Frum?

In college, I wrote a column for the student newspaper.  I titled this column “Frum?” after the heading of my first column appeared as “From John Wait.”  Plain old “From” was not mysterious or weird enough for me at the time, so I changed the “o” to a “u” and added the question mark for special emphasis–that emphasis being as of yet undefined and difficult to quantify, but quietly amusing to me over the years nevertheless.

The topics I covered were entirely random, because the only point of the column was to either completely endear or alienate myself to or from my intended audience.  At first, the only people that talked to me about it complimented me.  Over time, I was fortunate enough to receive some feedback–some more pleasant to receive than others.

I’ve decided to reproduce some of my favorites here, if for no other reason than to allow those who took this particular journey with me to reminisce . . . or roll their eyes.  To my new friends, take a look at the old John Wait, and consider whether you really would have wanted to know him; that is, if you think there is any difference in the old and new John Wait at all.  Enjoy.

“Do the Locomotion”

Near the middle of this previous school year, a friend of mine from high school sent me this email.  A woman and her husband were apparently offended enough by the movie “Dogma” to start an email campaign against the film and it’s contents.  I was so offended by their attack on the movie that my email critique had to be line by line.  Lines from the email will be in italics.

Email Campaign Against the Movie: “Dogma”

We are starting an e-mail campaign to raise awareness over a movie that has been marketed as a comedy. This weekend my husband and I went to see a movie called “Dogma.”

Would the content be more acceptable if the movie was a drama?  Why would you assume a comedy to be so innocent?  Would you, Ms. X, have been less offended if the title was instead “Typical Hollywood Movie Not Portraying Reality or Religion Accurately at All”?  Oh, wait a minute, that’s every movie…

The stars in the movie are Matt Damon, Ben Afleck and Chris Rock.  We thought it would be a good movie since we knew the actors, and the movie trailers we had seen for the movie led us to believe it was a comedy about three angels.

Ah yes…good actors indeed.  Between the three of them, we have such Christian value promoting productions as “No Sex in the Champagne Room”, “Female Genitalia Jokes”, “Shakespeare in Love”, “200 Cigarettes”, “Dazed and Confused”, etc.  Furthermore, we have a movie starring these three morally guided gentlemen as angels.  Sounds like a winner…

We thought it would be a movie like John Travolta’s angel movie.  We were really wrong on our expectations of this movie.

The title your looking for is “Michael”.  If I remember correctly, that movie portrays an angel starting a bar fight.  It sounds as though your expectations were really high coming into this innocent Hollywood picture.

Matt and I have never walked out on a movie, but after sitting through 45 minutes, we felt we had to leave because of the way the angels were portrayed.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I KNOW that you haven’t seen very many movies—or else they were all Disney.  Otherwise, given your ultra high Christian standards, you would have walked out of a lot more.

In the 45 minutes we watched the movie, they had an angel pull his pants down to show he was not anatomically correct and then make several references about it,

Would you have rathered that they showed he WAS anatomically correct?

Matt Damon (one of the angels) shot 7 people (he shot the people because he found a loophole on how to get into Heaven after killing people),

Isn’t finding loopholes one of the seven deadly sins?  C’mon…  This idea isn’t even close enough to any Christian belief to make it worth being offended by.  Besides, this is a comedy.  Remember?  That’s what you expected.  What did you think a secular movie company was going to make fun of—eternal security or something?

Chris Rock fell from the sky stark naked, at least four or five profane words were spoken in every sentence,

He fell naked in all of his anatomical incorrectness glory?  Interesting…  Also, I suppose you would have stayed for the whole movie if the writers could have been kind enough to use “freakin’”, “crap”, “darn”, and “Dag gone it!” instead of those unholy abominations you heard–which mean the exact same thing.  However, that is another email topic altogether.

and they did away with the crucifix and had another portrayal for Jesus (he was winking and giving a thumbs up sign).  They also had a derogatory slang term they were using for Jesus.

I believe that I have thoroughly proved that this movie is not geared toward right winged, fanatical, uneducated Christians.   Again, as I pointed out earlier, this is not even close enough to the truth to even get uptight about it.

The movie was so appalling and so against the Christian faith that Matt and I apologized in prayer to God for having gone to see the movie. We both felt like God was taking names on who was seeing this movie. I think the Devil produced this movie; I can’t even begin to describe how appalling and how immoral this movie is.

OK.  Now you’ve gone over the line, and I’m going to really get nasty.

I know of at least one strong, Christian who has seen this movie.  They did not walk out, and I’m pretty sure that they are not (as you so implied) going to Hell in a hand basket.  Instead, realizing that the film was not trying to accurately portray Christianity, and also realizing BEFORE THEY EVEN ENTERED THE THEATER that the movie would probably do nothing more than bring about discussion concerning secular society and our INTERACTION as Christians with it, they gave it a proper review.  They did not get caught up in some kind of arrogant, self-righteous, Pharisee-like attitude, and decide to start some lame, insignificant, and worthless email campaign.  Much less an email campaign against a movie that has a watermelon’s chance of being shot into space by a water hose pressured by flatulence from my butt of making any impact whatsoever in our society.  There are much, much more important things to be concerned about than this movie.

Please pass this e-mail on to other Christians so they know not to go see this movie and so that they can warn others about the movie. It is really scary to think that a lot of our youth are going to see this movie. Chris Rock, Ben Afleck, and  Matt Damon are stars that teenagers go to the movies to see. Please forward this message on to other Christian people, so we can try to put a stop to this movie and so that we can show Hollywood by low ticket sales that we are not going to put up with these kinds of portrayals of Angels and God.

I’m just about done.  I just have several more points to make.

1. Writing crap like this alienates us from those we wish to make an impact on.  Whether we realize it or not, non-Christians are turned off to us when we react self-righteously to, by global standards, insignificant issues.  Though this email is written to “Christians”, it still filters down.  So, stop it.

2. If you are truly offended by the material of this movie, then don’t be a hypocrite.  CEASE TO SEE ALL MOVIES!  Why?  Simply because all movies coming from our secular society will reflect those values—not ours.

3. Ask yourself why you see movies.  Is it because the previews look innocent?  Is it because you know the actors?  Is it because you want to escape reality for a few hours?  Is it because you are looking for some real insight to your faith?  Chances are you do not see movies for the last reason.  As such, if you see movies, do not judge them that way.  You bring whatever offenses you feel on yourself if you do.

4. Do movies make an impact on society’s attitude?  Well, I believe yes and no.  Truly educated and critical people, adjectives that do not apply to Matt and Ms. X, will not be affected.  Unfortunately, most of our culture is in the highly ignorant category.  Immoral and religiously inaccurate movies are not going to stop in the near future—certainly not by email campaigns anyway.  So, those of us who are not affected by this propaganda have a responsibility to the weak-minded to keep the truth accurate.  That is largely what needs to be done.

5. Finally, throw out this mentality that it’s important for Christians to control everything—in this case controlling the way Christianity is portrayed in a movie.  The truth is that we can’t.  Instead, let’s follow the example that Jesus himself left behind.  That, of course, being that we try to let our faith show through what we do wherever we are.  If we all did that, then maybe there really would be less “offensive” movies.

6. Use your brain–you know, that lump of tissue located about three feet above your waste.

FIRST COLUMN | PUBLISHED IN 1997

“Local Cat Blamed for Ethiopian Food Shortage”

Huntington, IN – Police are withholding the name of the local alleycat taken into custody this past Sunday.  According to inside sources, the feline is allegedly responsible for violating a federal law passed last month.  The legislation clearly states that all excess food disposed of in the Huntington College Dining Commons should be shipped to Africa.  The new ordinance, spearheaded by President Clinton, was passed due to a lack of federal funds to send the starving people of Ethiopia some “real food.”  As an alternative to overextending the budget, it was decided to use Huntington College’s food waste since studies showed it would clearly be enough to satisfy at least ten people in the third world country.

During the first month of the project, officials became suspicious of a perpetrator when they were only able to ship three green beans and a grapefruit to the underdeveloped nation.  Police surveillance went immediately into effect when a complaint was registered last Saturday.  At 2:00 a.m. that night, the police apprehended the suspect as the mouser was attempting to enter a dumpster behind the Huntington College Dining Commons.  He was immediately placed into custody.  Police Commissioner Sterling was quoted as saying, “I was thinkin’ it was a’gonna be a lot bigger of a cat.  That little son of a @#&*$% can sure eat a lot!”

Investigators, however, are not positive that the suspect worked alone.  Sources say that the tabby will be questioned unscrupulously as to who his collaborates may be.  If convicted, the suspect(s) could serve up to life in Ethiopia, which would mean certain death by community barbecue.

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