Pastor Pillow here.
Before you toss your check into this week’s offering plate, please consider making an equivalent donation to the Ocean Conservancy or the Center for Marine Biodiversity & Conservation. While we sat on our collective couches this past week watching fake documentaries about megalodon on the boob tube, more than 770,000 sharks were led to the slaughter just so the international culinary community could enjoy a few cups of shark fin soup.
Marine evangelist Christopher Neff continues to urge the media to lay off the term “shark attack,” so I thought I would toss out my own Sunday morning ichthyic exhortation:
People of Judeo-Christian faith everywhere should cease talking about “Jonah and the Whale.” In case you were unaware, the Hebrew word dag gadol ( דג גדול ) should be translated “great fish.” Shark Week 101: whales are mammals, sharks are fish.
Finally, I’m pleased to offer a free dinner for two at Red Lobster to the first fundamentalist to present a satisfactory explanation for why in Hebrew the gender of the great fish changes from male to female after Jonah sat in its belly for several days. Please do not suggest that in Old Testament times, God passed prophets from one “great fish” to another via cartilaginous French kissing. I much prefer to think that the Almighty works mysteriously through transgender marine creatures.
Anyway, couldn’t help but notice you slept right through your alarm yet again this Sunday. While you contemplate excuses to skip this evening’s 5:30 p.m. service, here’s this week’s Weekly Round-Up Report of the top stories in the Right-Wing Christian Media. As ever, ladies and gentlemen (dag gadol included), honest to God, I am not making up any of this stuff.
4. Because What South Africa Really Needs is More White Stuff, as reported in the Baptist Bulletin: “Snow and Biblical Truth in South Africa”
According to itself, the Baptist Bulletin has been “preserving the sounds of [Christian] battle” since 1933. Just in case you hadn’t heard, the latest weapon in Baptist mission work to the “Dark Continent” is…brace yourself…snow.
Winter is coming to Sub-Saharan Africa. And its bringing Christ in tow.
With more than one-quarter of the world’s malnourished children residing upon the African continent, thank God the Gospel Literature Services has been sending snow machines to South Africa and its poor, forgotten Dutch-ancestral children.
I think the “Jesus Loves Me” video at the link above just about says it all. But perhaps I shouldn’t be too harsh. Without these faux frozen flakes, 66 fewer “duck, duck, gray duck” Africans would be hell-bound.
Imagine just how many more tots would have “soaked in the Gospel” had program director Liezel Essop handed out Klondike bars and moon boots during this biblical blizzard mission.
Join Christian Research Institute’s Hank Hanegraaff, head of the “most effective apologetics ministry in the world,” for an hour-long conversation with Ellen Dykas, Women’s Ministry Coordinator of Harvest USA and author of the article “Sexual Sanity for Women in a World Gone Mad” in the current issue of Christian Research Journal.
Or don’t. Seriously. I’ve completely changed my mind: whatever you do, do not click the link above—unless you have some aberrant need to know the fundamentalist Christian worldview of doing marital squat jumps in the cucumber patch. If that is the case, then this man-atop-woman dialogue is for you.
Hanegraaff asks his audience to consider the first thing that comes to mind when the word “sex” is mentioned. Lady Gaga? A James Bond movie? Cosmopolitan magazine?
Yeah, Hank. The first thing I reach for when I’m feeling hot and bothered is any film starring George Lazenby.
Over the course of 55 excruciating minutes, Dykas covers the full spectrum of Radical Right human sexuality theology, including a review of Fifty Shades of Grey, despite repeated statements that she would never dream of reading such a “dangerous, normalizing” title.
Things get really heated when Hanegraaff and Dykas “wrestle” with the topic of masturbation. Dykas claims that satisfying oneself is an example of “broken sexuality” that exists outside the “guardrails of God’s design,” then provides the amazing insight that masturbation is “completely isolated from relationships.” (Wait, even if my left hand knows what my right hand is up to?)
It sure sounds like Hank and Dykas could use a few lessons in The X-Rated Bible. What really irks me are the thousands of people across our nation whose sexual selves are being deformed by the psychological trash compactor known as the Christian Research Institute.
2. Christian Fundamentalist Letters Cause Apostle Paul to Turn in Epistolary Grave: “Be on Guard Against Professional Sports” and “An Issue that Should be Discussed Amongst the Christian Community”
If you ever need to be reminded why it is paramount for every progressive to head to the polls in 2014 and 2016, read either of the above letters.
I’m well aware that anyone with a keyboard can stake a claim to a URL, but even in this day of the Wild, Wild Web, it’s hard to imagine that the National Religious Broadcasters granted full-fledged membership to In God We Trust Productions. (Shame on NRB President Dr. Frank Wright and the NRB Board for letting such bombastic bottom feeders even into their fundie fold.)
The first letter is penned anonymously to Abe Polin, former (in fact, deceased) owner of the Washington Wizards. In it, Mr. Anonymous condemns Polin for not retaining the team name Bullets because Jesus loves the little child of the world as well as flesh-tearing ammunition. The letter also blasts the current team name due to a reference in Leviticus 20 about God decrying “a-whoring” wizards. (Funny, when I think of Merlin or Harry Potter, I rarely envision orgies.)
This epistolary abortion is somehow outdone by the second letter, an apoplectic apologia about creationism. This time, the letter author is identified as IGWT co-founder Michael Lampiris, author of the book Taking A Bite Out of Evolution. Most of the letter, penned to an anonymous recipient, deals with a theoretical situation about a person who walks into an infant-crammed nursery; the person discovers venomous snakes writhing all over the floor. Apparently anyone who believes in evolution is a snake-handler—which is odd, as one expects Lampiris to assign the role of “evil evolutionist” to the sophist snakes.
Doubtless, readers of Lampiris are accustomed to his logical abandon, as in a previous newsletter he cites lack of school prayer, not guns, as the reason for school shootings.
You and I are both aware that the people behind In God We Trust Productions are nut jobs. But Lampiris & Co. has followers. And they all vote for politicians who sometimes are no less knuckleheaded.
The best news to report about In God We Trust Productions is that little has happened on this website since 2011. Perhaps Lampiris and his cronies are sitting behind bars in Kampala for attempting to smuggle contraband snow machines.
1. A Compelling Theological Debate from Sojourners. “Questioning the Bible: What I Would Have Said to Bill Maher”
I always like to conclude with something positive and uplifting before sending you back into the cold, expanding universe.
The head of Sojourners magazine, Jim Wallis, recently went tête-à-theological-tête with HBO’s Bill Maher on “Real Time.” Post-conservative evangelical author Derek Flood offers a number of interesting insights into this debate: “As people of faith, we shouldn’t wait for Bill Maher to ask these questions, we should already be wrestling with these troubling texts ourselves.”
Amen, Brother Flood.
Indeed, the Bible is a confusing text with dozens of theodicy conundrums that should make any believer’s head spin without the assistance of talking heads like Bill Maher. The Apostle Paul once called upon believers of the nascent Christian religion to know why they believe what they believe. Otherwise, why believe at all?
Flood’s reflections, accompanied by a video clip of Maher’s conversation with Wallis, Eliot Spitzer and recent religious studies celebrity, Reza Aslan, comprise one of the more healthy religious dialogues I have seen in some time. Check it out.
And just why do we present the Christian Right Weekly Round-Up each week?
According to Forbes, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) alone brings in nearly $300 million per year in revenue. CBN isn’t alone in the 9-figure Radical Right Revenue Game. According to the website Ministry Watch, CBN is dwarfed in comparison to the nearly $900 million raked in annually by the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).
But TBN and CBN are mere bright stars in a galactic empire of hundreds of Christian news and media organizations. If you have a few minutes to spare, review the membership lists of the National Religious Broadcasters and the Evangelical Press Association.
Each and every one of these Christian media organizations have one thing in common: they report news to members of the Christian Right across the Fruited Plain. And the Christian Right account for nearly one-third of America’s voters.
See you next week.
And a final message for unsaved Africans everywhere: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
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