THE Phil Cooke Responds…How Did I Rate This?

I have been blogging on my own for less than a month. I don’t expect tons of traffic this early in the game. I really don’t expect the authors of the works I mention to pay attention to my lil’ ol’ blog, let alone respond to my lil’ ol’ opinion. However, dreams can come true!

THE Phil Cooke, Ph.D. responded to my criticism of his Huffington Post article entitled “What Harold Camping Got Right.” His argument was that Harold Camping may be wrong–and semi-evil–but his fervor for and dedication to what he believes in is something the big, mainline church could learn from. Being a good United Methodist, I sat up and took notice of his criticism.

My post from May 25th–found here–I was critical of Cooke’s criticism of the mainline church’s messaging as “anemic” when compared to Camping’s “unified” message. I urged Cooke to “rethink” (a nod to my UM brethren) his position as revering Camping’s ability to get his message out. My belief is that the tabloid nature of the rapture made this story much less about the church and about proving a prominent crazy man wrong. The success of Camping’s messaging had little to do with how much he believed it and more with how rabid the media can get with these sorts of fluff pieces. For full context, read the articles. However, this is the comment that Cooke left on my blog post:

Thanks for your perspective, but I’m afraid you totally missed my point. Your question, “Would Cooke say the same thing if a group of Satanists incorrectly predicted the date of the anti-rapture?” Absolutely! My point is that while Camping is wacked, and his message could not be more wrong, he sure got his story out there. He mounted a unified and strategic effort to tell his story to the world, and as a result people on the street, the evening news, even kids were talking about it. The Church could learn a lesson here. If we had the conviction, the passion, and the drive about the right message, I wonder how much more effectively WE could impact the world.

I replied to his comment this way:

First off, let me tell you that in re-reading my post, I see that I may have been a bit snarky. I was not thinking snarkily in the moment, I just think I was trying to use flourish in the first few posts on my new blog. Either way, pardon the slight breach in etiquette.

Second, I am all about the church more effectively impacting the world. My disagreement with your argument lies in the difference between the two groups you are describing. I just don’t think we need to use the strategies of those who have been successful just because we want to duplicate the success. The message of the church is much less tabloid-ready and won’t be picked up by the media as will the message of one, lone charlatan. Everyone knows–or thinks they know–the message of the church. It is up to said church to figure out how. It doesn’t make the church less passionate, just more disadvantaged in the messaging war.

However, I will say that your examples from mainline churches and their description as “anemic” is right on. I just don’t think Camping should be given credit for his fervor when the story really took on a tabloid bent from the beginning.

The church’s message is not tabloid and is much more important.

I appreciate any author who cares enough about their argument to stick up for it. I truly appreciate those people who debate their passionately held positions in a civil manner. Cooke has done that here.

Let’s see what he has to say next…

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