Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hucksters for Christ

I've been neglecting my blog this week, but for a good reason – my book, The Religion Virus, was taken on by a publisher! It's very exciting, but now I have lots of work to do. Like getting back to this blog, and what better than a vigorous debate among friends?

Hemant Mehta poses a classic dilemma in ethics over at his blog, The Friendly Atheist: If you could make money by tricking Christians into buying fake Christian stuff, but then donated the proceeds to a charity (one that even Christians would approve), would you do it? Vjack gives a good summary of the ethical choices on his blog, Atheist Revolution.

I found this fascinating because I encountered something similar in real life, bit of a tangent to Hemant's dilemma: They just take the money and run. In this case, it's a Christian book publisher.

A high-school friend of my wife is a very born-again Christian, completely committed to Christ in every way. Even her casual correspondence with my wife (who the friend knows is Jewish) seems to contain a reference to Jesus in every other sentence. Jesus seems to guide her and shape her life on a daily and hourly basis.

This friend decided to write a children's book, a quasi-parable or something, about Jesus. The one-sentence description was enough to ensure that I never read the book. But back to my point: Not surprisingly, she couldn't get a mainstream publisher, so turned to "POD" (publish-on-demand) publishers, which typically charge the author anywhere from $200 to $800 to have the book printed. But this friend found a Christian POD company, one that appealed to both the author's Christianity and to the author's vanity.

The price? $5000! More than ten times the average for POD. Moreover, this Christian company led her to believe that they'd get her into bookstores, on Amazon, with book signings at stores, and big sales and profits. This is completely bogus; not even traditional publishers promise this, and no POD company can guarantee this sort of reception for an author.

"But wait!" you might say. "Maybe the book was really good!" So my wife decided to check this company out. She sent them this ridiculous email:
[My book] is a unique blend of science fiction with spirituality. It is about a group of humanoid aliens (called Godonauts) from another solar system who arrive on earth to bring the word of Christ the Savior. They reveal that Christ has spent the last two thousand years spreading his divine word to other planets and other solar systems. Their civilization is more evolved because everyone is united in their pure love and conviction in Christ the Lord. There is no war, no hatred, no poverty, and no sin.

At first they are not believed. Looking just like humans, no one even believes they are even alien. But they demonstrate their unique affinity with Christ by recreating his miracles - walking on water, turning water to wine, etc. They are invited to appear on a competitive reality show about magicians, and it is on live national TV that they finally perform a miracle so huge, that the hearts of everyone on earth open to receive the pure cleansing love of Christ. I do not want to reveal the full details of the miracle, except that it involves Jesus making a special appearance singing 'Amazing Grace'. Around the world soldiers lay down their arms and embrace their enemies. World leaders deactivate their hidden nuclear weapons. Mass baptisms take place in every country and nation, and it seems as though Christ's mission is finally achieved.

But ... peace and salvation do not last for long, as Satan's Warriors have been stockpiling nuclear weapons on another nearby planet called Zolton. When the Zoltonites discover that the Godonauts have erased all sin from earth, they resort to their most drastic and devastating tactic - to resurrect Eve via a unique DNA cloning technique, and to send her to earth with a deadly Apple of Temptation that will not only bring about the total downfall of all mankind, but will ruin everyone's chances of salvation and an afterlife.

In the exciting climax, Jesus pilots a fighter space jet and with the help of a small cache of true-hearted Christians, meets the Zoltonites head on. Hasta la Vista, Zoltonites.

The novel is 800 pages, and I have been told by my mother, pastor, and creative writing teacher at Divine Purity College that it is quite good. I am currently working on the screenplay adaptation. I envision Harrison Ford playing Jesus, Madonna playing Cloned Eve, and Mel Gibson playing the leader of the Godonauts.

It is only through my belief in Jesus our Lord and Savior that I was able to write and complete this book. I belief it has the potential to both inspire and entertain. Thank you for your consideration.
Guess what? In spite of the fact that this was comical on the face of it, and plainly not a book that would sell, this "Christian" publisher's rep wrote back to express their interest in this project. Their main concerns?
  • The book was "too long" at 800 pages (Duh!), and had to be edited down to 600 pages (or possibly split into 2-3 volumes)
  • The Zolton's evil plan to "ruin everyone's chances at salvation" was contrary to the publisher's statement of belief.
Note that there was nothing in there like, "This sounds like a pile of crap," or, "Are you nuts?"

So, to get to the point of this long blog... While Atheists are arguing about an interesting moral dilemma, "Is it OK to cheat religious people in a good cause," there are plenty of people out there willing to cheat Christians, apparently including other Christians, who don't even feel the need for a good cause. They're happy to just take their money. Sadly, my wife's Christian friend fell for it, largely due to the publisher's purported Christian mission.


  1. The plot reminded me of Hubbards 'Battlefield Earth'!

    As for the ethical argument, well...I personally wouldn't take the money even if it was for a cause I believed in.

    I know its not going to set the world alight, but I think consent is a really important concept.


Dear readers -- I am no longer blogging and after leaving these blogs open for two years have finally stopped accepting comments due to spammers. Thanks for your interest. If you'd like to write to me, click on the "Contact" link at the top. Thanks! -- CJ.

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