My Old Kentucky Homesite

Oh, Susannah, Go Ahead and Cry for Me. Yourself, Too.

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 06/03/2010

Last Saturday, I had an email from reader Susannah Roitman. She’s another transplanted New York atheist, now surrounded by Lexingtonian Jesus-jumpers, so we commiserate with one another electronically from time to time.  Susannah said she was sure I’d read the local rag that morning, and she was looking forward to my response.

As it happened, I’d been preparing for out-of-town guests who were scheduled to arrive later that weekend. So, being in kind of a rush to slurp down my Chocolate Cheerios and get to the wine, cheese, and cookie store, I had skipped my daily dose of dumbth. Besides, I already had planned to write a crucially important blog entry about a vocabulary contest. (See previous post.)

But, in deference to my new friend, I did take a quick look at the front page of the Herald-Leader, which immediately revealed what I thought she was talking about. A brightly colored banner boldly proclaimed that the Annual Guide to Vacation Bible School was being featured in the Life + Drivel Section.

However, it turned out that she had something else entirely in mind. On that day’s Opinion Page, every single one of the “Readers’ Views” had been mailed in response to a month-old letter written by an atheist. That letter’s title, obviously assigned by the Editor, reveals its contents: “God Exists? Prove It!”

To tell the truth: I don’t think I’d read that specific letter. If I had, it certainly wasn’t memorable. I tried to find it online, but unfortunately it was no longer available – even though the Op/Ed Powers-That-Be had chosen to run nine refutations, taking up half a page of prime newshole. Still, I can guess, with a high degree of certainty, the kinds of arguments the original letter-writer would have used in his time-wasting effort. (Since his name wasn’t mentioned, let’s just call him Mr. Heathen.)

Obviously, Mr. Heathen had had a terrific idea when he tossed off his note to the newspaper. By dint of his sharp reasoning, his never-heard-before points, and his oh-so-probing questions, he was going to show up the area’s religious nuts for what they were. Hell, his logical debating abilities would probably cause a mass deconversion.

Um, not quite. The responses, in summary, were:

Letter 1: I can’t touch air, either. But it’s there, right?
Letter 2: How can the universe have been created without a creator?
Letter 3: John Wesley once said [a paraphrase of Pascal’s Wager]. He was right. Mr. Heathen stubbornly refuses to consider the evidence, which is why he doesn’t know the “joy of hope for the future.” But there must be a god, because otherwise life is “sterile and meaningless.”
Letter 4: Mr. Heathen has not looked deeply enough inside himself.
Letter 5: Can Mr. Heathen prove that he exists?
Letter 6: Mr. Heathen has to have faith. He’ll remain ignorant of the truth unless he reads the bible.
Letter 7: You can’t see air. But it’s there, right?
Letter 8: You can’t hear, see, or smell gravity. But it’s there, right?
Letter 9: Mr. Heathen is obviously going through “a very tough time” — or he has disdain for all religion. But I kinda agree with his point. Maybe. Sorta.

Brilliant!

Without doubt, most of those responders were graduates of Vacation Bible School. So I turned back to the god-shilling on the Life + Propaganda page, and I learned that: “With its games, songs, snacks, crafts and Bible stories, vacation Bible school is a hallmark of summer for many Kentucky kids.” Good times, eh?

There then followed a listing of approximately eighty brainwashing opportunities. Apparently, quite a few of the programs are offered by more than one church. In case a recalcitrant child fails to be fully immunized from secularism the first time through a “course,” the parents can send him or her back elsewhere for a second mental dunking.

Anyway, here are a few of the interesting subjects available. Unlike the Life + Inanity section, which just listed these in date order (how useless for true believers who know that god is timeless), I’ve organized these by theme. For the most part, I’ve resisted the urge to add humorous comments because — let’s face it — I can’t get any funnier than the names of these classes.

Bible Crap You Need to Know About Egypt

  • Egypt: Joseph’s Journey from Prison to Palace
  • The Egypt File: Decoding the Mysteries of Life
  • Mighty Moses
  • Spend a While on the Nile
    [Note: Your mummy will be proud!]

Adventures in Exotic Christian Lands

  • Baobab Blast: God’s Great Get-Together
  • High Seas Expedition
  • Jungle Journey: Exploring the Nature of God
  • Soul Survivors on Danger Island
  • Lava Lava Island
    [Note: Usually known by its shortened form, La-La Land]

Adventures in Exotic Christian Lands: Kentucky Equine Division

  • Off to the Races: Learning about One of God’s Creatures (and Kentucky’s Favorite) Through Art, Music and Science.
    [Note: This one is full of horseshit. Literally.]

Hey, Guess Who Made Outer Space?

  • Galactic Blast
  • Planet Zoom
    [Note: No need to beam me up, Scottie. Jesus will take care of that in the Rapture.]

Get Up, You Young Lazy Christian Bastards.  There’s Work to Do!

  • Rise and Shine for Jesus
  • Hero Headquarters: Where Kids Join Forces With God
  • Step Up and Go Green for Jesus
    [Note: Children will be taught how to make lime Jell-O molds for church picnics.]

Kickin’ Back With the Big Guy

  • Praise Party
    [Note: Festive hats and horns will be provided, but BYOB. (The last “B” stands for “bible,” of course.)]

Let’s Not Forget to Pander to Minorities

  • Hip-hop Hands of Praise
    [Note: Formerly known, in God’s Glory Days of the Grand Tradition of the South, as “Happy Darkies’ Hands of Praise.”]

Got any more questions, Mr. Heathen?

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5 Responses to “Oh, Susannah, Go Ahead and Cry for Me. Yourself, Too.”

  1. the chaplain said

    I love your thematic organization. Your post brought back lots of memories (mostly boring) of VBSs in my life. I also have some boring (and embarrassing) memories of Sunday School contests that I endured as a kid and organized as an adult (Salvation Army officers were required to run one every year; I don’t think they do that any more). The idea behind a Sunday School contest is to encourage people to bring unchurched (and obviously, by definition, unsaved) people to church and hopefully get them to join up for life. Contests, like VBSs, often had themes. Perhaps most importantly, there were often prizes for the people who brought the most newbies, as well as for the newbies. Ah, the good old American evangelical gospel: there’s nothing like bribery to boost the attendance statistics.

  2. Chappy:
    Your Sunday School contest sounds like a scavenger hunt for a heathen. It reminds me of the great old comedy My Man Godfrey (the 1936 original please), in which a spoiled rich girl needs to find a “forgotten man” to win her game.

    Were you a spoiled rich girl? Did you look anything like Carole Lombard?

  3. Rod said

    Larry,

    Great stuff. Just ran across your site. Keep it up. You may have inspired me to start a blog. You wouldn’t know it from this note, but I can be a bit more…descriptive.

  4. Rod:
    You may have inspired me to start a blog.
    You must have said to yourself: “Well shit, if this jerk can write a blog, so can I.”

    Seriously, the last time somebody dropped me a note like yours, he began writing a blog that’s one of my all-time favorites. I’ve been following it irreligiously for years.

    So if you do join the Atheosphere (or any other region of BlogWorld), send me a link.

  5. Yeah, this jerk has been inspiring people for a long, long time.

    Not to dissuade you Rod, but he just makes it seem easy. It takes a lot of effort to make it seem so effortless.

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