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 Writer's Desk 

January 30, 2006
Vol. 3, No. 37



The true test of faith: how quickly you take offense
By Tara Harris, NCR editorial assistant

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I thoroughly enjoyed Christmas this year. My family had a stripped down Christmas dinner, midnight Mass was beautiful, the weather was mild. It was a great holiday. However, a confederacy of Grinches conspired to make the holidays tense and miserable for anyone trying to plan a holiday celebration for any group other than family. These self-important nincompoops endeavored to put Christmas back into the holiday season. Woe to the poor soul who hung a “Happy Holidays” banner. The Christmas busybodies were just waiting to accuse anyone not using the word “Christmas” with caving to the politically correct thought police. Please. I just wanted to shake them and tell them to find a hobby.

These people take themselves entirely too seriously. In fact, too many people take themselves too seriously.

It seems you can’t watch any TV without seeing something that is going to offended someone. I had no idea there were so many people with such sensitive feelings. And everyone’s feelings have defenders who think it’s their duty to protect us all from being offended. Apparently, Christians are the most offended people in America. Their holiday, Christmas, must be defended against the politically correct patrol. I love these self-important sots. You’d swear they were Luke Skywalker and the fate of the rebellion rested on their shoulders. Apparently, the true test of faith is how quickly you can be offended.

“South Park,” the animated, but not for kids show that takes pride in offending everyone, has been vilified by the Catholic League because they ran (and reran) an episode that featured a bleeding statue of Mary. While definitely tasteless, I found this episode no more offensive than any other. This is a show with a Black character named Token, a homophobic teacher who has had a sex change operation, a parent who is a drug addict and a prostitute and a hermaphrodite, and Cartman, who can be credibly described as the root of all evil in the universe. These are recurring or main characters on the show, yet the Catholic League took issue with the Mary episode.

Various and sundry Christian groups took issue with “The Book of Daniel,” the just released and just cancelled television show, because the priest’s life was so screwed up. Welcome to reality. These faith crusaders are on guard against all threats to Christianity. Bully for them. It seems that a faith that has survived schisms, reformations, corruption, persecution, the Enlightenment, and communism is in danger of being defeated by a bunch of crudely drawn cartoon characters and people saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” These busybodies need to be reminded that they are not the center of the universe, and they need to learn to laugh at themselves.

I think God has given us a built in humility monitor; our bodies. Take a look at yourself the next time you step out of the shower. There’s a laugh. While sculptors like Michaelangelo can create perfection in stone, the human body in the flesh is rarely a work of art. Most of us sag, bag, stretch, droop, and overlap in more places then we care to think of. It’s hard to believe that one is the fulcrum of human existence when standing in your all together in front of a mirror. I think the human body is proof of God’s ability to laugh. We are God’s greatest creation, made in his own image. Think of the human body, and think of a lion or a tiger. God must get the giggles regularly, watching us strut about thinking we’re masters of the universe.

All of us could learn a lesson from meteorologists. Here’s a group whose sole task is to give a somewhat accurate prediction of the weather. They have satellites and radar, cloud scans and computer models and yet they have trouble predicting the weather from one hour to the next, let alone one week’s weather. Yet there they are, day after day, merrily giving us their best guess. Most seem to be cheerful and to posses a great sense of humor. Being wrong so often seems to lessen the ego.

Another good ego buster is a hospital stay. I recently spent a few days in the hospital. There’s nothing more humbling then an untied hospital gown. There you are, nothing but a thin piece of cotton keeping the world from seeing your birthday suit. There is no modesty, no pride, and no shame in a hospital stay. The first time you have to ask for help to the restroom, your ego goes into hiding. There is no way to think more of yourself than you should.

So here’s my suggestion for all of the busybodies trying to keep the world safe and unoffended. Go to the hospital, be a meteorologist for a day, stand naked in front of a mirror, whatever it takes to make you laugh at yourself. Then, leave the rest of us alone.

Tara Harris is assistant to the NCR editor. Her e-mail address is tharris@ncronline.org.
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