Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pithless Thoughts responds to OCN's SNL appeal

From the blog Pithless Thoughts...

OMG "We're" Offended?
BREAKING NEWS FROM OCN (Orthodox Christian Network)

(This is a press release from OCN, sent to subscribers to their program... I don't know if any national news outlets have actually published this yet). God, I hope not.....

National Christian Group Launches Video Response To Controversial Saturday Night Live Skit
• Asks NBC For Apology
Saturday Night Live went too far when it portrayed Jesus as a blood thirsty murderer. So says a national Christian group that's so upset by what they saw that they have asked NBC for an apology and have launched a video taking the network to task.

"The Orthodox Christian Network is outraged by the DJesus Uncrossed Skit that was aired recently on Saturday Night Live", said Father Christopher Metropulos, head of the Orthodox Christian Network ( "While we realize that Saturday Night Live is a comedy show, we strongly believe that NBC has seriously crossed the line with material that is grossly offensive to Christians."

According to Father Metropulos, "the skit was shockingly indecent and demonstrated a blatant disregard to the feelings of millions of Christians who would most obviously be sickened by the sacrilegious content of the material. This is especially difficult for Christians worldwide to witness as we prepare for the Resurrection of our Lord and Easter. Never have I seen such reckless irresponsibility from a national television network."

JCPenny and Sears have already pulled their ads from Saturday Night Live in reaction to the controversy. (Inserted here is a link to the video they produced that I have not watched in response to a skit I have not watched and won't... neither of them, so I'm not posting it here. If you want to watch it, google it).

Personally, I find OCN's response to NBC more offensive and un-Christian than anything NBC could possibly do to make fun of or parody Jesus Christ, the Church or anything I believe. Fr. Christopher's concern for millions of Christians' "feelings" as they witnessed the mockery of Jesus Christ shows the depth of his lack of understanding of Christianity's core. His lame self-promotion as a "spokesperson" and posturing of OCN as a voice of a "national Christian group" to garner publicity for OCN is a reckless, irresponsible and offensive representation of the Gospel and Christianity itself, far worse than anything NBC could produce. In my mind they are both flip sides of the same coin: outrageousness for the sake of publicity to get ratings. (Don't even get me started on why "Christians" are watching SNL, much less TV at all... that's another whole issue.) So, back to the issue at hand:

SNL's skit was "especially difficult to watch... as we prepare for the Resurrection of our Lord and Easter"???...
Has Fr. Metropulos paid any attention to the services of Holy Week in all his years in the priesthood? (I would broaden the landscape and say, ANY Christian who has read the Bible account of the machinations leading to the Cross and Resurrection). All of Holy Week (and Lent) is clear: The preparation for the Resurrection is mockery, injustice, ingratitude, blindness, betrayal, torture, greed, politics, defamation, slander, gossip, misinterpretation, insults, parody, lies and death. The message of the Gospel is the offense of forgiveness of sinners, the slaying of the innocent, non-retaliation by God and men, the bearing of offense, the love of enemies and betrayers and cowards, the bearing of darkness, the kind word said to a moral failure while dying unjustly, the concern for the living while taking a last breath. If Fr. Christopher really gets "the Gospel", his message should have been directed to Christians who are offended, not the offenders of Christians.

Has Fr. Christopher and those offended ever read the Gospels? If not, here's some excerpts from one of them:

"Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you for My sake, rejoice and be glad..." (MISSING: publicize your offense before believers and unbelievers).

"Do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also..."
(MISSING: Push back, boycott and launch a publicity campaign.)

"...but I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven...." (MISSING: parade your outrage, the insult and the perceived injustice you suffered, or even your pious prayers for their salvation, before the public.)

By parading himself and whoever participated in the video he produced as representatives of "Christians" to send to NBC, Fr. Christopher has maligned, misrepresented and brought scandal upon the Gospel and the Orthodox Church. He has promoted the Orthodox understanding of the Gospel as a force in the "marketplace" by aligning his outrage with corporate sponsors. He has presented his campaign in a way that non-believers will equate the Orthodox faith with a Taliban-like coercion of "don't f*ck with our religion or else". He has not addressed his true audience: Christians, and taught them what being a real Christian is all about. Instead he produces a video, issues a press release and tries to coerce the unbelieving offenders to accommodate the lack of faith and true spiritual depth of the people he is ministering to. That'll convert 'em! Or... neither of them.

In short, this one's for you Fr. Christopher.
It's an oldie, but it is relevant.

May God have mercy on you and us all.

Yeah, I admit I'm pissed, and it's not even the first week of Lent yet.

Rant over.


  1. I have to admit my sympathies are definitely with Sdn. Steve on this. I didn't watch the whole SNL video, but just enough at another blog site to get the gist. It's not even really about Christ, IMO, but about what American culture considers to be truly heroic and worthy of the divine. The spoof is on an American (sub-)Christianity that wants a "Rambo" Jesus, IMO. That cultural attitude deserves such a spoof. I don't think this piece was about ridiculing Jesus, but even if it was, I agree with Sdn. Steve about what ought to be a genuinely Orthodox response.

  2. That Pithless Thoughts may make some points worthy of consideration, I agree, but that he should be "pissed" and so obviously disrespectful to a clergyman ["Has Fr. Metropulos paid any attention to the services of Holy Week in all his years in the priesthood?"], leads me to conclude that he ought spend more time reflecting this Great Lent on the Scriptural and Patristic witness of how we speak to clergy and fellow Christians.

    That said, before we "rant" about how other Christians feel moved to respond to such public spectacles of blasphemy, it would again be worth considering the well-known words of St. John Chrysostom towards blasphemers in Homily One on the Statutes. This may make the reaction of some Christians seem less 'ignorant and self-serving' to Pithless Thoughts and slower to publicly condemn his brethren. There may be a genuine discussion about how best to respond to such blasphemies, but to respond with such disrespect seems to lack charity at the very least.

    Now on to St. John Chrysostom's words - a very important addition to what we take to be the 'clear' interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and the Liturgical hymns:

    "32. But since our discourse has now turned to the subject of blasphemy, I desire to ask one favor of you all, in return for this my address, and speaking with you; which is, that you will correct on my behalf the blasphemers of this city. And should you hear any one in the public thoroughfare, or in the midst of the forum, blaspheming God; go up to him and rebuke him; and should it be necessary to inflict blows, spare not to do so. Smite him on the face; strike his mouth; sanctify your hand with the blow, and if any should accuse you, and drag you to the place of justice, follow them there; and when the judge on the bench calls you to account, say boldly that the man blasphemed the King of angels! For if it be necessary to punish those who blaspheme an earthly king, much more so those who insult God. It is a common crime, a public injury; and it is lawful for every one who is willing, to bring forward an accusation. Let the Jews and Greeks learn, that the Christians are the saviours of the city; that they are its guardians, its patrons, and its teachers. Let the dissolute and the perverse also learn this; that they must fear the servants of God too; that if at any time they are inclined to utter such a thing, they may look round every way at each other, and tremble even at their own shadows, anxious lest perchance a Christian, having heard what they said, should spring upon them and sharply chastise them... But I require you to castigate an equal, for insolence against the Lord. Truly, if I had said unto you, punish and correct those kings or judges who transgress the laws, would you not say that I was mad? But John [the Baptist] forsooth acted thus. So that even this is not too much for us. Now then, at least, correct a fellow-servant; an equal; and although it should be necessary to die, do not shrink from chastising a brother."

    I don't think there could be a stronger urging to the protesting by Christians of "blasphemy" - and not simply blasphemy committed by other Christians, but by the "Jews and Greeks", "the perverse", and even those "kings and judges". Christians are meant to be the 'saviours' of the city, 'its guardians, its patrons, and its teachers'. And so while we need discretion with how we act, I do not understand where Pithless Thoughts' harsh condemnation of the mild-by-comparison response of certain clergy and laymen fits (not to mention the entire tone of the post, and the clear slander to suggest that it was motivated by the impure desire for self-promotion or desire for glory).

    I think the powerful words of St. John the Golden-Mouth bear reflecting on as much as those posted above. May God illumine us when to speak and when to remain silent.