Hey, it’s a Doris Day Love Fest! In honor of St. Valentine, kindly kiss your neighbors on the lips—irrespective of gender—and turn in your rosy red hymnals to No. 403.
You make my heart erect! You make my heart erect!
What? Wreck? It’s “you make my heart a wreck”? Well, I’ll be.
Anyway, as the confectionary dust settles from Valentine’s Day, just thought it was worth mentioning that we know almost nothing about the life and times of the great Roman Saint Valentinus.
The few extant traditions maintain that St. Valentine the priest was apprehended, and ultimately beheaded, during the reign of Claudius II (third century C.E.) for marrying Christian soldiers, whom universally the Roman emperor had forbidden from getting married.
As legend goes, St. Valentine had an image of Cupid on his amethyst ring so that soldiers could identify him, and St. Valentine cut out paper hearts for his military buddies as gifts.
So let me get this straight. Dude wore an erotic purple bling ring, took a stand for equitable marriage laws, and handed out love cards to soldiers?
What the hell was going on in Christendom back then? We’re not in Kansas anymore!
Hey, about that LOVE thing.
Let’s see. It’s exciting and new. You might say it’s life’s sweetest reward. Heck, it even floats back to you.
Beyond overboard Love Boat lines, love is of course the heart-shaped waterbed of Christianity:
- For God so loved the world…
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart…
- Love thy neighbor as thyself.
- And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Damn, Pastor Pillow, then why are you always speaking in such an unloving tone about fundamentalists?
How does one embrace the idealism of Christian love while battling the Cloud of Radical Right Witnesses who are intent on deceiving, controlling and hurting millions of their fellow human beings? (And, for what it’s worth, they even kick at Planet Earth as if it were a soppy tennis ball.)
Ken Ham, Pat Robertson, Roger Ailes, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, the Bob Jones University Board of Trustees.
German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer would have welcomed life under the Tea Party compared to the lot in life he drew under Hitler’s Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei. Bonhoeffer believed that Christians must not only call out injustice, but must personally reach out to the victims of injustice, and, if necessary, “jam the spoke in the wheel” of injustice.
By the way, before anyone writes me up for violating Godwin’s Law, just remember that Bonhoeffer’s principles apply to any and all societies.
I am not saying that Ann Coulter is Adolf Hitler. (Besides, her mustache is hardly visible.)
I am saying that I believe that the Christian Right Weekly Round-Up is a good old-fashioned Bonhoefferean shaft aimed straight at the spokes of the Fundamentalist Monomaniacal Unicycle.
That said, I want the readers who have written to me about this to know I’m taking their constructive criticism to heart, as it were.
In the meantime, I find some comfort in the fact that the great leaders of the faith have often resorted to vitriol in times of theological crisis. Consider the scholarly words of Constance Furey, writing in Harvard Theological Review (“Invective and Discernment in Martin Luther, D. Erasmus, and Thomas More,” October 2005):
Martin Luther begins by wishing for “grace and peace in Christ” before launching his attack on the “brainless and illiterate beast in papist form” and its “whole filthy pack of…asses,” and concludes by exhorting his reader to rise up against the Catholic hierarchy: “Continue courageously, noble sir; in this way the disgrace of the Bohemian name will be abolished, and the sludge of the harlot’s lies and whoring shall again be taken up in her breast.” Or consider the nasty invectives by the English Lord Chancellor and future Catholic martyr, Thomas More, against not only Luther but also Matthew Tyndale, who translated the Bible into English. More calls these men the “devil’s disciples”: Luther “ a pimp, an apostate, a rustic, and a friar”; and Tyndale “a babbler, and a devil’s ape.” Even Desiderius Erasmus, the erudite Catholic humanist, filled his writings with insults both satirical and blunt and proclaimed that theologians “are more stupid than any pig” (sue stupidiores).
Catholic that I am, it’s hard not to lean in favor of Luther’s unbelievable track record as an invective gunslinger. He at least never had anyone burnt at the stake. (Ahem, St. Thomas.) Sniff a whiff of some of the following Lutheran zingers:
- “You are the Roman Nimrod and a teacher of sin.”
- “My soul, like Ezekiel’s, is nauseated at eating your bread covered with human dung.”
- “Were you against the heathen Priapus, he would probably pass wind in the face of such well-aimed terror.”
Furey continues: “Luther used insults to scrub away centuries of detritus” (472) and “to expose truth by demystifying idols and liars” (474).
Yet even Luther tired of calling out whitewashed tombs and broods of vipers everywhere he saw them. Following a truly nasty mud fest between himself and Catholic theologian Johannes Eck, Luther admitted that the whole name-calling affair was “turning a search for truth into a tragedy of hatred” (Furey, 473).
And perhaps herein one finds the thin red line.
Whenever invective ceases to be a comedic litmus test for bullshit, one crosses the line into the unacceptable borderland of hate.
For now, I don’t think there’s a problem with calling Ken Ham a gleeking wagtail that Noah would have tossed out an ark window, if deep down in his heart he knows I love him.
Anyway, try to pull yourselves away from House of Cards, Season 2 for a few hours today. There’s a purple-padded pew somewhere nearby with your name on it.
In the meantime: Behold, the Christian Right Weekly Round-Up!
5. Those Thin Flat Legos Are So Damned Hard to Pull Apart—Meanwhile, Jesus Weeps Over Kansas, according to Christianity Today: “The Lego Movie (A Review)”
I just wanted it chronicled for Evangelical posterity that while the Kansas House of Representatives was busy this week passing a most heinous, reprehensible law “that would give anyone in the state the right to deny same-sex couples a host of basic services and benefits on the grounds of ‘sincerely held religious beliefs,’” the editors of Christianity Today were busy making sure Christians had a thumbs-up/thumbs-down critique about a movie with talking Legos.
In the near future, a law enforcement officer in Topeka may be allowed, willy-nilly, to ignore a domestic violence situation involving same-sex couples. But never fear: The Lego Movie is “hilarious. It proposes an interesting response to the modern problem of Specialness, and is so creative and unexpected that it’ll just make you happy.”
Here’s the deal, CT. I go to your website every weekend. And if you have chosen to ignore the most important national civil rights headline of the week, then you get called out for pouring your faith-based resources into idiotic movie reviews.
Oh wait. I take it all back. You did cover the death of Shirley Temple.
And you released poll results showing that 20% of Americans believe “God plays a role in determining the outcomes of sporting events.”
I give that two Martin Luther middle fingers up.
4. Shooting Agape Blanks, over at Christian Broadcasting News: “Get Her a Gun for Valentines [sic] Day?”
I’m trying to imagine how Erasmus would react to an article, written under the banner of Christianity, in celebration of the sacred calendar festival of agape love, that begins:
“For Valentines [sic] Day this year, maybe it’s time to think outside the box. If she’s not into chocolates, flowers or teddy bears, she might like a firearm.”
Hmm, perhaps the great Dutch humanist would counter with: “War is delightful to those who have no experience of it. But if your beloved is intent on going to war, be thou certain to arm her with a pink Glock. In a word: Folly.”
I have always had the expectation that CBN will pick a story, tow a fundamentalist ideological line, and give me something to respond to in theological kind.
It feels these days like the Christian Media is giving up on itself.
3. Star-Spangled Banner Wins Sochi Souls, so reports Christian Examiner: “American Flag Leads to Biblical Encounters During Olympics”
There is a United States citizen wearing an American flag at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Well, read it again carefully—only this time in the voice of Lewis Black:
There is a United States citizen wearing an American flag at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Only God led this U.S. citizen to this flag in the bottom of his church.
And this flag—this very special Star-Spangled Banner, this one-of-a-kind Old Glory, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the same U.S. flag being worn by tens of thousands of other U.S. tourists—is opening the doors for one American to witness the Gospel of Christ to Russian police officers.
Never mind, of course, that Christianity arrived in Russia more than 1,000 years ago!
Also, never mind that the United States flag—its seven red stripes and its six white stripes, plus all 50 of its stars—has absolutely no connection whatso-bleeping-ever to the Christian religion.
I can go one of two ways here. Either I roll out a bunch of statistics like: “The U.S. represents five percent of the world’s population and one-quarter of the world’s prison population. Gee, don’t you like our Christian flag!”
Or I could try another tack. Imagine that this story was instead about a Bolivian named Henrico Alcochofa:
In the basement of an iglesia hung a forgotten Bolivian flag, and when Henrico Alcochofa laid eyes on it, he knew it was the flag he’d been praying for to take to the Sochi Olympics.
“I have a flag at home,” Alcochofa says, “but I just thought, ‘Lord, show me a flag. I want to have a symbol to take.’ And the very first time I walked into that iglesia, I saw that flag hanging there and I told our priest, “Padre, I’m taking this flag to Rusia.”
“When those Rusos see the red for our brave soldiers, the green for our fertility and the yellow for our amazing mineral deposits, I know they will abandon Eastern Orthodoxy and turn to the Bolivian Dios.”
The incredible hubris of American Christianity. I think Luther would just drink some ale and fart as loudly as possible.
2. A Ham on Nye Undercard in Cardinal Country, via the Christian Post: “Creation vs. Evolution Debate to Continue at Iowa Conference on Sunday”
I must love Ken Ham; I must love Ken Ham; I must love Ken Ham.
Do not make any references to the fact that 70 percent of Democrats believe in evolution as opposed to only 40 percent of Republicans. And especially don’t infer anything from this fact.
Do not make fun of Creationists.
Just wish Charles Darwin a very happy 204th birthday and go about your way.
But Ken Ham is an onion-eyed, pigeon-livered—NO!
Sing happy birthday to Mr. Darwin one more time and move along.
1. Holy Shit—No, Really, We Mean It!, from Christian Week: “Chicken Manure Documentary Calls Christians to Take a Stand”
Normally we like to end on a positive note. I think we’ll just label this one “News of the Christian Weird.”
Abbotsford is a city in British Columbia on the U.S.-Canada border. It appears to be a suburb of Vancouver.
I have always thought rather highly of Canada. Yet Canadians, it would appear, are sinners, too.
Last year, in order to rid itself of its homeless population, the city of Abbotsford dumped chicken shit on the homeless while they slept.
Local filmmaker Kevin Miller made a several-minute documentary about the incident—you guessed it: The Chicken Manure Incident.
Miller focused a bit on why the Christian leaders of Abbotsford did almost nothing to protest this incident. Heck, it doesn’t seem like they were doing much for the homeless before the shit storm, either.
But, you know, as Jesus always said, “When you stumble upon a homeless community, use municipal funds to cover those slackers in animal feces.”
That’s a wrap!
Time to stop rocking your Galilean galley. Please turn in your hymnals to No. 1955.
And just why do we present the Christian Right Weekly Round-Up each week?
According to Forbes, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) alone brings in nearly $300 million per year in revenue. CBN isn’t alone in the 9-figure Radical Right Revenue Game. According to the website Ministry Watch, CBN is dwarfed in comparison to the nearly $900 million raked in annually by the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).
But TBN and CBN are mere bright stars in a galactic empire of hundreds of Christian news and media organizations. If you have a few minutes to spare, review the membership lists of the National Religious Broadcasters and the Evangelical Press Association.
Each and every one of these Christian media organizations have one thing in common: they report news to members of the Christian Right across the Fruited Plain. And the Christian Right account for nearly one-third of America’s voters.
Not only that, but here’s a list of what’s on the line in November 2014:
—All 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives
—33 seats in the U.S. Senate
—46 State Legislatures
—And 38 State and Territorial Governorships.
Sorry to preach politics from the pulpit, but if that doesn’t scare the shit out of you enough to submit an early 2014 ballot, I don’t know what will.
See you next week.
And a final message for people everywhere, don’t forget: the November 2014 election is this many days away.
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