Of Email Forwards, Boycotts And An Interesting Recipe For Sausages
|Earlier this week I received something I haven't seen in my email inbox in quite a while: a forward from hyperventilating Christians urging me to sign something in order that it be banned from existence. |
A pornographic movie is being shot and is intended to show up in America soon, which shows Jesus and his disciples as homosexuals! The same way as a play thatFor those not familiar with Corpus Christi's legacy, the work is a passion play by four-time Tony award winner Terrence McNally. The play dramatises the story of Jesus and the Apostles. The play is also highly controversial, as it depicts Christ and the Apostles as homosexual men. The play opened in New York City in October of 1998.
The first thing to note is that, predictably, the forward isn't true. Both a check of the Internet Movie Database and a general search of Google seems to indicate that at the present time Corpus Christi is not being filmed. In fact, Snopes notes that a version of this petition dates back to 1984, long before Corpus Christi was a play, much less an imaginary movie.
This is similar to other such forwards and urban legends that Christians pass to one another. The infamous Madalyn Murray O'Hair-is-trying-to-ban-religious-broadcasting petition is probably the best example. But there are also the George-W.-Bush-witnesses-to-a-young-boy forward and the an-unburned-Bible-was-found-in-the-wreckage-of-the-Pentagon-on-September-11 forward, among others.
Now, admittedly, most of the Christians who pass these things on do so because they believe them. Gullibility is at work here, not calculated deception. These particular Christians don't bother to check the facts. They assume that this is all very true and pass it along. After all, how could these things not be true? How could atheists not be out to stop religious broadcasts? How could the President not be witnessing to little kids? How could something good and miraculous like an unburned Bible not come out of a national tragedy? So it isn't exactly as if these folks are intentionally passing lies along. And yet, don't Christians have a responsibility to the truth here? Shouldn't we be checking these things out? It sort of undermines the cause of truth to help the Gospel by unintentionally lying, doesn't it?
The second curious thing for me here is the continual Christian need to ban and boycott. Why is this? Are Christians so threatened by opposing viewpoints that we must control the flow of information? Is our confidence in the truth that we believe so weak that we don't think it can speak for itself, that it can stand on its own in the marketplace of ideas?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not against boycotting things. There are several businesses that don't get my money. All of them are monster corporations who don't treat their workers fairly and who are rapidly destroying both local communities and the environment. But you'll never hear me calling for the boycott of art or of ideas. If something personally offends me, I won't go see it. I won't read it. I won't watch it. I won't listen to it. But that doesn't mean I'll try to force everyone else on the planet to not engage with that art.
Christians, on the other hand, will. And it's not just Christians. There are plenty of groups, both liberal and conservative, who are equally OK with banning things they find offensive. I find this all rather curious, particularly from Christians. I fail to see how Christians, particularly those who believe in free will, can reconcile that with telling others what they can and can't see at the movies.
The third thing that's interesting to me is that Christians still haven't realised that boycotts of this sort don't work. If you're trying to prevent people from going to a movie, the best way to do that is not to give that movie free publicity. Yet that's exactly what Christians do. They try to stir up fear and anger amongst themselves. But, in so doing, they also make people wonder what all the fuss is about. One of the best ways to get someone to do something is to tell them that they aren't allowed to do so.
Corpus Christi (the play) is a perfect example of this. The theatrical production stirred up a lot of fuss. Probably not nearly as many people would have attended had it not been so controversial. When critics looked at the play on its merit, they generally didn't like what they saw. Ben Brantley of The New York Times, for example, wrote, "The play that brought an outraged chorus of protest even before it went into rehearsal is about as threatening, and stimulating, as a glass of chocolate milk."
Christians, I think, would be a lot better off if they tried to engage nonbelievers in that way. "Look, see this play if you want, but it's really not a very good one. It's all very propagandic and unoriginal. In fact, it's rubbish." But, then, the sort of Christians who try to boycott nonexistent films are the sort who make and consume piles of bad Christian art of their own.