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Men of God in the City of Man, Pt. 6: Pandemic

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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. Part 3 is the story of the creators of the narrative virus and the memetic building blocks they brought to bear. Part 4 is the story of the way in which the special environment into which those memetic building blocks were introduced changed the way that they expressed themselves on major social and cultural institutions. Part 5 is the story of how all of these pieces finally came together to create a narrative epidemic within one community. Part 6 is the story of how that epidemic went pandemic.

I am deeply indebted to the work of James 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.

Our story thus far has been of a narrative virus that had become epidemic within the charismatic-Pentecostal church in the United States. Built of powerful memes and transformed by the epimemetic revolution of social networks, it may have influenced the 2016 Presidential Election. It might even have changed its outcome.

And yet, for all that, it is still worth noting how little of the charismatic-Pentecostal media engine and how few of its key personalities were really brought to bear in the lead-up to 2016. Not everyone was willing to prophesy that Donald Trump had been chosen by God to be a King Cyrus figure. Fewer still were willing to prophesy outright the victory of Donald Trump. More importantly, only a fraction of the perhaps 100 million Americans who believe to one extent or another in modern-day prophecy probably put much stock in those who did. That was in part, I think, because most of those prophecies took place very late in the process – most after he had secured the nomination.

Now that Trump was installed as president, however, and with the community in a triumphal state – it is not an exaggeration to say this was the greatest and most public ‘victory’ in the history of the apostolic-prophetic movement, perhaps even the charismatic movement more broadly – there was no way to stay on the sidelines and stay relevant.

No matter how skeptical you might have been.

Dr. Michael Brown. Source:

There is an unmistakable anti-intellectual strain in the charismatic-Pentecostal church.

It’s not that there aren’t perfectly bright or thoughtful folks within this faith tradition. But Pentecostalism and, to a lesser extent, the charismatic movement, represent at once an embrace of experiential faith and of new revelation through prophecy. It should not be surprising, then, that passion for theology, while by no means wholly absent, has never really been a meaningful part of the charismatic zeitgeist in the way it has with other Christian faith traditions. If you spend much time in these churches, you will become accustomed to hearing expansive interpretations of Titus 3:9 (“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless“). With apologies to Wayne Grudem, to whom I referred earlier in this essay as charism-curious, systematic charismatic theology is not really a thing.

This is one of the reasons why I think that the transition of the apostolic-prophetic movement from almost uniform pre-millennial eschatology (i.e. that Jesus will return before a literal millennium of Kingdom rule of the earth) into almost uniform post-millennial, partial preterist eschatology (i.e. the belief that Jesus will return only after the church has satisfied some remaining prophecies and established a figurative millennium of Kingdom rule of the earth) has taken place over a period of 20-25 years with little notice or attention among scholars. The change didn’t come because modern-day apostles and prophets were poring over historical eschatological and theological treatises and arrived at some new collective insight. The Keeping Ancient Covenant and Mountains to be Conquered memes that produced visions of a triumphal church in the apostolic reformation of the early 2000s were effective, their messages were repeated by the prophets, and they became common knowledge. The theological shift was an effect of this narrative virus, not a cause.

If there is an intellectual strain, or at the very least an anti-anti-intellectual strain, within the American charismatic-Pentecostal church, it probably resides wherever Dr. Michael Brown is sitting. Brown, pictured above, holds a PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Literature from NYU. He has taught at Fuller and other seminaries of varying reputation. He has charismatic street cred, having been directly involved in a leadership capacity with the Brownsville revival in the 1990s. He even has a bit of Kim Clement in him – the only difference is that Dr. Brown’s religious conversion from a heroin and LSD addiction took place in 1971, and he was the one playing drums in the rock band. He was also born Jewish.

The Jewish component of his background naturally occupies a fair bit of Brown’s writing, teaching and attention; however, because outside criticism of the charismatic-Pentecostal church was often woefully inaccurate in describing realities inside, and because inside criticism was at times practically non-existent, Dr. Brown has often taken on the role of gentle correction when things get out of hand. His 2022 book, “The Political Seduction of the Church: How Millions Of American Christians Have Confused Politics with the Gospel” stakes out rare charismatic points of opposition to emerging strains of Christian nationalism. It also holds many of the prophets and apostles to account for their actions in 2020 and beyond. Don’t mistake me, to the average atheist, agnostic or Christian of any mainline denomination, many of Dr. Brown’s beliefs would still seem plenty weird. And I think he’d be charmed to be told that. Within that context, there are few more reasonable voices from within this community.

Yet back on November 9th, 2016, even Dr. Brown added his voice to a chorus that quickly established the new common knowledge: God had intervened in the 2016 election to install Donald Trump. He published it in the Christian Post and on his website. And he wasn’t alone. Dr. James Beverley’s meticulous research in his book God’s Man in the White House lays out just how quickly this became something that everybody knew that everybody knew, not just within the charismatic-Pentecostal church but throughout the wider evangelical tradition as well.

Paula White’s claim that the election showed “God’s hand and purpose in this” made it to Time Magazine‘s coverage. Michele Bachman’s claim that “The Lord did this” made its way across religious and secular media. Politico would later publish a piece entitled “Millions of Americans Believe God Made Trump President.” Stephen Strang’s podcast claimed that Trump’s election was God’s answer to the prayers of the church. Bethel’s Bill Johnson claimed on Facebook in a much-reprinted statement, “the outcome is from the Lord.” Even a group of Jewish leaders hoping for a third temple claimed divine intervention. There were others that missed Beverly’s cut. Non-charismatics like Franklin Graham happily chimed in that God let Trump win. Young-earth creationist Ken Ham opined in the Christian Post that Trump’s victory was proof that God is in control. Strang couldn’t leave it with just a podcast, and led the Charisma News site with a claim that it represented a “modern-day miracle.” World Net Daily ran a poll asking readers if they believed it was God’s intervention. Even among mainstream outlets that weren’t covering the evangelicals / prophecy / intervention angle, describing Trump’s win as figuratively miraculous was among the most common framings. Within our broad news dataset, we counted 211 pieces on mainstream media and blogs published on November 9th alone that described his win as a miracle.

Were all of those outlets describing it as an actual miracle, a supernatural outcome ordained by God? Of course not. It’s a figure of speech we use to describe something uncommon and unexpected. But surprises of that magnitude in elections of this scale are rare. The narrative that Trump’s rise and ultimate victory was a shocking outcome that “few could have predicted” was by no means confined to any sub-group of Americans. By November 10th, it was something everybody knew that everybody knew.

Especially the people who had prophesied it.

Especially when our narrative virologists ensured that all of the prophecies would benefit from their association with the even more miraculous-seeming prediction from 2007!

The smattering of prophets who predicted a Clinton victory quietly deleted them – and hoped they could sneak it by a news media that was increasingly eager to hold them to account. The rest ran a victory lap for…quite some time. Mark Taylor did multiple interviews. USA Today ran a survey piece on some of the prophets. Lance Wallnau, Mike Thompson, Jeremiah Johnson, Rick Joyner – anyone who had even remotely suggested that God might have a purpose for Trump, was being invited to podcasts and interviews. Those who could were hastily penning books to catch up with Wallnau. For the first month after the election, the prophets were everywhere, reinforcing the narrative of God’s intervention in the 2016 election.

And more.

You see, there is a funny thing that happens in narrative world when a shocking prediction turns out to be true: everything else that was attached to the prediction becomes absorbed into its truth. The greater the surprise, the greater the “truthiness” attached to everything associated with the prediction. This isn’t rocket science. When Old Major’s prophecies of the rebellion come true, faith in Sugarcandy Mountain cannot help but swell in sympathy. If you can nest a lot of everything else in a wildly unlikely prediction that goes your way, you’re playing with house money. And there was a lot of everything else attached to most of the Trump prophecies.

So it was that for the next three years, once the celebratory wave and attempts to retroactively claim similar prophecies (“God told me he would win back in 2015, honest!”) had faded, the time was ripe to prophesy and preach about everything else. About what’s next. In other words, now that God had come through on his promise to make Donald Trump His Cyrus President for America, it was time to prophesy about all the other promises that had been attached to this miracle: a Third Great Awakening, the long-deserved downfall of the Prophets of Baal of the secular media, and the unveiling of widespread evil and corruption in government, mostly by Democrats.

Prophet Johnny Enlow. Source: Restore7 Ministries

Ushering in a Third Great Awakening

As President-elect Trump moved toward his inauguration in January 2017, the apostolic-prophetic world was abuzz with “what’s next” prophecies for the next four, or more commonly, eight years. In near unison, the prophetic output at this time was heavily laden with the language of the core memes of our narrative virus. Among the most thorough such prophecies was issued by Johnny Enlow, who transformed those memes into a helpful sort of mnemonic device.

What we will see for the next 8 years is reflected in the acronym of our new president’s last name.

Transformation– this is what happens to people and to the macro narrative itself.

Reformation– this is what happens to the 7 Mountains of society.

Union– this is the great angel over us and his specific assignment.

Momentum– we will shift into full-scale destiny momentum.

Prosperity– transformation and reformation are both a root and a fruit of prosperity...

He chose a man named Trump, and he is using his name, his age and almost every detail about him to broadcast a message to those who have ears to hear.

Johnny Enlow, 2017: The Ride of the Reformation Glory Train, Elijah List (January 6, 2017)

Enlow was not alone.

As we observed in earlier essays, there has rarely been anything like the density of “Great Awakening” language that emerges whenever an election is on the way, but for the period between 2016-2020, there was a marked elevation in this language from charismatic-Pentecostal prophets and apostles from any prior non-election period.

Source: Epsilon Theory,

Following Johnny’s example, on January 18, 2017, Jane Hamon kicked us off with a full bingo card – every one of the five core memes from Part 3 is present here.

[T]his apostolic/prophetic reformation will bring a greater divide between those churches who have determined to promote casual, comfortable, politically correct Christianity (in name only) and those who have decided to be the “army of the Lord,” willing to pray and yet also willing to engage culture to bring change.

In the US and other nations, we will see this reformation spirit bring change to government and governing. With the unanticipated “comeback election” of Donald Trump, we have the potential to see a reforming of the Supreme Court and other courts in the US, a reformation in the economy, a reformation in foreign policy and a realignment of nations, and many other areas of governance.

Jane Hamon, God Says: I Will Turn Things Around! This is a Comeback Year!, Elijah List (January 18, 2017) (Emphasis mine)

You would have taken similar energy from apostolic network leader Cindy Jacobs and her recounting of the meeting of the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders, on January 24th, 2017.

For the Lord says, “My people are entering into an overcoming season that will produce great breakthroughs. For the enemy has come in like a flood, but I, the Lord, am releasing great victories. I will stem the tide of violence. I will bring peace to the land. I will bring an awakening! I will release revival!

Cindy Jacobs, ACPE Prophetic Roundtable: 2017 – The Breakthrough Year – Part 1 of 2, Elijah List (January 24, 2017) (emphasis mine)

The founder and operator of the Elijah List network, Steve Shultz, could barely contain his agreement and excitement about the coming harvest as a result of Donald Trump’s election.

As for myself, I was surprised as tears rolled down my cheeks as Mr. Trump became President Trump. It’s as if the Hopes and Fears for this last, very long season, were suddenly culminating as a direct result of unified prayers from the Saints of God...Yes, there will be trials and probably some tragedies in years to come, but more and more of God’s peace is coming for a great season of Harvest that is planned.

Steve Shultz, “Why I’m so Filled with HOPE – After the Inauguration of Donald J. Trump!”, Elijah List (January 27, 2017)

And from Ben Peters, a California-based prophet.

With a Kingdom-friendly administration, led by many Kingdom-minded department heads, such as in education, energy, state department, etc… Along with a powerful move of God’s Holy Spirit bringing another Great Awakening, we will see God’s involvement in every sphere of society in ways we’ve never seen in our life-times.

Ben Peters, Unexpected Benefits of the Revolutionary Trump Presidency, Elijah List (February 3, 2017)

And from Jim Goll, former Kansas City prophet.

New Reformers are being called and sent forth at this 500 year demarcation of the beginning of the Great Reformation, and they are being anointed to change the equilibrium of the Church and the very shape of nations.”

Jim Goll, Properly Discerning the Times! It is a Significant Time of Suddenlies!, Elijah List (February 22, 2017)

And from prophetess Tania Hall, student of the Remnant meme.

As we partner with Heaven by making prophetic decrees, we are building the Church. As we pray for renewal and revival, our prayers are being powerfully activated

A last days Joel’s army is being called forth…God is raising a company of radical Believers that are hungry for Kingdom power and glory.

Tania Hall, The Prophetic Decrees that Call Forth Joel’s Army, Elijah List (March 20, 2017)

And from Hank Kunneman, whom we have seen before in this essay series.

God says, “[W]atch what I’m about to do through this president in America

I will do this for My harvest because the earth is being shaken and the Northern Hemisphere is about to receive a great awakening.”

Hank Kunneman, Movement and Great Change! Prophecy Over America, Israel, the Youth, European Union and More!, Elijah List (March 22, 2017)

And, of course, from Dutch Sheets.

We say there is a third Great Awakening coming. It is going to give us back what You planted in this soil – the destiny You called us to…We will together hold up the rod of authority – the authority of Jesus’ name and blood. The authority of the cross, after which Jesus could say, “All authority is given unto Me,” is where our authority comes from.

Dutch Sheets, History is Holding Insights We Now Need, Give Him 15 (August 16, 2017)

The idea of this Great Awakening that would emerge as a result of the Donald Trump presidency – or at least as a result of the “covenant-fulfillment” that his election represented – was not confined to prophecies published via the mesh networks of charismatic-Pentecostal apostles and prophets. It made its way into books as well, during a prolific period of publishing. Much of this output was focused on the meme of Keeping Ancient Covenants.

For example, during this period, Mario Murillo published his 2019 book, “Vessels of Fire and Glory: Breaking Demonic Spells Over America to Release a Great Awakening.” He then wrote the foreword for Jeremiah Johnson’s set of revival-oriented predictions laid out in “Trump and the Future of America.” Earlier that year, Lou Engle released his book, “Nazirite DNA“, which he described as “the ground preparation, even the forerunner, for the greatest spiritual awakening she has ever seen.” Around the same time, he published “Pray! Ekballo!: A Prayer Revolution For The Great Harvest“. In his words, “It is a revolution birthed from one verse of the Bible that, if attended to, could spark a worldwide reformation of evangelism and missions, mobilize tens of thousands of missionaries and reformers, and bring back the King!”

There were plenty of others who joined the chorus of charismatic prophets, apostles and teachers who embraced the covenant-reward promise of a Great Awakening over Trump’s first term. The Arnotts, legacy participants in prior revivals, wrote about it in 2018, in “Preparing for the Glory: Getting Ready for the Next Wave of Holy Spirit Outpouring.” And yes, there’s a lot of this, and, uh, some other stuff in Mark Taylor’s “The Trump Prophecies: The Astonishing True Story of the Man Who Saw Tomorrow…and What He Says Is Coming Next.”

Unfortunately, as accurately as Mark Taylor and those who followed him may have been when it came to who would win the presidency in 2016, the prophetic halo effect did not apply to the first of the major promises attached. At least not yet. By no reasonable and measurable definition did a “Great Awakening” take place in the church during the period between 2016 and 2020. Quite to the contrary, for the entire period over which Gallup has asked Americans whether they belong to a church or synagogue (i.e. since 1992), there has not been a single four-year window over which the DROP in “yes” responses was greater than it was between 2016 and 2020. And save the gripes about “membership” not being a good proxy. Christian church attendance looks even worse. Belief looks worse. Claims of conversions look worse. Every description of belief, engagement, salvation and identity shows a vastly less Christian America in 2020 than it did in 2016.

Humbling the Liberal News Media

There is a long-standing antipathy toward the news media in most of the evangelical church that pre-dates the beginning of our story. This aversion may be even stronger within the charismatic-Pentecostal tradition. That Clement, Johnson, Wallnau and just about every other early Trump prophet also included language alluding to the conquest of the media, whether peaceful or belligerent, was not out of line with that tradition. To be fair, I don’t think the animosity is entirely unearned, but neither is the accuracy of the dispute really within the scope of this essay series. Far more important to us is how, in the warm waters of a mutually media-antagonistic Trump presidency and aided by the credibility gained by correct prophecies about Trump’s 2016 victory, the expression of powerful memes that were attached by charismatics to the media in prophecy became more powerful still.

Lance Wallnau, for example, asserted just before Trump’s inauguration that many of the members of the media have been planted there by Satan himself. He adds his belief that only a grassroots movement – a Faithful Remnant – can turn the tide.

The parable of the “tares” tells us that satan plants people “while men slept” (Mt 13:25). Where does satan plant them? He plants among the fields of harvest, at the gates of influence, where popular culture is formed through News Media, Hollywood and Academia…

This is a GRASSROOTS movement I suspect…Only 10-15% will have the courage or clarity to actually “get onto the field” and take the hard yards.

Lance Wallnau, The Year of the Clashing of the Swords and Taking New Ground!, Elijah List (January 4, 2017)

Around the same time, in one of his first post-inauguration statements, Morningstar’s Rick Joyner characterized the media, quoting Bob Jones approvingly, as a terrorist organization.

One thing Bob told me often was that the most dangerous terrorist organization was the media. He’s proven right on that one, too…

As they get more desperate and more shrill, know that their end is getting closer. At the same time, those providing the water, the truth with integrity, are going to grow and be able to put out such fires with increasing skill and speed and turn the fires of outrage into fires of revival.

Rick Joyner, Rick Joyner: Bob Jones’ Media Prophecy Coming to Pass Before Our Very Eyes, Charisma News (January 31, 2017)

Wallnau himself wasn’t willing to go quite so far as terrorism claims, but he did settle on beseeching the creator of the universe to send hornets to chase Bill Maher.

In the name of Jesus, Father, I cover [Trump] in the blood of Jesus. I pray that you will cause every enemy that comes against him to be broken. Every weapon that is formed against him to be broken…whether it’s CNN or MSNBC or Rachel Maddow or Bill Maher or Kathie Griffin or any comedian, talk show person, president of a network. CAUSE HIS ENEMIES, LORD, TO FLEE in seven different directions. I thank you, Lord, you’re releasing your hornets right now.

Lance Wallnau, A New Movement of Joy!, Facebook account (July 6, 2017)

You’d think there wasn’t much room left after you’ve already pulled out the “terrorist” card and indirectly compared various media outlets and personalities to the greatest threats to Old Testament Israel (the hornet thing is an allusion to Exodus 23:28). You’d be wrong. Much later, as Donald Trump stepped up his very public opposition to and rhetoric about the “enemy of the people” over the course of his presidency, so, too, did the prophets and apostles. Here, Dutch Sheets recommends that his followers offer up a peculiar prayer.

Knock the Baal prophets off their newsroom thrones! Let this nation be loosed from their decrees and their twisted narratives! We’ve got their number! We won’t be gaslighted! We know what they are doing because You have revealed it all. Let all their evil, wicked plans and deeds be placed in the light for all to see!

Dutch Sheets, Victory is Coming for the Church and for America!, Give Him 15 (November 21, 2020)

In case the idea of a “prophet of Baal” does not ring a bell beyond sounding generally sinister, know that it is a reference to a Biblical story of Elijah told in 1 Kings 18. In short, Elijah and the prophets of Baal conduct a not-so-friendly competition to see whose God is real. The rituals of the prophets of Baal fail. Elijah, on the other hand, succeeds in calling down fire from heaven. At the conclusion of the demonstration, Elijah orders his people to make sure the Baal prophets don’t escape, then has them executed. I want to be clear about this: a lot of time when prophets and apostles from this faith tradition speak in violent terms of spiritual warfare, they really are referring to spirits or entities which they believe exist outside the world of the visible. They are not calls for violence. However, the prophets of Baal were and are not spirits. They were humans, as are the people Sheets is referring to here. Short of outright, literal calls for the execution of members of the liberal media, there really is nowhere to go from here.

OK, nevermind. I’m going to give it to “Hordes of Hell rallying under Leviathan” by a nose.

The hordes of Hell in media have rallied in mass under Leviathan but I will crush them under the forces that I have released under My trusted archangel Gabriel. He will be instrumental in devastating media outlets that do not position themselves as lovers of truth and goodness.

Johnny Enlow, I Played My Trump Card, I Will Win the Hand, Elijah List (May 18, 2017)

And yet, from beginning to end of the Trump presidency, beyond this competition to come up with the most negative term to associate with the media, most of the key prophetic voices continued to lean on the memetics and imagery of the earliest prophecies that had already been subsumed into common knowledge. That Trump will be a trumpet, that through him God would transform the media to say what He wanted them to say, that through Trump as a wrecking ball, God could defeat this long-time stronghold of darkness and his followers conquer it as yet another key mountain of culture.

In MEDIA, the enemy is not dead, but is in absolute disarray and absolute implosion.… President Trump is the bull in this China shop overthrowing the establishment…Major reform is already in the works.

Johnny Enlow, Greater Than 100 Revivals is Here, Elijah List (November 1, 2017)

As the Holy Spirit brings awakening to the Church and affirms our identity as the children of God, we will come into new positions of influence and authority. We will see His Kingdom come in politics, education, arts and entertainment, media, family, government, and religion!

Che Ahn, Reformation that Shapes Centuries, Elijah List (May 29, 2017)

Even though the liberal media, the fake news (some will quit and some will be removed), continues to lie about Trump and his efforts to make America great again, God is in charge of His time on Earth and He will have His way… Trump was chosen before he was born and cannot escape being great and will continue to recognize God as the creator of all things.

Kat Kerr, God Bless America and Planet Earth – Another Incredible Suddenly!, Elijah List (August 17, 2018)

The Spirit of God says, “The news media, the news media, you have become a stench unto my nostrils, there is no spirit of truth in you. I the Lord God will clean out the news media and bring back truth.”

Mark Taylor, Satan’s Frequency (July 7, 2017)

Did any of this happen? Have the prophecies of a transformation of media, buoyed by the halo effect of their association with prophecies of Trump’s victory, come to pass?

Yeah, no, not at all. Look, media is still a hard business. But between Trump’s inauguration and today, the New York Times Company’s stock more than tripled, mostly on the back of a remarkable pivot to digital subscriptions that paved a similar path to stability for other (largely liberal) publishers over this period. MSNBC went from the #12 primetime cable channel to #3. Some liberal media brands failed. So did some conservative media outlets. Fox News got slapped hard in a massive settlement, and it looks like OANN and Newsmax are next. As we track it with our Fiat News model, the amount of opinion being injected into news has continued to rise, not least in connection with Trump’s presidency itself. And there’s practically nothing in our large news dataset that would indicate that claims and complaints of a “liberal media” have changed – at all. Depending on the language you use to define it, we see 12,000-13,000 articles in the last year alone within the LexisNexis database that discuss the liberal bias of media. Other than a bit of a fall from grace for CNN, there isn’t really anything you could point to to make the case that any of this came to pass. Again, yet.

Right or wrong, however, most of the prophetic and apostolic references to the media framed it as just one more corrupt part of the establishment infrastructure that was going to be exposed during the Trump presidency. More than anything else, I think, this was the narrative that would become most embedded into the coming narrative of a stolen election. As further testament to the epimemetic forces at play, it grew almost in tandem with Trump’s own statements about fraud, corruption and the enduring influence of the Deep State. In other words, what Trump was saying invariably became what the prophets were saying.

Exposing Corruption

How much did Trump’s election change the tendency of prophecies to predict the “exposure” of evil, secret plans and darkness within American society and government? Between Trump’s inauguration and Biden’s inauguration (set apart with the orange bars in the chart below), the density of language associated with those topics was about 93% higher than it was during the period before Trump was elected. For reasons that will become clear in Part 7, the density rose further still during and following the 2020 election, through June 2023 averaging nearly 300% of pre-Trump levels.

Source: Epsilon Theory, Elijah List

It is difficult to find a single noteworthy individual with a public presence from within the apostolic-prophetic movement who did NOT begin to prophecy or speak about President Trump’s role in uncovering hidden darkness and corruption. Was the existing imagery of Trump as a wrecking ball too perfectly suited to the memes of our narrative virus and the conventions of modern prophecy? Did the prolific work in early 2017 by some leading prophets spur echoes from others who consciously or subconsciously used and repeated similar words and phrases, creating a self-perpetuating cycle of prophecy and ‘confirmation?’ Probably a little bit of both, but I’m not sure. Either way, from the operators of multi-national apostolic alliances to small-town internet prophets submitting their ideas to prophetic social networks and email chains, everyone got in on this particular angle to the original prophecies.

I saw a vision of a huge lid over a pit of toxic waste being lifted off – and the stench and fumes being quite intense. I believe this represents hidden darkness in government, in business and in media being exposed…” 

Johnny Enlow, Hang On for 3 Months! Much Needed Exposures Coming in Government, Businesses and the Media, Elijah List (March 29, 2017)

In using Donald Trump in this season I am exposing and undoing MUCH in the body of Christ and the earth.

Lana Vawser, “I had a Vision and I saw Ephesians 3:20 On Fire across the United States of America”, (Text accessed via James Beverley) (February 12, 2017)

[O]ur president has a ‘breaker anointing’ on him to break the establishment and drain the swamp.

Ramiro Pena, quoted in Chuck Pierce Releases Shocking Prophetic Word, Elijah List (June 2, 2017)

The SURGE will be like a light that shines down, and when the enemy comes in by night trying to enter in, to move up in the land, trying to create a strategy, he will be exposedYou will hear of him being exposed throughout this nation.

Chuck Pierce, Surge! The Enemy Will Be Exposed!, Elijah List (September 11, 2017)

“For I have released out of My heavens,” says the Spirit of God, “a boomerang. And what you have thrown at the administration, I speak to you and I speak to the media, it shall come back and it shall expose you.

Hank Kunneman, A Christmas Season of Shalom and a Boomerang to the Enemy (December 9, 2017)

I believe that God raised up President Trump at this specific time to uncover some things. He wanted to expose the Deep State. He needed someone that could uncover corruption, and an anti-Christ and anti-Church spirit, as well. That spirit has been trying to suffocate and silence the Church for many years. It has been trying to rewrite covenant history in America, and to rewrite or reinterpret laws.

Tim Sheets, Stopping Witchcraft Against America – Part 1, Give Him 15 (June 26, 2020)

The enemy has tried everything to take us under a false kingdom of darkness to overpower us and take our nation out of its destiny. Yet, it has only exposed the deep state of darkness and is being drained, exposed and removed!

John Mark Pool, We’re in a Season of Exposure, Closure and Victory!, Elijah List (June 29, 2017)

As the story unveils and as we fully awaken to what we were up against and what He saved us from we will see the immensity of it all. It goes way beyond simple politics, but rather into being rescued from a ring of demonic criminals with tentacles at the tops of every one of the 7 mountains of society.

Johnny Enlow, 5779: A Great Day of Deliverance (Trump, Justice, Elections, Israel, Church & the Economy), Elijah List (September 21, 2018)

If you’re reading along closely, phrasing like “a ring of demonic criminals” probably rings some other bells in your head. Sound a bit like QAnon? Unfortunately, that sound will become deafening once we reach Parts 7 and 8. Convergent evolution – the environment-driven emergence of similar phenotypic properties in different species with distinct phylogeny – is a thing in memetics every bit as much as it is in genetics. Most of our prophets and apostles had nothing directly to do with Q. There is no shared lineage. The two movements were, however, driven by the evolution of separate narrative viruses made from similar memetic stuff and similar epimemetic pressures to a place that made them look awfully similar at times…and probably produced some unintentionally direct overlap in the end as a result.

In the meantime, however, the point is that for three years of Donald Trump’s presidency, the apostolic-prophetic movement was buoyed by one of the most successful prophecies ever made. It was getting unprecedented access to actual figures in power in society and government. In a media environment in which the prophets could finally hear what the others were saying, a growing confidence gave way to momentum, maybe even something nearing consensus about the other promises of the initial prophecies: of Trump acting as a wrecking ball that would exposure corruption and evil, that he would usurp the power of an anti-Christian, anti-conservative media, and that the faithful remnant that supported him would enjoy a bountiful harvest, a Great Awakening in their time.

But there was one other promise of the initial prophecies that had yet to really rear its head again. By the fourth year of Trump’s presidency, it would make its appearance in a big way: that God had promised Trump not one but two successive terms.

Kim and Jane Clement

Two Terms

You will have to forgive me. I played the role of an unreliable narrator in Part 5. At the very least, when I told you the story of Kim Clement and his prophecies, I didn’t tell you the whole truth.

When I said that Kim Clement – the singing prophet, you may recall – was the first person to prophesy that Donald Trump would become President of the United States, what I meant was that the version of Kim Clement’s prophecies that everyone read and heard would have made him the first. That is, if you squinted very hard and made a lot of very friendly assumptions, you could frame the words in such a way that they predict a Trump presidency.

That’s because the most widely distributed versions were cleverly edited to do exactly that.

Let’s take a closer look at the most commonly circulated video (which has been reposted in various forms over the last few years) containing all those Clement quotes that kept coming up in the prophecies of others more than a decade later.

Source: YouTube

On the left-hand side of the table below, I’ve taken the liberty of giving you a transcription of the key prophetic claims within each video. Same ones as you saw back in Part 5. On the right side, I have added in bold the additional context that came immediately before or after the words in the spliced video from Clement’s full original statements.

Date, Location and SourceSpliced VideoOriginal Text
April 4, 2007 in Bethel, CaliforniaThis that shall take place shall be the most unusual thing, a transfiguration, a going into the marketplace if you wish, into the news media. Where Time Magazine will have no choice but to say what I want them to say. Newsweek, what I want to say. The View, what I want to say. Trump shall become a trumpet, says the Lord! I will raise up the Trump to become a trumpet and Bill Gates to open up the gate of a financial realm for the Church, says the Spirit of the Living God!This that shall take place shall be the most unusual thing, a transfiguration, a going into the marketplace if you wish, into the news media. Where Time Magazine will have no choice but to say what I want them to say. Newsweek, what I want to say. The View, what I want to say. Trump shall become a trumpet, says the Lord! I will raise up the Trump to become a trumpet and Bill Gates to open up the gate of a financial realm for the Church, says the Spirit of the Living God!

In 1967 there was a great revolution, but God said, the revolution that you are going to experience starting in 2007 is going to be greater than anything that’s ever happened.
April 4, 2007 in Bethel, CaliforniaI will not forget 9/11. I will not forget what took place that day and I will not forget the gatekeeper that watched over New York who will once again stand and watch over this Nation, says the Spirit of God. It shall come to pass that the man that I place in the highest office shall go in whispering My name. But God said, when he enters into the office he will be shouting out by the power of the Spirit for I shall fill him with My Spirit when he goes into office and there will be a praying man in the highest seat in your land.I will not forget 9/11. I will not forget what took place that day and I will not forget the gatekeeper that watched over New York who will once again stand and watch over this Nation, says the Spirit of God. It shall come to pass that the man that I place in the highest office shall go in whispering My name. But God said, when he enters into the office he will be shouting out by the power of the Spirit for I shall fill him with My Spirit when he goes into office and there will be a praying man in the highest seat in your land. And God says, even a greater move of the Spirit shall take place and your enemies will finally be subdued by the year 2009.
February 10, 2007 in Bethel, CaliforniaThere will be a praying President, not a religious one, for I will fool the people, says the Lord. I will fool the people, yes I will. God says, the one that is chosen shall go in and they shall say, he has hot blood. For the Spirit God says, yes he may have hot blood, but he will bring the walls of protection on this country in a greater way and the economy of this country shall change rapidly, says the Lord of Hosts. God says, I will put at your helm for two terms a President that will pray but he will not be a praying President when he starts. I will put him in Office and then I will baptize him with the Holy Spirit and My power…And God says, in the next two terms there will be a praying President, not a religious one, for I will fool the people, says the Lord. I will fool the people, yes I will. God says, the one that is chosen shall go in and they shall say, he has hot blood. For the Spirit God says, yes he may have hot blood, but he will bring the walls of protection on this country in a greater way and the economy of this country shall change rapidly, says the Lord of Hosts. God says, I will put at your helm for two terms a President that will pray but he will not be a praying President when he starts. I will put him in Office and then I will baptize him with the Holy Spirit and My power…

Why do you think someone might have in mind to trim “in the next two terms” from a prophecy delivered in 2007? Why do you think they might want to trim a reference to the harvest and revolution starting in 2007? Why do you think they might trim an associated reference to enemies being subdued by 2009?

Because if you don’t cleverly edit the videos to omit those references and qualifications, then there are only three possible interpretations: (1) it is a false prophecy because it’s wrong, (2) it is a false prophecy because prophecy doesn’t exist and isn’t a thing, or (3) these prophecies are about Barack Obama.

There is a tendency among prophets and apostles within the modern movement to explain away inconvenient things like “details” and “dates” and “names” as being flexible and unimportant to whether the prediction was “true.” In most cases, this tendency is the result of a particular interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13:9 that is common within the charismatic-Pentecostal tradition.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end.

1 Corinthians 13:9 (CSB)

Many modern continuationist theologians (i.e. those who believe spiritual gifts like prophecy remain active) have taken the translated phrase “in part” to accommodate “partial incorrectness.” Their cessationist counterparts (i.e. those who believe the gift of prophecy, among others, is no longer active in the church) generally characterize “in part” more literally as “incomplete.” A prophecy where something was right but a lot of things were wrong would thus not necessarily be characterized as incorrect by many in the former group. Our cessationists would disagree, but then, they would also disagree that prophecy could be happening in the first place. For those fascinated by this kind of sparring among linguistic exegetes, an interesting public debate on this topic took place between John Piper and John MacArthur about ten years ago.

All the same, the “some correct details + lots of wrong ones = still possibly a true prophecy” construction certainly remains the modern practical convention within the apostolic-prophetic movement. One popular adjacent phrasing you will often hear in charismatic-Pentecostal churches advises recipients of teaching and prophecy to “spit out the bones.” Bill Johnson of Bethel Church delivered one of the more well-known sermons on the topic. The idea is that human influence (bones) will inevitably creep into in any kind of teaching, and that rather than reject godly ideas within that teaching (meat), Christians ought to swallow the meat and spit out the bones. It sounds sensible enough, but when it comes to prophetic output, you can understand how adoption of this standard also creates a stable structure in which uttering as many predictions as possible becomes provably optimal.

In narrative world, of course, none of this really mattered. There was enough truthiness in Clement’s words, I think – and enough desire for them to be interpreted in a particular way – that no manner of selective editing or shenanigans would likely have changed how they were perceived and interpreted.

But a few years into the presidency, a renewed focus on a specific “additional” component of Clement’s prophecies emerged: that two of them specifically reference “two terms.”

With the 2018 midterms in the rear-view mirror, the “two terms” common knowledge of the apostolic-prophetic community came into focus rather suddenly. While the focus of the movement in early 2019 was necessarily focused on framing the impeachment proceedings in terms of the demonic-influenced corruption that God chose Trump to overcome, there was also a smattering of 2020 election discussion in mid-2019.

The Lord then spoke to me and said, “What I intend to do through him will require two full terms. I need for you to run with him in the spirit for this to happen.”

Robert Henderson, Praying for President Trump from the Courts of Heaven, Elijah List (April 1, 2019)

It came down to two familiar sources, however, to aggressively and influentially resurface Clement’s old “two terms” remarks and reinject them to the apostolic-prophetic zeitgeist. The first to do so was apostle and prophet Dutch Sheets, adapting the language to a dream that was sent to him referencing Trump’s desire that he “finish his eight years well.” This language would be a recurring feature in both live and printed Dutch Sheets Ministries events.

At the end of the dream set in the oval office, President Trump asked if he could pray for each one there. He said, “Let this man and these leaders convene a holy convocation that I might finish my eight years well, and that the ancient markers of our founding fathers would be restored…”

The destiny God has for this nation is as a stronghold, a beacon, a refuge, a voice of the Gospel to ends of the earth. That is our nation’s destiny. We are a nation under God. That which He destined for America, He is going to re-establish that. The greatest outpouring of Holy Spirit in the history of planet earth is coming and it’s going to hit America like a tidal wave! There’s going to be a third Great Awakening.

Dutch Sheets, Finding the Ancient Markers, Give Him 15 (June 3, 2019)

The second was Stephen Strang, who reserved almost an entire chapter in his book God, Trump and the 2020 Election for Clement’s prophecies about two terms. He then republished the ideas on a Charisma blog and read them on a Charisma podcast around November 6, 2019.

As we covered earlier in this essay series, Bethel’s Kris Vallotton would issue his prophecy threatening an angry God only weeks later.

I believe the Lord is going to give him another term…because the Lord wants it. The Lord wants it.

You don’t want to be the one resisting a movement…there’s these moments where God says get out of the way and suddenly you realize, I don’t have an angry God, but sometimes God gets angry.

Kris Vallotton, “Sovereign Providence”, Bethel Church (December 8, 2019)

Others would follow in short order.

God also stated, “You don’t need a pastor in the White House right now” and that Trump will win two terms.

Kat Kerr, from an interview with Steve Shultz on Elijah List, as paraphrased by James Beverley in God’s Man in the White House

Great will be the spiritual battle leading up to this election, but My people will see the one I have chosen re-elected as they partner with Me in intercession.

Katie Barker, America You Will Be Known Again As ‘One Nation Under God’, Elijah List (December 13, 2019)

But I also knew intuitively the Lord was speaking about a sweep in the 2020 elections which would give Trump’s political party the majority in both the House and Senate.

Jon Hamill, Heaven’s Gavel Has Fallen!, Elijah List (January 28, 2020)

The Chiefs win (ed: yes, he’s talking about the Super Bowl) is to let you know that the commander in chief is going to keep winning in 2020.

God loves you unconditionally, but you are displeasing Him if you are not recognizing His intentionality with putting Donald J. Trump as your president.

Johnny Enlow, Chiefs Win! A Stunning Prophetic Message, Elijah List (February 4, 2020)

I believe Donald Trump will win the 2020 election, but he cannot do it without supernatural intervention.

Jeremiah Johnson, Trump and the Future of America, as quoted by James Beverley in God’s Man in the White House (January 2020)

As we’ve witnessed in his time in office, many have tried to take him out – the Mueller investigations, the impeachment and now the coronavirus. No one has succeeded because Trump – like him or not – has a destiny from God. The Lord will succeed with His instrument. Even now, that same spirit is trying to take him out. But I believe the prophetic words spoken over him – that he will have two terms.

Darren Canning, Three Dreams of Donald Trump, Elijah List (October 2, 2020)

As the election grew closer, each of the core memes of our narrative virus – save one – had reached their zenith.

A narrative epidemic within the charismatic fringe of the evangelical church had become an American pandemic.

Confidence in the apostles and prophets within the charismatic-Pentecostal church, while not without opposition, was as high as it had ever been. With the vastly greater reach afforded to these leaders with the emergence of the internet and social networks, the Rediscovering Old Ways meme had grown rapidly. It had also evolved. Prophets now had ready access to the full volume of what other prophets were saying. Consciously or subconsciously, their statements began to reflect one another, their uses of language rose and fell together in response to the epimemetic pressure of this new environment.

Likewise, the idea of a living Ancient Covenant between God and America had become common knowledge not only within the charismatic-Pentecostal movement, but in many areas of the broader evangelical church as well. The belief that America’s faithfulness – which through epimemetic adaptation now included electing Donald Trump to be president once again – would result in a Third Great Awakening found its way into the rhyming and confirming output of practically every major American prophetic figure.

The triumph of the Mountains to be Conquered meme was similarly complete. By the 2020 election, there was practically no major apostolic or prophet voice and only a precious few leaders within the charismatic-Pentecostal church that rejected the idea of a cultural mandate for Christians to conquer various spheres of cultural influence. Seven Mountains and ekklesia phraseology dominated prophetic utterances and widely publicized teachings. As elsewhere, epimemetic adaptations facilitated the expansion of these meme-rich messages into evangelical circles which were already flirting with entirely different, if somewhat compatible, strains of Christian nationalism.

Perhaps most importantly, the meme of Hope for Broken Vessels had been thoroughly attached to Donald Trump through the Cyrus imagery, not just by prophets and apostles but through epimemetic adaptation by non-charismatic evangelicals and even secular media as well. The belief among charismatic Christians in Trump’s status as God’s prophesied, or at the very least chosen, leader was nearly ubiquitous. Buoyed by the promise of prior prophecies, belief that the 2020 election was part of that promise was almost as widespread.

But the Faithful Remnant Returning meme? Our narrative virus was just getting started with this one. To be sure, the impeachment trials and constant opposition to Trump played out like a confirmation, an encouragement for the messages that integrated this meme’s power. Remnant language was not missing.

But to realize its full potential and transform the integration of all five of these memes one last time, A Faithful Remnant Returning needed to manifest in a group of apostolic-prophetic leaders keeping the faith against all odds. To reach its apotheosis, it required a scenario in which other Christians and conservatives had quailed and lost the faith. It begged for a chance for all of the darkness and evil and secret opposition to Trump to be brought out into the open. It needed an opportunity for the Joel Army, the Joseph Army, the remnant who kept the faith to show its quality.

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  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.

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