Edited to add: I originally titled this post “What I hate about Patheos,” and while I said that I didn’t mean to attack anyone who works with Patheos, I managed to sound as though I was, and I’m deeply sorry for that. Star Foster, the hardworking manager of the Pagan portal at Patheos, was kind enough to inform me that the ad selection at Patheos is driven by Google Ad Sense, and thus based on my Google search history. The rest of this article is edited to reflect that. My apologies and thanks to Star, Cara, Lupus, et al.


I get really annoyed at certain kinds of ads, and I found a couple of those on a Patheos page today. The accumulated irony made me post about it, and as a result, I found out that my own actions have probably contributed to me seeing more of exactly the kinds of ads that annoy me most. Google, thy name is irony.

I was trying to read P. Sufenas Virius Lupus’ new piece on The Dangers of the One-Stop Shopping Mentality, which looks quite interesting – Lupus is one of the writers I’m happy about discovering at Patheos, even if I prefer to read minus the ads in my RSS feeds – when I kept getting distracted by the overtly Christian ads on both sides.

“Christian Mingle” is not so bad, as ads go. Even with the obnoxiously ubiquitous fish symbol, it’s certainly better than some of the stupid mortgage ads with dancing people or moving faces that distract me with their sheer creepiness. But even before I’ve gotten into the midst of Lupus’ piece, it certainly is ironic to see that ad there: Look within your religion for a partner! Your religion provides everything! Their tag line is “Find God’s Match for You.” One stop shopping mentality indeed.

But on the left-hand side is an overtly Catholic image, with the header “Find out more about our ministry,” and a link to the Knights of the Holy Eucharist. This is much more disturbing. Perhaps I’m overly sensitive to this right now, in the wake of the terrorism of a would-be Christian Knight in Norway, and in the lead-up to Christian spiritual warriors preparing to “lay siege” to my city and the seat of our country’s government. But then again, perhaps I’m not. The KHE’s About page begins:

A knight is one elevated by a king to a position of special trust, service, and honor. He is one who has made the interests of his king his own. He serves and protects his lord not for profit, but from the kind of selfless loyalty that can only be called noble. Jesus is the Eucharistic King Whom the Knights of the Holy Eucharist have pledged themselves to serve and to defend.

Eucharistic adoration I’m familiar with; if it’s a way that Catholics enhance their relationship with their deity, then good on ’em, go for it. But defense of the Eucharist? I am not aware of any declared campaigns to attack either the Eucharist or Jesus. If I was aware of such an attack, I would almost certainly denounce it and support my Catholic brothers and sisters in their defense of religious liberty. I was angry about PZ Myers’ stunt just like I was angry about people leaving a cross at the new Pagan circle at the Air Force Academy.

But who is it that they think they’re defending against, in their little adjunct to a convent in Hanceville, Alabama?

Is it campaigns to ensure that women have reproductive freedom and access to good health care at all hospitals, regardless of their religious affiliations? That is why I included the “almost certainly” qualifier in the statement above: Catholics may see demanding quality health care as an infringement on their religious liberty, whereas I think it is merely demanding that they fulfill their declared intent in building a hospital, which is to provide health care. When you go into business taking care of sick people, your religious liberty does not include forcing me to bleed to death.

Different arguments but the same separation between your religious liberty and my rights apply to marriage equality. Catholics can be Catholics to their heart’s desire, and I will defend them fervently. What they can’t do is try to enshrine Catholicism in the country’s laws or require people coming to them for secular matters like adoption to live by Catholic standards.

Now, I have no idea if the KHE think they’re “knights” in these culture wars, or if they just wanted a cool title and nifty masculine imagery to support them in their duties of wearing robes and taking care of a small shrine and helping out a convent. But either way, their chosen warlike imagery, combined with current events and the position and power of the Catholic church, are disturbing to me.

Finally, it’s ironic that the KHE site is also powered by WordPress, but at least I don’t have their imagery all over my own pages. That does mean that I’m not going to link to them in this article, partially because I don’t think they need the hits, but mostly because I don’t want to take the chance that if they got a pingback from me, they’d decide to crusade for or about me.

It’s not that I just want to be left alone. If that was what I wanted, I wouldn’t be writing a blog. I love engaging in interreligious dialogue. But dialogue has to mean listening as well as speaking, and listening and speaking to each other, not just to our respective deities.

It’s just sad that right now my efforts to understand people like DC40 and the NAR (through Googling them) have made me see even more similar crap. Time to take a deep breath, ground and center, and try to reach out and contribute to that dialogue more myself. Thanks again to everybody trying to help me do that.

6 thoughts on “When ads are annoying, now with added irony

  1. The ads are based on your Google search habits. When I look at his page all I see is Papa John’s pizza and Design Toscano. You can use adblocker if it offends you so much.

    We had a Bible scholar who complained about Victorias Secret ads on his blog until we mentioned it was related to his search habits.

    Considering how much you, I and other Pagans have been researching and reading about NAR, your having Christian ads pop up doesn’t surprise me.

    And you could have sent me an e-mail asking what was up with the ads instead of writing a post implying we are deliberately putting Christian ads on Pagan pages. Which is false.

    1. I’m sorry, Star. I didn’t mean to attack you at all. I have never seen you as responsible for Patheos or the ads; I would never have thought to email you because I didn’t think that you or Lupus, as I said, had control over things like that. That would have seemed more like an attack to me than this complaint about the business organization in general.

      Honestly, I thought that the preponderance of Christian ads was a reflection of the probable preponderance of Christians advertising. Thank you for telling me that it’s based on my Google habits; understanding helps.

      I’d like to edit this piece to reflect that. Would you like to review the edits before I post them?

  2. Know what I love about Patheos? That when advertisers were threatening to pull their $ from the site because Patheos features a Pagan portal and promotes Pagan writers right on their front page, Patheos told them to go take a flying leap.

    I guess I don’t even look at web ads anymore so I haven’t noticed them on Patheos. I don’t know what the advertising model is there. If things pop up because people pay to be on that spot, or if they rotate. I used to sell advertising and no matter what ad goes where, people complained. But it was usually a competitor that was complaining and I used that to sell them the ad space. Ha! “Don’t like your advertiser there? Would you like to buy that spot?” Good times, good times.

    But that does make me think…why aren’t PAGAN businesses buying those spots? They could and I’m betting Patheos would love to sell them to them. There a crap-ton of Pagans that read those sections of Pathoes, Pagans like you who notice the ads.

    1. Cara, you’re absolutely right. I sincerely apologize and I’d like to work with Star to fix this article.

      Another part of what’s fueling my irritation with Patheos – which I did _not_ mean to be irritation with anyone who writes at Patheos, and I apologize again for totally screwing that up – is that when Fred Clark went over to Patheos from the Slacktivist (which is now the Slacktiverse, to which I contribute), there was a lot of concern about the kinds of ads that were showing up, and although a Patheos administrator got involved in that conversation, they didn’t respond to those concerns, even by saying that it was Google-habit-based. I don’t know if the Pagan portal was aware of or involved in any of that, and I certainly don’t mean to be holding you responsible for it, but I’ve had issues with the Patheos ads for a while now, and this was kind of the last straw for me.

      1. other than the occasional article, I’m not in with patheos. So no worries. Heh…I have found out that the ads on Patheos are google ads – which means whatever your google search history is – that’s what ads will show. So I’m assuming you’ve been researching NAR so that’s why google is popping up Christian ads. I won’t tell you what ads show up for me. *grin*

        1. ROFL. Star’s story about the Biblical commentator with Victoria’s Secret ads was also hilarious. Guess I’ll have to go fill my Google history with something a bit more fun…

          But seriously, there’s got to be something wrong with the idea that everything we Google is what we like.

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