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Monday, July 24, 2006

Will a fatwa be declared against Stephen Colbert? 

Loquacious Musings quotes Colbert:

And though I am a committed Christian, I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be you Hindu, Jewish or Muslim. I believe there are infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

I never thought that any of the Daily Show correspondents could make it on their own, because their characters were so one-dimensional (unlike Stewart, who was able to portray a range of dimensions - witness his comments on September 11).

However, for whatever reason, the character played by Stephen Colbert on "The Colbert Report" has resonated with a lot of people. And what a character:

By his own admission, Stephen Colbert specializes in playing "high-status idiots," a niche he refined as a venerable correspondent on The Daily Show and perfects as the host of The Colbert Report, a Daily Show spin-off that adroitly satirizes Bill O'Reilly's bullying media-age demagoguery.

Colbert has gone to great lengths in his parody. Here's part of what he says about it:

Status is always ripe for satire, status is always good for comedy. And they have the highest possible status—and that's what we've tried to amplify with everything on the show. Everything on the show has my name on it, every bit of the set. One of the things I said to the set designer—who has done everything, I mean even Meet The Press, he does that level of news design—was "One of your inspirations should be [DaVinci's painting] The Last Supper." All the architecture of that room points at Jesus' head, the entire room is a halo, and he doesn't have a halo." And I said, "On the set, I'd like the lines of the set to converge on my head." And so if you look at the design, it all does, it all points at my head. And even radial lines on the floor, and on my podium, and watermarks in the images behind me, and all the vertices, are right behind my head. So there's a sort of sun-god burst quality about the set around me. And I love that. That's status.

We just try everything we can to pump up my status on the show. There are no televisions behind me, like the way [NBC Nightly News anchor] Brian Williams has, or even [Daily Show host] Jon [Stewart]. At certain angles, there are monitors behind Jon that have the world going on, which implies that that's where the news is, and that's where the information is, and the person in front of it is the conduit through which this information is given to you. But on my set, I said, "I don't want anything behind me, because I am the sun. It all comes from me. I'm not channeling anything. I am the source."...

Sometimes I feel like maybe we should cut back on the burlesque, and really try to do that in a more sincere fashion, and it would really make it stronger. I find the branding that goes on in real news at times funnier than what I do. It's just so shocking to hear descriptions of [Fox Report anchor] Shepard Smith, you know: "Changing the world! He gives 110 percent!" Our problem is, there's no level of hyperbole that can be associated with me that hasn't at least been approached by the real thing.

Colbert even gets in some digs at his former boss Jon Stewart:

AVC: Jon Stewart recently said he sees The Colbert Report as sort of a 30-minute Daily Show segment. Do you see it as an extension of The Daily Show?

SC: I sort of see The Daily Show as a 30-minute preamble. It's like an appetizer before you get to the main course.

Now all that we have to do is wait for him to rename Comedy Central "Colbert Central."

But let's shift gears and go back to Colbert's joke. Or was it?

I was born and raised in a Javanese family, fully Islamic way in Jakarta, Indonesia....I read the Quran regularly and memorised all of the prescribed ritualistic prayers. I tried to obey "Allah" as faithfully as prophet Muhammad did....

Many questions arose and I was not satisfied with my life as well as stumped by the economic crisis in Indonesia. I began to search for the true answers to the questions of life in my heart....

In the year 2000AD a tourist named "Sam" from Singapore visited the shop at the Jakarta International Airport where I worked....I was later introduced to him by my colleague and we began our courtship. Sam and I fell in love and he shared with me from the Bible: "Jesus said, `I am the way - and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'" (John 14:6)....

I read that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23), but I did not know what it meant....When [Sam] told me that God demonstrated His love by coming in the person of Jesus Christ to give His life on the cross for our sins, I was amazed. I had never heard anything like that before. It was wonderful, even overwhelming, to think that God is like that and that by trusting in Jesus Christ one could have all of his sins forgiven.

However, I should mention that I found many more web pages along the lines of "Jesus led me to Islam." Here's an example:

My name is Sharon. I'm American & live in Texas. When I was a child, I was taught to worship God at the appropriate times- Christmas, Easter, & Need Help Day. We went to church but we weren't crazy enough to let that affect our lifestyle or anything. After all people who base their lives around God are annoying & need therapy right?

It's interesting to note that her family was practicing a surface Christianity. No wonder Sharon later started searching.

I needed to do something remarkable to give my life purpose & then everyone would remember me. I had trouble motivating myself when I realized I cared very little what others thought of me. I decided to eat ,drink & be merry because I did not have a clue. I had dedicated myself to thrills & merriment AND I WAS GOOD AT IT. My parents declared it Need Help Day and began to pull out their only defence- the Bible. I decided it was time to be on my own my parents did not understand my right to party & they were so boring....

They had a wonderful surprise planned for me- a Christian Reform school just for me! I was soon packed, shipped and on my way. I arrived at the door of this home for wayward girls & was led into an office to meet the evangelist that ran the ministry that ran the home." What's your name ?'' ,he said as he extended a friendly hand shake. I told him my name & shook his hand. Then, he managed to surprise me by biting my thumb, " Don,t you give me that HIPPY handshake! We'll soon run the devil out of you.!"

Now Sharon encountered loveless Christianity. I'm sure that helped a lot.

Amazingly enough, I am very grateful for all of these events because this was the beginning of my search for the true church of Jesus having painfully become aware that this was definitely not it.

Incidentally, Sharon means the word "painfully" quite literally.

While still at the school, she asked Jesus to come into her heart, but the school apparently never got around to explaining the "one God - three persons" theology:


I was finally released from the home back to the loving home of my family. They were eating pig meat & it bothered me.

Again another failure of the Christian reform school. Did the students ever study Acts? Galatians? Apparently not. Sharon received a wonderful dose of Law without Gospel. She then questions the Bible.

The modern day Bible was collected and binded together in the 16th century.

It was supervised by King James who had control of the church at that time. Books of the Bible we have today are books which agreed with the interpretation of the scholars of a particular school of thought. Thechapters they did not feel expressed their point of view were not included in the Bible and called fraudulent. The average man never got a look at those chapters because the matters of the heart were decided for him by the church council which was funtioning under the political wheel of the government.

While I'll agree that there were church councils that settled the books of the Bible, these discussions (with the exception of the questions about the Apocrypha) took place long before the 17th century (not the 16th century; James did not ascend to the English throne until 1603).

Continued here.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

I rarely watch his show, in part because of the whole character thing. Stewart is more enjoyable, since he does engage in human interaction on occasion.
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