GOD ONLINE: Exploring media spirituality

Web sites, TV, films, books and the search for meaning.

Snickering at saints

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Continuing our weeklong series on religious humor sites: Don’t come unhinged, but today we’re walking through the . . .

Wittenburg Door

A pioneer in Christian satire, starting in 1971, The Wittenburg Door has changed hands from a whimsical youth ministry in California to the edgy Dallas-based Trinity Foundation – whose chief, Ole Anthony, is best known for helping ABC News bring down Robert Tilton.

One result: Fewer laughs, more “important” stuff.

Oh, there’s still some arch wit, like a review of an fictional Amish speed metal band. And the 10 worst movies about Jesus, like the incredibly titled Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter. And a peek at Noah’s blog, revealing plans to make a recipe of dove and olives. And a gamer’s mom who says she sees the Virgin Mary on the cover of Grand Theft Auto IV.

But there’s a lot of dark matter, much it by Doorkeeper John Bloom. He catalogues Benny Hinn’s monetary and theological gaffes. He decries a church that’s raffling $10,000 worth of fertility treatments. He does a scalpel-like analysis of the push for school prayer, which has lasted five decades thus far.

Televangelists get some gleeful savaging, but it seems a bit trite and true. How hard can it be to mock The Golfer’s Bible, by Rod Parsley? Or to ridicule a couple like Creflo Dollar and his wife, Taffi?

Still, there are also less-militant, more-thoughtful items. The “Door Interview” series has dialogues with the likes of Anglican Bishop N. T. Wright, and religious journalist Phyllis Tickle (not a made-up name!).

Special mention goes to “Signs of the End Times,” apparently a non-fiction collection of astonishing stories. Examples: General Motors is now smaller than Bed Bath & Beyond; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined the KISS Fan Club; fighting spam costs $140 billion per year; it is now possible to sear artwork onto bologna slices; the U.S. national debt will hit $10 trillion this year. Not laugh-inducing, but it’ll likely make you go “What??”

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Written by Jim Davis

August 10, 2008 at 3:24 am

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