The religious right: back in business with censorship at the Smithsonian

Since the November election, there has been a lot of foolish talk from pundits convinced that the new, Tea Party-infused … Continued

Since the November election, there has been a lot of foolish talk from pundits convinced that the new, Tea Party-infused Republican-controlled House of Representatives will concentrate on its pet economic issues and leave the culture wars on the back burner. Think again. This week, it took exactly one threat from House speaker-in-waiting John Boehner to persuade the man in charge of the Smithsonian Institution to remove an item from an art exhibit that had offended the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, which is dedicated to censoring speech and art it deems offensive to Christians in general and Catholics in particular.

Boehner had warned the Smithsonian to “be prepared to face tough scrutiny” under the new Republican majority. Just like that, Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough caved and removed a video with an 11-second image of ants crawling on a crucifix, in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery exploring the influence of the homoerotic in American portraiture. The exhibition, titled “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” has been on view since Oct. 30, spanning homoerotic influences on American art from Thomas Eakins and John Singer Sargent to Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol.

The image of the decaying crucifix, according to Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight, was “intended to lament the failure of many Christians to act with compassion in the AIDS pandemic’s early years.” The video was made 23 years ago by the late David Wojnarowicz, contemplating his own prospective death at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Again, the image that so incensed Boehner, Rep. Eric Cantor and the Catholic League occupied 11 seconds of one video in a large exhibition devoted primarily to major American painters.

It’s no coincidence that there were no complaints about this exhibition until an article appeared Nov. 29th on the right-wing online Cyber News Service, founded by L. Brent Bozell III, a nephew of the late conservative icon William F. Buckley, Jr., and a member of the advisory board of the Catholic League. The author of the article was one Penny Starr, who had previously blasted the Smithsonian for not including creationism in a science exhibition at the Museum of Natural History. Just imagine: a science exhibition failed to include an anti-scientific religious story about the creation of the universe.

Also, Boehner and Cantor did not merely demand that the crucifix image be removed–they wanted the entire exhibition closed. Given the history of western art since classical Greece, to suggest that homoerotic themes in art are unimportant–and that to explore them in an art exhibit is intended as an insult to Christians–is as ridiculous as it would be to suggest that Christian themes are somehow unimportant in western art. In fact, there are ignorant Christian right blowhards who suggest that atheists are hypocritical if they love certain works of art art with Christian themes. But for people who want to censor art and responses to art, everything is ideological. These are descendants of the same people who wanted to put fig leaves on the nude paintings and sculpture of the Renaissance–whether the offending body parts were considered pagan or Christian.

The truly disturbing element in this whole epsiode goes far beyond art or the well-known attitudes of the Christian right toward gays. The impact of this one online piece by a writer who also advocates religious propaganda in science exhibitions is yet another example of the poisonous power of the far-right blogosphere–immediately followed up, of course, by FoxNews. That Boehner and Cantor responded immediately suggests that the Republicans are going to find plenty of room for their religious and cultural agenda while pursuing their economic agenda. That the Smithsonian bowed to the Republicans’ not-so-veiled threat of appropriations cuts sets, at the very least, a bad example for other government officials.

Down the road, the Republicans will surely turn their attention to appropriations for the National Institutes of Health, involved not only in stem cell research but in other kinds of studies that might inflame the Christian right; the Department of Education, which supports the teaching of mainstream science in public schools; and the Department of Health and Human Services, which has jurisidiction over federal funding for sex education programs. I can easily see the new Congress holding up vital appropriations bills in order to jettison specific appropriation for any project that violates the doctrines of the Christian right. If they make this much fuss about an 11-second video imagine, imagine what they might do to an entire high school science curriculum. Is anyone going to stand up to these bullies?

More On Faith and Hide/Seek controversy:
The God Vote: Interviews with National Portrait Gallery Director Martin Sullivan, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Transformers gallery’s Victoria Reis

Susan Jacoby
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  • battleground51

    The perverted letists really do hate Christianity. They use every opportunity to attack and demean the Christian faith and since they tend to gravitate to the, so-called, arts, the “artists” create the worst offenders.I’m sure they would pick on the Muslim faith, too, except the above named leftists are to cowardly to try.The perverted letists must be the most dispicable people on Earth. No wonder most American despise them.

  • WmarkW

    OK, this is all true, but political pressure to bias exhibits is hardly a one-way street. (I wish Heather MacDonald’s essay: Revisionist Lust at the Smithsonian was linked online for free.) Instead, I’ll just cite the following equally aggregious example:In July, the (NEH) sponsored a workshop on “History and Commemoration: The Legacies of the Pacific War in WWII” for college professors in Hawaii. Professor Penelope Blake, a veteran professor of Humanities at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Ill., was one of 25 American scholars chosen to attend the workshop, but was reportedly disheartened to find the conference “driven by an overt political bias and a blatant anti-American agenda.” In both the required preparatory readings for the conference, as well as the scholarly presentations, I found the overriding messages to include the following: 1. The U.S. military and its veterans constitute an imperialistic, oppressive force which has created and perpetuated its own mythology of liberation and heroism, insisting on a “pristine collective memory” of the war.2. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor should be seen from the perspective of Japan being a victim of western oppression 5. Those misguided members of the WWII generation on islands like Guam and Saipan who feel gratitude to the Americans for saving them from the Japanese are blinded by propaganda supporting “the image of a compassionate America” or by their own advanced age.6. It was “the practice” of the U.S. military in WWII to desecrate and disrespect the bodies of dead Japanese. (Knowing this to be absolutely false, I challenged the speaker/author, who then admitted that this was not the “practice” of our military. Still, the word remains in his publication. As he obviously knew this to be false, I can only assume that his objective was not scholarship but anti-military propaganda.) 11. War memorials like the Arizona Memorial should be recast as “peace memorials,” sensitive to all viewers from all countries, especially the many visitors from Japan.

  • kbarker302

    I’m sure you liberals would have nooooooo problem with any kind of “art” that maligned the Religion of Peace, would you, you liberals? Noooooo problem whatsoever with government-funded blasphemy directed at the Religion of Peace, your precious Religion of Peace, the libs’ fave religion, would you, you liberals? Go ahead, libs, tell me you wouldn’t.

  • Sara121

    The censorship of art for political or religious purposes raises some interesting questions. What is definable as art? Is religious or political art distinguishable from what might be called propaganda? What of political cartoons then? Many parts of the Muslim world blew up over the Danish cartoons. Granted, no one issued death threats over the video (as far as I know), but the two reactions are somewhat comparable, though certainly differ in degree. Many in the Western world viewed the cartoons as the exercise of free speech. One could make the same argument for the video. Why would one be the exercise of free speech and the other not? There’s no point in being offensive purely for the sake of being offensive, but to declare Christianity off limits for controversial art, one would also have to declare ALL religious beliefs off limits. Otherwise you get censorship based on the religious sensitivities of whoever happens to be in charge.

  • WmarkW

    Granted, no one issued death threats over the video (as far as I know), but the two reactions are somewhat comparable, though certainly differ in degree. Many in the Western world viewed the cartoons as the exercise of free speech. One could make the same argument for the video. Why would one be the exercise of free speech and the other not? Would we permit the Smithsonian to display art advocating holocaust denial or female genital mutilation?

  • Susan_Jacoby

    Since I was completely disgusted by the craven response of many American publications and educational institutions to the threats of violence by radical Islamists against those who published the Danish cartoons, and said so at the time, I have no use for the argument that, “Well, yes, censorship and a successful attempt at political intimidation is going on in regard to the Smithsonian, but after all, others have done the same or worse, so it’s just another example of liberal bias to call attention to this.” No religion has a right to censor speech by others that it finds offensive. End of story. And if we find ourselves in a situation in which every institution that receives any sort of public funds must please John Boehner, we’re in real trouble. Government censorship is far worse than any other kind of censorship, because of the implicit and explicit penalties that government is always capable of imposing. The problem is not the Catholic League, but the capacity of this group to enlist high government officials in its causes, as it did in this instance.

  • WmarkW

    Government censorship is far worse than any other kind of censorship, because of the implicit and explicit penalties that government is always capable of imposing. This is a crucial distinction, whether I agree with the decision or not.

  • Sara121

    The distinction is that the only thing being prevented is the showing of the video _using_public_funds_. No one’s preventing the creator from showing the video in any privately-controlled venue.Would we permit the Smithsonian to display art advocating holocaust denial or female genital mutilation?Are there not religious works in public museums that are favorable and neutral to religions? We should get rid of those then too, yes?In as much as much as those 11 seconds were advocating anything, it was compassion for AIDS patients, if I understand correctly. But then advocacy goes to my question about distinguishing art from propaganda. If a particular work of art appears favorable to Christianity, is it then advocating Christianity? Or, insert religion of choice. Do we then have First Amendment issues other than free speech? I don’t think so. The clip wasn’t advocating for or against Christianity, but using Christian symbology as a metaphor, something Christians do all the time in various ways, some of which end up, I am sure, in public museums. An artwork might be distasteful, but that does not equate to advocacy of something like Holocaust denial or female genital mutilation. In the instance of this video, I see no issue with the use of public funds.

  • Carstonio

    This is ridiculous. 11 seconds from a half-hour video? Of course it looks like an attack on Christianity when viewed out of context, just as the Shirley Sherrod statement sounded anti-white out of context. Cyber News Service created a phony controversy to engage in demagoguery. Like the authors of the Left Behind series, they’re playing to the minority of Christians who see enemies of their faith under every rock. This is the same nonsense that plagued “The Last Temptation of Christ,” “Life of Brian” and “Satanic Verses.” In all three cases, demagogues either quoted scenes out of context or told outright lies about the context, often without even seeing the works in question. If one quotes Johnny Cash out of context, one might really believe he shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

  • WmarkW

    I think we’ve clarified the issue correctly now:The issue is not censorship because the video is not being censored.The issue is not whether offensiveness is a reason the Smithsonian CAN refuse to display something. Of course it CAN. I suspect their warehouses contain paintings of savage Indians, thieving Jews, happy slaves, and “disciplined” women, that they wouldn’t display today.The issue then is whether this particular application is a legitimate implementation of public pressure to remove a piece for offensiveness. That’s a good topic. As an earlier poster implied, we probably wouldn’t tolerate a depiction of defacement of a Muslim symbol to protest its treatment of women, for example.

  • Carstonio

    In principle, no symbol or category of symbol deserves special protection from “defacement.” That’s a concept that really depends on context, motivation, and perspective, none of which are endemic. Different symbols mean different things to different people. No one gets to control or decide what a symbol should mean for others.Take burning of a book of scripture. That demagogic preacher in Florida wanted to burn the Koran as a publicity stunt to stir up hatred. But it’s possible that a Sufi Muslim who opposes violence could have been so saddened by 9/11 that he could have burned a Koran to express his feelings about terrorists murdering in the name of his religion. Similarly, one person could burn a flag to declare hatred of America and another person could burn a flag to protest what has happened to the country he loves.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    The distinction is that the only thing being prevented is the showing of the video _using_public_funds_. No one’s preventing the creator from showing the video in any privately-controlled venue.Would we permit the Smithsonian to display art advocating holocaust denial or female genital mutilation?Posted by: WmarkW | December 10, 2010 3:11 PMSimilarly, “we” did permit the Brooklyn Museum and the Cooper Union to display works highly offensive to Catholics only a few years ago.The issue is whether the catholic league now has significantly more leverage due to this nation’s caving to pressure over the wouild-be Quoran burning preacher.Some of us care about the First Amendment and some of us don’t. Some of us have courage and some of us don’t.Some of us are unfazed that a group of backwards Catholic antisemitic morons led by a backwoods Catholic moron antisemite now have greater influence over our government and out lives and some of us aren’t.

  • Susan_Jacoby

    There is a case to be made (an idiotic one, in my view, in modern society) that there should be no government support of any kind for the arts, for education, for scientific research. Indeed, the political right has frequently made that case for everything except scientific research. There is no case to be made, however, that individual political representatives should have veto power over every program supported, usually partially supported (like the Smithsonian exhibit) with public funds. That absolutely is censorship, because no large museum or scientific research institute can operate without government funds, even thought the United States also has a uniquely high proportion of private philanthropic funds involved in these programs. If I were a Senator, should I threaten the head of the Smithsonian with cutting appropriations if he didn’t remove some gory crucifixion images that I don’t particularly like? It is simply absurd–a true expression of the far-right “party line”–to pretend that it isn’t censorship when ignorant legislators in charge of appropriations try to micromanage major museums. Either you stand up for a climate of intellectual freedom in science, education and the arts or you don’t.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    The Boehners of this world belong neither in Congress nor in most other places. I find it odd that there appears to be no pressure to force him to step down from his post and resign from the Senate.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Meant to write:Resign from the CONGRESS.Was thinking of Ben Nelson as I wrote. It’s odd reading all the REpublican jubilation over Nancy Pelosi’s replacement in connection with this.Americans, including those who besieged the idiotic would-be Quran burning preacher, have no idea whither they may be heading.Those who support Beaner ought to spend a few years living in Iran.

  • fmamstyle

    THEBUMP wrote: “…if you do pick the taxpayers’ pockets, you forfeit any right to cry censorship.”=====================We all agreed a long time ago that it is in the interest of society to advance the arts, using monies obtained from the society to disseminate it. Your argument makes the case that only SOME art is permissible, and determines there is a censoring body that will determine what is permitted. Under that scenario, Art can only be what those in power deem it can be.Many times in history, this has turned into pushing a political agenda, and/or a propaganda machine. Think about the great european leader in Germany during the late 1930’s and the early 1940’s. Art was determined valid only if it furthered the greatness of Germany, as in grand landscapes, and imagery and statuary representing great and powerful military machinery. Think about the last great US conservative moves, cloaking paintings and statues that dared to bare any nudity….etc.So as you say, we should not cry censorship if Art is paid for with tax money, then nothing should happen with tax revenues. No monies collected to better the social environment should be raised. Everything should be privatized, and no matter how offensive it is, no one has the right to censor it.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    God, I should not drink wine. At any rate, I read an interesting open letter to Sen. Boehner tying together the threads of unemployment, his promises to bring back jobs by reducing government size, and his threats to the Smithsonian.I think the government needs to fund the arts. I’m also not in favor of “offensive” religious works. However, the one in question is controversial. There appear to be many who think it is quite moving.Caving, as we have done, to certain extremist Muslims has opened the door for us to cave to extremists of all religions.It may be argued that we must face reality.

  • WmarkW

    Susan and some commenters have presented this as an absolutist issue of the principle of free artistic expression, but I don’t think it can be. There has to be some point at which art shouldn’t be displayed at The People’s Gallery for being offensive, and since that’s inherently a judgement call, some difference of opinion between Congress and the gallery’s directors is inevitable. The latter can’t have free license while the former’s role is limited to keeping the checks from taxpayers flowing.The issue here comes down to the application of the rules of offensiveness in this particular case. And, tying into recent discussions, it’s where Political Correctness is being turned on its practitioners.Codes about offensive speech were written as if intended to non-protect things like calling a black person the N-word or telling a woman how good her dress made her boobs look. However, they were also deliberately vague and expansive, so people can claim statements like “Black people’s problem isn’t racism, it’s fatherlessness, crime, and dropouts” are offensive to their self-image.In the case of religious groups, the line gets particularly blurred between statements about a belief system and the people who practice it, considered as a demographic group. “Jews are a bunch of money-grubbing thieves” is racist speech, but “Judaism is a nationalist, self-centered religion that teaches it’s OK to cheat gentiles” is on its face a statement about a belief system. The Catholic League particular muddles these distinctions, obscuring the difference between criticism of doctrinal beliefs or the actions of their organization, with debasement of their billion individual adherents. There’ve been several references herein to “the right to offend.” Absolutely. But that right can’t be conditional on the whom.

  • garoth

    A piece of work depicting ants crawling on a decaying cross may sybolize, for the observer, many things – none of which may be deemed “offensive” unless the viewer wishes to make it so. In this case, the artist wanted to depict, we are told, the failure of Christians to respond to the AIDS epidemic. It may also symbolize the demise of Christianity, or the reception of its message, or be making a theological statement about death and resurrection, along with other possible messages, depending on what the viewer gets out of it – and this is key to any piece of art, it’s ability to “symbolize,” an action that takes place in the viewer, and which is not inherent in the piece itself. The only “Christians” who would object are those for whom the “Cross of Glory” is all-in-all – who hold to such a superficial Christianity that they have no understanding whatsoever of the actual meaning of the cross for Christians.The only others who would object are those who have other agendas, and who wish to use this as a way of pressing concerns that have nothing to do with this piece of work. Both this conservative Catholic group and the Republicans subscribe to this – theirs is a general attack on art – we might include any portion of culture – that is not to their taste and agreeable to their ideology. Theirs are narrow and bigoted understandings of Christianity which they wish to “mainline.” They have consistently shown themselves to be enemies of art, of open public discourse such as that found on NPR and public television, and of cultural institutions that do not support their narrow ideology. They represent a triumphalism that is in no way either Christian or democratic. They are more like the church of the Inquisition, always seeking out heretics to burn at the stake. They represent the interests of the rich and powerful, whose desire is to hold others in economic, political, cultural and intellectual subjugation; who see themselves as our rightful rulers, the “exceptional” people who have the divinely given right to determine what we should hear, see, understand and do. Pursuing that “divine right” is their agenda.It is a shame that the Smithsonian feels the need to cowtow to these hypocrites and idealogues. But, in the present climate, where even our President apparently has no backbone, I suppose it is to be expected. I hope that those who run the Smithsonian are not hoping to actually gain anything from this – they should read about what has happened in the President’s show of lack of nerve – these people only believe in total victory. In giving in, they only encourage them to take no prisoners.

  • thebump

    Farnaz writes: Indeed. I presume this explains some of your more abstruse posts.But acknowledging your problem is the first step. Best of luck.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    It is interesting, if somewhat disappointing, for me to read some of the comments here. I am not a fan of this sort of art, first, because it is often above the heads of people, who are not necessarily unintelligent or uninformed–not necessarily.However, given the importance of the issues this raises, I actually went back through my old journal notes to see what I could find of my thinking on Ofili’s work at the Brooklyn Museum and the Jewish Museum’s controversial Mirroring Evil exhibit. From their I searched for entries on the Danish cartoons and on South Park.On the matter of Ofili and the Madonna covered with elephant dung, I found that eleven years ago, I began as I now would have predicted. “It is highly offensive to Catholics. That is enough. Remove it.” There is a slippery slope from here to exhibits of blacks in whiteface, to the sort of comments on Jews that Mark finds acceptable, etc. Given that I am no Christian and that my knowledge of Mariology was even scanter then than it is now, I was unsurprised to find that the rest of what I wrote on the Ofili struggles. Essentially, it focuses on the efforts since the Middle Ages through the Renaissance of some Christians to trouble the Madonna IMAGE, raising questions about myth, idolatry, etc. I found in one entry a reference to a controversial work by Carravaggio (!), who was taken to task on much the same grounds as Ofili.I began to get a sense of what Ofili MAY have been up to. That opened up more questions and still does.Ofili, if he was raising substantive, complex theological points, if these had been explained, could a discussion have opened? Would some of those who had been so offended been willing to listen?More to follow on Jewish Museum exhibit, Danish Cartoons, South Park, slippery slopes, etc.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    ADDENDUM to previous post: Question: Should the works of Richard Rolle (homoeroticism) and Marjerie Kempe (heteroeroticism) be removed from all publicly funded institutions, removed along with the “Cloud of Unknowing” (heteroeroticism) and a number of Donne’s Holy Sonnets (homoeroticsism)?Not rhetorical questions. Surely, it will not be necessary for me to say that the age of these texts, the value scholars have historically attached to them, do NOT give them “sacrality,” do NOT make them immune to the Boehners of this world. The newness of the work to which Boehner objected was not at issue for him, nor has it been at issue for those who support him.Bear in mind, too, please, that the older works I listed are merely examples, drawn from far-ranging and ancient traditions.

  • WmarkW

    There is a slippery slope from here to exhibits of blacks in whiteface, to the sort of comments on Jews that Mark finds acceptable, etc. I made the distinction that making remarks about Jews as an ethnic group is not acceptable, but the tenets of the Jewish faith are as fair game as any other philosophical belief.

  • WmarkW

    I could have written, “widens the opening for such racist remarks as those Mark MAKES about the ‘tenets of the Jewish faith.'”But what you call the slippery slope is exactly the issue I was discussing earlier. Generally the same people who staunchly stand for the “right of art to offend” are just as staunchly in favor of codes against offensive speech. What are the principles involved in the distinction? To many conservatives, they seem to boil down to whether the subject belongs to a Democratic party leaning constituency: blacks, Hispanics, women, Jews or gays.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    MARK:Again,In the case of religious groups, the line gets particularly blurred between statements about a belief system and the people who practice it, considered as a demographic group. “Jews are a bunch of money-grubbing thieves” is racist speech, but “Judaism is a nationalist, self-centered religion that teaches it’s OK to cheat gentiles” is on its face a statement about a belief system. Neither will I permit your denial to go unaddressed. There is nothing “on the face” of this statement that opens itself to debate. Further, you have made it yourself more than once as a claim in the past.Please, I don’t want to paste it that claim. Let it go, Mark. I’m suggesting this for your sake. Let it go. Think about justice and chesid and let it go.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Mark “used it as an example of a statement one could make.”Pray, how could one?Let it go. Think about what it says about yourself and not merely with respect to Judaism. You do not have to share your insights, should they occur.By the posts you write, we will know you. Cf. Mat 1:16.

  • WmarkW

    Neither will I permit your denial to go unaddressed. There is nothing “on the face” of this statement that opens itself to debate. The Talmud is very long little studied by non-Jews. Your webpage cites good examples of how it does not condone fraud against Gentiles. Other web pages cite examples of how it does. I’m not here to debate that.But I do advocate the position that there does not exist today an open, mutually-respective environment in which to discuss the issue. And that’s too bad, because it shouldn’t be shut up into the dark recesses of potential hate speech in which the only two possible positions are philosemitism and Joseph Goebbels.

  • WmarkW

    That’s supposed to be…The Talmud is very long AND little studied by non-Jews.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    The Talmud is very long little studied by non-Jews. Your webpage cites good examples of how it does not condone fraud against Gentiles. Other web pages cite examples of how it does. I’m not here to debate that.this.Gentile scholars who have studied Talmud are VERY few and far between HISTORICALLY. It takes knowledge of Aramaic, minimally, to do this. However, we do find a few Muslims and Christians who have done. NONE of these bona fide scholars has made the accusation you at first gave as a “hypothetical,” but now reveal as something you read on web sites. I said as much, but it’s always good for folks to get it from the horse’s mouth.I’d suggest you reveal the name of the sites. I will also paste your earlier claims that the “Jewish faith” supports fraud, etc.It is interesting that you mention Goebbels, since, almost word for word, he made the same claims about the “Jewish faith.”Who are you, Mark?

  • FarnazMansouri2

    I watched the video a couple of times and did not see anyone wanking off. I did find it moving.It reminded me of a couple of photographs I have seen. The blood in the dish recalls Catholic clergy (utashe priests) slitting the throats of Serbian Orthodox, Jews, and Roma while standing and holding dishes under their throats to collect the blood. We have photographs.The meat dangling from meathooks reminds me of the pogroms excited by Valerian Trifa, head of the Rumanian Orthodox church, one of whose pogroms ended with the bodies of Jews strung up on meathooks in Rumania, of course. We have photographs.The silver reminds me of the theft from Serbian Orthodox, Jews, and Roma of everything they had by Catholic priests who murdered these people and then deposited the loot in Vatican Bank, under the watchful eye of Saint Pius. The loot remains there to this very day. We have documents.The Vatican refuses to settle with the surviving victims or their heirs who continue to struggle. I have posted Times and WaPo articles, plaintiff’s attorneys’ letters, etc.The Vatican has never apologized for its failure to intervene in the Priestly slaughter of Jews, Serbian Orthodox, and Roma. Question: Would it not be more salutary for Boehner to address the foregoing rather than threaten the Smithsonian?

  • FarnazMansouri2

    The real problem is that a small but vocal minority of Christians seem convinced that America is one step away from having all Christians sent to gulags.They frame everything as attacks on their religion, and refuse to see a distinction between neutrality among religions (secularism) and opposition to all religonVisited site, btw. Something has to change here. That we should have this Majority Leader in Waiting blackmailing the Smithsonian is unacceptable in a democracy. And yet he will assume his post, will he not.When Giuliani became incensed at the Brooklyn Museum, he was challenged left, right, and center by the STate Assembly, no less, and by other prominent Catholics.Do you know if any Congressman or Senators have spoken out against Boehner?

  • backspace1

    non violent, expressive,revealing, it doesn’t fit the Daniel Pearl profile, i’m guessing.

  • thebump

    Carstonio: Maybe, maybe not. But it’s impossible to describe the public desecration of a crucifix as anything other than a willful, hateful attack on adherents of a particular faith.

  • WmarkW

    Maybe, maybe not. But it’s impossible to describe the public desecration of a crucifix as anything other than a willful, hateful attack on adherents of a particular faith.But as long as any disrespectful image of a Torah scroll or Quran would be classified as offensive speech, it’s difficult to justify drawing a line between them and a crucifix.

  • Carstonio

    But it’s impossible to describe the public desecration of a crucifix as anything other than a willful, hateful attack on adherents of a particular faith.”Desecration” wrongly implies that symbols have inherent meaning, as opposed to meanings assigned to them by people. It’s purely a subjective concept. We shouldn’t assume motives such as you describe without the artist speaking for himself or herself, particularly since the footage is wrongly being analyzed

  • mrbradwii

    Well, I’d like to get some of that good wine! I guess I am only projecting my own homoerotic desire at around 2:12 or there about.The film, (and who knows if it is the “real” unedited film on youtube, the Smithsonian doesn’t have a link to it, and archive.org is impossible to search with any specificity), is chocked full of “statement”-oriented visual messages, none of which appear to support the filmmaker’s stated theme nor fit the idea of portraiture, which, ostensibly, is what the exhibition was about.Now, the ant-crawling portions may indeed only be 11 seconds of the 4 minute film, but they are pervasive throughout the duration. The nauseating music enumerating Leviticus-like standards of uncleanliness can hardly support the notion that the film is like a portrait of the author — unless he’s got serious self-esteem issues.It may be a portrait of the church’s attitude toward homosexuals in the face of aids, or it may be a commentary on the hypocrisy of church doctrine vs church actions. The sewing back together of the bread (the taking back the flesh of communion? the loaves and fishes retracted, the nourishment of the god withdrawn?) in contrast of the sewing together of the lips, the stifling of most basic freedoms, speech and breath — is a powerful statement: about oppression, the church, individuality, the spiraling gears of the machine of society, grinding up its outcasts, and spitting out the dead and violently mutilated meat of modern life.It is anything but a portrait of a specific man dying of AIDS.But it is museum-worthy.And no doubt the controversy has inspired more viewings of it than would otherwise be imagined by the Smithsonian curators.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Yes, the “uncleaness” business from Lev, I noticed. The artist, like many Christians, has not escaped Christian distortion of Levticus, which I’ve recently been through ad nauseum and will not go through again here. Tanakh was not intended to be mauled either in an “nt” or by word of mouths that followed it.The allusions to Lev are what inspired me to post the associations the video has with Catholic priest slaughter of Jews during the Holocaust–see below.On Mark’s affiliations with Goebbels, scroll down for chat.I agree it is museum-worthy. I’ve seen better dealing with the same themes, and I have emailed the Smithsonian. The desecration of the body of Christ, which is among motifs of the piece, throughJust in case the Smithsonian rethinks its current position, I wanted it to know about that work and its artist.Have any Congressmen or Senators objected to Boehner’s blackmail?

  • Carstonio

    But as long as any disrespectful image of a Torah scroll or Quran would be classified as offensive speech, it’s difficult to justify drawing a line between them and a crucifix.I don’t see how that’s relevant since no one here is proposing drawing that line.A more relevant comparison would be the use of the N-word in

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Question: Should the works of Richard Rolle (homoeroticism) and Marjerie Kempe (heteroeroticism) be removed from all publicly funded institutions, removed along with the “Cloud of Unknowing” (heteroeroticism) and a number of Donne’s Holy Sonnets (homoeroticsism)?Not rhetorical questions. Surely, it will not be necessary for me to say that the age of these texts, the value scholars have historically attached to them, do NOT give them “sacrality,” do NOT make them immune to the Boehners of this world. The newness of the work to which Boehner objected was not at issue for him, nor has it been at issue for those who support him.Bear in mind, too, please, that the older works I listed are merely examples, drawn from far-ranging and ancient traditions.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    It is difficult to draw analogies among Torah burning as was threatened in the months preceding the Quran burning business, Mark Twain, and the current work. Jews did not riot at the prospect of Torah burning–for one thing the dweeb involved would not have burned scrolls—but anyway.AT all events, I post relevant questions below. I would have liked to address the controversy over the Jewish Museum’s exhibit, as mentioned below, but I’m guessing I would not be able to make myself understood. (The subaltern cannot speak–Spivak.)

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Carstonio, I understand your point about symbols. Emerson wrote a beautiful essay on that point, and he was not the first to do so. It’s an excellent point, but one that presupposes a degree of openness and good will that is not readily apparent in the present national discussion. Regardless of how you read Huckleberry Finn, the N word is the N word, and that is how Huck uses it. Jim is a stereotype. And, in my view, the book is anti-racist That does not mean that Twain was capable of rising above racist stereotypes. And then there is The Merchant of Venice. I wonder if Cantor will rise up the next time it is performed. Why do I think not?Some of us exist to make the majority feel good.

  • WmarkW

    “But as long as any disrespectful image of a Torah scroll or Quran would be classified as offensive speech, it’s difficult to justify drawing a line between them and a crucifix.””I don’t see how that’s relevant since no one here is proposing drawing that line.”While discussing the Terry Jones controversy, I proposed tearing out pages of the Quran advocating violence against infidels as a legitimate protest against Fort Hood or Times Square.Susan actually cited me by screen name in her subsequent column “For me, one of the worst aspects of America’s week of rage over the ashes of 9/11 was the commentary of a number of atheists on various Web sites, including this thread, who seem to have been as infected by the virus of unreason as their religious compatriots…Burning books–and yes, ripping out offensive pages–is designed to express contempt, whether the contempt emanates from an individual or a government. It is also an expression of the intellectual bankruptcy of the practicioner. Islam is not a special case. The Quran is not a special case. “So, she disapproves of using Quran defacement as form of protest against acts done in the name of Islam, but approves the use of crucifix defacement to express displeasure of the Catholic Church’s disconnect between preaching and practice.I do not see the distinction.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    So, she disapproves of using Quran defacement as form of protest against acts done in the name of Islam, but approves the use of crucifix defacement to express displeasure of the Catholic Church’s disconnect between preaching and practice.I do not see the distinction.Posted by: WmarkW Let me try to help. What you proposed to do is mindless mob style drek activity along the lines of the deranged Florida preacher, similar to the would-be Torah copy arsonist. There are distinctions to be made between art and mob style propagandistic violence of the sort your homie Goebbels enjoyed.That does not mean that you may not continue burning copies of the Torah (scrolls are expensive), Quran, etc.In fact, once we cave, we cave in, as Boehner teaches. (Unless Jews are involved, I suspect)May I quote you once again:In the case of religious groups, the line gets particularly blurred between statements about a belief system and the people who practice it, considered as a demographic group. “Jews are a bunch of money-grubbing thieves” is racist speech, but “Judaism is a nationalist, self-centered religion that teaches it’s OK to cheat gentiles” is on its face a statement about a belief system.

  • Carstonio

    I do not see the distinction.You would have a point if she was advocating treating Islamic items a certain way simply because they’re Islamic, and treating Christian items another way simply because they’re Christian. Without putting words in Jacoby’s mouth, I see a distinction between a symbol and a book in terms of the effect of the treatment, and I interpreted her point about ripping out pages as being religion-neutral. My own arguments about about symbols are religion-neutral.I see burning a book or ripping out its pages as equating to suppression of knowledge or information. As much as I disagree with the advocacy of violence in the Quran and the Old Testament, I see suppressing their contents as doing more harm than good. It wrongly gives the impression that the books are forbidden fruit.

  • backspace1

    “And we should in principle stay away from absolutist positions such as you describe, because we don’t live in a world of absolutes.”typical Christian teachings? it’s not a myth, it’s a lie?Running through the back woods bare…The ability or difference in controlling a basic primitive response , is called fight or flight. Though not having any interest in the art in question, the responses do intrigue me. The basic difference between evolved consciousnous and primitive consciousnous.Perosnally i think it’s a precedent they wish to set. If my opinion matters. I’ll try to keep you guys in the loop.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    I see burning a book or ripping out its pages as equating to suppression of knowledge or information. As much as I disagree with the advocacy of violence in the Quran and the Old Testament, I see suppressing their contents as doing more harm than good. It wrongly gives the impression that the books are forbidden fruit.Posted by: CarstonioCan the Jew speak? Hath not the Jew eyes?

  • Sara121

    I am sure someone will disagree, but I tend to think there is a difference between a book (or a scroll) and other symbols. I was against the Quran book burning not because it would hurt anyone’s religious feelings but because it is a book. I wouldn’t want to burn any book. Books are carriers of ideas in a much different way than other symbols. Destroying a book is a positive act of preventing access to ideas, however good or vile those ideas may be. (Does no one read Fahrenheit 451 anymore?) It can also be a protest of ideas, or a statement of different ideas. Destroying, or defacing, another type of symbol is also both of the latter, but that kind of action does not prevent access to an idea the way burning a book does. I posted earlier in this thread that I see no point in being offensive purely for the sake of being offensive. Graffitiing a cross for no other purpose than to deface it is pointless and in bad taste, but it does not prevent access to the ideas of Christianity the way burning a bible would. But what is the real difference between graffiti and art? It is largely viewer subjectivity and artist intent. If the artist has something meaningful to say beyond, I hate you, you suck, or whatever, then one can perfectly reasonably disagree with what is being said, but that doesn’t automatically make it graffiti. I do understand the earlier comment about the difference between attacking people versus attacking beliefs, and generally I agree, though I think the problem with the way it was stated is that it encourages generalizing about the people who follow a particular belief. You may say religion A teaches x, y, and z and those are all bad, but without further clarification, you have more or less implied that those who follow religion A do x, y, and z, which is then an attack on people, not the belief.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    I do understand the earlier comment about the difference between attacking people versus attacking beliefs, and generally I agree, though I think the problem with the way it was stated is that it encourages generalizing about the people who follow a particular belief. You may say religion A teaches x, y, and z and those are all bad, but without further clarification, you have more or less implied that those who follow religion A do x, y, and z, which is then an attack on people, not the belief.Posted by: Sara121

  • backspace1

    if the jew can’t comment on catholic teachings how can “she” comment on christian teachings?

  • FarnazMansouri2

    if the jew can’t comment on catholic teachings how can “she” comment on christian teachings?Posted by: backspace1 When the Jew subsumes them under the category Christian confusion and objections arise.That is one of the many dilemmas the Jew finds herself/himself in when dealing with the Christians and/or Catholics. Said dilemma, however, pales before staying alive for the Jew.Other things for you (rhyme noticed)

  • backspace1

    Do the presbyterians have a vote?discipline noted.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    I would imagine that is up to their fellow protestants.

  • backspace1

    is there independent council that can moderate the varying personable, religions?

  • FarnazMansouri2

    I would think the persons would be best equipped to answer.

  • Sara121

    So, for example, it would be wrong to say that Christians are bloodthirsty greedy murderers, but honestly debatable to say “Christianity teaches greed and murder.”More or less, yes. To say the former implies that all Christians are like that. It’s generalizing based on social identity, and I tend to think that is wrong whether the social identity in question is religious or otherwise. As to the latter, what if the statement goes the other way? Let’s say “Christianity teaches forgiveness and acceptance.” It implies that anyone who proclaims himself to be Christian is both forgiving and accepting. But there are some who proclaim themselves to be Christian who are somewhat less than forgiving or accepting of, say, gays or atheists or whatever. You could debate whether or not Christianity “actually” teaches your statement or mine, but I don’t think it would be much of a debate, as you could cherry pick passages to support either one. I tend to think that if a person is forgiving and accepting anyway, that person will latch on to those religious passages, whereas the person who is greedy and murderous anyway will latch on to the passages that give those actions sanction. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that a specific person or group of people is forgiving or greedy or whatever, and they use these or those passages to support that. That’s not generalizing about a large swath of people based on a large social identity, but citing a specific instance that can be supported by observed actions.

  • Carstonio

    The irony here is that relatively few would have heard of the video if it weren’t for the Cyber News Service’s demagoguery. That’s the pattern I’ve noticed repeatedly with censorship – it ends up giving more exposure to the material that the censors wish to suppress.

  • backspace1

    I remember a very long time ago someone preaching the need for civility…that was art.the degradation of the overall quality in art as a hole, should be a subject for “reflection”.

  • onofrio

    Ants are nature’s cleaners.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that a specific person or group of people is forgiving or greedy or whatever, and they use these or those passages to support that. That’s not generalizing about a large swath of people based on a large social identity, but citing a specific instance that can be supported by observed actions.Posted by: Sara121 You: As to the latter, what if the statement goes the other way? Let’s say “Christianity teaches forgiveness and acceptance.” Me: That is, in fact, what is said. And it is said because the Christians have, until recently, controlled the discourse on religion.Similarly, Mark’s “hypotheticals” are not hypothetical. They are said. And that is because Christians control that much of the discourse; moreover, they exported it to the Middle East.”‘Jews are a bunch of money-grubbing thieves” is racist speech, but ‘Judaism is a nationalist, self-centered religion that teaches it’s OK to cheat gentiles’ is on its face a statement about a belief system.”If you will scroll down, you will find that Mark ultimately let slip what I’d suggested to him earlier, that he had gotten his information on web sites. These particular antisemitic Christian canards have their origins in the Middle Ages, as I note, and have persisted through the present day, etc. Moreover, Mark, as I note, has in previous posts asserted them as fact.Antisemitic examples, anti-Black examples, anti-Hispanic examples are not examples. In fact, there is no such thing as an example, but that is for another discussion.Your post rests on a level playing field. Earth does not.

  • backspace1

    For those who feel it’s not economically viable to use red wine when rubbing mud into the eyes of a blind man(myself)please use spit

  • backspace1

    i’m betting that preacher new the value of spilled blood

  • onofrio

    Backspace1,Are you the blind man, or one of those parsimonious wine-hoarders?As for me, I’m a convinced spitbibber, for which Expectorate and…

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    No one who saw the “art” complained of being offended. It was removed for purely political reasons. So Wmarkw’s argument are all specious and moot.

  • WmarkW

    No one who saw the “art” complained of being offended. It was removed for purely political reasons. So Wmarkw’s argument are all specious and moot.But it’s NOT my position that Boehner and William Donahoe are right about this case. It’s that their justification is consistent with other applications of offensiveness guidelines favored by liberals when one of their voting blocs is the subject. And that those need a stricter definition than being offensive to a hearer.

  • bgreen2224

    Close the 495 ring — let no one in or out– and let them all eat themselves.

  • jckdoors

    And the GOP says there’s too much government intrusion. The Conservatives are the Daddy State. They want to tell you how to live your life. Get out of my life, my home, my bedroom, my body, and my museums.

  • thebump

    Rubbish comment: Please try to pay attention. The issue here is accountability for taxpayer funds. If you want to use your own resources to play with ants and engage in hate speech, be our guest.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    WmarkwYour reply to me was irrelevant. No one who saw the “art” complained; the complaints came from people who hate gays, not from people who were offended by the “art.”Gay people are human beings, American citizens, and tax payers TOO! If the gay haters don’t like it, they can lump it.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    thebumpYou complaint is not about the art; your complaint is about gay people coming out of the closet and being recognized as human beings as good as you.If you think gay people are not as good as you, then say so in plain English, so we will all then know what you are.If you are too ashamed to reveal what you are, then think about why that is.

  • thebump

    @daniel: Oh, sure. Right. That’s it. You totally busted me with your superhuman clairvoyant powers.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Please try to pay attention. The issue here is accountability for taxpayer funds. If you want to use your own resources to play with ants and engage in hate speech, be our guest.Posted by: thebump Now, Catholics among others of good conscience who do not hate JEWS and do not hate gays should not be funding the demagogue Donohue, should they?Should Jews and gays be funding an antisemitic homophobe? And just how is it that this taxpayer funded demagogue Donahue continues to influence Congress? On top of robbing the American people?Rep. Cantor, NB. One reads you’ve been inundated with J mail. Gonna get worse.My own Jewish missive is clearly marked J mail to remind you of whence you came. But fear not: key points are bulleted for easy readability, while instructive passages are highlighted, eg., “Do no ‘sit down with hypocrites.'”

  • thebump

    Farnaz, I’m fine with lowering tax rates and eliminating deductions for ALL 501(c)(3)’s, or at least for those that do not provide direct assistance to the needy. However, I will not agree to doing it selectively in deference to your personal ticks and prejudices.As for Donohue and Cantor, thank God for both.

  • ThishowIseeit

    We have to stick together, specially now that we are at war.

  • ThishowIseeit

    I meant: the seventh century.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Bump, Cantor’s primary constituency is not Jewish, I would think. However, he may find himself in the run for his life next time around J-wise if he continues on as Beaner Beohnhed’s sidekick.As for nonprofit status, I think it should be withdrawn all religious and religion-oriented institutions.However, I am in sympathy with your “universalist” leanings. Antisemitic organizations should be tax exempt, you say. To say otherwise amounts to “personal prejudice.”Then, you would, of course have no objection to nonprofit status for the KKK, which has done and continues to do spectacular word with waste removal in Texas. The white sheets and burning crosses, the hate speech should not get in our way any more than does Donahue’s bigoted psychobabble, and the KKK actually performs a much needed public service.So, you would support nonprofit status for the KKK, yes?

  • FarnazMansouri2

    WMARKW adds: The culture of “hate facts”– truth is immaterial to whether you’ve deprecated a cultural practice.Positively Jeffersonian. Having skimmed through your earlier missives, might I ask if you meant to write: “The culture of ‘hate’–truth is immaterial when you’ve defecated on facts.”Sincerely,

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Bump–Reply no. 2Farnaz, I’m fine with lowering tax rates and eliminating deductions for ALL 501(c)(3)’s, or at least for those that do not provide direct assistance to the needy. However, I will not agree to doing it selectively in deference to your personal ticks and prejudices.

  • thebump

    P.S. Cantor’s nobody’s sidekick, and he has plenty of Jewish admirers and supporters.

  • thebump

    Farnaz: No, my position is:[1] We should avoid these boring and unproductive disputes by limiting the allocation of confiscated taxpayer resources to the legitimate and essential purposes of government — BUT IF WE FAIL TO DO THAT, then anybody who takes the contrary position foreits any and all right to act surprised or incensed when fellow taxpayers object to particular appropriations, and exercise their First Amendment right to petition their elected representatives.[2] It is the height of hypocrisy for the authoress to lambaste her fellow taxpayers who objected in this case, while at the same time claiming for herself the absolute right as a taxpayer to make a nasty stink about charter school curricula.[3] It is likewise the height of hypocrisy for the authoress to demand that charter school curricula be restricted, while in the very next breath laughably claiming to “stand up for a climate of intellectual freedom.”

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    ThebumpI think I made my point. I did not see a point in your snarky reply.Oh well; just blame it all on Political Correctness; you’re not allowed to say what you really think, because everyone in charge of everyting is against you.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    So, you would support nonprofit status for the KKK, yes?The ACLU has defended the KKK’s right to peaceful, lawful dissent, and far be it from me to second-guess them.Applying an ideological standard to eligibility for tax exemption, and thereby subsidizing certain ideas at the expense of others, clearly violates the principles and intent of the First Amendment. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court ruled otherwise in the Bob Jones case, so for now it’s moot.Posted by: thebump Peaceful, lawful dissent is irrelevant to tax exempt status.Simply put, if a racist bunch like the Catholic League, which performs no public service, should be tax exempt, then surely the KKK, the local anti-Christian Hindu and Muslim groups (they abound–the former on political grounds, the latter on political grounds), etc.I shall attempt to assemble a Jewish League and recommend the installation of one hundred Jewish popes. (In the end, the number will be 102 or 97–a Jewish joke.)

  • FarnazMansouri2

    [1] We should avoid these boring and unproductive disputes by limiting the allocation of confiscated taxpayer resources to the legitimate and essential purposes of government — BUT IF WE FAIL TO DO THAT, then anybody who takes the contrary position foreits any and all right to act surprised or incensed when fellow taxpayers object to particular appropriations, and exercise their First Amendment right to petition their elected representatives.What the Christians may want to consider is how little the rest of us care for their national holidays, paying for their Christmas lights, decorations, trees, etc.,Jes’ sayin’

  • FarnazMansouri2

    PS. That Donahue has many admirers is a source of unending shame and embarrassment to millions of Catholics.On Cantor: I can’t for the life of me imagine why any Jew would admire him–we do far better than that every day of the week.He has some support from Jews, yes. And the more antisemitic the left becomes, the more support he will get. Maybe. I dunno. Evidently this latest boner with Boehner did not go over well J-wise, since he’s been inundated with “opinions,” not positive.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    A Jew has been trapped on an island for many years. Finally, rescuers arrive. They notice two buildings standing side by side. One asks, “What’s that?”That,” the man said pointing proudly, “is the synagogue I go to.””Then what’s that other building?””Oh. That’s the synagogue I don’t go to.”

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Under Danish jurisprudence it is immaterial whether a statement is true or untrue.Of course, he could have fought the case, by arguing that his language did not constitute hate speech. He would probably have lost in his country. He might want to emigrate. He would have gotten away with it here. He might even have been able to influence Congress to have an artwork to which he objected removed from a museum.Btw. and FYI, Turkey is not the best example. Someone more knowledgeable would have chosen say Pakistan or Palestine. In the latter, one out of every three murders is an honor killing, usually, by a brother of a sister for the crime of being raped.WW III almost broke out in Israel some years back, when a Kurdish Muslim (there are Kurdish Jews, of course) honor killed his sister who had been raped. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment. The Kurdish community demonstrated for days afterward in protest.I am sorry the defendant chose to make his point in this way. Honor killing is a horror.

  • Jihadist

    Some fellows in Congress anxious and decising on what Americans see, read, hear is not good for them?About time to join semi-authoritarian governments in the third world in having a Department of Culture. That way they can decide on what is “true” American culture, what is and is not acceptable arts, and to fund them accordingly. Lots of white faces with fear, blue faces with anger, red faces with embarassement if so. Are there already not a lot of the arts privately supported and musuems privately funded? Picasso was not government supported. His clients were his friends and the rich. Bach and Mozart was dependant on royal and church patronage too in commissioning their works apart from the garden variety rich.Then, there’s the Australian, British, Canadian etc government models in supporting the arts, including through state radio and TV. Whatever happened to PBS? The US Library of Congress did consider the Who’s “Tommy” and the Clash’s “London Calling” as significant records, even if they are British bands.

  • mrbradwii

    […]Try it this way then. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.When you define the government as “anything goes” as long as the majority of members agree, then, indeed, to act surprised or concerned at people acting well within their rights, enumerated and otherwise, is merely theater.Boehner and his sidekick are morons. If he thinks his majority is protected and chartered with some sacred duty to piddle around with a few thousand dollars, he is sadly mistaken… and come next election, he will see democracy in action. Nobody and I mean nobody who voted the last tribe off the island will stand for this sort of mindless distraction when future of the country is at stake. Obama is smart enough and will learn his lesson. Question is, will the Republicans?The only good thing about a politician is… they lose.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    a priest, a pastor, a vicar and a rabbi were golfing and play was very slow. one of them asked the marshal why the group ahead of them was playing so slow. when the marshal explained that it was a group of blind golfers, the priest said, “how insensitive of us to rush them”, the pastor said “oh, they’re an inspiration to us all”, the minister said, “they’re making the most of what god gave them”, and the rabbi said, “couldn’t they play at night?”

  • FarnazMansouri2

    A Lutheran pastor, a Roman Catholic priest and a Baptist preacher were having lunch one day talking about how they handled the church offerings. The pastor said, “I draw a big circle on the ground then throw the money in the air and whatever lands outside of the circle I keep.” The priest was shocked and said, “I do something similar but I keep whatever lands in the circle.” They asked the preacher if he did anything like that and he replied, “Well, yes. I throw the money in the air and whatever the Lord wants He grabs.”