Op-Ed: Christians Misguided in Dodgers Controversy

Op-Ed: Fair or Foul? Some Christians Off Base in Dodgers Controversy

The Los Angeles Dodgers drag queen controversy is one that will not die. Every day there seems to be another twist in the saga of the MLB team’s stance on transgender politics.

As a lifelong Texas Rangers fan, I am not naturally inclined to defend the Dodgers, and I certainly won’t do so now.

However, as a Christian and fierce defender of art, I see that someone has to be calling balls and strikes.

The recent brouhaha over the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — a gay men’s group that dresses in the style of Catholic nuns — being invited to the Dodgers’ “pride night” event Friday is a foul ball.

Our goal should be to enforce obscenity laws where adults perpetrate legitimate obscenities in front of children, not to shield ourselves from criticism by drag queens.

Specifically, star pitcher Clayton Kershaw’s statement about the controversy on May 29 is off base.

“I don’t agree with making fun of other people’s religions,” Kershaw told the Los Angeles Times. “It has nothing to do with anything other than that. I just don’t think that, no matter what religion you are, you should make fun of somebody else’s religion.”

This statement can only be made by someone who does not understand the entire sweep of religion and art. Unfortunately, I fear it is starting to exemplify current attitudes toward artistic expression.

In the West, religion and art are inextricably intertwined. The greatest works of art in history have been produced in celebration or revolt against religion. Any book by social critic Camille Paglia would buttress this point, but I’ll briefly highlight some examples.

  • The Sistine Chapel was produced in celebration of religion; the works of the Marquis de Sade were produced in rebellion against.
  • Martin Luther, the igneous of the Protestant Reformation, regularly made fun of Catholicism, famously calling Pope Paul III “pope fart-ass.” Meanwhile, Catholic artists painting frescos in the Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore monastery in Tuscany made fun of Arab Muslims, depicting them as demons that farted fire. (There was a lot of potty humor in earlier Christianity.)

Religion, as a set of ideas, is totally fair to make fun of, especially when it is corrupt or abusive. Many may remember when Pamela Geller hosted the bravest art competition this century, organizing the “Draw Muhammad” contest in Garland, Texas, in 2015 during the height of (recent) Islamic jihad against the West.

After radical Muslims slaughtered 10 journalists at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo over a cartoon depiction of Islam’s founder — along with numerous terror attacks against Westerners, a score of kidnappings, countless clitoridectomies of females in the Muslim world and other abuses — Geller protested by hosting a contest that parodied the prophet of the “religion of peace.” In response, an Islamic jihadi attempted to assassinate Geller during the event.

Obviously, critics should make fun of other people’s religions. Sometimes, biting parody is the best check on religious abuses. In the case of the “Draw Muhammad” contest, parody further exposed the madness consuming Islam.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have described themselves as dedicated “to the expiation of stigmatic guilt and the perpetration of universal joy.”

When understood within the context of their name, the inherent conflict with Christianity is obvious. Christians would contend that perpetual indulgence — especially when it coincides with fickle carnal desires — is gluttony or lust. It will neither expiate guilt (which can be a good thing in some cases) nor promote true joy.

But why do the Sisters use so much Christian imagery? Explanations vary. In one recent video, a conservative influencer confronted a member of the group about a video on social media featuring a man pole dancing on a cross where a Christ figure is crucified. The drag queen huffed and crowed a series of half-baked explanations.

The true answer is immaterial. No matter the point, the Sisters are playing into a Western tradition of using artistic expression and religious imagery as a means of critical communication, be it worship, parody, satire, ridicule or other devices.

As a Southerner, an inheritor of the English cavalier’s sensibility toward art, I don’t have an iconoclastic bone in my body. I do not harbor the puritanical seriousness about art, and the Catholic “shall not watch” movies list is alien to me.

With this in mind, I commend the Mormon sensibility toward humor, criticism and art. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints famously takes out ads in the playbills of the satirical “Book of Mormon” play.

Why the Dodgers would wade into the ongoing national debate over drag performances in front of children is beyond me. The baseball diamond is not a particularly good public square for ideas.

Perhaps the team wants to make its stadium a neutral platform for intellectual repartee. This might explain its sudden choice to relaunch its “faith and family day.”

In any event, as a private organization, the Dodgers will reap whatever they sow.

As for Christianity, Christ is so appealing, he can survive any criticism. It is telling that the closer people come to Christ, the more they are drawn to him; invariably, their lives improve. One cannot forget that Lee Strobel started his conversion to Christianity in an attempt to disprove Christ’s resurrection.

In contrast, Sister Boom Boom, the best-known member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, became consumed by his indulgence of various intoxicating substances and eventually ceased performing as the character he invented. Apparently, perpetual indulgence is not healthy. Who could have guessed?

Christians must remember that criticism is an important force. We must criticize ourselves and institutions of faith where we perceive they are corrupt. We must also accept that others may criticize us so that we may criticize them too.

To borrow the words of Luther’s great hymn, we must remember that Christ is stronger than any drag queen, for “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”

The post Op-Ed: Fair or Foul? Some Christians Off Base in Dodgers Controversy appeared first on The Western Journal.

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