Thursday, March 1, 2007

Thanks, Mr. Ffff...Ffff..wait, I'll get it...Flemming.

I'd like to express my appreciation to Blasphemy Challenge co-creator Brian Flemming for his gracious willingness to stand up for my fair use rights on YouTube. I'm also delighted that he found my parody of the Challenge amusing. That atheists and Christians are able to laugh together is either a reminder of our common humanity or a sign of the end-times. I can't quite decide which.

None of us are well served if we allow each other's ability to debate and challenge to be stifled by censorship. In fact, I'd love to discuss this, the Challenge, and the God Who Wasn't There further with the estimable Mr. Flemming, but I and other Christians are currently stymied by his requiring a signed and notarized statement before any conversation will even be considered.

That's unfortunate, because I'm left in the position of being unable to respond to a debate he's already begun with me. On his blog, Brian writes:

"The argument underlying Pastor David's parody is typically fallacious (it amounts to, "I see Christianity as an expression of peace and love, so the Rational Response Squad is opposed to peace and love"), but that's of course completely irrelevant to whether it should be removed from YouTube. If poorly reasoned arguments were forbidden, Christian pastors wouldn't be able to post on YouTube at all." Oooh. Quite the smackdown.

It would be fallacious...were that a reasonable encapsulation of my satire. A more objective summation would read "Love is the essential core of the Christian ethos, so the Rational Response Squad has willfully misrepresented Christianity." Of course, that's open to debate. I'm sure there's a great, snappy comeback to my poor reasoning, but we'll never get to hear it.

It's a pity, because it'd make for a very entertaining conversation. Might even be fun. I promise I'd keep the speaking in tongues to a minimum.


  1. Pastor David/Beloved Spear,

    Sorry you didn't catch the satirical tone in that entry. I have updated it to better reflect the facts. I never actually cut off debate with critics -- that conversation has been ongoing ever since.

    I disagree that the Blasphemy Challenge misrepresents Christianity. Yes, it highlights one particular verse, but we're honest and open about that. No reasonable person will think that Mark 3:29 is the only verse in the Bible.

    You may not like the emphasis that so many Christian leaders put on salvation from Hell, but the fact remains that for a vast number of Christians, their religion is built upon the idea of salvation. It's not a minor element.

    And as long as salvation is part of the dogma, Christianity will be vulnerable to this fear-mongering criticism. When Christianity declares itself completely optional with no ill effects for the unsaved, I will gladly take down

  2. In response to your question in my post in support of Nick Gisburne, try

    I haven't taken the time to review the Blasphemy Challenge videos. Based on what I've heard, I'm not sure it's worth that time. Independently from that, I guess "turn the other cheek" doesn't apply. Does God really need to be defended by using footage including Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao as representatives of atheism?

    So I must be a bit humor-challenged, because I didn't like being associated with three notorious dictators and mass murderers. It's in very bad taste, but then bad taste is not a crime. And anyway Christian leaders tell their followers that atheists are evil all the time in a serious fashion, so a parody won't change anyone's opinion or incite (more) hate.

  3. Brian:

    Was it satirical? I didn't sense that, having downloaded and read the PDF several times. It had edge, yes. It challenged literalists to wake up and consider the witness of historical-critical Biblical scholarship, yes. But satire is a particular form of discourse...more subtle, more subversively absurd. Your challenge seemed relatively straightforward, more like a good hard slap than a burrowing dagger. Not that I'm above that myself now and again.

    The Blasphemy Challenge itself seems targeted primarily at a crudely mechanical fundamentalism, and with fundamentalism, it does misrepresent both the essence of Christianity and the basic understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit within our tradition. Mark 3:29 is a significant verse, but it you recognize, and as sentient Christians already know...not a magical talisman that unlocks the gates of Heck. Which you don't believe in anyway.

    You're correct that salvation is a major part of Christian teaching. My own faith in God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit rests in that hope. What my faith is not founded on is fear-based evangelism, or the emo-solipcism of the American McChurch. How do I approach the problem of salvation? Before you start whuppin' on me, take a look at some recent blogging I did on the subject, the Toquemada Paradox, which was in its own way a peculiar inversion of the Challenge.

  4. Pablo:

    Thanks! I'll try him there. Hard man to reach, he is.

    Yeah, I know the vid wasn't very "turning the other cheeky." But on the other hand, if I hadn't put it up, you wouldn't be here to slap me now, eh?

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