Saturday, January 27, 2007

Church Hosts Porn and Pancakes Event

Yes, you read that right. In these times of dimishing church attendence, this appears at first to be a reliable method of filling those pews every Sunday.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your habits), it's all part of a high concept evangelical thrust. As it were. The backers have even pulled out the big guns; USA Today reports that "A billboard advertisement near the church shows the words 'Porn and Pancakes' written in syrup on a stack of flapjacks."


Porn and Pancakes appears in full caps. I realize that it's the convention for billboard titles, but those capital letters could also be read as some kind of code. It implies that there's really good PORN and significantly above average PANCAKES on offer. This truly would be an occasion. One rarely finds them together.

That said, there's a venerable strip club in Toronto that allegedly has a breakfast buffet (favoured by shift-workers and cops). I can't say whether they offer pancakes or not, perhaps the strip club breakfast focuses on fruitcups and high fibre. It's safe to assume that more than one devotee has been questioned intensely by their wife or girlfriend and fallen back on the "Hey, you're the one who's always stressing the importance of a well balanced breakfast, and I think the mise en scene of the establishment is secondary to the nutritional benefits" argument. It probably didn't help.

If this is the formed-by-committee initiative that I suspect it to be, there must have been a long list of rejected titles and foodstuffs before they settled on Porn and Pancakes:

Purient Publications & Prune Danish
Hotcakes for the Hellbound Horny
Oatmeal Orgy
Belgian Waffle Bacchanalia
...and so on. Porn and Pancakes obviously proved to be the most feasible in both catering and linguistic terms. It's a title you don't forget, it guarantees free publicity across most media and dedicated bloggers. It has been designed to do so (and yeah, I've fallen into the trap). If 75% of the population rolls their eyes at it and assumes it's some kind of evangelical scam, that leaves 25% who will show up at the Porn and Pancake meetings with a hungry belly and high hopes for a recent theological shift. Most will leave well fed but rather disappointed. Others might bond to the evangelical fellowship. Come for the food, stay for the salvation.

The USA Today piece doesn't mention that the whole porn and pancakes enterprise is for men only (since women don't indulge in such things? I realize the numbers are in favour of men as users, but couldn't women make a far more eloquent case against objectification and exploitation?), and the website flogging its value is a bit vague on the topic as well. But it all seems to boil down to this:
Each Porn and Pancakes will cover different issues surrounding pornography and have different presenters. In addition to a presenter from XXXchurch addressing the issue of pornography, each event will also have some very memorable moments whether it be a clown, a hypnotist, a comedian, the horn guy, a mariachi band, an accordion player, or an ex porn producer, you never know who might show up. We promise we will never make you sing at Porn and Pancakes.
The idea of being forcefed pancakes in a Baptist church basement by a hypnotized clown alongside a comedian playing the horn (or maybe he's just really horny, but I'd hope that he's simply musical) all backed up by a mariachi band who have supplanted their porn careers with accordion recitals...it just rubs me the wrong way. At least they wouldn't make me sing.

I don't want to knock it on religious terms (who am I to prevent somebody from attending the church of their choice), but the entire enterprise makes my skin crawl. There's a stench of astroturf around the organization from both the porn and church sides. Evangelists trying to look cool (which never goes over well) have paired up with pornographers who are trying to look socially responsible. Evangelists (at their worst) sincerely believe that you'd be in God's good books if you gave them a cheque. Pornographers (at their best) really think you'd be a lot cooler and less hung-up if you gave them lots of money. Cash is the common denominator. We probably shouldn't be surprised.

I'm not defending the porn industry, and I don't want to poke too vigorously at the evangelicals since they represent a great deal of fish in a very small barrel. Besides, P.J O'Rourke nailed the barrel-fish much more succinctly in a piece in Holidays in Hell. In that case, it was an expose on the still-open Heritage USA, and those particular sacred fish probably wouldn't be slaughtered by a sworn Republican ever since Bush Jr. came in with his base.

Given the choice of being locked in a room with evangelists or pornographers, I'd leap out of the nearest window and take my chances with gravity. Failing that, evangelists would at least have the King James bible around so there'd be something decent to read. As for the pornographers, well, I'm sure there'd be something we could all do together.


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