Saturday, May 31, 2008

Can I Get Some Religious Instruction With My Diatribe?

When I was a kid, my sister and I were channel surfing through a mind-numbing range of THIRTY-SIX options from the “cable TV” my parents had just installed. (Back then, more than 6 channels was MAJOR). We halted when we saw an astronaut floating on the moon before he staked a flag into the ground. The flag changed colors repeatedly to some guitar riffs. Then some quirky little techno-pop ballad started to play:

“I heard you on the wireless back in ’52,
Lying awake intent on tuning in to you,
If I was young it didn’t stop you coming through…..
Oh-a Oh!”

It was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles, an apropos song for the launch of MTV, which my sister and I actually saw by dumb luck. The Buggles should do a follow-up song called "Video Killed Quality Music," but the prevalance of talentless though attractive slutteens in "the biz" is a discussion for another time.

Wikipedia tells me the MTV kick-off was August 1, 1981, and it seems that the 1980s were the last time I actually SAW a music video on MTV.

Institutions, even those that are culturally iconic, often morph to "keep up with the times." But sometimes they shouldn’t. They need to stick with their “core competencies.” Puck on the Real World and the lineage of losers that followed never fascinated me like the video for “Too Shy” by Kajagoogoo. I could never figure out why the guy was wearing a raccoon skin on his head (was that his hair?!?) and why he’s shoeless. Also, why didn’t the waitress just take some Tylenol already? It was clear she had a headache.

But I digress. The same thing about “core competencies” applies to churches. Remember when they actually did sermons about the Bible? Those were the days! Now, apparently, they would rather do political screeds for their congregants. Father Michael Pfleger mocked Hillary Clinton at Barack Obama’s church, which prompted an angry response from the Catholic League.

According to CNN...

"The Catholic League is an influential non-partisan organization that says its mission is to protect the free-speech rights of Catholics 'whenever and wherever they are threatened.' The League was an early critic of the Rev. John Hagee, the controversial evangelical pastor whose endorsement was sought by John McCain but later repudiated."

(Editors Note: Even if you agree with the Catholic League, as I do, you have to admit that it's pretty funny to have a "free speech" group telling a guy to shut the hell up. Also, I have to think that working at the Catholic League must be like being a Maytag repair man. Is there really that much suppression of Catholic speech? And no, all the people yelling at Marge at the Bingo Hall to quit blabbing about the "cover all" she won last Friday doesn't count.)

Father Pfleger’s comments prompted another apology from Senator Obama who called the comments “divisive, backward-looking rhetoric, which doesn't reflect the country I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause."

There’s always been a fine line between showmanship and theology, but I’m not sure I’m keen on a church service being like Def Comedy Jam. But what REALLY bothers me is the blatant stupidity. Obviously, every member of the Trinity Church must now know everything that they say or do is being recorded and broadcast on Youtube. So, in the future, PLEASE stick to Moses.

Not since the Spanish Inquisition has one church so tortured a man.



Unknown said...

Just an FYI. "The Catholic League" is really just Bill Donahue in his basement. Seriously. He is the "League." He's notoriously anti-gay and anti-woman. He led the charge that got Melissa McEwan and the other woman ditched by Edwards' campaign last year for being "anti-Catholic" when they said the Church's stance on birth control was killing people. (Who get infected with HIV.)

He's an absolute loon - which explains why a group about "free speech" is always going around telling people to shut up. McCain, Hagee, Obama, McEwan, Pfleger, the list goes on and on. He used to be sworn enemies with Jerry Falwell. They only agreed on "Queers are horrible."

Anonymous said...

I find it stunning that so many white people are, well, stunned at the happenings in the Black Church. The services are a combination of street theatre, theology, Tony Robbins'style group coachingt and a little Showtime at the Apollo. The doors are open and, oddly, have begun filling up with whites in such numbers that the Black church is beginning to wonder how long those churches can stay Black. In case you don't get that, ask yourself how long Kabuki dance would keep its unique Japanese character if the dancer spots were being filled with, say, Spanish flamenco dancers.

And while we're all concerned over the fact that a Black church focuses on an Up With Black People theology, we're missing an essential point: church, in general, holds to a theology that is generally woman-limited and anti-gay. That Obama's church (and, hell, a whole lot of others) aren't anti-white is true. They're pro-Black. I can see how it would confuse. Back in my AA/EEO director days, I had to work very late Crawfordsville. The janitor who cleaned my office was a cat named "Red." A Klansman. He explained the difference to me (anti-Black vs. pro-white). Not sophistry--just a clear argument from a nice guy who, really, didn't hold any animosity torwards me or my ilk (he had a Black daughter from an earlier relationship...but that's another matter).

I remember, when I was young, that the good white constable would show up and sit ominously in the back (gun holstered) to make sure that the pastor wasn't riling up the "Good Negroes" of Lafayette. Fast forward to today that those same churches are saying "(edit-edit) Bless you" and are holding services exactly the way they and their congregants need and like. That Trinity hasn't changed...well, did you really think that they would (or really needed to). If we're going to challenge churches based on their messges, I'd go through the phone book's church section, starting at "A" to call all the Euro-centric churches to tell them that they're pussies--benign, polite, a-political pussies and for them to buck the fuck up in the face of injustice. We forget that the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" was written by Dr. King in response to the eight white pastors who penned "A Call to Unity" wherein they said that King and others should wait patiently for the courts to get around to ending Jim Crow--that Blacks shouldn't take their case to the streets.


I've attended many Black churches (go figure) and about as many white churches (clue: if it's a church and there aren't really any Black people, it's a white church, ya'll) and, trust me: they all have their issues. Religions, like people, aren't perfect. Good thing we have a provision that prohibits a "religious test" for participation.

Oops! My bad. Maybe we do.

Though it's interesting to follow like the theatre it is, I really don't give a substantive shit what Barack Obama's pastor, visiting pastor or church orgaqnist said like I don't find it useful to discuss what Hagee or Parsley have to offer. Just doesn't matter except as an entertaining sidenote. What I would like to see is a Democrat who, when being punked by a Republican, dishes it out GOP-style. In my dark little heart, I want Obama to go all hoodrat and tell the members of the GOP "you don't talk about my church or my momma and you'd best not mess with my wife or she'll have to tell that anorexic, roundheel, crackhead Cindy McCain about herself."Like I said: dark, little heart.