EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – SEPTEMBER 19, 2007
By Rich Trzupek
The column entitled “Tolerance” that appeared on these pages on July 18 prompted a number of angry letters from pagans and Wiccans. The point of the column was not to make fun of Wiccans, although I certainly did, and it was that part that aspect that drew the most attention among the pagan community.
If you’re interested in what people wrote, you can read the most coherent notes on my blog, http://www.trzupek. wordpress.com.
Just for the record, this paper did attempt to contact “Swamp Wytch,” who challenged us to publish her letter. Examiner policy prohibits us from publishing letters unless the author is willing to verify that they are indeed the author which the Swamp Wytch (who claims not to be a Wiccan by the by-yeah, rrrright…) declined to do.
A common line of criticism among the Wicca can be summarized as follows: “Oh sure, you’ll mock the Wiccans, but you wouldn’t dare mock another religion. You wouldn’t make fun of Christians, you gutless SOB.”
To this criticism I can offer only one response: what are you smoking?
Not only would I mock my own religion (Roman Catholic, to be exact), I have done so, on numerous occasions, on these very pages. And yes, I do get outraged phone calls and e-mails. A papal bull is probably just around the corner, although that can’t be as bad as trying to explain a joke to a very angry little old lady who thinks you should be condemned to hell.
But, for the most part, my fellow Christians seem to have retained that God-given trait that is so badly lacking in many other religions and pseudo-religions: a sense of humor.
There is a lot a to like about my religion. There are a few things I question and a couple I believe are downright goofy. That’s OK. I don’t expect my religion to be perfect, anymore than it expects me to be perfect. We’re kind of on this journey together and that unexplainable feeling we call “faith” leads me to believe that I’m on the right bus. Perhaps not the only bus mind you, but one that will get me where I should be.
Now that I have made what is undoubtedly the most pitiful profession of faith in the history of organized religion, we can move on to more important matters: humor and religion.
There was a time when one could make fun of almost any system of faith and nobody would take offense. The number of religions that have the self-confidence to take a joke has dwindled markedly in the last few years.
Allah knows you can’t poke fun at Muslims these days, lest somebody get blown up. And Scientologists? If you’re going to mock Scientology, you better make sure that your life insurance is paid up. Those people are nuts. Wait-what am I thinking? Of course they’re not nuts. They are the most peaceful, wonderful people in the world. Really. Forget what I said.
My particular religion is made fun of all of the time. Sometimes it’s tasteless, like urine-soaked crucifixes and Sinead O’Connor rants. Those are crude events, but they really don’t bother me and I don’t find them intolerant. People get to have their opinion and if they choose to express that opinion in a dopey way, it says more about the author than it does the target.
Other examples are priceless. The TV show Family Guy features some of the best, funniest and most clever send ups of Christianity that I have ever seen. If God has a sense of humor, which I believe He does, Family Guy is definitely on the Big Guy’s TiVo.
I am reminded of an argument about Chief Illiniwek that I had with a rather liberal friend some years ago. My buddy said that the Chief was disgracing Native American religious rituals. “How would you feel,” he asked, “if they had somebody dress up like the Pope at halftime, genuflecting up and down and blessing people?”
“Are you kidding?” I replied. “I would pay double to see that!”
For tolerance, it seems to me, includes a sense of humor, even when you and/or something you believe in happen to be the butt of the joke. When we don’t have that, we only reveal that we’re not nearly as secure in our beliefs as we pretend to be.