This morning, BlackPR.com / BlackNews.com sent us here at Irregular Times a press release for a new book written by the Reverend Sondra Lane, who lives in the western suburbs of Chicago. The press release celebrated a "unique and irresistable multicultural Hallelujah Kids book," and a "multicultural religious book".Reading this press release, I just had to ask the obvious question: A multi-CULTURAL book on religion would include ideas about other religions than just Christianity, wouldnÕt it? I got pretty excited, to tell the truth. I mean, there are warehouses full of books devoted to encouraging religious belief in children, but I've never been able to find any children's books that truly take a multicultural perspective on religion, giving children a dispassionate perspective on all the different choices of religion and non-religion that are available to them. Religious books for children tend to be dreadfully silent about alternative possibilities. Reading these books, you'd think that everyone believes the same thing. How boring!
Well, I eagerly went to the book's web site, and I'm sorry to tell you that I was downright disappointed. Reverend Lane's book looks absolutely monocultural. The only references to religion I could see at the book's web site were about Christianity, and about the fun celebrating Christmas.
How "unique" is that - a book on Christmas? A book about a bunch of kids who decide NOT to take part in Christmas in the face of enormous social pressure - now that would be "unique and irresistable"! Write that book, Reverend Lane, and we'll gladly give it free publicity.
Is Reverend Sondra Lane going to write more books in this series, ones praising Islam, Buddhism, Wicca, Judaism, Hinduism or any of the other many religions that make America truly multi-CULTURAL? How about the agnostic/humanist perspective on religion? There are more non-believers than Lutherans in America, you know. If the series includes books celebrating these perspectives, then Reverend Lane can use the adjective "multicultural" proudly.
Until then, forgive us if we snore at the astonishing lack of cultural diversity in Sondra Lane's unreflective series of Christian tracts for children's religious indoctrination.
Word to the Reverend: When you hire a public relations firm to send press releases on Christian books to a web site with a sections entitled Further Than Atheism and False Witness, you are not spending your money wisely.
This is the other scandal of Reverend Sondra Lane's press release: It's really just a piece of spam. Where, oh, where do we think that BlackPR.com got the email address firstname.lastname@example.org?? Do we think that they actually visited Irregular Times, read our articles and thought that we'd be eager to promote a Christian book about Christmas? Of course not.
What really happened is that BlackPR.com, like so many other firms, bought a list that was assembled by an automated scanning program, a BOT. These programs automatically flip through web pages, looking for email addresses. Then, the companies that employ these BOTs scan the phone book for suckers who are willing to pay for a marketing program that consists of nothing more than sending spam to the email addresses on these lists, whether the message is appropriate to the reader or not.
Now, we don't know whether Reverend Sondra Lane knows that there is spam being sent out in her name, and we don't even know whether BlackPR.com used its own BOT programs to build a spamming list. Maybe they just hired someone else to do it for them.
Whatever the case may be, when it comes to quick and cheap marketing schemes, the buck always stops at the company or person whose product is being promoted. Certainly BlackPR.com comes out of this episode of spam looking bad, but even worse are the implications for Reverend Sondra Lane, who we may now quite fairly rename Reverend Spam.
Cheap spam email promotions on the Internet do not reflect well upon the "ministry" of Sondra Lane. When churches send spam far and wide, they only create the impression that they're willing to do anything, no matter how sleazy, to spread their particular beliefs. The Church of Spam, with Reverend Sondra Lane at its head, appears to be less a source of moral reliability than a proprietor of spiritual snake oil that has just about as much higher purpose as an advertiser of cheap sources of generic Viagra.
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