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If you’ve been reading this blog for two years or so—and if so, my god, why?—then you’ll remember that immediately after the 2004 election, I was so upset that I checked in for a three-week stay at Focus on the Family Ministries in Colorado Springs in order to learn how I could get right with God.  (And if you haven’t been reading this blog for two years, you’re finding this out just now!) The episode actually started on October 31, 2004, when I read an essay about Christian businesses in some liberal-elitist magazine, and responded with this piece of secularist mockery:

_______

God spoke to me this morning, and He said, “Michael, you better not say anything snarky or dismissive about that article in today’s New York Times Magazine about American evangelicals who are establishing Christian businesses, performing faith healings in banks, conducting Bible study in the Centers for Disease Control, praying with real estate clients that they get a good price for their home, and so on.” God also said, “you know, it’s not at all weird that so many people think that I speak directly to them.  In fact, if you read the article carefully, you’ll find that ‘some workplace Bible-study groups . . . feature training in how to distinguish between God’s voice and random thoughts.’ So it’s not as if people are just making stuff up and attributing it to Me.”

I said, “But God, if You’re really God and not some random thoughts in my head, don’t You already know if I’m going to say anything snarky or dismissive about these people?”

He smote me then, and let me tell you, that “smiting” is some serious shit.  It’s way worse than “smacking around” or “walloping,” that’s for sure.

So I’m not going to say anything about these people or their businesses or their beliefs.  I just have an innocent question about the inspirational painting on the office wall of Riverview Community Bank president Duane Kropuenske, which is reproduced on the Magazine‘s front cover.  The painting is titled “Unending Riches” and it’s a portrait of Jesus standing with two businessmen in what is clearly an executive office.  In the background is a generic cityscape, framed in a large window.  The businessman on the right seems to be introducing the businessman on the left to Christ, who’s shaking hands and wearing white robes.

image

OK, so check out what’s on the wall behind the shoulder of the guy on the left.  It’s another inspirational painting of some kind!  Have you ever seen anything like this before?  A piece of inspirational workplace art that includes, in a mise en abyme, another piece of inspirational workplace art?  It’s too weird. And more important, why would this particular office need an inspirational painting in the first place?  I mean, Jesus Christ Himself works for them!! They’ve already got the power of the Almighty right there, standing behind the desk with the laptop—what more do they need?? Are you trying to tell me that even the firm that employs the Son of God has to festoon its office walls with “motivational” posters?

I just think that’s blasphemous.

_______

Well, despite the demurral in the fourth paragraph of that post, that was pretty cheeky of me.  They set me straight at FOF, let me tell you!  And today, I’ll repost my first missive from Colorado Springs, November 13, 2004.  Here’s hoping it shines some heavenly light on your Monday:

_______

Hi folks!  It turns out that the Focus on the Family Ministry has a “weekend furlough” program, so I have a spare moment to check in on the blog from out here in lovely Colorado Springs.  They limit us to half an hour on the Internets, though, because here at Focus on the Family, they like to keep the focus on the family.  Actually, our unofficial motto is “it’s the patriarchy, stupid”—but of course I can’t say that in public!

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that there’s no cause for concern about me or my state of mind, and that my hosts are treating me well.  Not quite as well as my other conservative hosts back in September—let’s just say there’s a lot less single-malt flowing around these parts—but quite well nonetheless.  And before I go back in for Week Two of the program, they’d like me to say a few words to the readers of this most humble blog.

First, you liberals and progressives and leftists and Communists have to stop vilifying “Christians.” It’s counterproductive and wrong.  Christians are not responsible for George Bush’s election.  Christians are not intolerant; Christians are not ignorant.  Christians are actually filled with agape; they work among the poor and the downtrodden, they give up all hope of material gain in this world, they turn the other cheek when they are struck, and they always do unto others as they would have others do unto them.

So you liberals need to distinguish between Christians and CHRISTIANs.  Out here in Colorado Springs, we don’t have much use for most of that garden-variety Christianity stuff.  Who needs a vow of poverty when you’re trying to establish a media network?  Who needs agape when you’re counting down to the Apocalypse?  No sir, there aren’t any of those Christians around here.  Instead, we prefer to think of ourselves as

Creationists and
Homophobes for a
Righteous
Inquisition of the
Secular
Terrorists who
Infest
America
Now.

In the future, please get that straight and keep it straight.  Lay off the Christians—they’re completely innocuous people.  When you want to criticize the ascendant religious right, say “CHRISTIANs” or “Creationists and Homophobes” for short. We’ll know who you mean.  And then we’ll come and get you.

Second, liberal-progressive-etc. writers like Rick Perlstein and Frank Rich have to stop claiming that we didn’t swing the 2004 election to the right.  Don’t you people get it? It just doesn’t matter if the religious-conservative vote didn’t change appreciably between 2000 and 2004.  No one wants to hear about your fancy-schmancy “number crunching” and your elitist “regression analyses.” That’s exactly the kind of talk you’d expect from the reality-based community.  But the reality-based community is less relevant to American politics right now than Eugene V. Debs, folks.  Here at FOF, we know that semiotically (though Dr. Dobson doesn’t exactly put it that way), we won, and we won big time.  We are Gonna Get Paid (though Dr. Dobson doesn’t exactly put it that way, either) and all you liberal wonks and all your liberal media can go to H E double hockey sticks.

And that’s why—last but not least!—we’re taking back this country.  First, we’re going to take away one of your favorite liberal words.  Ask your George Lakoff if you don’t believe me!  As soon as the election returns were in, Karl Rove began to speak of creating a “hopeful and decent society,” and William Bennett wrote, in the pages of the National Review:

Having restored decency to the White House, President Bush now has a mandate to affect policy that will promote a more decent society, through both politics and law.

Do you know what that means, people?  That means we mean we’re going to lock you gays and lesb***ns back in the closet or run you right out of town, right alongside the abortionists in their tar-and-feather overcoats.  And don’t give me any grief about Bill B.’s private little vices.  They’re all right with us, because we know he’s saved.

Now, why did we pick the word “decent” for this phase of our crusade, you ask?  Because quite honestly, we’re sick and tired of hearing you people say to us, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?  Have you left no sense of decency?” I mean, we heard it about Abu Ghraib, we heard it about the Swift Boat Vets, we heard it when Jim DeMint said that gays and lesb***ns should be barred from teaching positions, we heard it every time Dick Cheney opened his mouth.  We heard it every gosh-darn week this past year from you liberal “decency” mavens, always whining about something and always claiming to be “decent people” simply because you have this amoral “liberal” attitude about the sexual practices of consenting adults.  Well, we’re not going to stand for it a moment longer.  Next time you ask us if we have any “decency,” we’re going to say, “darn right we do—that’s why we have an American Decency Association.” And we’re going to make sure—through both politics and law—that we purge this land of degenerates like you.

Oops, my half hour is up.  See you all later!  And don’t forget to repent while you still can!

Posted by on 10/16 at 08:21 AM
  1. Wow, I didn’t see it as the guy being introduced to Jesus.  When I saw it, I thought the white guy was rejecting the outstretched hand of the Brown Person in order to commune with Jesus instead.

    Must.  Stop.  Reading.  Blogs.

    Seriously, I think I’ll write on this one, too.  Way too good to pass up.

    Posted by Sinfonian  on  10/16  at  10:10 AM
  2. Ah, what a sinful thought, Sinfonian.  The man of color with his elbow on the Executive Leather Chair is, in fact, the President and Chief Executive Officer of his firm, and as such, arranges all introductory meetings between the Son of God and new employees.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  10:21 AM
  3. According to the American Decency Association,

    TV programming is essentially unfit for viewing. Though an occasional program has value, it is the exception. Little by little, television dumbs down our moral sensitivities and conforms our minds to a secular worldview.
    It is God’s desire that we place no wicked thing before our eyes, therefore, I pledge to:

    stab out my eyeballs with the shards of glass from my broken television screen. I wish there were another way, but I’m convinced that secular wickedness lurks, just waiting to flash before my eyes.

    I sure hope they don’t find that radio dumbs down our moral sensitivities and conforms our minds to a secular world view.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  10:45 AM
  4. "So you liberals need to distinguish between Christians and CHRISTIANs.”

    Wait a minute—first, in your rhetoric in the post just below this one, you distinguish between the radical right and “true conservatives”.  Next you’re implying a distinction between the Christians that we always see doing things and “true Christians”?  Is this like a subtle campaign to mock me by forcing me to repeat my tag lines over and over?

    I should have signed this as my own sockpuppet, One Mythical Christian Full Of Agape.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  11:25 AM
  5. Gotta love those not-so-fair-skinned helplings brokering deals between a WASP and NASCAR Jesus.

    I mean where would Mr. Roarke be without Tattoo?

    “Welcome to Fantasy Office!”

    Captcha: what...as in “what’cha talkin’ about Mr. J?”

    Posted by DocMara  on  10/16  at  11:28 AM
  6. Ah, I’m already disconcerted and stepping on my own lines.  I momentarily forget that agape doesn’t even rhyme with crap.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  11:30 AM
  7. Jesus is wearing a mullet.  And I think the picture on the wall is Bert and Ernie.  Words fail me.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  11:31 AM
  8. I love how Jesus is depicted here:  square jaw, forthright posture, full-on eye contact with “I’m interested in you” smile and slight head tilt, hand thrust out with pride and determination.  You just know that is gonna be one firm handshake. It’s like He went to asshole salesman training school or something.

    Posted by m.ho  on  10/16  at  11:32 AM
  9. "Legitimate grievances,” Central Content Publisher says.

    Here’s a few:

    Decent businessmen of different races finding a commonality in Christ.  Where’s the harm?

    Do we have to create a nuke for sandwiches program before we can please you communists?

    Do we have to threaten to sell radioactive material to Al-Qaida before we can get any respect around here?

    But the idea that Christians are the problem with the world isn’t even my real problem here.  It’s the Marxist political program in regards to literature.  I’m reading this Marxism and Literature book by Raymond Williams and can just barely keep it down.  At least Zhdanov wrote clearly and gave us firm indices of who’s going to Siberia and who’s going to just be shot.  Beginning with humorists.

    Literature swept away on a tide of platitudes.

    At least Central content Publisher has the guts to recognize that others might have different opinions and that they might be of value.

    The rest of you are just mindless Laestrygonians.

    Posted by Kirby Olson  on  10/16  at  11:57 AM
  10. Clearly Jesus is taking credit for Habib’s hard work. Just like Jesus to squeeze into a deal at the last minute and take credit for the whole thing. Habib has been around though, and he knows exactly how to deal with this kind of thing. Here we see him skilfully transform an interupted hand-shake into a pleasant introduction, saying “Where are my manners? This is Jesus. Jesus, this is Southern Suburbanite lost in the big city. Aren’t his robes great SS? And Jesus, I don’t care what anyone says; I think you look pretty damn manly.”

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  10/16  at  12:07 PM
  11. Kirby Olsen probably pronounces the word as rhymed above, so he can call himself the Christian Full of Agape without my objection.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  12:11 PM
  12. Do we have to create a nuke for sandwiches program before we can please you communists?

    I’m not now, nor have I ever been, a communist. However, I like the sound of a nuke for sandwiches program. Can you flesh this out a bit? How many sandwiches will one nuke bring?

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  12:48 PM
  13. Actually, CCP didn’t say “legitimate” greivances, Kirby, but be that as it may. You can choose to argue the legitimacy of your grievances, or you can choose to call people who mock you communists and cannibals, inciting further rounds of mockery, you, you foot-headed Laemodipodan you.

    Heeheeehee.</obligatory>

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  12:51 PM
  14. You’re getting there, Kirby, but it’s still all a bit too mechanical. It’s as if you took Peter Ramus’s three troll characteristics

    1. idée fixe
    2. gratuitous insult
    3. logorrhea

    and simply went down the list:

    1. idée fixe: Marxist lit crit, check.
    2. gratuitous insult: “mindless Laestrygonians,” check.
    3. logorrhea: taking ten lines to make the point of two, check.

    So while it’s an improvement, it’s still wooden. Try working in a few “the fact is...” openings.

    [/ free troll advice]

    ----
    About the post, I wonder how this Jesus fellow finds the time to work in the big city and make guest appearances in Baghdad? He must have a hell of a corporate jet.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/16  at  12:51 PM
  15. I’m confused.  Is Jesus about to do an over-the-head kung fu move in order to throw these merchants/money changers out of that big picture window?  Or is he working *within* the system and throwing them out by virtue of a hostile takeover?  And when did the temple get such nice leather appointments and a sweet view?

    Oh crap.  My captcha word is hell, as in I’m going straight to it.

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  10/16  at  01:05 PM
  16. Oh, and Michael, I like your self-deprecating take on the On Notice board.  See, when I used it, I assumed Colbert was on my side and putting things I hate on notice.  Kind of like CHRISTIANs assuming Jesus is on theirs.

    And speaking of CHRISTIANs, that acronym (or is it an acrostic?) needs to catch on widely.  Now.  Begin virile replication asap.

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  10/16  at  01:09 PM
  17. Well, to be honest, Rich, when I re-posted these old things I was thinking more about David Kuo than anyone else, so no, this isn’t a subtle campaign to mock you.  I would never do that!  I don’t engage in subtle campaigns.

    That’s why I like Kirby here.  Somebody has to stand up and point out that the real problem in the world is Raymond Williams writing things like this:

    If we are asked to believe that all literature is “ideology,” in the crude sense that its dominant intention (and then our only response) is the communication or imposition of “social” or “political” meanings and values, we can only, in the end, turn away.  If we are asked to believe that all literature is “aesthetic,” in the crude sense that its dominant intention (and then our only response) is the beauty of language and form, we may stay a little longer but will still in the end turn away.

    Marxism and Literature, p. 155.

    And I second the call for a “nukes for sandwiches program,” though I’ll personally take a pass on the “sandwiches” part.  I’m tired of these splinter groups feeding off the WAAGNFN Party’s energy.  So to speak.

    It’s like He went to asshole salesman training school or something.

    And why wouldn’t He, m.ho?  The first time around, He was notoriously opaque, often inscrutable.  Anything but client-centered.  And as a result, He left the important P.R. work to disciples, clerics, and assistant vice presidents for relics and dogma, many of whom had their own agendas.

    Speaking of dogma!

    John, the Prince of Peace can show up anywhere He wants, anytime He wants.  That much was determined by the Second Council of Nicaea, which also ruled that He can travel back in time from the far future to stop John Connor from being born if He so desires.  (This is a minor corollary to the doctrine of Adam’s “fortunate fall.") But if you’re suggesting . . .

    Wait a minute, I just clicked on that link.  Are you telling me that Iraqi Shi’ites are now taking exception to Buddy Jesus from Dogma

    Is nothing sacred any longer?

    For this latest debacle I blame General J. C. Christian, who assumed command from General William “Jerry” Boykin some time ago.  And I call for the General’s followers to riot in the streets.

    And now it wouldn’t surprise me if the inspirational painting in the “Unending Riches” inspirational painting did feature Ernie and Bert—evil Bert.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/16  at  01:20 PM
  18. Is Jesus about to do an over-the-head kung fu move in order to throw these merchants/money changers out of that big picture window?  Or is he working *within* the system and throwing them out by virtue of a hostile takeover?

    I say: tertium non datur! To me, it looks like a shakedown. Jesus is saying, “nice office you got here, pal. Be a shame if anything apocalyptic might happen to it. Like ferinstance if I should smite maccaca here.”

    Posted by John Protevi  on  10/16  at  01:22 PM
  19. However, I like the sound of a nuke for sandwiches program.

    We Are All Global Nuclear Fireball Now, And Later We Will All Be Pastrami On Rye.

    Consider it the Rapture for WAAGNFN, an elevation to a higher culinary state that excludes those who can’t cut the mustard.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  01:23 PM
  20. I’m tired of these splinter groups feeding off the WAAGNFN Party’s energy.  So to speak.

    Whoops.  So sorry, Professor, for my free radical suggestion of Yet Another Splinter Group.  I’ll try to do beta in the future.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  01:28 PM
  21. Dr. V., I didn’t make that “On Notice” sign.  Some blogger with a French surname who claims to be from Texas did that.

    And mds, see, that’s exactly what I’m talking about.  The minute you order a We Are All Global Nuclear Fireball Now, And Later We Will All Be Pastrami On Rye party, you provoke the classic Gulden - Kosciusko split on the question of worker’s councils and revolutionary condiments.  (Though let the record show that Anton Pannekoek was a strict Kosciusko’s man.)

    Posted by Michael  on  10/16  at  01:33 PM
  22. It’s all well and good to go on about mustards without taking into account the intractable Can You Make That Corned Beef? Faction.

    On a more troubling note, I see that the url for this page of comments ends …/comments/1073.

    And I notice that the url of the previous post’s comments page ends …/comments/1071.

    What in heaven’s name happened to …/comments/1072?

    Was it … CANNIBALS!!!?!

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  01:57 PM
  23. (Though let the record show that Anton Pannekoek was a strict Kosciusko’s man.)

    Mustard on pancakes?  It really is true that liberalism is the fount of perversion.  Move over, Mr. Olson!

    the classic Gulden - Kosciusko split

    Oh, whoa.  A reference to another classic post in a comment to a selection of classic posts.  Can we start prefixing everything with “meta-” again?

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  01:57 PM
  24. Uh oh.  Peter’s question reminds me that I have cleanup work to do.  Don’t anybody look around in the blog for where I stored the Colbert “On Notice” download, OK?

    And mds, you may begin metafixing.  I have only a fixed number of fixations, as you’ve gathered.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  02:05 PM
  25. Michael used it as a storage bin for the Stephen Colbert image. I know all. I see all.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  10/16  at  02:06 PM
  26. I am, however, one second too slow.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  10/16  at  02:07 PM
  27. I just don’t see any of that here in the picture.  I see Chris “jesus” Ferguson introducing Stephen Colbert to a Fields Prize nominee who mentored CJF’s doctoral dissertation.  But then i could be hoping that i am having a kook-aid flashback moment that just ‘came’ (captcha) my way like a hot flash.

    I was too caught up reading this Colorado story regarding just what sort of focus those folks have on poverty issues.  Moses bringing on the tablet for the cadets in Colorado Springs.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  03:48 PM
  28. sorry this is too funny:
    He can travel back in time from the far future to stop John Connor from being born

    Is that on the same order of scale as travelling across the 8th dimension, as well, to stop John Whorfin, John Bigbooté, and John Ya Ya along with John Conner???

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  03:54 PM
  29. Laugh while you can, Spyderboy!

    Posted by John Smallberries  on  10/16  at  04:47 PM
  30. It’s a shame that the only two places on earth where Marxism is still taken seriously are American English departments and North Korea.

    Literary study was never Marxism’s long suite in the first place.  Someone should write a short volume: From Raymond Williams to Kim Jong-Il—A Study in Hallucinatory Praxis.

    Chapter one—Marxist aesthetics.  If the worker wins, it’s a good story.  (Substitute for worker the victim of your choice.)

    Chapter two—when in doubt, march around a lot and show big muscles, flash your degree, call other people short.  This helps a lot in sustaining your confidence.

    Chapter three—When the food gives out, you can always order in cucumber sandwiches from a FUNCTIONING democracy.

    Chapter four—Remember, no matter what, we’re right.  Because remember, Marxism is a SCIENCE!  And SCIENCE is never wrong, because it’s the science of HISTORY, so ... wait, I thought that history was in the liberal arts, somebody move it!

    Addendum chapter:  But political science, or politicized science, isn’t always right, especially when it argues that “gravity is an ideological construct.” (NB:  Try not to make obvious mistakes like that one again.)

    Addendum to the addendum: Unless of course, the party higher-ups say that gravity is an ideological construct, and then you must still say it is, while continuing to march and hold the flag high, or else no cucumber sandwiches for you, mo’fo.

    Posted by Kirby Olson  on  10/16  at  04:54 PM
  31. For some balance: There is an article at SF Gate today on St Boniface Church in San Francisco where the homeless come to sleep in the pews each day. Take a look through the pictures.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  05:04 PM
  32. Is gravy an ideological construct?  I’m thinking a nice hot turkey sandwich. 

    Captcha “received,” as in let us be grateful.

    Posted by Colin  on  10/16  at  05:08 PM
  33. As John Searle argues in The Construction of Social Events, gravy is a social fact (i.e., a cultural construct) but turkey is a brute fact (i.e., an artifact of the natural world).  I take issue with this in Rhetorical Occasions, Colin, but only because I believe that Searle has not adequately accounted for stuffing.

    And don’t start the “stuffing v. dressing” thread again.  We’ve already quashed a meta-appeal to the mustard thread, people.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/16  at  05:19 PM
  34. "In the background is a generic cityscape, framed in a large window.  The businessman on the right seems to be introducing the businessman on the left to Christ, who’s shaking hands and wearing white robes.”

    I may be seeing things, but I believe that the “generic cityscape” behind Jesus and the swarthy gentleman is actually a poster of the former World Trade Centers. It’s very popular with the trauma-hungry tourists who still flock to Canal Street for Chinese food while en route to pay homage to the macabre.

    Those two tall buildings sort of aglow with light, right behind our boy Christ, are WTC I and WTC II.

    What is the political and ideological symbolism here? What affects does this image rouse in the unsuspecting spectator who sees Christ buddy up with Mohammed in the backdrop of the greatest disaster on American soil? Perhaps we *can* all live in harmony and still do business with the “bad guys,” after all? An icon for the sale of American ports to Dubai?

    Praise the lord!

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  06:09 PM
  35. Could it also be that the open book beside the laptop is, in fact, the Koran?

    catcha: extent

    To what extent will the moral hypnotists go to convince us that business and religion do go hand in hand?

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  06:12 PM
  36. See Jim, that’s patriarchy in action. Notice that it’s almost exclusively men who are allowed pews to sleep in. Abject poverty; yet another profession women are unfairly excluded from. It starts with the homeless, but before long, women will be excluded from our prisons too! Oh… wait a minute....

    What’s important though, is that religious institutions are putting the money they don’t have to pay in taxes to good use in the comminity - wooden pews, and white-gloved assistants. Oh, we live in wonderfully loving times.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  10/16  at  06:19 PM
  37. Those two tall buildings sort of aglow with light, right behind our boy Christ, are WTC I and WTC II.

    What is the political and ideological symbolism here?

    You might be right, Foucault—but if it’s a poster, it’s a really bad one, because the World Trade Center towers were silver, not black, and there’s no hint of those distinctive vertical shafts that ran between the windows and, at plaza level, looked something like a series of tuning forks.

    Then again, if it’s a window, and we’re just looking at a really bad painting that attempts to portray a window view of the WTC, then there’s only one possible conclusion—Jesus Christ works in an office located somewhere between Bayonne and Hoboken, New Jersey!

    Posted by Michael  on  10/16  at  06:37 PM
  38. CCP: Sorry I forgot the adage: Never try to teach a pig to sing, you only waste your time and irritate the pig. These are men and women in poverty who do not need elaborate rhetoric or academic satire. Ugh.(But then, why would I be reading this blog you might rightfully ask) I meant it as a contrast to the Christ in the Boardroom picture.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  06:44 PM
  39. Those two tall buildings sort of aglow with light, right behind our boy Christ, are WTC I and WTC II.

    Ifacks, you’re right M. Foucault! Which puts this scene smack in the heart of the Statue of Liberty. How was Jesus allowed into the symbol of our Freedom and Everything the Terrorists Hate About Us in that funky non-Western business attire??

    rejecting the outstretched hand of the Brown Person

    Nah, that guy’s One Of Us. You can tell because the light pattern in the skyscraper behind him has formed a cross floating just above his head (or about to boar into his skull).

    When the food gives out, you can always order in cucumber sandwiches from a FUNCTIONING democracy.

    Actually, when the food runs out, we’re going to turn our hungry eyes to you, yolK is bOrn. I mean, Kirby Olson.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  06:50 PM
  40. The painting is clearly an illustration of the CHRISTIAN doctrine that “God helps those who help themselves”. Christ is, as Central Content Publisher suggests, sneaking in at the last minute to snatch the deal away from the incredulous guy on the right. As the good book says: Always Be Closing.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  07:07 PM
  41. I’ve lived in criminalized neighbourhoods my entire life. I know city streets intimately. I’m generations deep. Don’t presume to tell me what’s needed. I’ll tell you.

    These are mostly men and what they don’t need is more religious bullshit to destroy what’s left of their already failing sanity. They don’t need the same Christian hypocrites who use proceeds from tax exemptions to advertise for converts while lobbying for the destruction of anything resembling social programs to take credit for “caring” about the very people they’ve worked so hard, for so long, to vilify. And frankly, such people are usually thrown out of churches.

    Homeless people sleeping in pews, I think, is a great companion to Christ in the office; not a contrast at all. Unless you’re contrasting the faux poverty of Christ at home in the offices of big business, juxtaposed the real poverty of people at home in the pews of a Christian church.

    Now com’on boy… and squeel like a pig.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  10/16  at  07:24 PM
  42. Dr. V., I didn’t make that “On Notice” sign.

    I supposed you didn’t (why not? it’s fun! go put someone on notice!), but your use (or should I say appropriation) of it here is self-deprecating nevertheless, non?

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  10/16  at  07:40 PM
  43. I agree that it’s a really bad representation of the Twin Towers, but I’ve honestly seen that tacky poster (or some rendition of it) a million times in cheesy tourist joints. It’s to New York what the Velvet Elvis is to Tennessee.
    elvis01.jpg

    I can’t believe it: Jesus of Jersey?! Looks like he’s got a Carnegie Mellon Business School handshake, though.

    Here are the WTC cheesy posters to which I refer; none of them are a perfect fit, but this is the ilk that I’m trying to describe.

    Catcha: WINDOW! No shit… smile

    World-Trade-Center-with-Statue-of-Liberty-Print-C10280821.jpeg

    freespace.virgin.net/.../wtc_wallpaper_14.jpg

    http://www.allposters.com/-sp/World-Trade-Center-with-Statue-of-Liberty-Posters_i925326_.htm

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  07:44 PM
  44. Holy Mother of Christ: sorry--those posters came out a little larger than expected.

    Catcha: Figure (this is really getting uncanny).

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  07:46 PM
  45. CCP: You ought to watch you tone. You started the presumptions. Sometimes it is good to look and just be quiet. I didn’t gear my comment to anything that needs this type of anger. Okay, maybe the plug hit home, but it was an analogy not an identification. But actually opening doors to people who are homeless is a good act in itself that doesn’t deserve your rantings.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  07:49 PM
  46. Sorry for the typos “your” for “you” and “pig” for “plug.” I think to have a real grass roots progressive movement you need to have a gimlet eye for positive actions even those saturated with politics, ideology, hypocrisy whatever. I think Michael in a previous blog wanted to know what worked with Church groups and I think it is the commonalities: meal sharing, volunteerism, community service etc. I find it missing from political activism. It is acting out distribu-tive justice locally.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  08:49 PM
  47. jim: “You ought to watch you tone. You started the presumptions. Sometimes it is good to look and just be quiet.”

    More agape!  Who would Jesus order to watch their tone?  That Christian looooove, telling people to look and just be quiet, like voyeurism.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  10:19 PM
  48. Rich,

    I guess we won’t be sharing any meals together.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  10:23 PM
  49. These are men and women in poverty who do not need elaborate rhetoric or academic satire.

    Having lived in poverty, Jim, of the sort where church-pew-sleeping was not an unusual pastime, I can assure you that your literal attempt at holier-than-thouing is falling on at least one pair of ears that has been there, done that, and discussed Proudhon and Gerrard Winstanley with my fellow street folks, despite your presumption that we were devoid of need for intellectual fare.

    Much more importantly, however: it appears that Michael has a much more common full name than I do, according to this fascinating site:

    There are 151 people in the U.S. named Michael Berube.

    There are 80 people in the U.S. named Chris Clarke.

    There are 0 people in the U.S. named Whoda Thunkit.

    Also of interest:

    There are 12 people in the U.S. named Jamie Berube.

    There are 158 people in the U.S. named Amanda French.

    There are 0 people in the U.S. named Spy Der.

    There are 107 people in the U.S. named David Horowitz.

    There is 1 person in the U.S. named Ward Churchill.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/16  at  10:57 PM
  50. Oh-ho, yeah, I remember that deal. The guy who’s about to shake my hand had just been conned into buying a warehouse full of Spencer Williams’ Jesus paintings to distribute at a markup suited to his conscience. What the guy didn’t know was that the paintings we sold him were knockoffs--printed in a plant in Brooklyn using child labor--worth a fraction of original Williams reproductions. We made a killing on that deal alone, and we knew there’d be plenty more where that came from once 9/11 hit. Habib there thought it would be hilarious to get Williams himself to do a painting at the deal closing, you know, just for the hellacious irony of it (though I think he’s a creepy dude. “You raise me up”? Come on). He was there for hours, getting every stroke just so--he had no idea we were screwing him right in front of his face! Oh, man, good times. How’s that for meta?

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  11:03 PM
  51. How do you get from commonalities and distributive justice to agape, Christian loooove, and holier than thou? I mean there is a route but there are others. This should be a free exchange of ideas and not labeling and tongue wagging.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  11:06 PM
  52. So you’re saying you mean “These are men and women in poverty who do not need elaborate rhetoric or academic satire” in a non-holier-than-thou fashion.

    What’s that called, being nondescending?

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/16  at  11:16 PM
  53. I didn’t think they should be subject to brittle academic polemic or mean-spirited satire. How is that condesccending?

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  11:20 PM
  54. Jesus cracks me up! Those paintings are so awesome. I completely understand how you guys must have made a fortune on them after 9-11.

    They fill me with warm tingles all up my spine. I would like one for my personal collection, and one to send to Mel Gibson in this time of need.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  11:22 PM
  55. I hate how Jesus shows up on every thread in which his name appears.  Hey, Savior, lay off the Technorati ego-searches for a few, would ya?

    And I’m not getting this whole homeless-in-pews discussion.  I thought it was pretty clear that there are Christians, and then again there are CHRISTIANs.  This blog has no quarrel with agape, or with caritas either.

    Much more importantly, however: it appears that Michael has a much more common full name than I do, according to this fascinating site:  There are 151 people in the U.S. named Michael Berube.

    Wow!  Now I’m feeling pretty good about Kurt’s brilliant idea to grab michaelberube.com as the domain name.  Take that, you 150 other Michael Berubes, accented and unaccented!  I’m not going to sell my blog to Chris Clarke anytime soon, not even for the princely sum of one hundred dollars.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/16  at  11:26 PM
  56. What I saw, Jimbo, was neither mean-spirited satire nor brittle academic polemic. What I saw was CCP calling you out, and rightly so, for waving “the homeless” as a bloody shirt to advance your religious ideology. CCP pointed out, and again rightly so, that “the homeless” are individual people who have largely been ill-treated by churches. You responded with a KarlRovian “some people should watch their mouths” kinda comment and opined that you knew better than CCP what “the homeless” needed, and I contradicted you from my own personal experience.

    Shorter me: to you, they’re “they.” To me, they’re “us.” And as one of “them,” I’m telling you: that’s how you’re being condescending.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/16  at  11:31 PM
  57. The misreading just goes on. To look and be quiet is to stop thinking, ideologizing once and a while and just look. Both you and CCP want to bully others down with your ideologies: “called out.” You judge, catalogue, misread: narrowminded and rigid as any CHRISTIAN.

    Posted by  on  10/16  at  11:37 PM
  58. I love how Jesus is depicted here:  square jaw, forthright posture, full-on eye contact with “I’m interested in you” smile and slight head tilt, hand thrust out with pride and determination.

    Jesus is Bill Clinton?

    Posted by Auguste  on  10/17  at  12:04 AM
  59. Michael,

    Anybody web hack can put up a picture of Christ in the boardroom and get the expected response. But it takes a real cave troll to put up “homeless in the pews”: or “a bloody shirt to advance your religious ideology!” Just call me Jimbo.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  12:08 AM
  60. "I thought it was pretty clear that there are Christians, and then again there are CHRISTIANs.  This blog has no quarrel with agape, or with caritas either.”

    Oh, all right, if I have to re-do the last thread Groundhog Day-style, then I might as well just do it:

    I understand this trope about the “true Christians” vs the CHRISTIANs as a splitting-off gesture, but is it actually true?  I don’t think that I’ve ever met a true Christian.  Was there ever one who ever evidenced actual agape?

    Or, rather, in order to remove the immediate objection that brings up one possibly mythical person somewhere, are there really more than just a scattered handful who are “true Christians”?  I don’t see anything resembling even a percentage of the voting public by that description.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  12:20 AM
  61. You cut off the caption to the picture:
    “The first rule of CHRISTIAN club is - that you don’t talk about CHRISTIAN club.”

    But I understand why you did, since you probably don’t fell like joining David Kuo at his currently undisclosed location.

    And just see what the view out of that window looks like by the end of the movie. ... Hmmm, does that make me a 9/11 conspiracy theorist?

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  12:41 AM
  62. Retraction: Before I go, I have been rereading this log and I think CCP’s original blog deserved a better response than my pigs get irritated analogy. Possibly the discussion would have been more positive if I had not started with this response. Also my be quiet and tone comments, well what can I say. I look forward to future discussions with CCP, Rich, and Chris. Rich True Christians=Liberal democrats (subset).

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  12:59 AM
  63. Hey, Savior, lay off the Technorati ego-searches for a few, would ya?

    Yes, very sorry, yes, of course you’re right--it was misguided of me. In all that obsessive searching I thought I was full of agape; really it was vanitas.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  01:06 AM
  64. I look forward to future discussions with CCP, Rich, and Chris.

    Back atcha, Jim.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/17  at  01:10 AM
  65. I am going to go all Traditionalist on the use of “troll” - and advocate sticking to its earliest and narrower usage* on the Internet.

    The more likely derivation can be found in the phrase “trolling for newbies”, popularized in the early 1990s in the Usenet group, alt.folklore.urban. Commonly, what is meant is a relatively gentle inside joke by veteran users, presenting questions or topics that had been so overdone; only a new user would respond to them earnestly.

    In this sense of the word, I find Kirby to be a somewhat interestingly persistent “reverse meta-troll” - as you might expect from someone who has written a somewhat intriguing sounding book entitled T___ing.

    So anyways, back in the day, trolling might mean posting about some trenchant historical fact such as how Luther’s anti-semitism led to his complicity in the Stockholm Bloodbath, and then coming back around every few hours to check the lines.

    *Was gratified to see that this question has been discussed before the Supreme Court in eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C.

    “JUSTICE KENNEDY: Well, is—is the troll the scary thing under the bridge, or is it a fishing technique?...”
    “MR. PHILLIPS [attorney for eBay]: For my clients, it’s been the scary thing under the bridge....”
    “JUSTICE KENNEDY: I mean, is that what the troll is?”
    “MR. PHILLIPS: Yes, I believe that’s… what it is, although...maybe we should think of it more as Orcs, now that we have a new generation.”

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  01:14 AM
  66. Wow JP, my reference was to the cave troll who busted up the place in LOR. But I defer to your web-sense.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  01:21 AM
  67. JP is reminding me of the Neil Gaiman short story where the troll under the bridge tricks the protagonist into becoming the troll under the bridge.  No point, really, unless you come up with it. 

    (That’s an example of constructivist argumentation and humor at the same time.)

    Piers Anthony probably did something funny on trolls--too bad my Xanth books are half a world away or I would have come up with a better punch line.

    If KO’s humor here is representative of his novel (if it is his; if he is the same KO), then he’s not even in Anthony-land, much less Gaiman/Pratchett-space or Adams-zone....

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  10/17  at  05:40 AM
  68. Sorry, forgot the obligatory reading of the meta-inspirational painting.

    Is it just me, or are there some serious sparks going on between macho Jesus and Mr. Gray Wrinkled Suit?

    Wait, there’s more.

    You can tell Mr. Black is not the devil (and Mr. Gray Wrinkled Suit is not Job) b/c of the cross right over his head.  Or wait, maybe he is (and he is).  In either case, this poster clearly advances an anti-Manichean agenda.

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  10/17  at  05:44 AM
  69. Jesus is Bill Clinton?

    The mullet is a dead giveaway, Auguste.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/17  at  08:57 AM
  70. Following a link from Americablog to a story on Condi Rice’s shameful comments upon swearing in “an openly homosexual man as global AIDS coordinator”, I discovered that the news arm of the American Family Association is known as the AgapePress. (The AFA was founded as the National Foundation for Decency [”Fuck off!, American Decency Association poseurs!"] and is headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi. [Maybe the ring above the “a” on the AgapePress home page represents an attempt to “unspin” the damage Elvis did to nuclear families.])

    I think this can only be interpreted as an act of asymmetrical warfare against satirists. Michael - don’t go bringing that 2-year old “kiloton” shit to a “megaton” fight.
    [Now, to be fair, it does appear that the AgapePress has been around since at least 2002, so maybe you were making subtle unlinked references even then. Let us know; because your post-hoc revealed authorial intent is our Gospel - we been trained.]

    ... honestly, professor, my treatment of Kinbote as a straight commentator was meant to be ironic.

    I also love that one of the most common advertisements on these types of websites is for software that can detect and remove porn that is is “unintentionally” hidden on your computer.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  09:35 AM
  71. More names from the site linked in #49 by one-eightieth of the nation’s Chris Clarkes: Joe Blow – 11, Peter Pan – 6, Adolf Hitler – 0.

    The Hitler count is an absolute zero, no first names of Adolf, no last names of Hitler. What’s in a name, indeed. (A bit of Googlery turns up a pay to view link to a Washington Post Style article on an Adolph Hitler, Oct 1, 1974.)

    Posted by black dog barking  on  10/17  at  10:55 AM
  72. Pardon me for asking this, but in this quote from the entry: “I mean, we heard it about Abu Ghraib, we heard it about the Swift Boat Vets, we heard it when Jim DeMint said that gays and lesb***ns should be barred from teaching positions, we heard it every time Dick Cheney opened his mouth.”—what’s the extra asterisk for?

    Ted

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  11:04 AM
  73. Ted, I was hoping someone would ask after all both these years!  It all started when CHRISTIANs had their famous fainting spells after John Kerry said the word “lesb***n” during one of his debates with Bush.  Then I incorporated it into this post in which I offered a helpful poll to Bush voters.  Then I thought it would be teh funny if, on top of being horrified by the word, they were actually unable to spell it.

    And that’s where the extra asterisk came in.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/17  at  11:23 AM
  74. I meant to ask about the bonus asterisk.

    Chris’s link tells me there’s just one of me in this country, which is plausible, but that my husband doesn’t exist at all. I’m not quite sure what to do with this newfound knowledge. Who, exactly, has been keeping me warm at night? And when did my husband go off the grid?

    Posted by Orange  on  10/17  at  11:54 AM
  75. This blog has no quarrel with agape, or with caritas either.

    Didn’t Caritas get conclusively blown up sometime during Season 3?

    what’s the extra asterisk for?

    Hehehehe.  You really don’t know?  Dude, you need to get out more.

    ‘are there really more than just a scattered handful who are “true Christians”?  I don’t see anything resembling even a percentage of the voting public by that description.’

    Well, I would say (as someone else probably already noted) that they’re “off the grid,” much like Orange’s husband.  Hey, Orange!  Is your husband a true Christian?  And does either of you have a third asterisk?

    More seriously, I would maintain that “true Christians” are indeed not a large group, but that they are also not as politically visible.  Christ said that praying and ostentatiously strutting one’s faith in public is a no-no.  And as I never tire of mentioning at Pandagon, even the current creed of the Southern Baptist Convention asserts that “[c]hurch and state should be separate,” and that the church should not use the state to fulfill its goals.  Granted, the SBC leadership and much of the rank-and-file have been in severe violation of this since at least 1980, but it’s still in there.  Which has the unfortunate effect that those who honestly adhere to these tenets don’t have an effective megaphone for telling the rest to sit down and shut up.

    Captcha: man, as in “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?”

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  01:26 PM
  76. Damn, i was starting to worry that “Jim” was a Knock Off sprezzatura??  Feeling better now, i think???

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  01:27 PM
  77. My novel Temping (Black Heron Press 2006) is totally serious but for some reason critics continue to write about it as if it was a comedy.  There is an online review of it at a place called California Literary Review that says it is riotously funny throughout.  The thing is I wanted it to be dead serious, more or less like I am here.  Google my name and it will pop up on the first page.  Why people think I’m funny is beyond me.  Because I don’t even have a sense of humor.

    Posted by Kirby Olson  on  10/17  at  02:59 PM
  78. Unintentionally funny? Ouch.

    Posted by Orange  on  10/17  at  03:08 PM
  79. Yes, it’s true. I’ve had reviews of Temping at Booklist and Raintaxi and many other journals all of which celebrate the novel as some kind of delicious comedy when I meant it to be a very serious conversion narrative of how I found Jesus Christ—during a badminton match in Finland.

    Posted by Kirby Olson  on  10/17  at  03:12 PM
  80. Was he playing, officiating, or in the stands?

    although I suppose there’s no way Christ would play anything but GOODminton.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/17  at  03:14 PM
  81. I believe this quote from Pennsylvania provides the reason some things are funnier, just on the merits:
    Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) explains the Iraq war by citing Lord of the Rings: “As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else,” Santorum told a newspaper editorial board. “It’s being drawn to Iraq and it’s not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don’t want the Eye to come back here to the United States.”

    The Eye of Mordor is looking temporarily at the mendacious reckonings of Knock Off’s!!!

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  03:38 PM
  82. NICE pun, Chris.

    Posted by kirbyolson2@gmail.com  on  10/17  at  07:06 PM
  83. What I want to know is, does the inspirational painting within the inspirational painting contain another inspirational painting? How many levels deep does this go?

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  11:45 PM
  84. What I want to know is, does the inspirational painting within the inspirational painting contain another inspirational painting? How many levels deep does this go?

    With Me all things are possible, Dave.  With Me and Borges, all meta-things are meta-possible as well.

    Chris’s link tells me there’s just one of me in this country, which is plausible, but that my husband doesn’t exist at all. I’m not quite sure what to do with this newfound knowledge. Who, exactly, has been keeping me warm at night? And when did my husband go off the grid?

    My child.  Do you not see those footprints in the sand?  When your husband went off the grid, it was I who kept you warm.

    Captcha:  ever.  Though of course I can devise any captcha word I so desire.

    Posted by Your Own Personal Jesus  on  10/18  at  12:09 AM
  85. Jesus, that was you? Wow. Call me.

    Posted by Orange  on  10/18  at  09:15 AM
  86. Um, Orange, were you calling Me in a vocative kind of way, or were you taking My name in vain?  It’s hard for Me to tell sometimes.

    Posted by Your Own Personal Jesus  on  10/18  at  09:26 AM
  87. Look into my soul. And call me.

    Posted by Orange  on  10/18  at  09:33 AM
  88. When your husband went off the grid, it was I who kept you warm.

    Ooh, Ms. Orange, I guess it doesn’t matter if your husband is a “true Christian” or not, because you have reached out and touched faith.

    Hmm, I thought it was possible to be vocatively vain.  I’m forgetting all of those Latin declensions.

    Call me.

    Speaking of which, CBGB finally closed down.

    Look into my soul.

    Speaking of which, Vladimir Putin is still not a nice man.  Can’t you kick some evil leader backside with that holy kung-fu, O Joy of Man’s Desiring (wink, wink)?

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  01:48 PM
  89. Speaking of which, CBGB finally closed down

    By moving to Las Vegas of all places.  Is is possible for real punk musicians to play in Vegas and maintain their punk identities in the face of so many Knock Offs????  Or as Jon Stewart suggested, will Celine Dion make an appearance w/ Patti Smith?  One could only hope they put it in the NewYork NewYork casino and not the HardRock.  I will try to find out when i am down there next week for Vegoose.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  02:09 PM
  90. What does Senator Santorum know about those hobbits, and when did he know it? 

    ‘Cause, like, I really want to root for them and all, but I fear that their secret mission to destroy all nuclear weapons might set back the cause of the WAAGNFN Party (which I would be happy to rejoin after Chris Clarke’s show trial has been completed).

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  10/19  at  12:58 AM

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