This morning I checked in on the homeless shepherd out of Oregon. If you’re not familiar with him, this is Aaron Fletcher, a man who has spent a decade or more as a homeless man wandering around Oregon with several milk producing sheep that pull his miniature wagon where he lives. He gets much of his food from the milk the sheep produce and I would imagine he also does barter with people and also gathers edibles along the roadway. They were hostile to him in Ashland, passing ordinances to keep him and his sheep out of the city. From his videos it looks like he spent some time on walkabout, making it north and then to the coast, only to return down south again, I would imagine because the terrain in the northern region of the state is probably not as conducive to guerrilla grazing as down south.

But, Aaron is really not the focus of this post. Instead, I wanted to tackle a video he put out that I took as a kind of personal challenge (not to me individually since I’ve never met this man). As a Christian I am very interested in cultic behavior. I’m also VERY interested in the claim Aaron levels in this video, that all of Christianity is a cult. Because, after all, I do agree with him: much of modern evangelicalism is not biblical, it is truly a cult. Many if not most churches today are cult organizations run by prideful, arrogant men who enjoy power and authority and desire to rule over a people. They are the Nicolaitans that Jesus warned about in Revelation. But, Aaron takes it a step further and is basically dismissing the Bible itself because of the contradiction he states is in Genesis 1-2.

I thought to myself. “If it’s all an error, if it’s just a cult and I’m not bound by Christianity or the Bible, this has several significant implications for my life. I would like to test his conclusion against what the Bible actually says and also against what I’ve experienced in my life in my own interactions with God.”

So, let’s jump in and see if Aaron is correct. Is Christianity a cult?

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Yesterday while on break at work I jumped onto Youtube and ran a quick search for van life. Lately I’ve had some problems with the YouTube algorithm in that it keeps recommending the same videos over and over again, as if I’ve already gone through all videos in that category.

To my surprise, though, this time around I was recommended a new video from a creator I’d never seen before, someone who was apparently living in her van full time, but rather than traveling around the country like most of them do, she was living in the same town and had a regular job and was more homeless than a “professional” van-lifer.

I watched her handful of videos, but then noticed that her postings had abruptly stopped two months ago. I watched the last video and there was no warning, no mention that she would be away from her channel or that she wouldn’t be posting anymore. This is not the first time someone has disappeared on Youtube. In fact, most creators I think end up burning out on the video platform after some time, buckling under the pressure of relentless filming and editing, but I think more just run out of things to say, things to film.

I immediately started to wonder, though, what happened to Toy Owl? Where is she? Is she okay? Did something terrible happen (my mind instinctively goes to catastrophe). So, I thought maybe I would talk about these kinds of abrupt disappearances that I increasingly find are just a part of life if you’re going to watch amateur creators online.

I just can’t shake the question, though, what happened to Toy Owl….

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With all the talk recently of the VA not paying my medical bills, with the possibility of bankruptcy and financial insolvency looming high over my head, it brings my mind back to a thought experiment I started several years ago but never finished. It is the question of, what would my life look like if I sold (or was forced to liquidate) all of my possessions and became homeless?

I will take some time over the next few months to answer this question, and maybe sketch out a glimpse of life without a house to protect me from the elements, or a car for transportation, or heat for warmth in the cold and rainy months of winter.

Follow along as I explore this idea in the series, Voluntary Homelessness.

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