NBC mocks Christianity

NBC program mocking Christ’s crucifixion to be aired on the day before (western) Good Friday.

http://www.afa.net/nbcspecialalert.asp.

Comments

  1. If you actually read the post, it doesn’t appear that NBC is “mocking the crucifixion”. They’re poking fun at various marketing ploys put out by various Churches to draw in the “unsaved” or “unchurched” including:

    a) giving away a Harley to a first time visitor (Crossroads Church in Corona, CA)
    b) “Porn Weekend” at Westwinds Church in Jackson, MI, which included a presentation of “Missionary Positions”. (True, it’s an anti-porn message but it sure does catch one’s ear doesn’t it?)
    c) A 62-foot, $250,000 Jesus erected by the Solid Rock Church of Monroe, OH
    d) Free gas for first time Church visitors at Clearview Community Chuch in Sioux City, Iowa.

    The AFA needs to find more worthy battles to fight: it’s not like NBC had Christ Himself doing something outrageous.

    It’s also time to jettison the politically correct speech and the outdated sensitivities of the ’80s and ’90s. Everyone should be able to take a little good natured ribbing now and then. That’s why I like shows like “Family Guy” and “American Dad”, both of which contain political and cultural satire. The latter had the family living in Saudi Arabia, and much of the show pokes fun at Saudi/Islamic culture. (One character is shot in the arm by the Saudi religious police simply for breaking into song.)

    I find humor to be an important personality trait. Someone who is capable of laughing at their own habits, flaws and even beliefs is usually also graced with a certain degree of humility.

  2. Ah yes, of course. Silly me. Britney Spears and “cruci-fixins.” What a hoot! And right before Good Friday! What a knee-slapper! I’m sure Hollywood’s intentions are to give us a good chuckle. Thanks for the clarification.

  3. Jim Holman says:

    Next, and this is very important, please forward this to your friends and family today!

    If you feel our efforts are worthy, would you consider making a small donation to help us in this effort. Click here to make your donation.”

    Stuff like this is useful for fundraising, I guess. The Christian ayatollahs have to keep the faithful all het up over something or other, or else the money dries up. If it wasn’t this it would be something else. Should be good for a million in contributions.

  4. “It’s also time to jettison the politically correct speech and the outdated sensitivities of the ’80s and ’90s. Everyone should be able to take a little good natured ribbing now and then.”

    So, JamesK, give us some examples to indicate the breadth of jettisoning you have in mind.

    “The Christian ayatollahs have to keep the faithful all het up over something or other, or else the money dries up.”

    Jim, you realize, don’t you, that the Christian folks you are referring to have not threatened — much less committed — violence. They are apparently just refraining from buying products. So don’t you think your characterization of them was a little, uh, libelous? Oh, I know, lighten up, it’s all in good fun.

  5. Note 2: There’s a substantive difference between something like “The Last Temptation of Christ” and a parody of some of the habits of His followers. Most Christians aren’t this touchy, but realize that groups like the AFA are pretty much suggesting that Christians should be immune from any sort of critique (humerous or otherwise) of anything they do, whether their actions are absurd or not. No, they’re not calling for anyone’s execution, but they are sincerely hoping to silence them through pressure. Paint a Christian in anything other than as devout, without moral blemish or in a manner other than utter solemnity and you’re asking for trouble, apparently. By extension, you’re not mocking them, you’re mocking God!

    Personally, I find the idea of glow-in-the-dark Jesus statues absurd. Yet, I’ve seen then being sold by people who declare themselves Christians. Am I being blasphemous for finding it absurd, or are they being blasphemous for selling them?

    As far as what types of “PC speech” should be tolerated, well, we should be able to tell when something is done to humiliate and purposely degrade and when it’s not. I’ve seen numerous comedians poke fun at their own racial or ethnic heritage or gender using stereotypes (whether they be black, Jewish, or female).

  6. Related interesting article here on how satire of not just religion but its practitioners is becoming taboo.

    Other observations:
    -[Robert] Darden refers to a 17th-century admonition that banned “games, sports, plays [and] comedies” because they didn’t agree with “Christian silence, gravity and sobriety.” .

    -Then there are the countless “rabbi, priest and minister” jokes, though many of them make fun of the messengers, not God or religion themselves.

    Now, we cannot even make a “rabbi, priest and minister” joke for fear of a boycott from the AFA. Wasn’t the AFA’s problem with “The Book of Daniel” mostly over the way it portrayed Christians (as opposed to Christ Himself)?

    I appreciate the sober aesthetics of the Orthodox tradition and liturgy and its respect for the sacred. It seems to me, however, that this solemnity extends into everyday life to the point where it seems joy is lacking. (I’m not talking about Britney Spears on an NBC sitcom, either.) I don’t think frivolity and humor are completely base human inventions that we need to be embarrassed about. If we believe in God, we must also believe He created the chipmunk and the pug! As far as religious humor, I’m partially Italian and my parents are both devout Catholics, but I still find Italian and Catholic jokes funny when they’re not done out of obvious hatred.

  7. “The Lord is not mocked”
    The word “mocked” is not of the same meaning that we use it today (although it’s meaning also is proven true by this very statement).

    The word “mocked” in this context means “cheated”

    We will reap what we sow.
    In other words, we will receive the consequences of what it is that we do in this life.

    If we reject Christ, or even blaspheme Him, He is not cheated-we will at the last partake of the work of our hands.

    For many this means an eternity cast out of The Presence of The Holy, Mighty, Loving, God.

    I don’t want to focus on the enemies of Christ, who show their aweful hatred toward Him.

    But my heart hurts for all of the Americans who are not merely cultural Christians/fake professors, but for all of the faithful of America I am hurt to know that they must endure the sight of the blasphemy of their Lord God Jesus Christ.

    Recently I also saw an article describing a european newspaper’s carricature of “mohammed”.

    The entire muslim world is in an uproar, protesting, attacking, there are hurt feelings and fits of rage all over the earth.

    The faithful to Christ should remember the simple truth, our Lord does not need that we “strike back” or push our thinking on others.

    In fact for us this should be a sign that if they blaspheme our Lord today they will persecute us tomorrow.

    I remember hearing of a church leader of a certain eastern Orthodox church who struck a man in Jerusalem after the Cruscifix he was carrying in a procession was spit on.

    Can the man who spit on The representation of The Cross of Christ(in physicality and in heart and desire) be sufficiently punished by a slap to the face?

    Ofcourse not……..we as people could never collect upon the debt that man owes in sin to God.

    Instead we should pray for him that God will have mercy on him and bring him to repentance, faith and love in The Lord Jesus.

    To the world, Christianity and Islam seem to have so much in common.

    WHY? because of the false Christians, who think that they believe but do not.
    Do I believe?

    We need to test ourselves to see if we are in the faith.

    please anyone who sees this message, read the Gospel of John chapter 3, the second epistle of Peter chapter 1, and the first epistle of John chapters 1, 2, 3 (or more if you want!).

    Do we believe? do we seek God with ALL of our heart?

    Do we trust totally in Christ? for everything?

    Many people say they trust Him for their salvation, when they don’t seem to be able to trust Him for even the smallest things in life.

    what does this mean? does it mean that we must work harder to trust Him with the small things?

    Or is it proof that we don’t really trust Him at all.

    Remember faith is not just “knowing”, faith is a combination of reliance, entrusting ourselves, and living for JEsus as a result of our “knowlege”.

    The Lord said,

    “Stop doubting and believe”

  8. Jim Holman says:

    Augie writes: “So don’t you think your characterization of them was a little, uh, libelous?”

    Not at all. I had a conversation with a friend some time ago that was very enlightening. I’ve mentioned it before, but I think it’s appropriate to bring it up again.

    I was talking to this friend about conservative Christians. Both the friend and I are former fundamentalists. The conversation went something like this:

    JH: “I can’t understand why all these conservative Christians are so angry all the time. I mean, when you and I were in our fundamentalist days all those years ago, we weren’t mad all the time. But these people now are always upset about something, always thinking they are under attack, always denouncing someone.”

    Friend: “You don’t get it, do you.”

    JH: “Get what?”

    Friend: “The whole PURPOSE of much of the conservative Christian media, indeed, of most of the right-wing media, is to keep people in a continual state of outrage and umbrage. And as you notice, it works. The purpose is not to give people accurate information or to have rational discussions about issues. It is to make sure that people are pissed off all the time. This is one case where the medium is indeed the message.”

    When you see things like the piece under discussion, the entire purpose of that is to make people outraged. So there is no surprise when a fundraising pitch shows up at the bottom of the piece — click here to give money. And look at the language: NBC “has decided to hit back at the Christian community.” See, it’s not just that some program might be mildly offensive. No, this is an attack upon Christianity. You can’t just say something like “we’re concerned about this progam as it seems to be poor taste and disrespectful of Christianity.” No, that doesn’t bring in the bucks, and it doesn’t make people outraged. This has to be an attack, an overt strategy to “denigrate” Christianity.

    I suppose that I’ve been spending too much time among the liberal elites, drinking my lattes and plotting the destruction of civilization as we know it, with my other liberal buddies, but I have never actually seen Will and Grace. Something tells me that Chrisitianity will probably survive this sitcom-ish attack, and that the supposed “attack” will be considerably milder than what the AFA portrays.

  9. Note 2. Do you really believe NBC is seeking to uphold the values that gives satire its sting, or elevates, say, a Rush Limbaugh parody (which are clever and biting) over the vulgarity of a Howard Stern? Not likely. AFA is flexing some muscle in the old fashioned American way — economic boycott. Good for them. At least they are speaking against the continuing debasement of the public culture.

  10. Despite the liberal apologetics that defend this anti-Christian rhetoric, this is not the first time NBC has had an anti-Christian theme wrapped in the guise of humor.

    This is the same network last year that had a “comedic” scene in the sitcom Committed that had a character flush a Holy Communion wafer down the toilet.

    Then after their public apology they came out with The Book of Daniel.

    Since that recent fiasco they now plan to broadcast a show, at the minimum is tasteless against Christianity. (And let’s be clear, yes Christian commercialism is tacky, etc. But, it has never been sacrilegious in their commercialized terms for products. You can’t convince me using the term cruci-fixins is anything but. Plus, the use of the term fixin’s can be interpreted as a direct mocking of southern attitudes about religion.)

    NBC in the past couple years has shown themselves to consistently promote programming that denigrates the Christian faith only. No where have we seem them broadcast programming that mocks a bar mitzvah to the level of the Committed sitcom. No where has NBC broadcast a program that has shown Buddhist monks or Inmans, as being drug addicts or sexual degenerates. There is a clear indication of an anti-Christian bias from this network.

  11. Fr. Hans asks: “Do you really believe NBC is seeking to uphold the values that gives satire its sting, or elevates, say, a Rush Limbaugh parody (which are clever and biting) over the vulgarity of a Howard Stern?”

    I’m not sure what values Rush is upholding (or who he’s satirizing, unless it’s himself) when he says things like:

    -“Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream.”
    -“Just another dead doper. And a dirt bag.” — On the occasion of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia’s death.” (This, coming from an oxycontin addict.)
    -“We’re not sexists, we’re chauvinists — we’re male chauvinist pigs, and we’re happy to be because we think that’s what men were destined to be. We think that’s what women want.”
    -“I mean, why didn’t these morons leave New Orleans before the hurricane? I’ll tell you why: because they wanted to rape and loot! That’s just the way some people are! And if they’re black–if the rapists and looters are black–it’s not George Bush’s fault! We’ve had these problems ever since the Emancipation Proclamation. Once the whites leave town, all you’ve got is overwhelming lawlessness. That’s not racism, Mr. Snerdley; it’s a proven, demonstrable fact. Have you even seen a ghetto in Greenwich, Connecticut? I rest my case.”

    I’m truly sorry, but I don’t understand how “Cruci-fixins” is worthy of outrage (and a boycott) while comments like these are applauded as not only witty but indicative of superior moral virtue. Would I boycott Rush’s sponsors or demand he be banned? No. I think he should be able to get on the air and spout his vitriolic nonsense just like anyone else.

    Even when his comments have a grain of truth, they also seem to lack humility and (to me) reflect a desire to inflict emotional distress on some group or another. They’re designed to hurt, not make anyone laugh.

    I just don’t understand the double standard here or why people cannot abide anything that makes them “uncomfortable” (which seems to take much less effort these days).

  12. All citizens — left and right, religious and agnostic — enjoy the same freedom in our culture and under our laws. Rush Limbaugh has a right to say what he wants without government interference. You have a right not to tune in to his program. You have a right to let his sponsors know that you won’t buy their products. If you don’t want to exercise those rights, that’s your business.

    It works the same way with NBC’s cruci-fixin’ show. The government doesn’t get to censor it. You (and I) get to do as you wish as far as watching it or buying the products of its sponsors.

    Here’s what’s humorous to me: people who take advantage of these cultural and legal rules when it suits them, and then whine when others with a different point of view do the same.

  13. James I don’t see the moral equivalency between Rush’s mocking cultural, political, or social ideologues and a major network broadcasting a program that mocks an aspect of a religion.

    Your comparison between the two would have value if you can point to wear Rush is advocating desecration of religious practices.

  14. Note 11. Parody, James, is a genre. Rush’s parodies are often quite good (they are the pre-recorded pieces, not the commentary). That you don’t like some of his commentary, well, that’s neither here nor there.

    No offense intended here James, but I can tell you don’t have kids. If you did, such facts that the sacrilege occurs during prime-time on a program that attempts to mainstream homosexuality and will feature a popular teen pop star would carry more weight in your analysis. These discussions touch on broader cultural trends, particularly the vulgarization of culture and the deepening moral confusion of our youth. People responsible for raising children are naturally, although not exclusively, more sensitive to it.

    IOW, I think your idea that the show is a benign parody, and not a calculated assault on religious values is naive.

  15. Fr. Hans,

    This AFA “alert” seems designed to pander mostly to the natural anxieties of parents. After all, it’s parents (or possibly uncles and aunts) who are contributing to the AFA financially. Without a doubt, parents should be very well-informed of the evils their children face. My concern, though, is that the tone of such announcements seem to create an atmosphere of anxiety over the evils of other people. I think that this is the primary message that children receive, that their parents and the AFA have a great deal of anxiety over other people’s evils.

    It’s often been said that the best way to defeat a sin is not to focus on that sin, but rather to focus on the opposite virtue. Likewise, it seems the best way to defeat the “cultural” garbage out there is simply to shift focus to real culture. I doesn’t make sense to me that the AFA should draw attention to a television show I’m sure it probably already blacklists for being openly pro-gay. Blacklist should mean ignore, not draw attention to. What these “alert” messages seem to do is just give such shows more publicity. Sure, the boycott might actually work, but the publicity over it remains. Boycotts can create cultural martyrs.

  16. Jim Holman says:

    Worse yet, teachers are now glorifying Satan and homosexuality in front of grade school children:

    “The controversy began after Waggoner, who teaches elementary, middle and high school students at the K-12 school in a small town about 25 miles east of Denver, tried to pique the curiosity of the first, second, and third graders in one of her classes about opera. She chose a video of Gounod’s Faust (which she found on the classroom shelf) to teach the children about bass and tenor voices, the use of props, and “trouser roles” in opera.

    “The latter, she says, led to accusations that the married mother of two was a lesbian promoting homosexuality; the plot of Faust, where the title character sells his soul to the devil to recapture his youth, led to her being labeled a devil worshipper.

    “The uproar began about a week later, when Waggoner was contacted by a mother asking why her daughter had watched a video on the devil. Waggoner believes that the incident was a catalyst for parents to express their frustration about the school’s December 9 annual concert. According to Waggoner, the parent said, “I don’t understand why you wouldn’t let the kids sing Christmas songs, but you’ll show them a video on the devil.” Ironically, Waggoner says, she had chosen a diverse repertoire for the concert in order to avoid offending the community’s non-Christians.

    “Parents were given a copy of the video, but not told that their children had only been shown about ten minutes of it; they then “demanded nothing less than her termination,” Waggoner said.”
    http://www.playbillarts.com/news/article/3850.html

  17. Note 15. And this proves what? — that the “Will and Grace” program is beyond criticism? Why not post something a bit more serious, like this: Massachusetts Citizens for Life. It illustrates why parents are so concerned about what the schools are teaching, even if some overreact at times.

    Another example: “Making Schools Safe” Means “Refashioning Values” in Massachusetts.

  18. Note 15. Good words Larry, and absolutely accurate in many ways. Having dealt with a lot of teens however, I’ve found that the only way to break through the moral fog is to confront it directly — and “directly” does not imply stridently, with hostility, defensiveness or other negative traits that unfortunately appear all too frequently among moral conservatives.

    So yes, on one hand the AFA stand could pander to anxiety, but on the other, a false notion of tolerance (I am not implying you hold to this) blurs the boundaries in ways that foster the moral confusion proving so destructive in the culture. I have in mind here the STD epidemic among teens for example.

    I know of no peaceable way to resolve this dilemma, so I focus instead on trying to be as clear as possible and take the hits as they come.

  19. Jim Holman says:

    Fr. Hans writes: “I think your idea that the show is a benign parody, and not a calculated assault on religious values is naive.”

    And what exactly are the “values” that are under assault?

    To the extent that the adherents of a religion inject their religion into social and political disputes, to that extent their religion becomes just another social or political ideology to be discussed, disputed, or ridiculed.

    It seems to me that religious people want a double standard in place. They want to be able to condemn and denounce at will, but then everyone else is supposed to treat them and their beliefs with kid gloves. So the religious folks want to hold forth on how everyone else is going to burn in hell forever, culture of death, abortion holocaust, Pat Robertson calling down the wrath of God on some town that votes religious idiots off the school board, and so on, even down to the “God Hates Fags” group and Christian terrorists bombing abortion clinics and murdering doctors.

    So religious folks want to denounce everyone else, but when it comes to their beliefs, their religion, oh, that’s different you see. The mere fact that someone has a religious belief in something is supposed to command automatic respect and deference. We can say that Fred is going to be tortured in hell forever, or that Fred is part of the culture of death, or that Fred, if gay, is inherently immoral, but Fred better not make fun of us or out religion!

  20. Jim don’t you think you’re over generalizing when you make that board statement about “religious folk” and Pat Robertson in the same sentence?

    Not all “religious folk” who are opposed to broadcasting that demeans their faith are supporters of Pat Robertson.

    And I think it’s rather disingenuous to allude to Phelps’ group in the same paragraph. This is a known cultist group that is outside the norm of Christian thought and practices.

    Moving beyond hyperbole would greatly improve your posts.

  21. Note 19. Overlooking the caricatures for the moment, let’s give it one more shot:

    Massachusetts Citizens for Life

    Another example: “Making Schools Safe” Means “Refashioning Values” in Massachusetts.

    Putting Fred Phelps or the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence aside (two can play this game), your implicit assertion that no cultural assault on parents and children exists doesn’t square with the facts.

  22. I completely sympathize with parents who wish to shield their children from the many dangers in society (even though I do not have kids). (The recent Dateline special on internet predators was an eye opener – the problem is apparently more prevalent than one would think.)

    Nevertheless, I don’t think that parents ought to be outraged over things that are clearly intended for adult viewing and listening. Perhaps I’m out of tune with the issues of parents, but I don’t see why they cannot exercise their authority in the home by monitoring what their children listen to and watch. Drugs were around me in college and a little in high school, but because my parents sat me down at 8 or 9 years old and made me aware of their dangers, it thankfully never became an issue. So too with other ethical and value-oriented issues, I would think.

    As far as religious critique, I’m reminded of a street preacher who used to carry this very large cross around campus and who would bark pleasantries such as “Whore!” and “Drunkards!”, etc. As you might imagine, some people didn’t really care for his methods. Others tried to engage him in debate. No matter what they said, his retort was always “God hater!”. Of course, any criticism directed at him (such as his rather irritating and aggressive mode of speech) or his brand of theology was necessarily because the people were insolent unbelievers who were persecuting one of God’s saints (and therefore haters of God Himself).

    Now, this is admittedly an extreme example, but I see this happening to a degree when people of other beliefs (or no belief) critique or satirize the beliefs or even behavior of Christians. I don’t think that something directed at the often fallible and imperfect ideas and actions of the messenger necessarily extends to the Maker.

  23. Jim Holman says:

    Jerry writes: “Jim don’t you think you’re over generalizing when you make that board statement about ‘religious folk’ and Pat Robertson in the same sentence?”

    Sure, in one sense it’s very unfair to mention Robertson, Phelps, and abortion bombers in with all other Christians. But the fact is that many people are not going to make that distinction. For many people all of this is all part of the same cloth. It is how American Christianity is perceived.

    I’ve been around long enough to understand the distinctions. I hang out with the fundamentalist, and they call me an apostate and an infidel. I hang out with the Orthodox and they call me a follower of the culture of death. I understand where all these people are coming from, and the reasons why they say the things they do. I used to be a fundamentalist, and used to condemn others in the same way that my old fundamentalist colleagues condem me. Were I in their shoes I would do the same. I like to think that I have some perspective that lets me see the larger picture, that Christianity is not primarily about condemnation and anger.

    Many people do not have that perspective, and when they hear condemnations by Christians they take it personally. They also see how to a certain extent conservative Christianity has become a partner with right-wing politics. So I completely understand the opposition to Christianity in general. I understand why people would want to make fun of it. To some extent it deserves to be ridiculed.

    I don’t think there is any such thing as “pure” Christianity or “pure” Islam. Religion down on the ground is what people make it. For example, I have a hard time when Muslims claim that Islamic terrorists do not represent “true” Islam.

    Fr. Hans: “Putting Fred Phelps or the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence aside (two can play this game), your implicit assertion that no cultural assault on parents and children exists doesn’t square with the facts.”

    I have no absolutely no doubt that certain teachers or even school districts go overboard. It’s a big country, and there are extremists and ideologues everywhere. Extremism in any form needs to be resisted. But the extremists in any group are not characteristic of the group as a whole. I have had a number of gay friends and co-workers. In that group I have never known anyone who was an advocate of the “gay agenda.” All the gay people I have known simply wanted to be left alone and treated like anyone else. If two gay people are in love and have lived together for years and want to get married, that’s not a “gay agenda.” That’s not an attack on Christianity. That’s just a legitimate wish to live under the same conditions as everyone else.

    These are the people that I know. Are there gay extremists? Certainly there are, just as there are extremists in every group.

  24. Note 32. Good news Jim that your gay friends want to be left alone. I’m glad to hear it, although your backdoor advocacy for gay marriage makes me wonder if they are more activist than you let on. In any case, that they don’t support things like the Massachussets initiative is a good thing I guess, although I don’t really see how your experience in Oregon impacts it.

  25. Michael Bauman says:

    Four quotes that I’d like to comment on:

    “The life-giving energy of the Holy Trinity is one. The communion of that life-giving energy, however, is not the same in all the faithful. It ebbs and flows between mortal condemnation and the endowment of incorruptibility to eternal life” The Ancestral Sin, John Romanides

    According to Zizioulas, the Fathers effectively demonstrated that to be and to be in relation are identical. Personhood is grounded in the relationship. He rejects the idea that “the world ultimately consists as a fragmentary existence, in which beings are particular before they can relate to each other: first you are and then you relate. Such a view is alien to the perspective of the Fathers and to the Eastern Orthodox Chruch till this day. Rather, being and relationship are simultaneous and insparable” Fr. Paul O’Callaghan in an article on individualism and it cure.

    “Western art of the last few centuries is a record of what happens when man tries to live as though he were a self-subsistent being of psyche and sense and as though the universe is not multi-structured but to all intents and purposes limited to the purely psychological and physical dimensions.” Philip Sherrard, The Sacred in Life and Art.

    “The aim of the Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit” St. Seraphim of Sarov

    The trouble with politics (among many) is that its practice is designed to separate and particularize rather than to unite and establish community. That is inevitable since the only community is really within the Holy Trinity. By the grace of God through His Incarnation, we are allowed to experience that community through the uncreated, life-giving energies of God. To the extent that we allow ourselves to wallow in the political emotions, we are followers of the culture of death because we have disassociated ourselves from the Life of the Holy Spirit.

    Nothing on television, in the theater or in any other such venue no matter how tasteful or respectful of life, participates in that life. It is all written, produced and performed from one perspective (at best),i.e., to reveal facets of mankind’s psyche bereft of the Holy Spirt and therefore dead. At worst and more usual it is written solely to excite the passions and manipulate us emotionally. Whether several writers of the Simpson’s meet together for prayer or not matters little’their product founded in the fallen nature of man and therefore dead. I suspect that if any of us were true to our faith, we would not even own a television.

    All satire is destructive and easy to create. It is always easy to see someone’s weakness and point it out in a “humorous” manner. Someone who routinely practices satrical expression can emotionally destroy people he has known for a very short period of time. It is ugly, no matter who does it. Yet all of us revel in it from time to time. It is rather much harder to point out a person’s goodness and present that to others in a way that grabs and holds their attention. There is no dramatic tension in goodness. As an actor, I always found it easier and more fun to play the evil, twisted characters and quite difficult to play those who were at peace with themselves and God’even if you could find them written. My experience is quite common. Life in the theater was soul draining for me and I saw it in many around me. The only time they became alive and related to others was on stage or as they wrote their plays. The theater and the arts in general have become the last refuge for people who are fractured and bleeding yet have no knowledge of God. In the arts they can participate in the dis-spirited imitation of the comsic drama of the Divine Liturgy, thinking that the emotional highs they experience are real.

    As Christians or simply people who look for a higher good in society, we must be careful not to demonize others for by so doing, we demonize ourselves and add to the disharmony we say we want to heal. At the same time, we cannot shy away from pointing out what is wrong, harmful, and destructive giving our reasons without rancor. We are unable to change anyone’s mind or heart, only the Holy Spirit is capable of that.

    Most of all we must recognize the atomizing effects of our culture; the separateness in which each of us lives, and the arrogance in our own thought. That is the true culture of death’a cultrure that seeks to isolate each of us from one another and leave is in the cold, lifeless box of our own mind. Only by repentance and seeking the life of God can we participate in Christ’s victory over death. The fruit of that victory is caring for one another and allowing God to meet the needs of others through us.

  26. News Flash! NBC states that it there will be no reference to “Cruci-fixins” in the upcoming W&G episode.

    I subscribe to the AFA’s news since I enjoy the laugh I get when I read their daily outrage over some tv show or radio program that contradicts any view they’ve been told is correct.

    They state:
    “The bottom line is that the actions taken by AFA Online supporters like you caused them to rewrite the episode and remove the offensive segment!”

    So in this same forum, we have a few of us acting incredulous that Muslims are offended by a cartoon mocking their prophet while at the same time pushing for the removal of a television show because it contains cross-shaped cookies.

    No, there’s no comparison between the actions of the Christians and the lunatics bombing the embassy, so don’t tell me I’m implying that. (I’m not.)

    But, as I’ve said before, everyone’s offended by something, so we can remove all traces of anything remotely offensive from everywhere (which leaves us with what I’m not sure) or we can tolerate the inconveniences of freedom of expression.

  27. Note 26. James writes:

    No, there’s no comparison between the actions of the Christians and the lunatics bombing the embassy, so don’t tell me I’m implying that. (I’m not.)

    Sure you are. You just don’t see it. If all offenses are given the same weight and attached to the assertion that resolving them implictly denies free speech, then we effectively end up with oppression in the name of freedom. Think “hate crimes” here.

    The AFA is complaining not because they are offended as such, but because a sacred symbol of their faith is being trivialized and mocked.

    You call it nothing. I don’t stand for that anymore than I stand for a vandal painting a swastika on a synogogue. Do you laugh when that happens? Bet not.

  28. I see no moral equivalency between painting a swastika on a synogogue and a insensitive remark on a sitcom. One action clearly seeks to make its hatred for the other known (perhaps with an implicit desire to eradicate), while the other says “We think some of your habits and traditions are silly, but we have nothing against YOU.” I don’t see how venomous hatred and humor can co-exist.

    I do not hold the same reverence for symbols that someone who is Orthodox might, so perhaps this is why I’m responding to this quite differently. When I see an icon, for example, I see a beautiful portrait and a lovely representation of someone or something, but I do not hold the icon as something that is, in itself, sacred. Would I paint a moustache on the face of an icon? Hardly, but that’s because I find physically destroying things (anything) to be a childish and crude way of critiquing something, but people are not always articulate in the manner we would like.

    I recall seeing a very old woodcut of Martin Luther that, when turned upside down, resembled a court jester. The humorous implication is obvious: Martin Luther’s a fool. I don’t think things have changed as much as we might imagine.

  29. James, there is a world of difference between desecrating a symbol and poking fun at a group. That’s why painting a swastika on a synogogue ought to be socially condemned, as should the desecration of a cross. You might not have a sense of the power of the symbol within a culture, but the writers at NBC sure do, which is why they went right to the heart of it: “cruci-fixin’s” with a pop-culture tart whose public personna militates against the tradition that the symbol represents.

    Your ideas about “hate” or your identification with the meaning of a symbol are largely irrelevant here. I’m not Jewish, but the meaning of, say, the Torah scroll to Judaism, is not lost on me. I’d object to its trivialization as well. And yes, trivialization is a form of desecration.

  30. Missourian says:

    Note 30: Distinguish the various types of “negative response.”

    FORCE OF LAW:
    The most powerful form of negative response to a set of ideas would be their condemnation backed up by the force of law. Germany has a law which makes it illegal to promote Nazism. This law would be unconstitutional in the United States.

    OPPOSITION FROM INFLUENTIAL ELITES:
    Beyond the force of law, there is the powerful influence of elites. The elites may be found in academia, journalism, the judidicary or other public walks of life. If a set of elites agrees to disapprove of a given set of ideas that can have powerful consequences over time.

    There are certain principles of propaganda that have been well-established, that is why dictators take advantage of those principles:

    DIRECT ATTACK, a set of ideas can be attacked directly, but, that might produce a direct defense.

    SLY RIDICULE. A second way to attack an idea is to subject it to constant and sly ridicule, a steady stream of disdaining and dimissive remarks. This can include “ad hominen” attacks which ridicule the person holding the idea, so that others do not want to be associated with them and their ideas. The NYT is firmly convinced that only ill-educated, idiots believe the Bible. (Sorry, Pascal, you aren’t brilliant enough for the NYT!)

    COLD SHOULDER OR “NO FORUM” Yet another technique is to simply provide “no forum” for the idea. When judges are asked to participate in legal seminars, Justice Scalia, is left out, meaning the law students never hear a spirited presentation of his ideas. Justice Scalia can only communiate through printed opionions, while legal revisionists appear over and over and over again in person at law schools. Certain essayists don’t get their ideas printed in the editorial section. Certain authors don’t get their books reviewed. (Robert Spencer has written several best-sellers and has not been reviewd by the NYT)

    EXCLUSION and DISCRIMINATION. Certain careers require subjective approval by peers, such as journalism and academia (even in the sciences.) If you choose to study the wrong philosopher, say Hayek, you may not be supported by your thesis advisor. If you challenge the feminists attempt to subvert science, you could be frozen out of the psychology department.

    SELECTIVE, EXEMPLARY VIOLENCE. This is a very effective technique which was used by the KKK for decades. It depended on the collusion of all white Southerners. The KKK could operate with almost total impunity because prosecutors wouldn’t prosecute, witnesses wouldn’t testify, and juries wouldn’t convict. It required only a VERY, SMALL percentage of white rascists to be violent, BUT, it permitted the remainder of white racists to proclaim “Only a tiny minority of Southern whites are violent against blacks.” The period lynching sent the message to blacks that they dare not cause trouble. Similarly, the “tiny minority ” of 1.2 billion Muslims are periodically violent to non-Muslims and non-cooperative Muslims to demonstrate that the rest of us, should not step out of line. The majority of Muslims can claim to be non-violent while benefitting from the INCREASE in power that they enjoy as a result of the violence.

    Painting a swastika on a synagogue is a very clear threat to the members of the synagogue and all Jews. It sends a message that someone is willing to be violent to advance their anti-Semitism.

    Lovers of truth and justice should always promote free speech, because although it allows bigots to spew their vile, it also exposes them for what they area. It is the disinfecting function of “sunshine” which helps the general public understand who and what they are. Direct attacks tend to elicit direct defenses and the public sees both sides, a far better situation then the “under the table” techniques I have described.