Revelation 2.0: Using Fake News for the Good News

In New York City, the pranksters The Yes Men published a fake version of the New York Times and distributed it throughout town saying that the Iraq War was over.  Health care universal was fixed.  Bush tried as a war criminal.  It was dated July 4th, 2009 and the mantra altered to "all the news we hope to print."  Read more at Laughing Squid: Fake NYT, and read a google cached version of it here: New York Times Special Edition

It struck me as I was watching the news reel below how...happy people may be if all their dreams come true.  Watch it and even when they know it is fake, it still gives them a glow. (hat tip: BoingBoing)

New York Times Special Edition Video News Release - Nov. 12, 2008 from H Schweppes on Vimeo.

Read on for ideas on how to use this for your church or community.

Again, what struck me from the video was the look of joy and wonder on people's faces as they imagined what their world might look like.  Certainly only people with a particular bent (in this case, moderate-to-liberal) would react positively, but news that is a joy to read is very rare these days.

For the church, so often the Good News is Bad News, news of how the world is wrong and wayward and only Jesus is right.  What if we used fake news to spread the Good News and show, highlight, embody what a world where the Good News is spread looks like.  It would be like the Book of Revelation 2.0, without the weird trippy imagery, but with the hope for a better world!

There are several ways to use fake news like this as part of an evangelistic or outreach effort into your local town.  Keep in mind I am not about breaking the law (except when I am), but there may be creative legal manifestations of the following:

  • Print your monthly newsletter dated one year in the future showing everything perfect and pristine, filled pews, award-winning children's program, etc.  This vision of the future would go out to all the membership with an attached letter stating "what if..." and that this is achieveable.
  • For your local non-profit, distribute a fake shareholders report that shows goals achieved, bad guys overthrown, and a new sense of ownership by the locality of their local issue.  As a result, you are closing it down because the non-profits' job is done (assuming that doesn't trigger an automatic stock dump).
  • If you can get permission (or plausibly deny involvement...wait, I didn't say that), a fake copy of the local paper with all the town's little problems fixed and orientation towards the bigger problems could be very evocative for the local town.  If non-parishioners read it and saw a glimpse of what their town could look like, then a town-wide meeting a day or two later that addressed the concerns of fake news while also orienting people towards action and mobilization could be very powerful (if you aren't in jail...well, even then!).
The role of the church is to advance the kingdom of God.  If we can get that image of what the kingdom may look like, what a better world may look like, what a world where justice and lovingkindness reigns, into people's hands...then with the Spirit's blessing,  transformation is possible!  Modeling hope is better than preaching hope, and perhaps concrete reminders and manifestations (a fake newspaper or newsletter) could be the impetus to do it.

What do you think?  Is a fake news approach to evangelism and social justice immoral and unethical?  Or is it a subversive way of showing how EVERY problem that confronts us is solveable, and by catching a glimpse of a better world, our hearts may ache even more to achieve it.

Discuss.  Welcome to our visitors, and feel free to comment below.

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