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Optimus learnibus lingua Latina este?

A discussion of the peculiarities of languages and the differences between them.

Postby Stargzer » Wed Apr 06, 2005 1:13 pm

gailr wrote: . . . As for the topics of "training children_and_guns", here are links to two Landover articles. (For those unfamiliar, this is a spoof site, but one I enjoy immensely.) Vacation Bible Gun Camp and Unarmed Student Shot in the Head by a Jesus Puppet.

gailr


The only problem with parodies and spoofs is that there is sometimes a kernel of truth in them. I wonder where the Landover Baptist Church website owners really live? Landover, MD, is located between Riverdale and Upper Marlboro. AHA! Wikipedia has an article on Landover Baptist Church with a link to a Press Release about the origins. I note that one of the datelines on the press release is Falls Church, VA, just t'other of Washington, DC from Riverdale and Landover . . .

Be afraid; be very afraid!
Regards//Larry

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Postby gailr » Wed Apr 06, 2005 3:57 pm

The only problem with parodies and spoofs is that there is sometimes a kernel of truth in them.

I would say, rather, that the value of parodies lies in their ability to "hold a mirror up to nature"--human nature, in this case.

The emails page at Landover is rife with spectacularly vicious, unchristian attacks by devout (yet grammar- and vocabulary-impaired) people who would not recognize parody if it jumped up and bit them on the burro. I suspect that the day the vituperous attempts to "rebuke" the site cease it will wither quietly away. Meanwhile, religions, including state religions, are run by human beings. And religiously fanatic human beings tend to adopt violence to repress and/or exterminate those who do not share their beliefs, regardless of whether they speak Latin.

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Postby KatyBr » Wed Apr 06, 2005 5:36 pm

gailr wrote:The emails page at Landover is rife with spectacularly vicious, unchristian attacks by devout (yet grammar- and vocabulary-impaired) people who would not recognize parody if it jumped up and bit them on the burro. gailr

I know how bad that can be I used to moderate a chat room for Christian preteens. nearly every night detractors, I needn't mention who they worship, would come in and besmear and foul up the room for hours until I could get them out. Also some very harsh "Christians" would come in to accuse....


Katy
btw I can call myself an automobile but it doesn't Make me an automobile, I wish bonafide Christians got Half the good press any Moslem group gets, instead I hear,"good Moslems are so wonderful and the ones who have run afoul (note the euphemisms used) well, they have their reasons...." WAIT, i'M JUST USING THEM AS A CONTRAST....NOT A SLUR! OHNO! Brian might show up and spank me!
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Postby Stargzer » Wed Apr 06, 2005 6:47 pm

KatyBr wrote: . . . OHNO! Brian might show up and spank me!


Agora discussion about Latin turns from violent to kinky! :twisted:
Regards//Larry

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Postby Stargzer » Wed Apr 06, 2005 7:23 pm

gailr wrote:
The only problem with parodies and spoofs is that there is sometimes a kernel of truth in them.

I would say, rather, that the value of parodies lies in their ability to "hold a mirror up to nature"--human nature, in this case. . . .


The problem comes when you realize there really ARE people out there who match the parody. In some cases there is more than a kernel of truth--there's a whole flippin' silo! As Bill O'Reilly would say, they need to get that vat of Kool-Aid[sup]*[/sup] out of their living room. . . .

The emails page at Landover is rife with spectacularly vicious, unchristian attacks by devout (yet grammar- and vocabulary-impaired) people who would not recognize parody if it jumped up and bit them on the burro.


I suspect one of three origins:

  1. the owners of the site
  2. devout people who don't recognize the parody
  3. devout people who recognize the parody yet believe it to be blasphemy. Ayatollah Khomeini, and his fatwah on Salmom Rushdie, fits into this category.

I suspect that the day the vituperous attempts to "rebuke" the site cease it will wither quietly away. Meanwhile, religions, including state religions, are run by human beings. And religiously fanatic human beings tend to adopt violence to repress and/or exterminate those who do not share their beliefs, regardless of whether they speak Latin.


Maybe. I'm a little surprised that someone hasn't taken it upon themselves to take a contract out on them as God's proxy.

And [cut]religiously[/cut] fanatic human beings tend to adopt violence to repress and/or exterminate those who do not share their beliefs, regardless of whether they speak Latin.
gailr
Deus est scientiarum dominius


    Since God created the sciences/knowledge, it stands to reason that She/He/It is of all sciences/knowledge the Master. :)
    Regards//Larry

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    Postby Apoclima » Wed Apr 06, 2005 7:56 pm

    I think these sites (Vacation Bible Gun Camp and Unarmed Student Shot in the Head by a Jesus Puppet) are not at all funny. Parody or not, how can they do other than invent and perpetuate Christian stereotypes and foment anti-Christian sentiments (but maybe that is OK with you)?

    Garzo:
    Shooting people is easier than knifing them or biffing them on the head with a rolling pan. I think violence should be kept violent: it's probably far too easy to pull a trigger: hand-to-hand combat requires much more dedication. That's why I believe that guns are bad for anyone who is not a soldier.


    Poppycock! A law following this line of thinking takes guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, and does nothing to take guns out of the hands of criminals, in fact, it insures that a gun owner is a criminal.

    People have the right to defend themselves, their homes, and their families, BY WHATEVER MEANS NECESSARY! That is not criminal.

    Such a law would leave homeowners and family members with the equivalent of "bringing a knife to a gun fight."

    Henri:
    The fist fights we engaged in as boys over half a century ago rarely ended in anything more dire than a black eye, split lip, and a new arrangement of the pecking order ; had we had firearms at our dispostion, things might well have ended very badly, indeed....


    Like there weren't other weapons at your disposal (rocks, sticks, bats, knives, and don't think that someone can't be killed by fist-fighting). The fist-fighting that boys engaged in in our day, Henri, did not have death as any kind of desired outcome. Today's youth are more serious about their rep, and being dissed, and their creds.

    Recent scholarship in the criminologic, sociologic, and legal literature shows that the defensive uses of firearms by citizens amount to 2.5 million uses per year and dwarf the offensive gun uses by criminals. Between 25-75 lives are saved by a gun for every life lost to a gun. Medical costs saved by guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens are 15 times greater than costs incurred by criminal uses of firearms. Guns also prevent injuries to good people and protect billions of dollars of property every year.

    As we have seen with the outlawing of alcohol in the United States (Prohibition), the war on drugs, and the increasingly stronger gun control laws, we only weaken the rights of the average citizen and concentrate power into the hands of the criminal (reorganizing) element in our society.

    Garzo:
    Just as colour blindness often makes it difficult to distinguish between red and green, Muslims have become the new commies.


    I don't know what this comment is doing here! (Not that I am ever guilty of throwing things out willy-nilly), but, honesty, Garzo, where have you heard any rational person, here or elswhere, lumping "All Muslims" together as some sort of "Arch-enemy?" It is simply not true! You are creating a straw man. We know who our enemies are, and they are a tiny percentage of any religious tradition, and the "new commies" are certainly not among the radical religious communities.

    International Violent Death Rate Table Discussion

    "Gun death" statistics are frequently cited, in the manner above, to strongly suggest that guns are the cause behind the high violent death rate in the U.S. As in the case of the Los Angeles Times article, no mention is made that over half of those violent deaths are suicides. The CNN article mentions gun homicides and gun suicides, but fails to show us the total violent death rate of other countries, not just gun deaths. For example, in Japan, where gun ownership is rare, its total suicide rate is higher than our total suicide rate.


    Apo
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    Postby KatyBr » Wed Apr 06, 2005 10:39 pm

    Apoclima wrote:I think these sites (Vacation Bible Gun Camp and Unarmed Student Shot in the Head by a Jesus Puppet) are not at all funny. Parody or not, how can they do other than invent and perpetuate Christian stereotypes and foment anti-Christian sentiments (but maybe that is OK with you)?
    Apo
    I felt just like that but chose to make that point by my last post re:our over-sensitive careful non-bias towards Moslems, to show how much Christians have become a post-modern scapegoat for all the world's woes.

    Katy
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    Postby gailr » Fri Apr 08, 2005 2:18 am

    I will concede that such sites perpetuate stereotypes insofar as they become/remain visible to larger populations. In that regard, I understand why they are not funny to those who feel their own religions are being dishonored. At the same time, religious belief and/or membership is voluntary whereas physical characteristics (e.g.: race or biological gender) are not, and therefore religion is no more deserving of "protection" than are political affiliations or memberships in any other social, recreational or educational organizations. It is very easy to call for PC restrictions when one's own toes are being stepped on, yet disregard similar sensitivities from those championing causes with which we feel no sympathy or relationship. (I remember at least one rousing discussion on the other agora about whether PC means mutual respect and good manners or is just spinelessness.)

    I think the salient point of parody sites such as Landover is that the most extreme and vocal minority of any group tends to be the one with all the press. In this particular instance, thinking people know very well that this site does not reflect the attitudes or beliefs of mainstream Christians, any more than the [fill in the blank] reflects the attitudes and beliefs of mainstream [fill in the blank]. The sticky bit is that adjective thinking. It's the first thing to go out the window when a scapegoat is needed.

    Larry is right about there being a kernal of truth in these parodies. Another problem, as I see it, is that mainstream people do not speak out against the extremist positions of the "lunatic fringe"/"true believers" of their own general views. The mainstream has to decide whether speaking out just gives more press to these problem people, and tends to adopt an "ignore them and they will go away" attitude. It's the adult way to go, but can also be an abdication of responsibility. Mainstream silence can be construed as consent by both those who are alarmed by and the target of the extremist positions, and those who intend to leverage the extremist positions into law.

    It's similar to a recurring situation right here: someone, intentionally or otherwise, pushes a button with a statement. A predictable few posters leap into the fray with their predictable, respective positions, while the vast majority of members remain conspicuously silent. Is it apathy? Is it embarassment at the way the conversation degenerates/escalates? Is it enjoyment of the spectacle?

    What happens to the moderate voices, if and when they are raised? Those determined to hold the hard line on either extreme will either ignore them or try to spin their positions into something quite other than what was intended. Eventually, someone tosses out the last verbal grenade and the thread dies, until the same argument is revived in a new thread.

    I also belong to a site which posts religiously-oriented articles. There is a sorry element of Christian-bashing, but it is in response to articles where a group speaks and acts frighteningly like the parody articles on Landover, complete with thinly veiled threats against those outside their group. In many cases, the otherwise moderate voices in the community go along with the witch hunt through their own knee-jerk reactions. When an article is posted about a group acting in accordance with its version of the golden rule, the response is overwhelmingly positive. I find it difficult to feel sorry for *any* majority group whose (implied through mainstream silence) spokespersons are regularly on soapboxes wailing about their persecution as a reaction to being asked to play nicely in the world sandbox.

    Facing the ugliness parodied in sites such as Landover is an opportunity for those who see themselves as better representatives of their respective groups to be "martyrs" in the witness sense of the word. But it takes both courage and grace.

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    Postby Apoclima » Fri Apr 08, 2005 3:31 am

    Well said, gailr!

    gailr:
    It is very easy to call for PC restrictions when one's own toes are being stepped on, yet disregard similar sensitivities from those championing causes with which we feel no sympathy or relationship. (I remember at least one rousing discussion on the other agora about whether PC means mutual respect and good manners or is just spinelessness.)


    I am certainly not calling for any restrictions on words (PC or not) that aren't outright libelous. I think that it is perfectly legitimate to dishonor and degradate any social group that you want to.

    I am just pointing out, that in my opinion, these Christian bashing sites are not "fun for fun's sake," but, rather, are meant in no other way than "in the Spirit of Meanness" that they expound.

    I think the salient point of parody sites such as Landover is that the most extreme and vocal minority of any group tends to be the one with all the press.


    The only "Christian" groups that I could even pretend that these site might mirror are Christian Identity Groups. There is no main stream Christian denomination, be it, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, or Evangelical, that would accept these teachings (or the nastiness on the aforementioned sites) as Christian.

    So who is being mocked here?

    It is exactly like mocking all Moslems, because of the beliefs and actions of al-Qaeda.

    (I thought that I would put some up, just to show my good faith, but I couldn't find any I thought were funny!)

    So, gailr, I certainly am not chastising you for putting these links up. I just thought that I should express my honest opinion about them.

    Apo
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    Postby Stargzer » Fri Apr 08, 2005 6:24 pm

    gailr wrote: . . . I think the salient point of parody sites such as Landover is that the most extreme and vocal minority of any group tends to be the one with all the press. In this particular instance, thinking people know very well that this site does not reflect the attitudes or beliefs of mainstream Christians, . . .


    In the particular case of the Landover site, I think that should have read ". . . mainstream Baptists, . . . ." There hasn't been a mainstream of Christianity since the Protestant Reformation. Unless, of course, one defines one's own version of Christianity as mainstream . . . but then, I stopped worrying about the heretics when we stopped burning them at the stake. :twisted:

    Larry is right . . .


    That's a ratity! :)


    . . . Another problem, as I see it, is that mainstream people do not speak out against the extremist positions of the "lunatic fringe"/"true believers" of their own general views. The mainstream has to decide whether speaking out just gives more press to these problem people, and tends to adopt an "ignore them and they will go away" attitude. It's the adult way to go, but can also be an abdication of responsibility. Mainstream silence can be construed as consent by both those who are alarmed by and the target of the extremist positions, and those who intend to leverage the extremist positions into law.


    The Silent Majority versus the Vocal Minority, eh?

    It's similar to a recurring situation right here: someone, intentionally or otherwise, pushes a button with a statement.


    In fishing that's called "trolling" . . .

    A predictable few posters leap into the fray with their predictable, respective positions, while the vast majority of members remain conspicuously silent. Is it apathy? Is it embarassment at the way the conversation degenerates/escalates? Is it enjoyment of the spectacle?


    . . . although in some cases it's really "shooting fish in a barrel."

    What happens to the moderate voices, if and when they are raised? Those determined to hold the hard line on either extreme will either ignore them or try to spin their positions into something quite other than what was intended. Eventually, someone tosses out the last verbal grenade and the thread dies, until the same argument is revived in a new thread.


    This is sometimes known as Reincarnation.

    (One of my favorite poems, by the way . . .I ain't changed all that much, either!)

    . . . where a group speaks and acts frighteningly like the parody articles on Landover, complete with thinly veiled threats against those outside their group.


    The kernel of truth . . .

    . . .Facing the ugliness parodied in sites such as Landover is an opportunity for those who see themselves as better representatives of their respective groups to be "martyrs" in the witness sense of the word. But it takes both courage and grace.

    gailr


    Standing up to the ugliness in life always requires courage and grace, but I think the grace required is not the " . . . disposition to kindness and compassion; benign good will . . ." or the ". . . elegance and beauty of movement or expression . . . " but the grace defined as " . . . the free and unmerited favor or beneficence of God . . . " or the " . . . state of sanctification by God; the state of one who under such divine influence . . . ."

    'T ain't easy . . .
    Regards//Larry

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    Postby KatyBr » Sat Apr 09, 2005 2:30 am

    Another problem, as I see it, is that mainstream people do not speak out against the extremist positions of the "lunatic fringe"/"true believers" of their own general views. The mainstream has to decide whether speaking out just gives more press to these problem people, and tends to adopt an "ignore them and they will go away" attitude. It's the adult way to go, but can also be an abdication of responsibility. Mainstream silence can be construed as consent by both those who are alarmed by and the target of the extremist positions, and those who intend to leverage the extremist positions into law.

    Actually there are so-called mainstream (self-professed) Christians who do speak out AGAINST Everyone else. sigh, This, also, is not love...... and no doubt why others keep their opinions to themselves.

    Katy
    we walk a fine line and fail daily... and our failings are so higly publicized..
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    Postby M. Henri Day » Sat Apr 09, 2005 12:16 pm

    Thanks are due Larry for the link to the «Landover» site, and to Apo for that to the one polemicising against so-called «Christian Identity Groups». I think the former would have had me laughing until I cried were it not for the fact that it began :

    Fathers, before your boy leaves for camp, privately discuss the importance your church family's reputation. Make sure that he is fully aware that if he does anything to embarrass you or the Lord this summer, Jesus will tell on him and you will beat his little bare behind with a rusty buckle and have him shipped off to a Russian orphanage when he gets home. Let him know that you didn't raise him to be a sissy or a cry-baby so if you get word that any of that nonsense is going on, he'll have to find a new Daddy when he gets back from camp, because you don't want him to be your son anymore.


    This reminded me of a passage from Phillip Zimbardo's on-line account of his classic Stanford Prison Experiment, in which the ease with which parents - in particular, fathers - were manipulated is discussed :

    Some of the parents got upset when they saw how fatigued and distressed their son was. But their reaction was to work within the system to appeal privately to the Superintendent to make conditions better for their boy. When one mother told me she had never seen her son looking so bad, I responded by shifting the blame from the situation to her son. "What's the matter with your boy? Doesn't he sleep well?" Then I asked the father, "Don't you think your boy can handle this?"
    He bristled, "Of course he can -- he's a real tough kid, a leader." Turning to the mother, he said, "Come on Honey, we've wasted enough time already." And to me, "See you again at the next visiting time."


    It seems to me that we men (or many of us, at any rate) bear a great responsibility in our (often unconscious) assumption that our most important endeavour in bringing up sons is to ensure that they not be - or still more importantly, not be regarded by others as «sissies». I not certain how I should have fared in this respect, but fortunately I have daughters. These I tried to teach and to show that they were as valuable to me as any son, and that there existed no iron law that said that they had to take a back seat to any man, merely because of their gender. In that I think I have been successful - they are wonderful people - but the credit for that success is, I fear, not due me, but to their mothers....

    Henri
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    Postby gailr » Sat Apr 09, 2005 8:23 pm

    I remember when a friend's son wanted sneakers with a popular cartoon character stamped on them, after seeing them on another child. The dad freaked out, "No son of mine is going to wear pink tennis shoes!!!" The mom countered, "He's only two years old. This is not about your masculinity." The epilogue is that the young man is now in college and has no trouble attracting girl friends.
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    Postby tcward » Sun Apr 10, 2005 12:02 am

    Loved the story, gailr!

    I have a personal anecdote that my wife has shared with numerous friends along those lines.

    My wife's sister has three boys now, aged almost exactly 12 months apart each, but this is a story from when she only had one. Her husband is a huntin', fishin', livin' out on the land kinda guy, late 20's, and very afraid of the possibility that some male's masculinity would ever be in doubt in his family.

    Shannon was facing a typical day of taking care of all of our 3 kids plus her sister's boy. The child had some kind of stomach problems almost from the first month of life, reflux, nasty diapers, etc. You always had to make sure you had at least two extra changes of clothes to cover the likelihood that his current set would become soiled with something.

    Well, this particular day he had gone thru all the clothes that were sent with him AND all the extra clothes that would fit him from our own boys' wardrobe. It was that bad.

    His father was supposed to pick him up at 4:30pm or something like that, but he didn't show up at the scheduled time. In the meantime, waiting for the dad, the kid ruined his last set of clothes... Shannon had to get creative. And boy did she!

    She grabbed the only other thing that would fit him: a pink, fru-fruey tutu dance outfit that she had been waiting for Glynis to grow into.

    Finally, the dad shows up, with his huntin'-fishin'-golfin'-drinkin' buddy in the truck with him.

    And his boy is wearing a tutu. And he [edit: the boy] loves it.

    The dad almost came apart right there... but there was nothing he could say, since he was an hour late anyway and Shannon had gone through not only all his clothes but all of ours that would also fit him... hehehe.

    The second he got in the truck, he called his wife (my wife's sister) and said "You won't believe what she's got your boy dressed in!"

    After hearing the description, his wife said in her most extreme acting voice, "My God, get it off him before he turns GAY!!"

    Shannon and her sister still laugh about it to this day.

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    Postby M. Henri Day » Sun Apr 10, 2005 9:16 am

    Apoclima wrote:...

    The only "Christian" groups that I could even pretend that these site might mirror are Christian Identity Groups. There is no main stream Christian denomination, be it, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, or Evangelical, that would accept these teachings (or the nastiness on the aforementioned sites) as Christian.

    As I tried to convey earlier, Apo, my own experience accords with your analysis - to the best of my knowledge mainstream Christian denominations do not regard the teachings, if they may be called that, of the so-called Christian Identity sects as Christian. But what I find distressing is that the views embraced by these sects seem to exert a cultural influence far in excess of that which would be predicted from the (very limited) number of their adherents. Thus elements of what Frank Rich, in the New York Times OpED that I reproduce below (yes, I know that you dislike the journal, but here I hope to discuss content rather than provenance), terms the «Culture of Death» characteristic of these grouplets seems to be spilling over to popular culture, both as purveyed by books and by the idiot box. I seem to observe the thin edge of the wedge not only in the United States, although it does seem most tangible there, but also here in Scandinavia. Am I (and thus, Mr Rich as well) exaggerating this influence ? Is it merely an ephemeral epiphenomenon, or is it something to be taken seriously ? What do you think ?...

    Henri

    April 10, 2005

    OP-ED COLUMNIST

    A Culture of Death, Not Life

    By FRANK RICH

    I
    T takes planning to produce a classic chapter in television history. "We've rehearsed," Thom Bird, a Fox News producer, bragged to Variety before Pope John Paul II died. "We will pull out all the stops on this story."

    He wasn't kidding. On the same day that boast saw print, a Fox anchor, Shepard Smith, solemnly told the world that "facts are facts" and "it is now our understanding the pope has died." Unfortunately, this understanding was reached 26 hours before the pope actually did die, but as Mr. Smith would explain, he had been misled by "Italian reports." (Namely from a producer for Sky Italia, another fair-and-balanced fief of Rupert Murdoch.) Fox's false bulletin - soon apotheosized by Jon Stewart, now immortalized on the Internet - followed the proud tradition of its sister news organization, The New York Post, which last year had the scoop on John Kerry's anointment of Dick Gephardt as his running mate.

    Yet you could also argue that Fox's howler was in its way the most honest barometer of this entire cultural moment. The network was pulling out all the stops to give the audience what it craved: a fresh, heaping serving of death. Mr. Smith had a point when he later noted that "the exact time of death, I think, is not something that matters so much at this moment." Certainly not to a public clamoring for him to bring it on.

    Mortality - the more graphic, the merrier - is the biggest thing going in America. Between Terri Schiavo and the pope, we've feasted on decomposing bodies for almost a solid month now. The carefully edited, three-year-old video loops of Ms. Schiavo may have been worthless as medical evidence but as necro-porn their ubiquity rivaled that of TV's top entertainment franchise, the all-forensics-all-the-time "CSI." To help us visualize the dying John Paul, another Fox star, Geraldo Rivera, brought on Dr. Michael Baden, the go-to cadaver expert from the JonBenet Ramsey, Chandra Levy and Laci Peterson mediathons, to contrast His Holiness's cortex with Ms. Schiavo's.

    As sponsors line up to buy time on "CSI," so celebrity deaths have become a marvelous opportunity for beatific self-promotion by news and political stars alike. Tim Russert showed a video of his papal encounter on a "Meet the Press" where one of the guests, unchallenged, gave John Paul an A-plus for his handling of the church's sex abuse scandal. Jesse Jackson, staking out a new career as the angel of deathotainment, hit the trifecta: in rapid succession he appeared with the Schindlers at their daughter's hospice in Florida, eulogized Johnnie Cochran on "Larry King Live" and reminisced about his own papal audience with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.

    What's disturbing about this spectacle is not so much its tastelessness; America will always have a fatal attraction to sideshows. What's unsettling is the nastier agenda that lies far less than six feet under the surface. Once the culture of death at its most virulent intersects with politicians in power, it starts to inflict damage on the living.

    When those leaders, led by the Bush brothers, wallow in this culture, they do a bait-and-switch and claim to be upholding John Paul's vision of a "culture of life." This has to be one of the biggest shams of all time. Yes, these politicians oppose abortion, but the number of abortions has in fact been going down steadily in America under both Republican and Democratic presidents since 1990 - some 40 percent in all. The same cannot be said of American infant fatalities, AIDS cases and war casualties - all up in the George W. Bush years. Meanwhile, potentially lifesaving phenomena like condom-conscious sex education and federally run stem-cell research are in shackles.

    This agenda is synergistic with the entertainment culture of Mr. Bush's base: No one does the culture of death with more of a vengeance - literally so - than the doomsday right. The "Left Behind" novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins all but pant for the bloody demise of nonbelievers at Armageddon. And now, as Eric J. Greenberg has reported in The Forward, there's even a children's auxiliary: a 40-title series, "Left Behind: The Kids," that warns Jewish children of the hell that awaits them if they don't convert before it's too late. Eleven million copies have been sold on top of the original series' 60 million.

    These fables are of a piece with the violent take on Christianity popularized by "The Passion of the Christ." Though Mel Gibson brought a less gory version, with the unfortunate title "The Passion Recut," to some 1,000 theaters for Easter in response to supposed popular demand, there was no demand. (Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that at many screens the film sold fewer than 50 tickets the entire opening weekend.) "Passion" fans want the full scourging, and at the height of the protests outside the Schiavo hospice, a TV was hooked up so the assembled could get revved up by watching the grisly original on DVD.

    As they did so, Mr. Gibson interjected himself into the case by giving an interview to Sean Hannity asserting that "big guys" could "whip a judge" if they really wanted to stop the "state-sanctioned murder" of Ms. Schiavo. He was evoking his punishment of choice in "The Passion," figuratively, no doubt. It was only a day later that one such big guy, Tom DeLay, gave Mr. Gibson's notion his official imprimatur by vowing retribution against any judges who don't practice the faith-based jurisprudence of which he approves.

    This Wednesday the far right's cutting-edge culture of death gets its biggest foothold to date in the mainstream, when NBC broadcasts its "Left Behind" simulation, "Revelations," an extremely slick prime-time mini-series that was made before our most recent death watches but could have been ripped from their headlines. In the pilot a heretofore nonobservant Christian teenage girl in a "persistent vegetative state" - and in Florida, yet - starts babbling Latin texts from the show's New Testament namesake just as dastardly scientists ("devil's advocates," as they're referred to) and organ-seekers conspire to pull the plug. "All the signs and symbols set forth in the Bible are currently in place for the end of days," says the show's adult heroine, an Oxford-educated nun who has been denounced by the Vatican for her views and whose mission is underwritten by a wealthy "religious fundamentalist." Her Julie Andrews affect notwithstanding, she is an extremist as far removed from the mainstream as Mel Gibson, whose own splinter Traditionalist Catholic sect split from Rome and disowned the reforms of Vatican II, not the least of which was the absolution of Jews for collective guilt in the death of Jesus.

    It's all too fitting that "Revelations," which downsizes lay government in favor of the clerical, is hijacking the regular time slot of "The West Wing." Perhaps only God knows whether it will prove as big a hit as "The Passion." What is clear is that the public eventually tires of most death watches and demands new meat. The tsunami disaster, dramatized by a large supply of vivid tourist videos that the genocide in Darfur cannot muster, was so completely forgotten after three months that even a subsequent Asian earthquake barely penetrated the nation's Schiavo fixation. But the media plug was pulled on Ms. Schiavo, too, once the pope took center stage; the funeral Mass her parents conducted on Tuesday was all but shunned by the press pack that had moved on to Rome. By the night of his death days later, even John Paul had worn out his welcome. The audience that tuned in to the N.C.A.A. semifinals on CBS was roughly twice as large as that for the NBC and ABC papal specials combined. The time was drawing near for the networks to reappraise the Nielsen prospects of Prince Rainier.

    If there's one lesson to take away from the saturation coverage of the pope, it is how relatively enlightened he was compared with the men in business suits ruling Washington. Our leaders are not only to the right of most Americans (at least three-quarters of whom opposed Congressional intervention in the Schiavo case) but even to the right of most American evangelical Christians (most of whom favored the removal of Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube, according to Time magazine). They are also, like Mel Gibson and the fiery nun of "Revelations," to the right of the largely conservative pontiff they say they revere. This is true not only on such issues as the war in Iraq and the death penalty but also on the core belief of how life began. Though the president of the United States believes that the jury is still out on evolution, John Paul in 1996 officially declared that "fresh knowledge leads to recognition of the theory of evolution as more than just a hypothesis."

    We don't know the identity of the corpse that will follow the pope in riveting the nation's attention. What we do know is that the reality show we've made of death has jumped the shark, turning from a soporific television diversion into the cultural embodiment of the apocalyptic right's growing theocratic crusade.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
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    M. Henri Day
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