The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: The Kirk Cameron People

July 20, 2008

The Kirk Cameron People

You know how sometimes you're allowed to make fun of something by the sheer virtue that you are part of it? For example, if a white person made fun of Asian Mothers, there would be horrified gasps all around. But if an Asian person made fun of Asian Mothers it'd be self-deprecatingly funny.

I live by that rule.

When I lived in Chicago and had room mates, one of our favorite lazy day activities was scouring the channels for bad Christian television and then making fun of the programs we would find. It was a guilty pleasure of ours. Guilty because we believed as God-loving and God-fearing Christians it probably wasn't very Jesus-like to mercilessly make fun of our fellow Christians and their efforts at using the medium of television to win souls to Christ.

Pleasurable because...have you seen Christian television programming? Production value is inevitably low, content is cheesy and every one looks like they are stuck in the eighties. The early eighties. Christian television is usually bad. Embarrassingly bad. Hilariously bad.

One such lazy day, the Roomie and I were channel surfing when we stumbled on Kirk Cameron standing in front of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge asking if you believed you were good enough to get into heaven. Fascinated, we stopped to watch.

For those of you who don't know who Kirk Cameron is, he was Mike Seaver on Growing Pains, teen heart throb to millions of tween and teen girls in the mid and late eighties. Even in Singapore, miles away from America, we got episodes of Growing Pains. Don't ask me what else Kirk Cameron has been in since. Odds are, nothing much.

Why in the world was Mike Seaver asking us if we were good enough to get into heaven, we wondered.

Turns out, we were watching a program called The Way Of The Master. On the Web site, The Way of The Master is billed as a thirty-minute "new look at reality TV." In these thirty minutes, Kirk Cameron and a man named Ray Comfort teach viewers how to share their faith "effectively and inoffensively."

However, what the show contains is thirty minutes of the most ineffective and offensive material imaginable. The program features several man on the street interviews. Kirk Cameron wanders city streets with a camera crew ambushing passers-by and asking them incendiary questions such as, "Are you a good person?" or "Are you a liar?" When the shell-shocked interviewee answers, "Yes, I think I am a good person," Kirk Cameron then proceeds to prove that they are not a good person at all through a series of circular and rhetorical questions. And then he basically implies that they are going to hell if they don't come to God.

That day, when the Roomie and I started watching the program, we were giggling. But after about ten minutes neither of us were laughing anymore. We were horrified. This was not, we believed, the way of our Master. Our Master, Jesus, would never force an unsuspecting person into a corner and insist that they were a terrible person. Our Master approached what society considered as the lowest and most sinful with great care and utmost respect. Look at how he approached to The Woman At The Well. He placed himself first in a position of humility, asking her for water, even before He ever brought up her current situation or her past.

Over a year later, I'm wandering on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica with a girl friend on a Saturday night. Two young men -- good looking, stylishly dressed, start walking alongside us. One of the young men starts speaking to me and I turn to look at him. That's when I hear it. He says, "If you lie, aren't you a liar? If you're a liar, aren't you going to hell?"

His buddy, I notice, is carrying a hand-held video camera. I realize that at any moment, I could be one of those shell-shocked, ambushed, passers-by in The Way of the Master.

I roll eyes and sigh. I keep walking and say to him, "Don't. I know exactly what this is. Don't be a Kirk Cameron."

He keeps a calm, smug expression but splits off from us and disappears into a crowd of people gathered around a man with a microphone and a powerpoint presentation projected on a screen. The man is engaging the audience in some sort of biblical discussion. I don't hear the words, but I can tell, by his tone, he's just spoiling for a fight.

I wanted to laugh. I knew that when I moved to Los Angeles, the odds of having brushes with fame would increase exponentially. And true enough, I was almost on a bad Christian television program.

But as I thought of how many people in that crowd would come away even further from God because of their experience with this bizarre, twisted form of faith-sharing, it just wasn't that funny anymore.


Elizabeth said...

I LOVED this post.
1) Because I had a huge crush on Kirk to hear his name even mentioned...::sigh::
2) Couldn't agree with you more.
3) It looks like you are doing well from this very far off, but telling post :)

Miss you.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm just some random guy but I stumbled across this blog post. Know that Cameron and Comfort's approach is offensive to believers and non-believers alike... Many of their evidence is completely contrived and, as near as I can tell, downright dishonest. No matter what your perspective, they are doing much more harm than good. For the Christian side, they are turning people off to the very idea, from the unbelievers' side, they are spewing nonsense and presenting it as fact.