An extended comment by Benjamin Wachs
So I noticed yesterday that Chronicle columnist Mark Morford made yet another Catholic-priests-are-all-pedophiles jokes.
“Besides, it's an energy bill. It's Congress,” he writes. “It's like saying 'altar boys' and 'the Vatican.' What are the odds of something good coming of it?”
Oh, snap! Zing! That’s cutting-edge, topical humor! It’s only been, what, maybe six years since that scandal broke?
Then I thought: hey, not only is that an incredibly dated reference, but, hasn’t Morford made basically the same joke recently? In fact, isn’t the “Catholic priests are so BAD” schtick pretty much one of two clubs in his Put-Put golf bag of jokes? (The other one being “Bush is so BAD,” which is equally cutting-edge.)
There’s nothing wrong with full-body-contact religious debate, and offensive jokes can be righteous, but a potpourri of Morford’s recent columns show that he’s been making a career out of hateful and ignorant anti-Christian rhetoric. It’s the ignorance that really gets to me: does the world need one more person who doesn’t understand religion writing about religion?
March 16: Morford writes a column in which he defends religious ritual, but attacks organized religion. Suggesting that he’s in favor of … disorganized rituals?
Maybe … or maybe it’s just an excuse to go after those awful Christians.
“Christian rituals, if they exist at all, are largely tepid and bland and might involve, say, a little rosary bead here, a little sip of wine there, maybe a quick bologna sandwich followed by 4,000 Hail Marys and a bunch of blind fervent prayers to some grand unhappy deity because, well, most Christians don't really understand the notion of spirit guides or negative energies unless they look really sexy in red leathery skin and black boots and sharp pointy horns.”
“If they exist at all”? Really? Is there some doubt about whether Christians have rituals? Does Mark know that they also have buildings? Because I bet he could make fun of those, too.
August 15: Morford deeply disapproves of Christians having their own Internet sites. Those bastards! Don’t they know the Internet has no place for niche groups?
“Witness, won't you, the stillbirth of GodTube.com, the place where good, Net-fearing Christians can go to see awful Christian rap videos and grainy evangelical sermons and 101 flavors of all-American sanctimony with, quite naturally, not a hint of sex or deep humor or true spiritual exploration or religious tolerance. Praise!”
Yeah! How COMPLETELY unlike the rest of the 'Net, which is chockfull o’ high-caliber material but not a drop of sanctimony. It’s so wrong when Christians get together to believe the things they believe.
September 7: Morford accuses conservatives of hypocrisy in the wake of the Larry Craig scandal. So original. Geez, how many clowns can we fit in that car?
He also shows us what he uses as source material for his religious views:
“You need no Da Vinci Code to tell you of the religious right's eternal repression of the feminine divine, its deep fear of sex, its eternal fascination with the supple flesh of young men.”
Hey … rule number 1 if you want to be taken seriously as a critic of religion: Don’t base your views on books in the “fiction” section.
November 9: Morford gets completely incoherent.
“It's a topic that jumped up like a stunned ferret from God's own hot plate three times recently.”
Um … what?
God stuns ferrets and puts them on hot plates?
Is that … religious imagery? Animal rights imagery? Culinary advice?
The point of this column is that “traditional religion doesn’t evolve.” There – I said in four words what Morford says in … well, you count:
“It has become painfully, lethally obvious in the age of George W. Bush and authoritarian groupthink that our major religious systems and foundations don't know how to move. They don't learn, adjust, evolve, see things anew. They don't know how to dance. And what's more, this little problem might just be the death of us all.”
The idea that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam haven’t evolved -- especially recently -- could only be advocated by a historical ignoramus. But that’s the point: Morford isn’t interested in religious history, he’s interested in religious fads … and in mocking anybody who doesn’t jump on the next one.
November 30: Morford admits the creative genius behind his columns – insulting Christians is fun.
How unlike something a 12-year-old would come up with and think is funny all through his awkward teenage years.
“If there is a piece of art, a TV show, a column, a book, a movie, a blog, a movement, a wine bottle, or sexual position that somehow deeply threatens the various ultraconservative sects of Christian-blasted America to the point where their pale, dour representatives demand boycotts and distribute angry pamphlets to try to stop people from experiencing said hunk of culture because of how negatively it portrays their seething, condemnatory God, well, it's time to break out the Champagne. Or buy that book. Or get very, very naked. Or all of the above.”
Damn, Morford: You use so many words to say such little things!
Perhaps habitual, inaccurate attacks on Christianity aren’t symbolic of a faddish, intolerant, mind: maybe they’re just a crutch for bad writing.
December 5: He refers to the pope as “perhaps the most dangerous, out-of-touch, world figure in all of organized religion.”
In a world with Muqtada al-Sadr, Tim LaHaye, and an increasingly intolerant Hindu fundamentalist movement in India … this is just willful ignorance. The Pope has, after all, called for non-violence between peoples and greater religious dialogue between faiths. It’s not the same thing as allowing gay priests, but it’s better than calling for martyrdom.
Does Morford actually know anything about the pope? It’s worth pointing out that virtually all of his comments about Christianity are fact-free. Mmmmm … that’s good journalism.
There’s more. Lots more. We’d be better off with lots less.