Sonoma County, Lifestyle Leader
Santa Rosa and Sonoma County, the area in California where I come from, has a strange history that has a broad influence on the U.S. and the rest of the world.
The area is beautiful, and has had a growing “lifestyle” cachet. Along with that vibe, or maybe because of it, it has always been a spawning ground for alternative lifestyles. In the 19th Century it was spiritualist communities, and more recently it has been hippies, utopian communes, back-to-the-land individualists and cults. You may say, “But these things are common everywhere!” I assure you that these movements were growing concerns in Sonoma County before anyone else ever heard of them, and they have been propagated from the fertile soil of my home county. I think that this goes back to the beauty, the relative isolation from large urban areas, and the benign nature of the climate. In Sonoma County, everything is possible.
So, in the Eighteen Hundreds it was the home of various spiritualist and other counter cultural groups. In the Nineteen Hundreds it was the Mormons and the Christian Scientists, along with early gay conclaves. By the Sixties it was hippie communes; soon after that it was Eastern Mystical groups, then the Moonies, then the Children of God, and the list goes on.
The First Residents
Accounts of the earliest residents of the area show this same kind of emphasis, and can give some insight. Sonoma County is the home of tribes of Native Americans which were considered strange by the standards of their tribal neighbors. They were unusually pacifist, and they never developed any cultural identity or any form of group government. These tribes never fought a battle or a war, even though all of their surrounding neighbors engaged in skirmishes between each other. They have the distinction of being noted by early anthropologists as the only tribal grouping in North America that never developed any material culture – they didn’t make baskets or pottery, they didn’t have any stories of their own, they didn’t wear any distinguishing tribal clothing, or make any specific type of traditional shelter.
What they were, was: happy, wild hunter/gatherers who had no climate hardships, no dangerous predators to speak of, and lived on a lush plateau that was teeming with wildlife and plant foods. Experts in Native American Studies explain that they never had to develop any culture, any social order, or any distinguishing objects or rituals because they lived a life of simple ease – with no need of any of the human social or cultural trappings. This speaks very clearly to the modern society that can be found there today.
The county is full of peace activists, liberal and libertarian gurus, affluent rat-race refugees, and neighborhood anarchists. These things were all groundswells here before they showed up anyplace else, for the most part. I think that this kind of vaguely satisfied individualist utopian malaise still effects people in Sonoma County. Business people who move into the area are warned not to slip into the “Sonoma Coma”, described as a phenomenon where many people’s productive lives have slowed to a standstill while they are busy seeking pleasure and contentment in their own comfortable individualist lifestyles here. We’ve seen it, we’ve lived it, and it’s pretty much overwhelming.
The first European settlers were religious utopianists who moved in among the hills of Eastern Santa Rosa and founded two or three separate communes. They were of no specific religious affiliation, some of them were rumored to be spiritualists, and all of them were considered cultists by the later farmers and ranchers that moved in. You can still see the round barn east of the highway north of town that one of the utopian groups built.
From that time Sonoma County became the birthplace of a constant stream of cultists. Many different religious and health cults set up centers of operation throughout the 1800’s, later nudists established colonies in the early 1900’s; hippies set up communes all through the hills in the 60’s and 70’s; Sun Myung Moon set up his headquarters here after being kicked out of Korea in the 70’s and stayed through the 90’s; Universalist movements and gay communities flourished here; Eastern religious movements grew up; and the mother of them all: The Bohemian Grove was established here in 1872.
Bohemian Grove is a 2,700-acre campground located at 20601 Bohemian Avenue, in Monte Rio on the Russian River outside of Santa Rosa. The grove belongs to a private San Francisco-based men’s club known as the Bohemian Club. In mid-July each year Bohemian Grove hosts a two-week, three-weekend encampment of some of the most powerful men in the world. The grove events are cultic and occult, and every president for the last hundred years, plus virtually all of the captains of American business have been members. This place is a spiritual gateway — Spiritual mapping gets very deep in Santa Rosa.
As you might guess, with the cultic and occultist foundations of the area, another spiritual feature of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County is a history of wounding and fragmentation among Christians. The cultic and occult roots of the region are very definitely underpinning this. Historically, every Christian group that has moved into the area has endured almost constant upheaval, splitting and fragmentation. Almost every church or ministry in Santa Rosa today is the result of some terrible division and split among Christians.
Too many Christians in the area are so wounded and fatigued by this phenomenon that they largely don’t attend church anymore due to traumatic experiences in church scandals, political upheavals and horrible church splits. The scandals have been prominent in local news for decades, as have the accusations and lawsuits and bickering between Christians, and the ultimate breaks and splits. We’ve seen some of the most horrible stories from the inside.
The “shepherding movement” started here in churches during the 1980’s. It was huge in Christian circles in Santa Rosa, it got extreme and abusive, and caused much personal trauma and further church splits… The Jesus Project, whose work it has been to re-interpret the New Testament and disseminate shockingly anti-Christian liberal theology throughout the nation, has been centered in Santa Rosa since its inception twenty or so years ago.
A Spiritual Gateway
I can hear you saying, “A whole lot of this is true about my own area, and in my own state. This is nothing new.” I would have to profoundly agree, and wouldn’t be bothering anyone with all of this, but feel the need to share because of the fact that so much of this has been started, incubated and propagated from Sonoma County, California. It came to your area most likely after it was well established in Sonoma County. Like I said, Sonoma County is a spiritual gateway: it operates in a lot of influence on what is coming to the rest of the United States, the Pacific Rim, and from there to the rest of the world.
This area is influential spiritually: it has been shown to be true in example after example. But if the spiritual influence of darkness so effectively flows out of this area, the spiritual influence of the Light of God’s purposes will be even more powerful as it moves out of this spiritual gateway!
So this is a challenge to Christians everywhere to help curb the militant liberal morass engulfing our nation and the world. You can do this by praying for one of the hotspots: Sonoma County, California.
• Pray that God will frustrate the liberal agenda in Sonoma County and in the nation.
• Break the historic strongholds of cultism and occultism that holds sway.
• Pray that God’s love will begin to upend the plans of militant groups from Sonoma County and into the rest of the world.
• Pray that a new spirit of unity will flood in among the churches and Christian groups.
• Pray that God will use this new power of unity in Him to bring a movement of His Spirit that will flood into the streets all over Sonoma County and from there to the rest of the nation.
• Pray that a new Great Awakening will begin over America, starting in spiritual gateways like Sonoma County, and turn the spiritual climate of the nation. It has happened before, and it will happen again.
This kind of historical and social survey resulting in directed prayer efforts is called “Spiritual Mapping”. You can use the kind of brief overview offered here as a model for prayer strategy over your own area. Spiritual mapping is a feature of the Healing of the Land ministry that we are partnered with, and involved in internationally.
Sounds like there’s a potential here for a TV series, “Sonoma Coma”…with the right writers and researchers Portlandia can be given a run for its money — while at the same time raising money for the Good News of Yahshua to go forward throughout the nation/world.
Very funny! The social setting is a lot like Portlandia… with very wealthy socialites and a dark spiritual underside. Please help to pray!
I have lived in Sonoma County, mainly Santa Rosa, CA since 1968 and agree with
everything the author has said. I have belonged to many Christians fellowships and something has always happened to disrupt, damage or destroy each one…at this moment I have been un-churched for over five years…I have not lost my Faith as I know the Great One who lives in me is Greater and Stronger and has already conquered all unseen forces at work in Sonoma County. One day every knee will bow…
Amen Susy! I would say the next step is to commit to one or two… or more… people of like heart who will pray with you and you can stand together with to see an establishment of light in Sonoma County which can disrupt the darkness and turn the tide. It has happened in small outbreaks, and I believe will come in a big move. Did you ever visit the Vineyard in Santa Rosa when we were leading worship there?