Overboard: Geez sends rogue disciple on a Christian cruise
“Hmmm . . . You don’t want to say anything too scandalous, so Jesus is out of the question.”
Jenn skipped the gospels as she flipped through the Good Book for passages that I might be able to take out of context to enchant conservative Christian women.
With a master’s degree in theology and many friends in my target demographic, Jenn was the perfect advisor for my assignment with Geez magazine. I was to make mischief on the Empowered to Prosper Valentine’s Day Christian Singles Cruise, a five-day jaunt in the Caribbean.
Her creative interpretations did not disappoint. Leaping out of the pages of this holy document were instructions on how to bring about my fantasies, even a script with a grand finale that can be translated into modern language as one lover begging the other, “Take me into your master bedroom and f**k me” (Song of Songs 1:1-4).
The Bible was making me horny, but our late-evening cheap-beer-laced visit had to stick to the agenda.
The 12-lane-strong interstate had dwindled into a small street in an old town in southern Georgia. After 30-something hours on the highway, travelling from Canada to the southern U.S., time of day had little practical use. Suffice it to say it was dark and, according to the baying of my stomach, time to find something to wolf.
“I’m gonna guess we’re in Savannah,” said Mike, my partner in crime, as he switched off the interior light and put the map away. Unfortunately the turnoff to Florida was miles behind us, but we found food and a whole lot more in Savannah.
“You’ll be able to sleep with one to two different women per day.” Bill, the young professional sitting next to us at the bar, officially had my attention. Keenly aware of the rarity of opportunities to chat with anyone but corn-fed Republicans, Bill kept the conversation going.
“I used to prey upon sexually repressed Christians in college. How do you think I met my wife?” he snickered. “A common expression among Christian women around here is ‘I never do this.’”
Bill assured us the way to a conservative Christian woman’s heart, among other body parts, is not rocket science. All you really have to do is come across as sort-of Christian.
“Oh yeah,” he added, “with Southern Baptists you’re going to want to hint at being a little bit racist. Or a lot racist.”
Jesus’s first miracle
Bill told us alcohol was key. To be sure, this was congruent with Jesus’s teaching about the importance of wine in a party worthy of the Lord. And yet the cruise website clearly stated that any passenger attempting to bring alcohol on board would be disembarked. I showed this policy to Mike, who astutely asked, “How are we supposed to get drunk then? Did they think of that?” Indeed.
Thank God, lids on unopened plastic bottles can be wedged off if submerged in near-boiling water. It’s a simple technique that could be done in our Florida hotel room the morning of the cruise. We filled some bottles with white tequila and popped on the craftily removed lids. (See a video tutorial here)
So there we were on the boat, armed with our special “vitamin water,” a few stories to tell and photos of me demonstrating Christian-targeted attractive behaviour, plus a head full of artfully isolated Bible verses. But there was something very wrong. There were old people on the boat. There were families. The only people remotely in our age bracket were clearly coupled up.
Worse, this wasn’t a Christian cruise. I don’t mean that in a snobbish Jesus-would-never-take-a-cruise kind of way. No, it seemed we were on an ordinary cruise.
Let me qualify that statement. There was little about the cruise that I would consider even close to normal. This ship had luxury accommodations for thousands. There were magnificent dining halls, a rock climbing wall, a surfing area, a miniature golf course and a skating rink. There were several pools, theatres, pubs and dance clubs; a shopping mall, a casino, a library, a gym, even a miniature hospital. There was enough staff on board to have one wipe your ass and another flush the toilet. It was like a floating Vegas, with kids.
In a mock ’50s diner, the staff took a break from frying onion rings to perform a choreographed routine in front of the classic red swivelling stools. More fries arrived without a finger raised from our table. Anything on the menu would come to us at no extra cost. There were no prices on the menu. How was I supposed to know what was good?
As I stared blankly at the spectacle in front of me, I realized a cruise is an attempt to create a world with space for only one emotion. Upbeat music was piped into every corner of the ship; every fun thing imaginable was on board. This was an attempt at Heaven on Earth. A failed attempt. Where the hell were all the Christian singles, the hot young women I had imagined? Without them, I wasn’t in the mood to celebrate the fact that I was surrounded by people who wanted a fake Heaven to escape their lives.
But seriously, I’d booked a “Christian Singles Valentine’s Day Cruise” through AllChristianCruises.com. Yet there was no trace of Christians, singles or cupid’s likeness. My heart sank when a server led us past tables full of attractive young adults toward the one where we would meet our group for dinner. This singles cruise was made up of about 25 people, most of them middle-aged women.
Nevertheless, we were on a mission and too far from the shore to swim. We’d need to be undercover. We’d need to fit in, at least a little, while still getting express permission to record the story as it unfolded. Fully aware of the false impression it would give, we said we were on assignment for a “Christian magazine.” Now, dear reader, sitting in your living room, or wherever you are, with you I will be candid: Geez sent Mike and me on a cruise to make it look bad. Really bad. But let’s keep that our little secret, shall we, as you come along and explore the weird world of a Christian singles cruise.
There’s a tug-of-war for the “soul of man.” On one side, the Lusts of the Flesh; on the other, the Fruits of the Spirit. We musn’t give in to the Lusts if we want to enjoy the Fruits.
That about summarizes the talk we were given at the first morning devotional. The miniature sermon lasted hardly five minutes, but for Cynthia, the organizer of the group, it was a big deal.
When she first set out to plan a Christian singles cruise, Cynthia imagined what most people would: speakers, mixer activities, bands, worship times, the whole nine yards. The nearer departure day drew, the more clear it became that almost nothing she had planned was going to pan out. God was trying to tell her something: she was supposed to speak. Obviously, the collapse of all Cynthia’s plans was not a sign that God thinks Christian cruises are bullshit.
That’s what she said
When I first faced the naked truth of the pathetic size of the Christian singles cruise, I looked around and thought, these people must be embarrassed. They’d coughed up a bunch of cash and left their lives behind for a chance to meet their future spouse. I imagined them sizing up anyone remotely in their league and, finding no one interesting, giving the least unattractive options a second look.
So I was shocked when Julia, the first person I asked about feeling misled, told me, “Oh, I’ve been on one of these before and it was about the same. Actually, it was smaller.”
“My job is really stressful and it’s just good to get away.”
Julia wasn’t the only one who needed an escape. A middle-aged Ontario woman with the body of someone who works in an office told us we’d be hooked. She’d been laid off from her job with the church and was finding it difficult to exist in “the real world.” And a Colombian turned Florida resident said she used to love to go out dancing with her friends, but she quit because it was “a distraction.” For her, a Christian cruise is perfect because “it’s like a different world.”
Everyone was having so much fun, wearing shorts and T-shirts in February, eating exquisite food to their heart’s content. There was even a ping-pong table. I love ping-pong. It was odd, then, that you would have found Mike and me sitting in a nearly empty restaurant, with only a few knitting seniors.
“I’m trying to figure out what’s so depressing about this place.”
Mike looked over at me for a moment and swivelled his chair to face the window again.
“I heard the Atlantic is blue and the Pacific is green,” he offered.
Fornication Under Consent of the King?
Before dining on escargot and lobster, we’d seen world-class triple axels. After dinner we marvelled at a wannabe Cirque du Soleil spectacle, all while our trusty vessel plowed through the Caribbean.
Sandy, the middle-aged woman sitting next to me in the theatre, seemed faintly disheartened. I recalled noticing her noticing me at dinner. Was she feeling alienated by the preferred brand of Christianity of the rest of the group? She was from California; I heard they were liberal there. So when she asked me about the morning devotional, I experimented with some honesty.
I wasn’t so sure that everything on the list of Lusts was necessarily in conflict with the Fruits.
She pointed out that the Bible says fornication is wrong; I went into Liberal Missionary mode.
I testified to Sandy: until my early 20s, I had wrestled with whether I would go to Hell if I had sex. Eventually, I accepted my place as a sexual being; lo and behold, the sun rose the next morning and I finally felt at peace with the issue. Since then these intimacies have been a great joy in my life.
In sex I’ve learned to graciously receive. I’ve experienced the incredible truth of the saying “it’s better to give than receive.” Holding a woman in my arms after she has experienced seemingly miraculous bliss has given me the sensation that everything is right in the universe. And, well, a good old-fashioned roll in the hay somewhere you’re not supposed to be naked brings out playfulness that adults almost never feel but desperately crave. In the morning, concerns from the night before about how to best camouflage the embarrassing parts of our bodies are all for naught. The facade is gone; the naked truth is known. Sharing mutual vulnerability and trust has helped deepen relationships in my life.
But it’s destructive for unmarried people to experience this?
As any good ladies’ man would tell you, I needed to patiently earn Sandy’s trust, keeping the charm on full blast until the time came to make my move. We danced; I showed off by entertaining a packed piano bar with a failed attempt at a pop-song medley; we enjoyed late-night tea.
“I shall not covet your metabolism,” she declared, watching me devour sandwiches and not get fat. Finally, I popped the question. She said yes and we went upstairs to the chapel where I switched on my audio recorder to interview her for this story.
Sandy sat close as she confided that she was at a low point in her life. Things just weren’t going well. She wanted a break from it all, she wanted to encounter God and, truthfully, she wanted a husband.
“I imagined worship on the deck, bands, inspiring speakers . . . . Just imagine if everywhere you looked there would be a Christian single. Wouldn’t that have been incredible?”
We both dwelled on that.
“If I would have known,” she admitted, “I wouldn’t be here.”
She was a little surprised to hear that I felt the same.
“When I first saw you at the dinner I thought ‘Wow, there’s a young man having a good time chatting with older women. How can he be having a good time?’ Then I thought ‘Maybe he’s just a really Godly man.’” A few days earlier, our Georgian friend Bill had assumed I was an atheist.
“You seem really happy.” Sandy said softly.
I nodded. “Are you?”
The chapel was one of the few quiet places on the ship. No feel-good music, no chattering vacationers, no clinking of dishes, just the whir of the engine.
“No . . .” She shook her head as she dragged out the single syllable, almost in a whisper.
The morning we arrived in Haiti, I chatted with Jacquie in a restaurant on the ship. On the stage was a grand piano waiting to have its keys tickled after the sun went down, when our mobile heaven would push off Haiti and forge once again into the open ocean.
Despite the postcard view, Jacquie was feeling down. The cruise wasn’t what she’d expected. She hadn’t found a husband. She was offended by the non-Christian men on the boat who had invited her to come back to their rooms. She was looking to connect with serious Christians, but wasn’t satisfied with the calibre in our group. I recalled she had been the only other person besides Mike, Cynthia and me at the early morning prayer time in the chapel.
(Prayer time was at 6:00 a.m. I might have attempted some kind of private meditation, but the music from the boom box in the corner of the room was so ungodly. At first I thought it was just a long, repetitive gospel/praise song. After 20 minutes I realized it was on repeat. Music is quite literally used as a torture device. The U.S. Army loops Metallica to coerce prisoners into ratting out their associates. I tried, hopelessly, to filter it out.)
“I feel alone. It’s just me and God.” She’d been pondering why God had sent her on the cruise. Her theories thus far weren’t convincing either of us.
“I see a lot of waste. I see a lot of sin.”
Jacquie was the first and only Christian I would find who considered a cruise to be an inappropriate venue for a spiritual retreat.
I asked her if this is how Jesus would arrive at one of the poorest countries in the world.
“What do they think of us?”
And then again, even quieter than quiet: “What do they think of us?”
Haiti: Land ho!
I hated to be Mr. Nancy Negative, but when our $800,000,000 floating resort opened its doors, letting overfed pasty tourists out to “explore” Haiti, my first thought wasn’t “Yeah, this is what Jesus meant when he said ‘leave your boat.’”
I’d surveyed a dozen Christians, but failed to find even one who thought the cruise was a weird thing to associate with Jesus. Some shrugged their shoulders. More common was a “Well, we’re supporting their economy, right?”
Howdy, poor Haitians! Here come the aliens from Planet Consumption on their masturbatory spaceship to save the day.
Some folks from our group decided to stay aboard for fear that Haiti was the cursed and evil place they’d heard it was, but Mike and I ventured out to see Fake Haiti. Royal Caribbean had this part of the island fenced off from the rest of the country. Passengers could sit in the sun, gorge themselves on all-you-can eat food, ride around in boats and scream all the way down the zip line without worrying about seeing a single pesky Haitian who wasn’t employed by the cruise line. Calling it Haiti was a bit of a stretch.
Roberto, a Haitian employee, told us how much the cruise line had done for him and for the area. He praised Royal Caribbean for their response after the earthquake. Over the years he’d worked his way up through the ranks to a job guarding a VIP area from non-VIP tourists.
Jamaica: That’s some damn fine missionary work
John, the only man in the group as cocky as I was, had dished out warnings of the dangers of Jamaica but was happy to take credit for my plan after it worked out. See, my new friends couldn’t sell me, a highly pretentious adventurer, on the cruise line’s pre-packaged excursions, the TV dinners of travel. So Mike, John, Sandy and I piled into a taxi and simply asked the driver to “show us the real Jamaica.”
Sandy was excited: “Take us to where I can see women carrying the water jugs on their heads!”
Our driver was a good sport and kindly suggested that sort of thing can be found across the ocean in that other place where black people live.
The topic of cost of living was interesting to John, a former VP in the finance department of some massive U.S. corporation. Our driver told us that milk costs the equivalent of $20 U.S. per gallon.
“No. That can’t be,” John asserted in his New York accent. “Can’t be.”
John persisted: “You guys are Third World. That’s like two or three standards below the United States.”
Our driver showed us the grass track where the current 100-metre world record holder once trained. Three out of the four top sprinters in the world are Jamaican.
“Yeah, but you guys are cheaters,” asserted John. “You can’t tell me that those guys aren’t doping.”
The driver, by Jamaican standards slightly irritated, retorted, “Ha! We can’t afford steroids, mon.”
Naturally, the topic of religion came up. Sandy expressed concerns about how America had been blessed in the past, but that blessing was being revoked.
“They aren’t allowed to pray in the schools,” John contributed. Not understanding that John actually meant students are no longer forced to pray publicly, our driver told us Jamaican students can pray as often as they want.
“We are a Christian country.”
“Ah, that’s good to hear,” John replied, pleased. “The missionaries did a good job over here.”
The world’s (second) sexiest man
“You guys are like GQ or something.” Back on the ship, John was helping some women convince us to enter the cruise line’s World’s Sexiest Man competition.
I obliged and came away with the silver medal, second to a ripped black man with all the slick moves that awkward white guys like me can only dream of, including one-armed push-ups while waving to the crowd.
Still, second place was enough to be thrust into cruise-ship stardom. From that point on I was recognized everywhere I went on the boat.
One soul trumps all
“I’m glad there are people working to protect the earth,” Cynthia responded to my question about the damage caused by the cruise she organized. Apparently even the anchors of these vessels are devastating. Docking one ship for a day can kill an area of coral the size of a football field. “But that’s not my job. I’m here to save souls.”
I told Cynthia cruise lines have a reputation for holding low standards for worker treatment. She said she’d never looked into it.
Our head waiter’s forehead was chronically beaded with sweat. He was the leader of the team that worked our table at dinner, and he was clearly stressed. Near perfection was expected.
A bunch of us from the Christian group were surprised to see the same waiter working in another restaurant in the afternoon. Dinner ran all the way from early evening to 10:30 p.m. or so when the last group had finished. We’d figured that would be his only duty for the day.
Someone asked him about this. He said all waiters work throughout the day, every day. No days off.
“It actually seems pretty good. My job is way more stressful,” declared Julia.
Though workers were not supposed to talk with us about their jobs, Johanna from Colombia consented to an interview that evening. “This was the biggest mistake of my life,” she said, wishing she could be back home.
Sabastian, another Colombian, explained that he was on an eight-month contract, working 12 hours per day with no days off.
“I could make more money in Colombia,” he said of his roughly $7 per hour wage. He said the recruitment agency led him to believe he’d be making at least $18 per hour.
Sabastian took the job because he wanted to travel the world. But working 84 hours in a week didn’t leave much time for exploration. And Sabastian, like Johanna, wasn’t having fun.
“They look at black people and Latin people differently than the staff who are European and North American. They think that I’m going to let them treat me like they want to; I never stay quiet. So that’s what they don’t like. I say ‘Hey, that’s not right; that’s not how it’s supposed to be. You cannot treat me that way and you cannot think that I’m less than you. I’m not less than you.’”
“It’s like back to slavery.”
Sabastian described how supervisors yell at workers and treat them as “just another number,” and how high-ranking staff eat separately from the crew. Most workers live with the injustices.
“They just say ‘yes sir . . . yes sir . . .’ but I tell them ‘You’re not supposed to be treated this way!’ But ‘Oh, no, I came here to make money and I’m only thinking about my family and I don’t want to get in trouble.’”
180 days to go until Sabastian’s next day off.
The King’s kid
Expecting another pair of shrugging shoulders, I asked Moe, a successful self-employed electrician from Vancouver, about how the excess and luxury played into his spiritual retreat.
“Luxury?” He seemed pleased I brought it up. “God’s a good God and he wants the very best for us. I’m 100% for absolute prosperity. This cruise is of the harvest. And this is only the beginning. I’ll meet you in 10 years and I’ll have my private jet.”
For Moe, luxury isn’t something to shrug about: prosperity is central to his faith. Moe is, as he put it, a King’s kid.
“There’s no way I’d vote for Obama if he ran in Canada,” I assured our Christian friends, who were discussing the socialist atrocities the president was bringing to America. They nodded approvingly until I added, “He’s way too conservative.”
The stage was set for an “issues discussion” up in the chapel that Mike and I organized at the request of Sandy. It was getting near the end of the cruise and I was willing to be more forthcoming about what I believed. A handful of people showed up.
Mike started us off by saying his roommate was gay. Out came the Bible verses. Out came the miraculous stories about how people have been saved from the demon curse of homosexuality.
We talked about gender roles.
“It goes God . . .” John gestured with his hand to show God at the top, “then man . . . then woman.”
“So no girl-on-top then?” My joke fell flat.
They asked me if I thought abortion was right. I said I wasn’t in a situation where I needed to make that call.
“Well, you might be soon if you continue to sleep around.”
The gloves came off: my self-righteous bullshit versus theirs.
I told them exactly how I felt about cruise ships, how f**ked up it was to associate them with Jesus. I flung half-baked facts about how if everyone on Earth took one flight per year we’d need several Earths to support it and cruise ships are two times less efficient on fuel per person per kilometre. My body is a temple? What about the planet?
“Well, I believe we need to do our best to protect God’s creation,” explained the loud preacher’s daughter, “but if I want a Coke it’s not like I won’t have one just because it’s in a can.”
“Oh, so Jesus says to leave everything and follow him, but you aren’t quite ready to do that yet?”
“I recycle,” she retorts.
Recycling is a joke.
Julia pipes up: “I have prayed for a job that I can ride my bike to.”
And . . . ?
Time to testify
I was heartbroken. My audio recorder had died not even a third of the way through our heated debate. But in my darkness, I saw some light.
At our last supper, I interrupted the lively conversations to invite the group to the chapel for a special event: my testimony.
Since it was the last night of the cruise, I was sure there wouldn’t be much of a crowd. There were final parties on the deck and incredible live shows in the theatres.
Everyone came. It was the best attended event on the Christian Singles Cruise. A feeling of guilt crept down my spine. They showed up because they cared. And I was using them.
There was nothing to do but switch on the recorder, open my mouth and tell my story.
I explained how I grew up in a loving Christian home, how I started doubting that God really heard my prayers in my early 20s. I asked God to give me a sign that he or she was there countless times. Nothing. This distressed me. But a funny thing happened as I stopped worrying about whether or not God existed: my life started to improve. I started to live more fully. A weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
With incredible tenacity, the whole group tried to save me. Cynthia was the exception. She was on to me: “Is this more of an interview or is it something you’re looking to learn? Your mind is already shut to the word of God.” The others persisted and, this time, I got it all on tape.
John told me prayer is not “like a gumball machine where you drop in a quarter.” Take him for example: “I’ve been asking God for a wife for 12 years now.”
Scott, a middle-aged man into psychology and whatnot, knew a thing or two about dealing with people.
“First, I want to tell you that what you’re doing takes guts. I can tell you’re honestly seeking.”
“Yes, he is,” agreed Sandy.
“It’s hard for us men to surrender,” Scott continued. “We’re taught to be self-sufficient, that we shouldn’t need anyone, that real men don’t cry and all these lies. You don’t want to surrender; life is good, so why change it?”
He was bang-on. So where was the “but . . .”?
Sandy had one.
“But yet everywhere we went, whether it was Haiti or Jamaica, somebody who knew Jesus started a conversation with this man about Jesus. So you may think he’s here for an interview, but he’s honestly searching and seeking God and the truth. It’s not a coincidence that every single person in Jamaica and Haiti that we talked to decided to tell him about Jesus.”
That didn’t happen. I kept the real reason we had a lot of Jesus conversations to myself.
Someone asked if I had ever been led into salvation. I heard a distinct “Wow” from the back bench when I responded with “What is salvation?”
Moe gave it a go. He began, “Because you were brought up in a church, you’re not at the point where you’re saying ‘I evolved from monkeys.’”
There was some chuckling from near the front of the room.
“You believe in Creation,” Moe suggested. “Give us that much.”
There was a moment of dramatic silence.
“No,” I answered. “I believe we evolved from monkeys.”
“See . . . . See . . . . His mind is shut.”
“Don’t fuss . . . don’t fuss . . . don’t fuss,” commanded a black woman from the back of the room, “because God is not the author of confusion. But I will say this to you: you might have had your own agenda for comin’ up here, but God had a special plan and purpose for you bin’ here.”
The group loved it! Chuckles all around.
Finally, Cynthia jumped in, tired of this going on and on. “Do you want to accept Christ? If not, we’ll have the men pray for you and we’ll be dismissed.”
The men gathered around.
Moe faced me and put his hands on my shoulders.
“If we all die tonight, we’re going to Heaven.”
I wasn’t sure if I was invited to the party or not.
The last word went to a woman who yelled in a southern drawl, “Interview Jesus. He gonna give you all the answers.”
Perks of Christianity
You could sense the post-cruise hangover setting in as passengers waited in line to settle all the bills they’d racked up over the course of their vacation.
That evening, I was still single and still free of the nets of the fishers of men – no amount of Biblical pick-up lines, smuggled booze or prayer would have changed those facts. We pulled into Tampa, where it just so happened an NHL game was about to start. I had never seen an NHL game. We heard we could get tickets for 10 bucks from scalpers.
No luck: the game was sold out. Tickets were going for $125.
“We should ask Jesus for tickets,” I said with my trademark smirk.
“Okay,” Mike said, laughing.
“Alright then, go ahead,” I said. Mike was the Christian; he was the man for the job.
“No, I think you should do it.”
“Okay, Jesus. They told me to talk to you just like a friend so here I am doing that. I feel ridiculous. But I’m just wondering if you could give us some free tickets. That would be really cool.”
We hung around the arena, giving Jesus some time to come through, before we found our way to a coffee shop. There, a man pointed us in the direction of some ticket sellers next door.
“Sorry guys. The game’s sold out.”
I endured a conversation between Mike and the two men about professional sports. They were just putting in time. Then one of them put his phone down.
“This guy isn’t going to come for these.” He handed us two tickets. “Enjoy the game.”
Lifelong friends Lyndon Froese and Mike Friesen are co-founders of the House Party of Canada, a tiny political party employing the tactics of the advertising industry to sell a new anti-consumerist lifestyle paradigm. Learn about their plan to Rebrand Rich at thehouseparty.ca
Editor’s note: After publication of the article above, we received an unprecedented amount of feedback from readers, including a response from one of the people depicted in the story. See her response below, followed by a statement from the author. – Aiden Enns, co-editor, Geez magazine.
From Sandy ★ When I saw the article that Lyndon Froese wrote, I was really angry and felt betrayed. I liked Lyndon, enjoyed my time with him on the cruise, and spoke highly of him when I returned from my trip. He said he was writing for a Christian magazine, and we trusted him.
We gave up time on our last evening to help him with his questions about Christianity and we prayed for him. He distorted the things we said. I would like him to write a humble retraction and admit that what he did was wrong. There were true Christians on that cruise that cared a lot about Lyndon. I hope that he grows from this experience.
The real story of the cruise was the struggle faced by some of the Haitians we met. One man named Max lost 10 family members in the 2010 earthquake. He makes very little money carving out figures from wood. It took him years to save up $2,000 to go to school to get a certificate so that he could escape Haiti. But an evil government official stole his certificate. In spite of these horrible things he’s gone through, his faith in God stands strong. I pray for him and his friends, and they pray for me. It was worth the trip just meeting them. They said sometimes if someone would just take the time to talk with them it was better than money. They insisted I take free gifts from them. I will treasure these gifts always. – Sandy, Orange County, California
From Lyndon ★ It is part of my life mission to brighten lives with tales of my adventures. Maybe I’m a performance artist of sorts. But sometimes my acts end up hurting people.
In my article “Overboard” [Geez 26, Summer 2012] I thought playing up the contrast of a flamboyant jerk causing trouble among conservative Christians would be hilarious.
For example, when in Jamaica, instead of focusing on Sandy’s desire to learn about the locals, I selected the statement, “Take us to where I can see women carrying the water jugs on their heads!”
Creative non-fiction can have a dark side. In the name of a story, I abused the respect shown to me by the good people on the boat. Miraculously, they have not given up on me. As I go on to tell this tale, I consider this a good “moral of the story.” – Lyndon Froese, Winnipeg, Manitoba
P.S., I want to note this correction: While Sandy had interest in finding a husband, that was not one of the reasons she was on the cruise. My apologies to Sandy for this error.
View comments, or leave one yourself
(The discussion has begun.)
Sorry, comments are closed.
Very amusing and yet another look at Christian hypocrisy. Anything that causes us to reconsider or reflect is a good thing. We can do better.
Question: Did you get laid?
Colin Ford Canada June 23rd, 2012 6:52am
Hey Colin. Thanks for the feedback! To answer your question, no I did not get laid. :)
Lyndon June 25th, 2012 2:28pm
Hey Colin and Lyndon. That’s not really a funny joke, is it? It’s actually kind of creepy.
Anna Guelph June 26th, 2012 6:47am
Hey. I liked this article, thought it had a lot to offer in terms of thinking about faith and how it affects (or doesn’t) our choices. It also captures the hypocrisy that turns so many people off Christianity.
Too bad though. I had asked my Christian Ed committee to give the gift of a subscription to GEEZ to a young man graduating from high school, part of our senior youth group. They agreed, based on my appreciation for the magazine and as a great way (I said) to keep this guy connected with his faith in a way that would make sense to him and his context.
The article starting off with how to get laid and laying waste to a line from the Song of Solomon caught the attention of a CE member who went to check out the magazine. Needless to say, I am in some hot water over this and (embarrassingly) having to call back the subscription I put in place last week.
Why tell you this? LOL, partly to vent. But also to let you know that you’re acute observations and your assessment of an aspect of what some call the Christian life were lost in the shuffle. The person from my congregation might have had a chance to experience a moment of conversion in her own life. The young man who was to get the magazine is losing a chance to see Christian faith in a whole new (life giving) way.
All this is by way of offering you the possibility that, while your opening was eye catchingly provocative, it also ended up shooting your message (and me, frankly) in the foot.
Wish you well for your seeking. Messed up as those people on the cruise were, I believe them when they say that God took you there for a reason, and that there is some important stuff happening in you and around you. Worth thinking…even praying…about.
Leslie Clark Canada July 2nd, 2012 9:30am
I was really disappointed with this article. The idea is great but the result was terrible. Shock-value one liners with an attempt at tongue in cheek that just made the authors, and Geez for printing it, come off as misogynistic. The opportunities for analysis were lost again and again as the authors sharing their dating con scams. Seriously diminished my respect for the quality and solid analysis I expect at Geez.
Gen Ottawa July 3rd, 2012 12:19pm
I was really excited about this article. The cruise industry is one that needs serious critique, and what a great opportunity to bring a critical eye to consumer-Christianity, all in the same awesome long-form piece. Unfortunately, I also found the male perspective really alienating as a feminist reader. Women — no matter how conservative, Christian, middle-aged, less educated that you, capitalist, lost, or unfit they might be (one vacationer was described as having “a body of someone who works in an office”) — deserve better. Also, quoting a Jamaican cab driver as saying “mon” instead of “man” sort of puts you in the same boat (har har) as the folks who are hoping to catch women carrying water on their head. I’m not concerned, personally, with Geez alienating Christians — it doesn’t surprise me anyway. The Christians who read Geez are alienated or on the fringe already! But I am worried about alienating social-justice minded people of any or no faith (aka concerned about race, gender, and class!).
Anna July 9th, 2012 1:59pm