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May 07 2008

Email from Chuck Colson’s group

An emailer named Mike, who bears the superfluously fancy title of “Consumer Engagement Manager, Internet Marketing and Social Networks,” privately emailed the following to me:


Hi Russell -

I came across your blog at http://atheistexperience.blogspot.com/ and am writing with a unique opportunity for you. Chuck Colson, former Counsel to President Richard Nixon, who converted to Christianity before spending time in prison on a Watergate-related charge, has written a new book called The Faith: What Christians Believe, Why They Believe It, and Why It Matters. Chuck is the founder of Prison Fellowship. His radio broadcast, BreakPoint, airs daily to five million listeners. In the last thirty-three years, Colson has visited more than 600 prisons in forty countries and, with the help of nearly 50,000 volunteers, has built Prison Fellowship into the world’s largest prison outreach. You can learn more information about Chuck’s new book at www.Zondervan.com/TheFaith.

The reason I am writing is that Chuck wants to have a friendly dialogue with a few atheist bloggers about his book. We’d like to invite you to be one of the bloggers.

This is a unique opportunity in that you’ll be able to dialogue directly with Chuck Colson about his book The Faith and Christianity. (Well, he has asked that the dialogue flow through me, but Chuck personally will be replying in person to all the dialogue.) Zondervan will periodically promote this dialogue on our blog, so this should generate more traffic to your blog. Also, this will be an opportunity for your blog readers to react to your dialogue with Chuck.

Let me know if you are interested? If so, I will mail you a free copy of Chuck Colson’s The Faith. We’d like to try to have this dialogue sometime in June, so we’d give you a couple of weeks to read the book and generate a few questions for Chuck. I’ll then get those questions to Chuck and his reply back to you. You’re welcome to then post the dialogue up on your blog, and respond with some counter-points or questions too if you’d like, which I’d again get to Chuck. I don’t know for sure how much back and forth Chuck will want to do, but I know he’s up for at least one round and my hunch is he’d be up for a few rounds of dialogue. An important point though is Chuck would like to keep the dialogue friendly & civil. Fair enough?

If interested, please send me a mailing address and I’ll get you a copy of Chuck’s book. Let me know if you have any questions on this. Thanks for considering this unique opportunity!

Chuck strikes me as a tad bit full of himself and the tremendous significance of this out of all other apologetics books. I went ahead and gave him my address, saying I wouldn’t mind looking it over but I don’t promise to drop everything and read it by a suitable deadline. I also notified Martin and Matt.

Mike touts that this will be swell publicity for this blog. Shrug. It is certainly publicity of a sort, but the result is that we will probably be flooded in the short term by Christian trolls.

On the other hand, eyeballs are eyeballs, and Chuck certainly has an audience. If we’re not bothered by exposing ourselves to phone-in trolls on cable access TV, it’s not necessarily terrible to have a few hundred thousand Christians hear about atheism from an atheist for a change, instead of from Chuck Colson.

I don’t doubt that if Chuck reposts our conversation, he could very well (a) whack the content with an editor stick, (b) fail to link the response at any time, and (c) cherry pick responses to prove that atheists are rude and “angry.” (Given the nature of blog comments, I’m sure he’ll be provided with ample material, as will we on the other side.) But still, it might be an entertaining exercise, and wouldn’t be the first time I’ve read apologetics in order to form a proper critique.

13 comments

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  1. 1
    Martin

    I was kind of amused by this little rider when I got the email:I don’t know for sure how much back and forth Chuck will want to do, but I know he’s up for at least one round and my hunch is he’d be up for a few rounds of dialogue.Does this mean he’s leaving himself an out, in case the questions he gets from atheists are too uncompromising or (in his opinion) rude, or what? In any case, I wrote this fellow back myself and said I’d be happy to check out the book as well (though I can’t commit to any sort of deadline) if he sent me a review copy.Yes of course, this feels like clever marketing, not much more. Not really an “opportunity” for us, but more a way to promote the idea that Chuck is taking on the “new atheists” on their own turf, perhaps, and generate some sales that way. The emphasis on “let’s keep it civil” kind of leads me to think their hope is the book will really rub atheists the wrong way and get a few of us het up, allowing them to declare that Colson’s new book really has the atheists fuming!Really, I have no idea, and it’s all too easy to attribute shady ulterior motives to this crowd(I wonder why…). Colson is one of Christianity’s apologists whose work I’m not acquainted with; I only know him as the ex-Watergate dude. So really, all that’s left is to see if in fact I get sent the book, and if there’s anything in it at all worth commenting about. If there is, I will. And I am the very soul of civility!Usually I find I have nothing to say about books written by Christians for Christians. Unless they expressly make a “case for Christ,” as it were, there’s not much there for an unbeliever to find interesting, let alone fuel an in-depth discussion.

  2. 2
    Kazim

    Well, he has a prison ministry, as Mike mentioned, which means that asking about the high recidivism rate might be a good start.Colson periodically shows up with little five-minute prerecorded vignettes on Christian stations (KIXL 93.3 carries him in Austin). They are usually the sort of thing where he decries the moral culture in this country, blaming all the world’s ills on liberals, post-modern relativism, and eviloution in the schools. You know.You can get a taste from here, if you’re interested.Reading them to yourself won’t quite give the full picture, so you can listen to the most recent audio here.

  3. 3
    Rational Jen

    For additional perspective on Chuck Colson and those like him, I recommend John Dean’s Conservatives Without Conscience. Great insight into conservative, religious, authoritarian personalities.

  4. 4
    markiemark3030

    “Well, he has asked that the dialogue flow through me, but Chuck personally will be replying in person to all the dialogue.”Doesn’t this seem a bit one-sided? Chuck should be contacting you guys himself. That way his little scheme would be conducted in a manner that treats you both as equals. After all, you’d be his ‘guest’. It seems you should stipulate that your dialogue appears in full (i.e. no editing) as well.

  5. 5
    arensb

    I second Jen’s recommendation of Conservatives Without Conscience. It’s a good introduction to the right-wing authoritarian personality

  6. 6
    PhillyChief

    Did you really give them your address or something safe like a PO box? I wouldn’t want them having my home address.The entire thing is WAY too fishy. Why will comments pass through this middleman? Why this hedging of just how much Chuck will actually participate?I think I would demand that any of your comments must appear in their entirety or they can not have permission to reprint them. Either that or make it clear that all your comments will be posted here on this blog first, which establishes a time stamp so that if they post an edited form, it can be clearly shown that they’ve edited by pointing to your original here, proven to be original by it’s earlier publication time. Unfortunately, this will only be proof for us, not their audience since they wouldn’t give you a chance to point this out on their blog, nor would any of their audience (probably not) come here on their own and see. I just find it amazing how they can never have a fully open environment for these sort of things. They always have to be in control of the rules, have you jump through hoops, and have various escape hatches in place in case things don’t quite go their way. Hardly what one should have to do when they are in possession of Truth, no?

  7. 7
    Martin

    Trust me, Philly, you haven’t thought of anything that hasn’t already crossed our minds. And I was already planning on doing everything you suggest, if in fact I have anything to say about the book. We know full well how Christians enjoy approaching atheists for an “open” and “civil” dialogue, only to pull a bait and switch. In the end, it’s all just a publicity stunt for Colson and Zondervan. We know this.

  8. 8
    DJR

    Martin, you have been unable to logically answer “ANY” of my points on the Expelled Movie, or the Creationism vs. evolution debate. You offer only silly put downs. Now you want to take on Chuck Colson. Today, I must take you out of the Egghead circle and officailly place you in with the “Blockheads”. Mr. Colson will eat you for breakfast with a side of toast & jelly.

  9. 9
    Martin

    Now this is funny. You made “points” about Expelled and creationism? Where? All I saw you do was spout a load of brain-dead canards like, “Believing a lighting bolt struck some mudd millions of years ago and life sprung into existence is even more silly than the monkey question” (sounds like Genesis to me) and “There are those on your side who say they believe Whales evolved from horses,” plus that all time classic of mental retardation, “If we evolved from monkeys why are there still monkeys?” all of which reveal that you’re nothing more than a typically uneducated, scientifically illiterate creationist fool. As numerous other commenters beside me pointed out, you clearly know nothing about nothing about nothing when it comes to science and the only “logical answer” your comments deserve is to be derided for their stupidity. You’ve been trying to fight above your weight class every time you’ve come here, and typical of creo cluelessness, seem to think the fact your ignorance leads you to be ignored or mocked by the educated people here means you’re actually winning points. Seriously, kid, when you get right down to it, staying in school might not have been such a bad idea, would it? There’s a time in everyone’s life to grow up, dude, and you’re well past yours.Colson, I expect, to be a far more interesting challenge than you, which is to say, he’ll be a mediocre mind rather than someone completely lacking one.

  10. 10
    Davey

    Yet again you prove my point, as well as the point of the movie Expelled, your side is afraid of the debate. You can’t answer little ol me and you want to take on Chuck “The Man” Colson. This is an example of a debate between you and I: Dave (DJR)—Creationist do not deney micro-evolution. This is merely a shuffling of existing genetic information as with Darwin’s Finches. However, there has never been an no example of macro-exloution, one species turning into another species. The percentage of current animals born with new, additional genetic information is 0.0%. Knowing this why do __do__ you believe this exloutionary nonsense? Marty-mart thinks about his answer: “I can’t answer that. Nobody can answer that. Not even DICKY Dawkins. This djr guy has got me yet again. I can’t even come answer his ‘have you ever kissed a girl question?’, But, I still hate the idea of a Creator(God). DJR did make a type-o. He put a do where the do, do not go. I know, I can call him stupid and avoid the question and the debate yet again.”Maritn finally answers “Dude, would you like fries with that? Now go away the big people are talking”Use that one on Chuck Colson, your friends will be empressed. I agree with you, Martin, that the points I made are goofy “Horses turning into whales??; lightening bolts creating life in mudd????” I find this to be absolute stupidity just as you do. Would you like to know where I learned them? People form your side have suggested them! Your Side!Evloution will die in the cross hairs of Creationism Science. Your side will have to find another reason to not believe in God. I listen to Chuck Colson often. He(like me and all Christians) does not seek to destroy you, just your world view. A idelogity that not only destroys man kinds faith, but his salvation as well. I Challenge you to research the life of Christ with the same zeal you absorb all this other nonsense. Jesus will transform you life. God Bless you and all your misguided friends. P.S. Please don’t block me, I truly enjoy the exchanges with you and your friends. I will be nice. God bless.

  11. 11
    Martin

    Oh for chrissakes. Here you go, you dumb fuck.Macroevolution explained. Speciation explained. Caution: has lots of big words you won’t understand, but it does have the facts. Read it all.Once again, the reason we haven’t been responding to you is that you’re a run of the mill uneducated creationist moron. Flatter yourself otherwise all you like; after all, it’s all you’ve got.Evloution will die in the cross hairs of Creationism Science.There has to be such a thing as “Creationism Science” first, stupid.Please don’t block me, I truly enjoy the exchanges with you and your friends. I will be nice.I won’t. You’re done.

  12. 12
    Adrian Hayter

    Great to know I’m not the only person he contacted over this! I thought it was a scam…maybe it’s the real deal. At least they have to pay air fares to get the book to me :D-Adrian

  13. 13
    Luis

    Dawkins said in a recent interview that the deference to God is an infantile reflex. We hand ourselves over to authority in order to be protected from something we fear. The rantings of creationists make that clearer than anything. They are content to be slaves – in every sense of the word – to a figment of their minds. And yet they’re the ones who talk about “the scientists” being “scared”! This doesn’t even rise to the level of idiocy. Catch a clue, guys: science isn’t obligated to validate your delusions. If you don’t want to accept evolution, that’s your problem (of course, you’ll behave as though you believe in evolution when you go to the nearest hi-tech hospital when you need a life-or-death tune up. But when science isn’t saving your hypocritical arses, you’ll continue to denigrate it). But if you’re going to talk about it, at least learn what it is before you do so. Otherwise, shut the fuck up.

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