May 7, 2008

Vomiting For Jesus

This funny and scarcely-believable passage is an excerpt from a book written by an atheist journalist who went undercover through the "Christian Boot Camp" at Ted Hagee's church in Texas. It's funny for several reasons, in part because of the outrageousness of things the guy claims to have done and seen, and scarcely-believable for the same reason.

Some things in the passage I can readily believe. The group catharsis exercises, for instance, seem eminently credible. So too with the frequent casual invocations of God in utterly prosaic activities. The author getting through those sorts of situations in the way he did, though, I have a much harder time buying in to.

You may remember the Legend of Davey Hogan scene from the wonderful movie Stand By Me. Allegedly, something roughly akin to this happened at Hagee's boot camp for new Christians. I have to wonder -- why didn't anybody comment on the fact that all the paper bags were dry? This question won't make sense until you RTFA.

I know much better than to think that the bulk of Christians I know go through experiences like these or would put even the tiniest bit of credulity in what is described. In reading the passage, I have difficulty imagining anyone actually buying in to what's going on -- although I think there probably is something to his invocation of the circus scene from The Kreutzer Sonata.

The whole thing is very well-written and alternatively quite funny and quite creepy. On the whole, I have reservations about buying into it. Some of it seems too ready-made to fit into my own prejudicial fantasies about evangelical Christianity. I would rather get a better understanding of what such people are really like than be entertained by caricatures, especially ones that do not seem like they could be real. Some of it seems so beyond the scale of anything within the orbit of credible human interaction that I can't imagine anyone, of any level of faith or any level of intelligence, believing or doing what is described.

So my bullshit meter is out for this one. Yes, it is funny, but I'm thinking maybe that's because it's intended to be comedy rather than reportage, and I recommend it for that reason. Besides, you will learn about the tragedy of alcoholic clown abuse and get a brief lesson in how to speak in tongues.

1 comment:

Patrick Roberts said...

finally got so see Jesus Camp; i appreciate the fact that the movie’s makers let the people interviewed do all the talking; then again i couldn’t help wondering, "wait, what’s the problem here? these kids seem to have a pretty high quality of life..." over all, there is some truth in this flick, but only so long as it's taken with a grain (or a bucket) of salt