It’s not unusual
Pastor Jack J. Stahl
The e-mail arrived from TomJonesisaGOD@aol.com. It began: “Dear Brother Steven, I pray you, your loved one’s & staff are enjoying peace, love & perfect health. My name is Pastor Jack J. Stahl of the Progressive Universal Life Church in Sacramento, CA (USA).
I believe TOM JONES is a GOD & I worship him. I would be honored to have your wonderful newspaper do a feature about me. I believe your readers would find me most interesting.”
Indeed, Stahl grabbed my attention, and not just because my dad is Tom Jones. Really, it’s true. OK, OK, he’s not the Tom Jones, that famed lounge singer, timeless performer and storied ladies’ man. But still, I was intrigued enough to visit Stahl’s AOL homepage (not his PULC homepage, mind you, which makes no mention of its pastor’s unusual obsession). There, I learned that Stahl has attended 150 Tom Jones concerts, has appeared as a guest on 40 radio stations and, in 1997, he was voted “Strangest Person in America” on the television program Strange Universe.
You don’t really think Tom Jones is a god, do you?
To me, Tom Jones is the God of Voice.
When did you first realize that Tom Jones is a god?
In 1969, when I was 6 years old, This is Tom Jones first aired on television. Every week I would sit in front of the TV hypnotized by this gyrating God. It was then that I first began to worship Tom Jones.
Jones’ voice made me feel as if I was surrounded by angels. It is a feeling I still experience today whenever I am listening to him. It is an inner peace that is not easy to describe. It is spiritual. Considering that Tom Jones was responsible for my spiritual awakening as a child, it is only natural for me to incorporate him into my ministry as an adult.
There weren’t any drugs involved in this revelation, were there?
You’ve said it isn’t Jones’ lyrics, but his voice. What messages does he communicate?
My worship of Tom Jones has nothing at all to do with the lyrics of a particular song that he might perform. It is his beautiful voice. It is divine. You see, his voice enables me to get in touch with the Holy Spirit. For me, listening to Tom Jones is a very spiritual experience.
What do you mean by “god'? Is Tom Jones a god, or the God?
To me, Tom Jones is the God of Voice. He is not the God—he is a god.
Does God speak to everyone through Tom Jones or just you?
Simply stated, the voice of Tom Jones works for me. Will it work for everyone? No. Why does it work for me? I have no idea. Why does his voice affect me the way it does? I don’t know. Unfortunately, we don’t understand everything. But I must tell you, I love it and embrace it!
What is Progressive Universal Life Church? Do you have congregants and services and everything? How did you get involved?
I founded the Progressive Universal Life Church in 1990. It’s a worldwide inter-faith healing ministry. We minister peace, love and abundant life. We welcome everyone regardless of their particular beliefs. We offer ordination, degree and diploma programs to help you in your spiritual journey. I have personally ordained more than 70,000 people worldwide of all faiths.
I would like to invite your readers to visit our Web site at www.pulc.com and I will ordain each and every one of them. They will then be ordained ministers.
When I am conducting a sermon, prayer meeting, healing service or exorcism, I always have a Tom Jones CD playing softly in the background. I briefly explain to those attending that Jones’ voice is essential to me being effective in my spiritual work. I dress like Jones, black blazer and black pants (usually tight black leather). The combination of these elements work to put me where I need to be, and that, of course, is with the Holy Spirit. If I am unable to reach the Holy Spirit, I am useless to my congregation.
Is Tom Jones a central figure in the PULC? Do you put him on the same level as Jesus Christ?
My church believes everyone has the right to express their beliefs. Do I try to persuade others to listen to Tom Jones for the purpose of reaching a higher consciousness? No.
How do you respond to those who think this Tom Jones thing is just a publicity stunt?
I believe everyone has the right to believe as they choose.
What about those who think you’re nuts?
This is America, the greatest country in the world. One of the things that makes America so great is freedom: freedom of speech and religious expression. I think people should believe what they want.
Do you ask yourself “What would Tom Jones do?” when making decisions about your life?
No. It is not the man, it is his voice that helps me get in touch with the Holy Spirit. To me, Tom Jones’ voice is spiritual, soulful and supernatural.
How do you worship Tom Jones?
Part of my everyday worshipping ritual consists of lighting candles on my Tom Jones Altar, dressing up and dancing like Jones.
Have you ever tried to contact him?
Do you think the “voice of God” thing is why Jones has been such a popular performer for so long?
Yes. He is also a great entertainer and loves to perform.