Bob Newby and His “Easy-Peasy” Attitude

I originally had the intent of having this article published on Geekdom House’s website, but it never made the cut. So here it is.

Some people ask me why God allows bad things to happen. I honestly don’t know. I do know that from everything that has happened to me in life, I have a more firm assurance of the reality of God. I feel more closer to Him when I’m suffering, compared to when I’m feeling blessed, under privilege, or in a spot where others envy me.

I never realized how much I’m drawn to men that are like Bob Newby. The Bob Newbys I know tinker with unorthodox hardware and electronics. They play obscure board games at Jim Con. They’re hilarious nerds who cosplay trending movie characters, crack the dumbest jokes in that character, and still make me laugh out loud. They love their wives or girlfriends and their kids with little conditions. They always assure the people they adore that everything’s going to be all right. Above all, they’re always looking on the bright side with their “Easy-Peasy” attitude. I just finished watching Stranger Things Season 2. I love Sean Astin’s character, but he reminded me so much of who I was in the past, never mind his hometown references to Stephen King’s IT.

After a rough coming of age, I hung out with a gang of Bob Newbys for just over half a decade. While they weren’t into superheroes, science fiction, or computers like I was, they were friendly, and enjoyed local music and nerdcore hip-hop concerts. These “Newbys” never seem to talk a lot about their problems. Their Facebook feeds would be filled with pictures of Caribbean travel or unboxing videos of the newest toys and gadgets on the market that they can add nifty modifications to. That’s because they were Christians who were encouraged by a big “Newby” of all time (wait for it), a charismatic televangelist pastor.

I actually was enthralled with what “Pastor Bob Newby” had to say. I attended services with my group of Newbys. I listened as “Pastor Bob” talked about how I had to put my faith in Jesus Christ. If I accepted Jesus as my Saviour for what He did on the cross, I’d have the power to declare that the “Mr. Baldos” that held me back from being blessed with wealth and health were powerless compared to me.
Easy peasy, right?

Before I found these Newbys, I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, a neurobiological disorder on the higher-functioning end of the autism spectrum. Aspergers has prevented me from maintaining meaningful employment and relationships. It can make me look indifferent, stand-off-ish, or void of empathy. I learned from “Pastor Newby” that if I just name and claim God’s healing; “Mr. Aspergers Baldo” will be powerless over me (and maybe even leave me completely alone). Since my deepest desire was to overcome AS to be rich, healthy, and married to the prettiest girl in the church, I was sold on Pastor Newby’s promises.  I bought all his books, listened to his podcasts, and practiced everything he taught me. After all, Pastor Newby re-enforced what my parents raised me to believe; if I work my hardest, all my dreams will come true.

I saw very little change in my life situation years later. I shared with some of my Newby friends that I struggled with AS and how frustrating it was. Most of them shut me down and told me just to stop being shy and stand-offish. Some of the Newbys claimed I was living a “Mr Baldo” lie and that I should read the Bible more. When some of the Newbys saw that nothing was changing when it came to finances and wealth, they asked me why I’m not reading my Bible enough or praying enough. A few Newby’s claimed I had lack of faith. My best friend Newby thought I was possessed by a “Mind Flayer” and stopped being friends with me. Others prayed that God will continue to heal me neurologically.

In the summer of 2010, I whole-heartedly put everything I could into what “Pastor Newby” was teaching us Newbys. In the fall of that same year, I thought things would get better when I was able to date the most beautiful girl Newby in church after being accepted into college. The relationship ended very badly over winter which resulted in me dismissing the “Cult of Newbys” and getting stuck with minimum wage call-centre work after graduating from college and ending business badly during practicum study.

When hearing a story like this, it would be easy to think of a disability as a “Mr. Baldo” or a Mind Flayer, the name for the giant spider-like shadow monster in season two. To me, Aspergers is neither. While I would choose not to live a life with an intellectual disability if I make that choice, I use my condition to understand why life is the way it is. The lack of wealth and health can yield experiences to learn from, yet a chronic issue or crippling disability has the potential to unlock a ferocious tenacity to be the best I can be.

I decided to consider what real Mind Flayers I need to fight. One of these would be the lie that blessings are determined by another person’s subjective view of wealth and health. I love mobile computers. Some days I want the latest Samsung Galaxy that the most popular Newby has. With much resourceful research I was able to determine that my Samsung Galaxy S4 phone at the time was capable of operating the same apps as the lastest Android phone I lusted over. When I got a new phone, using the new features really didn’t seem all that thrilling in the end. It goes to show a simple powerful truth. If we aren’t satisfied with what we have, we won’t be satisfied with what we want. Blessing is subjective and can’t be determined by another person’s possessions or experiences. To me, blessing is based off of how much faith and hope we have that God can help us show Him to the rest of humanity.

Another Mind Flayer to watch out for is the one that will guarantees that life is “Easy Peasy.” Sorry, Pastor Newby. This is real life. Real life can be hell rather than a place filled with pink unicorns, sunshine, lollipops and rainbows (John 16:33). If someone is a reasonable Christian, they’ll understand that when humanity is on Earth, there will still be constant battles to fight over and over even though the war has been won by Jesus Christ. Denying the power of Mr. Baldos or yelling at them to screw off won’t guarantee instant experience points in battle. Some fights against a Mr. Baldo or Mind Flayer will contain bruises, stab wounds, and above all, something to sacrifice. Life is full of “Mr. Baldos” that will take months, years, or even decades to go away. Some of those Mr. Baldos are financial debt, chronic pain, constant miscarriages, depression, broken relationships between sons and daughters, or even just a couple of next door neighbours who are constantly fighting but will never get a divorce. The fight is worth it though. A great thing I learnt from a Newby is the truth that the Mr. Baldos will eventually leave me alone. They may not necessarily have to be burned away with a hot branding iron and sometimes a mother figure that steps in may not be enough. In due time, the Mr. Baldos will know where the exit door is once they understand their opponents won’t back down.

Throughout my struggles and questioning what I learned in the past, I started to rebuild my Christian faith with other teachers apart from “Pastor Bob Newby” and his church of Newbys.  I learned that God does what’s best for me in His way, not what I think is the best that He can do for humanity (Romans 9:19 – 21). The struggles I face only remind me of how great God is and how vulnerable I am as a human being. I’ve accepted the things I cannot change while continually changing the things that I can change through the Holy Spirit. I have no problem with the church of Newbys as a congregation. They’re fun and resourceful individuals. Sadly, they can treat God like a combination of Santa Claus and Ifrit from Final Fantasy rather than the God who’s a father with authority and power that cares for the widow and the orphan.

Some people ask me why God allows bad things to happen. I honestly don’t know. I do know that from everything that has happened to me in life, I have a more firm assurance of the reality of God. I feel more closer to Him when I’m suffering, compared to when I’m feeling blessed, under privilege, or in a spot where others envy me.

Embracing hardship as a pathway to peace, while pursuing victory with every breath I take is the greatest weapon I have against the Mind Flayers and Mr. Baldos of my life. Like Will Byers, I used to constantly tell the so-called Mind Flayer to “go away” in lonely dark fields while crying out to God for help. There were many times I felt like the shadow monster would over-take me. Sometimes Asperger-type meltdowns won’t just cause me pain, but they will also hurt the body of friends that I love the most with fear of what they don’t understand. I’m very glad for the friends I have who stick by me over the years, despite what I have to go through as an adult with an intellectual obstacle.

I still admire the Bob Newbys that are in my life. I don’t hang around them much anymore. I mostly just “like” their Facebook posts every so often. I may never experience their privilege. That’s fine by me. There are still things I can learn for the Bob Newbys in my life. I can still learn to take on life one day at a time and be the best Will Byers I can be. I embrace the strength God gives to break chains from the Mr. Baldos with everything I’ve got. Lastly, I can celebrate the win and experience from battle when a fight is over and the real blessing from God is in my hands. Easy peasy, right? We’ll see.