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February 15, 2004- From Mel Gibson (Serious) to the Pope a Pogo-Stick (Not)

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Janet Jackson, Jesus and Newsweek


I have a friend with a young daughter.  Her daughter retrieved this week's copy of Newsweek from the mailbox, and was pretty upset. 

My friend wrote to me:

"Janet Jackson's boob was much easier for my daughter to take than what showed up on today's Newsweek cover, the bloody face of the actor portraying Jesus.  I've had enough.  No more magazines, no more TV...."

And she sent his off to Newsweek -


To the Editor:

My young daughter came inside after collecting today's mail, and when she uncovered the February 16, 2004 issue of Newsweek, she let out a horrified shriek, and covered her face.  On the cover was a close up color photograph of James Caviezel's face, and although adults can understand that it's only makeup, my daughter saw gashes and red, and thought it was blood.  Children cannot distinguish reliably between fantasy and reality, and certainly todays movie makeup can look more real than reality.  This movie was not made for children, and I do not think that photos from the movie should be on the front cover of magazines that young kids will see in newsstands, grocery stores, bookstores, and coffee tables across America.  I believe that children are traumatized enough by the reality of this world, let alone the fantasy of Mel Gibson's movie on the cover of your magazine. 

[name withheld]


And I sent her this:

How old is your daughter now?  Is it time to explain the Christian myth of Jesus - and how it's important to many hard-core Christians to emphasize his suffering?  Is it time to explain folks like Mel Gibson and his father, crazed at the thought the Jews did this to their hero?  Time to explain how Mel Gibson broke down in tears in an interview two days ago explaining that he knew his own wife was going to hell, to endless torment, because, even though she is a devote Christian, she is an Episcopalian?  Is it time to explain that Mel Gibson said he was suicidal, with wild mood swings, until he decided to make this film because God wanted him to make this film? 

Is it time to explain to her that although you and your husband don't buy into this stuff, almost all other Americans do?  And that almost all other Americans want revenge for what happened to Jesus - from the Jews, or at least from the Muslims?  Time to explain the Crusades, and the Inquisition, and the Thirty Years War? 

Is it time to explain to your daughter how our mutual friend's older sister suddenly found Jesus and gave up her Judaism and now will not let her children ever again see their cousins or ever again see their grandfather, your friend's father now dying of emphysema, because they are all, every single one of them, heathen and unclean.  Drop him a line.  That happened this year.  And the details are nastier than in this paragraph.  

Sit your daughter down and explain religion?  It's a thought. 

Yes, the magazine cover was graphic.  On purpose.  Jews and other evil people did this to our sweet Jesus.  Maybe it's time she understood the world is full of people that passionately hate other people - with every fiber of their being - and will use such images to help them get up the outrage to start killing those they hate, to make the world better, to make it good and pure. 

Yes, she young.  But she ought to know about the world. 

Flashing one's boobs in public is considered a bit over-the-top.  But some women secretly want to do that, and it gives them a thrill even to consider it.  And with Janet Jackson it was that, or more probably, marketing.  Doesn't matter much, really. 

But such people don't get a kick out of suffering and death.  Some folks do.  Lots of folks do. 

I have no idea what to say to your daughter, really. 

Here's the Newsweek cover:


Well, it's easy to be a bit put off by some aspects of Religion.


There is this from the week's news.   You see the whole idea is differential diagnosis.  Religion is fascinating, and not opposed to science at all. 

See Doctors, Priests Form Exorcism Commission


ROME (Reuters, Friday, February 13, 2004) - Faced with growing demand for exorcisms, Catholic Church leaders in the Italian city of Genoa have created a taskforce of doctors and priests to determine when the devil is at work and when psychiatric help is needed. 

The team of three priests, one psychiatrist, one psychologist and one neurologist - dubbed the "anti-Satan pool" by Italian media - will work on a case-by-case basis, a local church official said in a telephone interview on Thursday. 

"They'll meet on a regular basis to determine when there has been a case of demonic possession and call for an exorcist, or problems better cared for by a psychologist," said the official, who asked not to be named. 


Well, that seems fair. 

You see the whole idea is differential diagnosis.  One needs to know the cause of the problem - a matter of etiology as they say.  Then one can proceed. 


For Catholics, exorcism is the casting out of what is believed to be an evil spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands. 

One of the church's leading exorcists praised the initiative, saying medical experts are needed to rule out mental problems before spiritual work can begin. 

"I never accept anyone who arrives without a medical certificate," Father Gabriele Amorth told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.


Not unreasonable, I guess. 

And the Church is just doing its job.  The Genoa taskforce was created by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.  And while the Church does not often talk openly about exorcisms, Bertone said the need for them is there. 

"It has become difficult to talk about Satan, but the signs of the devil are palpable," he told Corriere della Sera in comments published Thursday.

Yep, your doctor may probe you with his or her fingers looking for palpable masses, but he or she could, it seems, find the devil.  One never knows. 




The again there are serious matters:


See Ex-Ranger pleads guilty in abortion-bombing plot
Larry Lebowitz, The Miami Herald, February 13, 2004

The basics:


A former Army Ranger inspired by anti-abortion activists pleaded guilty Friday to devising a plot to blow up abortion clinics and gay bars nationwide. 

Stephen John Jordi, an evangelical Christian from Coconut Creek with a flaming cross tattooed to his right forearm, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted firebombing. 

In stark contrast to his agitated, grizzled appearance after his Nov. 11 arrest, Jordi was calm and clean-shaven during the brief hearing at U. S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale. 

In return for the guilty plea, prosecutors John Schlesinger and Gerald Greenberg agreed to drop two other counts: spreading explosive information and possession of an unregistered firearm.


This evangelical Christian seems to be ready to God's work. 

Yes, evangelical Christians claim to be about love, and justice in this world.  This guy seems to be a little heavy on the justice side. 

And how does one get to where Steve here got? 


Estranged siblings said Jordi had become increasingly impassioned about a bombing campaign after the arrest of Eric Rudolph last May. 

Rudolph, who is accused of orchestrating a bombing campaign against abortion clinics, gay bars and the Atlanta Olympics park, disappeared into the Appalachian Mountains for five years before he was captured last May. 

Like Rudolph, Jordi was planning to embark on a firebombing campaign targeting abortion clinics, gay bars and churches that refused to take a tough stance against abortion. 

Authorities said Jordi was banking on survival skills he learned in the Army so that he could hide in the mountains between bombings, like Rudolph. 

Jordi also corresponded last year with Florida Death Row inmate Paul Hill, who was convicted for the 1994 murders of a Pensacola abortion doctor and his bodyguard. 

Jordi and the informant flew to Starke to for Hill's execution on Sept. 3.  They were photographed outside the prison with leading members of a militant anti-abortion group called The Army of God. 


Well, The Army of God is a curious concept.  Steve here thinks he is doing, or was attempting to do, God's will. 

Yes, that's not how some others understand Gods will.  Some chat about love and tolerance. 

This business about "purifying the world of evil" through the use of military skills is anomaly, pretty much - save for our official foreign policy these days. 

Maybe at the end of Steve's prison term there's a place for him in the second Bush administration, somewhere in the State Department, once Colin Powell is shown the door.  He's got the basic concepts down pat.  Or maybe he'd fit in at Justice, working for John Ashcroft. 

Hey, it's not like these ideas of his come out of nowhere.  He's in tune with the zeitgeist. 




Then again, some folks just dont take religion seriously at all.


Controversy everywhere these days!

See Catholic Backlash Over Pope on a Pogo-Stick
Pete Harrison, Tuesday, February 10, 2004


LONDON (Reuters) - Thousands of angry Roman Catholics have written to Britain's BBC complaining about a planned cartoon show mocking the Pope as a puerile preacher on a pogo-stick, the broadcaster said Tuesday. 

Petitions are circulating in parishes and some Catholics are even risking jail by refusing to pay their TV license fees if the show goes out as planned this summer. 

"I am not prepared to pay for the Holy Father to be mocked," said human rights activist James Mawdsley who met Pope John Paul after the Vatican intervened to have the campaigner released from a Burmese jail. 

Luke Coppen of the Catholic Herald newspaper said the cartoon was "gratuitously insulting" and had caused "quite a big uproar. " The BBC said complaints about "Popetown" -- a satirical cartoon about office politics in the Vatican -- had numbered "a few thousand."

Extracts from the show have appeared on the Internet where discussion boards are buzzing. 


So who is this James Mawdsley fellow? 


Mawdsley hit the headlines in December 2001 when the Pope helped secure his release from a Burmese jail where he had served 14 months of a 17-year sentence for handing out pro-democracy leaflets. 

"I will not pay the 1,000 pound ($1,800) fine, so that means prison -- never mind," he told Reuters. 

Mawdsley said at least 6,000 people had written to the BBC complaining, while 28,000 had signed a protest petition. 

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in England declined to comment.


And what about the BBC, now so disgraced for not being pro-government in the Fox News way of reporting the real truth? 


The clash comes at a critical time for the BBC.  A furious row with the government over its reporting of the run-up to war with Iraq left the corporation bloodied and weakened.  And now its future funding is up for review. 

Last week, it was accused of caving in to the government after several lines were cut from its satirical radio show "Absolute Power," which poked fun at Prime Minister Tony Blair and the culture of spin. 

The BBC declined to comment on media reports that it was thinking of shelving Popetown. 

CHX Productions, which is producing the show for the BBC and uses the voice of American comedienne Ruby Wax for its pogo-ing Pope, also declined to comment.


When in doubt, decline to comment.  No Comment.