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Cruise With A Cause 2011

So here’s an interesting piece of Christian pop culture: Cruise With A Cause (CWAC) 2011, a Christian cruise/short-term mission trip/Christian entertainment something-or-other [link]. Entertainment headliners include Casting Crowns, NewSong, and various permutations of the Crabb family; speakers include Josh McDowell, Johnny Hunt, Ergun Caner, John Hagee, his son Matthew Hagee, and Jentezen Franklin. It really is a vast and varied cast; I’m not sure I can do it justice.

The very idea of a Christian cruise makes me a bit uneasy, but given how popular and varied the offerings are (Catholic Answers, Christian Research Institute, and various Reformed ministries [link] all do them) I suppose they’re just another sign of American Christianity becoming wealthier, having more disposable income, and being interested in seeing and hearing e.g. Hank Hanegraaff or Steve Camp daily for four days running.

I have to admit that little of what I believe to be true about cruises generally comes from first-hand experience and much of it comes from David Foster Wallace’s 1996 Harper’s article “Shipping Out: on the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise” [PDF] which successfully portrays his experience on a Celebrity Cruise seven-nighter as a vulgar, exploitative, gluttonous, numbing, spiritually deadening affair. There’s probably no good reason to believe that Cruise With A Cause 2011 will be anything similar. After all, CWAC is using a Carnival ship and their cruise is six days long.

Cruise With A Cause is run by PraiseFest Ministries; a cursory glance at their 2007 IRS Form 990 [PDF] and 2006 IRS Form 990 [PDF] suggests that they spend $2 million running this cruise each year, and nothing else they report to the IRS is a significant line item, including whatever salaries they pay. How president Matthew Dunaway feeds his family spending 24-38 hours in a typical week running PraiseFest while taking no salary is something a mystery.

Finally, here’s my favorite excerpt from the CWAC 2011 advertising, for a personality with the stage name Nikita Koloff:

Having traveled all over the world as a top athlete in professional wrestling, Nikita was one of the baddest. A Russian guy who spoke not a word of English, a superior athlete who came off the boat from the Soviet Union to the United States. In reality “I was just a guy from the projects of Minneapolis, who grew up on welfare. I lived the part of a Russian.” The hoax worked. It is still one of the most talked about events in wrestling history. Nikita was named Inspirational Wrestler of the Year in ’87 and at the height of his career, retired from professional athletics in ’93.

Yeah. I’m guessing Mr Koloff is the only person on this cruise with a history of misrepresenting himself.

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