Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chris Rodda on Her AOL-Huff-Po Connection

Here. A taste:

I had no idea that my whole life was about to change one day when I signed onto AOL to read my email. On days when I wasn't too busy, I would usually read a few of the news stories on AOL when I signed on to check my mail, and one of the stories that day was about ex-Judge Roy Moore's infamous Ten Commandments monument in the Alabama courthouse. Having a little time to kill, I decided to click on the link to the message board about the story, something I had never done before. Little did I know when I decided to click on that link that I was about to discover a whole new version of American history, or that six months later I'd be writing a book about it.


Before long, other people who were battling the lies on the AOL message boards began emailing me posts from the both the Ten Commandments board and other related boards, asking me whether or not they were true. Apparently, these people had gotten the impression from my now quite lengthy, footnoted posts that I was some sort of expert on the subject. I wasn't -- at least not yet -- but I did know enough to be able to answer most of these emails, even if it was only to tell someone where they could find the information they needed to disprove whatever lie they were trying to disprove. Between writing my own posts on the boards and answering emails, what had begun as a simple click on an AOL message board link had become somewhat of a "calling" that I was spending several hours a day on.

From time to time over the next few months, someone on the message boards would respond to one of my posts by saying that I should write a book. While I appreciated the compliment, I didn't take the idea very seriously -- at least not at first. For one thing, I was was sure that there must already be plenty of books on the subject, written by people far more qualified than I was to write about it. When I tried to find such a book, however, I couldn't. I found a few books that refuted the lies to some degree, but none providing the amount of information or level of detail I was including in my message board posts. At this point, the idea of writing a book was beginning to seem a little less crazy, and when I half-jokingly mentioned the idea to a few of my real life friends, I was surprised to find that they didn't think it was crazy at all. So, never having written anything before, with the exception of posts on AOL message boards, and having no particular qualifications to write a history book, I found myself writing a history book.

Fast forward to 2006. What had started out as a plan to spend a few months writing a short book debunking the historical myths and lies floating around the internet had become a much bigger project than I had anticipated. My little book, titled Liars For Jesus (after a phrase coined on the old Compuserve message boards to describe Christians who will make up or lie about anything for the sake of their religion), had evolved from a short single volume into what will eventually be a three-volume series (I'm still working on Volume 2). There were just too many lies to cover in one book. These lies were everywhere -- on the internet, in the books of pseudo-historians like David Barton, in debates in Congress, and even in the opinions of Supreme Court justices.

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