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Archive for May, 2009

You’re probably familar with Alberto Cutié. Also known as “Father Oprah” (probably on account of his constant struggles with his weight, his habit of giving free Pontiacs to parishioners, and his millionaire-making endorsements of lousy books), he got caught by Cuban spies a few weeks ago cavorting on the beach with his girlfriend, a divorcée.

Now, Priests aren’t supposed to have girlfriends, and also the Catholic Church doesn’t recognize divorce, which got Cutié doubly in trouble. Instead of waiting around for a nun to beat him senseless with a ruler, he instead joined the Episcopal church, where he delivered his first sermon this morning:

The former priest received a standing ovation and told several jokes, quipping at one point that “my stuff is in storage.”

Thanks to a favor I once did for the Archbishop of Canterbury, I got a sneak peek at Cutié’s joke-filled opening monologue:

Finally, Father Oprah has come back to Anglicanism. [pause for laughter] Now, I know what some of you are thinking: Father Oprah’s just here for the lonely, divorced women. And I’m not going to bear false witness [pause for laughter], some of your divorcees estan muy buenas! [pause for laughter]

But it’s also a huge relief not to have to believe in transsubstantiation anymore. I mean, I can believe that someone could turn crackers into toffee [pause for laughter] or wine into sangria. [pause for laughter] But turning them into the flesh and blood of Jesus? That’s kind of gross!

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against people wanting to get flesh and bodily fluids in their mouths … especially when the people are hot divorcees! [pause for laughter] And especially when the flesh and fluids are mine! [pause for laughter and hoots] But crackers can’t turn into flesh. Again, crackers can’t turn into flesh. So ladies, next time you want to get your mouth on some “divinity,” you talk to Father Oprah, because [points at crotch] ain’t no crackers down there! Am I right, gentlemen? [pause for “woof, woof, woof” noises from male parishioners]

Also, I’ve got to say, it’s somewhat of a relief not to have to take marching orders from the Pope anymore. He’s definitely a smart man, there’s no doubt about that, but all that goose-stepping was giving me muscle cramps! [pause for laughter] And how much bratwurst can one cardinal eat? [pause for laughter] I swear, every time there was a conclave in Rome, I was shitting pig intestines for a week! [pause for laughter] One of my flights back to Miami someone thought there were WMDs in the bathroom! [pause for laughter] Wurst-Mess Dookies! [long pause for sustained laughter]

Anyway, it’s great to be here. I look forward to years of productive relationships with your divorcees. [pause for laughter] I mean, with all of you. [pause for applause] God bless!

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Some god-believers (especially those named Jotham) insist that their god is “perfect.” In fact, there are entire (specious) arguments for god’s existence premised on this belief.

Other god-believers, however, allow that their god might not be perfect, and might sometimes need (for example) refueling, new tires, radiator-debris removal, windshield-washing, tire-pressure adjustments, and brake pad replacements.

The people in this second group, quite obviously, are the ones who formed the God’s Pit Crew (or maybe God Spit Crew — their URL and YouTube account can really be parsed either way).

Whenever god puts a little too much wear and tear on the world, maybe with tornadoes or floods or hurricanes, the Spit Crew swoops right and tries to clean up the mess he made:

Now, I have no beef with wanting to help people after they’ve been ravaged by a natural disaster. I myself was struck by lightning shortly after I came up with the idea for my book, again when I set up this blog, and a third time when I came up with The Greatest Religious Joke of All Time. And so I have lots of sympathy for the victims of nature (or of god, depending on whether you believe in science or not).

Nonetheless, the message that “Jesus loves you, and that’s why he destroyed your trailer park” seems a little incongruous to me. The idea that “The tree that fell through your living room is all part of god’s plan” is not particularly reassuring. Which is why if the Spit Crew showed up after my natural disaster, I’d probably crawl out from under my collapsed wall, accept their gift of a trailer full of bag ice, and start making fun of them.

Pepsi apparently has the same idea. After lots of contributions, they somehow figured out that the word “god” in the organization’s name implied a religious aspect to the Spit Crew. (Perhaps they watched the part of the video that sums up their charitable activities as “All this with the message of the love of Jesus Christ.”)

Nonetheless the Spit Crew is pushing back:

“We make absolutely no excuses for being a faith based, a religious based organization – we don’t discriminate we talk about Jesus to those in need whether they’re believers or non believers,” Johnson said.

Of course, a real God Spit Crew would have turned down donations from the homosexual-agenda-supporting Pepsi anyway.

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Do you know about the Silver Ring Thing? Don’t feel bad, neither did I until a few minutes ago. I think that means we’re old.

Basically you wear a $20 silver ring to demonstrate that you’ve sat through a 2-hour pro-abstinence stage performance incorporating “high energy music, special effects, fast-paced video, personal testimonies, and comedy all delivered in a concert-style approach with which teenagers can respond and relate.” (It would be a real shame if you went and ordered one of those rings despite never having participated in a SRT program. A real shame.)

While it may seem like a strange accomplishment to commemmorate with jewelry, it is apparently popular enough that a bunch of secular kids felt left out and have created their own Secular Pinky Swear:

I, First Name, Last Name strive to live my life according to progressive, secular values, not dogma or superstition.

Wait a minute. “Progressive values”? Where did that come from? What does that have to do with secularism?

Digging deeper, it looks like it’s part of Principle #6:

Without losing sight of the importance of diverse viewpoints, I will encourage others to appreciate the value of reason, compassion, equality, and other enlightened principles that make the world a better and safer place for humanity, now and in the future.

“The importance of diverse viewpoints”? If there is one thing we don’t believe in here at YRIF, it’s “the importance of diverse viewpoints.” Actually, can I have that back? If there’s one thing we don’t believe in, it’s god, but if there’s a second thing then it’s “the importance of diverse viewpoints.”

The following are all “diverse viewpoints”:

Do you notice what else they have in common? They’re all colossally stupid. The only “importance” secularists ought to recognize in them is the importance of pointing out that they’re not true.

Kids, if you’re going to go to the trouble of proclaiming secular values, don’t half-ass it. If you want to be “courageous in the face of cultural pressure,” then be courageous! Supporting “diverse viewpoints” in the abstract means you’re supporting just about anything!

Might I suggest that you substitute my principle #6a:

In appreciation of the importance of non-stupid viewpoints, I will encourage others to appreciate the value of reason, compassion, equality, and other enlightened principles that make the world a better and safer place for humanity, now and in the future.

Doesn’t that sound better?

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Rock and roll contains a proud tradition of girl bands, including Josie and the Pussycats, Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, Jem and the Holograms, The Misfits, Barbie and the Rockers, Barbie and the Sensations, The Chipettes, and Girls Aloud.

Looking at that list, one thing jumps out immediately. None of those bands are made up of Orthodox Jewish women! (Misfit Pizzazz, despite her JAP-py behavior, is in fact a Calvinist.) There are lots of possible explanations for this, many of which involve Cat Stevens, but the most likely is that Orthodox Jewish men are not allowed to listen to women sing.

After years of Rabbinic debate, the members of would-be-girl-band Ashira found a solution: ladies night:

Ashira has booked bars that lock out all men on nights they perform. Their Hebrew songs all revolve around biblical themes. Their forthcoming album will include a warning label against men opening the disc.

Because I like to be helpful, I have gone ahead and made a warning label for them:

girls_singing

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If (like me) you’ve been busy wringing your hands over the fact that we live under a form of government in which the majority gets to tell the minority what to do, you may have missed the news that our good friend Francis Collins, the brains behind BioLogos, is in line to be the next Director of the NIH.

Sure, his bio is a bit iffy in parts:

Collins coined the term “BioLogos” to describe the conclusions he had reached about how life (Bios) came about through God’s speaking it into being (Logos); in that sense DNA can be considered metaphorically as God’s language.

Nonetheless, I have high hopes for this appointment, as it likely means that the current (boring) NIH website will get spruced up with thought-provoking, BioLogos-y questions. For example:

  • What is the proper relation between medicine and religion?
  • At what point in the evolutionary process did humans attain the “Image of God”?
  • If God created the NIH, what created God?
  • How does the illness and disease in the world align with the idea of a loving God?
  • Is there room in healthcare to believe in miracles?
  • What factors should be considered in determining how to approach a passage of scripture?

And really, who better to lead the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research than a guy who started an entire foundation devoted to twisting science in ways that justify his belief in the supernatural.

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I was all set to make a “finally, a Catholic on the Supreme Court!” joke. And then I got a memo from the fact-checking department pointing out that we don’t really know for sure what religion Sonia Sotomayor is.

It turns out the there’s a lot of evidence both ways:

yes: “Sotomayor” sounds like a Catholic name

no: divorced

yes: attended Catholic schools

no: attended Protestant law school

yes: big fan of Nancy Drew

no: big fan of Perry Mason

yes: believes in Virgin birth of Jesus

no: skeptical about “perpetually-intact hymen” doctrine

yes: treats her law clerks like her children, possibly including baptism, confirmation, and altarboyism

no: never had children of her own, in direct violation of Catechism 2373

yes: supernatural belief that Court of Appeals is “where policy is made

no: reputation as rigorous, rational thinker


UPDATE

Apparently she is Catholic, but an “attends church for family celebrations and other important events” Catholic. As I am not a Catholic, I’m not sure what counts as “important events,” but I’m guessing that Easter Egg hunts are included.

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Over on FOXNews.com, Bill Shuler lists Ten Fallacies About Faith In America. Incredibly, I largely agree with the pastor:

1. “Separation of Church and State” means people of faith should mute their convictions in the public forum.

Fallacy! It’s common sense that means people of faith should mute their convictions in the public forum.

2. We should stamp out all prejudices in America except for those pertaining to God, Jesus and the Bible.

Fallacy! We shouldn’t “stamp out” prejudices pertaining to Zoroastrians or Hindus or Giant Stone Head Worshippers either!

3. One person’s offense or disagreement should be allowed to suppress the faith DNA of a nation.

Fallacy! There’s no such thing as “faith DNA”!

4. National discourse should avoid all illusions [sic] to faith because the highest goal in America is not to offend.

Fallacy! National discourse should avoid all allusions to faith because allusions to faith are dumb.

5. We owe no allegiance to the faith that shaped our nation.

Fallacy! We are perpetually indebted to the Puritans and owe it to them to prohibit women from speaking in church.

6. The faith that once inspired and motivated many of our Founding Fathers should now be relegated to church buildings on Sunday mornings.

Fallacy! It should be relegated to church buildings on (at most) Christmas and Easter.

7. We should continue to revise American history by subtracting faith because our most valued virtue is political correctness.

Fallacy! We should continue to revise American history by exaggerating the importance of George Washington Carver because our most valued virtue is political correctness.

8. Having faith in God is a minority view shared by few.

Um, for something to be a “fallacy,” there have to actually be people who believe it.

9. Faith should be kept in our national closet until our next national crisis.

Fallacy! Faith should be kept in our national closet forever.

10. The mere expression of faith in the public domain is an act of intolerance.

Fallacy! The expression of faith in the public domain is an act of ignorance.

Well, 9/10 is not too shabby. Who knew that a pastor and I could find so much common ground!

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