Thursday, December 09, 2004

Jesus: Too controversial for executives

There are a handful of columnists and op ed writers that I never fail to read. While a good op ed writer will pen columns that make you think, some rise above the pack and consistently produce superior writing. Pulitzer prize-winning op ed columnist Leonard Pitts occupies the upper echelons of opinion writing. Week in and week out, Pitts challenges me, makes me laugh, makes me angry, but best of all—he makes me think—and thinking gets harder and harder each day for a variety of reasons, the least of which is the pervasive nature American groupthink.

You can have your Cal Thomas columns, as well as George Will; these men are nothing but apologists for the masters in the corporate suites. I’ll take Pitts, not because he’s some lackey for the left, but a writer who is gifted enough to transcend ideology.

His most recent column, “Church’s Call For Unity Turns Off Networks” is another that doesn't disappoint. Writing about his denomination, the very open and affirming United Church of Christ (UCC), Pitts is perplexed about a commercial offered by the UCC that was refused airing by the two of the major three networks—NBC and CBS have refused to accept if for airing. CBS cites that it considers the spot “advocacy advertising” and it violates their “long-standing policy” against such advertising. Ah, the moral-crusading corporate media watchdogs. Makes you get all warm and fuzzy inside.

Both of these corporate entities deemed the ad too controversial to air. Controversial? Here’s the ad: Two bouncers working a rope line in front of a church. They turn away a gay couple and what appears to be a Hispanic man and a black girl. A white family is allowed to pass. The text onscreen says, ''Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we.'' A narrator closes the ad, speaking over a montage of old people, white people, black people, Hispanic people, lesbian people, human people.

As Pitts muses in his column, “I mean, work with me here. The maggot eaters of Fear Factor are evidently OK to broadcast. Janet Jackson's nipple somehow makes it to the air. Two half-naked vixens can even wrestle in a pool, arguing over whether their beer tastes great or is less filling. But a commercial that says only that God's love includes us all is too controversial to show?!”

Controversial indeed! I’ll add to Pitts thoughts that I saw an extremely racy ad for Victoria’s secret that bordered on the pornographic during prime time last night. I got to leave early from work due to lack of orders, so I came home, made my dinner and was watching a Seinfeld re-run on TBS when the ad appeared. Yes, controversial only when the executives deem it so.

One other point I want to make and I’ll be on my way; Pitts mentions a study that indicates that many people no longer attend church due to being “angry and alienated.” I confess to experiencing both of these emotions while attending denominational churches, plus several others. It seems logical that the one place that should feel inclusive is church—I mean Xian denominations claim to be following the message of Jesus. Now if Jesus was one thing, it would be inclusive. How else do you explain his embracing the outcasts of his day—the lepers, prostitutes, the Samarian woman at the well—all of which got him hated and eventually killed, by the hypocrites of his day.

Here’s Pitts column in its entirety.


Anonymous said...
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Jim said...

My thoughts in this column have little to do with the "bad experience(s) I had at church".

My point was the hypocrisy that prevails in religious institutions and how they so often claim to follow their founder's message, but often, are far from the crux of it.

It's interesting that you responded as you did--I have heard that refrain from countless others regarding my lack of desire to be manipulated by religious types any longer.

While I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment, I think you missed the point entirely.