At Revolution's inaugural service in November, minister Jonathan Hughes, 23, gazed over 30 or so faces tinged red from the Milestone's stage lights and uttered three christening words to his delegation: "I'm really stoked."
From his pulpit, a stage littered with graffiti and band stickers, one in which Hughes has graced more than once with his punk band 25 Minutes To Go, he delivers more Gen-X God speak. "Lord, thank you for being awesome."
He definitely looks more punk than preacher. Hughes wears a patterned cap, sports facial hair everywhere but the very center of his face and has an intricate tattoo spanning his entire right arm.
Jay Bakker, one of the founders of the church that began in Phoenix, then moved to Atlanta and has now branched out to Brooklyn and Charlotte followed Hughes with a few words (Yes that Bakker -- as in Jim, Tammy Faye and Jesus-themed water parks).
Bakker credited Jon and his wife and co-pastor Stephanie, former interns of Revolution Atlanta, for restoring his faith that had been waning since his mother's illness and the never-ending criticism his family has faced in the 20 years after the scandal that took the country by storm.
"I thought I was done with Charlotte," said Bakker. "Jon and Stephanie told me they wanted to do a Revolution church, and I was like how about 'Revolution Lincolnton? You never know where God's path will lead you." Fittingly, the plans for Revolution Charlotte were hatched at the Penguin.
The shortcomings Hughes saw with the traditional church compelled him to take the pulpit. As a child in Sunday School, he remembers feeling a tremendous amount of guilt for lying and marking off Christian deeds on a public checklist his teachers made him keep.
The redemptionist message that Revolution espouses is certainly not revolutionary. "We're not here to say that it's OK to do whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, no matter how much it hurts people. We're here to say, no matter what you do, God is bigger than that. His grace is sufficient to cover all things."
Unlike driving, preaching is an endeavor that can be combined with drinking.
The drink of choice among congregates seemed to be a Pabst Tallboy (aka hipster Gatorade). The preacher sips whiskey out of a Styrofoam cup, though drinking isn't required. Stephanie, call her a prude, nurses a bottle of water.
Good bye and good luck
Charlotte and I are calling it quits. It might be bonkers considering what I've been paid to do here. For example: rating food at strip clubs, hunting for ghosts, touring with a band, driving a racecar, going to Bonnaroo for free, hitting up open bars at weddings I'm not invited to, wearing jeans every day of the week, etc.
Here are some of the highlights of my 14-month stay in the Q.C.:
1. Having my life threatened by an Elvis impersonator and a bounty hunter,
2. Having to constantly tell people that just because I work at the Loaf and sometimes have wild hair and an unkempt beard, doesn't mean that I smoke pot, have pot, or sell pot.
3. Urban Explorer ideas pitched by the editorial staff, which invariably involved me dressing up in disguise. To name a few costumed-article ideas: Santa, a college student, a black man, a swinger, a dog fighter, and just today, a woman. (The only disguise suggestion I pursued was a homosexual at an anti-gay conference.)
4. All the peeps: Dale aka Bicycle man, Don the junk collector, Joe the comedian, Kathleen the barkeep, Ken the bathroom DJ, Dan the Turkey hunter, Tom the Gnome man, Pam the nudist, Leah the teacher, Manoj the architect, Jared the artist, Justin and Elesha the singers, Wolf the tattoo artist, George the Rassler, Fred the Catawba elder, Mark the cop, Carlton a Godsend editor along with the rest of the staff, and lastly the hick who recently asked me, "Are you that faggot from the Subway hamburger commercials?"
So then, what am I thinking? Allow me to introduce my religion: the paper towel theory. When it was first concocted, a nearby roll of Bounty served as a prop to represent overall happiness, and three shot glasses represented the sub-categories that move in conjunction up or down an imaginary axis based on how filled they are (with the goal being to reach the paper towel). These categories: 1. A rewarding or fun job. 2. The presence of great lifelong friends (or family) and 3. A positive significant-other situation. Yes it's an incredibly simplistic philosophy and borderline cheesy, but that's what I'm going with. So with my girlfriend in New York along with a gang of high school and college buddies and thousands of magazines and newspapers, it seems like the right choice. So goodbye dear Charlotte, keep growing and try not to let the bankers win.