You might be an evangelical …

In addition to our unexpected hospital adventure this week we’ve also been puppy-sitting for my brother-in-law’s 6-month-old poodle (energetic, mischievous, adorable). Whenever there’s a quiet moment around here it seems that means someone is probably eating something that isn’t food.

My brother-and-law and his family are on vacation in Costa Rica. I was initially confused when told where they were going because, as an evangelical, I instinctively got fixated on the idea that this must be a mission trip, leading me to ask some awkward questions about what they would be building down there.

So let’s add that to the list of evangelical Jeff Foxworthy jokes: If your idea of a trip to the Caribbean involves building new outhouses for a missionary school, then you might be an evangelical.

Say whatever else you will about Foxworthy, but the man deserves credit for introducing an elegant joke structure that offers almost limitless possibilities. The guy has since made a fortune and I say he deserves it. I only wish that the anonymous genius who first uttered the immortal phrase, “Your momma is so ugly …” had also been able to cash in on that ground-breaking comedic innovation for the wealth and fame he or she also deserves.

Foxworthy’s “you might be a …” joke structure works for any cultural or subcultural group. You might be a tech geek … You might be a Mormon … You might be a tea partier … You might be a progressive … You might be a hipster … (For that last one: If Jeff Foxworthy jokes make you roll your eyes in condescension, then you might be a hipster.)

The jokes practically write themselves. Just articulate some observation about the group in question and toss away the standard kicker at the end. Start listing a few and it becomes hard to stop:

If you feel guilty for not keeping up with your quiet time, then you might be an evangelical.

If you have strong opinions about when, precisely, Amy Grant “sold out,” then you might be an evangelical.

If the first time you saw your uncle’s shot-glass collection, you wondered where he got all those fancy communion cups, then …

If you’ve never been skiing without rededicating your life to Christ at a bonfire afterwards, then …

If you’ve lost track of the number of “re-s” you need to add before “re-re-rededicate your life to Christ,” then …

If your favorite painters are Thomas Kinkade and Warner Sallman, then …

If you’ve ever forgotten to set your clock back at the end of Daylight Savings Time and your first thought at seeing the empty church parking lot was, “Oh no, I’ve missed the Rapture,” then …

If you never watched “Highway to Heaven,” not because it was too preachy, but because it aired on Wednesday nights, then …

If you knew that “Wednesday nights” in the previous joke was a reference to prayer meeting, then …

If you’ve ever tried to calculate the size of a tip in a restaurant based on how it would influence the waitress’s receptivity to the gospel tract you left with it, then …

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” If you just shouted, “Where?” then …

If you’ve ever seriously discussed whether using tabs constitutes cheating at Sword Drills, then …

If your answer to the question “What Would Jesus Do?” is “He would wear a T-shirt that says, ‘WWJD?'” then …

If you’ve ever been to a pot-luck dinner featuring more than three varieties of Jell-o salad with shaved carrots and mini-marshmallows, then …

If you’ve ever played the tambourine while wearing a tie, then …

If your gaydar is so bad that you think your choir director just needs to meet the right godly woman, then …

If you can’t look at Kente cloth without thinking what those colors stand for in The Wordless Book, then …

If you’ve ever informed someone you’ve just met that they deserve to suffer in Hell for eternity, and you said this without a trace of anger, then …

If the last rock concert you went to included an altar call, then …

If you own any clothing or accessories that you regard as “a witnessing tool,” then …

If you think the phrase “a witnessing tool” refers to something that’s good to have rather than someone it’s bad to be, then …

If praying in public makes you talk like a 17th-century Quaker, then …

If two acoustic guitars and a Yamaha DX7 keyboard are your idea of a “rock band,” then …

If the only High Church figure you don’t regard with suspicion is Bishop Ussher, then …

If you think that there’s nothing supernatural about the bread and wine during communion, but that there is something supernatural about a Ouija board made by Parker Brothers, then …

If your idea of communion wine is made by Welch’s, then …

If you know what burning vinyl smells like, then …

If your boss tells you you’re going to have to go on furlough and your first thought is that you’ll need to prepare a slideshow for the Sunday evening service, then …

If a sentence beginning “Lord, we just, Lord, want to thank you Lord, for just, Lord, just …” doesn’t strike you as either atrocious grammar or a speech impediment, then …

If you’ve ever thought of TMZ as kind of like a prayer list for Hollywood starlets, then …

If the words “submissive” and “head” make you think of gender, but not of sex, then …

If you think saying grace loudly is a good way to witness at The Olive Garden, then …

If you’ve ever discussed whether The Flintstones was set before or after Noah’s flood, then …

If your fantasy football team was selected based on the personal testimony of the players, then …

OK, I’ll stop there.

Plenty more where those came from, but that’s all the royalties I can afford to pay Foxworthy, Inc.

I realize that despite his popular success — and partly because of it — Jeff Foxworthy has never been highly regarded by critics and he’s never spoken of as “a comic’s comic.” The knock is that he pulls his punches and sands down the rough edges. You could put a disclaimer at the end of his act that says, “No rednecks were offended in the telling of these redneck jokes.” He can be a bit soft and safe, nerfing his punchlines and avoiding controversy.

So for those of us who like our comedy a bit darker and more transgressive, Foxworthy seems kind of tame. He seems like he might be able to do a gig in Tehran without rankling the authorities. Or maybe even a White House Correspondents Dinner.

But I don’t want to be a comedy snob. There’s plenty of room for Foxworthy’s gentle, genial approach even if it’s not my favorite flavor. Just because I take my coffee black doesn’t mean I think Starbuck’s should ban sugar. (Although it would be nice if those of us who are just trying to get a lousy cup of coffee didn’t have to wait in line behind 30 people ordering elaborate, syrupy milkshakes that take 20 minutes to frappé.) And just because I think Bill Hicks was a genius doesn’t mean I can’t think that Bill Cosby is one too.

Still, though, I think Foxworthy’s ingenius “you might be …” structure also remains an untapped mother lode for those who like sharper-edged material. Those jokes practically write themselves, too.

“If you’re seething with barely suppressed rage over the economic exploitation you’ve suffered every day of your life, yet you’ve been duped into redirecting that rage toward black people and Mexicans, then you might be a redneck.”

That sort of thing.

Or take the gently Foxworthy-esque, all-in-good-fun tone of Jon Acuff’s very funny “Stuff Christians Like” blog and dial up the honesty while dialing down the cautious tactfulness.

Stuff Christians Like No. 1070: Slut-Shaming.

Stuff Christians Like No. 1071: Anti-Semitism.

Seems like those jokes are just sitting there waiting to be told.

But since telling most of them would likely require both trigger-warnings and the sorts of NSFW language I try to avoid here, we’ll let those pass. For now.

"Paul Ryanhttps://www.washingtonpost...."

Unspoken testimony
"It is a great question and exposes lib hypocrisy.Thanks!"

Unspoken testimony
"In other words, you can’t refute the truth so don’t try.Excellent!"

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  • I think the pink is honestly subconscious sexism.  Hear me out because it sounds a bit strange just hearing it blurted out like that, but basically the way I see it, the (unconscious) mental process is:

    “I think belief is silly.  Belief in unicorns is something most people would consider silly.  For extra mockery let’s make it pink, because pink is a silly color.”

    And of course the reason someone would think pink = silly is that pink is traditionally a feminine* color, and women and girls have long been considered frivolous and unserious and… well, silly.

    I know that might sound like a bit of a stretch; but that’s the only line of thought I can think of that makes sense for the choice of pink.  (I don’t think it was random for that reason as well – I mean just think about it from a cultural standpoint for a second – does “Red Unicorn” or “Blue Unicorn” or “Orange Unicorn” bring up the same connotation in your head?  I’m guessing probably not for most people.

    *Don’t ask me why we gender our colors.  I’m an artist (not a good one, but still an artist), and the idea of colors having genders is baffling to me at times.  I mean I get it on a cultural level, but when I’m actually coloring an image it’s like “… the frak are you smoking?”   Maybe I’m weird like that though, I dunno.

  • Going back to the previous page, I noticed some talk about church songs; and this reminds me of something I figure this would be a good place to ask:

    There is a song, I cannot remember the name, that our church sang at the very end of every service.  Sadly Google is failing me on this one, and I think it *may* have been an our-church only thing.  But just to be sure I figure I’ll ask here.

    Does anyone know this song? (This is I believe the chorus) –

    “May you increase,
    with the increase of Jesus,
    and find grace,
    to meet all
    your needs…”

    A lot of that song as I recall it was that chorus sung over and over again… but it could be that I was just very, very bored by the time we got to that part.  (It didn’t help that we’d have to hold hands until the song was over, and I recall it going on as long as 20 minutes at times.)

    I dunno, anyone heard that one?  It’s just a curiosity on my part is all >_>

  • Absofriggenlutely b An agreement, you has it.

  • The pink definitely has an edge of sexism to it, but I’d say that the unicorn part does too. Looking both at the unicorn myth, and, both as its own memetic mutation and as a result of that mythos, how it is culturally perceived, the unicorn itself is a very “girly” thing.

    Unicorns, at least according to some myths, were said to serve (not sure if serve is the right word but oh well) young maidens. Add in their fantastic and magical nature, and you have a recipe for the dire, half-dragon form of the stereotypical pony obsession of young girls.

    The pink is just the crowning punch.

    I advocate we start using Optimus Prime instead of pink unicorns.

  • Fair point.  I suppose being a fantasy nerd unicorn doesn’t carry the same connotations to me as it does to the general populace at large >.> (Am I weird for thinking “Unicorn = Badass Mount”? <.< … course the requirements are fairly steep.)

  • Anonymous

    Mercedes Lackey had the thought that unicorns are badass mounts. She mentions late in the first Five Hundred Kingdoms book that now that a handful of unicorns have acquired the idea that war is…not ‘fun’. Noble, maybe? Anyway, they need to be paired off with warriors, and “how we’re to keep those boys virgins I don’t know”.

  • Green Eggs and Ham

    I knew several choir directors that were obviously deeply in the closet.  Being very sheltered myself, I realized this well after the fact.

    To many evangelicals stereotypical gay mannerisms just don’t even track.

  • If being a QUILTBAG individual is more or less a requirement to be the music director, you might be UU.

  •  if a girl in a knee-length plaid skirt and white blouse makes you feel reflexively guilty, you might be a Catholic.

    Doesn’t work, unless Catholics feel guilty about that in a way entirely different from non-Catholics…

  • Becka – Most of the polytheists I’ve met can still generate a huge list of deities described by religious traditions in the world that they personally do not believe exist, and even a few faith in which they consider actively bad mental hygiene, so the analogy still tends to make sense to them.

    But I do know a few self-described pantheists who adopt the attitude you seem to be talking about — the idea that all gods exist — and you’re right, this analogy doesn’t work very well for them.

    (Personally I don’t know what deities exist in the world, but I find it extremely likely that I’m atypical in that respect only in that I’m aware of my ignorance.)

  • that pink is traditionally a feminine

    that’s relatively recent – 1950s, perhaps? Pink used to be the colour associated with young men, on the grounds that it was a dilute red, and red is a strong, bold, masculine colour. Baby blue was the feminine colour, because blue was the calm, cool, colour of Mary. I’m not sure when or why the shift took place.

  • I know, but regardless of the recentness of it, it’s still the current weirdness we’re living with.

    (Gendered colors… who the frack comes up with this stuff!?)

  • If you know all the words to Spirit of Life by heart, and wish the music director would pick something else as the meditation music, you might be UU.

    If there’s a chalice on your hymnal, …

    If it bothers you that the chalice on the hymnal is aligned right instead of left …

  • Robyrt – Just to be clear, I don’t think the “just like you feel about the gods you don’t believe in” thing works as an argument against religious belief. Which is OK with me, as I don’t find such arguments especially worthwhile.

  • Lori

     I knew several choir directors that were obviously deeply in the closet.  Being very sheltered myself, I realized this well after the fact.  


    I still remember the exact moment that I realized that my BIL’s brother* is gay, gay, gay. Having been raised fairly sheltered and within in the “no one we know could possibly be that way” bubble I was significantly older at the time than I prefer to admit. 

    *My family is close enough to the family of my sister’s husband that we often solved the “whose house will the grandkids go to for X holiday” but simply having one big celebration. One Thanksgiving I looked at J and the lightbulb came on. No one ever talks about it so I have no idea how many other people in the family get it and how many are still totally in the dark.

  • Gah, diqus may have eaten my reply >< (you may or may not get this doubled, depending) –

    I think the answer to that last question though is:  "Does it count if… _>

  • Izzy

    @887618ca76f4bdea0b59b769bb987e7f:disqus : I am the resident uber-bitchy Slacktivite, and will cheerfully make fun of Scientology and similar. For me, the problems I’ve had with some atheist commenters are more–

    –well, I have no problem with people not believing. But getting asked “well, why do you believe that” on a non-101 post can bug me, because it comes off as expecting me to justify my belief. I don’t ask atheists why they don’t believe, nor do I ask people of different religions why they believe what they do and not what I do, so getting the question can seem obnoxious at times.

    Likewise, when I say “I believe X because of Y” or “Well, we don’t see a conflict with X because of Y”, and someone continues with the but-but-but arguments, *as long as X isn’t hurting people*, it’s irritating. I have reached my current spiritual state after twenty-some years and a lot of reading and soul-searching, and these things do not boil down well to Internet arguments.

    And, of course, there have been some people who responded to a post of Fred’s or a discussion on religion with “but all of that is bullshit” or similar sentiments. Or the pink unicorn analogy–which I dislike, honestly, because I’ve met a lot of dysfunctional Jean Teasdale types who have Serious Unicorn Things, and object to the association–or the “well, you guys believe stuff without evidence” statements. (Which…no, at least not in my case. I may believe stuff without proof; I do think there is evidence;  the same evidence doesn’t convince everyone, and that’s fine.)

    By and large, “Hey, it sounds like this means a lot to you. Can you tell me more about XYZ aspect?” works fine. “Well, let me point out this logical flaw! How do you like *them* apples, huh?” does not.

  • Anonymous

    As a fellow atheist, maybe I can give you some insight.  First of all, the religious people in this community have likely explained their beliefs numerous times, even on this very board.  It could be simply that you need to LURK MOAR and make the effort to understand them, rather than asking them to make the effort to educate you.  Considering that the owner of this blog is religious, it’s not unreasonable to expect you to use Google or read old threads, rather than taking away from the conversation by asking people to rehash basic things that have likely explained many times already.

    Second, it’s very easy for genuine interest to come off as feigned ignorance when you’re online.  It’s also quite easy to make it sound like you really have no interest in actually understanding people’s though process and you only want to challenge them, or find out their arguments so you can try to poke holes in them.  And the “just asking questions” is a common way for concern trolls to maintain some kind of plausible deniability and pretend that they are innocent truth-seekers and the big meanies are just getting angry over nothing.

    Third, you have to consider how your questions are worried, especially when you are talking to people you disagree with if you are genuinely interested in understanding them and not trying to pick a fight with them.  Things that are taken for granted among other atheists will not be received in the same way among religious people.  Imagine if someone who is against abortion came to a feminist board and said “I just don’t understand how you can kill innocent babies.  Can you please explain it me?”  Of course that’s an extreme exaggeration, but it highlights how questions can be so loaded.  It could even be something like “How can you guys support abortion?  I just can’t understand why you would do something that would make me feel so guilty” and that would still be offensive.  The best thing to do would be to read comments and not expect everyone to rehash 101 stuff, but if that commenter insisted on asking the question, it could be something like “How did you come to be pro-choice?”

    Since this a religious blog, it’s up to you to word questions in a way that doesn’t sound like you are challenging their beliefs and that you really just want to know.  It’s also in your court to find things out for yourself and not expect others to educate you.

  • Lori, bananacat, thanks for your help but I just want to make sure you’re aware that I’ve been a member in good standing of this community for nigh on seven years, so I don’t need its norms explained to me. I don’t blame you for not recognizing me, since like I said I haven’t really been posting for the last couple years, but I wanted to clear up any misunderstanding about that.

    Izzy, bananacat, I’m going to think about what you said.

    Apologies if there are things  I’m failing to respond to. I’m in the middle of packing up my apartment so I’m only skimming at the moment.

  • Lori

     Lori, bananacat, thanks for your help but I just want to make sure you’re aware that I’ve been a member in good standing of this community for nigh on seven years, so I don’t need its norms explained to me. I don’t blame you for not recognizing me, since like I said I haven’t really been posting for the last couple years, but I wanted to clear up any misunderstanding about that.  


    I understand that. That’s why I very clearly stated that I wasn’t directing my post to you. If I had meant you I honestly would have said so. 

  • I don’t.  What is it?

    That’s what younger Southern Baptists who want to dance sometimes call dances to appease older Southern Baptists who still believe that Moses’ tablets would definitely have prohibited dancing if God had more room in the margins.

  • Shadsie

    There’s another analogy I’ve come up with that I think works well.  I’ve actually used it myself in regards to trying to explain to atheists (on a different site, one full of people who think belief in anything makes one Chaotic Stupid) – I think it sometimes gets through, sometimes doesn’t. I also think it can go both ways:
    As a somewhat agnostic-Christian, there are things that have happened in my life that I consider miracles, but I know perfectly well others will see as coincidence or luck.  It makes me happy to think I may have experienced a miracle or two, but I know that’s “just something for me.”  To the rest of all y’all, I just “got lucky” and that’s fine.  My analogy is that the things that I “feel” and “sense” and just the plain out “way I think” are a lot like the difference between being an artist and being “normal.”  What I mean is, if you were standing in front of me in meatspace, “normally” I’d see “there’s a human.”  If you were to ask me to draw your portrait, you would cease to become a human to me and instead become a series of shapes and shadows – that’s me in “artist mode.”  It is a different way of seeing/thinking about the world visually.  If I am trying to draw or paint an object, an animal, or a person, I view them differently than when I’m just easy-going looking at them. 
    One can even rightly say that this “artist-sight” is something that’s been “indoctrinated” in me – it’s been taught to me by various teachers and carefully self-trained.  Even so, it’s not going away, nor do I want it to.  One can even argue that despite the training, I was a born artist as all little kids love to play with crayons before they even know what to do with them.  I also think that all of us are born with the potential to be artists, but not everyone wants to become one.  Trying to explain the mechanics of what I do and how I see to someone who is severely a non-artist (to the point of complaining they “can’t draw a straight line”) seems an impossible gulf.  I don’t have magic powers – I just know a skill and have an active “different way of thinking” about what I see. 
    As an artist sees the world differently than a non-artist, a believer will see the world differently than a non-believer and vice-versa.  Use whatever side of the analogy that works for you. It may sound condescending for a believer to say that they essentially have an “artist sight” to view things normally unnoticed, but an atheist can turn that around and say that they have the “artist sight” in that they “see past the magic.”  Either way, if you present it as neutral (both ways of seeing the world work for people), I think it could possibly work.
    If speaking with someone who thinks artists are special, magical creatures, however, pick something else – an athlete who “sees in spatial relationships” or a cook who “experiences their craft in tastes and smells” the average person may not normally think in.  What is obvious to one person is alien to another – it all varies from person to person.  

  • That’s also a Methodist thing.

  • Tonio

    My wife went to Catholic school, and recently I handed her a Necco wafer, and she asked if she should say “Amen.”

  • Tonio

    I think the pink is honestly subconscious sexism.

    There may be something to that – I’ve run into a few male atheists who believe that women tend to be more religious.

  • Anonymous

    If the minutes to the congregational business meeting were typed BEFORE the meeting, you might be Presbyterian.
    All things decently and in order….

    (I promise not to kill anyone with sheep – this is just my first post here.)

  • Tonio

    As an artist sees the world differently than a non-artist, a
    believer will see the world differently than a non-believer and

    From what I can see, one source of conflict is when a believer attributes “miracles” to a force or forces that cannot be detected with the senses. At that point, the issue transforms from being about how one sees the world to being about what actually exists in the world. And the conflict wouldn’t necessarily be between the believer and the non-believer. Probably more often it’s between two believers who attribute different motivations to such forces.

  • Shadsie

    If it becomes a conflict between two believers, perhaps one can throw up one’s hands and say “Hey, I like French Impressionism while you like Surrealism.”  

    I think the only true problems arise when people hurt each other over it – and that goes for ardent non-believers hurting believers, too.  If I like to think “Hey, maybe it was a miracle that I survived that,” I’m not hurting anybody, especially since I’m not asking anyone to see it my way. If I’m telling you “You must see the miracle or you’re a bad person!!!” – feel free to smack me.  

  • Would surprise me not at all.  It’s a freaking shame, but unfortunately a lot of guys who are otherwise progressive are still sexist as all hell.

  • Anonymous

    in my youth we used Necco Wafers for that sort of thing. Because the Body of Christ would be much more interesting if it came in pink and green and orange.

    And, while it presumably wasn’t what you were thinking of at the time, the association of Jesus Christ with the rainbow flag doesn’t seem unreasonable at all.

  • Anonymous

    So, the congregation hires a new young rabbi. When he leads services for the first time, half of the congregation stands for the Shema, and half sit. The young rabbi asks what the custom of the community is. “We stand!” one man says. “We sit!” says another. A fight breaks out. 

    The rabbi discusses the matter at a board meeting, but again, a fight breaks out. Some of the congregation insists that it is the custom of the community to stand, some that it is to sit.

    Finally, the rabbi decides to visit the oldest man in the congregation. He is past ninety, and was one of the founders of the synagogue. Surely he’ll know. So he visits him and asks, “Mr. Shapiro, when we come to the Shema, half of the congregation stands, and the other half sits. Each of them insists that they are following the custom of the community, and the others are not. They fight, and yell, and curse one another. So, to settle this once and for all, I’m asking you: what IS the custom of this community?”

    And Shapiro answers: “Half stand, half sit, there’s a fight…I think you just described it pretty well.”

  • I just wanted to say, one artist to another – thank you for saying that the way you did.  I know it wasn’t the point of the post by a long shot – but the whole quasi-mystification of the creative process is… obnoxious to me.

    I’m not particularly talented – I have worked my ass off for every ounce of skill I’ve managed to scrape together.  Am I good yet? No.  But I see constant improvement, and I know that if I keep practicing I *will* get there – because it’s not about having the right magic gene or being born under the right set of stars or whatever:  Being an artist requires two things:

    1) Interest

    2) Drive

    Everything else is just a question of practice and education.  (I had little formal art training so that’s slowed me down in a lot of ways – I regret the few lessons I had that I blew off too… ugh what a mistake.  Long story that.)

    Same thing is true of writing as well.  It’s part of why I adore Stephen King’s book “On Writing” – while he occasionally drops a few seemingly-out there metaphors on you, it really is an incredibly down to Earth book.  It treats writing as what it is:  A craft.  My favorite analogy (I forget precisely who said it) being that writing is like woodworking – any idiot can put four legs on a flat board and call it a chair, but it takes patience, skill, effort and practice to put them together in such a way that it’s both beautiful and functional.

    I bring up the writing since, as I do both, I see a lot of similarity in both processes, even though functionally they’re very different skills and very different methods of presenting information.

    I love art because it’s me translating my vision to paper for everyone to see.  (The key thing is translating that vision accurately… which is where the skill factor comes in.)

    I love writing because I get to weave a hazy image of my vision… then let the reader insert their own elements into as well.


    Sorry, I know that’s really not the point or anything; it’s just rare I see someone say that and then I get rambling and as anyone else can tell you, I just don’t shut up when I get rambling about something of interest to me. ><

  • Tonio

    If I’m telling you “You must see the miracle or you’re a bad person!!!” – feel free to smack me.

    The issue is much broader than that. Probably everyone at Slacktivist would condemn people like Pat Robertson for claiming that Haiti was divine punishment. His claim was essentially that it was a “miracle” that so many people in that nation perished in the earthquake. Suppose you had a loved one who died in that disaster. If you treat Robertson’s claim as factual, do you convert to Christianity out of fear and urge all other Haitians to do the same just to avoid losing other loved ones? And if Robertson can’t prove his claim, he’s causing millions of people needless emotional distress.

  • Tonio

    OT: I would like to know Fred’s thoughts on “The Response,” in terms of providing context to Rick Perry’s theocratic ramblings.

  • Anonymous

    Ugh, don’t get me started on sexism among progressive men!  The absolute worst is when some dude comes onto a feminist blog and says stuff like “I always preferred tomboys” or “Real woman have curves” or “Too much make-up just looks bad”, and has no idea why those are not feminist statements.  It’s still all about what his dick wants.

  • hapax

    That “just like you feel about the gods you don’t believe in” sounds pretty good to me.

    I have people who have tried that one on me and it just baffles me.

    I don’t disbelieve in ANY gods — or dragons or unicorns, for that matter — I just haven’t met them, save the One I worship.

    But when I try to convey that understanding to the people who use the analogy, it’s pretty clear that that isn’t what they meant, no, not at all.

  • Anonymous

    You have to sing it really fast compared to the rest of the verses. I’m not sure how to describe it, but basically you cram three or four syllables in for each ‘joy’. When I was a kid, we sang “What?” to that verse, rather than the usual “Where?” and I distinctly remember there being quite a while before anyone but my dad knew the verse because it went so fast.

    I also knew the Devil verse too, but most of the VBSes I went to didn’t include one or the other. Usually the Blessed Redeemer verse.

    If you never attended a day camp that didn’t include memorisation of Bible verses…

    If you went to enough Vacation Bible Schools to notice that they all bought their themes from the same place and knew the theme by heart by the end of the summer…

  • Yep.

    I think some of it is a lack of education – and that can be remedied – but said people have to want to understand… most don’t seem all that interested since they have a fairly sweet gig as it is.  A lot of it is just plain old privileged jackassery.


  • But banancat! I’m a feminist! Really really feminist! And the only reason I can’t get a girlfriend is that I’m a nice guy and women are only interested in good-looking, insensitive jackasses! And I don’t buy into that whole thing that women have to meet this one standard of beauty, they just have to appeal to my tastes!

    And if I go any further on this track I suspect I will have to strangle myself using my own tongue. The thing I find truly embarrassing is that there was one point in my life when I could have said most of that with faaaar too little irony (most of which would be in the last sentence). What’s truly baffling to me about my nice-guyism is that somehow I simultaneously thought that women were only interested in good-looking assholes (nice-guyism at its “finest”) and yet I still didn’t blame the girls I asked out about rejecting me or think they were just going for someone better looking irrespective of personality. Maybe the signs that there was hope for me yet?

  • This is where I had weird luck… I asked out a total of two girls ever – and both accepted without hesitation.  This… doesn’t make a damn bit of sense to me.

    Worst part?  Looking back, I was the good looking insensitive jackass.  (x.x)  (Both broke up with me for it.  Sadly it took me awhile to understand what had actually happened.)

    I admit some of it was just how I was raised but I still facepalm at myself every time I think about it.

  • Anonymous

    “If you’ve ever seriously discussed whether using tabs constitutes cheating at Sword Drills, then …”

    What does this mean?

    “If you can’t look at Kente cloth without thinking what those colors stand for in The Wordless Book, then …”

    What’s Kente cloth? What’s a Wordless Book? Is it a picture book for kids who can’t read yet?

    “If you know what burning vinyl smells like, then …”

    Er…why would an evangelical know what burning vinyl smells like?

    “If you’ve ever thought of TMZ as kind of like a prayer list for Hollywood starlets, then …”


    (I don’t even have to say that I know nothing about being evangelical, do I?)

    Sword Drills are a contest to see who can turn to a specific Bible verse the fastest.  Popular in Sunday Schools and Evangelical private schools.

    Kente cloth is traditional African tribal cloth patterns.  The Wordless Book is a mini-Bible made entirely out of beads or felt, which uses colors to symbolize things.  The one my mom had as a kid went like this:  A green page for the world, a black page for the sin in the world, red for the cleansing blood of Jesus, white for the newly-cleaned souls of the redeemed, gold for eternal joy in heaven.

    Burning vinyl = the smell of a bonfire to purge your home of all that there evil rock-and/or-roll.

    I don’t remember what TMZ is, but I’m sure someone else will enlighten you.

    Also, look up Answers in Genesis if you want a real head trip.

  • Anonymous

    If your gut response to “May the force be with you” is “And also with you” you might be Episopalian.

    Or Catholic.  There’s a joke about a priest who was about to give the benediction when the little mike on his robe went out.  He started messing with it, muttering “There’s something wrong with this microphone…”

    Dutifully the congregation replied, “And also with you.”

  • Anonymous

    How many verses would the Catholics sing?

    Catholics only sing two verses, MAYBE three, except during Communion.  That is the only time that an entire hymn is sung in a Catholic church.  Catholics like 1-hour Masses.  No longer, no shorter.

  • ali

    Burning vinyl refers to going to church sponsored record burnings.  

  • Shadsie

    I’m afraid I do not understand what you are trying to say.  Is it “It’s wrong for anyone to believe in miracles because some people who believe in them do so in a really crappy way?”  – Because that’s what I’m getting here, and I have to disagree.  Pat Robertson’s horrible ideas on “miracles” have no bearing on my being grateful for having survived something unlikely and wondering if there was something to it. 

    (And, as I said before, I’m somewhat agnostic so my entertaining the notion of a miracle is more of a function of my enjoying my imagination than hard-in aboslute surety about the existance of anything). 

    In any case, even if it’s somehow morally wrong, I’m not inclined to stop. 

    I’ll see your Hati case and raise… well, an article I remember reading about survivors of that very earthquake *gathering in the remains of their church* to comfort each other and to try to make sense of things. Some may not agree with the way they handled their grief – but I’m willing to guess that some of them probably thought it was a miracle that they survived. They could probably care less what Robertson thought, if they knew about it at all.  Again, his definition of “miracle” does not define theirs.  


  • Shadsie

    To JJohnson in case the replied-to tag doesn’t show up:

    I write, too – I’m not published in any significant way yet, but I’ve been trying.  I like to illustrate and make covers to my own work for fun.  That’s the advantage of doing art (and having some graphic design training) as well as writing.

    Indeed, I do not have magic powers – any more than a halfway decent cook has magical food-powers.  It’s pretty much interest and practice.  Sometimes it’s fun to act like I’m magic to people, but there’s a limit and people really ought to know the truth – that it’s pretty much sweat and feeling inadequate when seeing the work of superior artists.

    A bigger pet peeve of mine is how people want me to do art for them for free just because I can.  It’s like “Draw me this!” “Paint me that!” yet they don’t expect me to want to make a living off it and get offended if I ask for anything in return.

    I remember an outright fight with my brother in law over his wanting me to paint a horse skull/jawbone for him (… I paint bones…) just because he found it.  Eventually, we settled on him doing automotive repairs for me in exchange for the paint job.  I can’t tell you how many times people just expected me to whip out a random drawing for them, though.

  • MaryKaye

    I think the Pat Robertson thing is being exacerbated by the confusion in recent Christianity and in Western culture in general between “believe in” and “worship.”

    My response to Pat Robertson is that if he believes in a god who does such things, he is morally wrong to worship that god.  This is straightforward from where I stand, but it’s not straightforward for people who think that to believe in a god is to worship that god.

    So, the problem is not that he thinks the Haitian earthquake was a miracle; the problem is that he worships a god whom he thinks commits such evil, which is something a good person should not do.  It suggests either a truly warped system of values, or craven abandonment of personal morality in favor of avoiding punishment/gaining rewards.

  • Okay, Mike Timonin, you win EVERYTHING just for using the acronym QUILTBAG.

  • Tonio

    Is it “It’s wrong for anyone to believe in miracles because some people
    who believe in them do so in a really crappy way?”  – Because that’s
    what I’m getting here, and I have to disagree.

    That’s not quite my point. I’m talking about whether things happen are actually miracles or have some explanation. By “miracle,” I mean any argument from incredulity, where one makes the leap to some type of supernatural explanation.

    It would be ridiculous to deem all such explanations as morally wrong. My objection is to offering such explanations for things that happen to others. Bluntly put, if Robertson can’t prove that the Haitians were being punished by a deity, he needs to shut his mouth or the Haitians should shut it for him. Part of the problem is that people like Robertson only claim divine actions when these benefit themselves.