Saturday, April 30, 2016

This is interesting: Kevin O'Brien on Charlie Johnston

Lloyd Braun

Serenity now!

I've written about Charlie Johnston locutionist-visionary-mystic before - and most of my readers at least, never heard of him.  Nevertheless, Mr. Johnston has turned up in Catholic news once again, thanks in part to Kevin O'Brien calling him out.  Mr. O'Brien makes a pretty good case that Mr. Johnston may be 'dissimulating' some facts about himself.  Kevin O'Brien is an excellent commentator - he's always reminded me of Bill Geist, sharp wit, straight commentary - and funny.  He writes well and is a great character actor.  Although he's serious in his take down of Charlie Johnston - who now makes me think of Lloyd Braun - the guy who fooled George and his dad with fake computer phone sales:

 Frank: He's crazy. His phone wasn't even hooked up. He just liked ringing
that bell.

And that's perhaps another reason why I don't get excited about locutionists.  But I sure wish Kevin O'Brien was online on a regular basis.  But I digress, and now, without further ado:

Charlie Johnston is from Belleville. 

If you come from St. Louis, that's all you need to know. 

Charlie is the kind of guy you'd meet in a bar in Belleville, Illinois - a working class community across the river from St. Louis, where I'm from. Guys from Belleville - and from all over Southern Illinois - are characters. They come up with tall tales and you sit on a bar stool listening to them and you take everything they say with a grain of salt because they're from Belleville.

Charlie Johnston is a liar. Or a teller of tall tales. Take your pick. (That's harsh - think of him in terms of Lloyd Braun.  Kidding - but perhaps one may be delusional?  I don't know.)

He says an angel is giving him secret messages. He says, among other things, that the last normal Christmas was Christmas of 2013, and if you didn't notice how abnormal Christmas of 2014 and Christmas of 2015 were, that's not his fault. He says that his angel has told him that Obama will not finish his term; that he will convert and that the 2016 elections will be suspended. He says that the Virgin Mary will publicly appear in 2017 and that there will be a utopia of Christian believers on earth from that point forward. He says he walked across America - even though he appears to be in his 70's, is overweight, admits to having nerve damage, and his own posts on his Facebook page prove that he did no such thing.

On Friday, April 29, the National Catholic Register published a well written and well researched article by Patti Armstrong detailing Charlie's weirdness and the bishops who have warned their flocks about him and banned him from speaking in their dioceses. In that article, Patti quotes me, and my two posts on Charlie (this one and this one).

Charlie's response? - Finish reading here.

Kevin O'Brien is pissed because people are duped.  Johnston offers some practical advice, though his other predictions - such as the US elections being cancelled can be pretty off the wall - desperate people hear what they want to hear - they follow these reports, they listen to visionaries who speak 'without any mandate' from the Church, often upsetting people 'with their teachings and disturbing their peace of mind'.   -Acts 15: 22-31

"Time will prove where wisdom lies."

I often think of John of the Cross of whom it is said remained alone reading scripture while his novices went off to satisfy their curiosity, visiting a stigmatic and visionary in the locale.  St. John chose the better part - and for those who do likewise, it will never be taken from you.

Now with the Fatima Centenary approaching, all sorts of people are projecting events foretold in the Third Secret and its warnings seem to coincide with all the wars and rumors of war, terrorism, weather related disasters, earthquakes and so on.  Just be cautious, remembering,  "If it were possible, even the elect would be led astray."

Stay close to the Church ... pray and don't worry.

And keep your sense of humor - works for me!


  1. Kevin O'Brien's always been the boy with curls: when he's on, he's on, and then there's bed head. He's been great on Johnston.

    Charlie has really shown his backside the last few months. I think he's lost all of the serious, reasonable Catholics who once gave him a hearing. I'm still mystified how he managed to get even that far with some of my friends/acquaintances. Just shows how the devil has spooked so many of the faithful.

    I still click to Charlie's blog out of morbid curiosity/self-righteousness (working' on that). It reminds me that just because people read a blog doesn't mean they agree with the writer or esteem them. I've long believed that a portion of my readers only tune in to see what crazy thing I'm going to say next. I'd wager over half of Charlie's readers suspect he's full of it. I remember an English Dominican said he liked to read my conversion story (and other supernatural tales) to see if he could poke holes in it.

    1. Haha! I suppose that's why I check in on Charlie from time to time as well.

      I acknowledge right up front that I'm a crackpot so people know not to be surprised. Fr. Euteneuer coined the expression 'crackpot with a website' and I never let it go. ;)

      I make no claims.

  2. I am amazed at the following these prophets have. There is a ready population to believe even the most absurd things. When they get into silly predictions then you know it is rubbish. Authentic visionaries stear clear of specific human events. With so many authentic ones deemed worthy of belief why follow the false ones? Maria of Devine Mercy is still bouncing around the Internet with apparent believers in Australia and the Phillipines. There is money to scram in this activity. PT Barnum had it right, "a sucker is born every minute." As for me I expect to vote in 2016 even if reluctantly.

    1. Exactly. Why follow mystics that haven't been given the go by their bishop when we have Fatima, Lourdes and the Divine Mercy, to name a few? People don't know who (or what they're following in the cases of the hundreds of disproved or never approved claims of messages from above.

      I first heard of Charlie in late 2014. The first hint that something was off was his prophecy about Christmas 2014. I didn't know about it until after Christmas passed. I thought, what wasn't normal? Christmas 2015, in fact, seemed better than a lot of Christmases past. People put up their decorations earlier than I ever remembered, and people rejected the Thanksgiving sales. They wanted to be with their families.

      Then came the whole Jade Helm - run for the hills - they're out to get you thing, and I thought, I just can't with this.

      Of late is the fact that Charlie puts up posts by people who disagree with them, and he rips into them. He did it to a guy who went on Xanax because of his (and Locutions to the World's) prophecies about an economic collapse. Where's the humility and charity? I can't imagine St. Faustina, St. Bernadette, and the children of Fatima doing anything like that.

    2. I have trouble believing anyone would out and out lie - so I am not making any accusations. It is just that locutions and that type of knowledge or fore-knowledge is so uncertain and subject to the receiver's way of thinking. John of the Cross writes extensively on this stuff, as do modern theologians - I refer to Garrigou-Lagrange. From what I've read, Johnston discounts his own 'prophecies' encouraging people to have common sense and so on.

      Of course I can't imagine famous visionaries such as the saints you mention getting defensive about their messages either - their meekness and obedience were sure markers of authenticity. I think of Sr. Lucy of Fatima who was reluctant to divulge the secrets and absolutely refused to interpret their meaning herself.

      That said - St. Annibale cautioned priest to be especially cautious - remember the Locutions to the World locutionist once had a well known priest as a spiritual director. I reprint here what I've written before on the subject:

      Priests especially should be cautious, perhaps following the precautions of Saint Annibale Maria Di Francia:
      “Conforming to prudence and sacred accuracy, people cannot deal with private revelations as if they were canonical books or decrees of the Holy See. Even the most enlightened persons, especially women, may be greatly mistaken in the visions, revelations, locutions, and inspiration. More than once the divine operation is restrained by human nature. For instance who could ratify in full all the visions of Emmerich and St. Brigid, which show evident discrepancies? I love very much the private revelations of holy persons, but never I accept them in full!"

    3. Hey, Terry! It's me, Kevin O'Brien, with curls and bed head.

      Charlie is out and out lying. He claims he had a long correspondence with me about my blog posts. He never contacted me at all. Never. I have challenged him to produce the emails, but he can't because they don't exist.

      Charlie is a liar. He's a fraud. He has lied about walking across America and he has lied about corresponding with me and he has lied about me changing my blog posts over and over again in response to challenges from him. So why would we think he's telling the truth about these bizarre and ridiculous "visions"?

    4. Hi Kevin - I take your word for it - I really do.

      It's troubling - no doubt.

      I love the way you write BTW.

  3. I saw Charlie Johnston speak in person. He didn't take up a collection and didn't have any books or CDs to sell. His message is very simple -- acknowledge God, take the next right step and be a source of hope to those around you. If his predictions do not come true, no one is going to be hurt by following this advice. Charlie supports Pope Francis and is a faithful son of the Church. People should leave the guy alone. If he bugs you, ignore him.

    1. The archbishop of Denver addressed how Charlie's message is intertwined with his false "visions". And nobody who lies about another person and libels another person, as Charlie has done in my case, is a faithful son of the Church. But I heartily agree that we should ignore him.

    2. Mr. O'Brien,

      You wrote on 9/2/15 on your blog about CJ soliciting donations:

      "Secondly, if the economy is going to collapse and money will be worthless, why is Charlie soliciting donations for his $50 million shrine? How can my cash be useful to him when it won’t be useful to me? And where is the accounting for the money Charlie is apparently being given by people? Does anybody know where such possible donations are really going?"

      Can you provide documentation that he actually solicited donations for the shrine? I don't recall any such solicitations but it is possible that I missed them.


    3. Frank,

      I have proven that Charlie lied about his "walk across America".

      I have proven that he lied about "corresponding" with me for "several days".

      I have proven that Charlie has no evidence to support his lie that I kept changing my post.

      Address those issues, Frank. How can you support a man who lies like this and whose "visions" are palpably fictitious? You answer those questions and then we'll talk about whether or not Charlie accepts donations in money that he says will soon be worthless.

    4. Mr. O'Brien,

      Why did you write that Charlie Johnston was soliciting donations? You must have had good reason for writing that. Or maybe in the heat of the moment you misspoke. Maybe that's what Charlie did in writing about his exchanges with you. He's admitted that he was wrong about directly contacting you.

      We'll all know soon enough if Charlie is wrong about his prophecies. Until then, why not let charity prevail?

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. Frank, I have one question:

      Why is OK for Charlie to demand charity when he posts statements like this?

      Hear hear! He (Kevin O) is a marginal crank who would remain so if the Register had not elevated him for a day.

    7. A 'marginal crank'??????!!!

      I bite my knuckle!!!


      This Charlie guy, from what I can tell, doesn't claim to be a Saint, or imbued with supernatural gifts to suffer calumny with a beatific smile. He's just a guy. I have seen no proof that he has enriched himself in any way by going public with what he has seen and heard.

      I have to believe, well I don't have to but as a Catholic I think I should, that Kevin and Patty are serious and obedient Catholics so I in no way impugn their faith or motives.

      But I think they have this guy wrong, despite the Belleville connection Kevin asserts. And if they do.....

    8. Kevin is so not a marginal crank.

      I am.

    Charlie is a good man. His main message is to "Trust God, Take the next right Step, and be a Sign of Hope to others". Please stop with the negative comments, he is doing much good for many people. We want as many of our brothers and sisters to come back to Christ asap. Read the comments after his blogs, it is one of the best places to be, all these commenters love God and Mamma Mary. God Bless!

    1. He is not a good man. He has lied about walking across America and he lied about corresponding with me for several days and about me changing my blog posts. Today he admitted on his blog that he never corresponded with me. He explains his lie by saying that what he meant by "several days of correspondence" was his putting up blog posts that he assumed I read. He can't even lie well, but apparently that doesn't matter.

      And, even though "Trust God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to others" is a good message, the "next right step" in this case is to quit following and defending Charlie Johnston.

      But the good news in all of this is that the system somehow works. The bishops are speaking out against him and banning him. National Catholic Register has published a well-written and well-researched article skewering him.

      And in two years, nobody will remember who Charlie Johnston is. His followers will be on to the next false prophet.

    2. Kevin,

      You say we should dismiss Charlie because he lies. That seems fair enough to me. I agree that intentional deception, especially regarding the good name of another, establishes "acting in bad faith." But unless you have some evidence that he solicited or collected money for a shrine, you're also lying in the same way you accuse Charlie of lying about you. Specifically, you are accusing him of seeking a potentially vast sum in donations while publicly maintaining he has never done so. That is a big accusation, especially when you make it publicly. How many miles he walked and whether he sent you emails are legitimate subjects that you're right to question, but they pale in comparison to your implication of that Charlie is perpetuating a financial fraud. If you really want to expose Charlie as a fraudster preying on the gullible you should present your evidence that he is collecting money. That would quickly end the discussion regarding his authenticity.

  5. These "prophets" always have their followers and defenders. As I wrote in an earlier post I recently stumbled upon Veronica Lueken followers in Flushing Meadows Park. Two competing groups praying a rosary with mega phones. I googled to try and understand the split. I learned that a man was murdered at the site some time ago who got into a dispute with them. A tourist bus took the murderer away to Canada. Crime never solved. Maria of Devine Mercy continues to have defenders and supporters despite being discredited. Locally we have one too. No evidence will detour true believers. It is a fascinating phenomena and will continue will ever new characters. Money and noterity are the motivating factors perhaps evil influence as well.

    1. I found a few sites that referenced "Our Lady of the Roses", the title Veronica Lueken gave Our Lady. Yep, people are still following her and promoting her message. They were condemned 30 years ago.

      Same thing with Vassula Ryden. I was on an apparition chaser site a few months ago, and people were - it seemed liked boasting - about how often they listened to TLIG (True Life in God) Radio. She was condemned by the Vatican and the Greek Orthodox patriarch 20 years ago.

      Even if the Archdiocese of Denver put out a stronger statement about Charlie, it definitely wouldn't dissuade the True Believers. I'm with you regarding one point. This is the oddest phenomenon I've ever come across in the Catholic Church (I'm a cradle Catholic).

    2. Lioness, that's pretty sad that people still follow the late Veronica Lueken and Vassula Ryden.

      Charlie has stated that if anyone in authority would demand he stop speaking, then he would close up shop. Now IF that happens in the next few months and IF Charlie does NOT stop, I think he would lose most of his followers. I say most because there are some who are almost cultic about Charlie himself. But for serious Catholics (tho Kevin would deride that word usage because of his insistence that anyone who even listens to Charlie they are stupid and idiotic) would reject him the moment he refused to obey his bishop.

  6. You are correct Mr. Gibbons, Charlie has never asked for any donations, unless it was someone that asked for prayers or help on his prayer request site. Even then it did not go thru Charlie.

  7. Charlie Johnston continues to fascinate me, mainly because I have a life-long, incurable interest in all things apocalyptic. Since I learned of his existence on this blog, I blame Terry. Early on, I would flip-flop on whether to "believe" and it caused some anxiety. He was the first non-church-approved visionary/mystic/whatever that I didn't immediately write off and that was somewhat unsettling. I have since come to realize that I have no means of knowing if he is "real" or not (my emotions and political cynicism are not reliable guides) and that it's better for me if I remain agnostic. I still don't own a gun, my family's food surpluses are because my wife likes Costco, not preps for financial collapse, and I think it's highly likely I will boo the TV when I watch HRC be inaugurated president on 1/20/2017.

    This kerfuffle between Johnston and O'Brien/Armstrong/NCR only confirms to me that following/opposing such things leads to trouble and judgment. From Johnston we're getting petty, nasty defensiveness ("marginal crank" comment, multiple posts in response, etc.) and from O'Brien we get jaw-dropping hubris and presumption ("He's from Belleville, so ..." and "no one actually believes Charlie. No one is that dumb or gullible"*, etc.). Where is the good in either?

    But then there is the part of me (the part that makes me like this blog so much) that thinks this is seriously funny stuff. A man claims to be visited by angels, that he has been given a rough timeline for world-wide economic collapse and times that will be the worst in the history of the world, that Mary will miraculously and visibly come to our rescue before 01/01/2018 00:00:00 GMT, and that there will be an era of peace following. What purports to bring him down? What proves he's a fraud? He walked _only_ 1,632 miles--not 3,200--and he was mistaken/didn't tell the truth about having an email exchange with a critic. I really think such disputes couldn't happen without the Internet.


    1. I've encountered so many visionaries and locutionists over my lifetime, which is why I hesitate to call them liars - I think they can be deluded or overly susceptible to their own interpretation of reality - I think they can be convinced their interior messages are locutions when they simply may have vivid imaginations or are very clever at observation and natural deduction. Know what I mean? Many so-called locutionists use the same language of whatever mystic they have been reading or devoted to.

      I don't know Charlie or his followers but they all seem to have some sense of presence as a prayer community or being members of a particular prayer group. He seems like a good guy, like I said, I'm just not interested in concerns of whether or not the economy collapses - it does so periodically anyway. Likewise - the political projections could be just as accurate as some old guy's observations and commentary shooting off his mouth in a corner bar. It's folksy and appealing, and to some extent reassuring I suppose.

      I knew a Carmelite who was a bit of a local mystic - she claimed locutions and visions and could kinda sorta read souls - she thought a few were possessed. She left Carmel to continue the reform of St. Teresa and founded some hermitages. She didn't get along with the bishops and ended up in a sort Catholic Disneyland as a hermitess living her version of Teresa's reform. I think she was deluded and felt rather self-important - on a mission from God. She believed in everything she said. I called her out once - kind of like Kevin did with Charlie - she wasn't deterred.

      I was the loser. There's no reward for exposing lies and falsehoods - look at Voris. Haha!

      The best that comes of these things is a certain purification of faith - not to depend upon prince or prophet but God alone.

      I'm sure there were prophets in Germany, yet the Jews were surprised when they were arrested, their property confiscated, their possessions stolen from them, their businesses collapsed. If they had bug-out bags, or they sewed jewels and their savings into their clothes, it did them no good when they got to the camps. They would soon know the next right step to take, all on their own ... they already knew the Law and the prophets without the soothsayers repeating nightly news forecasts.

      God will not cheat us. He will not deprive us of the Cross of Christ - know what I'm trying to say?

      I do try to see the humor in these prophets - perhaps it's foolishness for Christ? And I'm just an crackpot blogger.

      I like reading their stuff occasionally, but I am always skeptical when they get specific on dates, events, finance and politicians. Which is why I get it that Kevin O'Brien is eager to call Johnston out for lying - it's what politicians and financial people do - they conjecture and scare, they even make things up. I don't know about the fund raising point, but if Kevin says Charlie never contacted him and there was no email exchange, I believe Kevin.

    2. "I have a life-long incurable interest in all things apocalyptic". Me too.

      Thank God for Abbey-Roads then!

    3. I think you have a good perspective on it, Terry. I met with my director yesterday and told him I thought I should stop regularly checking in with Charlie's blog. He thought that was a fine idea. It's funny, he's good friends with one of Charlie's 3 priest-directors (whom he trusts...which is part of why I didn't write Charlie off right away) and knew of Charlie well before the Internet did, but I don't know what he thinks of the prophesy-side of Charlie's writings. I think he shows wisdom in not sharing his judgment, assuming he has one. He thinks acknowledge God, do the next right thing, and be a sign of hope is excellent advice, especially in troubled times. (Of course it is.) He makes no judgment and radiates peace.

      Charlie predicts 1) Obama will not finish his term for reasons other than death and 2) our next stable leader will not come through conventional political means (he doesn't say the elections will be cancelled, at least not currently--I don't know if he did previously). These are easily provable/disprovable predictions. If these two things come to pass, I think I will find solace in hope of the rescue (not that 1 + 2 = guaranteed rescue). Until they do, it seems better to not expect them.

    4. Excellent advice from your SD. I just discovered some Evangelical prophets are saying similar things as Charlie. Perhaps they are all just stating the obvious - John of the Cross says one can know such things naturally.

      Your priest advised you well.

    5. He's not a priest. Father of 9 and grandfather of maybe 30, which is part of why his peace is so remarkable. This probably makes me a liberal. Only liberals have non-priest directors, the filthy beasts.

    6. That's cool. JPII consulted a layman as well before he became a priest I think - forgot his name - I think Heather King wrote about him.

  8. It's over now. O'Brien has stopped blogging and Johnston friends say the NCRegister came close to libel.

    Waiting for the rescue ...

    1. O'Brien can't quit! He really sees through conceits in a unique way--about a whole range of issues. He would have made a great confessor. He always has a "take" and "doesn't suck" as the once-cool Jim Rome used to say.

      I have given a promise to a fellow street evangelist who is friends with Charlie J that I will no longer criticize him. That'll be harder than my lenten sacrifice!

    2. I pray that all of the doomsday messages of Charlie Johnston, will soon die, and disintegrate. He has stressed and hurt enough people with his predictions. I am tired of what appears to be a cultic following, on his blog. The things he has been talking, about, are very scarey. How does he think this will not affect people in a negative way? He says millions will die,in the upcoming "Storm," but likely not, him, because God is using him in the mission he has been called, to. But what about the rest of us? He talks about money becoming valueless, people becoming homeless, during the upcoming "Storm," or needing a defendable shelter,(if they have any kind of home where they will be able to occupy). He says, "We'll be hungry, but we won't starve." How consoling! He claims that there will be terrible rioting, and there will be a terrible world wide war. And where is his good news in all of this? Acknowledge, God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to your brother. And this is something that we Christians, if we are Christians, have been doing since we were very young, and first opened our Baltimore Chatichisms. This is nothing, new, that he is telling us. Every Christian knows, or should know, to do the things he is suggesting. Saint Theresa of Calcutta knew to do these, things, and she didn't need Charlie Johnston to tell her. She never heard of Charlie Johnston. As, Christians, God has given us everything we need in life, to get through any hard times in the future, if they are upcoming. God has given us our Christian faith, the holy Scriptures, the Eucharist, the rosary, our Church Communities, and His Blessed Mother, and her Church approved messages. This is all we need, to get through any hard times, ahead, if they are coming. Let's use these, in good times, and bad times! Thank you, Jesus! We give you thanks, and glory, for being our eternal leader!


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