Monthly Archives: June 2013

Family Guy: Cleveland’s Church

I encountered this Family Guy clip recently. My understanding is that it’s an unfinished, unaired gag. I like how it digs at one of my pet peeves: the essentializing of a certain charismatic worship style as authentically “black” religion. (What peeves me is when scholars of African American religion become complicit in the essentialism.)

MEG: Well, Brian, if you won’t let me guide you to God, maybe you’ll find him in Cleveland’s church.

BRIAN: Huh. Not what I expected. It’s Cleveland and a bunch of white people.

CLEVELAND: [peeved] Oh, I bet you thought this was gonna be one of those “la la la” jumpin’ up and down churches…

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Religion Credit in Ohio Public Schools?

Bill Would Give Public School Students Credit for Religion Classes

I heard this news story on our local public radio station this past week. Basically, one of our (Ohio’s) state reps is sponsoring a bill that would “allow students to take a religion class at another school to get academic credit for it at their public school.” That’s how it’s described in the story, anyway. What little I know about it at this point suggests that he’s proposing that students be allowed to count release-time religious education as elective credit for graduation.

I’m not feeling highly exercised either for or against this proposal (though I lean toward disapproving). I am, however, feeling rather ickkhh about two comments made in the course of the news story, one by the bill’s sponsor, the other by a spokesperson for the ACLU, who’s here to represent “the other side.”

Here’s what the bill’s sponsor, Bill Patmon (a Democrat, for what that’s worth to know), is quoted as saying in justification of his proposal:

“It’s an attempt on our side to give exposure to God and religious which seemingly has been completely exorcised from our schools.”

Okay… that’s a constitutional challenge just hanging ripe from the tree. A great way to polarize the issue, though. Rally those troops.

But then we get this comment from the ACLU’s spokesperson:

A spokesman for the group, Gary Daniels, says it could cause confusion for students who take religion classes that directly contradict what they learn in science class for example.

In fairness, that’s a reporter’s paraphrase, which I know from my own unhappy experience means his ideas may not be receiving fair representation. But taking that paraphrase on its face, it’s a rather stupid reason to be opposing this bill, from the standpoint of constructing a constitutional case.

This comment from Daniels does better at identifying a pertinent constitutional issue:

“It seems to me that the way this bill is written, the school is almost powerless to stop any number of religious lessons, teachings, spreading of the faith.  They are going to be mandated to reward credit for this type of thing.  And when you start talking about the whole hosts of religious faiths and denominations that are out there…everything from Christianity to Scientology to Ancient European Religious, Viking, Rastafarian, Satanism, and all of these other types of things, the legislation cannot certainly start picking to whom it is going to reward credit based on the religion or the religious faith.”

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Ex votos

Today’s random observation of religion in America is a picture I took several months ago of some Spanish-language ex votos that I saw in the window of an antiques store. They’re metal painted crosses a couple feet tall. I thought they were cool enough that I fetishistically craved owning one; but I decided they weren’t quite $30 apiece worth of cool.


Here’s a translation of each ex voto’s text, starting with the white cross, on the left, and ending with the orange cross, on the right:

Mr. Raul Sanchez Cruz thanks St. Jude Thaddeus for reaching home alive because he crashed and his car rolled over with his wife and son inside and thanks to St. Jude they all came out well from the accident. 15 Sept. 1979. Cetaya Gto.

I give thanks to the Lord of mercy for the miracle of caring for my son and me as we crossed the Rio Grande into the U.S. when we went wet in search of a good job. Mr. Camilo Ramirez Delgado. 6 April 1974. Leon Gto.

4 March 1974. Mrs. Martina Rodriguez Zanchez gives thanks to St. Martin de Porres for safely arriving in the U.S. because we crossed the desert and did not bring water. Cetaya Gto.

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“Wait Wait” and the Lord of Immortality

On Saturday, Deepak Chopra was on NPR’s news quiz show, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. I love Wait Wait. So if you can persuade me that I’m suffering from a hypersensitive hermeneutic of suspicion, you will make me feel better. But right now, I’m feeling squirmy about their interview with Deepak Chopra. Chopra was a good sport, self-deprecating–except at certain moments when he tried to seriously propound doctrines that the host, panelists, and studio audience found literally laughable (like “the material world doesn’t actually exist”). Compared to other interviews they’ve done, this one felt to me a bit closer to mean-spirited. Let’s get the crazy New Age guru on and have a laugh. I didn’t sense much effort to shift into the mode of, “But laughs aside, let’s talk now about what’s serious about your work.” They seemed to have a harder time striking that pose with this particular guest. Is that surprising, given that this is an audience of “NPR listeners”?

Listen to the segment if you missed it:

Not My Job: Deepak Chopra Plays ‘Yes, We Cannes’

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