I guess chookwatcher, on a hot Sydney day, runs down to the surf at Manley Beach well covered up in 19th century garb, with not an inch of unnecessary flesh showing.
Perhaps that’s why his Facebook alter-ego, Fergusson MacRay, has a picture of himself longingly looking out at a beach, fully clothed in the shade. A man of shadows is our Fergy Mac. Shadows and secrets.
I say this because he and his chooky chums have an aversion to any level of skin being shown on stage, especially during a conference opening ceremony that seeks to celebrate the US culture.
Important news flash!
According to Fergy’s friend the pirate captain’s blog, the big news this week, apart from a dead gorilla, several asylum seekers foundering or drowning in the Mediterranean, the posited demise of the Great Barrier Reef, a UK referendum on Europe, a US presidential campaign, and an Australian election, was the appearance of a Naked Cowboy lookalike at the US Hillsong Colour Conference.
The Naked Cowboy is something of a fixture in New York. He is a busker. He’s not really naked. He wears shorts and a guitar. But he is a popular character on the streets.
Suffice to say, an unthinking youth pastor at Hillsong NYC unwisely deemed it appropriate to gatecrash the opening ceremony of their Colour Conference dressed, loosely speaking, as the Naked Cowboy.
He has shorts on and a flag draped around his shoulders, as well as a guitar out front, but this was too much for the chookwatchers and assorted other commentators in the discernment blogosphere, who determined that this was an affront to the gospel.
Well, to be absolutely fair, maybe it was, but it was certainly not worth the kind of mileage chookwatcher is sucking out of the incident.
Hillsong boss Brian Houston was obviously put out by the whole fun-tinged but thoughtless blunder, enough to put out a media release.
1 June 2016
So how did someone come on stage imitating Times Square’s famous Naked Cowboy, (during a fun moment involving lots of other people), at the Colour Conference in NYC? It’s a good question, I’ve been trying to work that out myself.
I do know that Bobbie – my wife – who was convener of the conference was clearly unaware that this was going to happen and was taken aback by it. She was at the dress rehearsal and there was no sign of a naked cowboy lookalike there. Carl and Laura Lentz were also not part of the decision. I can only guess at this point, that some one thought it would be funny and sent him out there without thinking about the ramifications.
What I do know is that those who perpetuate the story, do so mainly with the help of a video, no context, and a good dose of what the bible describes as hearsay and rumour. He was wearing proper shorts, not underwear, and he had a flag draped over him.
What I also know is that talk of apostates etc., is nonsense. Some well-meaning person just made a silly decision. It is unlikely to happen again.
Quite. It was a silly decision. End of.
However, it seems there are Christians willing to take an issue like this far beyond its obvious conclusion into the stratosphere of delusion.
But Hillsong have had to take responsibility, because the idea that dressing as the Naked Cowboy at a public gathering when there are people like chookwatcher waiting to press the prude button for the least of reasons is careless.
Shame they didn’t invite the real Naked Cowboy
So, as expected, chookwatcher is spinning things out.
My one regret, though, is that Hillsong New York City haven’t invited the real Naked Cowboy to church – in view of the fact that he wasn’t impressed with being imitated by someone from Hillsong without permission, which is hilariously ironic.
But Hillsong should invite the guy to church. Surely that is what Jesus would have done.
He had something of a reputation for hanging out with sinners, prostitutes, winebibbers and tax-collectors. He also had the same prudishly pompous religious crowd poopooing His every move in His day.
Matthew 11:18-19 “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon. ’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘ Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners! ’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
You can’t win. If you don’t eat and drink, you’re demonised by the critics. If you do eat and drink, you’re called a glutton and a drunk. Sounds a bit like the chookwatcher type critical chorus. Where have we heard their kinds of complaints before? Oh, yes, I remember.
Luke 15:1-2 Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Oh, no. Jesus mixes with the sinners. He goes out into the world and invites people around to His place. He deliberately hangs out with the outcasts of society. I even hear He spent time with lepers, women who were ostracised because of sickness and disease, and the despised of society.
Think for a moment how much blog-fodder Jesus would have given the chookwatchers of His day had there been an internet.
So how did Jesus address the critics?
Luke 15:3-7 So He spoke this parable to them, saying:
“ What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety- nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost! ’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety- nine just persons who need no repentance.”
Maybe it’s not too late for Hillsong NYC to go down into the streets of New York and spend some time with the real Naked Cowboy and ask him if he’d like to personally meet Jesus, even invite him into their church, giving him the best seats in the house for his friends.
The world becomes strange when holier than thou religious folk start to judge every action based on their own critical attitude. It must actually addle a critic’s brain to be constantly critical.
Maybe Fergusson needs to grab his 19th century togs and take that dip in the ocean to cool off after all.
Chookwatchers make things up as they go along
Not content with overemphasising a young man’s now publicly chastised carelessness, the chookwatchers want to rub salt into the wound and prolong their nuisance value to the Body.
The guy who dressed as the Naked Cowboy was a youth pastor. His messages have been pulled from the net [not by Hillsong – Ed], possibly to protect him from the scrutiny of people like the chookwatchers and their so-called discernment friends, who have admitted they have been searching for his messages, ostensibly to find something they could use in their blogs. It’s what they do.
Missing this rather obvious fact, chookwatcher makes the ridiculous and rashly ignorant claim that Brian Houston has personally pulled the plug on the messages so that he can pretend that the young man is not a pastor at all but some prankster who happened onto the stage.
Where did chookwatcher get such a perverse imagination?
It comes from several years, as chookwatcher admits in his latest attack on this young man, of ravenously seeking out things at which to point the finger. It must have an adverse effect on the mind of the critic at some point.
Surely the thing to do now is to let the guy get over his blooper and sit under the mentorship of an elder who can guide his young ministry, which will almost certainly, now, be forever (falsely) tainted by the likes of chookwatcher. Mercy and grace are clearly not words that chookwatcher understands.
Or does chookwatcher really want to take responsibility for potentially demonising the ministry of a young man who is gifted, but, because he tends towards being sanguine and maybe naive in a youthful way, has made a basic slip-up which is not all that earth shattering, or it wouldn’t have been if people like chookwatcher hadn’t taken it to such an extreme.
After all, the chookwatcher sites have shown more pretend and real Naked Cowboy pictures that any other outlet. He has perpetuated this folly and paraded it far more than anyone, which now puts the issue squarely in his own court, having taken on the images he soundly condemns as his own.
What does chookwatcher care? He’s now boasting that he broke the story that the guy was a Hillsong youth pastor. Not satisfied with this, he seems to want to find ways to prolong the pain and potentially wreck this young man’s future.
This is what happens when an individual is so keen to dig for dirt. Maybe someone should remind chookwatcher of Proverbs 14:4, ‘Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox.’
You might have to explain that one to him. Whilst you’re at it, show him the two verses that follow.
Thank God chookwatcher and his blogs weren’t around when Peter, James and John started out.
Carl Lentz responds
In fact, Carl Lentz personally writes in to the chookwatchers to clarify the situation andf put it in context. Hilarious!
Hey guys! Diego is 100 percent our youth pastor at Hillsong Church New York City… I’ve seen quite a few silly things on this topic, this blog is right up there w/ the most silly. I have no idea why anybody, is trying to say we are “cyber scrubbing” anything to do with Diego.
There may not be many sermons online of Diego preaching, because he doesn’t travel and preach often! He is typically busy building our local youth ministry…if he has preached at another church and they put it online and now have taken it off, that’s THIER call not ours. Has zero to do with Hillsong Church.
This is now the second time I have had to clarify bad facts and address you on the very same issue you continually attempt to throw at my church.(you stated as fact one time, I had my own YouTube channel, which in fact I do not and cannot control fake accounts posing as me. I think you issued some sort of apology but mostly re-directed…sound familiar? If I had more time, I would read more of your stuff and im sure there would be profound inaccuracy throughout..)
So again, in your rush to write blogs about us, please do your best to at least get facts right. I realize you hate our church and you get excited to get new material up as fast as you can, that’s your obvious right. But your credibility suffers when you have to retract things, and I want you to be the best church watcher site you can be.
Diego is our youth pastor, I think he’s one of the best I have ever known when it comes to serving and helping young people and if he preaches on a Sunday and we put it online, keep your eye out for it! I love his preaching too..nobody has ever tried to scrub this man, from anything, so your entire blog here? Lacks truth. That has to be disappointing when that’s supposed to be what you hold dear.
Do better and have a great day!
Sincerely: Carl Lentz..
Guy who hired Diego as youth pastor and is confirming his existence.
So, it had nothing at all to do with Hillsong. The removed sermons were from another church altogether – a place at which the youth pastor ministered some time ago.
Good defence, also, from Diego’s pastor.
Still waiting for the chookwatchers’ retraction and apology.