Gentle Fudge
religion, politics, current events, and other fashionable dinner conversation.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
"Crazy Christians"
I'm very impressed with the publicity NBC's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" has been getting. Takes place in NBS Studios (ah hah! I get it!) on a sketch comedy show stage that feels very similar in format and even bumper music to SNL. Hmmm... well, NBC has the power to mimic their own format since they own it. Anyway, good writing, good cast, good characters. Compared with the glut of reality shows feeding our ever-growing sick appetite for voyarism and the just-add-water-wealth gameshows, I have been pleasantly surprised.

And of course, with all shows that mention the word 'christian,' there has been controversy.

All good network producers know the sacred cows. Repeat after me:
  • We do not mention politics.
  • We do not mention religion.
  • We do not mention race.
  • We do not mention sexual orientation.
  • We do not mention mental illness.
  • We do not mention sex. (We just hint at it.)
  • No smoking (on camera).
  • No drinking (to excess without consequence).
  • No drugs. (No admitting if you did. It's an herbal supplement.)
Most fear lawsuits in our happily litigious society. Somewhere along our sedated journey, we began remembering that there is no Constitutional right against being offended. There have been a few brave souls that have begun to refocus the spotlights in the past few years which of course brings controversy. Will and Grace brought gay out of the closet. Now, all biases aside, they still erred on the side of safety; there was little seen about the personal lives of the gay men and more focus on the clever writing, but it all rang similar to the shenanigans of the early bed-swapping Friends.

And all has been quiet on the western front recently until it was discovered on Studio 60 that there is an openly xtian character. Southern Baptist blonde who will damn you to hell with a smile. There are cracks about the Religious Right (and sorry guys, but you brought it on yourselves) and a few stereotypes in general including a jab at Pat Robertson -- again, Pat, you did it to yourself. And a continual allusion to a banned skit called "Crazy Christians."

I've seen many other 'xtian' characters on other shows and very few pass beyond two-dimensional -- weak sketches of every characature made: clueless about their faith, moral but self-righteous, stubbornly close-minded toward others, doormats, know-it-all isolationists that hide behind their double-locked doors, quivering and waiting for the rapture. Before Jesus leaves the real sinners for judgement, of course.

But the woman on Studio 60 shows a depth I haven't seen with any religious character on any show up till now. Sure, she lets slip some attitude once and a while against her fellow unsaved coworkers, but she is flesh and blood. She makes mistakes, but she still relies on her faith to give her guidance. And is open to sharing about it with others. I do like her attitude that this should not be the main focus -- it isn't for others. She is not the novelty act just because she is a xtian. There is more to her than just this label.

An article written by Brent Bozell III kinda charred my cookies. He lambasted the show for daring to berate xtians. (I'm sure he would be offended that I don't spell the word in its entirety either.) He states that Hollyweird is back to their usual self, wanting to take good moral programming off the air and replace it with immoral shit that encourage kids to sleep around, shoot up, and denounce their faith. First, I want to encourage him to turn off The 700 Club. Next, I want him to count how many non-xtian friends he has that he is not obsessed with converting within his lifetime. After dinner and watching The Passion or Matthew. Also, we are living in the world. And we have been told to Go, not Sit-And-Hide.

If he had kept up with the show, which is funnier than hell, he would see that the writers are turning all kinds of sacred cows into hamburger. They poked their stick at xtians, Jews, Muslims, and atheists during a sketch about the origin of the earth. The most recent episode showed DL Hughley and Matthew Perry skip out on the wrap party to scout a black comedian because Hughley's character insisted on hiring a black writer for "diversity". He was sadly disappointed when the comedian's act consisted of racial slurs toward whites, glorifying his part in multiple pregnancies with countless "bitches" -- "My next kid's name's gonna be 'Oops' " -- and not paying his bills on time; the typical ghetto attitude that has entrapped much of the black community. Racism and sexism coming from from another side, not our redneck-white-trash-cracker poster child? Risky.

Xtians are a target for a reason. Do we attend church just to point our fingers at others who don't measure up to our standards? Do we think we're better because we're told we said the right words and are paid up on fire insurance? Or have we only changed our Sunday morning schedule instead of our way of life? Let's not forget John 3:17. If we remember that G-d loves everyone and every person we encounter is an eternal soul, maybe our attitude would be a little different. Let's lower our noses a little bit and quit being so snobby and easily offended. I always find it amusing that the only people Christ got truly upset and angry at were the hyper-religious and legalistic.

When we find something desperately wrong with this picture, we need to start fixing it. And watch the show. It's damn funny.

UPDATE (11/06/06):
Well, if the rumors are correct, my beloved late-night show may be getting canceled. It had a good run and entertained many of us.

The mutterings are that the show was "too smart" and "too offensive," daring to make fun of the average TV viewer. Well, I'm not one for Roman holiday reality shows, mindless game shows of chance employing models and briefcases, and politically correct sitcoms the flavor of stale toast. I miss scripted TV written by writers who earned their journalism degrees by keeping current and edgy. And if that's offensive, then I'll have to buy more books because the replacement will definately have its sharp corners rubber-capped for your protection.

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posted by Sara @ 10:45 PM   0 comments
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Thoughts on the Season

I'll admit it. I love Halloween. Piecing together a costume at a thrift store, painting my face, buying black lipstick, dexterously carving pumpkins, candle-lit ambiance, approving the music setlist, making sure everything fits the desired experience. For a few brief weeks, my inner artist is allowed to stretch her legs and appease the darker side of my psyche.

In my past life, Halloweens were far more sanitized. No scary movies, no scary costumes, no ghosts, no devils, no monsters. And nothing store-bought – one tradition I proudly continue to this day. For a few years in elementary school, I struck a balance between the religiously acceptable and the irreligious by devising a fanciful gypsy costume. But that was short-lived – it soon appeared on the list of banned “politically incorrect” get-ups. No matter; few schools now allow Halloween parties anyway.

Many modern day churches are beginning to opt out of this fanciful and imaginative holiday because of its pagan roots. Originally known as Samhain (Sow-in), this shadowy holy day was first celebrated by the Celts. Like many ancient cultures, the end of the summer season symbolized death and change. The line fixed between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred, opening the possibility for the return of spirits from other realms. (This display of faith can be seen today during the ‘spiritually charged’ Christmas season when many seek signs and miracles.) During this highly supernatural time, crops and animals [and rumored humans] were sacrificed to appease mysterious spirits, and for divination. Celebrants dressed in gruesome outfits to tell fortunes and blend in with malevolent beings, to avoid being snatched into the next world. Another legend says turnips were carved to capture mischievous sprites; thus was born the “jack” of the lantern. The Romans adopted Samhain after assimilating the Celts and added many elements from their own fertility festivals including bobbing for apples. The early Church never liked being left out of the party and incorporated All Saints’ Day to christianize the celebration. More traditions were added and dropped through the centuries until we ended up with the last minute mass candy shop at Sam’s Club, glossy photos of the perfect jacket for a hayride, slutty costumes for grown women, xtian conversion-oriented haunted houses, and growing oversized pumpkins for profit and destruction.

First, let me say that if you choose to abstain from Halloween because you object to the commercialism or simply because you insist that it is wrong, very well. Go on with your life and quit reading.

For those of you still with us, let me say that today’s Halloween traditions are far from the original intent of reaching an open hand into the next world for guidance. I hate to fall back to the current “as a” syndrome, but as a former pagan/self-styled witch, I do object to denouncing the holiday in its current form as ‘evil.’ Dressing in a devil costume will not sell your soul any more than you will find a chest full of gold doubloons if you dress as a pirate. Wiccans, pagans and others who celebrate the religious aspect of Samhain have little to do with trick or treating or playing dress up. And we do not go out and hex strangers on a whim.

And now I’ve spooked everyone. I said former. Moving on...

Like Christmas, All Hallows’ Eve is a very secularized holiday. It has lost its religious significance for most of the general population. There are parties and candy and trips to the apple orchard. But only in October does the reality of our own mortality begin to creep back in to our consciousness. We revisit myths of vampires, zombies, ghosts, and the strange and unexplained. We dress in costume, in a way poking fun at death like many other cultures. reminding ourselves that death should be nothing to be scared of. See Mexico’s Day of the Dead for an example.

My main point is don’t demonize or stereotype a fun holiday. Educate yourself, keep your sense of humor and wonder, and remember how to be a kid. Halloween is a great time to let loose your inner creative and play make believe and remember that death isn’t the end.

image courtesy of

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posted by Sara @ 8:35 PM   0 comments
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Black and Blue and Red All Over
Will these people please get off my side? Or at least stop pretending to know what I stand for?

I read a column written by Susan Estrich who was reviewing Ann Coulter's latest book Godless. (First, some grammar, Ms. Coulter... please use the small g.) It is Ms. Coulter's stance that "everything liberals believe is in elegant opposition to basic Biblical precepts." (Again, Ann, small b.) And then she goes on with other tasty soundbites about how the Methodist church is barely a church, runs off a list of people she would like to see killed or poisoned or blown up, and that Islamic militants love American more than than the hell-bound Liberals. I'm sure she'd be up to an abortion clinic bombing if the mood hit her.

Of course I'll have to borrow the book and get a fuller picture with my own biases.

But I'm lost here. Ms. Coulter and the Vast Religious Right Wing claim to uphold biblical principles. I'm missing the part where G-d's generously doling out the lightening bolts to those who vote against him and his earthly kingdom established in the god-given land of America, those who have gone against these biblical teachings. After all, we're now talking about an entity who sits passively in the clouds, looking down on us to catch us doing wrong, and who has no desire to hear confessions of regret and sorrow because we'll just be at it again tomorrow. Rather Grecian, doncha think?

Let's revisit some ancient history for a moment. This Christ that these xtians claim to follow hung out with the people the uppity and smug wouldn't even consider sharing an elevator with, let alone sit on their Gucci padded pews inside their sterile houses of "worship". He ate at the homes of people who willingly lied and cheated for a living. I'm sure he knew the food was stolen. He touched the contagious, unafraid that G-d might not allow him to escape potential infection. He loved [and spent time with] the worthless and hopeless, the whores, slave owners, slaves, homosexuals, the abused, abusers, addicts, skeptics, the curious, politicians, business owners, the deformed, homeless beggars, pagans, the irreligious, foreigners, renters, landowners, murderers, victims. But the people that he got miffed at were the religiously self-rightous; those who had all the answers and refused to learn and bend.


I'm missing the verse about manifest destiny, where "our" way is The Right Way (no pun intended) and The Only Way and those opposed are godless, soulless, and heartless heretics of the most Anti-Patriotic stench and the only solution is public humiliation peppered with a few violent outbursts until the infidels [read: American liberals] are whipped back into passive submission. Suddenly, we find we have wrapped our delusional brain around an eternal, omniscient and omnipresent spirit and we know all there is to know about it. So when did we become G-d?

The good news is I'm not the only one who's pretzel is in a twist over this new theology. There is a startling number of books that have come out within the past few years discussing the place of politics in religion and revisiting the teachings of Christ. Rather prophetic.

The strange thing is that many progressive ideals came about because people did try to live these xtian ideals of equality and basic human goodness. Freedom of religion was established with a safety net so the government couldn't impose rules for worship or rule through the church and the church couldn't establish a national religion or rule through the government. Slavery was abolished, even though many say it was "on its way out" due to economic instability. Women received the right to vote, own property, and other basic rights. Civil rights were demanded for all races and sexes, though we aren't quite there yet. All this when we could get along, identify what was truly evil, and work together to fix it. There is more to life than building bigger barns, people.

And now we're back at each other's throats. Progressive, conservative, liberal, republican. "If you are not for us, you are against us." It's no wonder we are in more trouble than we think.

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posted by Sara @ 2:34 PM   0 comments
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Too Close

On Sunday, I needed to burn off some creative energies after too much disappointing football, so I decided to return to a favorite haunt for some reflection and possibly some good lighting. Nothing sets my mood better than good sun reflecting dust, a hazy sunset with bright trees sprouting out of rocks, or a quiet churchyard.

I learned it was Mile Marker 8. Not really anything special. A nice overlook into the Shenandoah Valley, but it wasn’t my destination. I did notice the unusual gaggle of state patrol vehicles barricading the overlook. I first wondered if I had reached Raven’s Roost, a popular spot for rock climbing. Did someone fall? I hoped for the best in their search as I cautiously drove by, not realizing how close I was to a fresh crime scene.

Monday came with the news that the body of UVA grad student Elizabeth Haftner had been found Sunday and the suspect, William Ashby, was being pursued. Ashby was already wanted in Georgia on robbery charges. The car he had stolen had been found at MM8 and Haftner’s car was now missing.

The chase didn’t last long. Ashby was soon found in Florida driving Haftner’s car, and shot dead after an altercation. More news revealed that he was a potential suspect in up to five additional unrelated homicides.

Monday News At Eleven shared pictures of Haftner on the Blue Ridge Parkway with family, happy and smiling. Her family had readily identified the body as Lizzy’s and began the sorrowful task of alerting others in Columbia, SC, of her murder. My legs went numb during the report.

The mystery for me is what brought Ashby to Virginia? How did he know Haftner? Or did he? Was it just a strange coincidence that they ended up at one of her favorite places? Did the killing happen before or after they got there? It just feels too specific to be some random chain of events— driving to a small college town, the Parkway, the meaningless murder of a bright student, no public connection thus far. Psychopaths do exist but make up such a small percentage of the general population. Potentially Ashby was one. We don’t know. The only two people who know what happened aren’t available for comment.


From a local news-weekly. The guy had some violent fantasies on his MySpace page and it has been determined as "a crime of opportunity." This reminds me of a nineteen year old who raped and killed a nine year old after posting such desires on his blog. It's all a bit frightening, really. How do you determine who is just letting off some steam and who is plotting some heinous act?

Remember to lock up tonight.


posted by Sara @ 11:50 AM   0 comments
About Me

Name: Sara
Home: gypsy wanderer, United States
About Me: Those who know me find me stubborn, opinionated, open-minded, strong-willed, of some intelligence, and yet they still hang around.
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Love God. Love all. Serve both.

There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar: it keeps the mind nimble, it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor. -George Santayana, philosopher (1863-1952)

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