I read with great amusement mixed with dismay the letter from Phil Krakowiak of Independence, criticizing the "Jesus of the Week" feature in Scene. This is not the first letter I have seen from some offended religious person. I'd like to offer another viewpoint. First of all, the continued attempt of Christians to identify or compare themselves with racial and ethnic minorities is amazingly comical. Aside from the ridiculous implication that American Christians are somehow oppressed or otherwise mistreated (maybe they would like to live in the Sudan), Christians have a choice as to what they want to be; African Americans and, to a large extent, Jews, do not.
Second, nowhere in the feature has the contributor said, "Christianity is a stupid religion," "Christians are wrong," "I hate Christianity," or anything of the sort. For all Mr. Krakowiak and his fellow letter-writers know, the contributor is himself a Christian, as much so as he or anyone else. Rather, the feature is a humorous look at popular culture depictions of a religious figure. The popular conception of Jesus has about as much connection to Christianity and its practice as the popular conception of Elvis does. The pieces of artwork shown in "Jesus of the Week" are no more or less silly than some of the billboards erected by churches and religious groups, and in fact invite ridicule by their very nature. I'd be more offended, if I were a Christian, by some of these silly depictions of Jesus than I would be by the fun poked at them in Scene.
Finally, I'm curious as to where Mr. Krakowiak gets the idea that Christianity is somehow above criticism or ridicule in the arena of public opinion. (White-bread America has and still does enjoy Jewish jokes to a wide extent, by the way--been to Branson lately?) Christianity is the great proselytizing religion; when was the last time a Jew, Shiite, or Shinto knocked on your door and asked to share the good news? (Yes, folks, LDS and the Jehovah's Witnesses consider themselves Christian.) The Christian denominations and the Catholic Church in particular (with the Southern Baptist Convention a close second) continually inject their opinions into the political discourse of the nation. The recent media circus, with all local affiliates providing live, on-the-spot coverage of the Pope's visit to St. Louis, is a testament to the wide leeway and respect Catholicism gets in the United States. Any group which is going to attempt to have such a loud voice on the nature of things is going to have to accept some criticism and, yes, some blatant fun-making.
From the casually political, like the Unitarians and Episcopalians, to the Catholics, to the more strident Southern Baptists, Christian Coalition, and Council of Conservative Citizens, Christians have been adding their voice to the maelstrom for decades with little fallout. Muslims don't get criticized? Watch the coverage of the next Louis Farrakhan event.
Or better yet, watch the mainstream media's handling of events in the Middle East. Some of the more fringe Christian denominations are regular targets of mockery or criticism by the more "mainstream" denominations and the apologists. I note that mockery in the pages of Scene of women, or conservatives, or gays, or any other group, brings not a squeak from Mr. Krakowiak and his ilk. But the situation changes quickly when his ox is the one being gored. Lighten up, folks.
Knowing Right From Wrong
I would like to thank Cat Walters from Richmond Heights for pointing out the insensitive viewpoints of David Sowd's "To Park, or Not to Park" column [Reality Check, January 21]. I was so outraged when I had read it that I went back over it to ensure that I didn't read it wrong the first time.
My four-year-old daughter requires a wheelchair to access places that others take for granted. Obviously Sowd has never tried to wheel his child across a snowy parking lot, dodging traffic and puddles of slush, because all of the spaces for the handicapped have been filled by apathetic people such as himself. I have never given much thought to parking in a handicapped space. I was brought up to know right from wrong, and I knew that they were for people who needed them. Now I find myself in that same position.
If you or your readers get anything out of this, just remember one thing: There are no guarantees in life. Freak accidents, disease, premature births, and any one of a thousand things can put you or a family member in the same position. Only then will you find that such attitudes are totally unacceptable in today's "enlightened society."