Your jokes won’t land in the same space you’re used to

Your jokes won’t land in the same space you’re used to June 10, 2021

• Erik Loomis makes a strong workplace-safety case here for why airlines should “Ban Alcohol on Airplanes.” Flight attendants have enough to deal with without the risk of assault from violent drunks. Unlike bars, airplanes do not have bouncers who can toss unruly patrons out onto the sidewalk.

I like 99% of the customers I meet at the Big Box. If the store were to start serving customers drinks, that percentage would likely go down, and the challenges presented by that challenging fraction would become a lot harder to deal with.

• In the ’80s and ’90s, I greeted the arrival of the latest Christian Book Distributors catalog with something like the enthusiasm I had in grade school when we all got Scholastic catalogs at book fairs. Yes, there were plenty of brick-and-mortar “Christian book stores” back in the pre-internet Dark Ages, but most of them were gift shops with only a few aisles dedicated to actual books, and the selection was never great.

The Christian Book Distributors catalog offered the hope of finding the books, authors, and subjects those Christian “book stores” didn’t carry and might be scared to special order for you. The pulpy newsprint catalog was also a demonstration of Sturgeon’s Law — “90% of everything is crap.” But skim past that 90% — OK, maybe 95% in this case — and you could find some real treasures that weren’t easy to find anywhere else back in those days.

I haven’t seen a copy of that catalog in years because we have the internet now, but I still recall it with enough fondness that I found this news item from 2019 pretty amusing:

From that story:

“Across the country, people see signs for ‘CBD sold here,’ which creates brand confusion,” the Massachusetts-based retailer stated. “In the past, a Google search for ‘CBD’ would place our company at the top of the results page. Now ‘our CBD’ is nowhere to be found in the search results, only sites for the cannabis product are listed, and paid ads are no longer allowed.”

Since “this wave of popularity over the ‘other CBD’ is not likely to subside,” the company will now operate as Christianbook.

Was reminded of that story by a “related news” link from this more recent piece: “Charles Stanley: Not Selling CBD.” Apparently an online scammer has been using the name and likeness of the now-retired white evangelical mega-church pastor to advertise CBD gummies for an online scam that falsely offers free samples then drains the bank accounts of anyone who provides their info for “shipping costs.”

This is apparently a niche variant of a scam that has previously falsely used Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Tom Selleck, Morgan Freeman, and Jennifer Anniston as alleged endorsers of CBD gummies. So, in a sense, Charles Stanley should take it as a compliment and evidence that he’s perceived — by online scammers in Iceland, at least — as a beloved and potentially influential figure.

• “A Noah’s Ark Replica From the Netherlands Has Become a Safety Hazard.” Yes, the life-sized replica of the famous biblical craft has previously proved unsteerable, but let’s be fair: in the story, crashing into other boats wasn’t something Noah needed to worry about.

• Speaking of claims of global disasters sent as divine punishment, the Adventus blogger, Rmj, raises an interesting question here: Where have all the “This Is God’s Punishment!” voices been throughout the pandemic?

Every time there’s an earthquake or a hurricane or any other natural disaster serious enough to make the national news, a chorus of pious voices pipes up to proclaim that it was sent by God as punishment, and then to confidently specify precisely which alleged cultural sins had incurred this particular spasm of divine wrath. (“God,” in this view, is very much a creature made in the image of the people making this claim. This “God” is mostly idle and apathetic, but then occasionally displays power through capricious, lethal destruction. This version of God also shares all of their detailed parochial peculiarities and, like them, their God blames victims and has terrible aim.)

If these same preachers were preaching this in response to the pandemic, I missed it. I suppose that’s partly because they were too busy dismissing or playing down the reality of the disaster and partly because they regarded the former guy as God’s chosen Cyrus/servant/surrogate.

• Here’s a Religion News Service opinion piece: “New voter bills are a body blow to American democracy.” The subtitle reads: “The biggest threat to our democracy may not be in Moscow but in state capitals like Tallahassee, Phoenix and Austin.”

This is notable because it comes from prominent, popular prosperity-gospel preacher T.D. Jakes — a beloved and respected figure in the charismatic/Pentecostal branch of American evangelicalism. (Jakes even played the raptured pastor in the Kirk Cameron movie version of Left Behind.)

It’s tempting, then, to be hopeful seeing that, thinking, “Ah, good, that audience will listen to T.D. Jakes. He’s someone they trust and admire!” But I’m afraid that’s not how this works.

What it will likely mean, rather, is that T.D. Jakes will now be officially categorized as “controversial,” infected with “wokeness,” and reclassified as a dangerously squishy liberal like David French or Michael Gerson or one of the Moores. What it will likely mean is that T.D. Jakes will not longer be someone these folks are permitted to trust and admire.

• Former school president Jerry Falwell Jr. is trying to get Liberty University’s lawsuit against him dismissed because the litigation is, he says, nothing more than an attempt at “ruining Falwell’s reputation … and public shaming.” Falwell seems to be arguing that if anybody is gonna destroy his reputation, it should be him.

• The title for this post comes from the Sleaford Mods “Mork n Mindy,” with terrific guest vocals from Billy Nomates.

Browse Our Archives