Sunday Joke:  A Muslim, A Beauty Queen and Jesus Walk Into A FoxNews Interview . . . .

This has to be one of the funniest, most telling, FoxNews clips I’ve seen since Karl Rove’s election night freakout last year.

Reza Aslan is a scholar with a number of popular books on religion to his credit.  His latest is a book about Jesus’ life and times titled ZealotZealot has created quite a hubbub amongst the books-about-Jesus-audience, who are upset, to say the least, about some of Aslan’s premises and conclusions.  Amazon Reviews is burning up with some old-time religion hate.  That’s predictable.

Down through the ages lots and lots of religion scholars and enthusiasts have weighed in on the sparse facts of Jesus’ life and come to varying conclusions.  Those writers have come in every shape, color and religious background.  It’s an interesting topic to some. Admittedly, I haven’t read the book, I’ve only listened to interviews, but none of what I’ve heard of Aslan’s ideas sound like revolutionary departures from what’s always been kicking around on the subject.

I’m also old enough to remember the fuss that surrounded the debut of Jesus Christ, Superstar on Broadway.  For a short while, it was an apocalyptic event (which certainly didn’t hurt ticket sales) and eventually the show, deemed blasphemous by some, was permitted to make millions of dollars in performances and license fees forever and ever, amen.  Because, as we all know, from the Dominionists, Jesus is a free market fan.

The thing that is astonishing about this Fox incident is that it takes over nine minutes of airtime for this veteran FoxNews correspondent to wrap her mind around the idea that a Muslim has written a book about Jesus.  She projects, without overtly saying it—“how dare you?”  That’s really the whole [only] point of the long-ish segment.

Now if FoxNews was really bent on a scholarly discussion of opposing viewpoints on the life of Jesus, they might have thought to get another scholar to sit down with Reza Aslan to bat ideas around.  But why do that when they have a perfectly good “religion correspondent” on staff who already knows what Fox viewers want to hear? (i.e., for a Muslim who has written about Jesus to get his ass handed to him in rollicking FoxNews fashion)

Reza Aslan’s credentials:

Aslan holds a Bachelor of Arts’ degree in religions from Santa Clara University, a Master of Theological Studies’ degree from Harvard Divinity School, a doctorate in the sociology of religions from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Master of Fine Arts’ degree from the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction.

He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities, and the Pacific Council on International Policy. He has served as Legislative Assistant for the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington D.C., and was elected President of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, Harvard Chapter. He serves on the board of directors of the Ploughshares Fund, PEN Center USA, and serves on the national advisory board of the Levantine Cultural Center.

Lauren Green’s credentials:

Lauren Green has a degree in piano performance from The University of Minnesota and is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Ms Green was named Miss Minnesota in 1984 and was the third runner-up in the 1985 Miss America contest.

From 1988 to 1993, she was a general assignment reporter at KSTP-TV (ABC) in St. Paul, Minnesota, then became a weekend news anchor and correspondent at WBBM-TV (CBS) in Chicago.

Ms Green joined FoxNews in 1996 where she provided daily news updates on the FOX & Friends program.  Most recently, Ms Green serves as a FoxNews religion correspondent.

So, without benefit of academic study or further ado, Ms Green is suddenly a religion expert because Roger Ailes says so . . .

Maybe that’s why the interview devolved into Ms Green’s preoccupation with Aslan’s temerity at writing a book about Jesus when he’s a Muslim.  Doesn’t he know that’s not permitted?  Green expressed not the slightest bit of interest in Aslan’s actual research or findings in his latest book Zealot.  She just couldn’t get past the notion that a Muslim author had written a book about Christ. 

Why, that’s as preposterous as a list of the top twenty recent books on Islam written by [wait, are you ready?] . . . Judeo-Christians, for God’s sake!!@!

Conversely, it’s very ironic that Green doesn’t understand how that works because for the past 12 or so years FoxNews has provided a steady stream of Christian “experts” on Islam, flaming hair and all, who invariably take a very unflattering view of a religion that they have little or no academic standing, or even life experience, to even credibly discuss.

People like Bill O’Reilly, who contends that the world has a “Muslim problem” and that all Muslims share responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.  Or how about Sean Hannity, whose favorite punching bag is Rep. Keith Ellison and who equated Ellison’s use of Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Quran during his symbolic swearing-in ceremony with an imaginary congressman using “Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which is the Nazi bible.”

And let’s not forget FoxNews host Eric Bolling who warned that Obama “answers to the Quran first and to the Constitution second.” Or Dick Morris, who described the Park 51 Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero as a “command center for terrorism” to “train the same kind of terrorists” that attacked the U.S. on 9/11.  O’Reilly described the same center as “Condos for al Qaeda.”

FoxNews contributor Lisa Daftari warned Fox viewers that Al Jazeera acquired Current TV to activate terrorist “sleeper cells” in Detroit while Michelle Malkin described the new station variably as a “cheerleader for terror” and a Trojan Horse for terror TV.

Brian Kilmeade of FOX & Friends claimed that “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”

Fox News regularly hosts anti-Muslim guests such as Brigitte Gabriel, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.

And let’s not forget, Lauren Green, herself, who has written a long disquisition on how Islam = Violence.  Here’s Fox’s religion correspondent sharing her views about Islam:

Both religions came out of the same region wrought with tribalism. However, Christianity begins in a secluded sect, the line the Israelites, the Jews. Jesus ministry begins with the those people whose laws, religious rituals and customs are already primed for such an appearance: The sacrificial shedding of blood to atone for sin (Yom Kippur); scriptures foretelling of a coming Messiah that will “purify the sons of Levi” (the Levites were the priestly tribe), and of the suffering servant, that “was pierced for our transgressions… and by his wounds we are healed.”

Islam had no such cultural DNA to graft itself onto. It met violence with violence. It used the cultural resources familiar to its founder.  As Christianity spread it filled the world with the message of forgiveness even unto death.

As Islam spread, some followers have found it difficult to unshackle themselves from what was deemed necessary early on in the faith’s infancy. Not knowing the difference between what was then and what should be now has become the conflict within Islam. And now it is a concern for the rest of the world as well.

So.  I’ll leave it up to you, readers.  You decide whether to get your information from people who have actually spent decades studying a subject or people who have spent decades butchering the truth into red meat for meatheads.  Your choice.

Posted by Bette Noir on 07/28/13 at 10:49 AM • Permalink

Categories: PoliticsBqhatevwrNuttersRelijunTelevision

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Lauren must have been getting her hair done instead of attending class on the day they studied the crusades.

@lumkin - you beat me to it.  Somehow I think the “infidels” probably saw the Xtian Soldiers as, well, terrorists.

So, OK, I took a double dose of Anti-Stupid pills to protect myself before watching that interview and I still think I have significant brain damage.  I can’t believe Aslan was as patient and even-tempered as he was but I’m guessing he took a triple strength dose.  Maybe even 4X.

There was also that Inquisition thingy.

There was also that Inquisition thingy.

Thingies, and believe it or not, they weren’t as bad as is popularly thought.  (They were still pretty bad, mind you.)  But, yeah, another strike, and while we’re at it—Thirty Years War.  Christians fighting Christians about Christianity.  For thirty years.

Hi Bette Noir,
of course this interview is completely silly, as are most of the public discussions about religion.

The discoveries at Quin Ram and Nag Hammadi have shown a new light on the Judeo-Christian world, and these finds have yet to be integrated into our mainstream religious denominations.

Moreover, writers like Elaine Pagels have brought significant discussion to our questions relative to Judeo-Christian issues.

Our religious institutions have to do a lot of catch-up at this point to try to establish firm footing in our new environment.

I’m always astounded at the ontological and metaphysical naivety by both sides in popular religious debates.

I remember a few year ago hearing discussions between Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D’Souza. Amazingly, people were lauding this conversation as if it were significant.

I ask the question, significant to whom, Jules Verne??

The issues debated could have been a repeat from the 1890s.  There has been a hundred years of research by the Society of Psychical Research conducted by eminent Cambridge dons and by William James.  We have had 35 years of reports of the near-death experience. And now there are the ancient manuscripts and a lot of heavy lifting to try to sort it all out.

Most of our discussions today are just an example of how pop culture meets and denigrates profound subjects.

@john ball

“They weren’t as bad as popularly thought.”

Bet if you were strung from a rope, roasting to death over a bonfire or feeling your joints pop on the rack, you would have a different opinion.

You are a troll

I think the craw-thumpers are upset because Aslan is not only ruining the Bible, but the “Narnia” books as well.

I hardly ever get out of the boat, especially for videos. But damn that was funny. When he had to use hand gestures to try to explain to her the idea of a 20 year academic record and its pursuits I nearly died laughing.

I watched him on TDS recently, and decided I should read some of his books, which the library has many of (and a HUGE wait list for this new one).  One thing I recall him saying in that TDS interview is that at one point in life he became a born-again Christian.  Hmm, he must of moved on…

And am I the only one who spies a long comment, looks to see if it is Amherst, and just scrolls on by?

I went with aimia’s recommendation and actually watched that clip.  Wow, that Faux lady is a big sack of noisy derp who is incapable of ever understanding any point other than what Ailes tells her to understand.  E.g., yet another loyal Faux talking head, busy feeding the Faux foot soldiers exactly what they want to hear.

Bet if you were strung from a rope, roasting to death over a bonfire or feeling your joints pop on the rack, you would have a different opinion.

You are a troll

No, I’m not.  Because the image of the Inquisitors salivatating in sadistic glee as they inflicted countless tortures on thousands of innocents is pretty much a myth.  The Spanish Inquisition was probably the worst of them, and even they spent as much time trying to get people to stop burning witches as they did executing heretics.  Many of the worse excesses during the Reformation weren’t done by any Inquisition—they were done by local authorities acting of their own accord.  Hell, one of the nastiest guys for religious executions was Henry VIII, who didn’t have an Inquisition, and instead ran heresy charges on a ‘whatever the hell I feel like’ basis, which as it tended to change every few years made England very unpleasant at times. 

As for those tortures you mentioned, you were more likely to get either one by being on the losing side of a war, or involved in any sort of uprising against whoever was ruling you.  The Renaissance just wasn’t a nice place to live…

@John Ball you seem to feel pretty strongly about the bad rap the “inquisition” has gotten.  I have to assume that is because you have been persuaded by historical evidence, of some kind, so why not share your sources and make a more convincing argument.

I know that many sorts of Christian would like to disown that dark chapter but arguing that “everyone did it” during the Middle Ages doesn’t wow me.

“Everyone” might have been doing it, but whoever the Church designated as the Enemy didn’t stand much of a chance, no matter who was tying them to the stakes.

Dang, she came out of Medill?

You know who else some people say “wasn’t really all that bad.”

Sorry, I had to go there. This thread is finished.

Sorry Lumkin, you didn’t actually say it, so Godwin’s law hasn’t been satisfied.
I seriously doubt that any one of us could go back to that time, look at those people, & not say, “You’re all absolute fucking barbarian troglodytes.” Because they were. They were ignorant of the way the world worked, the way biology worked, the way nature worked, etc. That’s why they called it the dark ages, because the light of knowledge had been extinguished by the Church, so however heinous the Inquisition, it was probably pretty much the same experience shortened by the amount of time involved, as living a whole lifetime amongst those ignorant, fearful, hypocritical regressives. Much like living today in red-state America.

The interview was a farce, but her dogged insistence on asking the same question, over and over, makes me think she was following orders from her producer—orders given either before it started, or in her ear while it was happening. 

The idea that an interviewer on Fox News is engaged in an honest search for truth is to laff.  All Fox wants to do is enrage its ignorant white viewers.  Lauren Green was probably just following orders—beneath contempt for a journalist, but who said anything about journalism? 

Forget it, Jake.  It’s Fox.

Bette—you (or at least some of the other posters) appear to be under the impression I’m a Christian.  I’m not.  You also appear to be under the impression that I consider the various Inquisitions to be good things, and I most certainly do not.  They were oppressive state security systems married to religion, with the Spanish Inquisition throwing in a nasty racial element to boot.  But they were bad in ways that were a lot more subtle than the torture-athon caricature most of us picture, more Joseph McCarthy than the Nazis.  (The problem being Renaissance-era Joseph McCarthy is considerably nastier than the 20th century counterpart because, once again, the Renaissance was not fun.)

What I am is a man who values history.  Seeing the repetition of foolish myths in a posting about a historian being hounded by people repeating foolish myths—kind of gets to me.  Especially knowing the source of these myths—it’s easy to forget that Catholics were the USA’s first Muslims, a group painted by bigots as a united font of subversives planning to undermine the nation in the service of their foreign masters, religious extremists incapable of reason, and people with a long history of evil, bloody injustice.  Seeing large chunks of centuries-old bigotry being parroted by modern progressives upsets me. I believe in fighting ignorance with knowledge, not your own brand of ignorance.

Now—sources.  Henry Kamen’s book on the Spanish Inquisition is an excellent one, albeit rather large, and focusing on the Spanish Inquisition—Edward Peters has a more general book on the subject called, handily enough, Inquisition.  There’s a good start for you, if you wish to pursue it.

Even better, the Faux interview propelled Reza’s book to #1!

John Ball - you talked about salivation and glee, not me.  And nobody said you were a christian.

Wikipedia has a short article about the inquisition. It doesn’t have many numbers, but it does talk about how the church authorized torture and death by burning for heretics. I’m sure that over the course of 700 or so years the overall numbers are higher than listed below in the quote. You can quibble over the numbers if you want, but I personally find the notion of torturing and burning people to death rather abhorrent.

From Wikipedia: According to Henry Charles Lea,[27] between 1540 and 1794, tribunals in Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra and Évora resulted in the burning of 1,175 persons, the burning of another 633 in effigy, and the penancing of 29,590. But documentation of 15 out of 689[28] autos-da-fé has disappeared, so these numbers may slightly understate the activity.

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