Galt on Marcotte

Galt on Marcotte:

Jane Galt worries that the furor over the recent Marcotte business indicates an attempt to shut down religious criticism. She indicates that this isn't really a shifting of the national dialogue, but perhaps just an assertion of new power by the backcountry:

What the right is doing here is attempting to shift the Overton Window of Political Possibilities. The “window” is the space of acceptable ideas for political discourse. So, for instance, right now being either pro-choice or pro-life falls inside the window; it is mainstream and acceptable to hold either view. But being (say) pro-Nazi falls outside that window; being pro-Nazi means that you’ll get fired from political campaigns, because your views are that far outside of the window of accepted political views.

Should criticizing (and even making fun of) the political positions of the Catholic church, the Pope, and the conservative Christian movement be “within the window” of acceptable views? Or should criticizing the Pope — even on perfectly true grounds, such as pointing out that he supports pro-life and anti-gay policies — be outside the window of what it’s politically acceptable to say and to criticize?
I think this captures the essence of the argument, although I'm not sure that Amp is right about this being an attempt to shift it; my admittedly limited knowlege of Non-Coastal-Elite-America indicates that in most of the country, slagging off the Pope, or indeed making fun of religion qua religion, is mostly verboten.
Speaking as a proud member of the non-coastal non-elite, a backcountry North Georgia wearer of Stetson hats, I'd like to answer Ms. Galt's charge. Let's hear a few good religion jokes.

Q: How can you tell a Baptist from a Methodist?
A: A Methodist will share his beer with you.

Q: How can you tell a Presbyterian from either?
A: The Presbyterian will stop the church bus off at the liquor store if you ask him.

(That last one is really true, at least sometimes -- my father's church softball team would do so.)

Here's an audio recording from the Late Great Lewis Grizzard: Mama Wanted Me to Be A Preacher. You can enjoy not just the preacher jokes, but the pure Southern accent.

My favorite preacher joke:
One day a preacher was walking to church, when a local family passed him in their wagon. "Howdy, preacher!" the father called. "Want a ride?"

The preacher did, so they took him on in. The father asked, "What's the sermon going to be about today?"

"Fire and brimstone," the preacher answered. "I'm going to read 'em the Ten Commandments, first to last. I'm all fired up -- why, for the very reason you saw me walking today. Do you know that, in this very community, somebody stole my bicycle?"

"You don't say!" the father replied, and on in they went.

Sure enough, the preacher got up and started on his sermon. Suddenly in the middle of the Ten Commandments, though, he stopped right there, thanked everyone for coming, and sent them on home to dinner.

The farmer saw the preacher again later in the week, and he went over to ask him about it. "I thought you were going to do the fire and brimstone, all the way through?" he asked.

"Well, I was," the preacher said. "But then I got as far as 'Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery,' and durn if I didn't I remember where my bicycle was."
That may have been a Grizzard joke too -- or one of my father's. :)

Joatmoaf had a good one the other day, about a preacher and a cowboy:
A Baptist Preacher was seated next to a cowboy on a flight to Texas.

After the plane took off, the cowboy asked for a whiskey and soda, which was brought and placed before him. The flight attendant then asked the preacher if he would like a drink.

Appalled, the preacher replied, "I'd rather be tied up and taken advantage of by women of ill-repute, than let liquor touch my lips."

The cowboy then handed his drink back to the attendant and said, "Me too. I didn't know we had a choice."
Then there was Jerry Clower's famous story (which I quote from memory):
Local Baptist boy married a Methodist girl. His daddy insisted she be baptized properly, not just sprinkled on top of the head like the Methodists do.

His son tried to convince the girl, but it was no good. So he came back to his daddy with a compromise. "What if she walked out into the water up to her knees?" he asked.

"That won't do, boy."

"And what if she went out with the preacher up to her neck, would that be good enough?"

"I won't stand for it," his father said. "It's got to be a real baptism if she's gonna marry into my house."

"Well," the boy said, "What if they went out in the water until just the top of her head stuck out?"

"No sir," his father replied.

The young man shook his head. "See, I knowed all the time it was just that spot on top of the head that counted."
And then there's the old folk song, "The Preacher and the Bear," my favorite version of which was done by Jerry Reed. The lyrics speak to a preacher's dilemma when faced with a grizzly bear who has also been given certain gifts. Atop the branches of a tree, the preacher shouts:
Hey Lord you delivered Daniel
from the bottom of the lion's den;
You delivered Jonah
from the belly of the whale and then
The Hebrew children from the fiery furnace,
so the good books do declare:

Hey Lord if you can't help me,
For goodness sake don't help that bear!
The point here is Chesterton's point about the pessimist. Marcotte doesn't get into trouble for criticizing religion; she gets in trouble because she doesn't love the thing she criticizes.

She's not required to, of course, but that's where her trouble arises. It's not the humor. It's the hatred.

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