Archive for May, 2010

Update 2 – Jesus Camp Kids, Where Are They Now?

A long time ago I posted a couple of unsatisfyingly vague blog entries on what I could find out about where the kids from the documentary Jesus Camp are today. Based on the amount of people that get here by Googling “Jesus Camp where are they now”, this is something that a lot of you are interested in, including myself.

Personally, I was hoping to find out that the reactions to the movie made them question the beliefs they were brainwashed into. Unfortunately, today I found this video of Levi O’Brien, which shows that the camp leader Becky Fischer’s brainwashing worked, at least in his case.

EDIT: I obviously wasn’t paying close enough attention when I watched the video – this is actually Levi’s brother Luke.

If you don’t remember, Levi is the boy with the rat tail who started preaching at a young age. The video I linked to shows Levi preaching. His preaching style matches that of Becky Fischer in the movie perfectly…it even sounds like he slips into speaking in tongues at one point, though he might be scatting? Can’t be too sure…

It doesn’t say it on the video, but a bit of quick research tells me this was filmed in July, 2009 at the Kingdom of Light Conference, which I believe is put on by Kids in Ministry International. He’s 17 in the video.

In case you can’t watch the video, here’s my transcript. It was hard to hear at parts, so I tried to get it as close as possible to what he actually said:

It says in the Bible “the kingdom of God”, that’s how it starts out, and we know the kingdom of God, “God is light”, so the kingdom of God we could call it the kingdom of light. It says the kindom of light is an ever-increasing kindom.
Right? So you can get the light. You ask Jesus into your heart, you get the light, right? But then, look at this, it’s up to you. It is an ever increasing kindom, but it’s up to you how bright your light is. I want my light to be so bright. You know really I hate this line “this little light of mine”, I hate that line, it’s in Samantha’s song but then she says “it can grow” or something like that so I’m not putting that song down, I love that song, she wrote that song, isn’t that great? I love that song.
But “this little light of mine”, why I hate that song is because we can choose to have a little light. It’s up to us how bright our light shines. So this little light of mine, it’s up to me how bright my light is. I can have a little light if I want to. Just a little light, I can be saved going to heaven, but if I only want a little light you know what? That’s all God will give me. You just want a little light? I’ll give you a little light. But it’s an ever increasing kingdom, which means it never stops how bright your light can get, boys and girls. It never stops how bright your light can get. Which means it can get brighter and brighter and brighter. Just ask, just ask God I want to be brighter today than I’ve ever been before. Ever been before.
You know what lets stand up I’m getting pumped up. I’ll have Emily come play piano. I want to be brighter than I’ve ever been before, right? Isn’t that the way it is? If that’s you just get up here right now. I want to be brighter, I want to be brighter than ever before.
I gave you my light, and I say let me go! I want to be bright! And God I make a statement right now, I won’t turn back, I’ll keep getting brighter! Amen! [theaudience is repeating after him throughout this prayer]
Jesus! Thank you, just praise Jesus right now. We thank you God, we thank you God that you gave us a light, you gave us a bright light. I’m just going to pray, see what God wants us to do right now. Shoobeedoobeedoobeeshweebeedoobee…Jesus! Jesus! You know what? Just keep this in your hearts, keep this in your hearts. And tonight, tonight I believe there’s going to be an explosion tonight. It can be exploding you right now but lets wait until tonight. Keep that in your hearts. I believe God wants us to go out and pray for everybody right now. I guess it’s close to break time it’s like 12:10, but tonight it’s going to explode. We can get brighter and brighter, it’s an ever-increasing kingdom. God bless you guys, thank you.
And guess who walks up on stage at the end? None other than Becky Fischer herself.
I don’t get what he’s trying to say…God is light so the kindom of God is the kingdom of light, but he wants us to try to get a bigger and bigger light so does that mean we’re claiming more and more of God to ourselves? And if a little light will get me into heaven, why be so greedy? Why would I need more? Maybe get a little light and then stop spending time demanding more light from God? And I guess he doesn’t mean literally “light”, but what does he mean? I don’t understand…but making sense and preaching don’t generally go hand in hand.

Grunge Speak – #81 of 100 Top Hoaxes

In the 1990s, grunge was growing in popularity. It was a counter-culture, stripped-down, angsty musical genre out of Seattle that would heavily influence rock music throughout the nineties.

In November 1992, the New York Times printed an article describing how the Seattle grunge scene was developing its own lexicon. Some examples:

  • cob nobbler – loser
  • harsh realm – bummer
  • lamestain – uncool person
  • swingin’ on the flippity-flop – hanging out
  • tom-tom club – uncool outsiders
  • wack slacks – old ripped jeans

A few months later, The Baffler (a Chicago-based magazine), revealed that the lexicon had been a hoax, made up on the spot in an interview with the Times by Megan Jasper. Jasper was a sales rep for Sub Pop records, who fooled the reporter in resistence to grunge becoming more mainstream.

Although the words didn’t catch on, people still used them satirically, to the chagrin of the Times. Some were printed on t-shirts as jokes, and the term “harsh realm” even became the title of a science-fiction series about a group of people caught in a virtual reality world.

See a list of hoaxes counted down so far after the jump. Continue reading ‘Grunge Speak – #81 of 100 Top Hoaxes’

Can There Be a Naturalistic Replacement for the Benefits of Church Membership?

One of the many arguments for religion is that belonging to a church is beneficial (I didn’t say it was a good argument). Being part of a church means having a large support group, having options for family-friendly activities, and being a part of a community that is easily mobilized for volunteer and charity work.

I have lots of good memories from when my family belonged to a church. They had a special family service with great music, and afterwards we would socialize. The church was big enough that my siblings and I would all have people our age to hang out with while the parents chatted. One weekend I took part in the 30-hour famine with the youth group in the church basement, that was a lot of fun and it was the first time I stayed up all night so that was exciting. During “the flood of the century” here in 1997, the church organized a group of us to go out to someone’s farm and sandbag to save their home. I could go on…

Although churches often have a downside (indoctrination, hate-mongering, sexual abuse, etc.), they can be very helpful to people who are looking for a place to socialize, and to find some options for volunteer work in their community. From stories I’ve read on blogs and in books, a lot of people who belong to churches are actually non-believers, but enjoy church and the benefits they get from belonging to one.

Personally, I don’t think I could belong to a church. I sometimes watch TV preachers and I can’t really stomach their messages, which are accepted without criticism from the audience. I also wouldn’t want my money going towards and institution that spreads untruths, or towards charities that may work harder on converting people than on doing actual good.

So for people like me, is there an alternative? Can I get the sense of community and the other benefits that come with church membership without the supernatural overtones? I know there are non-believing groups out there that can replace what people get out of a church without the supernatural overtones. Do you belong to one of these groups? Do you think atheists and skeptics should try to create a naturalistic alternative to church?

It’s Draw Muhammad Day!

Nobody should be threatened with violence or death for drawing a picture. But some Muslims want to use threats to force everyone, including people who don’t share their beliefs, to comply with their doctrine against depicting their prophet Muhammad.

Because some people are currently living in fear of being hurt or killed by extremists for doing nothing more than putting pen to paper, I’m joining in on Draw Muhammad Day. I support this day because (a) it’s fun, (b) it’s peaceful, and (c) I believe that if we’re flooded with images of Muhammad, depicting the prophet will be viewed as less shocking (and eventually banal), and Islamic extremists will have less power over our freedom of expression.

Since I’m terrible at drawing, I pasted together some Google Images and some Word Art. Here’s what I came up with:

In case you don’t recognize the image on Jesus’s shirt, it’s the cartoon (minus the words, which I added in) drawn by Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist who now has to live under constant police protection as a result of drawing it.

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