June 2, 2009

Help! My Poe Detector is on the Fritz!

Posted in Atheism, humor, Worldview tagged , , , at 1:49 pm by Andrew

Hot on the heels of our last effort to apply Poe’s law, I have to confess: I can’t tell if this site is a parody or not. The following things just seem too ridiculous to be sincere:

* an ostensible guide to secular philosophy that features the following bit of ‘logic’: “Two of the big names in postmodernism are Friedrich Nietzsche and Michael Foucault. Nietzsche was known for dying in an insane asylum with his awesome mustache still intact. Foucault was a homosexual who liked to kill people in his spare time. You’ll hear more about them in part two of this awesome guide.”

* a page on evangelizing to college students called “Sorry, I don’t Speak Idiot.”

* there’s an FAQ question that begins “I think College Weekend Workshop is the best thing since sliced manna,” which seems inauthentically jokey. (I’ve never heard real evangelicals talk that way.)

* and the personal capper: a “worksheet” accompanying a lecture that has the following fill-in-the-blank question:

4(e). The classic tramp __________. This girl is not interested in fixing her _______ (which is why she has so many); she is only interested in ________ you for what she can _________ out of you because she is a _______!

On the other hand, the FAQ claims that the “College Weekend Workshop” is affiliated with this church, which is certainly real. And that opening video certainly looks authentic (if hilarious), and the site is peppered with Josh McDowell references, which indicate either sincerity or a very skilled parodist. Oh, and the books for sale are all the genuine article.

So who knows? In a world where people write books like this in all apparent sincerity, I’ve lost the ability to tell the difference between reality and parody.

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6 Comments »

  1. James Jordan said,

    It looks real to me. Which is strange, because that video looks like it’s someone making fun of a program like this. But the rest of it just looks like it is sincere, but just a little light hearted to appeal to teenagers. You can sort of tell its sincere because of the “YOU KNOW GOD EXISTS YOU JUST WONT ADMIT IT BECAUSE YOU DONT WANT TO BE JUDGED” message, which is kind of hard to parody.

    Incidentally, I’ve always found that idea incoherent. If I knew that Christian God existed in my heart of hearts, and didn’t want to face God’s judgement, I’d, y’know, BECOME A CHRISTIAN. The whole premise of Christianity is that it’s a “Get out God’s judgement free” card.

    • GP said,

      James:

      You said “The whole premise of Christianity is that it’s a “Get out God’s judgement free” card” and you’re halfway right.

      The other 50% of it is that THAT is what church people have been taught to say to someone when they dangle conversion over them. It’s more of a threat than anything else. And who wants to say “Yes!” to hell and “NO!” to heaven? It’s a question that you can only answer one way, which makes the effort by the church person so insincere and loopy.

      I am a Christian, and I will tell you that there are Christians out there who are fed up with the way church and church leaders have represented the life and purpose of Jesus. The whole idea has been to entice people with paradise, when in reality heaven is like 1% of why a person should convert. Our culture, today, is all about “Buy now, pay later.” We want all the benefits without any of the expense. So it’s no wonder that today’s Christians lean toward using the “Hey, you get to go to Heaven!” ploy when they start evangelizing someone. It’s just the easiest way they know to get someone to say “Gee, mister. You’re right! God really does exist, and now I know that He loves me!” Throw in all the weird ways that Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in HOW you attain the afterlife in heaven, and it gets to be a stuffy room full of people you’d rather just avoid altogether.

      Although I firmly believe in creation, I have big questions about how the Bible expresses the creation in terms of the timeframe, etc., as it stacks up against scientific dating studies. I have tried to read all the different Christian views of it, and I still come away with questions. So I want to throw this out there: Not all Christians are as absolute and staunch about forcing others to buy into this God thing. An atheist’s viewpoints pose serious questions that must be addressed and discussed.

  2. Siamang said,

    It’s real. You can google the people and they show up all over different real church youth group websites.

  3. GP said,

    Christian believer here. Thought I would give the heads up.

    I have a lot to share for those who are sincere in their quest to learn more about today’s American Christianity. I firmly believe in God, so don’t the wrong idea that I am on the fence. I happen to believe so much in God that my wife and I can no longer go to a modern-day, American Christian church. We’re turned off by power-hungry pastors, their need to for more money, and the endless dogmatic hoops that you have to jump through just to show them (and the others who go to the same church) that we love Jesus. At some point, churches became less about worship and more about meaningless practices that are supposed to prove you love Jesus. Because “if you love Jesus, then you would do all these things and give all this money, and you would want to be here all the time when the doors are open!” Not exactly.

    In my opinion, today’s American church(es) are eerily similar to the Pharisees of Jesus’ time. It’s a long list of similarities, so maybe I will share another time. Just know that the Pharisees were concerned that Jesus was gaining too much momentum, and He was threatening their market share. You know the rest of the story, and it ends on a hill with a bloody cross. My personal opinion is that it’s hard to tell today’s pastors apart from Pharisees of Jesus’ time. Sounds crazy, I know. But there’s a method to my madness. We think. Or at least that’s what my other personality told me. Anyways, here we go on a couple of things:

    1. The quality of a website usually lets you know a lot about the company it is promoting. I’d have to say that it looks like Cornerstone Church is a fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants church that isn’t too hip to the conventional “serious” tone that most denominational churches possess (Baptists, Methodists, etc.). Charismatic churches are known for being a little silly, which I think is their way of trying to find joy and simplicity when the rest of the churches are all about making sure you wear a suit and tie and remember that you’re in a holy place when you go to church.

    The Cornerstone Church you linked to is what is called a Charismatic church. Heavy emphasis on the giftings of the Holy Spirit, which are discussed in the Book of Acts when Pentecost infused the believers with the ability to understand each other’s native language (speaking in tongues, today, is the idea that you can speak or pray in a way that sounds unintelligible, but God or others can understand you). They most likely also believe in some version of prophesy that is also a gift described in the letters Paul wrote to the church in Corinth-This, for a modern-day Charismatic church in America is usually low-level stuff and not “The world is going to end on June 12, 2023” stuff. However, Charismatics are like Baskin-Robbins and have a hundred different flavors of how they function in tongues and prophecy. No two are alike.

    2. The College Workshops are for real. The current fad in American Christianity is to gather high school students, and sometimes middle school students, for a series of teachings on the cultural climate of America…especially how the teenage believer can get a jump-start on how to avoid being “sucked into the secular, anti-God professors and lectures” that the student will find when in college. I do have to confess that I think our country’s universities are no longer “liberal” in the Northeast or Northwest only. Most mainstream universities from one coast to the other have a pretty large assortment of professors who are anti-God. College is where that church kid from a small town in Kansas finally has a series of relationships with someone from a very different background. Now the Kansas church kid sees that his atheist roommate is actually a lot nicer and more honest person than his church friends back home, and it gets him started down the path of thinking “Maybe it’s ME that’s all screwed up?” This happens with sexuality, too. You begin to experiment with other world views. And if you’re not well-grounded in your Christian faith, it’s easy to ditch it. It’s the convenient exchange for what ever you’re being exposed to at the time. The Kansas church kid really had no choice BUT to go to church his whole young life, and now he’s at a place where he has choices. Ad he’s exercising that freedom for the first time in his life. And it’s exciting. How could it now be? Been there, done that.

    One statistic shows that roughly 60% of believers LEAVE the faith, or at least express doubt that the God of the Holy Bible (a) exists or (b) is all that there is, meaning that there are many ways to attain an afterlife, etc. The result of the research is shocking churches and its congregations to such an extent that for the first time since about the 1940s, American Christians are admitting that they don’t know very much about God, and that they have failed to educate or at least create a sincere learning environment for the teenager to feel like they really know what the believe. It’s as if the church, and the parents of church kids, are finally admitting that they have done a lousy job of explaining God. Which I think is where the Institute for Creation Research ties into this: They mean well, but they are falling seriously short of convincing anybody of anything when they file papers that are riddled with spelling and grammar errors, etc. It sort of looks bad.

    Instead of Christian parents doing the job of raising their children to believe what they want them to believe, for the past several decades we have seen churches think that parents can plug a kid into Sunday School until they’re old enough to go into a teenage social/ministry type of program (usually held on Wednesday nights at the church), let them interact with other Christian teenagers, and all of that earlier Sunday School training will pay off and all those teenagers will just rub up against each other and somehow make each other better and wiser in their faith in God. In short: Parents got sloppy over the past 60 years, and they thought churches were doing a good job of training the kids when it was really the role of the parent to do so all along, and the church should have been supplementing what the parents were teaching at home.

    This is one of the reasons why my wife and I have left church altogether: American churches are powerless and yet power-hungry all at the same time. And my wife and I have had enough. We desire to keep our kids away from that self-seeking, greedy, institutional environment. Our faith in God is actually stronger for not being there. I know that sounds wild to a lot of you. But we feel we have a better grip on what it means to love God, love ourselves, and love our neighbors (Jesus’ three commandments) than if we trudged to church on Sunday and made sure we looked so gosh-darned happy all the time. Maybe it’s the phony, happy-all-the-time, Church Guy attitude that rubs people the wrong way. It’s shallow and insincere. And it seems that THOSE types of Christians have the bullhorn or the TV show, etc. Why are THEY the representatives of Christianity? Can it not just be something personal, humble, and real?

    Christians need to shut their mouths and start showing that they can do more than rattle off some key scriptures and threaten an atheist with the “If you were in a car wreck today, and you died, do you know where you would be?”. Christians need to be about the business of proving that they can get their personal business in order before trying to convert others. In other words, maybe we should show that we really ARE different instead of just talking a good game while we dismantle all that Jesus tried to build while He lived on this earth.

    Because although I am not inching toward atheism at all, I can see why Christianity is mocked and laughed at. Aside from the proof-no proof arguments, today’s American Christians are woefully lacking in personal character that matches up with what you’d normally think of a Christian possessing. That’s not me setting myself up as the righteous one, don’t mistake what I am saying. I mean that this whole Jesus thing just comes apart when well-meaning members of the Christian community fail to live by the code. We have zero room to complain about being “persecuted.” Hope that makes sense.

    There’s a book by the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grandville, Michigan, and his name is Rob Bell. He wrote a book entitled “Jesus Wants To Save Christians,” and it’s about the plight of today’s American Christianity. He’s a solid Christian, but he has these same internal “gripes” that I have about today’s Christian culture.

    Anyways, that was a long rant. Just wanted to let you know that these workshops are THE hot thing right now, and they are growing. It’s actually a whole cottage industry to tell you the truth. They are attempting to seize the churched teenager and shake up his world a little bit before he heads off to college so that they can see that it’s a different world than what he’s used to. Give it 2 or 3 decades, and it might start making a difference.

  4. Jaecp said,

    Well,

    I called up the church in sioux city and talked to a number of people who confirmed that CWW was an affiliate of their church and that the site is intentionally sarcastic.

    I talked to one of the Pastors Assistants named Ryan.

  5. Corso said,

    Andrew, where have you been? You have a great blog but you suddenly stopped posting. Let us know what’s going on.


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