Sunday, August 26, 2007

Too Cool (but apparently not) for School

Well, thought I'd give you, my faithful readers out there (there is at least seven of you that I know of) the heads up; I'll be moving again this week, this time to return to college. Sadly, there will be I won't be updating as much as I'd like to, but I've got some treats for ya waiting in the wings, and there's still the Samson and Goliath action-figure photoshop internet meme I'm trusting all seven -or, God willing, eight- of you to spread to the vast corners of the internet.

And since it's been a while, a Youtube video to entertain you:

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Battle for the Contents of Evangelical Parents' Wallets

Someone posted about this on Theologyweb, and I think it deserves a mention here:

Instead of Spiderman or Bratz dolls, children in the US could soon be clutching a talking Jesus toy, a bearded Moses or a muscle-bound figure of Goliath.

From the middle of August, Wal-Mart, the biggest toy retailer in the US, will for the first time stock a full line of faith-based toys.

The Bible-based action figures will initially be given two feet of shelf space in 425 of the company's 3,300 stores nationwide.

There, the Tales of Glory dolls will take on what their makers are calling "the battle for the toy box" with some of the nation's most popular action figures.

"The battle for the toy box"? Makes sense. Ever since Skeletor joined forces with Megatron and Cobra-Commander, Kryptonite Batman and Rocket-Blast Spiderman have been having a tough time holding down the fort.

David Socha, founder of One2believe, the company which makes the dolls, is confident the demand is there for "God-honouring" toys which reflect Christian teachings and morality.

"We get a lot of people, even people who are not of faith, don't go to church, saying 'I've got a four and a six-year-old and I don't know what to get them any more'," he said.

"If you go in a toy aisle in any major retailer, you will see toys and dolls that promote and glorify evil, destruction, lying, cheating.

Let's see... Evil...







Check. Yup, that about covers it.

"In the girls' aisle where the dolls would be, you see dolls that are promoting promiscuity to very young girls. Dolls will have very revealing clothes on, G-string underwear."

Uh... David. If you're seeing dolls that have clearly visible G-string underwear, you're probably not in Toy's R' Us anymore.

But yeah, I see Dave's point about girls' dolls. Remember a few years ago when those talking Barbie dolls said "I can't get enough DP" and "I hope the tests comes back negative"? No... wait, that didn't happen. That's a weird thing about guys like David. He looks at dolls like Barbie that promote unhealthy body-images in young girls and empty-headed vacuous consumerism and all he sees wrong with them is "OMG I CAN SEE BELLYBUTTON!".

As for Bratz, the problem I have with people saying that the company that makes those dolls is intentionally trying to sexualize little girls is this: Nobody finds Hydrocephalus sexy. You never see chicks with head like that on magazine covers, you don't hear college frat-guys bragging about boning the chick with the fluid-filled misshapen forehead, You don't hear rappers release hit singles with lyrics like "I like big skulls and I cannot lie/ You other brothers can deny/ See a deformed honey and wanna meet her/ show her my ventricular catheter". That just can't be the case, it had to be accidental.

Toy Company Executive: Ready to show us the new miniature sex-dolls for our adult toy-line, Hojo.
Hojo: Here they are sirs. I call them Skankz.
What the Hell! Hojo, You made the wrong part of them large! Nobody can masturbate to this! We have to change the design before we start production.
Hojo: Uh sir, this is not the prototype. We have three warehouses filled with these dolls.
TCE: WHAT!!! What'll we do with all of those dolls?... I got it! Hojo, have the factory workers sand off the nipples and genitals. We'll change the name and market them as a doll for little girls.
Hojo: Brilliant idea, sir.

And that's how corporate greed works, kids. And to see how it can glorify Christ, just take a look at the one2beleive website:

We are one2believe, designers of Bible-based toys for young children, called Tales of Glory. Beginning this August our Tales of Glory toys will become available at select Wal-Mart stores and other retailers across the country.

This program represents a huge opportunity for the faith community as it is the first time a worldwide retailer has opened-up shelf-space for a strong Bible-based toy product, like Tales of Glory! However, this is only a test-run. In fact, Wal-Mart will only have Tales of Glory in about 425 stores and only for a limited time (August through January). They have temporarily made the product available, and are waiting to see the response from their consumers. The success of this program is up to us… we need to take advantage of this amazing opportunity!

This is a chance to let our voices be heard. By supporting this program we can send a message to other retailers and toy makers letting them know that we, as a Christian community, are truly concerned about the toys that our children play with! We are aware of the influence that toys have on our young children’s impressionable minds, so we would like to see more God-honoring options available. It’s a “Battle for the Toy Box”!

"This is a chance to let our voices be heard. By supporting this program we can send a message to other retailers and toy makers letting them know that we, as a Christian community, have an unrealistic fear that letting our kids play with Pokemon and Polly Pocket will eventually result in them offering oral-sex behind the dumpster of a 7-11 in exchange for crack-money, so we passively acknowledge that we as Christian parents suck horribly at instilling our values in our children and are desperate enough to try anything- no matter how ridiculous and/or counter-productive it may be- to amend that."

When a secular toy company wants people to buy their products, they put an ad on TV that shows kids how cool the toys are. The kids then beg their parents to buy the toys and the toys get sold. One2beleive can't do this for one simple reason: Their toys suck so bad that no child would ever ask their parents for one. So they innovate in their advertising strategy and play to the basic human instinct of parental fear. Yes, these guys are actually using scare-tactics to sell action-figures. I don't think even the company that made The Incredible Crash-Test Dummies did that. How long will it be until we hear about the "G.I. Joe-agenda" from these guys?

Boy, evangelicals sure love their "Culture War" with its various "battles", don't they. There's Battle Cry, Every Man's Battle, and now "The Battle for the Toy box". The only things that want to fight as much as Evangelicals want to are male elk in mating season. Wait, I think I just found out what's wrong with the Church today: It desperately needs to get laid.

And the toys. Oh those wonderful, wonderful toys. First of all, the P31 dolls:

P31 are a new exclusive collection of high-quality dolls, based on the biblical teaching of Proverbs 31. P31 dolls were specifically designed to provide a Bible-based, Christian alternative to other secular toys on the market, and to encourage young girls to pursue biblical womanhood.

For those of you who don't know. the latter verses of Proverbs 31 contain an old Hebrew acrostic poem of "The Wife of Noble Character" which describes a woman who the author envisions as the ideal wife. Let's look at one of dolls, shall we:

Abigail stands 18 inches tall, has beautiful brown eyes, long red hair, and a contemporary outfit. Abigail comes with an accessory kit, containing a Bible lesson (based on Proverbs 31:20), two cookie-cutters, a cookie recipe, and a list of exciting activities. The activities are sure to be tons of fun for any young girl! It is our prayer that the Lord would use these dolls as a means to encourage the girls of today to become Proverbs 31 women of tomorrow! For ages 3+

Dear God! Those dark, soulless eyes! It has taken the form of a human in order to deceive us. We must kill it quickly.

Bratz dolls have misshapen heads and give off a creepy "child prostitute"-vibe. P31 dolls, on the other hand, have misshapen heads and give off a creepy "corn-cult compound child-bride of the damned"-vibe. If these dolls are based off of a poem describing an ideal wife, why are the dolls crafted to resemble pre-pubescent children? I mean, it's not like you have to give them a rack or anything, just change the face a bit, make the head smaller, and proportion the arms and legs to the torso a bit differently. Proverbs may not contain a poem describing a husband of noble character, but if it did, I doubt it would contain the phrase "raging pederast". Seriously, I know people married a lot younger back in ancient Israel, but they at least waited until the girl was able to freaking menstruate.

You may be asking "Hey Cynic, how much do these dolls cost?" Well, brothers and sisters, I shit thee not, you can receive on of these little cherubs for the incredibly low price of $39.99 American. Now at first the price may seem to high for something originally purchased from a K-mart bargain-bin for $3.20 and then re-dressed in something made by a retired Sunday-school teacher, but keep in mind that this doll may be the one thing in your daughters life that will keep her from ending up with a career that involves the use of a transparent high-heels and a metal pole. But then again, you can always try out the more affordable (at $19.99 a pop) Messengers of Faith:

A long time ago, God sent His only Son, Jesus, from heaven to Earth. He was born to a woman named Mary and a man named Joseph. His earthly parents raised Jesus until He became a man. Then, He left them to travel all around the land. He helped lots of people by teaching them, healing them and performing many miracles! (New Testament Gospels)

Now children can learn more about Jesus’ incredible Tale of Glory while they play! Jesus narrates his own biography, and also quotes key memory verses from the Bible, including Mark 12:30, Mark 12:31 and John 3:16. Our unique start/stop function allows children to pause and restart the story at any point.
I remember when I was little and attending Sunday school the teacher has a Jesus doll a lot like this on that she would use to act out stories from the New Testament. Of course, back then they just had the Jesus doll, so our Sunday school teacher had to be creative; She used an old X-men Cyclops as St Peter, Rainbow Brite as Mary Magdalene, Starscream the Decepticon as Judas Iscariot, and one of those Jurassic Park velociraptors that screech when you move their legs as St John, the Apostle of love. Man, that was one hell of an Passion play.

Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of God’s Son. One day, an angel appeared and told her that she was going to have a baby named Jesus. Mary and her husband were very excited! Mary finally gave birth to baby Jesus in a town called Bethlehem. She raised baby Jesus until He grew to be a man, and she loved Him very much. (Matthew 1:18-25, 2:13-15, 20-23; Luke 1:26-66, 2:1-52; John 2:1-10)
This doll raises one nagging question in my mind: How come in a lot of contemporary church art is Jesus often depicted wearing his mother's clothing?

Esther was a Jewish orphan. She was raised by her older cousin. He loved her and cared for her until she was all grown up. Then, the King of the land began to look for a beautiful Queen. He looked far and wide, but he could not find anyone who made him happy. Then, he saw Esther. As soon as he met her, the search was over! He had found his beautiful Queen at last. But the story does not end there. Someone came up with an evil plan to destroy all of the Jewish people. But Esther decided to be brave and try to save the Jewish people from destruction. (Esther 1-9)

The great thing about this doll is how empowering it is to young women. By using this teaching aid in Sunday school little girls can learn that, like Esther, they too can be used by God to make the world a better place by sleeping with a rich and powerful man.

Looking at the doll itself, with a chin like that, maybe Xerxes should have removed that freakishly large scarf and checked for an Adam's apple before declaring her his bride.

Paul used to be known as Saul of Tarsus. When he was younger, he did not believe in Jesus. In fact, he would persecute people who worshiped Jesus.

One day, he was on his way to a town called Damascus to arrest some Christians, when something amazing happened! Suddenly, a bright light from heaven flashed all around him. Saul did not know what to do. He was so terrified that he fell to the ground trembling. Then, he heard a thunderous voice saying, “Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?” Saul was terribly afraid and confused. He did not know who was speaking to him, so he asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.”

From that point on, Saul believed in Jesus and became a Christian. He stopped persecuting people, and began preaching to them instead. He traveled all over the land starting new churches and encouraging other Christians. His name later changed from Saul to Paul and he became a great missionary!
This one talks. Just press a button on the back to hear the following:
  • "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?" Romans 8:35
  • "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1 Timothy 6:10
  • "I'm not even supposed to be here today!" Clerks 3:16
If these guys put out a Barnabas figure that looks like Randall Graves, I am so going to buy them both.

And now, the Tales of Glory figurine set:

David was a man after God’s own heart. He did not fear anything because he trusted God to always protect him. Even when the giant soldier, Goliath, wanted to fight, David trusted God to keep him safe! (1 Samuel 17)

Children can make this story come to life with our interactive “David” play set, featuring everything you need to help your child learn about this fascinating Tale of Glory. Set includes a “David and Goliath” mini-storybook and 3 PVC figurines (David, Goliath and a collection of 5 smooth stones). For ages 3+.
Goliath: Ugh! What is that?
David: I'd say it's a pile camel-droppings, but the coloring is all off.
Goliath: I dare you to touch it.
David: Eww! You touch it.
Goliath: No, you touch it.
David: Poke it with your sword.
Goliath: Screw you, David. I don't wanna get weird-colored camel-turd on my sword. Do you know how expensive this is?

A long time ago, the Son of God was sent to Earth to be born as a tiny baby named Jesus. It was a very exciting time! (Matthew 1:18-25; 2:1-2:23; Luke 2:1-39)
Jesus: What, me worry?

There is no way that woman just gave birth. That Mary up there just spent more time in a tanning bed than in labor for crying out loud. What is it with the Nativity-scenes and a calm, smiling Virgin Mary? I swear, one Christmas I'm going to build a Nativity-scene that actually depicts Mary giving birth; legs spread apart, her nails digging into Joseph's arm like eagle's talons into a heavy bass, and a bared-teeth grimace that makes Venom look like Jack Nicholson brushing his teeth. And crowning, there will be crowning. Silent night my ass!

Fun Fact: In the early days of the Church there was a gnostic cult that believed Christ's mother to be divine. The followers of this sect distinguished themselves by mimicking her appearance. Persecution from the Roman Catholic Church drove this sect into to the east, where they settled in Japan and started the Ganguro fashion trend.

Noah was the only good and honest man on the Earth. Everyone else was so bad that God decided to send a great flood to cover all of the Earth. But God remembered Noah. God saved Noah and his family from the great flood by giving him a very special assignment! (Genesis 6-9)
Now, it's been a long time since I last attended Sunday-school, but I just don't remember that the "very special assignment" God gave Noah was to feed donkeys cocaine.

And there's more:

I don't trust that camel on the left. Camels are not supposed to smile like that. That camel has things planned. Dark, sinister things. Sins against God and nature.

Rest easy, Young-Earth Creationists. If an evolutionist gives you the old anti-global flood argument of "how could Noah take care of all the animals on the Ark?" just tell him that all Noah had to contend with were two camels, two sheep, and a pair of coked-up donkeys.

Samson was the strongest man to ever live! He loved a woman named Delilah, and he was used by God to do some really amazing things. (Judges 13-16)

Children can make this story come to life with our interactive “Samson” play set, featuring everything you need to help your child learn about this fascinating Tale of Glory. Set includes a “Samson, The Strongest Man to Ever Live” mini-storybook and 3 PVC figurines (Samson, Delilah and a column). For ages 3+.
For someone who was forbidden to have a razor touch his head, Samson sure is displaying a surprising lack of facial-hair. And this children's toy-set for kids three and up not only comes with a Samson figurine but also what appears to be a young Mrs. Claus. It doesn't really say who exactly this woman is though, so I'll have to guess she's either Delilah or the prostitute Samson banged before meeting her.

Seriously though, I understand Jonah and maybe David and Goliath, but Samson? David Socha complains about secular toys that "promote" sex and violence and yet he puts out a toy of an antihero that puts Wolverine to shame. Samson dicked his girlfriend's family around with an riddle before killing them, destroyed their fields, and made most of his decisions using the wrong head. Yeah, his actions did catch-up with him, but then he redeems himself by killing even more people. A reeaaal great role-model for the kids, eh? Heroes of the Bible.

Speaking of which, since they already have figurines for one of the stories from Judges (which is basically the "Frank Miller" book of the Bible), why not shoot for another? I recommend a "Rape of the Levite's Concubine" playset. You could press a button on the back of the Concubine doll and her head, legs, and arms pop right off.

Which leads us to this:

With Tales of Glory Spirit Warrior Action Figures children can bring the greatest stories of the Bible to life. Each 13” action figure comes with a mini-storybook. Spirit Warriors are big tough toys that boys will love to play with. Add a Tales of Glory Play-mat to Spirit Warrior action figures and watch your child’s imagination soar.
Here we see a different Samson toy (on the left), this time with a beard, yet surprisingly short hair (this probably explains why Goliath appears to be having his way with him). This gives me an idea (no, not that you pervs). To all the other bloggers gifted with the "mad photoshop skills", I suggest we start a photoshop Samson and Goliath internet meme. You can find photos to start with from here, here, here, and here. And since I suggested it, I'd better start things off:

Post your 'shops on your blog and drop me a link in the "comments" section. Have fun. ;)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

EMB: Ladies Man

Every Man's Battle: pt 1, ch 1, pg 14; ch2, pg 15-16

Fred Stoker goes on to describe descent into his "sexual pit", describing his intense, life-destroying pornography-addiction thusly:

I actually memorized the dates when my favorite soft-core porn magazines arrived at the local drugstore.

Wow! he makes his pornography-addiction sound almost as bad as my addiction to LittleKuriboh's YuGiOh Abridged series on Youtube.

Moving on. Fred goes into one of spiels about how in his early days the ladies were, as Strongbad would say, "all up ons" him (but of course, he is only telling us this to warn us of the dangers of teh sex), describing how when he first had sex it was with a woman he thought he would marry, and from there he turned into a man-whore (not the kind that writes poorly researched yet well-marketed books dealing with serious relationship issues that are loaded with empty anecdotal filler and decontextualized Bible-verses. That came later).

You know how in my last entry in this series I mentioned how I pitied Fred Stoeker. Well, if you are anything like me, and happen to be reading Every Man's Battle like I did, you will start off the book with a sense pity for Freddy and what he has gone through growing up with with a verbally-abusive father who abandoned his mom. But as you turn the pages, the pity will eventually be drowned out by slowly yet steadily growing dislike of him as a person.

After five years in California I found myself with four "steady" girlfriends simultaneously. I was sleeping with three of them and was essentially engaged to marry two of them. None knew the others. (These days, in my class for premarital couples, I often ask the women what they would think of a man with two fiancées . My favorite response is "He's a hopless pig!" And I was hopeless, living in a pigsty.)

Don't you just hate it when you find yourself with multiple girlfriends. You think that your "one" girlfriend either has multiple personality disorder or simply has some kind of kink where she likes to disguise herself in one of several alter-egos when she's with you. And then BAM! You spot both "Charlene" and "Sandra" at the same grocery store. It's not like anyone actively tries to obtain multiple girlfriends through deception. I mean just look his face, with looks like that he can just sit there and passively accumulate girlfriends (chicks really dig the "potato with Downs-syndrome" look).

So at the beginning of the second chapter we see Fred Stoeker, like all evangelicals that have been "delivered" and have founded their own ministries with websites that have photos of them smiling while wearing neckties with their wives standing behind them (in Fred's case, a victim from when the Joker poisoned the water-supply of the town of Stepford), has filled out his obligatory "Personal-Testimony" Mad Lib sheet:
Despite the deepening pit I occupied in my single days, I didn't notice anything wrong with my life. Oh, sure, I attended church sporadically, and from time to time the pastor's words penetrated my heart. But who was he? Besides, I loved my girlfriends. No one's getting hurt, I reasoned.

"I loved my girlfriends"? Yup, loved them enough to go behind their backs on each other. Good thing that at the part where he has his encounter with Jesus the Freshmaker he'll tell us of his realization of how badly he hurt those women.

My dad had eventually remarried, and when I visited back home in Iowa, my stepmother occasionally dragged me across the river to the Moline Gospel Temple. The Gospel was clearly preached, but to me the whole scene was clearly ludicrous. I often laughed cynically. Those people are crazy!

"The Gospel was clearly preached" you know, the one where Jesus died on the cross to give us "stop masturbating"-powers so we can finally be good enough for God to accept us. Oh well, at least his being "born-again" will cause him to realize how his deception and manipulation hurt those women.

And let's just fast forward to the office-sunset, just in time for the money-shot:

That evening as the sun dipped beneath the horizon, I suddenly saw in full clarity what I had become. What I saw was hopelessly ugly. Where once I was blind, now I could see. Instantly, I saw my deep, deep need for a Savior. Because of the Moline Gospel Temple, I knew who to call upon.

My prayer that day was born out of the simplicity of a certain heart: "Lord, I'm ready to work with you if You're ready to work with me."

I stood up and walked out that office, not yet fully realizing what I'd just done. But God knew, and it seemed as if all heaven moved into my life. Within two weeks I had a job back in Iowa and a new life ahead of me. And no girlfriends!

Wait a minute! The guy goes through four very messy break-ups involving lies and betrayal he calls that "all heaven" moving into his life?

Wait! Umm... I have a feeling something is supposed to happen here but I can't figure out what... Oh well. At least he put in that important part of how he was finally rid of those contaminating harlots.

In EMB, Fred doesn't really tell us that much about these four femmes from his B.C. days in California (although he doesn't really shut-up about the others), but Preparing Your Son for Every Man's Battle contains a a mentions of one of them that he maintained a long-distance relationship with (she in California and he in Idaho) after he had become a Christian. On page 224-225 in chapter 17 in the "For Son and Dad" section Fred says that he "heard the pastor say that Christians shouldn't be unequally yoked with unbelievers" (the pastor was probably alluding to 2 Cor. 6:14-16 which, according to L.W. Countryman in Dirt, Greed, and Sex, had little if anything at all to do with intermarriage* and is most likely an "exhortation to the Corinthians to withdraw from rival teachers, for it is preceded and followed by appeals to 'make room for' Paul in their affections (6:11-13; 7:2)") and writes:

If two different animals were yolked together to pull the plow, such as a donkey and an ox, you'd have your hands full trying to work that plow. The yoke would weigh heavy on one animal while choking the other, or the animal with the longer stride would drag the other painfully by the neck. This is a great word picture of what it would be like if you got romantically involved with a young girl who doesn't believe in God. You'd be working against each other instead of for each other. Believe me, in your desire to stay sexually pure, you want to be associating with someone who's on the same spiritual level as you.
(Emphasis mine).

Wow. Too bad that
2 Cor. 6:14-16 doesn't refer to marriage* and the term "unequally yoked" was a metaphor in the Old Testament referring to the cross-breeding of two different species of animals to produce mules, and Paul was using the metaphor of "uncleanliness" to refer to false teachers.

He then tells us that after uncritically swallowing what was spewed to him that Sunday, he called up "this young woman", as Fred refers to her, and they cut a deal. She would read the Bible for one month and if she did not have a Freshmaking encounter with Jesus Christ and accept him as her PLAS, she would be rewarded by not having a relationship with Fred Stoeker.

"Okay, I'll read my Bible for thirty days, and we'll see," she promised. A month later, I heard from her, right on cue. "I've done what I promised, she said. "But I can't buy into this stuff at all."

"I'm sorry to hear that," I responded. Then I quietly suggested that we should go separate ways.

Thank God she was able to dodge that bullet. Normally I'm not for the decontextualization of Bible passages (it tends to lead to things like teenage girls being burned alive, pointless wars being fought in the middle-east, and Christian bestsellers being published) but here it actually did some good. It would've been pretty horrible if "this young woman" ended up "unequally yoked" with Fred Stoker, a Christian at the "spiritual level" of "self-loathing yet pompous enough to look down one's nose at unbelievers and fellow Christians that don't share in one's purity code".

And for entertainment purposes, some more tidbits of "Stoeker's Girls" from Preparing Your Son

Page 28:

If you read Every Man's Battle, then you probably remember all those stories I told you about my sexual sins. Brian knows the names of nearly every girl in every story. Then again, I know how the term "Mack Truck" applies to a girl he once knew. He knows which girl of mine we affectionately dubbed Woodhead. If he was making out in the front seat of the drive-in, he was in the backseat doing the same.

"Mack Truck"? "Woodhead"? Did this guy date women or Autobots?


If you remember from Every Man's Battle, it would be two years and one wedding later before God dealt with those simmering feelings I had for Polly. But that story Dad shared rooted deeply in me, and it was a great encouragement to me as I struggled to crucify my memories of Polly a few years later.

(Emphasis mine).

I seriously hope that this is an instance of "Christianese-gone-horribly-wrong" and he means something along the lines of "put the past behind me." Seriously, some of this shit is scary.
It also seems odd how his "crucified" memories of ex-girlfriends seem to pull a Jesus whenever he writes a book.

And to top things off, a very special booty-call he made,
shortly after his conversion, to an old high-school flame named Janet (page 194):

I soon tracked her down and -what luck! She was single and living in Omaha. I called her, and after some cheerful banter, she invited me to meet her at her favorite dance-bar. Need I say more? After closing time, we found ourselves alone in her apartment.

"Found" again? First accidental polygyny, now random teleportation?

One thing led to another, and we slipped out of our clothes into her bed. We began kissing, but a strange thing happened: I couldn't get an erection! That had never happened before, deeply humiliated, my head spinning, I slunk out to the parking lot and slumped into my car.

Then I clearly heard the Spirit whisper into my heart, "By the way, I did that to you. I know it hurt you, but this practice can't be tolerated anymore in your life. You are Christ's now, and he loves you."

Although I believe that Fred Stoeker should not be writing books on sexual and relational health, I do believe a complete autobiography of him would be rather interesting read. He could call it Too Much Information: The Fred Stoeker Story.

PYSFEMB has got some pretty hilarious stuff in it. I recommend you check it out, but not buy the book as not to provide these guys with financial support. What I recommend doing is search the newspaper for headlines that read something like "Adolescent boy uses
rusty scissors to hack off own penis" then try to contact the father of the boy mentioned in the article. Chances are he'll have of copy of either Preparing Your Son or Every Young Man's Battle or Every Young Man's Battle that you can borrow.

Now, I don't believe in "grading" personal testimonies, but here's my beef with what Fred wrote, and the role the Personal Testimony plays within modern Evangelicalism as well:

Fred Stoeker seems to model (whether intentionally or not) his testimony after those of recovering alcoholics/drug-addicts. The problem with this is that someone's daughter is put on the level of a bottle of vodka; someone's sister becomes a rusty crack-pipe, and Fred, like the new, regenerated man that he is, thanks God that he was able to leave those horrid things that ruined his life in the gutter he rose from.

My other problem lies in the notion of the "personal testimony" itself. First of all, all movements/ideologies/religions have "Personal Testimonies", so most of the time it's not a very good way to present a case either for or against something (I wonder how Fred Stoeker and twice-divorced Steve Arterburn would react if they met some couples that credited their long and happy marriages to
things like swinging and porn).

More often than we like to admit, "Personal Testimonies" are often nothing more than our own narcissism impersonating piety. "I used to be a horrible person like you are, but if you accept Jesus as your Personal Lord and Savior he will change you into a wonderful person like I am now".
I myself prefer to wear my narcissism on the outside, and that makes me better than you. ;)

As I have noted earlier in this entry, despite Fred's constant self-loathing he has a ridiculously high opinion of himself. For crying out loud, the man thinks he's so virile that it can only be due to being smote by the Hand of the Almighty that the Mighty Staff of Stoeker be rendered powerless (even though it is a rather common condition among men and is even brought on by psychological factors such as depression, guilt, stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem - some things I bet Freddie here had in spades during this sexual-encounter following his recently becoming "born-again").

And finally, this: Despite openly admitting
in the introduction to his first book (EMB) that he has no qualifications in any fields relevant to the subjects his books deal with, Fred Stoeker, according to the back-cover of PYSFEMB, "has counseled hundreds of men and married couples". People actually listen to this man's scare-tactics ("When we look at women without clothes on, there is a chemical reaction that happens in our brains that is much like the reaction the brain has to taking cocaine.**" PYSFEMB pg162) and even bad theology ("God, through Jesus Christ, fulfilled his responsibility to help us with our sexual purity at Calvary." PYSFEMB pg179) and these people barely raise an eyebrow. Why, because by blathering on and on about past instances while using the proper Christianese lingo, Fred Stoeker "Brings Glory to God" through his ministry of misinformation and fear. "God is glorified" by Fred Stoeker being a narcissistic douche doing a half-assed job at writing books that people are depending on to save their marriages.

Glory to God in the fucking highest!

*Paul's treatment of intermarriage of the New Testament dealing with intermarriage with non-Christians is found 1 Corinthians 7. The relevant passages are highlighted:

12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

17Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts. 20Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. 21Were you a slave when you were called? Don't let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord's freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ's slave. 23You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.

25Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. 26Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are. 27Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. 28But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.


39A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. 40In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

According to Dirt, Greed, and Sex, marriages were pre-arranged by families back then; they didn't have our concept of "dating", where you would move on from one "step" in a relationship to another. The crux of the matter here is that Paul's goal for the Corinthians is to keep the distinctiveness of the Christian community, yet Paul also has a rather significant concern that those already married stay with their unbelieving spouses as to maintain a good reputation among pagans. Countryman interprets this passage to our culture in such a way as to allow Christians that are already involved in serious relationships with unbelievers to remain in them (except in cases of abuse and other such factors) as this would fulfill the principle Paul was going for (not to mention Paul's "stay as you are"). Simply to dump him/her giving no other reason than "I met a man from Galilee" will have pretty much the same effect Paul was trying to get that church to avoid. And BTW: Flirt to convert doesn't work.

**I take it both cocaine and "hot nekkid chicks" both cause the brain to produce endorphins***, but then again, so do chocolate and mountain biking. The way Fred phrases it (in the context of a conversation about pornography he had with his son) he makes it sound like porn will make you think that there are bugs under your skin. Speaking of which, if looking at naked women has a coke-like effect on the brain, how can he have sex with his own wife without being subject to these toxic effects?
His wife is a woman, right?

EDIT: Sept 26, 2007

***My bad. Dopamine is the neurochemical involved in the reward system of the brain. This does reinforces behavior and plays a part in addiction, but keep in mind that not all reinforced behavior caused by dopamine reactions is a harmful addiction. Keep in mind that sex is a drive. I'm not saying that sex-addiction does not exist, but keep in mind that if you ejaculate while conscious outside of marital intercourse, Fred Stoker believes you have a serious problem and Steve Arterburn can hook you up with a "Professional Masturbation Counselor".