Thursday, January 25, 2007

Words Fail Me

I had planned on writing something cleverly pious about today's feast of the Conversion of St Paul. Maybe next year.

I'm channel surfing (not yet five minutes ago as I write) while I digest my dinner. Comedy Central comes up. It's not a place I stop very often, but before I can press the "channel up" button again I hear the words "catholic church." That gets my attention, so I pause. The show is called Mind of Mencia. I don't know anything about the dude, but he's apparently a latino standup comic with an attitude.

He's going off on the Roman Catholic Church for electing a German as Pope. Benedict XVI's past as a member of the Hitler Youth is brought up, supplemented by a graphic of a toddler wearing a white cassock and sporting a Hitler-style mustache. Then there's the advice that they should have elected a "beaner" because everybody knows that the Virgin Mary never appears on a sauerkraut; she prefers to reveal herself on tortillas. I'm missing some of the details, but you get the gist.

But wait. There's more.

Our entertainer then introduces "the man they should have chosen--Pope Cheech I." In walks none other than the venerable Cheech Marin, vested in a white papal cassock, complete with outsize pectoral cross, "blessing" the audience. A merciful combination of deteriorating short-term memory and a vestigial sense of good taste prevent me from telling you more, but I don't expect that's a problem.

Now, there is a vast array of things you can call me and be within a stone's throw of the truth, but "prudish" isn't one of them. The handful of people who forward me internet humor know that there's virtually nothing they have to censor for fear of offending my delicate sensibilities. I have a pretty high tolerance for coarse language, sexual content, and even ethnic stereotyping. There isn't much I can't laugh at.

This is all by way of context. For me to say that I found the limit of my sense of humor is pretty much a news flash. So...I have found the limit of my sense of humor. In fact, it pretty well pisses me off that Christianity is somehow outside the jurisdiction of the usual political correctness police. Not religion in general. Just Christianity. Can you imagine a standup comic taking on Judaism or Islam in the same sort of way?

I can't either.

If I could issue a fatwah against Comedy Central, would I? No. I wouldn't even participate in an organized boycott of its sponsors. Yeah, I'm angry, but this isn't anything worth staying angry about. Welcome to a post-Constantinian world. There will be more of the same. A lot more.

"Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and speak all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake."

You can bet I've changed the channel, though.

2 comments:

Robyn said...

When ever I read the name Cheech, I know it's going to be bad. But were they poking fun at Christianity, or were they poking fun at the structure of the church, which are separate things? I don't think is so bad to poke fun at manmade structure from time to time.

Dan Martins said...

Robyn, I see your point. But the relationship between "Christianity" and "the structure of the church" varies according to one's theological perspective. These guys were mocking the outward signs of the deeply held faith of a billion people, and they were doing so gratuitously; the Catholic Church was an easy target for them. Maybe a better way of saying it is that it was a cheap shot. The part about the Hitler Youth was particularly offensive. And if Cheech had dressed up like the Prophet Mohamed he would have to be in the witness protection program by now!