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Blasphemers

The book on NBC's Daniel. Pat Robertson has defenders. Also: Iraq garbage. A not so Current correction. DeLay reactions. Plus much more.

1.10.06

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JESUS IN SANDALS
Re: Carol Platt Liebau's The Problem With The Book of Daniel:

I love the bravery of the "entertainment" community. Over here in the UK we were recently treated to the Magic of Jesus on ITV Channel 4. The breezy premise of this show was the following: two comic magicians would re-create the miracles of Jesus. Water to wine, raising the dead, walking on water and even making a virgin pregnant. This of course was slated for prime time during the Christmas holiday. As an agnostic the miracles really are of no meaning to me. But I do recognize the reality of Christianity as an important driver of the free, secular, Western society that I enjoy. I also believe that because I do not believe I have no immediate right to make sport of other people's beliefs. I call that good manners. Back to the bravery comment. I will be impressed when the arts and entertainment folks come out with a sitcom poking fun at another grand religious tradition -- Islam. Don't hold your breath. They bite.
-- Ron Pettengill
London, United Kingdom

Perhaps NBC would understand why we are offended if they were to imagine The Book of Daniel in black face. Imagine the former NBC drama, The Cosby Show, where instead of the fine work by Bill Cosby and his cast, America was shown an allegedly "typical" African-American family. The father is a medical doctor who takes drugs, smokes, drinks, and swears. He supports homosexuality, drug use, and freely breaks the law by giving prescription drugs to his friends. Everyone commits adultery. The children sell street drugs. The maid smokes pot. The few people not on drugs are alcoholics. The only characters with any redeeming qualities are lesbian or homosexual; everyone else is a hypocrite.

If such a show were to air, it would be ridiculed far and wide as racist bigotry. Why then isn't The Book of Daniel? It is religious bigotry. It is wrong and hateful. Bigotry in any and all forms should be condemned.
-- Newt Love
Annapolis, Maryland

Does anyone want to bet a cup of cheap coffee that "Jesus" will eventually suggest burning SUV's or using the power of the state to enforce compassionate giving? How about the long lost scriptures: From each according to their ability to each according to their need.
-- Danny Newton

With all due respect, there really isn't a problem with NBC's The Book of Daniel. It is a show produced by a group of people at odds with the 2000 year-old teachings of Christianity designed for an audience also at odds with the 2000 year-old teachings of Christianity. That they would fashion Jesus into their kind of Jesus, well, take a number. History is full of examples of people doing a much better job than NBC at making Jesus into their kind of Jesus. I think for the show to survive the bishop needs to grow her hair out, shed 30 lbs., get a boob job, and lip implants or be substituted by Raquel Welch or Bo Derek. The current actress needs more appeal than a laundry list of fictitious Ivy League educations to keep the viewers watching.

The lesson here for those offended is, the Episcopal Church has brought The Book of Daniel. When the "orthodox" Episcopal bishops and priests lacked the spines to deal with the heretics in their midst, Bishop Swing, Bishop Spong, and Bishop Robinson being among the most prominent, or when they did not collectively refute the Jesus Seminar some 12 years ago, things like NBC's The Book of Danielare the natural outcome. If you plan to be in the priesthood, you must have a spine of iron or, more often than not, your life as well as your church may come to resemble the one portrayed by NBC.

As to General Jed Babbin: General, get a big white star painted on the hood of your fire engine red Shelby and "Let's Roll!" Tiger.
-- Mrs. Jackson

Here's a suggestion: If NBC wanted to be truly "transgressive" and "daring" and whatever other word gives them a free pass to trash traditions and culture, how about changing The Book of Daniel ever so slightly. How about making the Priest an Imam instead? Hey, if there are traditional religious believers out there, you have to assume that Muslims are that group. How daring would that be?! While I'd like to think that it'll only be a matter of time before NBC and the rest of the clueless Hollywood types find something to undermine besides Christians, I won't hold my breath.
-- unsigned

PICKING OUT PAT
Re: Paul Chesser's Big Mouth Pat:

The more I hear from Pat Robertson the more he sounds like a liberal Democrat: he just knows everything! The main difference between Pat and say, the Democrat "Reichsmarshall fur Propagandisch" Dean is that Robertson cheerily admits his delusion that God speaks directly to him. Dean retains that bare modicum of sanity that allows him to resist saying that he is God.
-- Jay W. Molyneaux

Robertson is a prime example of someone who labors mightily under delusions of self-importance. The first thing Karl Rove should do whenever Bush is on the verge of announcing any new initiative is send a team out to put duct tape over Pat Robertson's mouth before he can possibly damage the effort by endorsing it.
-- Paul Schlick
Maple Grove, Minnesota

Pat Robertson would do more for the faith if he could explain why God struck Sharon and failed to notice Saddam Hussein. Blaming Drudge or Hannity for giving oxygen to the speech of Robertson is a little troubling. Once that ball is in play, refusing to chase it and kick it in a different direction means that liberals are free to construct whatever grotesque spin they see fit.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

Mr. Chesser would now like for Americans to believe that Pat Robertson is not representative of evangelical Christians... to quote the church lady (of SNL fame), "how conveeeeeeenient!" Every political ideology has a gadfly (or 50), from Michael Moore to Pat Robertson to Hugo Chavez to Fred Phelps. The GOP tries to hang the anvil of Michael Moore around the neck of the Democrats, so turnabout is fair play. Is Mr. Chesser suggesting that the Bush administration doesn't consult with Rev. Robertson on policy issues (Schiavo, abortion, FMA)? When all else fails, blame the commie pinko, lib'rul news media.

Mr. Chesser suggests that the right wing media could "promote a more intellectual, thoughtful Christian identity" with the likes of Hugh Hewitt. Poor example. Mr. Hewitt is one of the most virulently anti-gay, bigoted "Christians" on the right today (unless you are white, heterosexual, and middle class). On second thought, he would fit right in as a shining light for the bibliocons.
-- Ben Berry
Silver Spring, Maryland

I'm sorry to read that Mr. Chesser seems embarrassed by Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. I would be more inclined to agree with him if he would name a Biblical prophet or leader who, when acting in accordance with God's command, avoided offending people's sensibilities.

Robertson and Falwell are human beings; they are not perfect. They will say wrong things on occasion, just like the rest of us. But conservatives should use their precious ammunition against those who oppose us; not these two who are on our side.

As Jed Babbin rightfully points out, too often conservatives cower like ninnies. In fact, it's the rule rather than the exception. Whatever else characterizes Robertson and Falwell, they don't cower or show fear before our dominant liberal culture.

The religious left is powerful enough as it is. For conservatives to bow before them as though we have something of which to be ashamed is disgraceful. And for conservatives to attack other conservatives in an effort to gain favor with the element George Will refers to as "temperate people" (read: people approvable to the MSM) is cowardly.
-- R. Trotter
Arlington, Virginia

In response to your article on The American Spectator you say this concerning Pat Robertson: "for he has a history of statements that push a rat-a-tat, bad news 'Gospel message that seems to rejoice more in condemnation than salvation. No problem with the damnation aspect of the message, by the way"

Then why the first part of the above quote? You then chastise him for, "you proclaim that you are also God's mind reader." Well, Robertson believes the Bible reveals the mind of God toward us. So, he is only quoting from the belief of God's promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3.

I agree, there is no promise about Dover, Pa. But Robertson is in different and maybe poorly chosen words warning about the overall effect of building our society on Godless principles.

Again, at least he speaks from conviction. I never hear from the saccharin-Gospel promoters about the angry emotions displayed by Jesus when he overturned the money changers tables in the temple. He called the leaders of his day "whitewashed tombs, fools, sons of the Devil, blind leaders of the blind" and so on. John the Baptist called them a "brood of snakes." Tough times call for tough medicine and sometimes tough words.

Too much sweetness is sickening and lacking in truth. At least Robertson has the courage to say some tough things, unlike our all too often weak-spined, get-along-with-the-left, veto-less president and Republican Congress.
-- Steve Cade
Woodburn, Oregon

I always look forward to and enjoy your contributions to TAS. While I am in complete agreement with you regarding the recent statements from Mr. Robertson, we must remember that, even though his influence may appear to be outwardly fading, there remains a sizable and staunchly conservative base of Americans that are influenced by, and will concur with his strategic hyperbole. I am from a mainline (Presbyterian) congregation. Though I am personally no fan of Pat Robertson's methods, and tend to cringe whenever he has found his way into the next headline, I still, as a conservative, find myself sympathetic to many of the concerns of his base.

This base likely believes that God needs to "be inserted" (your phrase) into government, one reason being the on-going "secularization of the church." However, this base is also going to vote Republican nine times out of ten. They are not likely to go along with Darwin's views on evolution. They are likely to favor a strong American military defense, and favor a permanent, and safe, democratic Israeli state in the Middle East.

They are also highly coveted by the Republican Party for support, and after 9/11, may have ended up making the difference in the re-election of President Bush. Their sense of righteous anger, and perhaps even fear, stemming from that tragedy is certainly being exploited by the likes of Pat Robertson, and I for one am truly sorry that they, among many other conservative Christians, will continue to be identified with, and ultimately judged by the likes of the MSM on the basis of one selfish man's attention-seeking and self-aggrandizing remarks.
-- Mark Kalbach

I agree with almost everything you say about dear old Rev. Robertson and other non-entities, but I must draw the line at Pat Paulsen. For one thing, he's dead and deserves respect, and for another, he was undoubtedly the most entertaining candidate we have ever had on the national scene. My only criticism of him is that he failed to play the banjo at his campaign appearances.

But, all seriousness aside, Pat Robertson shows himself regularly to be a simple-minded fop in need of attention. And he only plays to the choir who nod knowingly and think themselves wise. Most of us Christians are too busy worrying about our own standing with God to concern ourselves with Ariel Sharon's eternal status. Maybe Pat's connections with the Almighty are better than ours, but I doubt it.
-- Steve Hayes
Utah

Hannity should also bypass the super sanctimonious James Dobson (sometime champion of the notorious Randall Terry of "Operation Rescue") -- among others of the ultra-religious right who scare a lotta folks.

That California Congressman who wants to ban RU-486, the "morning after pill" -- some of those Republicans just can't keep their noses out of our bedrooms, while the Democrats try to control the rest of our lives.
-- Geoff Brandt
Quintana, Texas

As an Evangelical Christian I also have concerns about the over publicity of Mr. Robertson's comments. While I am sure his intentions are well meaning the reality is that he is not speaking for me or effectively communicating my "Evangelical perspective."

Thanks for the article and speaking up!
-- Bob Kelly
Leonardtown, Maryland

Wouldn't it be nice if we Christians spent more time on Intelligent Faith than Intelligent Design?
-- Doug Dodge
Layton, Utah

SHOOT AWAY
Re: Shawn Macomber's They Shoot Litter Bugs, Don't They?:

Great article. I regularly enjoy reading from the field in Iraq. However one sentence struck me as being a false belief Americans have in Democracy, stemming from the fact that whites still make up the majority in America and thus dictate the governing culture there:

"The great thing about a democracy is that no one group will be able to impose things on any other..."

Tell that to any South African white. Or to any white in Zimbabwe. What a joke. That's why most South African whites don't bother vote anymore. What can 12% of the vote achieve against the dictates of the majority government? NOTHING. Population dynamics DO have a huge impact on democracy. Democracy really only works in homogenous cultures. This is a point the U.S. does not understand as it thrusts democracy onto countries. Artificial British colonial constructs such as Iraq or the (Union of) South Africa cannot have representative democracies because the dominant political group (in numbers) will dictate to the others. Bishop Tutu realized this years ago and encouraged black women to have lots of babies. Now that his ruling ANC has to feed them, he is of course discouraging them again from having lots of babies. Babies are the future capital of One-Man-One-Vote.

Another example: Israel. The great democracy in the Middle East; As long as the majority of the population is Jewish. Many strategic papers I read deal with the questions of demographics in Israel. Many there are terrified of the day that Arabs, who have the higher birth rates, make up the majority. That's why Sharon encouraged Jewish immigration. Why? Because it's about the dominant culture. Ask any Israeli Arab what their vote currently means. Probably little, apart from bartering a few concessions from Labor. But if they were to be a majority, it would be the ticket to run the show, just like the Jewish culture currently dictates the nature of Israel.
-- Dirk Neethling
Essen, Germany

Mr. Macomber's dispatches from Iraq do a good job of conveying the problems involved in getting a Western style government off the ground there, but I have to say that shooting litterbugs sounds like a reasonable idea; certainly a severe beating wouldn't be excessive. Most Americans would be happy to accept draconian punishment for litterers in exchange for dropping deposits on beverage containers. I think there should be a special circle in hell for people who break glass containers in the street or spit gum on the sidewalk.
-- Rick Skeean

POT KENNEDY BLACK
Re: The Prowler's As Tuesday Follows Monday:

How can the Democrats have Teddy, the swimmer, Kennedy ask questions about legal issues and still keep a straight face? I have to laugh every time I look at the pious idiot and what is wrong with the people in Massachusetts to keep electing the two jerks?
-- Elaine Kyle

ELEPHANTS TO THE MATTRESSES
Re: Jed Babbin's Time to Push Back:

Babbin says it's time for the Reps to "push back."

I can safely say that all of us staunch supporters of Bush and the Reps agree. Our only question is: "Just how the hell do we get the Reps to push back?"

The party is fractured, in disarray, with no coordination. So, who's minding the store, anyway?
-- James Hellwig
Eagle, Idaho

Thank you so much for your column. I and many like me have been waiting and hoping that someone that has a public megaphone and works "inside the Beltway" would head a movement to take the gloves off against the traitorous, hate filled extreme left that now dominates the Dem party. The few elected centrist Dems left are generally cowed into submission and instantly obey their orders to walk in lock step with the Socialists that lead the party.

The GOP, elected and unelected activists are predominately a bunch weenies and wusses. George Bush is the leader of the chorus. He determined and ordered that no legal/governmental retribution was to befall the Clinton White House staff for their trashing and vandalism on the way out, and he has been protecting the Clintons ever since. It is disgusting the way that he has been promoting Bubba and his legacy by putting him in charge of humanitarian efforts, etc. Oh, and why hasn't the DOJ demanded that Sandy Berger be convicted and do some jail time? I bet it is because Bush went soft again.

The GOP has been a bunch of wusses since before Rep. Bob Michael was Wuss-in-Chief of the GOP minority in the U. S. House. Every time we get an articulate, effective leader with a spine the RINOs assist the Dems in taking that leader's scalp. I would cite Gingrich, Livingstone, DeLay, Lott to name just a few off the top of my head. That doesn't even begin to address the treatment of Judge Bork and Justice Thomas.

You are absolutely right. It is past time to take the gloves off, rearm and resupply all weapons, and advance on the enemy with the intent to take no prisoners. Let those that have not the stomach for the down and nasty fight that is required retreat to their beds and pull the covers over their heads.
-- Ken Shreve

DELAY RAILROADED
Re: The Prowler's The DeLay Sweepstakes:

The one sure thing you can count on with the Republican Party is that they will indeed eat their own. Rather than rebuke the Democrats and stand on principal and defend Mr. Delay, they resort to nothing less than political cannibalism. The term gutless comes to mind and that is precisely why I refuse to send the party any more money. As much as I despise the Democrats, they will at lest defend their own. Mr. Delay is being railroaded and we all know it. It's just that the Republicans don't have the courage of their convictions.
-- Jim L.
East Sandwich, Massachusetts

IMBIBING TRUTH
Re: James Kearney's letter (under "Within Reason") in Reader Mail's Fighting Words and J. Peter Freire's The F.C.:

In responding to the piece on the death of the Murphy girls, James Kearney wrote, "While Mr. Freire's article is well written, it is not well reasoned. The ones responsible for the death of the Murphy girls is the Murphy girls. To try an extract a pound of flesh from someone who supplied orange juice is nothing short of ridiculous. I suggest that Mr. Freire discuss this with his very sane sounding mother."

Leaving Mr. Kearney's problems with English Grammar aside, although I was taught that sloppy writing is indicative of sloppy thinking, Mr. Kearney must be unaware of the provisions of the social host law in Massachusetts. Among the provisions of that law, is one that holds the liable, if he or she allows an underage person to consume alcohol on his or her premises, even if he or she does not provide said alcohol.

Now, add to that the fact that Nathaniel Berberian is only 20 years old, and thus also underage with respect to consuming alcohol, and we have another crime to consider. Mr. Kearney has the arrogance to use the phrase "extract a pound of flesh," with respect to the criminal liability of Nathaniel Berberian, when two people are dead as a result of his law-breaking, and criminal negligence. I wonder what Mr. Kearney's position would be were it his daughters were killed.

What Mr. Kearney neglects to mention, is the fact that the person not being prosecuted, is the son of a major political contributor to the DA. This double standard is to be expected for Democrats in (M)assachusetts, given the treatment afforded Fats Kennedy when he killed Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick.
-- W. B. Heffernan, Jr.

I grew up in that area of Massachusetts. When I read about the two sisters' tragic death I was saddened. When I read "Southboro" and "Land Rover" I couldn't help but think "spoiled" -- then felt guilty for the thought.

Thanks for getting rid of the guilt.
-- Chris B.

TECH TV
Re: Lawrence Henry's Future Sports:

Lawrence Henry misses what I hope will be a significant development in televised sports. The ability of the viewer to select among various camera views. I believe NASCAR is already doing some variation on this with cameras mounted in cars and subscribing viewers able to select among them.

As a baseball fan I am increasingly frustrated with the camera shots provided in the typical television broadcast of baseball. Incessant close-ups of players' faces rather than wide shots of the field showing the positions of the fielders and base runners. They have several cameras at every baseball game. Let the viewer flip between them based on what he wants to see. I get the impression that the directors of televised baseball broadcasts are all moonlighting from their day jobs directing the cameras on soap operas. You know how much more dramatic a close-up shot can be. And directors seem to think that because baseball is a game with lots of time waiting for the action of a pitch or a batted ball, they feel they have to create drama. They don't grasp that the drama is in seeing the whole picture sometimes, not just the faces of the players.

I can dream, anyway.
-- Rick Wyckoff

EMERGENCY CORRECTION
Re: Mark Gauvreau Judge's Current Affairs:

I am a contributing writer to Current magazine, a magazine for and by college students. On 10/18/05, Mark Gauvreau Judge critiqued the magazine, including an opinion piece I wrote about emergency contraception. In his criticism, Mr. Judge mischaracterizes a situation I describe. He says that my friend "winds up pregnant," even though I clearly stated in my article that she was attempting to obtain emergency contraception to prevent a pregnancy.

I would appreciate it if the page on which "Current Affairs" appears is amended to include a correction stating that my friend did not "wind up pregnant." I may be just a liberal writer and a college student, but I know that this is not acceptable.
-- Victoria Bosch

Mark Gauvreau Judge replies:
I think Bosch is right, but she needs to work on the clarity of her journalism -- although the way she writes is very telling about the culture. In her piece Bosch talked about her friend getting asked out by a boy, and then Bosch used the term "emergency contraception" to describe her friend's dilemma at being on a religious campus where contraception was not easily available (what, no drug stores nearby?). There was no indication of whether this "emergency contraception" was needed before or after the date. To my mind, "emergency" meant post-coital, and thus was a euphemism for abortion. I stand corrected. But Bosch could have been more accurate as well. In fact, her friend's situation was not an emergency at all -- unless Bosch's friend has a sexual pathology that prevents her from saying no (and on the first date). But silly me. I continue to expect that young ladies on campus and elsewhere will want to treat themselves with a modicum of self-respect, even if the boys -- and the professors -- won't. But I'm glad I was wrong. I had thought the poor girl had had an abortion, which is not an emergency but a tragedy.

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