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John Shuck, We Will Miss You
I learned yesterday from John Shuck's daughter Katy that John passed away early Thursday morning. It’s a tremendous loss. John was one of our great truth-speakers. He was a mainstay at False Flag Weekly News and returned to radio last spring. I will miss John's warmth and compassion, his sense of humor, and his insight into spiritual matters as well as current events. John was a man of unusual integrity. Unlike many people of intellect, he was open to the world and the possibility of experiencing radically new things and learning from them.
Below is a rough transcript of our Christmas 2019 interview.
Kevin Barrett: Welcome to Truth Jihad Radio. I'm Kevin Barrett, finding people telling you the most interesting truths that are being withheld from you by the usual suspects. And there are more of those great people out there than I would have imagined before I took this career path. And one of them is my guest today, John Schuck. Welcome John, and congratulations for telling too much truth.
John Shuck: Well, well, thank you, Dr. Barrett. I mean, that is very kind of you. And in fact, as we go along, I felt the same for you. In fact, I dedicated my last radio show to you and and to Dr. Griffin, for those people who stepped out of their comfort zones to tell the truth.
Kevin Barrett: And that was very moving, thank you, and it's quite an honor to be mentioned in the same breath with David Ray Griffin, another real Christian that I greatly admire. So let's tell the story for the listeners. Many of the listeners probably haven't heard that you've been censored on your radio show at KBOO Portland, largely for trying to feature me. And then you've also run into some problems at your church, apparently. Tell us about it.
John Shuck: Interestingly, I think you feature into both places.
Kevin Barrett: I'm always getting people into trouble,
John Shuck: A good kind of trouble and trouble that I very much appreciate. Yes, I did radio professionally early on in my career for four or five years, and then I went into the ministry and have been a professional minister, a clergy person in the Presbyterian Church USA, for 27 years. And I just finished my church job. November 24th was my last Sunday. I resigned. The conflicts were getting to a point where I realized I just didn't want to do this anymore. It had to do with the things that I was saying. It had to do with content, which was good for the church to kind of spell that out. It had to do with my speaking out against the war machine; my interaction with Islam, which is kind of interesting; and then "conspiracy theories," as they would say. So that had to do with not only preaching, but my social media and whatnot. And then the radio station, which I did as an extra part of my ministry, my public ministry. I started that when I was in a church in Tennessee, then carried that over here and then got involved in KBOO.
John Shuck: And I was very excited about being involved in KBOO as a progressive place, a liberal place. And that's where I come from, that's kind of my home, this liberal progressivism. And to find a connection there, and then to suddenly run into this brick wall — that just confused me completely. When I tried to have you on on the on the show, it was met with really a nasty smear campaign from the local Antifa group, calling you names, Holocaust denier and anti-Semitic (with) a video of selections of things that you had said which didn't seem really that bad, even out of context. In fact, they weren't bad (even) outside of context. But it was framed...Anti-Semitism was was the big deal. And so I found that to be really, really difficult. And when I challenged this—it was really kind of unbelievable that this was happening. I thought, you know, smear campaigns, people will get that it's a radio station, after all. But they really did not, and were quite deferential to those who led the smear campaign. And so it then ended up going on for 20 months.
I'm trying to appeal this decision and have you be able to defend yourself, and the only thing I got was resistance. They'd bring it up and then I'd get a letter back from management. And so it was never really (about) having an honest conversation about free speech. And finally, as it turned out, when my church job ended, I did my last sermon (and) I just kind of told my truth to my church of what was important to me, and that is that we need to end these wars and we need to wake up about it. We need to wake up about the forces that are lying to us. We need to hold on to our truths. And a lot of that had to do with these false flags, such as...9/11 was a big one. And I couldn't, you know, it's like you get... What do they call that that phrase, gaslighting, where they make you feel that you're crazy, right? When you're just saying what you see in front of you? And for me, it was easy. Building seven comes down in 2.5 seconds...
Kevin Barrett: Six and a half seconds. Yeah, the people who don't understand the significance of that must be crazy as far as I'm concerned. They're not crazy, but there's some kind of mental block that's preventing them from seeing obvious reality, which is traditionally the definition of psychosis. So somebody is crazy here, but I don't think it's us.
John Shuck: That's it, exactly. But the propaganda is continually hammered against those of those of us who say, Hey, this happened. This is an obvious thing. And so, in light of that, I just kind of told my congregation, this is where I am. These are people who I admire. David Ray Griffin, because he's a Christian theologian and gave the scholarship to the movement of 9/11 truth with his books, The New Pearl Harbor, and the one that got him in trouble with the Presbyterian Church, Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11. That's how I first got introduced to him. And then and you and your work — my connection with you, meeting you in Portland in February 2018 — and your work in just going on and just saying it, saying what's going on and continually opening up conversations about things.
So it's been an exciting time for me in these last couple of years. I'll just give a quick start. I kind of started down this path of saying I needed to be more outspoken about 9/11 when I saw Massimo Mazzucco's movie September 11: The New Pearl Harbor on a continuing education week retreat. And I read that and I saw that movie and I realized there are a lot of things that need to be talked about here, especially the psychological aspect of those blocks that we have from being able to see what is in front of us. Why is it that we can't do that? Why? Why is why are we so blocked from being able to understand hard truths? And so that was kind of my series of sermons that started me down a path of feeling I needed to be more open as a clergy person preaching in a church, rather than just taking the safe path. And well, it's led to some sacrifices, but ultimately I feel more alive than ever.
Kevin Barrett: Well, you're walking in the path of the prophets. One of the most recurring themes in the Quran, if not the most recurring theme, is God kind of consoling the prophet by saying: this path of prophecy, of telling the hard truths that are inconvenient, especially for the mala' or the notables, the wealthy and powerful people in society. It's a very hard path, and they're going to have rust on their hearts and they're going to be deaf, dumb and blind and not listen to you. And you're just here to to give the warning and the promise and tell the truth, and you're not responsible for how they react to it. That's in the majority of the suras in the Qur'an. You're going to find that same theme recurring. And to me, that in a way is really one of the key things about Quran is that globally encompassing view of walking the path of truth of all of the prophets from Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, peace upon all of them, and presumably others, the Buddha or Lao Tzu or whoever. All prophets have told truths that are hard for the wealthy and powerful people and others who are hiding truth from themselves for what they think is their own benefit. It's hard for them to accept. And so I think a religious vocation always involves this. If it doesn't, then you know you're not doing it right. And so it sounds to me like you're doing it right.
John Shuck: Well, thank you for saying that. Sometimes it doesn't feel right. It feels very lonely, actually. And part of the professional aspect of it is that you end up losing a lot of your connections. One of the things that I lost this past year — I've been very involved with my denomination. I've always been kind of a thorn in its side a little bit in some ways, but nonetheless very much connected to part of my family and the Facebook group. There's a Facebook group called Happy to be a Presbyterian, and I've been connected with that group since it started. I suppose it's kind of the social media living room of our denomination. It has like 11000 members to it. I was banned from it.
Kevin Barrett: What is it, like a little happy face living room where everybody has to put the little smiley button on?
John Shuck: Happy to Be Presbyterian! Isn't that funny?
Kevin Barrett: You're making them unhappy?
John Shuck: "No longer happy." (laughter) And of course the thing that got me in trouble — all I did was I went on there — and it has political things, people can put up whatever they want, it's just an open group and they argue back and forth, whatever. And I put on there the study that was done at the University of Alaska about Building Seven and its collapse, and I just linked to the study. And it was removed like in 38 seconds or 38 minutes. And then I put it up again. And again. It was removed a third time. And I went to talk to the moderators. I know them. So what happened? "We didn't take it down. Maybe Facebook did. So maybe the NSA did. Who knows?" Anyway, as it turns out, there was a fourth moderator I didn't even know about. He had come in and eliminated it. And when I started to complain to him, he said, Well, it wasn't scientific and whatever.
Kevin Barrett: Wait a second. What were his credentials for weighing in on that study?
John Shuck: Right. He has none. Yeah, that, and he didn't think the conversation was going anywhere, so he deleted it. Every time I posted a link to that study, it was removed. And when I finally complained to the other moderators about him, they said, "You've been banned because you broke the rules." So I said, OK...
Kevin Barrett: That was the rule against complaining about bad moderation.
John Shuck: I guess so. I guess I just shouldn't have complained. I shouldn't have whined about it. I don't know.
Kevin Barrett: Moderators are there to stop people from getting into flame wars and insulting each other with intemperate language and things like that. But how could anybody defend taking down a reference to a university's scientific study that has momentous political and historical ramifications? Well, I guess that question answers itself.
John Shuck: I think that's the key right there. So it showed me again that these connections that I've had with my institutions are really not worth it if they prevent you from telling what you think is true. If you can't tell the truth in front of a group of people, in front of a relationship that you have, and in order to keep that relationship, you have to not tell the truth or hide it or deny it or whatever, I don't think the relationship is worth keeping.
Kevin Barrett: Well, you did an interesting sermon recently. I just read a bunch of your sermons and they are great sermons. If you had a church anywhere near me, I would be a churchgoing Muslim every Sunday morning to listen to that stuff. And one of them is about the demonic possession of institutions. And you quoted a book I wasn't familiar with, a theology book, that discusses the way that institutions often become guilty of idolatry, that is, taking something other than God to worship. That's the classic definition. But these institutions, which are designed to do something positive for worship of God and building a God-worshipping community and so on, eventually they start trying to just promulgate themselves. And so the Catholic Church thinks it will do better if it launders money for the Gladio drug mafia through the Vatican bank, because it doesn't like communism and the CIA drug mafia doesn't like communism. So let's work with the CIA. It's actually good for the institution, good for the Catholic Church, right? We'll get lots of money! And that's the way they think. And once you've done that, your institution is becoming demonically possessed. It's committing shirk, or idolatry. It's not about worshipping God anymore, it's about keeping the institution going, getting it more and more worldly wealth and power. So you had a really great sermon on this idea of demonically-possessed institutions. And you mentioned David Ray Griffin's work on the way the US government is now demonic. I would add the Zionist entity as well. Please talk a little bit about institutions becoming demonically possessed.
John Shuck: Yeah, I think the other book that I had mentioned there was Walter Wink. He wrote a series of books called The Power Series, naming the powers, unmasking the powers and engaging the powers. He did this back in the 90s. He was a biblical scholar in the Methodist tradition and a very interesting guy. He did a lot when apartheid was happening, going down there to South Africa and leading Bible studies with people. And I had a chance to do a retreat with him back in the mid-90s, and that's where I got introduced to his work. And it was really fascinating because he was a biblical scholar, definitely in the enlightenment tradition. And yet he really had a spiritual, enthusiastic aspect. We yelled the Lord's Prayer, for example, at the top of our lungs. Those kinds of things. Thy kingdom come, you know?
Kevin Barrett: That sounds like some of the tariqa dhikrs in Morocco where people get really excited.
John Shuck: Yeah, that's him. And he took all of the odd parts of the Bible, the things that most Enlightenment scholars don't talk about, the demonic aspects and the powers. The powers that are — it's not flesh and blood, but the powers behind all of that that you can't see. That's where the real thing is. And so he talked about institutions, governments, churches, everything has been created to do its job, to do good by God. But the demonic enters in, like demons bunching around, like Hollywood or something like that. But really, it has to do with, like you say, when it becomes self-absorbed, those little things that we do to, as you mentioned, to survive for ourselves, you make deals with the devil, so to speak, all along the way, and that ends up really corrupting who we are. And so that sermon that you're talking about was based on the text of Jesus going into the land of the Gerasenes. And there's a man possessed by demons. And he's living in among the tombs. And he's chained up. And he breaks the chains. People can't figure out what to do with him. And so Jesus goes in and casts the demon out. And the demon goes into a bunch of pigs. The demon wants to be sent into the pigs, so Jesus sends him into the pigs and they go down and drown in the lake. And then the people who live there see this happen. And then they tell Jesus, say, we don't want you, get out of here.
John Shuck: So why is it that people would rather have the demonic than that? Of course, the Legion is the name of the demon, which is an obvious symbol for Roman occupation of the Jews at that time, and the Jews don't eat pork. So what were these pigs for? Well, the pigs are probably to service the occupying army. So here are people making a deal, right? Their economy is driven on funding this occupation that oppresses them, but they'd rather have that than be free. And I think that is so true for so much of why we can't get beyond what we are. Congress just passed $738 billion (military spending bill) — bipartisan, right? That's the one thing all of our Congress agrees on: going ahead and keeping the war machine going. And we do that because every congressperson gets paid by it in some form or another. It's so influential in all of our lives where we live. Every congressperson's backyard has some kind of thing that supports this military industrial deal, as well as forces from the outside, as you mentioned with Israel. So you've got all of that together. So we tend to allow the demonic to kind of take us over a little, bit by bit by bit. And I think the task — and David Ray Griffin points this out — is that the job of the church is to expose this demonic and to unmask it, in the words of Walter Wink, and engage it. But we just cannot do that. I don't know if there's any church that can take this preaching in the American empire.
Kevin Barrett: If the people in the church just did what you do, it would work. But you know, your analysis of this Gadarene swine parable in the Bible echoes with a book I'm reading right now, which is Joan Mellen's book on Mac Wallace. It's called Faustian Bargains. Mac Wallace committed at least one murder for Lyndon Johnson. He was convicted of first degree murder and given a suspended sentence. So he he got off, walked out a free man, cheering and celebrating, for time served, like 12 hours or 16 hours in jail when they first arrested him. The Faustian bargains metaphor in the title refers to both the bargains that Mack Wallace, who was a decent left liberal idealist in college, made throughout his life to take him where he ended up, which it looks like was probably hell in the end. And then there's Lyndon Johnson, the ultimate Faustian bargain guy. Maybe he was the devil himself, I don't know. When he was told that "this Vietnam War is not winnable, it's dooming us, you can't have your great society and pay for Vietnam too, this is a terrible idea, you should just get out," He said, "I can't get out of Vietnam. All my friends are making lots and lots of money on it." So it's still the same old, same old. It's the same reason today why nobody in Congress can stand up against this war machine, as you said, or against the Zionist component of the war machine, which is responsible for a lot of the campaign contributions they're getting.
Kevin Barrett: Religion theoretically is the place where the voice of the prophetic comes through and tells the truth about these matters and makes these people ashamed of themselves and hopefully changes their behavior, or at least enough of it that the world gets better and closer to what God wants. But the religious institutions do seem to be just about as corrupted by these Faustian bargains as the political institutions, which is really sad state of affairs.
John Shuck: Yeah, I realized in these past years that I would have little luck changing an institution. But I think preaching is about trying to hit an individual...you know, one at a time. So when you talk about the prophets, all the prophets from the Hebrew scriptures are failures. They didn't succeed. In fact, many of them died before their time. The only reason their thing is in the Bible is because the future looked back on them: Oh, this guy told the truth. But in his own lifetime, it didn't happen. And in fact, many of the things that they predicted, the doom and gloom, really did happen. The point is that the prophet spoke to other people who would take that and come back with it later. It's about waking up people. And you don't know how it's going to happen, but people can wake up and then suddenly do changes later on. So you don't get the measured effects of being able to to correct an institution. But individuals can can hear it and then wake up another one, and another one. And I think that's kind of the idea of the hope to come.
Kevin Barrett: It looked like that might work with the internet, allowing people to start sending messages to far more people than they could in the pre-internet era. But now, with all the censorship, there seems to be pushback against this kind of red pilling process where each individual awakens their local network. The key nodes in the network are being targeted for censorship.
John Shuck: That's right. That's definitely the the plotters' plot. We hope that, as the Koran will say, they plotted and God plotted, but God is the best plotter.
Kevin Barrett: Right. So let's talk a little bit about your love for Imam Hussein. This is really unusual. I can see why your sermons probably alarmed many Presbyterians. You're the only Christian minister I know of whose sermons begin with quotes of the Qur'an, not just once, but at least a couple of your sermons. Like one of them begins with surat al-Inshirah: A lam nashrah laka sadrak, wa wada'na 'anka wizrak: God has expanded thy breast... And then what's the other one? You quoted another beautiful sura. Was it ash-Shams, The Sun? Anyway, you've been quoting Qur'anic suras in the opening of your sermons, and this has started happening due to your discovering there are some Shia Muslims near you, and you looked into their practice and made a pilgrimage. And I think we talked about that on the show once before, your pilgrimage to Karbala, Iraq. But maybe talk a little bit about the commonalities between Islam and Christianity that you've experienced.
John Shuck: Yes. One of the things that is a disadvantage with Christians is that Christians don't know anything about the Qur'an. That's a big generalized statement, but generally we don't. And the reason? Historically, "Muhammadism" was was considered a heresy. So there's the negative aspect of that. And yet at the same time, we Christians have incorporated the Hebrew scriptures. So what has happened is that Islam has been left out. And because of that, even before I went on Hussain's trip, I always feel it's very important to include the Koran in Christian worship, to recognize that Christians don't have to give up being a Christian to accept that the Koran tells the truth, and Muhammad is a prophet for all of us.
When I was in Tennessee, we read the Qur'an through in a year to try to become familiar with it. So there's a lot of Christian bad blood, there is a lot of propaganda and a lot of misunderstanding over the centuries, as well as in current times. And in terms of prejudice against Muslims, that the Koran has not been seen as a book which Christians can embrace. So that's part of the strategy of including the Koran into worship services: to help people say yes, the Koran is not this bad book.
It's a book of of revelation from God, and it's for us as well. So there's that part. But I also did have a real amazing experience in going to Karbala. And when I discovered this figure, Hussein, peace be upon him, it was like, Wow, there's a mirror image of Jesus right there, and here are all of these people, 20 million, 30 million people, very devoted at a at an emotional level, telling me that his ultimate thing was about sacrifice, about giving oneself for for what? For God, for what is good, for what is just for what is right. And I thought, Well, that's that's a similar story to who I understand Jesus to be. So suddenly I have as I said in one sermon, two figures haunting me now, Jesus and Hussein, who are both really brothers in this quest. And so there's a lot going on here. First of all, thinking of the Shia connection, is there is a Shia Islamic center just across the street from my church. And so it all kind of fell into place.
And when I had known nothing about Shia Islam, I didn't know anything about Hussein before all of this started to happen. But I recognize that many of the people from the center were from places like Iran and from Lebanon and Iraq, mostly all places that the United States has been at war with. And so I thought, Well, gosh, they've got something to say. I want to hear what's going on. And so it was mostly just curiosity and wanting to find out what was really central to to their faith, and to find that we ought to be able to work together on this. And it's amazing how much resistance there is to that. I get a lot of propaganda regarding Shia Islam, and in terms of the walk (to Karbala) and what it means. But I saw that walk really as a sign of a movement. First of all, a sign of the oppression of the world in terms of the Israel-Saudi-US dominance and abuse and killing in the Middle East—a sign of that, but also a sign of hope of real resistance. And it centered on this one figure, Hussein, who gave of himself for the cause of justice and for truth. And so it just really hit me intellectually, powerfully, and then when I had a chance to go there...
And even though this isn't necessarily part of my spirituality, visiting, you know, graves, that experience itself, of going and swimming through the bodies there with my brothers and touching and having be assisted to be able to touch the latticework above the tomb itself — a hand took mine and pushed it right up against it. And it was really an emotionally powerful experience for me. And so that is taken and carried with me. So that experience, as well as the intellectual aspect of understanding who Hussein was and his connection to Jesus, as well as (the fact that) this is happening in Iraq, the country that we've bombed, really showed something's happening. And so I took it into my heart and also realized that this is happening for the world: we need to be on the right side here and Americans need to wake up and see what side are we on? And all of this media propaganda that we're hearing from, and it doesn't matter if it's MSNBC to Fox News, and your listeners know all of this, but this is relatively new to me and to my congregation, of recognizing how much we've just been deceived continuously. And yet here is this powerful movement in the midst of Iraq that is really a sign of hope.
Kevin Barrett: I can see kind of a Christian view of that, in that the West has really kind of crucified Iraq. As I recall, Gideon Polya has counted at least 10 million Iraqis murdered by the British and U.S. since, I believe, the 1950s. Saddam Hussein got his start as a CIA hit man and took it from there. So how did your parishioners react to this crucifixion? And then the resurrection of Iraq would be this Axis of Resistance rising, symbolized in the pilgrimage to Karbala. So the people in the church who told you the content of your sermons was the problem — how did they react to this?
John Shuck: Yeah, that's good, I'm glad you mentioned that that aspect of the resurrection is a Christian — yeah, very much so. Well, I was honestly — naivete is apparently part of my blood, because I couldn't believe honestly that people would think that this was anything but fantastic. So I go there, and I come back and we make this little documentary about it. And for those who'd like to watch, it's For Love of Hussein on YouTube.
And at first, I think people were very interested. And then suddenly something turned. And I don't know exactly what that was. It's still hard for me right now to put my finger on on why it was. There could have been a number of reasons. People might have been just kind of, whoa, he's become a Muslim. In fact, that's what people thought, that I had just like switched religions or something, and I kept trying to say, no, it's just when you have an interfaith encounter, I mean, it's not really an interfaith encounter if you don't react at the level of the heart, that you don't take a risk that you might be transformed in this, that there's God speaking through somebody else. And then that's the point of it. It isn't that I'm switching one religion to another. I'm pretty bad at religion. Johnny Cash said he was a C minus Christian, and it would be a good thing for me to be (even) at that level.
Kevin Barrett: If you could preach the way Johnny Cash could sing and play guitar, even if you're C-plus, that's still pretty good.
John Shuck: Yeah. So the church, I think, was a little frightened, probably. And maybe it was a matter of strategy on my end, that I could have gone slower or done it better this way or that way, I don't know. But I think they were a little put off, threatened a little bit...
Kevin Barrett: "I feel sorry for our minister. He's turned into a Muslim. What are we going to do?"
John Shuck: That would be a good thing, I would think! (laughter)
Kevin Barrett: Well, I'm sure they're taught the theology. In traditional Christian terms, it's theologically incorrect to accept the prophetic vocation of Muhammad, peace upon him. I don't think it necessarily should be. But traditionally the definition of Christian has been the people that stopped at Jesus and said, nobody after that can be that relevant, right? Just like in Islam, we have the same issue with people who've come after the Prophet Muhammad peace upon him. No matter how holy they are, you can't call him a prophet. They're a saint. They're not a prophet, right? So there is this structure of the institution, and you are really challenging an important part of it there.
John Shuck: Yeah, I think so. All of our institutions end up taking the lowest common denominator part of it. And for me, it's about really finding out what is true and heartfelt. For example, I know we're going to have debates over what happened to Jesus, and I find all of those things rather tedious because what I really see is that Jesus and Muhammad and Hussein and all these people are really powerfully connected and connected with one another and connected with us because they tell a truth about the powers outside that stop the good will of God from happening, or try to stop it. And so that's the real essence to me of religion, all religions, regarding all of its trappings of what kind of robes you're supposed to wear and do this or that, and all the rules and all of that stuff. But really, it's about, you know, finding that power to be able to resist the demonic, the evil. And that's a reality. I'm assuming that demonic has has has a reality in Islam, too.
Kevin Barrett: Oh, yeah, absolutely. ]Islam actually has a whole description of how it works with a cosmology that is pretty much in line with Neoplatonism. God is seen as this ultimate unity and point of creation, of absolute intensity and absolute oneness. And then God's creation is what God "dreams" or through whatever you want, however you want to talk about God's creative power, the world of multiplicity is brought into being. And at the highest level, closest to God is the angelic realm, which is beings of metaphorically, presumably, pure light. And then a little further away from God is the realm of fire. And then even further away from God is the land of matter of sort of dark and moist matter. That's the space-time material world that we inhabit. And so actually the demonic, in the sense of the beings of fire, the realm of the jinn, ss "closer" to God than we are. But within that realm, there are intelligent beings that some of them are benign and have chosen to go with us to say yes to creation and yes to God. And then there are those that have rebelled against God, led by the Shaitan. It's pretty much the same story as in Christianity. So this in this cosmology, the demonic is quite real in the sense that — I know in your sermon you were using it metaphorically, but in the traditional way of seeing it, and I think perhaps in actual reality, the demonic is real. There really are intelligent entities that inhabit this part of the universe that normally we don't encounter with our sensory apparatus.
Kevin Barrett: And within that realm, there are unfortunately these bad spirits — and I know atheists or people who are totally non-religious who have accepted this based on their experience of things. Gordon Duff of Veterans Today, the editor over there who saw briefings on alleged extraterrestrial entities while he was in the C*A, believes that there is an investiture ceremony for the Rothschilds and other elite groups that involves calling forth a demon helper to the young elite member who is going to be part of this billionaire's club that rules the world. And so they have a guiding tutelary malign spirit. And I actually think that's probably true. Only God knows these things, but it looks to me like there really is that kind of "demonic." So in that case, the prophetic vocation of all of the prophets, peace upon all of them, includes to to resist the demonic, which is quite real. Of course, it's a tough vocation in a lot of ways. For me, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the arrows getting shot into Hussein, are not so much the scoffing of the doubters and the people who are hurling abuse on those of us who try to tell the truth. But really, the arrows that are the most numerous and painful are actually just having to put energy and consciousness into all of this bad stuff, all of this demonic stuff.
If your vocation were not to resist the demonic, you could presumably be much more of a positively oriented person focusing on on the joys of enlightenment, like many mystics who have reached a state where they're in permanent ecstasy — which has a painful side, I suppose. But if you're focused on resisting the demonic, or even if you just have an internet radio show where you talk about really bad stuff all the time, that's the arrows of Hussein for me, anyway, like every time I have to read another gosh darn Jeffrey Epstein story and think about that creep, it's another arrow. So I don't know. What do you think about that? What do you think about to what extent is this "resisting the demonic" part of what everybody is called to do? And if so, how do we avoid —there's a favorite famous Nietzsche statement "don't stare too long into the abyss or the abyss starts staring back into you." So what's the balancing point there between all-out resisting the bad stuff, seeking out worse and worse and worse stuff to resist and expose with the truth, or however you are trying to resist it—versus trying to turn away from all of the darkness and evil in the world and stare into the bright sunlight of the good?
John Shuck: Boy, that's great. You put it really well right there, that whole thing. Yeah, resisting the demonic is not all the fun it's cracked up to be.
Kevin Barrett: Tell me about it!
John Shuck: Well, you know, I'll tell you a little bit. This is a little part of my story as well. I first got in trouble with my denomination and with everybody because I was the atheist minister. Ok, so in fact, if you go on the friendly atheist website, you'll find an article there that I posted. I'm a Presbyterian minister who doesn't believe in God. And part of that was, oh gosh, my work with the Jesus Seminar and a Western Christianity that has basically kind of dissolved itself into secularism. There's a whole lot to say about that. And so God and religion itself was really language. And so when you mention that I talk about the demonic as metaphorical, it all comes from that. But I think there is a reality. In fact, that's been a change that's happened in me. So I used to think that the universe was pretty much indifferent, that Galileo put God out of a home and Darwin put God out of a job. And there's nothing left except for, you know, it. The universe existed as it did, and it doesn't need any supernaturalism. Well, it's been actually my experience a little bit with with Islam, as well as with some other thinkers like David Ray Griffin's book God Exists, But Gawd Does Not.
Kevin Barrett: Yeah, that's a great book.
John Shuck: Yeah. And so his work enabled me because I realized part of it had to do with the emotional part: I kind of need the universe to be on my side! It's not enough to be able to take on all of this stuff. And my first taking on had to do with peak oil and stuff. That was back in 2006 when I realized, gosh, we're right at the end. There's going to be a collapse coming. And I still think it is coming, and it'll be a dramatic one. That's kind of what started me out on all of this. And what's the spirituality behind it? And all I really had was, you know, atheism, so to speak. So being able to kind of discover God again through process thinking that God exists in every aspect, creating the world out of chaos, and chaos has its own power and creativity to go back. But nonetheless, that for me has been important spiritually to be able to recognize that if I have to do this on my own or just a bunch of humans trying to take these things on, all of these things that you just mentioned, it's really hopeless.
It is really for me. It's really, you know, ultimately tilting at windmills. But there's a sense, and that's just the spiritual change that I think has happened with me, is that no, there's someone on our side here that we call God. And and this enables us to not only just resist the bad stuff, but we have to also look at the good stuff of life too. And look at the possibility that exists, and look at these stories of people who throughout our religious traditions and throughout our history who have done the good things, have been able to to make life beautiful and true and lovely. And that's our focus, too. That really is the primary focus. This evil part, this resistance, is a distortion. And it's very powerful, but it isn't ultimately all powerful. And so I continually go back to that. But you're right, you can get really lost. When you face the abyss constantly, we have to find ways in which to find the divine presence in all of this. That gives us encouragement and compassion and a love for life as it is.
Kevin Barrett: There are those great Quranic lines: The truth appears and lies shrivel into nothingness. And truth bashes out the brains of lies. But that process seems to take a while sometimes. So what are you up to next? You're out of a church, you're out of a broadcasting job, and I assume you're not going to be applying as the the local spokesperson for Antifa anytime soon. Rose City Antifa is not on your list of prospective employers. So what do you see coming for yourself? How are you going to continue your work?
John Shuck: Just one thing with Antifa: I like a lot of the things (they say). I like justice.
Kevin Barrett: Nothing wrong with being a social justice warrior if you're really doing it right.
John Shuck: Yeah, it's just this smearing of other people who are not getting that. But anyway, I don't know. I am in an in-between place. A liminal state, for sure. I'm not sure what what is next for me. I have some time because I have a severance package from my church, so that's good. And so I have some time to kind of figure it out. Right now in front of me are my robe and my stoles and all of the symbols of of ministry. I don't know if I'll ever wear them again. I mean, that is kind of a strain. So I've probably got a lot of therapy to go through to figure out who I am right now. And I don't know what that will be. So I'm not really sure honestly where this is going to go. But I imagine it will. I will find out when I need to find out. I don't know how that will happen. So I'm certainly open to whatever is going to fall into place. It's kind of wild. I'm 58 years old. I kind of hoped that this was going to be my retirement job. You know, those security questions are real. But it doesn't look like that — that isn't going to happen. So I don't know. It could still be something, I suppose, within the institution if anybody would have me now. But if not, then I'll do something else.
Kevin Barrett: Well, listeners, if you want yet another reason to go all out for 9/11 truth, it's because if we win on this thing, people like John Shuck and Kevin Barrett probably will have a better chance of surviving into their deep retirement years, right?
John Shuck: Yeah. But like I said before, I don't think I've ever felt quite so much alive as I have been. And there's something to that. I don't know if you experienced that yourself? I've read your story in your book (Truth Jihad) when you were at University of Wisconsin, Madison. Did you feel that sense of liberation? Or was it pretty much all just bad news all the time?
Kevin Barrett: It was both. It was about 50-50, really. You know, the downside was, Oh my God, after all of this jumping through academic hoops, which isn't the worst thing to have to do in the world. But still, you know, I had a really rigorous PhD program thanks to the late lamented Harold Scheub, my advisor, quite a rigorous guy. I really worked hard to get that PhD, and I'm just about to get going in my career and suddenly this 9/11 thing comes along. So it was kind of frustrating in that respect, and especially for my wife who had done as much of the sacrificing as I had. But there was also that liberating aspect. I got into this academic game to be an honest public intellectual. And here (with 9/11) I have a chance to really be an honest public intellectual, so let's go for it, you know? So there is definitely a liberation and excitement to that. So you're also you're learning tawakkul, reliance on Allah.
John Shuck: Yes. Yes, my friend Imam Muhsin al-Dalami, who's at the Islamic Center, says we call this a test. I said, OK.
Kevin Barrett: That's one of the many cool themes in Koran, that life is a test. That's really why God created us, to see what we could do. And some of us are going to do better than others. But that's really what it's all about. And we all have to do our best. I find that the basic Islamic doctrines on things just make more common sense to me than most of the sort of classical Christian theological doctrines, much less Judaism or..Buddhism? That's a different story. A lot of Buddhism makes sense. Anyway, the basic idea is that life is a test and we're responsible for what we do and we'll be judged for what we do. And if what we do weighs well in balance, the good things we do weigh well in balance with the bad things, then we will be in a better position when we step off into eternity. And that makes sense to me. The idea of being just a hopeless sinner whose sins are only redeemed by the death of somebody else, no matter how wonderful that person was and how momentous their death. That never really made sense to me. Like Patti Smith said, Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine. So I could go on like this all day and preach a sermon about why Islam makes sense. Butwe only have a few minutes left. Why is it that the many sensible and wonderful aspects of Islam are so massively hidden from the American people, while these bizarre extremist distortions of Islam are all anybody ever gets to see?
John Shuck: That's a good question. I want to go back to Jesus and sacrifice for just for a second. And this is my thing. Christianity had it wrong. They had it wrong. From the very beginning, thinking that Jesus died for your sins. He didn't die for anybody's sins. And that's where Hussein helps Christians. For those Christians who do want to affirm that Jesus was martyred — and I do — and that it was a sacrifice, the sacrifice was like Hussein's sacrifice: he sacrificed himself, and for goodness. And that is how David Ray Griffin talks about communion. That's what we should think about when we remember Jesus who was faithful to his resistance to the empire, even to his execution on a Roman cross. So I think that Christianity can learn from Islam in terms of understanding Jesus. First of all, he never was divine. Being a son of God was a title. Given to him, as Augustus was son of God. Well, the scandal is that Augustus isn't the special one here. Jesus is the one. Because he resisted with love. Anyway, there's a lot to be said about that. But I think one of the reasons why Christianity, why Americans, do not get Islam? I think partly it's because it's a religion that came after, and so we didn't regard it as important and didn't take the texts in.
Historically there have been old battles in the past. But I think primarily, in my opinion, (the problem) is propaganda because we want to take over Muslim countries' stuff. So that's part of it. And then at the end of the day, I think one of the things that's common in all these experiences that I've had with the Happy to Be a Presbyterian site as well as the radio station as well as the church, is this (issue of) free speech, and how important it is to have a pedestal somewhere in the public square that just says "truth" on it, like the old B.C. comics, right? That space needs to be protected. And that should be the job of of institutions, of churches, to say no matter what, we will keep this space open. And that's what we're losing, isn't it, in our country, that place where people can speak their truth. And I think that needs to happen. And I'm afraid that it's being lost.
Kevin Barrett: Well, we're striving to keep that space open here at Truth Jihad Radio for people like you, John Shuck. I am absolutely just in ecstatic amazement at the wonder of your work. You know, when I started the Muslim Jewish Christian Alliance for Truth back in 2005, I looked fairly hard for professional religious people who could take this up. And you're beyond anything that I ever could have expected back then, and I really admire your work to the end of the Earth. Keep it up, brother. God bless, and I look forward to more conversation.
John Shuck: Absolutely. Dr. Barrett, thank you and thank you for your work and truth telling. And I look forward to a good partnership.