Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Seminar caller

For background, read here.

Since I've been accused of being a "seminar caller", I have to admit that I'm full of curiosity to discover what exactly it is that I supposedly am. So I googled "seminar caller" for answers.

I've cut and pasted the following from Wikipedia. Yes, I know it's a ridiculous source and that any fool can write any nonsense he wants, but I thought it might be a passable source for slang terms:

A seminar caller is someone who telephones a radio talk show for the purpose of astroturfing, which is the mass promotion of a particular product, service or political point of view as if it were genuinely spontaneous, or grassroots.

Many seminar callers try to portray themselves as regular people, claim to agree with the host's point of view, then begin to read a contrary opinion from an agenda or list of talking points widely circulated by a group known to oppose the views of the host.

Seminar callers get their name from the seminars they attend to learn how to most effectively get their message on the air. However, faxes, e-mails and newsletters are more common modes of disseminating astroturf messages to seminar callers.

Before the 2004 U.S. presidential election, seminar callers began to tell more elaborate stories to establish credibility, behaving as if they were actors playing the role of someone with beliefs opposite of their own, in an attempt to erode the opposing candidate's "base" of political support.

The term "seminar caller" was most likely coined by conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, but is in wide use among talk show hosts and audiences. See Also: Astroturfing

What can I say?

This accusation is one of the funniest things that has been said about me in a loooong time. But, just in case any of my accusers are reading my blog (and I don't flatter myself that they are bothering to do so) let me state for the record:

You got me. I'm not a regular person. In fact, I'm part of a group of people that has a definite agenda. I regularly attend meetings and read materials that, in part, teach me how to get our message across more effectively. In fact, just this morning I was reading a book that's sole purpose is to teach readers how to communicate our message fearlessly.

However, I don't tell elaborate stories to cover up my involvement with this group. In fact, I'm quite upfront about my agenda and about my message --- although I need to be much, much more bold about it than I am.

I'm sure most, if not all, of my readers know about this message and about the meetings I attend, because I've written about it quite openly on my blog.

I'm not a regular person. Well, to be accurate, I am and I'm not. Through nothing special in myself, but entirely by the grace of God, I am a new creature in Christ Jesus.

I belong to the Body of Christ.

My message, my main message, has always been the gospel, that glorious story of God's grace. (Look at my sidebar under "Most Important Posts on my Blog".)

And, yes, I'm trying to learn to communicate it more effectively.

If that makes me a seminar caller, I will accept that title gladly and unashamedly, because I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But...somehow I don't think that's quite what was meant by the accusation...


  1. Rebecca,

    This is just goofy!

    What seminars have you attended that give you your "talking points"? LOL!

    Uhhh, they look like fools. They could readily Google your name and know that you are NOT a "seminar caller". Even Gary Ezzo never called you that! :-)

    Oh well, when in doubt, just fling mud!

  2. You know, there are some venues where if they're railing against somebody in public (as with Carolyn Custis James) and then go on the attack when anyone dares to question their apparent biases and illogical assertions, you simply know the subject of their attacks has got it right.

    I do wonder what excuses for how they've treated their sisters in Christ will be offered when the kings of that blog come face to face with the King of Kings.

  3. Psalmist, I appreciate your comments on my blog. I just read this, and have to say we must always keep in mind the other possibility that the first person was wrong, even though people attack them by illogical means. That would make them both wrong.

    Rebecca, Corrie, and I have seen this on the Gothard list, for example -- people making ad homs against Gothard, or making really overblown claims about him (one person suggested comparing him to a terrorist at one point, I recall).

    The fact that people make illogical, unfounded assertions against a person does not automatically make the claims of person they are attacking right. The original person's claims need to be evaluated in light of good hermeneutics and reasoning skills.

  4. Yes, I know that they can and even occasionally do speak against someone/something that is clearly wrong. "A stopped watch is still correct twice a day" comes to mind.

    Let's just say that those the Baylys target, especially when the attacks are serial, tend to be making good claims worthy of evaluation. They have yet to deal truthfully with either the person or the claims of those they attack as "rebelling against God's commanded father-rule."

    I will try to acknowledge the next time one of their targets shows noon or midnight.

  5. One thing I noted in Donna's accusation against Midwest Christian Outreach (over on my blog) is the appearance of following the Baylys into extremism when complaining about other people and institutions that aren't on the attack against religious feminism.

    I noted this yesterday when I reviewed CBMW's two statements about Carolyn James and their concerns about her.

    In looking up information about her, I came upon Bill Mouser's blog, where he was critical of CBMW's stance on her, and as I recall chalked it up to politics, or at least his commenters did.

    The interesting thing is, Tim Bayly (originally a leader in CBMW) commented about how compromising CBMW was, how timid to speak out against James.

    The problem is, that blog entry of Bill Mouser's was written several months after CBMW's articles detailing concerns about James came out. But the CBMW articles didn't accuse her of heresy, of feminism, of etc.. Their concerns provided direct quotes, or claims of specific things she said that they had problems with.

    But Tim Bayly ignored that in order to make a claim that CBMW is wimpy and should be making stands when they don't. This smacks of dishonesty, at least, to me it does.

    Anyway, when Donna came out claiming MCO shouts down people who try to talk against religious feminism, it reminds me of Tim Bayly's complaints about CBMW and James -- both of them are false accusations.

  6. Here are Mouser's and Tim Bayly's complaints against CBMW, written well over a half a year after these articles came out:

    CBMW on James

    CBMW on James II

    CBMW's major complaint was Carolyn James said women in the PCA need to be "unleashed," while at the same time claiming to believe in the PCA guidelines of no female elders. CBMW said she needs to be specific in detailing how and in what ways women ought to be unleashed, and how her views on unleashing square with I Timothy chapter 2.

    I agree with this. It appears that she is as is claimed about her -- a visionary kind of person. These kinds of people are often not good with details, but if you really want to be biblically and theologically minded, you need to address how your belief in "unleashing," coupled with your belief in no ordination of women elders would look in church.

    I think it's a valid criticism, and measured.

    Mouser and Tim Bayly, however, claim that Carolyn James is egalitarian. What is true is that more information is needed in order to truly make that claim.

    I don't think, that when more information is needed, that people should then say you are being political and softpedaling error.

  7. Corrie asked: "What seminars have you attended that give you your "talking points"? LOL!"

    Um...a lifetime of church, Bible studies, and family discussions?

    Psalmist and Simplegifts --- thanks for your comments.

    "I don't think, that when more information is needed, that people should then say you are being political and softpedaling error."

    So true. And I need to remember this as well.