Doh news is good news

Praise the Lord for stupidity. Yes I know foolishness is denounced in the Proverbs, but you’ve got to admit, for sheer entertainment value, foolishness trumps wisdom every time.  In a week of bad news (Bob Mugabe, knifings, the ever-worsening situation in Iraq, miners trapped in explosions, and on and on) one needs the occasional ‘doh!’ factor or good news story to give one the will to carry on reading the papers.

An exhibition in Tokyo, for instance lost 1.7 million dollars worth of gold bullion to thieves last week. The bandits’ cunning strategy for nicking the shiny stuff? Walk in, grab it and drag it to the car. The exhibition (which members of the public were encouraged to touch) was apparently protected, Fort Knox style, by one security guard and a CCTV camera. A spokesperson said that the reason for the low security was so that people could experience ‘what gold feels like’. Which, I imagine if you’re a bullion robber is ‘pretty darn good’.

In other amusing news of a more specifically evangelical nature, the President of a seminary in the United States has managed to get gay-rights activists and Southern Baptists to side with each other in their condemnation of him. Unfortunate references to certain political issues making ‘strange bedfellows’ aside, Rev R. Albert Mohler Jr, president of the leading Southern Baptist Seminary, has incurred the wrath of both left and right in talking about unborn gay babies. He first asserted that research suggested that homosexuality may have certain biological causes, thereby angering conservatives who believe in the possibility of ‘curing’ homosexuality through counselling. But before the gay-rights lobbyists even had time to reach for the rainbow party poppers, he then suggested that ‘treating’ gay babies in the womb to cure their biological predisposition would be biblically justifiable. He can’t have been entirely surprised when those sentiments received a teensy bit of criticism, not least because evangelicals are traditionally squeamish about interfering with unborn babies, whatever their sexual orientation.

That rather odd news is closely rivalled (if only because it actually made the news at all) by the story of the death of a much-loved parishioner who attended Lam United Methodist church in Michigan. Not terribly hilarious at first glance, I’ll admit, but when you learn that the parishioner in question was a turkey that used to attack children and chase cars (though like so many of us recalcitrant churchgoers, never missed a service) that ended up as roadkill. Religious news: it’s serious, it’s important and you cannot make it up.

In no way silly or stupid but guaranteed to make many people smile, is the news that the USA’s National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) endorsed a statement last week saying, in short, that torture is not an acceptable option in the war on terror. The 18-page document was drafted by Evangelicals for Human Rights and was prompted by incidents such as the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison. American mainstream evangelicalism seems to be catching up to UK Christian levels of moral social consciousness and though the report is apparently flawed by the absence of a definition of what actually constitutes torture, I think most Christians will welcome any move that frees us from the need to explain and excuse the actions of our US brothers and sisters. With that out of the way we can get down to the important business of working out the best way to talk a foetus out of its gayness. Either that or prepare ourselves for another all-too-serious week in the news.

(This column appears in the latest Baptist Times and replaces the original column I wrote about Bob Mugabe, which was deemed too divergent from the paper’s own stand to be published. Those who know me can find the original under ‘Bob Mugabe for Pope’ in the Blog section of my myspace account. Go on. make yourself feel dirty.)

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