If there is one aspect of the Internet that the Reformed community must endure with the greatest resignation, it is that it truly is the great democratizer, with all the negativity that that term entails. On Christian topics you won’t find too many Luthers or Calvins writing online, but you will find all the John Wesleys and John Hagees you can stomach, no problem. Give any cretin a Chinese-made Acer laptop, and suddenly he fancies himself the next Mencken. (Or, if he’s a Judeo-Churchian, the next Norman Vincent Peale – Mencken was ‘mean’, after all.)
Every once in a while, though, you run across a special kind of stupid. The kind of stupid that can come only from an ‘author’ who knows absolutely nothing about his subject, but feels compelled to vomit forth his musings into cyberspace for the dogs to lap up anyway. I had the pleasure of such an experience when I read an article by Marcus Pittman, very self-evidently titled ‘Praise God for GMOs’.
You will notice from the hyperlink that Pittman’s blog is called ‘Gospel Spam’. This is most appropriate, as his theological pontifications have all the nutritional value and aesthetic quality of that tinned sustenance. He explains the origins of this name in another post of his, and it bears quotation as an insight into his character and style:
As far as the name Gospel Spam goes, I do not find it all sacrilegious. I am a tech geek at heart, and spam in that sense just means an e-mail no one wanted, or asked for.
Assuming that definition, the Gospel is indeed always spam.
We pass out tracts to people who do not want it and share the Gospel with people who hate God all the time.
We started Gospel Spam, because people were sharing my films on Social Media with some upper crust in Christianity. Their response was to stop spamming their Facebook page (Even though the topic of their OP was completely relevant to what was shared)
So, Gospel Spam articles are editorials on culture and theology from a layman or unknown individual’s perspective that most people within the ivory towers of Christianity don’t want to lend a voice to. Every article is indeed spam in that sense.
So that is how the name started. It’s not at all saying The Gospel is spam, but the act of spreading the Gospel in a culture that opposes it, is.
But ultimately, I would argue that Spam is just a tech word and not really a degrading term at all. I hope to make Gospel Spam more tech nerd related/Gospel stuff as we grow so the name will fit there as well.
PS. It could also be used to signify a breakfast meat. Tony Miano has been doing a great job at relating to the daily posts as breakfast food.
There are no plans to change the name. I still hope you can find a reason to share the posts. If you can’t, I understand, and look forward to your future readership.
Breathtaking prose! Awkward sentences like ‘I hope to make Gospel Spam more tech nerd related/Gospel stuff as we grow so the name will fit there as well’ are bad enough, but in trying to explain the blog’s name, Pittman begins by proclaiming ‘the Gospel is indeed always spam’, contradicts himself a mere four short paragraphs later with ‘It’s not at all saying The Gospel is spam’, then concludes by saying spam ‘is just a tech word’, but that ‘It could also be used to signify a breakfast meat.’ (???) All clear now? If not, don’t worry. Such inept writing is a Pittman trademark, one that amply mirrors the disorganization of his mind and soul both.
What qualifies him to write on Christian agricultural issues? Well, in addition to being a tech geek, the bio at the end of the article mentions that he is ‘a documentary filmmaker and television director living in Virginia.’ I’m guessing the quality of his work is somewhat below the technical standards of Steven Spielberg, and I sure wouldn’t look to the latter as any great authority on food, either. A quick perusal of his Facebook page shows him to be a devotee of Calvinist-themed hip-hop, Girl Meets World, and a myriad of toothless generic Reformed- and libertarian-themed pages. Credibility ahoy!
Still, I certainly don’t want anyone calling me a ‘bigot’ for judging the quality of an article based on surface impressions of the author. That would just devastate me. Let’s move on to the article itself.
Pittman begins his piece with a bold assertion – ‘There is perhaps no more controversial topic within Christianity than that of food.’ Uh…I can think of one or two topics that just might be more inflammatory – ones that have existed for centuries, which the food controversy certainly hasn’t, as it only began with the advent of prepackaged, processed slop masquerading as food after World War II. But then, incompetents love to begin their propaganda with absurd hyperbole. It makes them feel like talented analysts.
He proceeds to state that GMOs are ‘perhaps’ a blessing from God. In the following passage, he then takes on a tone I completely and utterly loathe – snarky wannabe-ironic, with an extra dollop of Reformed piety to make the whole concoction doubly odious:
I’m not ignorant to the idea that GMO’s may be bad for you. They might cause cancer. They might make people unhealthy. These are valid concerns.
But then again, these could all be ridiculous conspiracy theories from some hipster organic Illuminati farmers living on a farm compound somewhere deep within urban Portland.
Throwing out accusations of tinfoil hat-wearing, as we all know, is the last refuge of a scoundrel who finds the Matrix to be warm and comfy. Pittman fancies himself well-versed in the Bible, but he apparently never got around to reading the second Psalm, verses 2 and 3: ‘The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying/Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.’
Take note, also, that such words as ‘perhaps’, ‘might’, and ‘could be’ are already overrepresented. The entire piece is rife with such ambiguities, along with ‘to some extent’, ‘sort of’, ‘probably’, and the like. This is not the style of someone who is even pretending to act like he’s holding his own in a debate. ‘Maybe’ he should never have attempted to write this in the first place.
Next up, we are treated to a bit of verbal finger-wagging, reminding us that concern over GMOs is a ‘first-world problem’, and that we whites in the West are just being ungrateful. That’s always charming. Did I mention that Pittman loves his hip-hop? He also shows an unsavory inclination to refer to food being ‘made’ rather than ‘grown’. He doesn’t have a green thumb, because he ate it when he was ravenously hungry once.
At this point, though, we reach the theological crux of Pittman’s argument: GMOs are part of a larger design to ensure that the Gospel will triumph in the world. I am dead serious. His postmillennial vision is one in which, in his own words, ‘Technology is used by God to advance the temporal benefits of the Gospel.’ Pittman does not see fit to separate beneficial technologies from baleful ones. If it’s ‘scientific’, it must be godly! There is no difference between a Luddite and an atheist! In his moronic faith in the justness of all technology, he comes across more as a futurist than as a Christian.
These views are sacrilegious enough, but they become even more so when Pittman contradicts himself. In his opening words, he freely admits that GMOs ‘might’ cause cancer and ‘might’ make people unhealthy, and that they and industrial farming practices are ‘probably somewhat’ bad for you ‘in their current state’. Does he believe God’s original creation requires improvement to such a degree that man needs to get in there and bioengineer the hell out of everything, even if boo-boos result that ‘might’ prove disastrous? How is this any different from how Marxists operate in government?
Pittman’s scriptural references in support of his thesis consist entirely of one passage – Genesis 1:28-31. What does this passage have to do with genetic modification? Nothing…but Pittman assures us that tampering with God’s domain is ‘part of the mandate’. As that one owl meme so eloquently put it, ‘O RLY?’ Perhaps he would have benefited to go back a little earlier and look at Genesis 1:11-12:
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Take note that, in the creation of the earth’s vegetation, the regenerative properties of all food-producing plants is emphasized. God saw that that was good, and He does not require any man to make the process more ‘efficient’. I don’t mean to deny that we have any obligation to improve on the quality of our food supply. Of course we do. That certainly is part of the ordained dominion – yet the means to bring this to pass is selective breeding. This was given sanction in Genesis 30, when Jacob increased the strength of his herd at the expense of Laban’s herd, and prospered as a result of such husbandry. But such a process does not give us carte blanche to do whatsoever we will over every living thing. This, too, has been expressly provided for in the law. Leviticus 19:19:
Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.
The word ‘mingled’ refers to two heterogeneous, and thus mutually exclusive, items. We are not to plant tomatoes, beans, apples, and pumpkins willy-nilly in one row, so why does Pittman believe splicing the genes of one into another is any more acceptable to God? Also to be considered: linen is often used to represent that which is godly in the Bible (Lev. 6:10; Mark 15:46; Rev. 19:8), while wool is often used to represent that which is earthly (Proverbs 31:13; Ezek. 44:17; Hosea 2:5). Hence, the latter admonition could be read as a condemnation of unnaturally combining what is of God with what is of the earth – a category under which bioengineering would definitely fall. This verse was reiterated by Moses in Deuteronomy 22:9-11 as Israel prepared to claim her inheritance as a nation, thus cementing God’s approval of agrarianism. What was it that Pittman said about a ‘mandate’, again?
(As a sidenote, almost always in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word zera is used to describe seed of both the plant and the human variety, as its meaning can be either ‘fruit-bearing’ or ‘posterity’. Given that, how could Pittman logically support GMOs and oppose human cloning at the same time?)
I suppose I wasn’t quite correct in stating that Pittman only cites one biblical passage, as he then proceeds to pursue a tangent regarding the Tower of Babel to reinforce his touchingly ignorant faith in technology. Here we learn that the sin at Babel was strictly one of engineering, rather than rebellion against God under the guise of multiculturalism. But because Christ said that nothing is impossible with God, that restriction was lifted and, as a result, a space station manned by ‘the internationals’ is orbiting the earth with God’s blessing. If you think this sounds like Gnosticism, I couldn’t agree more. A compass can only dream of making circles as perfect as the ones in which Pittman’s logic is enmeshed.
So much for his nonexistent scriptural references. As for practical references to back up his claim, this article is just as laughably bereft of those. His one quote from an outside source comes from a claim that the McDonald’s McDouble is the ‘cheapest and most nutritious food in human history’, according to the author of Freakonomics and some columnist with the New York Post. Yep, that’s it. If his article is so presumptuously entitled ‘Praise God For GMOs’, shouldn’t he have spent just a little bit more time providing evidence that this should be done? Why did he not do this?
Could it be because, contrary to his claims, numerous studies exist to show that GMO crops produce lower yields than non-GMO crops?
Could it be because of irrefutable proofs that GMO crops cross-pollinate with non-GMO crops, resulting in the contamination of organic heirloom varieties? Not to mention a lawsuit by Monsanto against the offended party for ‘patent infringement’?
Could it be because of the existence of terminator genes, rendering plants non-reproductive in direct violation of Genesis 1:11?
Nowhere does Pittman address the fact that much genetic modification is done to make crops resistant to the herbicide Roundup, whose key component, glyphosate, presents a myriad of problems on its own. Is Pittman unaware that human consumption of glyphosate can lead to birth defects and infertility? Given his obvious love for the third world, isn’t it somewhat disingenuous of him to support the efforts of guys like Bill Gates to cram the bellies of Africans and Asians full of GMO products?
Is Pittman aware of how difficult it is for humans and animals to egest glyphosate residue? Or should we be overjoyed that it’s circulating in our bloodstream because it’s ‘technological’?
Is Pittman aware of weeds that develop a resistance to Roundup over time – resulting in the need for ever-more toxic herbicides to eradicate them, and ever-increasing amounts of glyphosate in the food supply?
I could list several more sources exposing GMOs, but you get my point. Incidentally, in finding these sources, it was not at all difficult to run across pro-GMO propaganda pieces from such hack outlets as Fox News and Forbes. Why didn’t Pittman use any of them? Answer: severe intellectual laziness. He probably only inadvertently ran across the McDouble story while he was waiting to download the Angry Birds app onto his iPhone.
Next up: a stupid analogy from Doug Wilson regarding a man on a desert island and lots of Oreos. It really doesn’t bear further attention, except to note that when God sees fit to provide sustenance, He does not substitute it with poison; we should not pretend that anyone is realistically forced to choose between GMOs and survival. Wilson would do well to remember Christ’s words from the Sermon on the Mount: ‘Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?’ (Matt. 7:9-10).
At this point in the piece, Pittman begins to cheerlead for the ‘glories’ of capitalism in his typically witless and soggy-noodle fashion. He actually has the chutzpah to contend that ‘we shouldn’t let angry farmers who have failed at capitalism create unBiblical laws as a means to pay for their family farm.’ His passively obnoxious arrogance is getting more magical by the minute. First of all, when was the last time angry farmers created any law, unbiblical or otherwise? Second, how does poor weather, government intrusion a la Cliven Bundy, and unpredictable price volatility created by sleazebag commodity speculation reflect a failure on the part of the small farmer? Third, Pittman remains willfully ignorant of the strong-arm techniques agribusiness giants like Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland use to drive smaller producers (many of whom use actual biblical wisdom in managing their wealth) into penury, such as the patent lawsuits I mentioned before. Contradicting himself yet again later on, he himself does admit that Monsanto is comprised of ‘evil crony capitalists’. What, no follow-up sentence – ‘Praise God for Monsanto’?
Pittman seems to have a genuine problem with a natural diet, as his next point quite deliberately slams what he calls ‘health food’, because the Obama White House coerces school districts into accepting it for its federal school lunch program. Using his by-now-familiar powers of syllogism (and one dubious source), he concludes that kids were starving to death because there was no food to be had at home, so it was far better to serve them a gigantic meal of empty, artery-clogging calories, just like the federally mandated school lunches under the Bush White House doubtless were composed. Pittman brushes over what this entire escapade says about publik skoolz in the first place, and instead concludes that it’s far better to be fat than malnourished. What I conclude is that he’s demonstrating his ignorance yet again, as obesity itself represents an even more insidious form of malnutrition.
He also argues that for all the harm caused by junk food, it is still the most affordable means for the poor to feed themselves. Leaving aside the fact that this is hotly contested by organic producers, perhaps this should serve as a wake-up call to the poor that they should be finding the means to grow their own food – certainly the more affordable option over the long term. But not according to the Oracle of Obesity. No, instead he is content to offer us such platitudes as ‘Capitalism has found a way to feed the masses of our nation with very little cost to the consumer’, and ‘I for one enjoy going into McDonald’s and never having to worry about being denied a super-sized french fry because of a potato famine.’ Ludicrous. Even for those poor who are, for whatever reason, not budgeting for (or growing) organic food, why assume they are forced to purchase McDonald’s? Even GMO eggs, beans, and rice will be far healthier and more affordable than a slew of ‘Extra Value Meals’. The fact that he feels no shame about voicing such sentiments and cannot see how they mirror his weakness of character speaks volumes as to the sick mindset operating within the vast majority of the Reformed world today.
And, with that, his entire sorry epistle draws to a close. A little harebrained optimism that the problems relating to the poor will be solved, including the elimination of animal death (??? – and what about Christ’s words: ‘For the poor always ye have with you’?). The idolatrous notation, ‘But as the Gospel advances, capitalism will find a way’. A lame quip about Chick-fil-A on the new earth. And that is the end of that, praise God.
To sum up: Pittman is utterly pathetic. He is a consumer to the core of his being – or perhaps ‘parasite’ would be a less diplomatic, albeit more truthful, moniker. He produces nothing of value himself – that definitely includes his home movies. Worse still, he knows nothing about how actual wealth is created and could care less, so long as his little tech-gorged paradigm isn’t shattered into a million pieces.
But you know what, Marcus? That’s all right. You just go right on waddling through the aisles of a Wal-Mart not too far from your home, picking up Ding-Dongs and Doritos and Little Bettys and whatever other chemically saturated treats in flashy packaging catch your eye, and gorge yourself to your heart’s content, until the fiat money supply runs dry one day and chaos erupts. In the meantime, don’t interfere with the men who, with God’s help, will be attempting to build a sustainable society.