Back in high school, before my general estrangement from all things spiritual, I was president of my hometown church's Luther League, the youth organization for Lutheran kids. I don't remember anything I did as president--perhaps a roller-skating party!--although at least my term wasn't sullied by some kind of Luther-Lewinsky scandal. Anyway, late 80's youth Christianity was all about Satan and his many ways of ensnaring the unwary. There were of course the subliminal Satanic seductions provided on various heavy metal and dance-music albums. Then, there was the fear of actually being abducted by Satanists and used either as part of some ritual sacrifice or sold into demonic-profiteering-sex-slavery into some occultish opium den somewhere in--where else?--Southern California.
All this came back to mind this evening as I was reading this story in the New Yorker about a rising Christian comedian. The story is a great read in its own right, but it got me wondering about Mike Warnke, a Christian comedian whose album(s) were loved by a couple my more devout Luther Leaguer friends. His schtick was that of the ex-hippie-who-had-converted-to-Christ-but-kept-the-long-hair, except he took this even further by being not just an ex-hippie but an ex-hippie-and-Satanic-cult-high-priest. I don't know if I have given the guy another thought since high school, but the article had me wondering: Whatever happened to that guy? Is he still out there performing?
Turns out that a Christian magazine ran an long expose back in 1992 that revealed much of his story to be, like that of every single other person who has ever claimed to have been a high priest in a Satanic cult with fifteen hundred followers, lies. It's one of those This Guy Is A Complete Fraud exposes where the scope and audacity of all the lies, when years of falsehoods are put on page after page of a magazine article, makes a surprisingly compelling read. Especially when accompanied by discussion of freewheeling debauchery on the Christian comedy circuit.
Forgiveness being what it is, however, especially when someone is good for a laugh, he is still out there performing, with a website*, and from his itinerary looks quite busy. (His website does have a long discussion of the review of a Tribunal of Church Elders about the accusations in the article, which, at least in my eyes, didn't go very far in cutting through the thick film of sleazegrime covering this guy's biographical-morality-kitchen-counter.)
* Note the animated flag-eagle-cross combo on the website.