Monday, November 21, 2005

Anatomy of a Mediocre-at-Best Blog Hoax

Rumor has it --- confirmed through third-hand verification of fourth-hand exchanges of hypotheses --- that the Progressive Christian is a hoax site done for furthering my loopy-at-times sense of schtick and humor.

The rumors are completely correct, as are many rumors. I am the Progressive Christian, or, more accurately, I'm the guy who puts forth the affectations of a fruitcake leftist who drags Jesus into the mix to justify his goofy ideological statements.

I've deliberately made the posts at PC cornier and more over-the-top in their nuttiness, which has made it clear that PC is not a serious individual, but is, as are many sites, a hoax site designed for the amusement of a handful of people. As a result, no comments have been coming in there the last few posts, so nobody is taking the site seriously.

This is probably a wise move on their part.

The problem with doing a lot of leftist and "prog" schtick is that much of leftist and progressive ideology is, in my opinion, already a self-parody of itself. One might think that this would make the hoax less obvious, but the problem with too perfect a parody is that normal, rational people who are bound by the semantic range of words and, say, the law of the excluded middle, quickly grow tired of conversing or interacting with somebody who doesn't give words any meaning and freely contradicts himself from one sentence to the next without even a crimson hue appearing in his cheek.

But in the early days --- a few weeks ago at most --- there was some fun to be had. [And, trust me, I almost spit out my soda or water half the time while laughing during writing those silly PC posts.]

The first post was called Greetings and the content of the post was as follows:

I have gotten really tired of fundamentalist and logocentrist "Christians" acting as if they have sole access to the truth. This blog exists to put forth the real teachings of Jesus, and Krishna, and Mohammed, and Buddha, and all of the other great teachers.

Fundamentalism is a threat to our tolerant and open society. And, as it will be seen, I will be intolerant towards Fundamentalists. There is no contradiction embodied in this. But even if there is, I'm not going to be logocentric.

Note of course the self-stultifying m.o. in the first paragraph. Observe the mere handwaving accompanying the self-stultifying in the second paragraph, the handwaving being "justified" by throwing around the term "logocentric." Intellectuals like that word, for whatever reason.

This sort of silliness at first drew a few earnest commentators. Poor Ken Abbott was the biggest mark, and to be sure I use the term "mark" in the sense that he seemed to take the site seriously. I'd bet the farm he knew after a while that the site was somebody's being very, very, silly. So Ken, wherever you are, I hope you take this as a "laughing with you" and not a "laughing at you" sort of statement.

Ken originally asked: If I understand you correctly, you're going to blog, but you're not going to be concerned about words or language...?

This is a perfectly reasonable question, of course. But PC replied: I'm concerned with tolerance and following Jesus's desire for social justice.

I don't recall Jesus requiring that we act like latent logocentric oppressors. Words and language are useful only as they promote equality, love, and social justice.

Note the entire dodging of Ken's question. It was mere posing, affecting a cool, hip, trendy "thing" and running with it. HAHAHAHA.

Poor Ken, blindsided by PC's immunity to reason, presses on: How do you define "tolerance"? Was Jesus' desire for social justice what got him killed?
Please unpack the phrase "latent logocentric oppressors" for me.

Again, Ken is completely reasonable. What is tolerance? [I ask this to liberals, leftists, etc, and never get much of a workable answer.] What in the world does "latent logocentric oppressor" mean? Who knows? The words sounded good when strung together, so it was easy to type them while emitting audible guffaws. Anyway, PC replied with another silly collection of drivel:

Ken --- you need to take the phrase as a whole and stop worrying about individual words.

As for Jesus, his early career was brought to a tragic end by the right wing factions amongst "organized religion."

Another non-answer by PC! Such a surprise. Now it is true that a word's semantic range is partially determined by context and the surrounding words, so PC's statement, taken innocently, are not damnable. But of course, PC's statement is uttered with this aire of sheer arrogance and condescension so that, functionally speaking, PC gives Ken another blowoff, the polite scholarly version of yelling Up yours! like some New York cabbie. Of course, PC just had to bring right-wing folks and "organized religion" [complete with the melodramatic and the completely useless scare quotes] into the mix for a stunning display of the non sequitur techique!

Ken is now thrown for a loop. He's probably thinking "What a nutball" about PC, but, in charity, he then asks the following:

Okay, then, what's the whole phrase mean? Pardon my ignorance--I'm just trying to follow the conversation.

Why did the "right wing factions amongst 'organized religion'" bring about Jesus' death?

Again, completely reasonable questions. He had more patience than I do in real life!
You'd think that the Progressive Christian, that man of God who embodies all that is progressive and tolerant, would have a substantive answer. You'd be thinking incorrectly, dear readers, for PC issues more boilerplate material:

Modern scholarship has conclusively shown such a thing. We have to read between the lines and perform a structural analysis to see this. A "straight" reading of the text [as fundamentalists do] won't show this, which is why they're completely misled.

I believe this answers your question.

The inspiration for this completely unsubstantiated reply comes from the fact that in my own discussions with people, the things in the text they don't like are "inauthentic" or discussed with the prefacing word-formula "Modern scholarship has shown that ....." which is then followed by some liberal statement that has nothing to go for it other than assumption: "Modern scholarship has shown that 8% of what Jesus is recorded as saying is authentic." Or, for another one, "Modern scholarship has shown that epistle X is not authentically Pauline." Etc.

I'm proud of the dig on fundies and the "straight reading." Of course, the statement itself denigrating "plain reading" is understood by a "plain reading." No self-stultification there. Uh huh. Perhaps PC was speaking that way to condescend to fundies.

Ken then states: No, it doesn't. Neither question was answered.

Of course, Ken is, once again, completely correct. Ken asks good questions, and PC responds with random piles of arrogant, condescending, scholarly b.s.

Then somebody named Kim joins the party. [At least it was a party for me. I'm not sure about Ken, though.]

Two questions:
If you are a "Christian" but you don't use the text of the Bible, then where do you get your direction? A Christian is a follower of Christ and the last time I checked, the life and teachings of Christ are in the Biblical texts.
If you describe yourself as "tolerant" why do you express yourself as so "intolerant" of the evangelical (or as you call them fundamentalist) Christians?
I find your blog to be highly contradictive.
BTW, the last time I checked, the DaVinci Code is listed as a work of fiction not as a historical novel.

Hee hee, more good questions. Of course, without the Biblical texts or some sort of special relevation, one is playing paint-by-numbers with Christianity. And, of course, how can somebody who prides himself in tolerance [whatever that means!] be so intolerant? Doesn't that make the promoter of tolerance a hypocrite? Sure does! But what's a little contradiction or two to stop the Progressive Christian? He responds in turn:

Kim, I believe I have fully deconstructed your questions in a new post at this blog. Please check there.

Ken, I showed some of my friends in critical theory your questions and my answers and we all agreed that I answered them.

To be honest, I'm not sure what thread at PC was meant to respond to Kim. They're all so full of drivel, it is hard to remember which one was meant to perpetuate the hoax. I think the link gives the right one though.

Note the little shot across Ken's bow. Critical theory --- HAHAHAHAHA --- and "my friends in critical theory" --- HEE HEE HEE --- are all comic props for this little hoax. Had to keep Ken on the hook....

Ken was still on the hook, for he replied:

Well, I showed some of my friends who speak the English language my questions and your "answers," and they agree that indeed you did not answer my questions.

On the retort scale, throwing out the West German judge's low score of 5.4 and eliminating the Argentianian judge's high score of 5.9, Ken averages a 5.7 [out of a perfect 6.0] on the retort scale. Good one, Ken!

But of course, illogic --- especially the illogic manifested by PC --- cannot be stopped:

Well, you have your truth, and I have my truth. But my truth is more true than your truth.

The first sentence is a real life living, breathing, quote I have heard more than once from university goofballs over the years as well as various people who consider the embracing of blatant contradiction to be a sign of liberation, freedom, etc. Note that PC, after relativizing truth, takes a decidedly absolutist turn with the second sentence.

Ken then asks: Says who? to the previous comment. This is the natural, logical reply, obviously.

PC's next reply is a bit of an over-reach. See if you can spot the tactical error that destroys his credibility as a serious blogger:

The people at my organic produce co-op, that's who. Anybody with a brain. Anybody who believes in tolerance and inclusiveness.

Need I go on?

In retrospect, the whole organic produce co-op thing was a case of too-much-too-soon. Too stereotypical --- and I've frequented organic produce co-ops enough to say that it is NOT a caricature!!

PC probably shot himself in the foot by mentioning his co-op, but the rest of the post is a gem: more question-begging and condescension-as-argument. Just like the leftists!

Ken may very well be playing along with PC at this stage, sort of the way that the crowd at a wrestling show gives the wrestlers a pop or two even though everybody knows that pro wrestling is fake!

So who died and left you the one to make up the rules? Why are "tolerance" (which we have yet to define) and inclusiveness the virtues that trump all others?

Good questions, Ken. I've asked these too, and received in reply gasps and muted sighs as if such questions are not welcome in polite society. Ken's guess is as good as mine.

PC replies to Ken in a fashion to which I've been replied: That you even ask such a question is proof enough of your intolerance.

At this point poor Ken probably realizes he's dealing with a complete and utter loon, and the comments for the thread cease.

Oh, what a ride.

Another thread of note there was one called The Problem with "Christians". Since it is my material ultimately, I can quote the entire idiotic thread here in its entirety. I'll respond to myself --- surely a self-referential feat of flexibility if there ever happened to be one!

The problem with "Christians" is that they think that they're right and others are wrong. This is not acceptable, nor is it polite behavior in our modern enlightened times.

Of course PC thinks he's right in the second sentence.

Today, I had a discussion with one fundamentalist Christian who told me that Jesus was God. My response was "I'm glad Jesus is God for you." This should have been good enough to drive away this uneducated cretin. However, the cretin then said "He's God for you too."

I don't think I have to rebut this sort of silly "logic." In fact, I won't. It suffices merely to say that just because he thinks that Jesus is God for him doesn't mean that Jesus is God for other people.

HAHAHAHAHAHA. Note the absolute statement in the last sentence. Just because HE thinks X doesn't mean that X is true for all people. PC is arrogating to himself the right to make an absolute statement here but denying the silly fundie's potential to play the absolute-truth game. The waiter has just brought you a plate full of petitioning the principle!

The fundamentalist then countered with the statement "But certain truths are universal."

Wow those fundamentalists are stupid! Them rednecks and their universal truths!

Again, I don't think I have to rebut this sort of silly "logic." In fact, any one of my former Womyn's Studies professors would laugh at this blatant logocentrism. This isn't how educated products of our universities are supposed to think.

I may sound intolerant to say that I find fundamentalists uneducated and not very bright, but sometimes you have to use a justifiable amount of intolerance to fight for tolerance.

C'mon...don't I get point for the spelling "womyn" ? Surely, if you hate me, you must at least give me parody props for this. I've seen elite academics use this spelling, btw. The rest of the snippet is just more "Fundies are hicks" rhetoric.

By saying "Jesus is God," the fundamentalist was dividing people into two camps. One camp might agree with the statement, and another camp would disagree. For example, my environmentalist friends would disagree with the statement. Jesus wouldn't want this sort of divisiveness. Only fundamentalists want this sort of divisiveness.

More unsubstantiated statements. CS Lewis remarked that writing the Screwtape Letters rather ground him down. On the other hand, writing PC posts really picked the mood up, for such posts are easy: type in a lot of feel-good pseudointellectual drivel, hope for a few marks, respond with equal amounts of the aforementioned drivel, repeat, etc.

On a side note, somebody recommended a poster named Sam Hays as a barometer of what fundamentalist thought is out there. I read his "review" of Star Wars. I wonder if we're watching the same film. I for one was appalled at the dearth of people of color and other underepresented people in the film. And, I happen to think that only bad people deal with absolutes. The fact that this reviewer didn't like that statement says a lot about his intolerance. I would advise him (he probably won't listen since he thinks he's right) to perhaps particapate in some sensitivity seminars. Another thing about the film is that it still acted as if light and dark were in opposition rather than 2 sides of the same coin.

Comments here: (i) I deliberately erred by writing "Sam" for "Steve." (ii) Note the intrusion of racial bean-counting into something completely unrelated. (iii) The magic word "tolerance," which PC seems to invoke as if it were the name of Jesus Himself, is also sprinkled in there. (iv) The sensitivity seminars are real features of universities and even the business world, alas. (v) The statement about light and dark, in retrospect, was too boilerplate given all of the other garbage that PC had written.

For more guffaws, check out the comment threads. I'll pull some comments and replies by both marks and the Progressive Christian.

Lindsey asks: Ok, I'll start right out by saying that I'm a Christian. You can see that very easily by looking at my blog. Let me just ask you one question: are right and wrongs absolutes, or relatives?

Good question. Too bad PC spews forth more drivel in reply:

Lindsey ---

Rights and wrongs are what I call "relative absolutes." They're possibly absolute for the person who says something is right or wrong, but their definitely relative for other people who may not agree.

I believe I'm being perfectly clear.

I find at least two self-stultifications going on here. If I try to understand my own words, I get a headache. Of course I was being anything but clear.

But Lindsey presses on:

So you are saying that, for me, right and wrong can be absolutes, but for you they can be relatives? Then there is no such thing as truth. Then there is no law, no order. Then policemen and government and everything that enforces law is, according to your logic, intolerant; after all, they are ENFORCING thier 'view' of 'right' or 'wrong' on US! In your world, there would be utter chaos. You see, Hitler considered murdering millions 'right'. You're saying that it's allright for him to do that, because who is to define what 'right' or 'wrong' is anyway? Right and wrong are real aspects of daily life, not abstract concepts! And if you don't believe they exist, try imagining a world without them... and then think again.

She dares ask PC to think! The nerve of today's women. [Shouldn't they be making me breakfast and doing my laundry?] They challenge a fraud such as the PC. But he's up to the challenge with all of the flair that accompanies his, dare we say, idiom:

Ah Lindsey, you're being so logocentric. You talk about "truth" as if it is some arid, dead proposition. I live it [my truth, not yours, to be sure] every time I tend my organic vegetable garden or recycle some cans of Hansen's natural soda.

I don't see why you bring up Hitler. He was a right wing guy. He went too far with the Jews, even though they're rotten oppressors of the Palestinians. But, if this is the best you have, keep firing away.

But again, that's my truth. Your truth might be different. Jesus would celebrate all truths. That is possibly yet absolutely true in an indefinite sort of contingent fashion.

I think at this stage, this pile of rubbish deserves no comment. BTW --- I'm rather proud of myself for indefatigably coming up with this crap in stream-of-consciousness fashion. The level of pride is somewhere between the pride in being able to walk and chew gum simultaneously and the pride that comes from tying my own shoes.

Lindsey presses on. More good questions. But PC is always ready with a non-answer answer and an affected pose:

Lindsey, you're beginning to border on hate speech, and hate speech is not tolerated here.

Sometimes you have to be intolerant in fighting intolerance so that tolerance can prevail, otherwise being tolerant to intolerance allows intolerance to continue to be intolerant. That should be clear.

As far as the Jesus "quote" you give, I believe real scholarship has shown that that is not one of the "authentic" sayings of Jesus. Critical feminist theology has shown through form criticism and post-structural analysis that statements from Jesus that portray him as anything more than a great teacher or as something unique are later historical additions by the early church. This is because (probably) the early church was trying to be relevant and assertive.

On the other hand "Judge not" is considered authentic. I advise that you follow that.

I'm very proud of this "reply" obviously. :-)

BTW --- anybody who uses the "Judge not" quote of Our Lord gets the following questions from me in real life:

(a) To whom is Jesus saying this?
(b) What is the surrounding context?
(c) What sort of judging here is condemned?

Of course, people who can answer (a)-(c) aren't stupid enough to throw around "judge not lest ye be judged" as if this is their ticket to "Go" and $200 whenever they see something they don't like.

Lindsey --- this is too good to be true --- apologizes for the possible offense. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I did not border on hate speech. But I apologize for offending you. I did not mean to give the impression that I was judging you. I was merely debating and asking questions.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. HO HO HO. HEE HEE HEE. A PP hooded sweatshirt is on its way to Lindsey for her indefatigable spirit and her superior degree of niceness. Hopefully she'll laugh at the joke too. If not, I'll have to surround myself with guys named Biff and Rocko for a while; such gentlemen carry around violin cases, if you know what I mean.

On a serious note, many in the Left try to put us on the defensive. I have to prove that I'm not racist, sexist, homophobic, nonecosustainable, etc. I simply refuse to play that game, and, I will not let somebody wax victimological around me.

Another highlight lowlight of the PC blog include the post titled Let's Get Modern wherein I uncritically spout Jesus Seminar goofiness.

By this time, I had exhausted any sort of goodwill with anybody who posted there. And, of course, this is quite natural, for the Progressive Christian persona is that of a frothing idiot with real issues and insecurities through which he needs to seriously work.

To try to lure more flies in the flypaper, I tried what even then I knew to be a strategy of desperation: starting a mini-feud between the Pedantic Protestant [he's my hero] and PC. The problem is that this is rather obvious or forward.

(i) Why, out of all the goofball lefty blogs out there, would PP pick on PC's blog as compared to some other blog?

(ii) Hmmmm....anybody notice that the posting times for some PP and PC entries are really close to each other, as if it was one guy going from blog to blog on his break or little 10-minute surfing forays on the internet?

Of course, this assumes that anybody cares. That is a most questionable assumption.

The fact is, a few NTRMin folks did care: a very small thread was devoted to discussing briefly whether PC was a hoax or serious. Good ol' Ken of course by then knows the site is a fraud and a marginal excuse [at best] for somebody's humor.

This thread is ridiculously long, and, so I hope, not too self-congratulatory. But, I must mention [it is MY blog after all] the thread of which I am the proudest for the most idiotic parody-but-it-is-really-true post: My Vagina, Your Vagina. Most everything said in that spoof post [but the play is completely real] comes from (i) what I've seen intellectuals saying about the play, (ii) some flyers at my old university that asked really silly questions about vaginas to "stimulate discussion" regarding the play, and (iii) some far-left literature that I don't have access too presently.

[Editorial: The thing about this sort of stuff is that while sexuality is, like anything else, something that can be used for good and for ill, modern life throws it in your face. Sex is everywhere --- radio, TV, internet. (Let's not discuss the unsolicited copious porno spam that ends up in many an inbox, please.) People are naturally "horny," but now we've made horniness something for scholarly and intellectual discussion. Something that should be kept in the bedroom is now in your face 24/7. This would make a good separate thread someday...]

It was heartbreaking to see that post, which took all of five minutes to type, elicit no comments. That's when I realized that the jig was up. Game over, man.

Another stupid post on organized religion followed, and nobody wanted PC's snake oil. Ken had hit the ol' dusty trail by the 50th invocation of the word logocentrist. Lindsey was reduced to apologetic rubble after I accused her of hate speech. PC, in the end, had no friends to make his blog feel like home; he only had his own self-righteous musings. :-(

Well, with PC at death's door, he may as well go out with a bang. To do this, I came up with a post called The Final Solution where I call for the rounding up of "fundies." Complete parody of the Third Reich [obvious by the title of the thread, methinks]. And, in a most fitting tribute to the Left, I adapt the closing quote of Marx's Communist Manifesto. They make a fitting epitaph to the Progressive Christian, the thinker who described himself as "tolerant, open-minded, and not bound by superstitious things like the Bible."

Oh, one more comment to this even more ridiculously long thread: that Progressive Christian's initials were PC [hahahaha] merely happened to work out as a really-funny-after-the-fact coincidence. I'm not that clever...or, if I am, I'm sure not letting anybody know that I'm really that clever.

Recall this post of mine where I coveted the glory of Rev JJ's hoaxiness [is that a word?] much in the way that I totally coveted my friend's Colecovision back in 1983.

In the end, was it worth doing a hoax blog that lacked much of the punch that, say, the "Reverend James Jackson's" Reformed Catholic Pentacostal [sic] blog [see the sidebar here] had?

Probably not.

Will I do something so silly again?

You never know. If I can take a week off and turn Pedantic Protestant into Pedantic Papist, who knows where the oddball humor will strike next?

Perhaps, [cough cough], there is a blog out there [possibly a Roman Catholic blog] that, despite serious appearances, is a hoax? Wouldn't you all be seeing red at that? [That would be rather cruel if people had spent time responding to it, would it not?]

HAHAHAHAHAHA. Don't take the preceding paragraph seriously, please.

Anyway, have a lovely day, and, yes, I am a thirty-something adult male, contrary to the overwhelming evidence provided by this post! :-)


Blogger lycaphim said...

Haha! You looks like you're the culprit behind the PC site.

God forgive your sins =))

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 2:28:00 AM  
Anonymous lil said...

I thought you might be nearer to my age! And I was just plucking up courage to ask for a date!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 5:57:00 AM  
Anonymous lil said...

That was a joke.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 8:21:00 AM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

Perhaps we should start a "Win a Date with the PP" contest. The problem: is winning losing in that case, or, put another way, is losing winning in that case?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 11:52:00 AM  

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