Friday, May 22, 2009

Kissing Hank's Ass

SKEPTIC: So what do you think about this video?

PREACHER: Although the title is rather juvenile, the content is a good parody of what (unfortunately) a lot of so-called evangelism is. I would recommend all classes on evangelism at Bible schools and seminaries see this video. I have been evangelized by some cult groups in the same manner. The two big mistakes that the evangelists made were 1) they assumed the guy they were visiting had the same world view as they did, and used circular reasoning to try to convince him of something that he didn't believe in, and 2) they cut off further contact with him, seeing him as a terrible evil person, making him no longer worth talking to, and I suppose he didn't want to talk to them again either.

When reaching someone of a different world view, you need to first develop a trusting relationship with them. Then, you need to help them to realize that their world view is really wrong. After that you can talk to them about "Hank."

SKEPTIC: Well, okay, I guess if you want to use the video to show someone how NOT to evangelize, you could do that. But I don't think that was the intent of the producer. I think the video was designed to comically show how silly religion is by placing all the major elements of the Christian belief system into a different context. Listening to John and Mary trying to convince the guy of their beliefs, the viewer thinks...geez, that's ridiculous. But everything they say has a direct parallel in Christianity. So how come it sounds so silly when they say it, but makes perfect sense to many people when it describes the Christian belief system?

PREACHER: I understand the intent of the producer, however the parallels to Christianity are quite outlandish. "Hank" isn't a real person in history (Jesus Christ is: check the sites on my blog roll) and the rule about not eating you hot dogs with anything but buns (isn't that an allusion to sexual variations?) really would be completely unintelligible to anyone outside the American culture. I could go on and on about the crazy parallels. What the video does a good job of conveying is what I think the apostle Paul alluded to: The Gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing. If your world view is completely foreign to what the Bible assumes it IS silly to you. The average Japanese, if confronted with Jesus' death on the cross, finds the message meaningless. They say, "I never asked him to do that for me, so why should I pay attention to that?" You have to lay down the ground work that 1) God is the creator and owner of the universe which includes us humans, 2) Our first ancestors rebelled against God and we are all born with that unnatural bent. So, except for the grace of God working in me to work against that bent and get back in line with His purposes, I and all humanity are bound for His judgment (in other words, discarded since we won't cooperate with Him - we were given free wills to choose, though, by trusting Him) 3) Jesus died on the cross to satisfy God's requirements for us so that if we accept Him, we can pass from eternal judgment into eternal life. And, He rose from the dead to prove He did it. This message is the fragrance of life to those of us who believe, but the stench of death to those who will not believe. You've got to start with the right "reality" in order to understand and appreciate the message. Otherwise, it does sound just as silly as Hank's Ass.

SKEPTIC: Sorry, I don't smell the "stench of death." I experience the "fragrance of life" just as much as you do. I could argue that I experience it even more, since I accept that this life is all there is and so am determined to make the most of it, while you view it as just a way station to the next life, and so everything you do is focused on the next life. I can see how this can cause many Christians to be way too stressed out about life, always worried that they're going to screw up and offend the Almighty and perhaps even risk their eternal soul. When you don't buy into this ancient belief system, though, you're free to live your life joyfully, without the stress that those with rigid belief systems can suffer.

I think you're right about the whole wieners and buns thing, though. Hank says that for two wieners to lay down together is an abomination.

PREACHER: How can you say that you experience the fragrance of life just as much as a Christian does? Your wonderful life lasts for 70 to 80 years. Our lives last for eternity. I don't think that you will feel so joyful about your life when you have been told that you have only a few weeks to live, like my friend with pancreatic cancer who lives in Des Moines IA. He has peace about it. I really doubt that your deathbed scene will be that optimistic, unless you decide to become a believer again. There have been some polls taken that have suggested that religious people are better adjusted and happier than non-religious people. I think you paint a picture of Christians struggling with sin that is gloomier than it really is. We Christians know the joy of being set free from sin and death. Non-believers joy is based on the on the concept of "What you don't know won't hurt you," or "ignorance is bliss."

SKEPTIC: Seriously? You think your life has more value and meaning because you've chosen to believe that after you die you'll spend eternity in some sort of Disneyland in the sky, and since I've chosen to NOT believe that particular fantasy, I can't experience the "fragrance of life" as much as you? And furthermore, I can't possibly be at peace with my own death unless I adopt this particular belief for myself?

Seriously? That doesn't strike you as just a bit arrogant to make that claim?

PREACHER: It isn't my claim. It is His claim. I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep His promises. You just know what you know. Perhaps later I can go into more detail about how the "fragrance of life" He has to offer is both qualitatively and quantitatively infinitely more than what you think you know.

SKEPTIC: Well, it may be "His" claim, but it's also your claim, and it's why so many people are turned off by religion. This idea that by virtue of your belief system, your life has more value than the lives of nonbelievers is not only arrogant, but pretty darn offensive. (Didn't we already cover this ground in a previous post?)

PREACHER: When the apostle Paul called the message of the cross the stench of death, he was refering to it as something offensive to those who don't believe. Some of them thought it offensive enough to persecute him for continuing to proclaim it. If you were more secure in your own belief system, you wouldn't have your nose bent out of shape so badly by the message.


  1. wow, "I believe" ;)

    seriously, Preacher's responses are very revealing.

    he says 'Hank isn't real but Jesus is',
    well, how deluded can you get? Preacher, I've asked before -- what proof do you have for your assertion that "Jesus" was a historical person?

    also, "When reaching someone of a different world view, you need to first develop a trusting relationship with them. Then, you need to help them to realize that their world view is really wrong." and this is exactly how it works, first you build up trust, then you misuse it! what you're really saying, Preacher, is that once you have acquired an understanding of another person's thinking, you can then use this knowledge against that person. it shows how low you religious types really are (just look at the current scandal of child abuse that's shocking Ireland; those children, and their parents, trusted the Christian clergy, and what they got was physical, mental, and sexual abuse. great traditions!)

  2. Skeptic writes that Christians view this life as "just a way station to the next life, and so everything you do is focused on the next life."

    IMO that is the very reason that our planet is in the state is in; we rape its resources for personal gain, we pollute it to an extent where many species have become extinct and many more, probably including humans, are next on the list.

    my charge is therefore that the Abrahamic belief system is directly responsible for the unnecessary deaths of countless human and non-humans individuals.

  3. Jr.

    Your insistence that Jesus is a fictional character even after I have shone links to ancient non-Christian historians who spoke of Him as a historical person, proves to me that you are not a credible person. Haven't you just about re-written history from before the French revolution anyway? Let me level with you. I don't believe that you exist as a person. You are nothing but a elaborate computer program put together by atheists that gives pat answers to the claims of believers.

  4. The original pamphlet is one of my favorites.

    Find it here and print it out to hand to the JWs that come to your door. Here's a non-naughty version.

  5. Paul.

    personally, I have no "faith" in a character called Jesus ever existing. however, for the sake of argument, let's assume that there was a carpenter called Jesus, why should I believe that he preached the Christian faith? I know that the Christian church took the sign of the cross from the pagans and used it for its own purposes, I know that "Christmas" is the church using the traditional winter solstice for its own purposes, and so on; the church is full of symbolism and lore taken from other, older cultures and (mis-)used for its own ends, why should the carpenter be different?

    so you think I'm "a (sic) elaborate computer program"?

    well, 001011100111011101010101110 to you ;)

    seriously, while it could be argued that by virtue of my being DNA/RNA based like other life-forms on this planet, I'm an embodyment of code, it would still not mark me as being different (in any significant way) from you. believe me, I feel as uncomfortable with *that* thought as, presumably, you do.

  6. Kudos to the creators of jr,a very remarkable piece of software. However I would encourage them to give it a few tweaks so that it can access actual historical documents and make comments on them rather than make pat generalizations about western civilization.

  7. " need to first develop a trusting relationship with them. Then, you need to help them to realize that their world view is really wrong."

    This statement is exactly why I always felt very uncomfortable when I was evangelizing. It's this type of persuasion attitude, kick them when they're down, get them to trust and then tell them why everything they are and do is evil... that eventually caused me to leave.

    I gave my trust, probably because I was raised around it. That trust was used against me several times, and the final time was the last straw.

    People wonder why those who have left Christianity have such a guilt complex and feel they can never trust people again. The sentiment behind the statement above... is why.

  8. Dear Leaving Religion,

    I would like to appologize on behalf of those who have taken advantage of your trust. Jesus would never have done that, and I hope I would never do that, too. Now, are you able to stop being the victim of so-called Christian ministers and really do some good in this world?

  9. so Preacher Paul, I did as you asked and dealt with your suppostion but, I see, you have no reply.

    I have noticed your (verbal) impotence in another entry ("Mother Teresa: Angel or Agnostic?") where, when you could not deal with Lorena's argument, you had to resort to personal attack, trying (unsuccessfully IMO) to be sarcastic.

    same here, no argument therefore become personal.

    question to you Paul: supposing Jesus existed, how can you prove that he taught Christian values, how can you prove that you're not simply misrepresenting the views of a dead guy who cannot defend himself?

  10. Paul.

    re. your reply to Leaving Religion, would you care to enlighten us what good *you* are doing in this world? are you inflicting your 'commander-in-chief' on others?

  11. I have taught a lot of Japanese how to speak English and some of them have also become Christians, but I didn't coerce them at all. I served as the chairman of our neighborhood counsel for one year. Helped out with a lot of good community events. All of my co-workers were non-christians and we got along fine.

    Jr. I will make a deal with you. You go and read the two sites I have on my blog roll, Ancient NT Manuscripts and Did Jesus Realy Exist ( particulary pay attention to Tacitus and Flavius Josephus) If you give me an intellegent responce to those articles then I will stop calling you a piece of software.

  12. I do not play victim... I moved on and let go of the things that were holding me back. The main thing being religion. Now I do good things in the name of doing good things, instead of doing good things so I can then turn around and tell people that they are wrong and I am right.

    I no longer go and do something nice for someone because it opens a door to tell them that they better accept Jesus or they are going straight to hell. I do something nice and good because it is the right thing to do.

  13. Leaving Religion,

    Good for you man. That's the way the world SHOULD work.

    **Thumbs up**

  14. Paul.

    your reply ("..served as chairman..", "Helped out with a lot of good community events.") makes me realise that you probably have never had to labour to sustain yourself -- whatever happened to "ora et labora" ;)

    re the "deal" you offer. I've read most of the Bible and the Koran, both in translation of course, and have no stomach for the florid (turgid?) prose employed by the proselytisers. perhaps you would like to listen to Crass "Asylum", Bauhaus "Stigmata Martyr", or Skunk Anansie "Selling Jesus"? I'd be inclined to look at the sites you recommend afterwards (as a favour to you).

    Leaving Religion.

    second Anonymous' post.

  15. jr,

    It looks to me that we can't agree about anything accept that personal attacks aren't nice. You are right about my verbal impotence. Since you are not even willing to take me up on my offer, I will not be responding to your comments anymore.

  16. Paul.

    that's a shame (straight talking).

    I do realise that Punk is not really the music of choice for persons of your generation, still, it would have been interesting to hear your thoughts on hearing the voices of a younger and very much disaffected generation, many of whom (by virtue of a better education, I suppose) have come to see the central role established religions have in maintaining the entirely unsatisfactory status quo; after all, war and pollution are destroying the future of their children!


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