The Loving and Open Arms of
The Causey Way
Nathan T. Birk
If there ever was a more ignored universal truth, it’s that Man needs myths — and good ones, at that, especially in the rock music realm. The thing is, most rock mythologies revolve around bloated decadence-begetting-even more bloated decay or, less so, preening Stagger Lee braggadocio. Thus, rock is as starved of a good myth as it is a good method to destroy any credibility “new metal” has. But I digress…
Fully compensating for the unfulfilled chaos Y2K seemed to promise, the Causey Way is as good of a rock myth as there is now. Though the band’s origins are foggy to say the least, this much has been learned: the Causey Way operates out of its compound somewhere near Gainesville, Florida, and has, to date, released two recordings, WWCD (Put It On a Cracker), and its newest, With Loving and Open Arms (Alternative Tentacles); however, numerous unaccredited field recordings are rumored to exist.
But that’s where any sort of normality ends. Where the paranormality begins is with the Causey Way’s concerted effort to fuse the secular with the non-secular: in other words, religion with rock. And though they may “rock” in the conventional sense of the word, the Causey Way’s “religion” is anything but convention. Led by the enigmatic preacher/guitarist Causey, the Way have pursued their idyllic, utopian ends with such a fervor that many have branded them a cult; to wit, the band has made numerous public television and radio appearances to dispel any such notions.
In any case, the fact still remains: the Causey Way is as radiant and larger-than-life as any self-contained entity, musical or otherwise, these days and points to a grander existence beyond sobering reality or self-effacing modesty. And there’s no better way to realize this than speaking with The Man — the ever-astute and -articulate Causey — mano y mano, as I had the chance to recently after he had recently returned from a tour of the States.
First off — and probably of interest to Causey aspirants — where do you draw the line between the sacred and secular in your life, if ever?
The line is being drawn, and the non-secular is becoming sacred to the Causey Way. One of the realities of the modern world is social change. Some changes occur so rapidly that we can only observe them over a few years. Others are long term and have been so gradual that individuals hardly see any change within their lifetimes. Religion can be a source of stability and certainty in times of change, but the Causey Way claims that if religion does not change with the times, it will become alien to the lives and experiences of the people.
In 1997, the Causey Way held a symposium on the topic of secularization. This meeting took place at the Causey Compound in the foothills of central Florida, and the unanimous decision was to make the Causey Way secular. The next question was how do we make the Causey Way secular, for the Causey Way is a commune and we cannot just let our guards down to the general public. We cannot even expose our geographical identity, for the fear of governmental intervention is our worse nightmare.
With three days of panel discussion, we had come to our decision. We would send the ACE (Aural Communications & Entertainment) division out into the secular world. The ACE is the entertainment of the Causey Compound; they play an evening concert every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday after a hard day’s work is put in by the people, the Causeys, of the Compound. The ACE now goes into the secular world of popular culture and holds a tour of services (i.e., concerts). The ACE is simply known to the secular world as the Causey Way.
How did the recent tour go?
The tour proved to be a success, with a 93% conversion count. With the Causey Way witnessed by so many people, the Causey Compound has been receiving at least two judgment forms a day, and these hopeful applicants are pleading to be Causey. When people write and offer all of their possessions to Causey — meaning they give up everything in their material displays of a life — I believe that is a good indication that people are indeed Causey. But to the point, I think that our tours have proven to be a tool of conversion.
During the tour, what were the audience reactions? More specifically, did you witness any new/different forms of religious dancing?
Reactions were magnificently spiritual; the people demanded to bring me tithes as we held our service. Dollars approached the stage as if they were human. These dollars spoke and said “use me Causey, for the good of your cause.” I truly believe the people were looking for something to believe in, and the Causey Way has given something to believe in — something solid, something wonderful. There were a few bad seeds at our services, but I, Causey, devastated them into believing. The people of Chico, California witnessed the power of Causey as Causey made a very “tough and hateful” skinhead cry. Causey made this man go home and think about what he had done. Before the man left the service, he walked back to Causey with a very confused look on his face, handed Causey a $5 bill, and said he was sorry for his foolish behavior.
As far as religious dances go, Button Causey did indeed learn the spiritual art of the liturgical dance. On our day off from services, I attended a press conference on the Waco incident, which focused on government intervention with “religious” groups. Anyway, since I had this business to attend to, Button Causey and the Truth decided to seek out Causey recruits in the land of Mexico, seeing that we were right on the border. The Button came back to the United States with a vast knowledge of the liturgical dance. The first thing the Button said to me that night was “Causey, the Truth and I visited the Catholic Church and I learned oh-so-much.” The Button and the Truth made a wonderful mission team in Mexico. The Button was able to do the converting and the Truth translated to her people.
Let’s now discuss the new album. Overall, it is much more dynamic and synth-heavy than the previous record. Was this approach deliberate? Or, has it been there all along, only waiting to be unfurled on a long-playing format?
Yes, it is true — you are absolutely right. This is a dynamic and synergistic-heavenly record. This record is quite cutting edge in the religious sub-culture we are involved in. Let’s compare With Loving and Open Arms to the Bible. With Loving and Open Arms is the complete work of women: the Truth, Reign Causey, and Dr. St. Causey constructed this whole record. They wrote all of the songs; they played all of the instruments, guided me and the Button on the vocal tracks they wrote for us; they recorded every single track and adjusted the knobs to get the tone they thought was perfect; they mixed every track to bring perfect harmony with each instrument, and finally they mastered their work, giving it a perfect EQ. This recording was the work of women and women alone.
Yes, that is a very heavy thing in the world of religion. Compared to the Bible, the Bible is a book that is very heavily male-dominated. The original inspiration and recording of the Bible seems to have taken place largely, if not entirely, through and by men. This recording is oh-so-heavy and deep in many aspects; it covers social norms and attacks many social regulations.
On the new album, you quip that there is only one thing more powerful than you: electricity — is this indeed true? If so, wouldn’t Causey devotees be a bit weary of your sovereignty?
We must go directly back to the previous question/answer. This album was written by the women of the ACE (the Truth, Reign Causey, and Dr. St. Causey), who are indeed Causey followers/devotees. In order to answer your question, I must point out that I did not say “there is only one thing with more power than me”; the women — again, the Truth, Reign Causey, and Dr. St. Causey — said this. They wrote the words, and that is how they feel about Causey. Therefore, I place little to no fear that my devotees are a bit weary of my sovereignty.
Also, on another song [“The Electronic Church (You Sell God)”] you rail against televangelists, among others. How is their evangelism any different than yours? After all, you do sell records and concert tickets…
I can most certainly answer this question, because it does not seem to refer specifically to the song, but, yet, it seems to be attacking the Causey Way as a profit-making organization.
Let me explain Causey’s view to you. Buying and selling religion is not new. The mighty throughout the ages have bought religion to reinforce their interests. And religion has been, and still is, for sale so that it may dwell comfortably in the houses of power. Yet, such a religion would stand disowned by the Christian leader, Jesus Christ. My choice to use Jesus Christ as an example is the fact that the “prime-time Christians” have used Jesus as big business. Jesus merchandise is making millions for people, and it is not just the televangelist and the Churches; it is also the Family/Christian bookstores that sell the Jesus merchandise, everything from WWJD bracelets, stickers, hats, and shirts to clever little slogans that rip off the secular culture and fill in the commercial name-brand name with Jesus’ name. Do we see this outside of “Christianity”?
Back to the Causey Way, you are right that we do sell records and there is a cover charge for our ACE services, but that is secular entertainment service. Yes, there is a hidden agenda at our ACE services — add to our CCC (Causey Conversion Count) — but we are only selling and exploiting ourselves (as in the Causey Way). Jesus is not for sale, and if he is indeed sold, these folks should give him what he deserves. And I would say that Jesus has a large royalty check in his future. Causey Way merchandise is sold and is a direct profit for the furtherment of the Causey Way. The Causey Compound has extensive expenses. Anyway, point being made is that the Causey Way is our religion to sell and exploit. If Jesus wanted to sell his religion, he would have, but he did not and I cannot understand why his followers sell him.
In a number of photos, you’re seen toting a pistol — is this necessary? Or is this quintessentially “Causey”?
Let me state my true belief. I believe guns are wrong; I truly believe they are a bad thing, but my travels and journeys have proven to me that it is a dangerous world we live in. If one were to look back on past Causey services, one would see that the gun has proven to be a powerful tool. Why don’t you ask the skinhead in Chico, the drunk businessman in Orlando, the “god’s gift to women” man in San Francisco, the gaybasher in Chapel Hill, and the countless soundmen with bad attitudes if Causey’s gun helped whip them into shape? I think one would see that the gun indeed is quintessential.
I must clear the air: I have not shot or killed anyone, but I have had some very close calls. On the other hand, I have been shot at eight times and have only been hit once. Don’t ask me about the gun ever again. These types of questions seem to upset me and they make me want to end it all.
Fine. Any “last words”?
Yes. We are living in an age of inquisition—from the government’s infringements on the sacred rights of individuals to the media’s relentless invasions of privacy, an alarmist and salacious “desire to know” has permeated every nook and cranny of American society. The Causey Way has not been immune to the venomous queries of these savvy “fact finders.” Don’t make me kill myself!