So, I was sitting in the Little Rock airport Friday, sipping tea and waiting for my flight to be called (having driven up from Magnolia in sometimes torrential rain). Little Rock being one of those civilized airports that provides free wi-fi, I was checking my e-mail one last time before what promised to be hours offline, when a man walking by stopped, put something on the table, and walked off. That seemed odd, so I moved the computer screen till I cd see it: a little card like a business card or a calling card, bearing the header "EVOLUTION vs. GOD: Shaking the Foundations of Faith", the phrase "Watch It Free Online" and the website url "EVOLUTIONvsGOD.com". This got me curious, so I hung onto the card and checked it out once I'd finally gotten home, rested up a bit, and was putting away things from the trip.
I had imagined this would be a link to one of those website that try to prove dinosaurs lived alongside humans, or that grasshoppers had a different number of legs back in Biblical times, or that modern science is a Satanic plot, something along those lines. Turns out typing it into Google leads you a Creationist film on YouTube which tries to disprove Darwinism and ends with* a long ad for one of those Creationist museums.
When I mentioned the whole card-dropped-on-table thing to Janice, it turned out she'd had a similar experience on her flight home from Milwaukee that same day, although in her case it was a woman in the seat next to her, and what he passed out was a photocopied folded piece of paper advertising free bible guides from "www.bibleschool.com", which seems to be a non-functional website.
What interested me most was not the contents of these sites (or the dismal quality thereof) but the stealth evangelizing involved in trying to get people to visit them. This seems to me very obviously a modern-day analogy to Jack Chick's little pamphlets, which people used to leave on gas pumps, or hand out to passers-by, or leave in desks at high school. But with those you got a lurid little morality tale, of a sort that I can now see in retrospect owe less to Jonathan Edwards than to E. C. Comics. The most notorious of them was DARK DUNGEONS, an unintentionally hilarious denunciation of Dungeons and Dragons which ended by advocating a book-burning of J. R. R. Tolkien's and C. S. Lewis's works. I have to say that I'd take Chick's febrile but sincere little tracts over the self-satisfied manipulativeness of that You-Tube film.
Of course, I didn't manage to get all the way through that film and after the first nine minutes or so was reduced to skimming, so maybe I missed so little gem in the middle. Or, as they say, your mileage may vary.