Fundamentalism Is A Grift

It’s not that fundamentalist christianity is itself fundamentally a grift, it’s just it’s a space that’s always, always, always going to feature some variety of grifters. I don’t have an explanation for why, this isn’t a scientifically researched position or anything, it’s just me noticing a pattern with the same thing, every single time, every single time I stumble into it anew.

It’d be easy to extrapolate that this is related to power dynamics. If a fundamentalist group are all people who defer to a specifically limited interpretation of some source text or ideological position, it almost always expresses as refusal to engage with, or accept, things outside that position. It’s not necessarily the same thing as being big on ‘fundamentals’ per se — I don’t imagine there are mechanics who refuse to fix brake pads because they’re too committed to the fundamental principles of the lever or anything. The basic idea I’m talking about here are ideological communities, usually ones like my fundamentalist evangelical christian background.

I’ve talked about Christian Replacement Media (a few times, in fact) and the way that there’s a market inside these fundamentalist spaces, for, well, everything. You know, you can buy godly books and movies and music and that’s specially separated from the filthy excesses of the other industries around them and so on, but don’t think it’s limited to just the content. It’s also the presentation. Hobby Lobby is infamous for its Christian culture in the fundie space, so buying goods there, and goods with their own branding is a sort of ‘christian’ action you can see in these fundie spaces. We had Koorong bookstores for that.

It’s been perhaps as a byproduct of paying attention to the Content Creation Griftosphere lately that I’ve been so mindful of this lately. Alex Jones wants you to buy his boner pills, the Birchers want you to buy their literature (and distribute copies!), Praying Medic wants you to subscribe to his patreon or whatever, and even actual outright nazis want you to pay into their subscribestars.

Growing up, our pastor was running a business trying to distribute multi-level marketing nonsense, like health-care supplements and alternate medications, I think it’s still around and the brand persists. I know there were atttempts made to recruit my dad into other MLM stuff like Amway, and while we listened to the tapes in the car, nothing came of it. Which was wild as well in hindsight because dad was always a good salesperson, I imagine if he’d gone in on it he might have wound up becoming one of those guys.

It seems almost tautological to point it out: These dudes and it is almost always dudes, are always running a con or a scam. I can’t think of a single fundamentalist christian outlet, people offering to share in the fellowship of the body of christ as indicated by a very specific reading of a text, that isn’t ultimately connected in some way to selling something, and that something is never actively good. Hell, Jones has gotten to the point where he’s now just plain out selling overpriced crap because you’re ‘paying to fight the infowar.’

So fundies are scammers, so what.

Well, not all fundies are in on the scam. In fact, there are a lot of good-faith actors in the space who are shitheads for other reasons, but which don’t realise they’re dealing with other scam artists. And that’s why you may notice most of these people in these spaces tend to be a bit territorial, a bit… exclusive. Most of the time, give these people enough time and even if they overlap on 99% of what they do they’ll still find ways and reasons to be mad at one another, to find some reason to try and keep their audiences and their income stream isolated to just them.

What an example?

Patch the Pirate is the stage name of a guy named Ron Hamilton, a guy who I file happily in the ‘good faith producer’ space of Christian Replacement Media. Note that he is a big dumb shithead for other reasons, what with the misogyny and racism, but it’s the kind of misogyny and racism that he would see as just ‘good old fashioned fun,’ or ‘old fashioned values,’ you know how it is. He’s the source of the truly harrowing I Wanna Marry Daddy song, which he then had his daughters sing on an album, which

Yeah anyway.

Patch the Pirate media is basically karaoke covers levels of qualities of Christian knock-off songs of well-known songs from other sources, praise songs and hymns, and some moral messaging that I understand is derived from in many cases the Pat Boone-ification of other modestly singable songs from Back In The Day. It’s like how a lot of sunday school songs are all built around classic showtunes if you know the right corpus.

What I’m saying is this guy makes the Christian Replacement Media version of Softest Cheese. There is no edge to his music.

But.

But.

He has not escaped criticism.

I was gunna start this article just going ‘hey, here’s a goofy thing from my childhood’ about how fundie music and art sucked and I was going to give you a run through on one of the Patch the Pirate pieces (and I still might, another time). But what I got caught up on here was instead finding this amazing controvery from 2000, back in the still-sharing-tapes time of the Patch the Pirate industry, from again, probably good faith actors who nonetheless understand that you have to defend your turf.

While most of the music produced by Majesty Music of Greenville, South Carolina (headed up by Ron and Shelly Hamilton), is excellent, we must warn that some of the newer recordings are moving in a contemporary direction. This is particularly true of the newer Patch the Pirate children’s tapes.

The Mount Zion Marathon tape for example, has a song titled “Lazy Bones,” which is certainly akin to rock music. It uses a syncopated rhythm with a heavy, synthesized bass. The music would be right at home in a nightclub or a sleazy Broadway play. Though it is tame compared to much of the standard CCM fare today, Patch the Pirate’s “Lazy Bones” will help develop an appetite in children for worldly music. Other examples of this can be found on their newer tapes.

David Cloud

CCM in this case referes to contemporary christian music, the idea of Christian music that wasn’t made before the Titanic was. But still, this David Cloud guy (a fundamentalist critic of other fundamentalist work) has problems with a song called Lazy Bones, which would be right at home in a nightclub or sleazy broadway play.

Imagine what this music is.

Please.

Just put it in your mind what it could be.

Ready?

Okay, it’s this:

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