Tuesday, August 29, 2006

As funny as a rubber crutch

Ever since Dave Barry, a Presbyterian PK, ceased writing his humor column, I've been a little starved for really funny reading--you know, the make-you-laugh-out-loud-with-an-embarrassing-guffaw kind of material that leaves you weak, with tears streaming down your face. Recently, I think I've found a contender.

He's John Dorhauer, a United Church of Christ clergyman who contributes regularly to the Talk2Action blog. The guy is a stitch! I mean, the broad irony and subtle self-parody in his pseudo-pretentious writing is priceless. He affects this mien of taking himself and the subject matter oh so seriously, but yet you just KNOW he can't be serious. And talk about a poker face! He never breaks a smile, never lets on that he's pulling your leg, never winks at his audience. He just plays it straight, as if his preposterous claims actually were intended to make sense.

Take his most recent little humor piece, for example: "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing." I'll give you a moment to read it...

Don't you just love the mock tone of concern, the deep alarm and furrowed-brow instruction? Those church ninjas dispatched by IRD are ubiquitous, and with their training in dismantling churches, you'll be lucky to have one 2X4 attached to another if you aren't careful.

Full alert, America! Somebody might want to effect meaningful change in a church somewhere. Watch out! Hoo-eee! It's a kick.

You can't help but chuckle at the broad irony of Dorhauer describing this sitting-duck "extreme welcome" church that succumbs to paranoia about apparently well-intended visitors whose only desire is to exploit the congregation because they are "[t]rained by others in the art of dissent, they are clever manipulators of thought and action who know the things that make for unrest."

Yeah. Right. Those people, with no mind of their own but total willingness to go wherever there is a church to be dismantled, have become kind of destroyer zombies under the command of the all-powerful IRD, who everyone just knows is lying in its mission statement and cares nothing about theology or churches or Christian discipleship. What an evil villain! Where's Superman when you need him? Right, Dorhauer? Talk about laying it on thick! Dorhauer knows humor.

But the juiciest irony Dorhauer employs is the bit about the church in which "there will always be an atmosphere of open and mutual respect," and in order to show that "openness" to others and "respect" for their ideas, the church becomes paranoid and exclusive, taking pains that "no one should be asked to join the church unless and until they can demonstrate their appreciation for and comfort with this openness."

Har har! He's got the church saying, in effect, "We're so open that we won't let you in if you're not as open as we think you ought to be! We're so inclusive that we'll exclude anyone who is not just like us!" And, get this: not a hint that there is any irony here. He just plays it straight. What a hoot! That Dorhauer just cracks me up.

Oh, there's more, such as progressive churches discovering that it might be a good idea to ask new members what they believe or to have some standards for membership, or to actually know people before they are made members or--get this--top leaders of the church! Keep that up, and these progressive churches could become conservative!

Well, if you have to explain humor, it's not that funny. So I'll lay off. Dorhauer's classic humor is easy to find. It's deeply embedded in just about everything he writes for Talk2Action. And his buddies aren't bad, either. Their conspiracy satire reads almost as if they believe it.

But nobody could be THAT ridiculous. Could they?


Blogger Martin Thompson said...

To paraphrase the old description of a Puritan, Dorhauer must lie awake at night fearing that someone somewhere is not a Bible trashing liberal who's pro gay and anti IRD.

He's been aggravating the UCC for quite sometime, glad to know he's hit the big time and irritating the PCUSA now too. At least he's moving up in the world. Or down as the case may be.

11:26 AM, August 30, 2006  
Blogger Dave Moody said...

Dave Barry is a Presbyterian PK? Who'd a thunk it! Whatever happened to him?

Wait a minute...Hey... I'll bet IRD TOOK HIM OUT! Is it REALLY a coincidence that as he disappeared, Cal Thomas' columns took off? I think not! Oh, you're going to have a lot to answer for at the pearly gates.

1:07 PM, August 30, 2006  
Blogger UCCer said...


You really pegged John Dorhauer! LOL!

His weekly tantrum, er, column recycles 2 or 3 different annocedents he has about a 'conspiracy'. And... if you ever ask John Dorhauer to name 3 churches the IRD stole... he only starts babbling incoherently. According to John Dorhauer, there's some big conspiracy and this nut can't name three churches in the whole country that the IRD reportedly stolen? John Dorhauer is stuck on stupid and he's convinced himself that everyone else reading his drivel can't see the same weak examples recycled over and over again.

The only conspiracy going on is the one between the voices in John Dorhauer's head.

In John Dorhauer's world, if you disagree with him, you are part of the evil conspiracy. In John Dorhauer's world, everything is connected to the IRD (kinda like the Kevin Bacon game).

Personally, I could care less about the IRD, the BWF, the FWC, ONA or any other three letter accronyms my fellow UCCer's might dream up. I do, however, care about a clearly delussional leader like John Dorhauer and the lack of any facts to the conspiracies he likes to spread. It only divides the church he claims to love.

Great post!

11:35 PM, August 30, 2006  
Blogger Presbyman said...

What is it with these Leftwingers and conspiracy theories? Is it all a Rightwing plot to make them look like complete idiots?

10:35 PM, August 31, 2006  
Blogger Jim said...

Presbyman--They don't NEED a right-wing plot to make them look like complete idiots. They do it very well themselves, without any help.

Jim Berkley

11:46 PM, August 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


When will W/JK Press give this guy a book contract?

Someone had to ask what everyone was thinking!

9:55 AM, September 05, 2006  
Blogger Jim said...

The United Methodist Church has done something similar. If you subscribe to their official news service at a more-expensive level, you get a premium thrown in: a subscription to a newsletter that tells you what awful things that IRD and other right-wing organizations are up to, complete with commentary and analysis.

Here's the link: http://umnexus.org/plusintro.html

Wouldn't it be simpler for people simply to subscribe to the IRD publications? It's not like we're a secret society!

Things get ridiculous awfully easily!

Jim Berkley

10:30 AM, September 05, 2006  

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