I'm eventually going to get back to blogging on a more regular schedule -- sorry, I just haven't felt like I've had the energy to do this, although there's a few things I've been meaning to get around to, and that will probably get me back in the habit of daily or semi-daily updates. But today, I came across something that sort of astonished me, so I decided to stir long enough to point it out.
The Washington Post ran this editorial cartoon today, apparently trying to make some sort of statement -- well, let's look at the cartoon:
In case you have trouble making it out, it shows a couple watching coverage of the Pope's death -- I think he's supposed to be lying in state -- on their wide screen television. The announcer says, "We will return to our regularly scheduled festival of materialism in a moment." The couple, who have an oversized SUV in their garage, say "It looks larger than life on our new big screen."
Where does one begin? Does Tom Toles, the cartoonist, think wide screen televisions are somehow more sinful than, say, small black and white televisions with 12 inch screens? Isn't the content of some cable stations far more pernicious than merely a big picture? How about newspapers, like the Post, that wasted tens of millions of dollars converting their perfectly good printing presses from black and white to ones that print color photographs on section fronts? Isn't that a horrid waste, a great sin of materialism, a crime against the spirit?
Then there's the whole notion of laughter itself -- the Gospels, after all, do not say that Christ laughed, yet Toles spends his time making (well, trying to make) people laugh. And he's paid enough money to afford a widescreen television, no doubt, for his troubles.
It's a shame Toles is merely a cartoonist -- if only he were a poet of epic grandeur, he could compose clever verses describing the various circles to Hell to which one is condemned for the ownership of the wide screen television, the SUV, the large house, perhaps the 40 gig iPod.
What is interesting, of course, is that the charge of materialism--or more properly that the Church has been corrupted by worldly things--has long been levelled at Catholic pontiffs. While it was a staple of Protestant complaints, its history is more antique than that. The Manichaean notion that all matter is evil was one of the first heretical challenges faced by the Church, after all.
What fascinates me is that some of the things that the Pope wouldn't want celebrated -- the festival he would prefer we not get back to -- have far less to do with widescreen televisions and far more to do with elements of the culture to which he objected, and which Toles...well, I don't know -- perhaps he is ardently pro-life, ardently against women in the clergy or married priests, ardently opposed to gay marriage, a fervent believer in Christ and the teachings of the Catholic Church. Somehow, though, I doubt it...Posted by Ideofact at April 5, 2005 11:59 PM