Propaganda 101: THE BLOOD (Fellowship Tract League Tract #172)

This tract has a slightly different layout than others. It punctuates pages with center, bold, ALL-CAPS headings, and numbered lists.

MAN’S GREATEST NEED

Sin has separated man from God. To be separated from God at death means to spend eternity in Hell, because God will not excuse sin, and sin must be punished. Man is sinful, but God is holy. The blood of Jesus Christ is God’s way of meeting man’s greatest need.

Wow. The jargon density in this paragraph is amazing. Of course, it doesn’t quite explain what “man’s greatest need” is after all, does it? It just threatens the reader with Hell right up front and center and…that’s it. I open this tract and immediately it’s pointing at gun at me, “You need something! The blood of Jesus Christ fulfills this need!” A person who is at least culturally Christian will fill this void of explanation with their own experience, but anyone else is going to look at this with a bemused stare and put it down again.

So, this tract is about blood. Excuse me, I mean, this tract is about BLOOD. So let’s look at the numbered list in the section that tells about this BLOOD. Specifically the blood of Jesus Christ. (For the sake of clarity, I omit the Bible references from these outtakes; often they are superfluous noise anyway.)

WHAT WILL JESUS’ BLOOD DO?

  1. The blood washes and cleanses you from sin.
  2. The blood pays for your forgiveness.
  3. The blood makes peace with God.
  4. The blood saves you from God’s wrath.
  5. The blood opens the way to Heaven.

Oh ho! Check it out! Is this the very first tract that I’ve read that actually mentions the Christian concept of Heaven? I could be mistaken, but I think that so far most of them have been threatening me with Hell over and over and never mention the reward scenario. So this is a singularly interesting specimen of propaganda for us right here.

To put this tract into context, I’m sure you can see that the cover is a two-tone image of a hand, pierced with a large spike, through the carpal bones (someone needs to study their anatomy!), with blood pooling down to form the color space around the word BLOOD. This is attempting to appeal to empathy—that looks like it hurts! And it ensconces the imagery of blood and bleeding in the mind of the reader before they start parsing the text.

I wanted to talk about the offer of Heaven, but the tract never defines it anywhere. The Bible quote that goes along with that line isn’t even helpful, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. (Hebrews 10:19.)” I guess that we’re supposed to take the writer’s word that this is referring to Heaven. Boldness? Holiest? I guess that this tract doesn’t actually go the last mile and offer Heaven as an alternative to Hell except in the barest sheen of cultural Christian reference.

The most foretelling portion of this list, I can see, happens to be that four out of the five list items are all about avoiding the threatened beat-down. Only the very last one is some sort of reward; the rest are mere escape from horrible punishment. Perhaps the Heaven reference just got thrown in there as an afterthought. Oh yeah, and there’s also Heaven, by the by.

This is interesting.

YOUR GREATEST DECISION

Jesus shed His blood, was buried, and rose again the third day. At this moment He stands ready, able, and willing to save you. The choice is yours. A song says, ‘If the blood of Christ is sufficient for God, it is surely sufficient for me.’ It is the blood that satisfies God. Why not put your trust in Christ’s finished work, and call on Him for salvation now?

The tract is quoting a song instead of the Bible here. This is an aberration! To my disappointment, I was unable to determine what song this paragraph refers to. I would like to know if anyone can help guide me to the proper resources, or if they are familiar with the lyric enough to simply fork over the data.

This paragraph is typical of these tracts. The tract spent a while setting up a house of cards series of bald assertions culminating in this: “You’re in trouble; I know the only solution; here’s that solution; take the solution or suffer horribly.” The theme here is just that God is a vampire and the blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient to slake his bloodlust for you…

God does not drink…wine.

International Draw Muhammad Day on May 20

For those of you not already aware of the South Park Muhammad fiasco, I will attempt to enlighten you. If you already know about it, skip to the steps below.

South Park released an excellent episode that displayed the problem with showing Muhammad — you can’t show him or death threats will ensue. The first episode (part one of a two-part show) ended with Muhammad being brought out in a bear costume that didn’t even show his eyes, so that the town of South Park would not be blown up (or so the characters of South Park had hoped). This episode resulted in multiple death threats from Extremist Muslim communities. Comedy Central, the network that airs South Park Episodes, caved to the threats. They suspended the internet version of the episode (this is an episode you can no longer watch on the South Park website) and severely censored the second episode, which was never released online. They also suspended an old episode called “Super Friends” which featured an actual cartoon version of Muhammad. The makers of South Park have issued a public statement saying that they did not authorize the censorship. Comedy Central still has not issued any comment on the matter.

Comedy Central’s fear is not unwarranted. Several people who have drawn and displayed images of Muhammad or criticized Islam have received the same death threats. Some went into hiding, others were murdered. Theo Van Gogh, a film director who produced a documentary criticizing Islam’s treatment of women, was one of the murder victims. Photos of his body were used to threaten Comedy Central. This represents one of the worst forms of censorship I have seen — because of its international scale. It isn’t being perpetrated by any one government; it is being perpetrated by murderous extremist groups who reach around the globe to kill anyone who offends them. It’s time this murderous censorship came to an end. That’s why the International Draw Muhammad Day meme was started.

Our plan is to spread the images of Muhammad around the internet in order to send a message to these murderous extremists. We must all tell them that we will not be silenced. They can’t tell us what we can or can’t say, or who we can or can’t draw. Censorship cannot take all of us down.

The way this will work:

1. Everyone who receives this must spread the word. Post it on your blog, write a note or bulletin, make a journal entry, send e-mails to everyone in your address book, make a youtube video talking about it, whatever it takes. That way, if one of us is taken out, there will still be millions more who are spreading the word.

2. Draw Muhammad. You don’t have to be an artist. Draw a stick figure, a smiley face, whatever you can. Those who use different media in their artwork can show Muhammad differently (sculptures, carvings, whatever)

3. Photograph or scan in this artwork, in an internet-compatible file type.

4. On May 20, post it in all the places where you told people about the event. Make sure it’s posted in as many places as possible, so that it can’t be censored away.

And that’s all there is to it. By participating in this, you will take a stand for free speech. You will stand up for the rights of every person around the world. Murderous extremists will not rule over what we say and what we draw. We will not be silenced!!!

Link to the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Everybody-Draw-Muhammad-Day/116425498385947

Go there and like it :)

Propaganda 101: 101 of the World’s Funniest One Liners (Living Waters Tract)

This tract is a giant fold-out with a yellow cover, four internal pages, and four external pages (including cover.) Inside pages have white backgrounds and the external pages have yellow backgrounds. As the title suggests, it has one hundred and one one-liners of varying humor, with some Christian snipes at atheism and science mixed in:

48. National Atheist’s Day: April 1st.”

69. The Big Bang Theory: God spoke and BANG! it happened.

70. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

97. Evolution: True science fiction.

And so on.

Although, this one-liner is just weird:

43. God made mankind. Sin made him evil.

The tract part is a tiny little part called an editorial on the third internal page.

This tract manages to provide its message with only one singular Bible cross-reference and one paraphrased line.

“Probably the most thought-provoking one-liner is ‘Eat right. Stay fit. Die anyway.’ It’s sad but true—no matter what you do, you will die.

Basic appeal to fear.

One of the next lines is particularly weird. “Jesus said, ‘Whoever looks up on a woman to lust after her, has committed adultery already with her in his heart.’” I look at other females quite often to lust after them, to this date I have not suddenly become male. I am not an amphibian or fish, I am a mammal. Unlike amphibians and fish, mammals have never demonstrated spontaneous gender changes. (Perhaps this tract is only meant for the boys and I just don’t know that it this line means it doesn’t apply to me.)

You know that you will be guilty, and end up in Hell.” The threat of Hell canard once again. I am going to take a poll here, my readers, who wants me to come up with a series of categories for grading and I’ll tick them off when I dissect one of these tracts. Certain themes do crop up again and again, I hypothesize that their frequency will match the relative strength of any given dogmatic meme in the religion. Threatening people with Hell is one of the most frequent and across-the-board. Demonstrating Hell exists isn’t.

In fact, I don’t know that I’ve read a single religious tract that manages to demonstrate Hell in any meaningful fashion. Insofar the threat only appeals to Christian mythology. This is another example of the Big Lie propaganda mechanism combined with the appeal to mythology. Not only is this threat repeated over and over, it relies on the reader of the tract to never attempt to discover or unveil the lack of evidence for any Hell.

Please do that today…you may not have tomorrow.” This is a favorite line spoken by life insurance salesmen in movies. I don’t know about how they sell life insurance in the real world, but making creepy assertions about the possibility that you might not survive the night is another appeal to fear.

At least a few of the one-liners were actually funny.

Propaganda 101: Is Jesus Christ Your Savior? (Fellowship Tract League Tract #118)

Yes, the following really is the first line.

My friend are you saved? Saved is a Bible word, not a term thought up by man.” There are a cornucopia of errors in this single line. Saved is an English word, from Middle English via Old French sauf, from Latin salvus, safe. The Bible’s early manuscripts are written in Hebrew and Greek with some Aramaic translations. Pay attention class: see English anywhere in there? German? Anglo-Saxon? Or anything in the direct ancestry of English? No.

“Saved” is certainly not a Bible word.

It also seems to want to claim that something that is a “Bible word” is not therefore a term thought up by man. To assess this claim, however, I need an instantiation of a “Bible word” to examine. Since no definition is provided, and the only example is patently bogus, I suspect this phrase has no meaning.

Maybe the author of this tract is referring instead to the specific jargon he’s applying to the word “saved” according to usage in the Bible. If so, he really put his foot in his mouth that time.

I have been a Christian for almost twenty years, and I find that most people still do not have an understanding of God’s message of salvation.” Bad editing here, this sentence isn’t even a separate paragraph, yet it has absolutely no transition or context connection to the previous line. Except maybe that the word “salvation” happens to be a cousin of that Latin word salvus.

Plato, Aristotle, or Einstein could only think as far as their finite minds were able. They could not even solve the problems of this life, such as sickness, disease, pain, hunger, and death, let alone know anything about eternity.

And the author is about to claim that he himself has these answers? No, wait, he is but a mere messenger.

God knew we needed something to go by, so He put everything there is to know in His Bible.

Like Cre recombinase and Tre recombanaise—recently discovered enzymes used to combat HIV. No? No mention of it? Perhaps this isn’t part of “everything there is to know” or maybe it has nothing to do with “sickness, disease, [and] pain.” In the world of propaganda this is known as a glittering generality—it’s also an example of a Big Lie. To effect the Big Lie propagandists spread a particular false belief into the population, “the Bible includes everything there is to know,” repeating it ad nauseam until a large enough portion of the population believes it to be true.

The tract does not go on to clarify what it means by the above statement so we can take it at face value: it’s simply asserting a bald falsehood expecting the reader to swallow it.

So you and I, like our father, Adam, are born sinners. We have not obeyed all of God’s commandments.

This is an appeal to mythology. First time I’ve seen this specific instance! Adam is a figure in Biblical mythology touted as “first man.” Except that Adam wasn’t born a sinner, so this sentence isn’t actually consistent with Biblical mythology after all.

Your guilt as a sinner is shown by the fact that you will eventually die.

And Germans are evil because of the fact that have large noses and speak a different language. As a proud citizen of the USA you should buy war bonds to aid our soldiers in fighting the German scourge! This sort of false assertion attempts to bond two things that have no causal connection. According to this logic: plants and animals are also sinners shown by the fact that they will eventually die.

And, of course, if all else fails end the tract by threatening the reader using an appeal to fear:

Please hear this. People do not go to hell for their sins. They go to hell for rejecting Jesus Christ as their Sin Bearer, their Substitute, and the One who died in their place for their sins.

Divine Blindness: Day 5

Still nothing! I am disappointed in the extreme. Surely God can have no more excuses? I mean, why would an omnipotent, omniscient being have any difficulty at all in doing as His follower bade Him? It’s been five days and the time for traipsing Mill Ave. is nearly upon us again. If God is so interested in the goings-on of Mill, wouldn’t it benefit Him to have one of the Resistance out of action and suffering a crisis of non-faith?

Wait, you’re thinking. God doesn’t have to obey anyone! So what if Cesar claimed to be able to call down the Lord’s wrath upon me? That doesn’t mean He’s going to do it.

But why, though? This deity, who would necessarily have to be very well acquainted with who I am, knows what proof I need to believe in him, and to thus be “saved”. If he can perform such enormous feats as destroying Sodom and Gomorrah and (paradoxically) impregnating a young woman sans genitalia, why can’t he blind me to save me from the fires of Hell? Surely he knows that I would be more inclined to believe after such a miraculous experience.

Perhaps the Lord is as I suspected: a cruel god, a tyrant unmatched. Perhaps he truly does not care for his followers one bit…

Or perhaps, just perhaps, He is not the god of the Bible. He could be a different god entirely, one who never claims to intervene. Or maybe it is a deist god, who does not interfere with the universe much after creating it, leaving its creations (us) in a state of benign neglect…

Or maybe, and much more likely, it’s none of these things at all. The reason Cesar couldn’t blind me using the power of the Lord is because there is no Lord. There is no power to call on outside of ourselves to get the things that we want. Didn’t Jesus claim several times (in Mark 11:24 – 25, for instance) that whatever a Christian believed would happen and prayed for would take place? Not so, it would seem.

Science has never found much in the way of evidence for gods at all, and nothing that can’t be explained by naturalistic causes. And thankfully, when science (and the scientifically-inclined mind) doesn’t know something, it tries its damndest to discover what it is. That’s in direct opposition to religion, which can only spew the same nonsense it ever has, with some obnoxious apologetics thrown in for flavor.

My point is this: I very much doubt that there will ever be evidence for a god or gods. With so much progress being made by science in the past few hundred years, evidence has begun to increasingly show that the natural world has far more explanations and answers than any religious book. And as this progresses, the gaps for God to exist in become smaller and smaller. When you get to present times, He becomes little more than a handyman, stepping in to do the heavy lifting when things get too hard for poor little science to handle. And nearly all hypotheses involving God have either gone kaput or are regarded as nonscientific.

Religion is simply not reconcilable with scientific observation. Hence the overwhelming majority of atheist/agnostic scientists. They’re applying the scientific principles of skepticism to their own lives, as all of us should.

And as for those who believe in the Christian God, the one called upon to blind me, they have no basis at all for what they believe other than an ancient book written by men and deemed infallible. The God of the Bible could never have created the universe or us. I doubt he could ever do more than sit and have a temper tantrum of the floor of some cosmic nursery.

However it may be (and my position on the matter should be obvious), the truth remains that I am not blind. Hooray!

Divine Blindness: Day 2

Being blind seems to be remarkably similar to having sight. I’m beginning to think that perhaps nothing is happening at all.

Then I remember that Father’s Day was yesterday. I can’t expect so much out of God. I mean, like any good dad He was probably partying into the early hours with His son Jesus, going all Old Testament on a keg of prodigious size. The resulting hangover will surely take a day or two to overcome.

Meanwhile I sit and wait for the proof that he even exists. Surely blinding an 18-year-old girl shouldn’t be too hard for him? Once He can get up off the couch without puking up a universe or two, I’m sure he’ll get right to it. Cesar’s request is probably not far down the queue, right?

We’ll see.

Mill Avenue Resistance Reports: Saturday, June 20th 2009

I’m so excited I can barely contain myself. The Lord is going to blind me!

Last night was a fairly calm night, as Phil and those with him were the only ones hanging around. The exception was Edwin, who vanished soon after we arrived. With Phil was Cesar, a preacher I’d seen around only a few times.

He came up to us immediately as we approached the post office corner, and started in on his usual shtick. “I love you. You are my sister,” he said, indicating me, “and you are my brother.” He waved his hand at Kazz. “I love the both of you. But you need to respect us.”

He rambled on in the vein of “respect” for a while, and his main premise seemed to be that we would be bringing the wrath of God down on us if we continued to do what we do. He ignored me when I told him that while I respected their right to preach what they wanted to preach, I didn’t have to respect what they were saying. Also, the very fact that he seemed to be threatening us with God’s wrath was not terribly “respectful” of him to do.

“I can make you blind,” he said, looking at me. “For a little while, you will be blind.” I took this again as somewhat threatening, until he assured me that he had no need of touching me. He had only to speak to God, telling him that I was a child of Satan and to reveal himself to me. He did this, at my request, and he told me that the blindness would start some time the next day.

Phil made his usual mischief (including the hilarious misspeak below), and Jim rolled up to discuss the “merits” of creationism with us. We were at one point convinced that everyone was leaving when it turned out they were just making a final lap around Mill, preaching out of their portable loudspeaker. We followed behind, our megaphone held at the ready. The cacophony of the mixed sounds migrated down the street as we tailed them, and we left them only when they began to preach directly into the bars. I was sure that the police would be along soon enough to stop them from disrupting the merrymaking of the bar patrons.

The night itself was fairly nondescript, with the main event being Cesar’s little séance. Today has not brought me blindness, but I am willing to give him some leeway. Today was Father’s Day after all. Perhaps God was busy; perhaps Jesus took him out for a nice lunch and a Mylar “Best Dad Ever!” balloon. I’m willing to wait and see if this blindness thing will come through.

I can’t wait.

Quote of the Week
Phil: “Jesus said if you have hated in your heart, then you have committed adultery!”

Mill Avenue Resistance Reports: Friday, May 22nd, 2009

This Friday night was sparse with us-lings, since many were at the SFTS end-of-year party. Kazz, Spyral, Ezra, and I all dropped in on the revelry; Spyral and Ezra decided to stick around while Kazz and I went out to Mill.

An unpleasant little surprise awaited us upon our arrival. The Door were out, in all their screaming, shouting, spooky glory. I had never yet seen them, only heard tales of their insane antics and occasional violent behavior. They were all I could have hoped for and more on this night. A large number of them were dressed in black bodysuits, dancing and wailing with skeleton-painted faces as a mad preacher howled above their writhing bodies. Some waved ghostly gauze banners with images of what may have been demons on them. A reasonably large crowd looked on, and Omar and Jim stood not too far from where we set up the speaker.

A couple of the less-crazy members came to speak with us while the show wore on. However, when I say “less-crazy”, please remember to whom I’m referring. These two young men seemed completely devoid of anything resembling sense. The one I spoke with primarily seemed absolutely unwilling to consider, even for the moment, that the Bible was fallible or in any way untrue. He seemed to dance around my questions regarding his presence on Mill; after all, didn’t Jesus proscribe such behavior as public worship and showing off?

After some time, the large group began to pack up and leave. Relieved at their retreat, we began heading back down Mill towards Urban Outfitters. As we walked, Omar told us about having the cops called on him earlier that evening. As when this happened before, the Door simply didn’t want to share the corner and decided to make a police matter of it. Of course, once the police turned up they could do nothing about it except to make sure no one was obstructing the sidewalks. This was welcomed with frustration by the Door, as one could expect. And to top it off, Omar went on to say that the guy who had called the police on him got a faceful of bird feces some time later. Ah, irony.

On the northwest corner of 6th St. were Jonathan, Phil, and their attendant hangers-on, who were about to set up at the southeastern corner and begin their usual proclamations. As we walked up, Phil hastily removed his arm from its position around Missy’s shoulders and sat up straighter on the planter box. Refraining from teasing him about “lusting in his heart” was quite difficult, especially as he crossed his arms and leaned back, yelling “Jesus is LORD!” at passerby as we spoke with Jonathan about having a debate.

We attempted to set up near them as they moved to the southeast corner, until we were shooed across the street by the hot dog vendors. Here, Jonathan performed the most sickening act of the entire night: he began to administer the “Good Person Test” to a group of kids, all of whom looked to be no more than twelve or thirteen at most. Not five feet from us, we looked on as he smilingly asked them what they’d call someone who lied, or stole. They seemed generally willing to listen to him, and I admit that I was saddened and angered beyond belief by his tactics. It’s disgusting enough when these mind tricks and falsehoods are used on adults, but when he tries them on children…

A man who’d been hanging around us, however, asked us to think about how Jonathan thinks of what he’s doing. He doesn’t see it as bad, or evil, but as helping people. I still cannot find it in myself to condone such behavior, even when considering it from that side. What he does preys on the weak and the gullible, at the best of times. In this instance, he was polluting the minds of those who aren’t sure of themselves yet, who can be more easily shaped to think certain things than adults are. I find it abhorrent, no matter what the context there is within Jonathan’s mind.

At long last, however, Jonathan packed up and Kazz and I returned to the party, there to watch the antics of our compatriots and try to feel less ill about what we had witnessed.

Propaganda 101: HEAVEN or HELL (Fellowship Tract League Tract #115)

So: HEAVEN or HELL, which do you choose?

Ah, false dichotomy, how long has it been since we last danced? It seems but yesterday I held you in my arms, as you whispered sweet nothings; but I have so many dance partners and you imagine yourself the only one.

Are you going to heaven or to hell?” asks the first line of this tract. “The Bible teaches that many seemingly good people are going to hell, because … Sin has a price. You might be wondering what happens to people when they die in their sins.” And so on. The parts that I’m skipping are lengthy references to the Bible that don’t mean very much to the message that’s being demonstrated here. Except maybe the bit where it mentions people being “cast into a lake of fire.”

Does anyone else find it strange that the word “hell” in these doesn’t have a capital letter? To me this is a weird modification of English grammar; here I thought that Christians considered Hell to be an actual place—or at least a proper noun. Heaven doesn’t get a capital in this tract either, so maybe it’s a style issue.

The tract goes on to say, “The Bible tells us God desires to save everyone. … Do you want to be saved? The Bible teaches that there are several things you must do in order to be saved.

The propagandist here makes several assumptions that haven’t been addressed. The first: the reader may not believe in the concept of sin. Without sin this threat is totally moot. Can’t die in your sin if there is none. It also assumes that Heaven and Hell are meaningful places to the reader. As if they don’t believe in Olympus, Valhalla, Elysium, any other afterlife–or none!

I’ve been looking at a lot of these tracts and this type seems to be directed at other Christians.

The way to be saved is so simple! Yet many refuse to be saved. They will not accept Jesus Christ alone for salvation from sin and its penalty. They refuse to believe that Lord Jesus is powerful enough to save them by Himself. Do you?

Or, Mr. False Dichotomy, maybe there isn’t a Jesus.

Parsing this tract gives me a unique segue into something that I’d like to talk about, not just false dichotomies, but the implementation of “conversion by threat.” To instantiate such a piece of propaganda first I must set up a paradigm that includes the elements that I am going to threaten with: in this case Heaven and Hell. Then I set up a balance between them by exploiting the human reaction to threats: explicit focus.

When presented with danger or stress things get really simple: safe and not safe. So, I set up something extremely dangerous, “Eternal torture in Hell!” and on the other side of the proverbial coin, I put something extremely safe, “Eternal bliss in Heaven.” Although, oddly, neither Heaven nor Hell are described in this entire tract, so really it’s not offering Heaven except in the title, only being rescued from the threat of Hell. Saved.

Once I’ve got that threat up, and I have my audience hooked on it, I sell my solution. At this layer of abstraction the human mind sees the two necessary elements of a stress action and, of course, chooses the case that doesn’t involve the serious danger. Threatening people with eternal torture to get them to agree must be one of the most cynical mechanics that I have ever seen in Christian propaganda.

“Do as I say or this bad thing will happen.”

In the parlance of my academic peers this is called an appeal to fear. It works by instilling fear, in this case via threat, in the reader and then feeding on that in order to make the rest of its case. This appeal is particularly fragile in that it has no depth to it. Appeals to fear require that the reader not examine the appeal too deeply, in this tract, not to question the assumptions made in the tract:

If there is no Heaven or Hell then this threat is moot.

Mill Avenue Resistance Reports: Saturday, May 2nd 2009

Apologies that this took so long to post.

Mill Ave. wasn’t quite crawling with preachers this past Saturday, which isn’t to say there weren’t any. Since it’s usually pretty devoid of them on Saturday nights now, there seemed to be a comparatively large amount. Al and his cronies were handing out their “I.Q. Test” tracts by the Light Rail, and we kept an eye on them for a while. Then word came that the dreaded Jeremiah was on on the corner of 5th St.

A cameraman was out to document Jeremiah’s incredible preaching abilities, and we set up our equipment nearby. Joe and Kyle were already there, and Rocco turned up a while after. We were bothered for a while by the adversarial cameraman, who intimated that we were cowards for not “preaching” our beliefs on our own, instead of merely reacting to the street preachers. He didn’t seem to understand when we tried to explain to him that we aren’t really fond of annoying people without cause.

Jeremiah began to speak, and we all watched as the crap began to fly from his mouth and splatter, moist and mushy, onto the pavement and the deaf ears of the crowd. He seemed fixated this night on the “10 out of 10 people die” line, as well as “God knows what’s on your computer history!”. His infinite loop seemed even shorter than usual, inducing yawns after about three revolutions of the “Jeremiah’s brain” turntable.

Appropriating Rocco’s megaphone, I said my usual stuff too. Hey, if he can have reruns, so can I. Kazz and I passed it back and forth for a bit, then I gave it to him to recover from the thin fog of smarm particles emanating from Jeremiah, which were beginning to overcome me. Hence the new saying, “When Mill gives you smarm, make smarmalade.”

Of course, it does not do to forget why we’re out here. What Jeremiah does hurts people. It doesn’t take a lot of thought to realize that. As Kazz said to him, if he had a leg to stand on he wouldn’t have to resort to frightening people with tales of “the lake of fire” and such. There is also the simple fact that he is not willing to debate with us. When asked, he said, “I’m not here to debate! I’m here to proclaim,” which induced gales of laughter from all present.

Eventually Jeremiah got frustrated and stomped off, carrying his equipment with him and almost visibly sulking. We stayed around for a while, and Rocco spoke with several young men of an unsavory, rather intimidating character. El Presidente also granted the cameraman an interview, which will be ostensibly be shown in their church and almost certainly have Rocco misquoted to the point of ridiculousness.

We decided to pass on an opportunity to bother Al, who had since brought out his speaker. A few of the hecklers we’d had earlier were there, and we figured they were capable of handling anything Al had to dish out (which as usual wasn’t really much).

This Saturday was an important reminder to us, however. No matter how dead they’ve been, they can’t be neglected. As ever we need lots of people out to contend with the “proclamations” of those such as Jeremiah. We’ve recently been a little sparse, especially late on Saturday nights. Sometimes it’s difficult making sure you have enough people with you to be safe. Even if there aren’t many preachers out on Saturdays, it’s important to be safe since things can happen even when you aren’t opposing anyone.