From Shakesville, check out this short meditation on what one man would do if he were a terrorist:
I’ve just been writing a short essay about that old Andres Serrano controversy for school. What a year 1989 was, eh? Christians freaked out and started gutting the NEA, the Berlin Wall fell, Emily and I were born…
Anyway, the paper is about how the Christofascists’ reaction to Serrano reveals how disconnected their worldview is from the alleged principles of their own religion. Partly slipped below the fold, for length reasons.
Andres Serrano’s Work As Religious Expression:
The Hypocrisy of Conservative Christianity
In the 1980s, photographer Andres Serrano began a body of work “obsessed with Church symbolism” (Meyer 29). His images featured Christian icons and bodily fluids, the most provocative of them Piss Christ — a photograph of a cheap crucifix “submerged in a beaker of the artist’s urine” (Garvey 190). The photos were featured in a 1989 exhibition, which was funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (Garvey 189). The response to Serrano’s work was explosive, with conservative Christian groups so outraged that Congress altered the very mechanics of the NEA in response.
Serrano’s work has been called blasphemy (Garvey 191), and dismissed as “taunting the American people” (qtd. in Garvey, 191). Rather than revealing anything about the character of Serrano’s photographs, however, these epithets reflect instead the sorry state of Christianity in the United States today. Though his images are shocking, consideration of his intentions makes it plain that Serrano was trying to engage with Christianity — to criticize, certainly, but also to understand, as part of his own spiritual path. The response to this — to Serrano’s attempts to relate to religion and to God — demonstrates how divorced from its own purported core principles Christian fundamentalism is.
Among the loudest objectors was Don Wildmon, the head of the American Family Association (Garvey 190). The AFA exists, allegedly, to ensure “the promulgation of the Judaic-Christian ethic in America” (qtd. in Garvey, 190). Despite the AFA’s response, though, Serrano’s work follows in the direct line of Judaic tradition. “Israel” is a name meaning “one who struggles with God” — when Serrano explains Piss Christ with the statement that it stems from “unresolved feelings about [his] own Catholic upbringing,” helping him to “personalize [his] relationship with God” (qtd. in Meyer 29), what is he doing but struggling in the word’s best sense? In Serrano’s case, the constant quest to better know God has produced results that some find ugly and offensive — yet parts of the quest they remain. If Christians wish to call themselves defenders of the Judaic tradition, they will need to acknowledge that the children of Israel are called, by their very name, to strive with God, and further that that grappling is, in and of itself, a religious good. The personal God cannot exist if individual believers are not permitted to seek and to struggle with her. Read the rest of this entry »
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I’ve been keeping tabs on the progress of tonight’s contests over at Salon. Go take a peek at that page. Notice anything funny about the candidates’ caricatures?
Like that Huckabee’s is a photograph, for example.
Is that’s because he’s a satire of himself already?
Absolutely hilarious, and right on:
Via The Radula.
I repeat: not a joke.
Compare and contrast… The above video (conservatives) versus these videos (liberals).
From Pharyngula, check out this brief documentary: The Church of Hate. Appropriately, it’s about professional queer-hater Fred Phelps, and his “congregation” (i.e. large immediate family). A brave fellow by the name of Philip Bloom wore a hidden camera down into the belly of the beast. Looking at the Wikipedia entry I just linked, it appears he also makes his life hating Jews and the Irish, which I think is sort of hilarious, as a queer half-Irish Jew.
My dad told me a joke once. Two rabbis sit together on a bench every day and read The New York Times. One day, one of the rabbis is reading a neo-Nazi newspaper instead. The other rabbi says, “What are you doing! Why are you reading that filth?” His friend replies, “Look, I read the paper, and Israel is doing terrible things, and people hate us. I read this paper and we rule the world!”
This is a lot like that.
Fags control every level of society? Really?? Sweet!
Mr. Phelps is a snakeface. By which I mean he has the face of a snake, sort of like how I imagined Voldemort would look. Nothing against snakes, though. They were at one time a goddess symbol associated with nature and the life cycle, which is of course why they got so demonized by reactionary patriarchal culture/religion. But that’s beside the point — I’m convinced Mr. Phelps has developed his snakeface after years of being absolutely consumed by a hatred so deep, so strange, so irrational it has actually changed his bone-structure.
I hope all fifty-four of those little kids will be alright. One of them is named Jael, which is a Hebrew named pronounced yah-el; weirdly though, they’ve chosen to pronounce it as “jail.” Huh.
There’s not a lot to add to what those smart people have already said, but here’s what I’ve got:
I’m a Jew. I’m figuring out everyday what the means for me in terms of belief or lack thereof in God, but I know very clearly what it means for me in terms of my relationship to governments past and present.
I once told my mother I wanted to get some kind of Jewish tattoo: a Star of David, maybe, or maybe the text of the Sh’ma. She told me I could get anything in the world but that. And why?
“You don’t know they won’t come back.”
This kind of sentiment echoed throughout my entire childhood.
“You don’t know the Nazis won’t come back.”
“You don’t know that Israel won’t be wiped off the face of the earth.”
“You don’t know that the government of the United States won’t turn against the Jews.”
These are direct quotes.
My family may be given to paranoia (just look at this blog, ha), but they’re not completely wrong. It happened to my grandparents. It could happen to you, to me. Maybe it won’t be the Jews this time. But it will be somebody.
It doesn’t matter whether I believe in God or not. It doesn’t matter whether I choose to practice. I will always be a Jew.
Romney mentioned the Jews in his speech, including them in his in-group of believers. He further said (and Hugo Schwyzer latches on to this sentence too), “Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me.”
But I know who my friends and allies are, and they are not neoconservative Christian fundamentalists (all of whom look just about the same to me). I know who will protect my right to my traditions. I know who will protect the liberal, semi-secular synagogue where my brother was bar mitzvahed last month. I know who will protect my religion’s traditions of discussion, debate, and reinterpretation. I know who will protect our values of justice, education, and community. I know who will stand with us against violence and exploitation. I know who will stand with us and say, with seriousness, “Never again.”
And it’s not people who think that “freedom requires religion.” It’s not someone who would equate a “believer in religious freedom” with “any person who has knelt in prayer.” It’s not someone who completely discounts atheists, implying that being an American, and appreciating American freedom, requires a belief in his God.
It’s not someone who would say that appreciating freedom requires anything. The moment you have committed yourself to the idea that any subset of humanity is incapable or undeserving of liberty, you are no ally of mine.
As a woman, an American, a religious person, and a Jew, I trust the atheists, the agnostics, the secular humanists, the intellectuals. To whatever extent that fellow religious people overlap with those groups, I trust them, too. These are my real allies. An enemy of secular values is my enemy, too.
I’m pretty sure the marriage these folks want to defend is the arranged marriage of Jesus and neoconservatism.
Distasteful as all the Bible thumping and ostentatious piety of the Republican presidential aspirants certainly are, the time may have come to address their religious pretensions directly, instead of turning away in mild disgust. For the truth is that no matter how often candidates like Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee promise to uphold the Constitution and protect religious freedom, they are clearly seeking to impose the restrictive tests of faith that the nation’s founders abhorred.
Oh, Mike Huckabee, you are a weasel and a fool.
I think if Mr. Huckabee is going to claim God is blessing him for prayer, he should follow through and tell everyone — Iraqi, American, and otherwise — who has a lost a child in Bush’s evil war that their son or daughter died because they weren’t praying hard enough. That’s the logical conclusion, isn’t it?
I bet that kind of honesty would really rake in the votes.
Hmm. Maybe I should get that checked out.
At least some anti-choicers don’t bother with the pretext that they consider women to be humans deserving of rights, but only possible habitats for the sacred fetus and so must be treated just so.
Love that the boxes in the video start out in the shape of crosses, too. What a nice touch.