Thursday, December 20, 2012

The holy spirit ain't got a pen...

(Note: I wrote this post in November, but the video was blocked on youtube. It's available now, so I'm reposting. It's a must watch!)

...or so says Russell Brand when he interviews two members of the homophobic Westboro Baptist Church on his show, when they claim that the Bible was written by the Holy Spirit (and says that gays and others go to hell). Not only Brand himself, but also Madonna, Tom Hanks and Gandhi are going to hell. Upon walking onto the stage (as Brand is admonishing his audience to be respectful and reminding them that it takes courage to appear before people who don't agree with you), the Westboro churchies present Brand with a sign that says "Fag Pimp Brand."

I don't know much about Russell Brand--in fact, I'd never heard him speak until I watched this video--but he does an outstanding job making light of, being courteous to, and laying bare the homophobia and hatred in these two men's souls...all while being perfectly friendly and funny. Not easily done! He doesn't take the bait they throw at him once, but instead wisely offers his world view:
"Have you considered that the Bible, like all religious doctrine, may be allegorical and symbolic, to direct us toward one holy entity of love, as opposed to a simplistic, litiginous text to direct the behavior of human beings? The Bible wasn't written by a cosmic entity."
I found it deliciously ironic that one of the men, who was wearing a t-shirt that said "Priests Rape Boys," claimed that Billy Graham originated the saying "love the sinner but hate the sin" (the mantra of homophobic Christians).

In fact, it was actually St. Augustine (A PRIEST, and one of the most significant thinkers of the Catholic church!) who first discussed this notion. His letter 211 (c. 424) contains the phrase Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum, which translates roughly as "With love for mankind and hatred of sins."

Then, guess who converted this idea into the simpler saying used now? Gandhi did, in his 1929 autobiography.

Yes, the phrase they are clinging to so fiercely was first spoken by a Catholic priest (who Westboro followers call vampires and draculas, and talk about priests sucking semen out of male children's genitals like vampires suck blood from their victims) and then made popular by Gandhi, who is going to hell (the church also maintains a "God Hates India" web page).

I strongly encourage you to watch this video. Brand defuses the hatred as best as he can, sharing his understanding of Jesus and the Bible: "Our first duty as human beings is to be loving and tolerant of each other." At the end of the interview, he brings out some gay friends and tries to bridge the two groups (unsuccessfully, of course) and then as the Westboro men leave, he begs them for a smooch and a cuddle.

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