January 28, 1995 in Features

The Gullible Keep Rumors Alive And Well

Tom Schaefer Wichita (Kan.) Eagle
 

Notice: Microsoft has made a bid to purchase the Roman Catholic Church for an unspecified number of shares of Microsoft common stock. Company executives will be added to the College of Cardinals. Sacraments will be available on-line.

If you’re not into hoaxes, well, neither is Microsoft. It seems that this phony story was circulated via the Internet. And some of the gullible thought it was true. (It’s not, folks, it’s not.)

Anyway, I wanted to tell you about it because I can just see it becoming the Madalyn Murray O’Hair hoax of the ‘90s. Remember that hoax? Well, it’s still around. In fact, two weeks ago a woman asked me if I had heard that O’Hair has started a petition to get all religious broadcasting off the airwaves. (I get at least one phone call a year on this.)

Like the Microsoft joke, it’s just plain wrong. The main difference is that the O’Hair story has been around longer - since 1975. (The Federal Communications Commission receives millions of letters, petitions and phone calls every year from people who believe the hoax.) Fact and fiction continue to blur.

Book charts moral course

Here’s an excellent book that tries to chart a new direction through our morally disintegrating culture and the gridlock of partisan politics.

Jim Wallis, evangelical activist and editor of Sojourner magazine, has written “The Soul of Politics” (The New Press, 1994). He examines the struggles of people around the world and concludes that both conservative and liberal solutions are inadequate.

Although Wallis relies heavily on revolutionary or ideological language to push a new agenda for social transformation, there is still much to be learned from this man who is grounded firmly in the Christian faith.

Here’s one of many Wallis tidbits to chew on: “We need to understand the connections between all the issues we face and the spiritual foundations that undergird them. We must begin to restore the covenant we’ve lost with our neighbors on this planet and with the creation itself. The vision we now require is nothing short of a new covenant. At root, we need to return to our spiritual identity as the children of God.”

A quote to ponder

Karl-Josef Kuschel tells the following story in “Laughter: A Theological Reflection”: “‘How is it,’ a bishop of London once asked a famous actor, ‘that we preachers usually make little impression with the lofty and true subjects that we proclaim, whereas you actors move people on the stage so much with your fictions?’ The actor replied, ‘It is because we speak of fictitious things as though they were true, whereas the clergy talk about true things as though they were fictitious.”’


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