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September 17, 2007

Making my job too easy

Last week, Kathy Griffin had TV censors reaching for their scissors with her Emmy acceptance speech. "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus... Suck it, Jesus. This award is my God now."

Now Fox News religion correspondent Lauren Green has a rebuttal.

I don't know what went through her mind and why she would think that was cutting edge or even funny. But first, I want to actually show you that, in fact, Kathy Griffin is wrong. Jesus had everything to do with her winning that award. And here's the reasoning.

Jesus died on a cross 2,000 years ago. His dying words were, "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do." He died and they buried him in a rock cut tomb. Three days later, as the Bible says, he rose from the dead. That day...

Well, I'll stop there. Suffice to say that Green continues like that for 2000 years, linking the crucifixion directly to the advent of democracy and free speech. It's the most humorless response to a joke at an awards ceremony since Sean Penn called Jude Law one of our finest living actors.

Besides, it's not clear why Green thinks it will help Jesus' image for him to get credit for "My Life on the D List." Really, you're just giving Hitchens ammunition.

It's also amusing that Green starts out by saying that if Griffin had stopped after saying "no one had less to do with this award than Jesus," "I could have been mildly insulted at that and turned the other cheek, as the founder of Christianity taught." But it was after the, you know, punchline, that Green felt this was no longer an option. Because that's where the founder of Christianity drew the line. I came across this attitude a lot in talking to evangelicals for my book: I believe in turning the other cheek, but when you attack my family/country/ministry/god.... Please. I think if Jesus was still preaching forgiveness when they pounded nails into his hands, you can suck it up for a Creative Arts Emmy speech. It's not like it was the Primetimes.

Posted by Daniel Radosh

Comments

I think if Jesus was still preaching forgiveness when they pounded nails into his hands, you can suck it up for a Creative Arts Emmy speech.

That is the funniest line I will read all day. In fact, to make sure that remains the case, I'm going to stop reading things right now.

I don't know what was going through your mind Mr. Radosh to think that this post was cutting edge or even funny....

Apropos of nothing, I have just six incredibly unoriginal and non sequituric words for Eric Berlin: "Mr. Berlin, tear down this wall!"

I still think Lauren Green's best work was as the father to those three boys, the boss of Hop Sing, and the landlord of the Ponderosa. IMHO.

I've always thought that most religious people -- well, let's say the ones we read about on the political beat, anyway -- use religion to justify what they already believe, rather than honestly trying to follow an ostensibly exterior belief system. One thinks of "God Hates Shrimp" group that popped up a few years back, making the point that if God hates shrimp so much, why do his followers spend so much time talking about the gays?

A friend of mine coined the phrase " la carte religion," which essentially refers to the syndrome you describe. When the omniscient and omnipotent creator of all things tells me to hate gays, then I am bound to follow him, but when he tells me not to watch NFL football on Sunday, well, I think I'm a better judge of how I should be spending my Sundays, hm?

Martin: for what it's worth, most of the people you're talking about would totally agree with you -- only they think it's the liberals who practice a la carte religion (your friend didn't really coin it). You know: I'll read the "God forgives all our sins" parts of the Bible but ignore the "gays are going to hell" bits.

I'm not Christian, so it's not like I care ... but thing is, Jesus was all about not indulging in public shows of piety, and in not engaging in idol worship. Both of which trends Ms. Griffin was also, pretty humorously, skewering. Despite her being an atheist (it's true, I read it somewhere), I think Jesus would have been pretty well amused by her comments. If even half the quotes attributed to him are true, he had a decent sense of humor.

If even half the quotes attributed to him are true, he had a decent sense of humor.

Um, you know he meant that stuff seriously, right?

Sorry, couldn't resist a joke. I actually think it's debatable whether JC had a good sense of humor -- many other laudable qualities sure, but I don't see much evidence of him making people laugh, or even laughing with others.

That said, your larger point about Griffin's comments is spot on. To be fair, I should also say that I met many Christians -- including Christian comedians -- who would get that in a second.

I'm just stoked that I had more to do with Kathy's winning her award than Jesus did. Take that, Jesus!

Dan--Well, Jesus wasn't ha-ha funny, but he for damn sure had a sense of irony. "A prophet is not without honor except in his own home town," anyone? And he was seriously into deconstructing hierarchy and authority--I've never met anyone like that who didn't have a sense of humor.

Bottom line, I think Sascha Baron Cohen should play him in the movie.

"And he was seriously into deconstructing hierarchy and authority--I've never met anyone like that who didn't have a sense of humor."

Yeah, deconstructing hierarchies is a laugh a minute.

Daniel: You may be missing my point. I hedged on the set of people because I don't want to overreach, but if you're saying that virtually all monotheists are practicing la carte religion, regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum, I totally agree with that.

Wow, Kathy Griffin finally does something worthwhile. And all it took was giving her an Emmy. What could she accomplish with an Oscar? Maybe something Nobel-worthy.

But the real question on the questionably humorous remains: Was Jesus funnier than Superman?

It could be a tonal issue with the style of the Bible, but some of Jesus' material could be pretty wry if you interpret it that way. I'm an Episcopalian, and our Gospel reading a few weeks ago was this scene where a pious woman has given away all of her possessions in a burst of conspicuous charity. Jesus admonished her for it, and reading between the Bible-speak lines, the message I got from him was, "Sure, give away a lot of your stuff, that's great. But if you give all of it away, you'll starve to death. Bonehead." I did get a good chuckle out of that one. So, Jesus: He can be a comedian in our hearts.

Martin: for what it's worth, most of the people you're talking about would totally agree with you -- only they think it's the liberals who practice a la carte religion

Illustrating my point quite nicely is this from a graduate of Patrick Henry, the fundamentalist college profiled in Hanna Rosin's new book, God's Harvard:

As long as your faith is an ambiguous thing that's determined by your culture and personality and the parts of the Bible that you like best—that's fine with most liberals. But the moment your faith becomes grounded in a God that has revealed his opinions and principles in a document (the Bible) that people rally around, study, learn, and believe despite their personalities and personal convictions (which is the sort of "elite" evangelicals you hung around with at PHC)—you're dealing with a united force with a relatively united voice.

To make your job easy it is best to pray to the god before you start it. I think it is clear for Griffin about the Jesus and the speech is really very good and thanks for your information.

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