Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Backed Up, with a Sinking Feeling


I’m officially struggling with my next essay. I have an extreme aversion to the type of manipulative bastard that is my subject. I would rather clean hair out of the sinks at a college women’s dormitory (in summer when there’s no one around to break up the monotony) than think about this parentally-condoned exploitation.

Here instead are a couple of odds and ends.

I wanted to post a video of Zeitgeist’s “The Greatest Story Ever Told” for my contribution to The War on Christmas (Reg. US Pat. Off. By Fox News), but I was unable to find it. You-Tube just says “…may not be available.” I guess it’s mommy signed a permission slip and it’s on vacation. Seriously, did someone find this “offensive?” There was a lot of buzz when it first came out. Some people opined that some of the dots connected in this film were sketchy at best. Decide for yourself. Here is the transcript, including citations and supporting material. On the other hand, perhaps Zeitgeist had it pulled by exercising the copyright because they would like to make some money.

Best one-line summation of the Jesus myth I have ever heard:

“It’s a great story, in that a lot of people fell for it.”

A whole tapestry in a single thread!

A recent conversation about a less dangerous manipulator, Joel Osteen (I talked about him here), yielded this (paraphrased):

Q: These people seem to be happy in their delusion… a lot happier than I am. Where’s the harm in that?

A: The harm is, that it’s a lie. Joel is exploiting basic human needs for belonging and acceptance. Since God does not exist except as a concept, the top of the pyramid does not exist. When a preacher says, “You need God”, the real message is, “You need me”. That’s the big lie. None of those followers need him, but they have been conditioned to believe that they do.

Q: But he makes people feel good about themselves. How is that different from, say, what John Gray does?

A: John Gray does not create addiction. Joel’s ministry is not about sending people out with a clearer understanding of themselves and others. Joel makes between 30 and 40 million dollars annually from filling his stadium-church week after week, and from donations from his TV audience. He says he needs this money to “keep his ministry going”. In other words, everybody gets paid. This is a huge production. This is not a fresh crowd every week. He strokes their egos, but gives no lasting insights for self-direction, so they have to come back for more next week. This is a classic reinforcement trap. With someone like John Gray, once you get the message, you hang up the phone.


Another video that I wanted to post and discuss is not yet available on You-Tube. The United Methodist Church has created an advertisement showing a kid attaching a note to a kite and flying it. He reels the kite in, opens the note, and slaps an “Oh Wow!” look on his face, implying that he has received an answer from Big Daddy in the Sky. That doesn’t really happen.

Ok children, can anybody tell me what that’s called? Anybody? Starts with “Buh”…”Bull”… That’s right, it’s BULLSHIT! And who relies on bullshit to get their message across? Bullshit artists. Very good. Class dismissed.


For those who found the Zeitgeist link a bit overwhelming (I know I did!), Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth is a lot more fun.

Hair clog photo boosted from Chicago 2-flat.blogspot.com. Thanks for doing the dirty work!

9 Comments:

At 10:22 AM, Blogger a said...

Read about John Gray. I already disliked his message before I learned more about him. Now I'm revolted.

 
At 6:03 PM, Blogger handmaiden said...

John Hagee Gross!

 
At 5:02 PM, Blogger breakerslion said...

a: I did not mean to imply that John Gray was not a huckster. As with any successful con, there is a grain of truth mixed with the tonic and fizz. The labeling of certain personality traits as masculine and feminine is sexist, but the stereotypes exist for a reason. Nature v. nurture? Cultural? Gender bias? Glass ceiling? Testosterone? As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. This stuff (well, some of it) applies to a large population. There was an amazing correlation between masculine answers among the men, and the feminine answers among the women in the one John Gray workshop I attended.

Curiously, there are as many males that have a problem with John Gray as there are females. One commedian's take on it: "I just read John Gray's new book, Women are From Venus, Men are Pigs." It gets laughs because the male population identify with that remark.

One last thing before I piss you off completely. I liken John Gray's approach to the "love 'em and leave 'em" approach of the traveling carnival. They give you cotton candy for your money, but at least they're not indoctrinating you into their craziness the way psychics and religious leaders do.

"Hey Rube!"

Handmaiden: Worse. This leaching, brainwashing, master of mass hypnosis, cult leader gross.

 
At 9:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Huckster notwithstanding, I will voice the very unpopular belief that men and women DO think and process information differently. Anyone who says otherwise has obviously not really observed the fucked up ways we use to try to communicate with each other. Sexist? No, realist. I have never been able to figure out the way the opposite sex thinks, and I know that the opposite sex hasn't a clue what I want or need. That's what keeps life interesting.

ILD

 
At 9:55 PM, Blogger handmaiden said...

OH My GOG! You win! Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Theology from Oral Roberts University[yikes]. Masters in Counseling Psychology from the University of Tulsa, & a Bush appointee (whatever that implies...)
Psychology & Theology together...Sounds like Jim Jones in the making. :)

Can I weigh in on the sexist stereotype debate?

John Gray appealed to a mass audience because he talked about the shallow & the obvious, like breakerslion said, "sexist stereotypes". That sells, plain & simple. That is all some people want. That is all they understand. Just look at the books on the new York Times best seller list.(A personal pet peeve)

 
At 8:26 AM, Blogger Insomniyacker said...

That hair clog is fuckin awesome, man.

 
At 9:26 PM, Blogger MJ said...

A good bikini wax will prevent any further problems with clogged drains.

 
At 11:30 PM, Blogger homo escapeons said...

MJ is always right.
And a little 'manscaping' goes a long way in clog prevention.

John Gray makes my ovaries ache! He and most of the other authors on the New York Times bestsellers list obviously understand H.L. Mencken's famous quote that
"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."

 
At 9:27 AM, Blogger Delta said...

My parents occasionally (or maybe regularly) go to see Joel Osteen. While I was back in Houston for the winter break they asked my brother and I if we wanted to go see him. I said that "no, he's a crook. hopefully he'll be in jail with the rest of his friends in 10 years". They seemed offended (surprise!) and wanted to know why he was a crook. Unfortunately, since my parents (and especially my mother) are very religious I had a tough time saying "well, he takes money from stupid people and gives them nothing but addiction in return".

 

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