Since the Lord is reportedly present throughout creation, it stands to reason that he pervades the World Wide Web. And lo, His cyber-prophet has emerged in Maine.
SPEAKING NOW: The Reverend Cornelius Blow.
The Church of Blow emerged a few months ago, and has issued more than thirty video-sermons to its growing flock. They all feature a young man in a purple robe decorated with green hearts. He has a Biblical beard and a bug-eyed look. “Hi, I’m Reverend Cornelius Blow,” he lightly drawls. “I have had a vision . . . I was instructed: ‘Cornelius, it’s time to start a church . . . on YouTube.’”
Eagle-eyed fans of local theater may have already identified the RevCorBlow (“that’s my hip-hop name”) as Jeremiah McDonald, who has graced Portland-area stages with his laser-sharp comic timing. McDonald is also a filmmaker who has embraced the Web as a way to hone his craft while finding an audience. His videos, which have garnered more than 100,000 hits, were made with little more than a Mac laptop and a borrowed camera. YouTube presents them to the whole world at no cost.
“The beauty of YouTube,” says McDonald, “is that if you have the desire to make videos, you have NO excuse.”
The Reverend Blow was born when McDonald joined forces with a collaborator he has yet to meet. While posting comments on the Internet Movie Database, McDonald encountered a writer known only as Organic Prankster. They shared a fondness for British humor and David Lynch. Soon McDonald suggested that they create some videos together, for he finds acting more congenial than writing: “I have ideas, but I have a hell of a time getting them down on paper.”
The shadowy Organic Prankster — who on MySpace claims to be a 31-year-old British man, and is pictured only as a silhouette — quickly hatched an idea. Reports McDonald: “He said ‘I wanna create a hoax on YouTube that’s better than lonelygirl15,’” a reference to the infamous fake videoblog that was debunked in late 2006. “‘I think YouTube needs its first cult religious leader.’”
The Reverend Blow is not your typical clergyman. For one thing, he’s reluctant to spell out exactly what the Church of Blow stands for, although when annoyed by Buddhists (“they wear a lot of orange . . . not sure I like that”) the Rev makes a plea for religious tolerance: “At this church we give all our love and respect to all the different kinds of people of all the different faiths who are all goin’ straight to hell when they die.”
Similarly, when staring down another subject controversial in churches these days, Reverend Blow haws and hems. “I don’t like anchovies!” he declaims. “But, you know, it never once occurred to me to stop other folk from enjoyin’ their anchovies. I never once stood outside someone’s house with a card that said ‘Anchovy Lovers Burn In Hell!’ What do I care so long as you don’t bring the salty bastards anywhere near me? And that’s the Church of Blow’s position on homosexuality.”
“He doesn’t want to offend anyone,” McDonald says of the RevCorBlow. “He’s more interested in getting people to follow him. Any actor can identify with Reverend Blow, because we all just want to be celebrated.”