Monday, October 30, 2006

Joel Stein Just Doesn’t Get It

I cannot believe that I had not stumbled on this before today (of course, 4 family birthdays in the last 12 days of October does keep the Casa de Pensamientos Profundas busy). It seems the ever-juvenile Joel Stein has, I supposed, decided to add a little gravitas to his commentary by ‘trying Jesus’. How did he do? Let’s find out.

We start off with his admission that he had never gone to a church before except to go to weddings or to attempt to “hook up” with a girl. His statement that God would be fine with his attempts to use a church as an entry to fornication ‘because God knows how hot she was’ really sets the tone.

BTW: Jenny Hodge, I am sorry that Joel embarrassed you in such a crass, adolescent manner. In addition to giving the appearance of only having been interested in you because you were ‘hot’, he seems to have no concern for your feelings now, either. I hope that you have, in the interim of seeing Joel then and his writing now, found a decent man who appreciates you for who you are.

Joel, who describes himself as an “atheist Jew” (an oxymoron) decided to go to the Covenant Presbyterian Church of Austin, TX to see a college chum who is now a pastor there. The main point, so to speak, of this piece was whether or not to take communion, a decision he attempts to make funny.

Where to start? My first point is his attempt to joke about confusing the Kyrie prayer (which is usually sung) and the song by Mr. Mister almost made it to funny but, for me at least, it was ruined by his attempt to use the word ‘hermeneutics’. Joel, a little hint; reading the dictionary is not a recipe for top-notch humor.

Joel goes on to compare Communion – the center point of worship for the vast majority of Christians – to a ‘spiritual Power Bar’ and references the taking of Communion as ‘sharing a snack’ ‘buffet style’. To his credit, he does wonder if his ‘traipsing through as a tourist’ would offend his hosts, or cheapen the experience. Unfortunately, this concern is lost amidst a wash of attempted humor and a comparison of himself to James Joyce. More bizarrely, this ‘atheist Jew’ was just as concerned with breaking the Yom Kippur fast with Christian Communion!

I think Joel needs to make up his mind.

In the end, this article is literally nothing. Joel Stein takes what could have been an interesting experience – an obviously conflicted man who self-identifies as both an atheist and a Jew pondering partaking in Christian Communion - and produces as mess of failed attempts at humor and borderline-offensive wisecracks that I doubt would pass muster at the typical college broadsheet.

For those who are interested: Covenant Presbyterian appears to be a PC(USA) congregation, so Joel’s participation is accepted by them. The PC(USA) Communion is not seen as valid by Catholic or Orthodox Churches, so it is neither here nor there for members of those faiths.

Also, the Anchoress has a good analysis of some of Mr. Stein’s article that I gave a miss.

H/T to the Achoress.

Edited for spelling and punctuation

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