06 May 2008

The most offensive pro-Christian video ever made

Thanks to the JREF's SWIFT newsletter of 2 May 2008, I had the extreme misfortune to come across this.

It's time that we started holding moderate Christians responsible for not speaking out about this sort of stuff. You can't get much more wronger than this. Which is not letting fundamentalists off the hook: this is a DISGRACE!!!

Express your extreme displeasure at this. Could this be any more evil?

18 comments:

Greg said...

I kept waiting for the biting satire to kick in. But no - either any satire or parody effect was under the radar by a large margin or this is the real deal.

Either way, this should be compulsory viewing at schools. Carefully presented and with guided discussion afterwards, it could serve as a means of immunising youngsters against this kind of manipulation.

Dikkii said...

I hadn't actually thought about it like that, Greg. Some guided discussion would bring out the holes in the plotline, no doubt.

Me, I'm wondering how Josh managed to keep writing, even while he was being dragged out of the room and after being dumped in the flames. They clearly have some quality stationery in Hell.

Greg said...

I'm similarly grateful that they put in a disclaimer about this being a fictionalised account. No doubt some fundies out there would be labouring under the misapprehension that it was a real letter from Hell!

The imagery was bizarre, with all those hallways, ledgers, offices, paper work, officious burly angels etc. What sort of person imagines such a bureaucratic Hell anyway? Someone who watched Tim Burton's Beetlejuice at too young an age, I reckon.

Dikkii said...

What sort of person imagines such a bureaucratic Hell anyway?

Someone who worked for a government department, no doubt.

Hey, maybe it was satirical after all.

Lola said...

Wow, Josh must really be a tough dude. He's writhing in agony in a lake of fire that's supposedly a gajillion times hotter than the sun (according to fundies, anyway),and yet he is calm enough to write you a long ass letter whining about how you let him go to hell cause you didn't tell him about Jesus. As if anyone in this country hasn't heard about Jesus fifteen times a day for their entire lives.


Of course, God the all-powerful just sits back and wrings his hands in dismay because he doesn't want people to burn for eternity, it breaks his heart, and yet he does nothing to save the "lost". He's a good and loving God who wants all to be saved but then finds it amusing to hide his existence from humans and lets them burn in a huge torture chamber in some other dimension that HE CREATED. But he's the good guy, in fact he's too good to actually appear among his creation and show us the truth about his existence and how to live in peace and plenty. But no, he'd rather play millennia-long head games with his inferior creation by giving us the Bible and watching us kill each other over who he likes the most.

The Bible disproves it's own case entirely with the verse "God is not the author of confusion". If God isn't the author of confusion, then the Bible cannot be divinely inspired because it causes nothing but confusion and that's why there are so many different sects and denominations. The true word of God would have a universal message that everyone could comprehend, instead of 9,000 little conflicting rules about stupid crap for people to torture and kill people over. So in closing, your god is shite and your video sucked. Why don't you pray for a fucking brain.

Dikkii said...

Welcome to the blog, Lola. You have much anger, and that's pretty much the kind of reaction that I had when I saw this last night.

The Bible disproves it's own case entirely with the verse "God is not the author of confusion". If God isn't the author of confusion, then the Bible cannot be divinely inspired because it causes nothing but confusion and that's why there are so many different sects and denominations.

That's the greatest biblical verse I ever heard. I don't suppose that you can provide me with a citation for this? I'm so going to use it over and over again.

David B said...

As a moderate Christian myself, I think the verse you are thinking of is 1 Corinthians 14:33. In context, however, it is talking about confusion / disorder in the spiritual realm (prophecy, speaking in tongues, etc) rather than talking about disorder / confusion in the human world. In biblical terms, confusion in the human world is the result of human behaviour, not God.

To Iola, who wrote:

"in fact he's too good to actually appear among his creation and show us the truth about his existence and how to live in peace and plenty."

I would say that God has done exactly this in sending Jesus into the world, as a flesh and blood human being, to show us the goodness of His Character and to give us a way out of all the crap that humanity has brought upon itself throughout the ages.

As for the video, I agree that the imagery is seriously overblown in many respects - the passages of Scripture from it comes are written in symbolic rather than realistic language.

On the other hand, though, if people want to continue to ignore Christ, then the consequences are their own responsibility. Would you ultimately want to have a relationship with someone who doesn't want to have a relationship with you?

Dikkii said...

G'day David B, and welcome to the blog. Nice to see an old crony around and about.

I tell you what, if 1 Corinthians 14:33 is what Lola had in mind, then God (or at least Paul of Tarsus) has a lot of explaining to do.

The full verse reads: For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Firstly, if we look at it in its proper context, we can pretty much say straight away that every single reference to "prophecy" by any Christian anywhere, together with any "prophesies" claimed by anyone, anywhere, ever is clearly bogus. I don't think that anyone has ever made a prophecy that isn't as vague as a cucumber mornay.

Secondly, the bit about peace (in this context) also rules out some rather large sections of the Bible. Revelation springs to mind rather prominently.

Lastly, most evangelical/charismatic/pentecostal churches' schtick is the whole prophecy/speaking in tongues thing. I think that we can say after reading this entire chapter that they do not even smell the coffee that they're brewing.

I’m uncertain whether Lola will respond to your other points, but I will respond to this one, because it’s on topic:

As for the video, I agree that the imagery is seriously overblown in many respects - the passages of Scripture from it comes are written in symbolic rather than realistic language.

There’s a gaping perspective issue here: It’s a bit like if ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ was mistakenly given a G rating and you then criticised it for its plot holes.

I’m not proposing censorship of internet content, but I fully support the right of people to question the ethics of GodTube in wilfully putting something so fundamentally objectionable in reach of kiddies.

(Incidentally, I’ll leave you to ponder this: not even alcohol or tobacco companies aim their advertising at minors in such an obvious way (although the music industry does. I certainly don’t support this either))

I should ask you this, as a “moderate Christian”, yourself.

The media, as with the rest of society has recognised that moderate muslims have a duty to speak out against teachings that are clearly objectionable. Predictably, the media hasn’t really insisted on the same standard with moderate Christians, despite plenty of opportunities – Mercy Ministries springs to mind. This doesn’t mean that it’s required any less.

My question is this: What are you doing, as a moderate Christian, about more extreme stuff like this? Not necessarily this particular example, mind you. Just objectionable stuff generally.

David B said...

Dikkii

To take your points in order:

* firstly, the meaning of 'prophecy' in the New Testament is not entirely clear, but in 1 Corinthians 14 it is probably referring to the various specific activities referred to in 1 Corinthians 14:26 (hymns, words of instruction, revelation, tongues, and interpretation). Of these:

- hymns and words of instruction clearly do not fit into the kind of "bogus" prophecy that I imagine that you are thinking of.

- as to "revelation", it is important to bear in mind that the Paul is writing to an audience that did not yet have the New Testament scriptures. The Bible makes it pretty clear elsewhere that there is nothing new that can now be added to the scriptures, so we can safely say that "revelation" of the kind described here has now ceased.

- as to tongues, if you read through the whole of 1 Corinthians, you will see that elsewhere in this letter Paul takes great pains to downplay the importance of tongues in the church - "I would rather speak five intelligible words than 1000 words in a tongue" (1 Corinthians 14:19). At most, speaking in tongues is meant to be a private thing, which not every Christian does (I have never done it myself) and which is certainly not essential. Christianity stands or falls on what you make of the life and character of Jesus Christ, and nothing else.

- as to interpretation, this is only necessary in association with tongues (see above).

Thus, the only one of the types of "prophecy" that remains relevant today and can sometimes be "bogus' is the highly marginal / peripheral matter of speaking in tongues. I actually agree with the view, based on various experiences that I have had over the years, that "bogus" speaking in tongues is (sadly) quite common in some pentecostal / charismatic churches, which is why Paul is at pains to make it clear in 1 Corinthians that it is subject to all sorts of limitations (including careful weighing, the need for interpretation, and that intelligible speech is much to be preferred).

* secondly (re peace): 1 Corinthians 14:33 does not rule out the Book of Revelation (or any other part of the Bible, for that matter). The Bible makes it very clear throughout its pages that the lack of peace in the world (including the lack of peace on the day of judgement as portrayed in Revelation) is humanity's responsibility, not God's. 1 Corinthians 14:33, on the other hand, is directed at a group of people who are no longer alienated from God in this way.

* thirdly, it is incorrect to say that all evangelical churches are charismatic / pentecostal. Most of the older protestant denominations (the Anglicans, presbyterians, baptists, etc) are the former but are definitely not the latter. "Evangelical" simply means "of the gospel" (ie "of the good news of Jesus Christ").

* fourthly (re the video) my own objections to it are twofold - the overblown imagery, and the guilt trip that it lays on Josh's correspondent. Ultimately, Josh's final destination is his own responsibility, and no one else's. I am not sure that this is enough to qualify it as the "worst of the worst", however, and it is not clear to me what your other objections to it are. I am also not sure exactly what you mean by a "gaping perspective issue", so I am keen to hear some more from you on this....

* fifthly, I think you would find that there are a lot of Christians out there who are very focused on confronting false teaching and extremist behaviour - its just that a lot of it tends of happen within the church rather than finding its way into the public arena. Also, when it does find its way into the public arena, the media often loves nothing more than to turn it into a huge beat-up about "Christians fighting other Christians", and about what a shocking / horrible / hypocritical thing that is, so I think there is a tendency to try to keep it "low profile".

To be continued, I am sure ....

Cheers

Greg said...

As an aside, I've been following this discussion through Gmail, having the comments forwarded.

The ads I'm getting in the sidebar about Nostradamus, "The Secret", losing belly fat, prophesy, speaking in tongues, Danish furniture, offers to visit holy places where Moses did this or that, revelations etc are really quite extraordinary.

As a rationalist in a more-or-less secular society, I'm simply not exposed to all this claptrap. I find it mind boggling.

God only knows what I'll get when this comment appears in my inbox. Using words like "The Secret" and "Nostradamus" will no doubt bring a deluge of even more bizarre ads.

A case of self-fulfilling prophesy?

Dikkii said...

Greg: Being a Yahoo mail user, I miss out on that, because the ads that I get seem to be far more mundane. At the moment, the ad over on the right for the email I got for your comment is for all sorts of stuff through EBay. A comment on the commerciality of Christianity, perhaps?

Dikkii said...

David: Welcome back.
And thanks for numbering your points.

1. You wrote: firstly, the meaning of 'prophecy' in the New Testament is not entirely clear, but in 1 Corinthians 14 it is probably referring to the various specific activities referred to in 1 Corinthians 14:26 (hymns, words of instruction, revelation, tongues, and interpretation).

You won't agree, but I think that your opening words just encapsulated Lola's argument regarding the verse in question, regardless of 1 Cor 14:26. No matter what definition you apply to "prophecy"

Agree with your observation regarding "tongues" by the way.

2. I disagree with you on this point entirely. Revelation was utterly warlike in spots, and was entirely revealed to John of Patmos by none other than, you guessed it, God. This is buck passing on an Almighty level.

The Bible makes it very clear throughout its pages that the lack of peace in the world (including the lack of peace on the day of judgement as portrayed in Revelation) is humanity's responsibility, not God's.

Oh look, I'm not going to discuss this one further - which means that you can get the last word in if you want. But before I do, ponder this: Are we really to accept that it was the Man in the Moon (and not God) who ordered Joshua to attack everything in sight? Or that Joshua could have said "no" without certain Divine Sanctions being applied? Come on.

3. You have a point. However, I was lumping them in together, because I'm not even sure that the "evangelicals" you refer to are 100% happy with this term anymore. It appears to have been hijacked by fundies. Specifically ones of the charismatic/pentecostal variety.

4. "Guilt trip..." OK you're getting warmer, but for crying out loud David, we're talking about a video designed to be literally as frightening as Hell, scaring the bejesus out of school kids in order to entice them into proselytising.

Never mind that it's aimed at minors in the first place, who aren't considered competent enough to drink, smoke, have sex or comprehend a ballot paper.

Maybe your language is a little more subtle than mine, I'll give you the benefit of that, perhaps. Or maybe not. This is more than just a guilt trip - this is what Richard Dawkins politely refers to as "brainwashing". And it's aimed at kids. Or at least minors, anyway, of a high school age.

This kind of implied violence, incidentally, got Reservoir Dogs it's R rating.

[Josh, incidentally as Lola pointed out, remarkably appears not to have heard about Christ at all. And while the fundies apply their black and white view on this, most traditionalist Christian dogma usually allows some kind of special dispensation for people in Josh's predicament. If you were catholic up to a couple of years ago, for example, Josh would have ended up in Limbo, not Hell. Incidentally, holding Josh responsible for this is a bit like me holding you responsible for the goings on in Darfur, Sudan. Completely unreasonable and more than just a little bit cold. But I digress.]

5. David, the public arena is where it's most required. It's kinda cowardly to stand back on the grounds that this might be viewed as "Christians fighting other Christians" by the media. Incidentally, do you know of a good example of where the media has beaten this up? I'm struggling to think of a good example.

And I suspect that this might have been the reason why the mainstream churches were conspicuously silent during the Mercy Ministries fiasco. As far as excuses go, it's not really good enough.

Moderate muslims (Heaven forbid!) appear to be finding their voices. Why not moderate Christians as well?

Loving the stoush by the way. Did we ever do this sort of thing at school, do you think?

David B said...

Enjoying the stoush? Me too.

I seem to recall that at school we were far too occupied drinking Dr Jurd's jungle juice (or at least wanting to!). By the way, a quick google search just now tells me that this product is still going strong, apparently....

Re your responses:

1. All I would add on this is that I think there is a world of difference between saying that something (eg the meaning of prophecy) is "not entirely clear", and saying that something is completely incomprehensible.

2. Looks like we'll have to agree to disagree here - yes, Revelation is warlike and yes, the same goes for the account of Joshua and the Israelites arriving in Canaan, but it is clear that the Bible views these outcomes as the appropriate consequences for human misbehaviour in all its many and varied forms (including by the Canaanites and by those who are punished in Revelation).

3. Interesting - I hadn't heard of that before - it is perhaps more an observation about America than about other parts of the world. The term "evangelical" is definitely still in favour amongst non-pentecostals / non-charismatics here in Australia.

4. Thanks - I agree with you that the "kids" angle is an important additional reason for objecting to this.

5. For an example, you only have to look at the way in which the media has loved to play up various splits between evangelical anglicans and the liberal anglicans over issues such as homosexuality, ordination of women, etc. It is true that this is a very different substantive issue to those which we have been discussing, but in respect of the media I think that the principle is the same.

Another thought that has just occurred to me re point 5 is that since 9/11 the media itself may have lost a bit of interest in these sorts of issues - whatever the faults of Christian extremists, they are not the ones who have flown planes into skyscrapers....

Anyway, that's probably enough from me for now - it would be good to catch up with you otherwise when I am next down your way (or vice versa).

Cheers

David B

Dikkii said...

David. Doctor Jurd's Jungle Juice. Oh that takes me back. I'm so googling that after I finish this.

1. All I would add on this is that I think there is a world of difference between saying that something (eg the meaning of prophecy) is "not entirely clear", and saying that something is completely incomprehensible.

I don't think that that was Lola's point. And as such, I think that your "world of difference" equates to "bugger all" in that context.

2. ...it is clear that the Bible views these outcomes as the appropriate consequences for human misbehaviour...

Maybe so, but let's not forget, God Himself was the one to come up with these "appropriate consequences", not humans, although this is, of course, subject to some debate. Which means that Paul has misrepresented Him in 1 Corinthians.

3. I dunno if it's purely an American thing. To those of us outside the churches, mainstream or otherwise, you say "evangelical" we think "happy clappers".

4. There was probably more to it than that angle, but I'll leave it there.

5. Your example is a good one, and it does demonstrate the difference between what you perceive within a church (Anglican/Episcopalian, obviously) to what we see outside it. I agree that while different in substance, it is essentially the same thing.

To you, the media is playing up divisions. To us, we see the candid voice of reason at least attempting to tell the reactionary right of the church to "wake the fuck up to yourselves".

And if the media is likely it wrong on this, is this a good enough excuse for not speaking out?

...since 9/11 the media itself may have lost a bit of interest in these sorts of issues...

Maybe. Doesn't this present the perfect opportunity for Christian moderates to speak out without fear of media reprisals?

...whatever the faults of Christian extremists, they are not the ones who have flown planes into skyscrapers....

Maybe not, but whatever the faults of muslim extremists, they are not the ones shooting patients and staff in abortion clinics in Melbourne...

I'll leave you with that to ponder.

Yes, would be good to catch up again either down here or up there. We appear to have lots to talk about.

Party on.

David B said...

Dikkii

Just a couple of quick rejoinders to your last post before I get back to doing other things:

* Re point 1, and at the risk of using a rather abstract analogy, my point I suppose is that a picture of a circle which is drawn in dots rather than in solid colour, and which fades out towards the edges, is still a circle, even though there is room for debate about its margins. I would say that the same goes not only for the biblical term "prophecy", but for the message of the Bible as a whole (ie man has stuffed up, and eventually has to face the consequences, but God has intervened to offer a way out through Jesus' death and resurrection). The presence in the Bible of the language both of war and of peace (point 2) is perfectly reconcilable when viewed in this way.

* Re point 5, I am not going to defend for one moment those abortion clinic shootings that you mention. My point is more that, when viewed from the perspective of the media, I suspect that 9/11 and all that it represents is seen to pose a much greater, and much more generalised, threat to Western society. I agree though that the rise of Islamic extremism to world consciousness does give moderate Christians a bit more room to move in the media than was previously the case...

To be continued (over a beer or two, that is, or even perhaps a Dr Jurd's jungle juice .....).

Cheers

David

Dikkii said...

Thanks David.

Yes, I can see that we'll have to agree to disagree about this. The problem is that the dots that you describe are red, and you're seeing them as a vivid green. I thank His Noodliness that this one is unlikely to end up with someone saying "Hitler" and the other saying "Godwin's Law".

I suspect that 9/11 and all that it represents is seen to pose a much greater, and much more generalised, threat to Western society.

To which I say "bollocks". It represents a threat to all society, not just Western. So too does abortion shootings.

But what represents a greater threat is religious moderates keeping their mouths shut when they could be contributing towards nipping this sort of extremism in the bud. Prevention is better than a cure in this case, and if religious moderates spoke out, much of what is perpetrated in the name of religion would lose a lot of it's perceived legitimacy.

It's no wonder agnostics and atheists think that religion is a really bad idea.

I notice that Wollombi Tavern does mail order. My interest has been tweaked and I'm going to have to order some of the stuff, now.

David B said...

I wouldn't put the point in your third last paragraph anywhere near as highly as that, but (after allowing for the rhetorical flourish)it is an interesting one nevertheless. There are lots of biblical warnings about guarding against false doctrine / teaching, so there is probably at least some merit to it.

Take care

David B.

Dikkii said...

Mmph. Party on, David.