Saturday, June 20, 2009

Buddha in the Supreme Court

The Sociological Images blog takes a critical look at racial stereotypes in political satire, including the baffling, maddening recent cover of the National Review depicting Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as Buddha.

The comparison of the magazine cover to the original icon is particularly eye-opening...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Stephen Baldwin the Baptist

What was it I was saying about reality TV and religion? Whatever it was, forget it: I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here has taken reality-TV religion to new extremes. Above, watch Evangelical spokescelebrity Stephen Baldwin preach the word to The Hills' Spencer Pratt, who knows that Jesus answers prayers because Jesus introduced him to Miley Cyrus. (Seriously.) Below, Stephen spontaneously baptises Spencer, who compares sin to eel sperm and his baptism to "a ten-year bath with lots of bubbles."

For more, check out Gabe's astute commentary on Religion Dispatches.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Doonesbury Does the Bible (But Not Very Well)

This past Sunday's Doonesbury strip comparing the Old and New Testaments has some Jewish leaders demanding an apology. Trudeau's take is oversimplified at best, offensive at worst, but to play devil's advocate: the 17-year-old in the comic strip isn't supposed to be a Biblical scholar. She certainly sounds like a real teenage kid, earnest and uninformed, talking about religion. The problem, as I see it, is that this is a Sunday strip, meaning that it's not in the context of story. There's no "before" and "after." Trudeau opens up a can of worms and tries to toss it off with a chuckle -- disappointing for a satirist with an admirable history of tackling cultural issues head-on.

Benjamin Weiner at Religion Dispatches suggests using this as a "teachable moment":

Christians, if you haven’t already, please take some time to recognize that the division of your scriptures into “old” and “new”, with a panting demiurge presiding over the first and a Guevarist lovegod community-organizing his way through the second is a false dichotomy, and a dangerous and frustrating one, at that, when it is used as a thumbnail sketch of Jewish-Christian difference. Your “old testament”, what we call the Tanakh, portrays a God of manifold characteristics—from the friend and confidant of Abraham and, yes, the ferocious goader of the wilderness, to the ironic moral conscience of Jonah and the mystical whirlwind of Job—that have served as the basis for kaleidoscopic articulations of Jewish theology.