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Monday, October 17, 2005

Rue Morgue magazine: "The Church of the Heavenly Wood" ...


... for those of you who missed the article in last year's double sized Halloween issue of Rue Morgue magazine, here is the entire article in its entirety, as written by satiny-voiced super nice guy Stuart "Feedback" Andrews ...


It's not easy to convince people to take you seriously when you're the founder of a religion that exists only on the internet. Steve Galindo from Sacramento, California knows this cruel fact of life all too well. "It's difficult," he confesses to Rue Morgue, "because for every one religion that's serious, you get ten Church of SpongeBob SquarePants and William Shatner religions that are a complete joke."


These are surprisingly strong words when you take into account that Reverend Steve (as he's known to his congregation) is the Pope and founder of The Church of the Heavenly Wood; an alternative faith devoted to the worship of the notoriously inept filmmaker, Edward D. Wood Jr; a man who, from a strictly artisan comparison, makes William Shatner look like Marlon Brando. "We don't consider him to be the Savior," explains Reverend Steve, "but he is a Savior and by looking to Ed Wood and his films and his life, we hope to better ourselves."


Created in 1996 and still going strong, Woodism (as they call it) boasts over 3,000 legally baptized followers from all around the world with unsually strong numbers in Italy, Germany and Mexico. (Insert your own sociological theories here.) But don't be fooled. These Woodites are one hundred per cent serious. To the Woodian faithful, a viewing of Tim Burton's Ed Wood is likely to evoke the same sort of embarrassing splutters and messy sobs that Mel Gibson's recent WWF inspired splatterfest induces in many a fundamentalist Christian. For helping to spread the word of Wood, Burton himself has been canonized as a bona fide Saint of Woodism. When asked if the bedraggled director was aware of this great honour, the Reverend told us, "Yes. He seemed vaguely excited about it and possibly a little bit scared."


So why the hell would anyone choose to base an entire religion around such an infamously inept filmmaker anyway? "He has a Libertarian punk sort of quality to him," explains the Reverend. "He was a very independent person. You know, it took a lot of guts and testicular fortitude to be an alcoholic transvestite filmmaker in the 50's and 60's making the type of movies that he did. I consider him to be a success through failure. He was probably the most successful failure in mankind because he kept getting knocked down and his films kept making no money and he kept having his heart broken by Hollywood but he still continued to do what his dream was. In our religion, he's representative of the perseverance of the human spirit. If you stay strong, and you're optimistic, you can overcome all obstacles."


(to learn more about the life of Ed Wood, click here ...)


After talking to the Reverend for some time, it becomes increasingly clear that Woodians don't watch Ed Wood's films the way the rest of us do. They look beyond the spaceships that dangle on strings and the cardboard tombstones that wobble in the wind, to gaze upon the very soul of Wood, and through him, to come to know the loving, merciful grace of the almighty himself. To the enlightened few, Plan 9 from Outer Space is not the worst atrocity ever perpetrated on the art of narrative cinema (as it is so widely and unjustly hailed), it is a deeply philosophical cinematic sermon, loaded with spiritual wisdom and prophetic warnings.


"Ed's films have heart to them," preaches the Reverend. "His films have a genuine honest to Wood love for movies that you don't see much of in today's computer dependent Hollywood. It's really easy to focus on the internet film flubs and laugh but Plan 9 is about peace loving aliens who get destroyed by the evil American government."


Of course, every great religion has to have an end of the world scenario and Woodism is no exception. With the Amazing Criswell (or Saint Criswell as he's known to the Woodian faithful), The Church of the Heavenly Wood has its very own Saint John the Apostle. One of Wood's stable of regular stars, Criswell was noted for his incredible psychic abilities. After all, this was the man responsible for uttering the chillingly prophetic words of warning at the beginning of Plan 9 from Outer Space, "Future events such as these will affect YOU in the future!"


He predicted that the world would come to an end on exactly August, 18 1999 and because Criswell's predictions are usually almost always correct, in 1997, The Church of the Heavenly Wood officially announced this doomsday date to the entire world. Of course, if you're anything like me, you're no doubt shocked and amazed to look out the window to find that the planet is still there but you'd be very alarmed to learn just how close Criswell's ominous prediction really was.


"We found out that there was a Space Satellite, secretly sponsored by the United States," whispers Reverend Steve, "that was being used to carry hundreds of dangerous, poisonous chemicals through space. It was over Earth and ran into some problems on August 18th and almost crashed onto American soil. It was called the Cassini space vehicle and it actually happened and the world almost came to an end."


(to learn MORE about Criswell's prediction and how the world was saved, click here ...)


Phew! Close call! But I guess we can all thank Wood that the Amazing Criswell was only almost a psychic. (Very much in the same sense that Ed Wood was almost a filmmaker) But we may owe a lot more to The Church of the Heavenly Wood for helping to avert this catastrophe than you might think.


"I've got some OCD things going on in my head which really make things complicated," admits the Reverend, "but I think that possibly when the thing that I hoped wouldn't happen, doesn't happen, that it didn't happen because I thought it would. So, in that sense, if Woodism hadn't have announced that the world might come to an end on this date, the Cassini Space Satellite would've actually turned into an event where possibly the world would've ended."


Having helped humanity avert what was no doubt an almost imminent global disaster, Woodites all over the planet look to the future with a renewed optimism and enthusiasm not seen since Ed Wood himself stumbled upon his first reel of stock footage. On October 17th of this year, exactly one week after Ed Wood's birthday (better known to his believers as Woodmas), throngs of the Woodian faithful will converge in downtown Sacramento, California at the Crest theatre for a day long festival of Ed Wood movies, music and live baptisms. But Woodian heathens need not be shy. Don't expect to get down there to find a surly band of fundamentalist Woodian wackos. Woodites are a friendly, libertarian, peaceloving bunch who accept people from all walks of life and from all religious persuasions. They don't expect people to believe what they believe. They only want people to respect the fact that they believe it. If you think about it, Woodism may very well be the sanest religion we have! Put it this way. They're not about to wage a holy war with the Shatnertologists, that's for sure.


(to learn more about what was Edwoodstock, click here ...)


"We're not saying that Ed Wood is Jesus or that Ed Wood is God. Ed Wood is just a really wonderful person and we're focusing on his life and through him, we're finding bits of religion and bits of spirituality to help our own lives. Ed Wood didn't let the reality of the situation that he was in stop him from achieving his dreams and his dream was to make Plan 9 from Outer Space and he did it."

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