Wednesday, March 13, 2013

OMG "We're" Offended?

BREAKING NEWS FROM OCN (Orthodox Christian Network)

(This is a press release from OCN, sent to subscribers to their program... I don't know if any national news outlets have actually published this yet).  God, I hope not.....

National Christian Group Launches Video Response To Controversial Saturday Night Live Skit
• Asks NBC For Apology
Saturday Night Live went too far when it portrayed Jesus as a blood thirsty murderer. So says a national Christian group that's so upset by what they saw that they have asked NBC for an apology and have launched a video taking the network to task.

"The Orthodox Christian Network is outraged by the DJesus Uncrossed Skit that was aired recently on Saturday Night Live", said Father Christopher Metropulos, head of the Orthodox Christian Network (www.myocn.net). "While we realize that Saturday Night Live is a comedy show, we strongly believe that NBC has seriously crossed the line with material that is grossly offensive to Christians."

According to Father Metropulos, "the skit was shockingly indecent and demonstrated a blatant disregard to the feelings of millions of Christians who would most obviously be sickened by the sacrilegious content of the material. This is especially difficult for Christians worldwide to witness as we prepare for the Resurrection of our Lord and Easter. Never have I seen such reckless irresponsibility from a national television network."

JCPenny and Sears have already pulled their ads from Saturday Night Live in reaction to the controversy.  (END OF PRESS RELEASE and inserted here is a link to the video they produced that I have not watched in response to a skit I have not watched and won't... neither of them, so I'm not posting it here. If you want to watch it, google it.)


Personally, I find OCN's response to NBC more offensive and un-Christian than anything NBC could possibly do to make fun of or parody Jesus Christ, the Church or anything I believe.  Fr. Christopher's concern for millions of Christians' "feelings" as they witnessed the mockery of Jesus Christ shows the depth of his lack of understanding of Christianity's core.  His lame self-promotion as a "spokesperson" and posturing of OCN as a voice of a "national Christian group" to garner publicity for OCN is a reckless, irresponsible and offensive representation of the Gospel and Christianity itself, far worse than anything NBC could produce.  In my mind they are both flip sides of the same coin: outrageousness for the sake of publicity to get ratings.  (Don't even get me started on why "Christians" are watching SNL, much less TV at all... that's another whole issue.)  So, back to the issue at hand:

SNL's skit was "especially difficult to watch... as we prepare for the Resurrection of our Lord and Easter"???...

Has Fr. Metropulos paid any attention to the services of Holy Week in all his years in the priesthood?  (I would broaden the landscape and say, ANY Christian who has read the Bible account of the machinations leading to the Cross and Resurrection). All of Holy Week (and Lent) is clear: The preparation for the Resurrection is mockery, injustice, ingratitude, blindness, betrayal, torture, greed, politics, defamation, slander, gossip, misinterpretation, insults, parody, lies and death.  The message of the Gospel is the offense of forgiveness of sinners, the slaying of the innocent, non-retaliation by God and men, the bearing of offense, the love of enemies and betrayers and cowards, the bearing of darkness, the kind word said to a moral failure while dying unjustly, the concern for the living while taking a last breath.  If Fr. Christopher really gets "the Gospel", his message should have been directed to Christians who are offended, not the offenders of Christians.

Has Fr. Christopher and those offended ever read the Gospels?  If not, here's some excerpts from one of them:

"Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you for My sake, rejoice and be glad..."  (MISSING: publicize your offense before believers and unbelievers).

"Do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also..."
(MISSING: Push back, boycott and launch a publicity campaign.)

"...but I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven...."   (MISSING: parade your outrage, the insult and the perceived injustice you suffered, or even your pious prayers for their salvation, before the public.)

By parading himself and whoever participated in the video he produced as representatives of "Christians" to send to NBC, Fr. Christopher has maligned, misrepresented and brought scandal upon the Gospel and the Orthodox Church.  He has promoted the Orthodox understanding of the Gospel as a force in the "marketplace" by aligning his outrage with corporate sponsors who have "pulled their advertising (dollars)".  He has presented his campaign in a way that non-believers will equate the Orthodox faith with a Taliban-like coercion of "don't f*ck with our religion or else". He has not addressed his true audience: Christians, and taught them what being a real Christian is all about. Instead he produces a video, issues a press release and tries to coerce the unbelieving offenders to accommodate the lack of faith and true spiritual depth of the people he is ministering to.  That'll convert 'em!  Or... neither of them.

In short, this one's for you Fr. Christopher.
CLICK on THIS.
It's an oldie, but it is relevant.

May God have mercy on you and us all.

Yeah, I admit I'm pissed, and it's not even the first week of Lent yet.

Rant over.

35 comments:

Trevor Peterson said...

Thanks for this. Personally, I watched the SNL bit on a recommendation. It's really quite funny if you've ever watched pretty much any Quentin Tarantino movie. I think I understood correctly that their intention was to mock his style of turning anything--even the Prince of Peace who gave himself over to death--into a bloody revenge flick. Of course, at the same time, I knew it was going to offend most Christians, and probably not entirely without reason. But this kind of campaign communicates mostly that we have no sense of humor--at least, not enough to get what the joke was really about.

John Papson said...

What SNL does is of no consequence to Orthodox Christians as long as we are able to worship the Lord in truth.

David T said...

I guess a hearty "Is Outrage!" would be too 2009 of me...

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy said...

Thanks, Steve! I had some similar thoughts, but not enough time to get into the issue. (Plus, I thought the skit was relatively funny).

Anonymous said...

JCPenney and Sears pulled their ads? No, please, tell me more about how failing corporations are threatening SNL. But seriously, I know what would offend sinners: the coming wrath of the Lamb! Maybe if believers concerned themselves more with what will happen to unbelievers on Judgment Day, than on what unbelievers do today, more unbelievers would believe.

Stella said...

Here's a thoughtful, thought-provoking (and "OMG offensive" as well) take on it:

http://tinyurl.com/affd65r

Which I think pretty much nails it. Pun intended, I guess.

Anaxagoras said...

An irrelevant (in the grand scheme of the Christian "landscape" in North America) media outfit run out of the top floor of a Greek church that's down the street from the Hustler Store in Fort Lauderdale (true story) pulls an AFA/700 Club/Muslim Cartoon Incident-style outrage stunt to garner some attention and appear like a relevant part of civic or moral life in this country... and people are surpised???

Bwahahahahahahaha!!!!

Fr. David Wooten said...

Sorry; wife was logged in before.

So, Anaxagoras is right--OCN's reach is pretty much nil when compared to mass media. I have a just-launched podcast through them; I don't plan on seeing throngs of people beating down our doors in a week or two. But, algo es algo, as we say in Spanish.

Basically, though, I wonder about why we get so bent out of shape when someone addresses something in the media that's done in poor taste, and especially why we're painting Fr. Chris as some sort of foaming-at-the-mouth culture warrior in the same league as John Hagee or, even more bizarrely, Al Qaeda. The piece, however you look at reaction pieces, was respectful towards SNL, did not at any point call for a boycott (IIRC), did not use "persecution language," and simply asked for a topic to be left alone. Period.

If I may talk about real persecution for a moment -- Soviet-era martyrdoms, genocide of Christians in Africa, etc -- do we not write our congressmen and President, do we not sign petitions, do we not organize politically and socially in order to stand up and at least attempt to stand against these massive affronts to human cruelty that are targeted at people for their religion? Is this somehow "cheating the Christians out of their martyrdom," their witness for Christ through their torture and death? Yes, St. Ignatius of Antioch pleaded with his flock not to impede his journey to Rome (they would have had to rise up violently to stop the guards, which would be sinful), but that martyrdom was already set in motion; if something can be stopped, I would posit that we use any means possible to try and stop it.

Now, to return to the ultimately trivial and relatively insignificant matter at hand (a response so insignificant, in fact, that I wonder if "our" outrage at its mere presence as a response says something about "us"): Should we welcome ridicule? Should we simply invite ridicule to happen without saying anything? It seems to me we should not respond in a way that condemns people to hell (a la Hagee), and we should not respond in a way that threatens economic and social pressure through boycotts and shaming (a la the embarrassing fiasco with the SBC in the 90s with Disney). IMO, OCN has done neither of these things. Ultimately, if SNL ignores them and doesn't issue an apology before the opening skit on Saturday's show, 1) I won't be surprised, because most of them probably won't have even known the response happened in the first place, and 2) we will then simply accept and pray for the folks involved, since it seems to me that's the only recourse we'll have at that point. But I don't see where simply declaring that something went too far is inherently at odds with believing that this mockery could be the will of God for us at the end of the day, because of our sins. We say our piece, with respect, and that's it.

My, well, $0.04, I supppose.

J.D. said...

Seems like what has been evaporating here is a level of stability.

Gaberham said...

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

Finding anything like what is stated above in most any TV show, let alone SNL or shock humor shows, is like looking for a needle in a haystack. I know personally, that when I do watch those shows I think "Gosh, why do I suffer so many inflamed passions?"

Anonymous said...

"Seems like what has been evaporating here is a level of stability."

Could you explain that a bit further?

Anaxagoras said...

Padre David,

I'm sure your podcast will be awesome. As far as venues go, you could have either had a podcast on AFR or OCN, and the quality of the "talk" on OCN is an infinitely better choice (both in terms of content and in terms of not being inundated in barely converted, right wing culture warrior material).

And I'm sure that with appropriate advertising you will get some people through the radio show that you would not normally get.

I think what pushed the original message over the top (for me) was the language of "outrage" (that word was used in the original) and "the feelings of Christians being hurt". Mostly because that's the exact language used whenever other groups (Jews and Muslims) use when they are made fun of, and I've always considered it silly. Outrage language is better used as a descriptor for actual sacrilege (like the Pussy Riot circus or the rash of cross desecrations in Russia).

To give another example, I sometimes watch Family Guy. I know, it is bad. Once in a while they have had a joke featuring Christians or Jesus. I should be offended... But sometimes it is poking fun at something like "creation science" or other funny Christian behavior (which even some Orthodox converts participate in). Maybe I'm a masochist, but whenever I see that, I think, "As long as we give the world cause, they will continue to think of us as fools."

Anaxagoras said...

And I do get OCN's emails :) have since 2010.

I, like you, come from a background other than Orthodoxy. I remember what it was like to be part of a faith that tried to be a "voice" in the greater culture. I think the future of the Church in a post-Christian world is to adapt itself to the reality that it is an irrelevant minority that can only impact people on an individual level. We're back to the first 3 centuries of the faith. We had a chance to be a part of the public scene... And we screwed it up. Time to be quieter, more local, and ultimately more effective as a result of it.

Cha said...

I agree wholeheartedly, Steve.
And I can't understand why, particularly Orthodox Christians (and particularly Orthodox converts), get SO horrified when some don't behave as WE do, when some don't hold the same traditions and values as WE do, and when some do things that WE wouldn't do, or say things that WE wouldn't say, or hold beliefs that WE wouldn't hold.
Who do we think we are, anyway?
WE need to get over ourselves.

Fr. David Wooten said...

"To give another example, I sometimes watch Family Guy."

I have, too. The stuff using God and Jesus isn't all of a piece. I think the cut scene with Jesus doing finger tricks for his miracles is hilarious; my wife left the room for that one. Okay. I turned the channel when God was hitting on some girl in a bar. That seems to be standard fare for him and, given McFarlane's display at the...Oscars?...Golden Globes?...I don't care...not likely to change. And yes, he has a brilliant ability to satirize the followers of Christ that is often deserving.

The SNL crowd doesn't really touch on this stuff too often; perhaps this could influence them more.

And yes, I'd missed the "outrage" language. You'd think years of "Is Outrage!" would at least prompt a joke in my mind when I heard it. Well, at least it's well known that Christian "outrage" is ultimately nothing that should provoke fear of bodily harm.

And thanks for the vote of confidence on the podcast.

s-p said...

I have the best readers/commenters in and out of the comment box. I thank you all for the thoughtful responses and chastisements, seen and unseen here. Again, may God have mercy on us all.

Keith said...

I demand a public apology from OCN.

Rebecca M. said...

bravo!

Anonymous said...

it is eerie. if you read the comments really fast, i have deja vous with monty pythons life of brians movie

Sylvia of Orthodox Mom said...

Wow. This post is disturbing. I can't believe Orthodox people are talking about their clergy this way...

I think Fr. Chris was entirely justified in his speaking up about the skit. Why are Christians asked to sit and watch their Lord be mocked by losers at SNL? Can we really attribute this type of tolerance to having a sense of humor? Personally, if you didn't find it offensive, I think you have a very serious problem.

I can't believe I'm reading remarks by Orthodox Christians calling something like that "quite funny" and "of no consequence"! Everything has a consequence, in this case, it's the kind of society we're creating for future generations of Orthodox Christians to live in. I won't get into eternal consequences...

I agree completely with Fr. David and don't understand why you're painting Fr. Chris like some kind of crazy person. In all honesty, we shouldn't even be watching garbage shows like that and we should definitely speak up when our God is mocked.

It's funny how for centuries our saints and martyrs have died defending Christ and now we laugh it off and worse than that attack the people brave enough to defend him in today's politically correct, tolerant of everything, ridiculous society...

Don't forget people, we will all answer to HIM on Judgement Day.

"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." Galatians 6:7

Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to figure out when "pissed" became such a common word that the author of the blog can use it freely and nobody cares. Sorry, but the use of profanity leads me to conclude that you don't have much of a grasp of language.

I agree with Sylvia. The fact that you are so free to rip on Orthodox clergy tells me that you have brought too much of your Protestant past into The Church.

Anonymous said...

Anon, The blog author doesn't use profanity lightly. "Much grasp of language"? Sorry, but your comment shows you haven't read much else of the blog. "So free to rip clergy"? Your comment tells me you haven't met many cradle Orthodox who have a healthy respect for clergy but don't think them beyond being called out by laity. Your comment tells me you've invented some kind of "Orthodoxy" that isn't reality because you are reacting to your Protestant past. That said, the post could have been "kinder and gentler" for sure. Ad hominems all around! This round's on me! Blessed Lent!

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