wealth) in the material world, so in a way, yes. You’ll also find (in Part 2) some discussion of how the prosperity gospel preachers in particular appealed to DJT as what he called “a good racket” in a way that gave other charismatic ministers and personalities both access and credibility that they had lacked before. But not a great deal on that topic specifically. Interesting as it is, it remains somewhat out-of-scope.

  21. Thanks for this article; it reminded me of this one. Tremendous writing which I think is worthy of sharing on Epsilon. I live in Oberlin OH and would note that the zeal of the students (and the enabling administration) on the Oberlin campus seems to have abated a bit after their endowment fund took that large hit over the bakery fiasco.

  22. Having completed Part 2, I hope you will consider a print version of the complete series, including the references.

  23. A word of appreciation before I read Part 2. Thank you, Rusty, for doing the hard work and creating a series of much interest in my household.

  24. It has been a beautiful reminder to me that I know so little about so much of interest out there!

  25. Absolutely.

    From the perspective of a Phoenix native living in semi-rural Arizona I can tell you that there is nothing about this that is inaccurate, in my direct experience. Having sat in Tommy Barnett’s church on a couple of occasions, broken bread with Oath-Keeper-adjacent neighbors, and attended local government meetings protested by Proud Boys I can attest to the veracity of this battle in the narrative and culture wars.

    As I remarked earlier there will probably be much in this series that will make readers uncomfortable, particularly so for the agnostic or atheist. I believe this series, this exploration, is a rare gift.

    It honestly makes me deeply sad that some may come away thinking that it’s just more evidence that the whole cloth of Christianity is trash. I get that it’s possible - even logical - to believe that.

    Augustine was a pivotal writer and thinker about a narrative and movement that both preceded and vastly exceeds him. It’s not for nothing that at the heart of narrative are words, and that “In the beginning was the Word…”

    Thanks again Rusty. Looking forward to the discussion!

  26. Thanks Rusty for all the research and thoughtful insights into these political/religious grifters. I recognize many of the names just from skimming the headlines, but don’t know the details about the tours and TV shows. You haven’t mentioned it yet, but I’m willing to bet there is significant money being taken from the cult followers pockets at these events. At least Mike Lindell is upfront about the tour being a promotion event for his pillow business.

    I’m originally from the Midwest and many of my relatives are decent people, but have fallen into the Q narrative trap because they’re hearing it at church. My relatives being “good Christians” believe if they hear it from a man of the cloth then it must be true.

    I recall visiting a Pentecostal church in 1992 and being handed a voting guide with the “recommended” candidates highlighted. Needless to say Bill Clinton was not the preferred POTUS candidate. I’m not sure if the word “dominion” came up in the sermon that day, but it was certainly strongly implied that evangelical Christians had the duty to be the army of God fighting the evil non-believers.

  27. Quick heads up that we’re condensing the comment section for the series to a single thread that will show up at the bottom of each note, mostly because that seems like the way people seemed to want to interact. If there is a single topic or idea that you wanted to pull out of the main thread, however, please feel free to start a new topic directly on the forum.

    We’ll try to mark in the thread where each new note was published to help keep people’s comments a bit clearer.

  28. Forgive me but the article you referenced was a terrible read. The term “woke” is used liberally (excuse the pun), but no key member of this movement is ever identified other than examples of relics from the past. The “woke” that this person is talking about is a cartoon in this case, an other being that doesn’t wholly exist in reality.

  29. @rguinn This seems like it’s going to be an incredible piece of work and I appreciate you sharing it with the world. I don’t think there is many people who are able to tread these waters while being able to bridge the gap but based on your previous work I think you are probably one of them. Having no first hand insight into the minds of the people and religion you are exploring, it’s already been an enlightening read.

  30. I think there are cartoonish features in the John Gray piece, and I think you’re right to observe that the author makes a lot of claims without providing many specific examples.

    But without meaning to speak for Marcos, I think there is a narrow point being made by Gray that there are inquisitorial qualities to the handling of off-narrative views that look very much like religious norms-enforcement even outside of explicitly religious settings. If we can look past Gray’s generalizing of the triumph of intersectionalism in the academy and other cultural institutions with blanket “wokeism” language, I think that’s an entirely fair assertion. It is certainly one we intend to explore, anyway!

  31. What part discusses the woke leftists who do not acknowledge facts but pervert the facts to meet their narrative? For example, read what Gorsuch wrote in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis pg 19 second paragraph after “V” “When the dissent finally gets around to that question— more than halfway into its opinion—it reimagines the facts of this case from top to bottom. The dissent claims that Colorado wishes to regulate Ms. Smith’s “conduct,” not her speech.”

  32. Brian, I feel like Part 1 and the forum discussion thus far both seem to express pretty clearly that this is being presented as a case study that has larger implications in mind, including some of what appears to be on yours. One of the things I value most about this community is that I know I can trust it to hear a story without needing to be constantly reminded that there are analogous stories and events not being mentioned explicitly that also warrant our attention, or which exhibit very similar tendencies.

  33. Rusty, are we entering into Soul! wars? A battle for the Soul! of a country, the Soul! of an institution, the Soul! of a community?

    What do I need to be true? That Trust is not lost, for when Trust is lost, the search for Soul begins.

  34. Context is important (June 2020 piece)

    This is the main point:
    “Salem more than Leningrad”.

    This is the consequence:
    “America is changing, radically and irreversibly, but it is also staying the same.”

    Same (Jungian) archetypes, different memes?

  35. Maybe even the same memes in different environments and context.

  36. Great journey @rguinn with Part 2.

    What about S. Bannon? Maybe he doesn’t fit into this story, but it definitely has an obscure spiritual background and a ‘cosmic battle’ mindset, don’t you think?

  37. No doubt about it. If the focus were Jan 6 more specifically, I think that he would have been indispensable. Even on this topic he could have been mentioned (and was in early drafts), but the number of other threads you have to cover to adequately explain Bannon’s influence and role always felt very distracting on any re-read I did.

  38. Avatar for Pat_W Pat_W says:

    I enter this series as a very confused reader. I have little experiential knowledge of religion. Zen koans and meditation in nature do not count.

    I grabbed the reference to the Asuza Street Revival and looked it up on Wikipedia. I am reminded of the intense revivals that went on every weekend at lake Merritt in Oakland around the same time in the early 1900s. Both of my paternal grandparents attended Berkeley U. in the latter 19teens and were quite familiar with those revivals, but as astonished onlookers.

    My grandparents were on the side of science and engineering. They were liberals, possibly with a capital L. I only know that they inoculated their children, and by extension succeeding generations, against religious beliefs. They sent my dad to every church in town to attend for months until he could explain what the people believed. At age 11, when he came home and used the n-word, the next Sunday found him enrolled in a nearby Black church’s bible class. Of course, the mostly elderly congregation treated him kindly, but all he came to understand was that they believed Jesus would heal their aching hearts. Or something.

    We were supposed to learn what other people believed and think for ourselves. We were sent to church to join the choirs and learn to sing. Man, was that fun!

    So I find all this mystifying even though I have experience with the emotions of cults and can relate from that angle. I know I will take useful knowledge from the series, but will have to look up a LOT of these references. Gonna be a heavy slog, and I’m learning as much from the comments as from the notes. Thanks to all.

  39. I’m sorry you feel that way, Peter! I’m still grateful that you took the time to read it. If you’d like to talk more about anything, please feel free to send me a DM on the forum.

  40. @rguinn

    On some of these writings/comments, I always feel like the kid in the back of the class who is struggling to grasp the mysteries of addition…so with that, here goes what I have been struggling with here…

    I was raised extremely Catholic although lapsed myself when able to express my own views. But that said, aside from some leaps of logic (faith), I usually chalked things up to “do the right thing, and be a good person”. Since then, I usually avoid churches outside of weddings/funerals/etc.

    When reading the first 3 parts, without being familiar with the specifics of the individuals or movements, I keep coming back to one thing, and that is - is this sort of belief system this widespread where that number of people are willing to follow these leaps of logic blindly? It is the same thing I have asked myself a lot over the last 7-8yrs, but are all of these various churches really reading from the same “prayer books” being peddled by the individuals discussed here? I struggle to think that many people blindly believe whatever someone tells them…or maybe an “emperor’s new clothes” situation where no one wants to be accused of being a bad Christian so they go along…

    Maybe it comes from the fact our family doesn’t actively seek out situations to have these conversations, and at least my poker face is not good enough to withhold the “WTF” face if I were listening to someone explain this. But I seriously struggle to believe there are that many people who truly believe some of this.

    Is this my own naivety/isolation or are we only explaining a small fraction of the people who are the loudest protestors around the election situation?

  41. It’s a really good question! I think that there is tremendous evidence that the belief system is widespread. I also don’t think that it’s fair to say that anyone being referred to here is following anything “blindly.” Most of the really passionate participants study, read and think about these things far more than most of us think about things that we feel very strongly about.

    Part of what I’m trying to convey through this series is a sense of empathy for just how easy it is to dive into what looks like the deep end to the rest of the world when the stories have both inherent power AND align with things that we need to be true. We are ALL suckers for a good story, and when it’s tailored for us? Ooh boy. So yes, there are a LOT of people who believe all of this. And (we’ll get here, I promise) there are a lot of people who believe other things that can be plotted on a similar scale. There but for the grace of, well…anyway, every once in a while when I start really thinking one of my ideas is special, my wife will send me this meme.


  42. TIL how “good Christians” could vote for TFG…twice! I previously had loosely bought into the Liberal memes that the Christian votes were mostly based on racism due to Trump starting his campaign in 2012 with the Obama “birther meme”, but part 3 leads to a much more insidious rationale than pure racism.

    The one thing all the characters introduced in Part 3 have in common seems to be 7-figure incomes. As TV man Don Ohlmeyer said, “The answers to all your questions is money.”

    Thanks for the history lesson, got my $20 worth today.

  43. Rusty:
    When I approached you at ET Connect with a question about how AI might help in bridging the gap in the reconciling the nature of man as presented by St, Augustine in the cities of Man and God, you answered that you would be addressing that in a new series of notes. But as I read your new notes, I can see that you are going well beyond that. At Connect, there was quite a bit of discussion about defining what’s next for ET, What you are doing in using a case study of how a fundamental change in the religious charter of charismatic Christians (from saving individual souls to dominion control of civic organizations) was a catalyst for destroying institutional confidence in our election process is an eye-opener. Anecdotally, there appears to be a similar attack underway on the institutional credibility of the Supreme Court by other forces to change the narrative on what the court has actually done and will do. We definitely live in a “Fiat” world. But I digress. Thanks for your good work. You did good job in identifying denominational differences. I’m a lifelong Methodist. Your observation regarding our indecision regarding who we are is a pretty astute.

  44. Bravo for taking this on. It is stretching my vocabulary and understanding at the same time. It took me longer than the recommended reading time due to all of the rabbit holes I fell into given my complete lack of awareness of so much of this world. This is like learning a new language that we all need to know to walk among our fellow travelers.

  45. Having read part 3 now, I appreciate how deeply you’ve gone into all of this.

    Another random observation from my journey: Pentecostalist/Charismatic organizations measure their success in the capitalistic metric of membership growth, necessarily accompanied by greater income, which is taken to be the measure of God’s blessing.

    Sheets’ fistful of dollars aren’t paraded about accidentally, to the faithful they are the tangible proof that God is blessing his ministry.

    To the non-faithful they are the proof that his ministry isn’t at all like Jesus’, but the non-faithful aren’t listening so…

  46. I think that you’re right. I think that DEI/ESG, Critical Theories (of various ilks), Climate Science (Both Directions), Anti-Vaxx, Scientism all share some features of our narrative virus. I’d been meaning to talk to @bhunt about it, but I think we may do a special Office Hours segment between Parts 8 and 9 to hear more of the analogs that came to mind for readers. Part 9 is intended to be fully about that. I don’t think I’m spoiling any reveals to say that its conclusion will be that this particular narrative virus is not unique.

    Thank you, Barry. Six generations deep of Methodist tradition on my dad’s side helps!

    Me, too. I hope the ultimate exchange for the investment of time proves to be worth it. Thanks for your trust!

    This is a very good observation.

    One of the things I’ve tried to be careful about is talking too much about the money. It is very easy to use as a general purpose cudgel for people whose aim is to say “Look at these charlatans”, and none of that is really the aim of the essay series. At all. The opposite - empathy - would be nearer the mark.

    That said, whether it’s reasonable or unreasonable to consider a sharp rise in giving a blessing of the ministry (who am I to say?), I think we can say with some confidence that it affects What We Need to Be True. If we learn that converting our ministry to the issuing of election-related decrees produces five times the annual financial support of a ministry focused on more garden-variety teaching and prayer, it will affect how we much we need what we’re saying in the former to be seen as true. There’ll be a little bit of that discussion in Part 7.

  47. Rusty, this has been a welcomed eye-opener for me, as I was previously familiar with none of the apostles or prophets featured in Note 3. Thank you.

  48. Rusty,

    I started off highlighting part 3 and very quickly switched to a paint roller…

    We need more than memetics to explain that – we need epimemetics.
    I understand basic epigenitics and its extension into epigenetics of trauma. It’s a small step to epimemetics.

    Six more parts to go. I’m off to Staples to pick up more ink.

    Note: I also see this on ‘both sides of the aisle’ politically and 'both sides of main stream media." It is, IMO, very much embedded in language itself. In other words, The Word, TM, is NOT a non fungible token. Words are very fungible at best. They are very useful as a tool of man.

    I had a good Christian upbringing, IMO, and evolved into a Unitarian.


  49. It’s what an increasing number of the faithful are listening to these days that is deeply worrisome.
    I’m grateful to Rusty for chronicling these events for posterity.

  50. Only because it represents a great opportunity to present the distinction between two kinda/sorta related concepts, I want to point out that mimetics and memetics are different things! Part 3 was nominally about memetics, although mimesis certainly exerts a certain power over the propagation of many memes and narratives. Mimetics has a home on Epsilon Theory as well, however, and if you’re not read out at this point in our series, it’s never a bad time to re-recommend @Luke_Burgis’s excellent contribution to our pages from late 2021.

  51. Avatar for jrs jrs says:

    Faithful Remnant

  52. 100% the same meme. I think (hope?) the other components are less analogous!

  53. Your epimemetic phases rang a bell:

    The development of language.

    The development of the printing press.

    The development of television and radio.

    I might also add “the development of periodicals” in the early 18th century.

    Here’s an admittedly oversimplified take, but sometimes simplicity is revelatory:

    What do all of them have in common?

    Revolution. Both politically and intellectually. At least of the three that we have historical records of, though one might argue that myths like the Tower of Babel suggest something similar happened with the initial development of language too.

    After the printing press came Luther, and after Luther came a century of religious wars, finally settled in the mid-17th century with what today looks like the nascence of religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

    After the periodical came Walpole, then Franklin, and then Burke and Jefferson and Smith but also Robespierre and Napoleon. And through - or despite - the bloody revolutions, a framework for lasting representative government was also developed. Also an understanding of human interaction that we now call economics.

    After the radio and film came Lenin, and then Mussolini and Hitler and Stalin, but also Roosevelt and Churchill and Kennedy - and perhaps Reagan as well. Propaganda initially used for totalitarianism that led to cataclysm and genocide but also eventually for victory, stability, commerce, and a half-century of widespread peace.

    After social media came Trump, and perhaps Xi as well (in his own sphere), but others will certainly come too. And new ideas as well. History tells us it may not be pleasant, but when we’re all exhausted from fighting each other often something good comes out of it.

  54. F*cking hell, @rguinn. The scholarship and evidentiary work here is off the charts.

    Without question, the most fascinating thing for me has been the education I’ve gotten about Christian denominations—and denominations isn’t really the right word; it’s more about the major fault lines in belief.

    As a Jewish kid from Philadelphia, my understanding of Christian beliefs is limited, understandably. Initially, you were all just “goyim”, a term which belies my Ashkenazic roots (my maternal grandparents were immigrants in the 1930s). That understanding became slightly more nuanced in my 20s, when I felt confident the Christian world could be neatly categorized into three groups (and I hope anyone reading this does not take offense):

    1. Catholics & Orthodox (the most religious - kind of like Hasidim in Judaism, but without the side curls)
    2. Quiet Protestants (more modern & reformed)
    3. Loud Protestants (like #2, but more publicly Jesus-y and occasionally driven to proselytize and convert people)

    I had assumed in the US that Quiet Protestants were the largest group, which seems in retrospect to have been lazy thinking on my part, driven perhaps solely by me extrapolating from my own personal circumstances and the lack of “loud Protestants” in my social circle. And I had thought all Loud Protestants were of the Copeland/Falwell variety since, if I was watching TV on a Sunday morning in the early days of cable, I had to flip through their programs until I found WRESTLING.

    So your exposition of the differences between the evangelical and the charismatic groups, as tortured as you thought it was, was massively enlightening. This, combined with Part 4, explains why, in my ignorant eyes, the Loud Protestants seemed to become so ubiquitous. They actually were fairly widespread already, but the vectors of charismatic music and social media democratization and delivery created a massive narrative convergence, at least in terms of political expression.

    I am struck though by how mainstream the doctrinal prison seems to have become. Maybe I am still underestimating the size of the charismatic/evangelical political footprint. Or, just as likely, it is the dominance of Fiat news outlets and spokespeople that is defining the world in this Long Now way. The rhetoric is white-hot though. I am glad I live overseas. It insulates me in many ways.

    One more thing… I saw @handshaw brought this up and I will confess that I, too, was conflating the terms mimesis and memesis, which (as it did for Rusty) led me specifically to thinking about how @Luke_Burgis speaks of “thin” and “thick” desires. In one of his Substack notes, Luke writes:

    Thin desires are highly mimetic, socially-derived, fleeting, easily blown away in the mimetic winds of the present moment. They’re not able to explore or even kick the tires of current categories and definitions.

    Thick desires, on the other hand, are rooted in something real. They’re built-up over time; they are like layer upon layer of strong rock that sits under the surface of a pile of leafes; they have a history and continuity .

    I am trying to reconcile these concepts with the ET ideas of “what everybody knows that everybody knows” (WEKTEK) and “what we need to be true” (WWNTBT). For example, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the top 100 songs are an example of WEKTEK, which seems like a thin sort of mimesis in Luke B terms. But there is clearly something “thick” about the base of religious sentiment, which I think in ET terms definitely falls under WWNTBT. I don’t know that I have anything more insightful to say about that, just that it is something that I’m ruminating on now.

    Thanks for this extraordinary piece of work.

  55. Quite to the contrary, you’ve given me about three or four things to think about, new ways of phrasing things and brilliant ideas already. I’m really grateful for your contribution to this conversation, JD, and for the admittedly serious investment of time you trusted me with in reading.

  56. I guess I hadn’t been thinking of it in those terms, but yes, I think that you’re right. It is a thought that gives one both pause and hope, which is the best kind, I think!

  57. Point of order, if you will.

    Pause for a moment.

    While as an aging boomer, I am very comfortable swimming within the gaps of epsilon theory, I would not have been as a youngster.

    My journey down this rabbit hole was kick-started by an article in Psychology Today discussing Roman Catholic priest John S Dunne’s book “The Way of All the Earth.”

    I read his book in the ’70s, reread in 2018, and reviewed it again this week. Dunne talks about passing over (in Epsilon Theory talk) into the waters of uncertainty and returning to one’s faith stronger.

    We’re halfway through Rusty’s notes.

    I remain very comfortable being here. I’d be the first to let Rusty know if it fits into my serendipity synchronicity coming-of-age journey. I’m sure we all will.

    Thank you,

  58. Oh, and by the way.

    These notes, IMO, apply to every large action role playing use of the tool of language by tool maker man.


  59. OK, I just finished Part 4 and am sweating only partly because of reading while on the stairstepper.

    Beth Moore’s savage beatdown by Johnny Enlow and others for her willingness to disagree with Trumpism (King Cyrus, Broken vessel meme) seems to have a strong Machiavellian component to it.
    By that I mean ANY argument necessary to “win” by Enlow was willingly employed - in fact, he very likely believes God influenced his response (yeah, that’s my judgement, deal with it). Where do rational people of conscience within these evangelical communities find refuge?

    Where might this end when arguments cease to be adequately effective weapons? One could turn to non-verbal weapons and, since anybody can believe they are hearing orders directly from God, convince themselves that murder is acceptable and part of God’s will.

    Where this goes next is increasingly frightening as the groundwork for creating an argument in favor of agreement for using weapons of mass destruction is closer. Don’t think it can’t happen here - maybe it’s even more likely to happen here.

    My HOPE is that leaders within these communities take the time to read and digest Rusty’s body of work, allow themselves to become genuinely introspective and think “whoa, what have we done and where is this going?”
    The fanatics (sorry, not coming up with a gentler term) are motivated and they won’t stop until their choices have been taken away, or remuneration for effort has diminished significantly. Another HOPE is that good people following a fanatic come to recognize that evolutionary drift and decide to exit that particular flock.

  60. As much as we can hope, I think the idea that leaders will walk away from the brink is highly unlikely. I also think that is hoping for things to happen is also abandoning our own agency.

  61. Mostly agree, but Rusty’s writing could have impact if members bring it to leaders’ attention.

    Thing is - positive events need to happen within the evangelical community which I am not even remotely a part of. That agency must come from within and not from us unwashed heathens

  62. I’m reminded of @bhunt ’s response the other day, when someone suggested that we essentially needed to enlighten people… “if we could only open their eyes,” the person said. He observed that people are essentially sovereign beings capable of independent thought and that, to think we could just teach them how to think right, is absurd and patronizing.

    You’re obviously entitled to your own view. However, and I think this metaphor is appropriate given the series, my view (born of my own experience) is that the road to Damascus is one one walks alone.

  63. It must, and to varying degrees, it is. AND I think it is helpful to think about this as more a case study of something that social networks and the mass weaponization of meme made possible. While you may be right in this specific case, I also think we have to think more broadly about how we address this new world of ours.

  64. The case of Albert Gore, et al, v. Katherine Harris, et al , case number 2000-2808 in Leon County, Florida (the hanging chad case) is mentioned in Part 3.
    I watched nearly the entire trial live. Basically IMO, Gore’s team, led by the one-and-only David Boies, argued that the election board should hand recount the undervotes in 3 Florida counties (blue ones), and the Bush team, led by Philip Beck, said a hand recount should include all Florida counties and both undervotes and overvotes. Judge Sauls found for the defendants (Bush team), the case went to the SCOTUS, who upheld Judge Sauls, and the rest is history, depending on whether one is red or blue. If for no other reason, it is worth watching, if you can find it, the parts of the trial conducted by Philip Beck. I seem to recall his asking ~~’ so you want to count a dimple (undervote) for Gore, but not a ballot that has ‘Bush’ punched out and also written in (overvote)?’ But I can’t seem to find that question in the transcripts.

    And so now we have the ‘Republicans stole the 2000 election’ as its own meme, if I am using the term correctly. Here is case where the Democrats are crying (meming) election fraud, and I think they’re not charismatics. Perhaps you could eventually do a similar analysis?

  65. Honestly, I’m not particularly interested in doing a similar analysis of that period. Not because it didn’t happen as you say, and not because there is zero memetic power present, but because what interested me in putting together the series wasn’t really election fraud or the reasons that people have claimed it historically.

    More specifically, I observe that cries of “election fraud” in close elections are common in every democracy at every period in history. What makes 2020 fascinating as a case study is that the claims in this case were very specific, very falsifiable, very falsified, and still managed to produce a persistent, unwavering base of support. So persistent and unwavering that I think you could argue that DJT’s current public persona and 2024 campaign are functionally designed around this support and the 2020 claims attached to it. The narratives that created that kind of unwavering support are far more interesting to me than the actual claims or the election itself.

    If you wanted to find analogs pointing squarely in the other political direction - and it seems like a lot of folks do :sweat_smile: - I’d look more in the direction of unwavering, unquestioning support for Trust the Science™ narratives in the face of a replication crisis, p-hacking epidemic and outright politicization of the scientific journal complex. A few others, too.

  66. Avatar for jrs jrs says:

    No doubt. This would be a huge project and I wish I had time to work on it on my own. Despite my bluster about certain topics, the replication crisis and related structural issues are major reasons why I am no longer a professional scientist.

  67. I was infected with the Charismatic Revival Fury living metaverse virus early and often throughout childhood. Mostly the ‘dime store charismatic’ strain, quoting Mathew Taylor with helpful phrasing there. Early days well before the epimemetic drift and dominion theology. Often thought I might end up in ministry. Instead I went and got a physics PhD…and got infected with the Trust the Science virus for my trouble!

    I figure a lot of people have had parallel experiences. It sometimes seems it creates a little widening gyre inside of yourself, warring metaverse infections battling for supremacy over my own beliefs and opinions.

    Quick recommendation of the pod by Mathew Taylor that Rusty linked to in part 1. Search Charismatic Revival Fury. There are a lot of audio clips presented of Jericho marches, rallies, Jan 6th, etc that I found to be very helpful. Esp if you are like me and had some personal experience with this world the audio brings back memories that really crystallized the context.

    Been trying to work on longer comments since part 1, but I keep failing. Thanks for the series Rusty it’s been on my mind a lot since you started, ever a hallmark of the ET classics.

  68. @rguinn :

    Hi Rusty,

    I have two observations from installment #5.

    Observation 1: The 120 day rolling density/Seven Mountains chart

    I have a quibble with the trendline that you dropped on this chart. Admittedly I am eyeballing, but there’s no way that what we are observing there is a steady, linear trend over the entirety of this dataset. I see what is at least three and maybe as much as five epochs in this data. My date stamps might be a bit off as the x-axis labels aren’t easy to match against the data series. They are:

    1. Beginning through mid 2014: Here we are witnessing language that has some sort of seasonality, but is mean reverting. It may not be seasonal: it might be some sort of unusual or one-time event, though could be epiphenomenal as well.

    2. Mid 2014-Mid 2016: Seems seasonal or epiphenomenal language again, but there is a step change to a higher level. And there is clearly something very unusual that happened through Q2/Q3 2015. This prophecy from Johnny Enlow seems instructive. At any rate, it’s something big.

    3 (maybe 4 as well?): Mid 2016-End of 2018– I assume that, with Cyrus in the White House, the Elijah List folks are feeling emboldened and we see seemingly limitless growth, and yet it crashes back down around Q2 2018. This is at a higher level that epoch #2 though - there has been another step change. But then there is a steady state until the end of 2019. Not sure whether this is one epoch or two. Could even be three?

    4 (or maybe 5?): End 2019-Present: Cyrus is impeached for the first time end of 2019, and here we see a proper and apparently steady linear trend for the first time in this data set. I assume your measure of density measures not just overall usage, but actually the consistency of usage as well. Thus, if we are seeing real linear trend or massive growth, it is not just because one or two people are prophesying using a lot of the seven mountain words, but ALL the prophets are doing so? It would be consistent with the decentralized nature of this group.

    Observation 2: Where this is all going

    I’ve continued to reflect on the intersection between ET terms (WEKTEK and WWNTBT) and @Luke_Burgis terms (thin vs thick desires). At some point in your series, I assume we will be crossing the proverbial chasm (with apologies to Geoffrey Moore) where people of seemingly sound mind start to believe in something that is entirely falsifiable and falsified.

    One of the things I know for a fact and have been able to illustrate with data (at the time, I led a small social media company that investigated it in detail in the French elections in 2017 - summary is here - final report is here - media coverage of our study is here), is that the widening gyre results in the balkanization of media outlets (edit: actually, I shouldn’t describe this in causal terms - it is concomitant and correlated, though i am not sure which came first, or whether it even matters). This is obvious to us now, but in 2017 it was revolutionary in French politics and frankly probably was for US politics as well. The separation goes way beyond the mainstream right vs left traditional media outlets (like Fox vs MSNBC) and touches everything… from proper citizen journalism to batshit crazy conspiracy theorists. So we know there is little to no overlap in terms of people seeing alternative views of their universe. They end up in their own echo chambers hearing the constant beat of the drum.

    It is in this context that we can understand these narratives for their emotional manipulation: for what we need to be true. This is easily not just to infer, but to see in the data. Without wanting to go completely Durkheimian, it seems to me that people who are susceptible to these narratives are those who feel alienated, or who believe that there is a break down in the social contract. It is my belief that these narratives provide individuals with a sense of greater personal efficacy as well, especially when they are widely held. There is comfort in numbers. There is consistency in imagery and metaphor and narrative structure. And people literally sit and marinate in it both because it gets them highly exercised and because of the dopamine drip.

    As this is true, it should also explain why people then hold onto patently false beliefs. They are either (a) not receiving alternative signals, (b) being inoculated against alternative signals by being told that they are being lied to (conspiracies are ALWAYS narratively unfalsifiable), or (c) the underlying conditions (anomie, feelings of inefficacy/powerlessness, fraying of the social fabric) have not gone away. They remain mired in a mindset that is still fertile to bullshit. And let’s face it, shit is great fertilizer: once you’ve planted in it, other weird stuff grows there as well…

    What really, really bothers me are the implications. I agree with you and @bhunt : there is no way out except by rebuilding from the bottom up. And actually it’s more complicated than that. The only way that you rebuild from the bottom up is by establishing trust, which is awfully hard to do in a digital/knock-the-chip-off-your-own-shoulder world. I see nobody in power acting in ways that fosters understanding or compromise now, which isn’t surprising either because there is a max pain prisoner’s dilemma waiting for them. What that means for us in the short to medium term is high levels of reflexive antagonism and pain. That sucks. :frowning_with_open_mouth:

  69. No quibble at all, really! Please don’t read any presumption of linearity over the full scale of time here on my part. My goal was much more simplistic: to show people who aren’t used to reading charts “it’s a lot higher now.” For what it’s worth, I think the seasonality of prophetic output is heavily influenced over some periods by this emerging desire to be saying the same things. An episodic nature, as you point out correctly, I think, is exactly how a lot of this works. If this were intended to be a more quantitative argument, this is a case where I think we would identity “hot spots” of linguistic echoing inductively rather than positing from what we know was going on in the world, but we may end up with similar “periods” that you did by doing so. Not sure.

    Yes, indeed. Part 8 on Monday.

    I try to deal with this question for a great deal of Part 8. Still, I wonder the extent to which it’s not so much an or of the things you mention, but rather a more simplistic, even rational comparison of irrational impulses. That is, does belonging value exceed the cost of cognitive dissonance of whatever alternative signals are being received (net of any inoculation effects of conspiracy communities), and can the group create in-group common knowledge structures which make this equilibrial or at least medium-term stable with enough mutual effort?

    Not a rhetorical question. I am struggling with this.

  70. I think this might be amongst the things that has always been true in at-scale human societies. The epimemetics (ahh my autocorrect has learned the word, so now it’s real!) is what has changed…we can now see via our connectedness that our belonging value required dissonance. Each of the epimemetic phases are step changes in our connectedness and each revealed a level of dissonance that had previously been the water we swim. The epimemetic shifts foment instability and change because these realizations are very difficult to assimilate both societally and individually.

  71. I was on vacation so I’m way behind in my reading, but @rguinn “bruh” as my kids say… Very well written summary in Parts 1 & 2. These worlds are actually very hard to describe and not come off as judgy or partisan. I think you did a great job, and you made this PCA Presbyterian realize a lot about his own non-denominational Pentecostal upbringing. We didn’t go to church a lot after about age 10-12 but apparently I got a whole lot of charismatic upbringing as a kid having to watch TBN/Daystar. You absolutely NAILED it when you said the part about how evangelicals “would rather die” then raise hands. That’s the way it feels when I go to any church now including my home church. It’s always been such a cringey feeling for me as a Presbyterian. That and altar calls. I’ve been caught up in it during the praise and worship sometimes, but man it takes a whole lot of Spirit to raise these hands.
    The takeover of the evangelical church by charismatics and Pentecostals is complete I think. The pendulum is swinging so far that when I visit Catholic or Orthodox churches for weddings/funerals etc I think I might actually fit in better there!!! Sorry mom!
    The only thing you’re really missing in your background research material is the media venue of Youtube. That’s been my poor mom’s current choice for radicalization content. That, and I was really, really, surprised you hadn’t written anything about Rabbi Jonathan Cahn.
    edit Lastly, what AI did you use for the awesome graphics?

  72. ^^^ I am very much appreciating this sense of humility in the series @rguinn. If we swapped out the variables and the stakes, we’d see it in a different light. The challenge is to see the light with these variables and stakes. Brilliant.

  73. It’s difficult to express how deeply I appreciate all your effort here, Rusty.

    I’m a “trust science” guy, and so a “trust the science” foe, because science so often proves “the science” to be incorrect, sometimes massively so. Eugenics had a great narrative.

    I’m the same way about faith. We’re supposed to “test every spirit” because we know we can be 100% correct one moment and worse than wrong the next. A daily examination of conscience is a discipline simply ignored in too many churches.

    McLuhan predicted electronic media would cause us to become more self-defined by emotions than thought, that we would increasingly rationalize instead of reason, and thus we were entering an era in which cannibalism and kumbaya could be alternately practiced without cognitive dissonance…the Global Village is a place where superstition and magical thinking rules.

    Is there a better description of social media?

    These chapters on how some specific ideas have become entrenched helps explain why people are loathe to believe other than what made them feel good about themselves, even when (maybe especially when) what made a person feel good about themself is shown to be demonstrably false.

    The importance of your series goes beyond its specifics.

  74. Wanted to call out the specific line I was thinking of when I heart-reacted this. Lotsa parallel thoughts crashing through my head but this needs to stand alone for a bit.

    Solid observation @cplourde.

  75. Avatar for Tanya Tanya says:

    @rguinn I’m saving any commentary for after the final part is published, but I had to let you know this series is so compelling, and remarkable. I’m learning so much. Thank you!!

  76. Avatar for jrs jrs says:

    and Bill Gates to open up the gate of a financial realm for the Church

    Rusty, can you think of a reason why Timoteo Band would leave this bit in their 2020 video, seeing as how it’s both very specific and apparently so far also very wrong?

    Technically, would have been quite easy to splice right after “Trump to become a trumpet”.

    Maybe to keep some street cred for not overediting and not being too specific?

    I am amused by the juxtaposition of this with RFK Jr’s opinion of Gates, as well as others.

  77. Hah! Good question! Harder bit to splice, I think, and I think it’s “vague” enough that it falls into the non-falsifiable camp and risks very little. But that’s just my opinion.

  78. Tanya, I’m just so grateful that you’re taking the time to read it. I recognize that it’s such an immense investment of time. More than anything else I hope that it proves a worthwhile investment.

  79. I agree with your response Rusty, BUT, this “specific case” of Pentecostal Charismatic Evangelicals might well be the fulcrum and catalyst upon which huge events occur. It should not be even remotely minimized, as it appears that the future of our country is dependent upon the mindset of the Charismatic Evangelical community whose numbers are way bigger than I ever imagined.
    What that community needs to be true seems to put the value of Prophesy!TM way higher than either Science or Science!TM, where originators of Prophesy! can come from most any source which possesses an imagination, strong EQ, social skills, and other needs.
    We need more Beth Moores. Desperately.
    Credit to you for doing this amazing piece of work

  80. Amen, amen and amen. 100%.

  81. Avatar for Tanya Tanya says:

    @jddphd, This list resonated with me so much (and elicited a bit of a giggle). I’m theoretically in the Quiet Protestants group (though I was raised mostly secular), but I know exactly what you mean by Loud Protestants!

  82. Avatar for Tanya Tanya says:

    Well, I didn’t see that plot twist at the end of part 8 coming! Looking forward to seeing everyone in OH on Friday to discuss.

  83. Continue to be amazed by the staggering level of research and scholarship you have put into this series.

    One small question about the description of ReAwaken America and the Charismatic-QAnon zoonosis. You said that it was “assumed that [Trump’s} reinstallation would take place through the military.”

    Unlike any other prominent politician Trump had openly attacked the military for their dismal performance and portrayed top military leadership as a major component of the “deep state” of Beltway insiders actively working to thwart the will of the American people. Attacks on the “deep state” were a major part of his 2020 campaign (even though Trump had done next to nothing to reign them in while in office).

    Unlike almost all of the other Prophecies you’ve described, the military uprising predictions involved a much more cataclysmic event that had to take place within a matter of weeks and contradicted what Trump and his core supporters had believed about the “deep state.” True believers in electoral fraud theories might have ways to rationalize why investigations didn’t confirm their theories (e.g courts and the deep state conspired to suppress evidence/rig cases). But how could the followers of these prophets rationalize the complete failure of the military uprising prediction?

  84. FYI: Beth Moore

    @802rob :
    We need more Beth Moore’s Desperately

    @rguinn to @802rob :
    Amen, amen and amen. 100%.

  85. Very good observation and question, Hubert. I don’t have a perfect answer for you…yet.

    I can respond anecdotally, but I think some of this still has to play out in the next 18-24 months. The responses I’ve seen thus far typically take one of a few forms, all of which will be familiar to the conspiracy narrative virus:

    • Trump’s “humility” led him to reject taking advantage of something that could be so harmful to the country he loves;

    • More evil and darkness needed to be revealed before the transition could take place; or

    • Perhaps the “military takeover” was simply symbolic for patriotic Americans returning to the polls in 2024 to right what courts, investigators and the Deep State blocked in 2020.

    Most importantly, however, when it comes to the prophetic, we have to look back to the idea of “prophesy in part,” and the belief that all of this is conditional. When a prophecy fails, there is a tendency within this community to say that it is because all of the churches affected by the “woke mind virus” didn’t pray and support it enough. I’m as irritated by performative wokeism as anyone else of a conservative persuasion, to be clear, but “blaming it on the people who said the prophets were nuts” is a tale as old as time, and as applicable to the analogs I think we’ll find as this specific example.

  86. I had a dream of you pounding furiously on a keyboard, occasionally muttering quietly whilst a full glass of wine sits untouched and collecting small amounts of settling dust.
    Yes, our patience shall eventually be rewarded, hallelujah! :grinning:

  87. Trivial point of geographic order: much like the trip to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indy, our soggy football would also have to travel upstream on the Mississippi to reach St. Louis. The Ohio joins the Mighty downstream, at the almost biblical Cairo.

    And as the football prepares to exit our domestic waterways, it would pass the most Catholic, least evangelical, and most delightfully and originally sinful city of all in our republic: New Orleans. A city where said pigskin would feel just as at home as it would in the Nittany Lion-infested Alleghenies.

  88. This comment in no way demeans the prodigious effort. Rusty needs to make Pentacostal/evangelical baseball cards for all of these characters! It is akin to learning the capabilities of the starting lineup of your kid’s All-Star baseball team. Every name in the story is a blank slate from my starting point.

  89. No doubt! I think your author got tired of creating alternate scenarios, and just really wanted to get in that jab at Goodell.

    If not more!

    As always, you know it’s a good idea when the Simpsons already did it! :sweat_smile:


  90. Avatar for Tanya Tanya says:

    Holy “why am I seeing this now”, Batman! I’m stunned that just as this series is being released, all of a sudden there is an explosion in the press of probes related to the 2020 election. You can’t make this stuff up!

  91. Rusty, you said “And we need to talk about them. All of them.”

    I thought you telegraphed this ending pretty well so I know I’m not alone of people who’ve been thinking about how this story about stories frame maps to other systems. The danger we find ourselves in is another ET standby…once you first recognize the water you begin to see it everywhere. Your case study feels like it has elucidated the water of the living metaverse maybe a little too well.

    As I sit annoyed at work today I am mapping this to the language and narrative creation relied on by management executives. Summed up by an email from a week ago which notified that it is time again for our annual employee engagement survey. This online survey will be used by the management team, whom me and colleagues have almost never spoken with, to measure how things are going. The company isn’t that big.

  92. Oof, mea culpa. This kind of thing is enough to make your blood boil even without having to see the carefully crafted language a mile away.

  93. Just finished Part 8. Great stuff. What’s the AI you use for the artwork? Bc it’s awesome.

    What’s the antidote to heal those infected by the virus? Bc they’re still getting “prophetic words” about a nebulous “shaking” that’s always just over the horizon.

  94. Midjourney. Here’s the prompt I used for Part 3: /imagine donald trump with a crown and royal regalia, standing on a parapet, people bowing, christian imagery, american patriotic imagery, style of medieval illuminated text, glowing words, words jumping out of pages, watercolor, j.m.w. turner, --ar 4:3

    All of the others were different descriptors, but all ended with watercolor, j.m.w. turner

  95. Re: artwork; no narrative movement would be complete without a defining art, and in the recommended Matthew Taylor podcast I found mention of James Nesbit - source of some of the some of the memetic illustrations that carpet bombed my inbox back in the day.

    I honestly can’t get past the categorization of prophet/apostle-as-raccoon. Personal problem, I suppose: millstones for the lot of them.

    I just don’t see any evidence in the New Testament of writers - Paul, Peter, Luke - advocating any political solution to the very real (and ultimately fatal) persecution directed at them. James comes closest in chapter 5; a passage that could apply across history.

    Gumby an interesting call on Friday.

  96. Yep. And to be fair, not that you’ve suggested otherwise, this is to be expected. In modern terms we would have characterized these as a disenfranchised minority oppressed by a powerful and authoritarian state. It is difficult to imagine that seizing political power not only to escape persecution but to achieve any other social or cultural ends would have been a primary strategy here. A hope, perhaps.

    Set aside for a moment those who advocate theonomic/ecclesiocratic government for reasons of political preference rather than belief in a scriptural mandate. Those who DO arrive at a theological mandate invariably, at least in my reading, require the Greek ethnē in the Great Commission to do a lot of work. That is, they may make many arguments, but all of these that I’ve seen ultimately hinge on the argument that “make disciples of all nations” is explicitly a call to perform discipleship at the level of the national entity, necessarily requiring the discipleship of its government. It’s…a stretchy stretch, even for a group that’s often comfy with some eisegetical preference-imposition. Ethnē is translated a half dozen different ways - gentile, nation, tribe, herd, pagans - and of all the words translated to nation (esp. laos and phylē), its meaning is least like “the government of a people.” Even if it weren’t, in context it’s a pretty wild stretch.

    I informally think of these as “ends-based” views. The discipling of the nation at the government level is an end in itself, not simply a means.

    For the few arguments I’ve read that aren’t as dependent on this interpretation of “discipling nations,” they tend to be more utilitarian arguments about how maintaining a Christian government with Christian laws will produce a more sustainable Christian culture and lead to more Christians. I informally think of these as “means-based” views, by which I mean that they still see the individual as the exclusive target of discipleship; they just think that capturing government and other “spheres” or “mountains” will be an effective means to achieve a scriptural end. This is more political theory than theology, so absence of scripture as you and I have pointed out doesn’t really answer its contentions.

    This being an argument for saving the world from the top-down, however, you can probably guess where we come out on this one, too.

Continue the discussion at the Epsilon Theory Forum

38 more replies


Avatar for RobMann Avatar for Tanya Avatar for rguinn Avatar for jpclegg63 Avatar for ryancl456 Avatar for Marcosmarin Avatar for Desperate_Yuppie Avatar for rechraum Avatar for Cactus_Ed Avatar for CSWilson Avatar for cplourde Avatar for jrs Avatar for Victor_K Avatar for Kaiser147 Avatar for Zenzei Avatar for KCP Avatar for david.c.billingsley Avatar for davibw1 Avatar for Pat_W Avatar for handshaw Avatar for chudson Avatar for jewing Avatar for BillKittler Avatar for jddphd

The Latest From Epsilon Theory


This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the market with certainty or guarantee future investment performance. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Statements in this communication are forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements and other views expressed herein are as of the date of this publication. Actual future results or occurrences may differ significantly from those anticipated in any forward-looking statements, and there is no guarantee that any predictions will come to pass. The views expressed herein are subject to change at any time, due to numerous market and other factors. Epsilon Theory disclaims any obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements or views expressed herein. This information is neither an offer to sell nor a solicitation of any offer to buy any securities. This commentary has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive it. Epsilon Theory recommends that investors independently evaluate particular investments and strategies, and encourages investors to seek the advice of a financial advisor. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.