‘Son-O’-God Comics’: National Lampoon’s cheerfully offensive super-hero Jesus


 
I live in Los Angeles and believe me when I tell you that I had not heard a single peep about that new Jesus movie—Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s Son of God—because, well, they don’t really market religious films here. In a city festooned with billboards for every damned offering large or small, good or bad that the industrial entertainment complex has in store for us, I think they figured that religious films aren’t for we West Coast heathens; that it’s a waste of money even bothering trying to, er, convert us, even for a big budget picture like Son of God. I can’t imagine Fox spent too much money marketing the film in NYC, either.

Nope, I only heard about this religious blockbuster after the fact, when all of the rightwing blogs like NewsMax, Breitbart and WorldNutDaily were crowing about how Jesus nearly kicked Liam Neeson’s ass in the box office boffo sweepstakes over the weekend. Go Jesus! (Is there anything, and I do mean anything, more pathetic than “rooting” for a movie, let alone pulling for the founder of Christianity to beat the crap out of a formulaic Hollywood action flick? Nothing, right?)

All this goofiness caused me to recall the cheerfully blasphemous “Son-O’-God Comics” that ran in a few 1970s issues of National Lampoon magazine.
 

 
In the Lampoon version of the New Testament’s central figure, “Benny Davis” a nerdy failure-to-launch boychick still living with his parents in Brooklyn, says the name “JESUS CHRIST!” (but not in vain) and transforms (ala Captain Marvel) into a muscular WASP super-hero version of Jesus with a six-pack, cape and halo, ready to do battle with Catholicism, Islam, the Scarlet Woman of Babylon, the Antichrist and even Bob Dylan.
 

 
The occasionally recurring strip was written by Sean Kelly (who would go on to become the founding editor of Heavy Metal magazine) and Michel Choquette, and (mostly) drawn by well-known comics artist Neal Adams, a “Silver Age” illustrator who worked on Batman for DC and a gazillion other comics.
 

 
I would be remiss in my duties writing on this topic without at least quickly mentioning how underrated National Lampoon is in terms of that magazine’s amazing and ground-breaking art-direction. If you consider that the 20th century will be looked upon as the golden era of the printed page, to my mind, the Lampoon’s Design Director, Michael Gross and Art Director David Kaestle created the most creatively free-wheeling and conversely the most detail-oriented magazine design on the planet. What they brought to America’s premiere countercultural humor magazine was an exacting eye for authenticity. If you were going to parody or satirize popular culture, it needed to actually LOOK LIKE the things you were referring to, or the joke would be lost. That was more or less a new idea at the time. In my opinion, the four years that Gross and Kaestle worked on National Lampoon is THE high point of art direction for a monthly print publication. Everyone always points to the the George Lois-era Esquire as the pinnacle of graphic design in magazines—and it’s great stuff, don’t get me wrong—but the Lampoon was even better, had more nuance and yet Gross and Kaestle’s work rarely gets the credit it deserves.
 

 
You can find out everything you always wanted to know about “Son-O’-God Comics” at Dial B for Blog.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
I Got You, God: Sonny and Cher pimp The Bible, 1970
02.21.2014
09:41 am

Topics:
Amusing
Belief
Books

Tags:
TV Guide
Sonny and Cher
The Bible


 
According to my extensive and laborious research (I Googled it) this ad appeared in the November 28, 1970 issue of TV Guide.

The small print reads:

The people who make music today read the Bible. It’s that kind of book. It can make things work for you. Read the Bible. Find out where all the music is coming from.

And if you don’t have a Bible of your own, we’ll send you one for only a dollar. Hard cover and everything. Just one should do it. The Bible lasts a long time.

Bibles are good for people on bummers, like “Pammie” in Sonny Bono’s preposterously epic “Pammie’s on a Bummer.” He doesn’t even start singing until after three minutes have passed! “Singing” might be too strong of a word, here.
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
The Process Church of the Final Judgement: Revelations of an apocalypse cult
02.18.2014
04:42 pm

Topics:
Belief
Books
Occult

Tags:
Timothy Wyllie
The Process


 
Alessandro Papa’s excellent new book, The Process: Archives, Documents, Reflections and Revelations, is an indispensable addition to the small number of publications devoted to the 60s apocalypse cult, The Process Church of the Final Judgement.

When I say small, I refer only to the handful of books—well, three—that includes Love, Sex, Fear, Death: The Inside Story of The Process Church of the Final Judgment and Propaganda and the Holy Writ of The Process Church of the Final Judgment, both published by Feral House in recent years, along with William S. Bainbridge’s sociological study of the organization, Satan’s Power: A Deviant Psychotherapy Cult, which came out in 1978. Not a lot.

The Process is the subject of fascination for many people—I’m one of them—because of how dark their theology was, and a desire to understand what caused the well-educated middle class members to join up with such a group in the first place. What weirdos! Although they appeared at first blush to be a Satan-worshipping cult—something Ed Sanders’ lurid Manson book The Family is partially to blame for—this view is very widely off the mark. The Processean tenants sought to harmonize the notion of the Christian eschaton with the carnage the cult’s young adherents had literally been born into, the bombed out ruins of post-WWII Europe. Christ would return and team up with Satan for the final judgement of mankind. After what had just gone down, would this have seemed so incredibly far-fetched? In this sense, the poetic Process theology, most of it coming via the inspired pen of the group’s charismatic leader, Robert DeGrimston, was firmly grounded in Judeo-Christian imagery and the thanatonic impulses of eschatological beliefs in general.

DeGrimston’s “Game of the Gods” described a universe where Lucifer, Satan and Jehovah battle it out on a cosmic chess board where we—and all of history—are just their pawns. This idea of the trio’s endtime “unity” comes from a not-so-esoteric reading of The Book of Revelation. I’m not saying this is exactly the same sort of energy that’s been channeled into the Left Behind book series, but there IS a certain similar impulse at play. Christians LOVE them a little end of the world, right, so how surprising would it be that something like The Process would sprout up in postwar Britain, where the participants were probably all raised as Christians? (This is a very difficult thing to shake, as many of you reading this can no doubt attest to.) That Charles Manson’s prophecy of a coming race war would find inspiration in DeGrimston’s end of the world sermonizing isn’t that surprising, either.

The thing is, I think people who are fascinated by the Process want them to be “darker” than they actually were. Based on the dramatic—indeed the infernal—prose of DeGrimston, they probably expect to find “rites” or Crowleyan sex magick rituals, when the reality was much closer to a “Jesus freak” coffee house with newsletters, folk singers and veggie burgers. Setting aside any “mindfucking” that authoritarian cults tend to engage in, viewed in retrospect, the Processeans actually seem pretty tame, an ascetic, gentle and devotional lot.

Papa’s book makes good use of his extensive collection of Process memorabilia. As the shadowy cult’s narrative history unfolds, he is able to refer to, quote from extensively and even reproduce from the vast amount of literature they produced. In doing so, Papa is able to give his readers an accurate picture of what actually transpired, cleaving the myth from the history and presenting the most objective portrait of The Process yet, even when it can be a little goofy.

The Process: Archives, Documents, Reflections and Revelations has been published in a limited edition of just 555 copies. You can order it from End of Kali-Yuga editions via eBay.

Below, a 2010 interview that I conducted with former Process member and author, Timothy Wylie
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Woman claims to see Jesus on bruised toe
01.28.2014
06:41 pm

Topics:
Belief
Idiocracy
Kooks

Tags:
Christians


 
According to KRQE-TV in Albuquerque, NM, a woman is claiming to see Jesus in painful bruises on her feet that she sustained after falling down the stairs

Paula Osuna’s fiancé rubbed some “holy” dirt from the town of Chimayo in New Mexico on her feet to help her heal. What happened next surprised her:

After putting the holy dirt on her foot and then bandaging it, she says the next day the bruise formed in the shape of Jesus on her second toe.

YOU DON’T SAY!

“My family has always done the pilgrimages to Chimayo and this is the first time I ever used it and I’m seeing something kind of come out full circle, I guess.” Osuna said.

Oh for Christ’s sake…

The best comment:

The caption should read “Crazy woman gets pushed down stairs and Jesus figured lets create an image of myself on this wacko’s toe.”

 

 
Via Christian Nightmares

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Peter Cushing: A moving interview on love and death with the ‘Gentleman of Horror’
01.23.2014
02:10 pm

Topics:
Belief
Television

Tags:
Peter Cushing

gnihsucretephorror.jpg
 
When Peter Cushing was a child, his mother dressed him as a girl. He had long blonde hair, tied with a bow, and enviable selection of dresses. His mother had always wanted a daughter, and was deeply disappointed that her second and last child was a boy.

One day Peter went missing, having wandered off in his frock to paddle in some puddles.  Fortunately, he was found by a local policeman. When his father called the police station to ask if by any chance they had found a missing boy, the desk sergeant replied there was no boy, just a little girl. It turned out, this little girl was Cushing, and it was the last time he was ever dressed as a girl.

His also mother meted out a strange punishment to her children. Whenever they were naughty, she would pretend to be dead. This caused the young Peter great distress, while his brother, being more robust, suggested kicking their mother to make sure she was dead.

While his mother was a brief but emotionally strong influence on his life, it was another woman, the actress Violet Helene Beck, who was the greatest, most beneficial and enduring passion in his life.

Peter met Helen when they were both struggling actors. It was love-at-first sight, and they married in 1943. Helen recognized that Peter was the better actor, and gave up her acting to support her husband in his career. Success was a long time in coming, taking Peter until middle age for him to make his mark: first in the BBC dramatization of George Orwell’s 1984, and then as Baron Victor in The Curse of Frankenstein.

Cushing became an international star appearing as Van Helsing in Dracula, Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles, as Doctor Who in Dr. Who and the Daleks, and later as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars.

When Helen died in 1971, Cushing was bereft, and almost out-of-his-mind. It took him thirteen years to get over her death. He survived this time by working continuously, and being consoled by a letter Helen left him, and his belief that they would (somehow) meet again.

I was in the Peter Cushing Fan Club when I was a child. To me Cushing represented that old fashioned gentlemanly style of horror, in the tradition of Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and even Basil Rathbone. Cushing had an intelligence and a warmth of personality that made the whole experience of being terrified tremendous fun.

The new Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi once said (in an old Radio Times Q&A, I seem to recall) that he was also in the Peter Cushing Fan Club, and copied Cushing’s style of signature as his own. Understandable really, as who wouldn’t want to be such a distinguished and thoroughly decent human being?

In 1990, Peter Cushing (then retired) gave an interview to the Human Factor, where he talked about his love for his wife, his belief in an afterlife, his suicide attempt, his cancer, and the key moments from his childhood and his long and successful acting career. As an atheist, I don’t follow Cushing’s views of an afterlife, but his interview is still moving, poignant, and enjoyable—like watching the sun slowly set on a childhood summer.
 

 

Bonus: Peter Cushing’s last appearance on Terry Wogan’s chat show, 1988.
 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Peter Cushing’s death wish

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Sarah Palin 2.0: Why doesn’t the Republican Party just run a crackhead for the Senate in Alaska?


 
If this is the caliber of GOP political candidate one tends to find in Alaska, it goes a long, long way to explain why and how Sarah Palin ever got elected governor of that state.

Yep, check out this video, originally posted by Kathleen Tonn, who is running as a pro-life US Senate candidate, on her own Facebook page. In the clip Tonn is seen standing in a steam room, with all of her clothes on trying to “convert” a women by speaking/singing to her “in tongues.”

It’s pretty remarkable. Mind rot at its very finest. She wanted people to see this video. It was important to her, obviously. That’s why she made it and posted it, obviously…

“I’m at the Alaska Club West and I’m spending a little time in the steam room with Suzie. Suzie doesn’t know Jesus Christ as her savior, but ironically she has a pastor/priest who is her neighbor. So, she has allowed me to sing and deliver a message in the Holy Ghost and tongues.”

She mentions that her smartphone’s battery is running out and then:

“One point of clarification: Speaking in tongues or singing in tongues is very valuable because the message cannot be understood by Satan. But the Holy Spirit can use that message to bring deliverance, to bring clarity, to give discernment and words of wisdom and knowledge, and tongues is interpreted by a person who has the gift of interpretation. So I’m going to go fast.”

Tonn, who lives in Anchorage, is apparently setting her sights on running against incumbent Democrat Mark Begich on the Republican Party ticket. One day she would even like to be President of the United States. On her Google+ page, she declares:

“I love to worship the Lord! I love the Bible! I stand for limited government, the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution! I hate socialism with a passion!!! When the country collapses, what are you going to do?”

Obviously people have been poking fun at her, er, zaniness. One memorable comment, responding to her headline of “How To Get A Nation’s Attention,” described Tonn’s video as “an impromptu American Idol audition in gibberish for a stranger in a steam room.”

Tonn addressed her critics on Tuesday via her Google+ account:

“I have not deleted the stupid and insane remarks made by others, so people can see what comes forth from the mind of evil. Fortunately there are legitimate, wise, Godly people who have viewed the content of this video clip. They contacted me too! For those individuals who are searching to learn truth about a Creator, this has helped them.  So I won’t delete your dumb comments.  They are very revealing of who and what you are!”

So is posting a video of yourself acting like a lunatic when you’re running for the US Senate. Just sayin’...

I am reminded of the subtitle of Lenny Bruce’s Togetherness album: “I’m not a nut, elect me!” You would think that right about now there might be thousands, even tens of thousands, of Alaskans—many of them meth-heads—thinking to themselves, “If this fuckin’ loony toons can run for the US Senate, then so can I!

Think of that sweet Senate pension.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Evangelicals and the atom bomb: Are you ready for the great atomic power?

atomic pamphlet
 
My only actively religious family (my paternal grandparents and their copious siblings) are staunch, old-time religion Evangelicals. And though their church is marked by a fear of women, queer folks, Catholics, and virtually anyone outside of their own insular community, there are some unexpected strengths in Evangelical culture. For example, we have a very, very literal belief in the apocalypse, which we embrace with utter joy. While perhaps not an overly healthy perspective on life, our belief in the imminent end of the world tends to give us a devil-may-care, come-what-may kind of insanity that is not without its charm. It’s an oversimplification, but the old joke, “What’s a redneck’s final words?” (“Hey! Watch this!”), has some grounding in our cultural reality. We’re just not that worried—the Lord will protect us until He’s ready to take us home.

I cannot tell you how how many family meals have been graced with the blithest of reminders, “Jesus is comin’ back, you know. Any day now. You want some more potatoes?” It’s why we’re obsessed with Israel—gotta’ get them Jews back to the homeland so the world can end! It’s why we panic over major changes and/or progress—it’s obviously a sign, and we have to warn those strayed from the flock! It’s why we tend toward disaster-based scenarios, often leaning libertarian and perusing bomb shelter catalogs while cleaning our guns. The world is going to end, and we want to be ready. (Before our souls ascend, of course.)

So I wasn’t at all surprised when (during one of my regular investigative searches on atomic culture), I found these old religious pamphlets using nuclear warfare as Biblical fodder. Nowadays, we’re less concerned with the bomb itself, but fears of warfare (nuclear, chemical, or otherwise) have always been a popular theory for Evangelical catastrophists. Moreover, I’m very familiar with what may be the most resilient artifact of Evangelical nuclear scare—The Louvin Brothers’ 1952 gospel classic, “Great Atomic Power.” In addition to being a truly killer song, it’s got the “all doom, no gloom” sentiment down pat. I advise you to have a listen to the track at the end—your very soul may depend on it.
 
atomic pamphlet
 
atomic pamphlet
 
atomic pamphlet
 

 
Via Ptak Science Books

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Let Leonard Cohen give you a fascinating primer on Tibetan Buddhism
01.14.2014
06:27 am

Topics:
Belief

Tags:
documentary
Leonard Cohen
Tibet
Buddhism
Zen

Cohen
Cohen in Buddhist regalia
 
Celebrities and artists discussing religion is always a tricky business. Fame tends to be a of a very worldly nature and often threatens to cheapen the subject, or distract from the gravity of spiritual matters. This can go doubly awry when westerners project their exotic fantasies on Asian religions—the fantastic book, Karma Cola, by Gita Mehta is an insightful look at the phenomenon of American and European “pilgrims” traveling to India, hoping to find enlightenment. (Since people are people, anywhere you go, many of those pilgrims were defrauded by fake yogis—India’s snake oil salesman and televangelist swindler equivalent.)

However, Leonard Cohen’s narration of the 1994 documentary pair, The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Way of Life and The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation, is both understated and dignified (with the first film featuring The Dalai Lama himself). Cohen, who was ordained as a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk in 1996, is staid in his narration of Tibetan Buddhist theory and practice, but the films are neither dry nor academic—a scene with a man in a hospice dealing with his own mortality is particularly affecting. I have to say, I initially just checked this out looking for something on Cohen’s Buddhism; what I found was an extremely respectful and compelling documentary, devoid of voyeurism, and mindful of the humanity of its subjects.

The series in its entirety is divided into five segments below, four being about 20 minutes long, with a two-minute clip in the middle.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Get your popcorn ready: Bill Nye the science guy to debate idiot Creation Museum founder Ken Ham


 
Bill Nye, the popular TV scientist, put out a video last year indicating his opinion that teaching Creationism in schools wasn’t such a hot idea and might, you know, intellectually stunt the mental growth of the children subjected to such nonsense. Showing up for college with an Old Testament notion of how the universe and life in it came to exist, might, you know, put your kid a lil’ behind the curve…

In any case, Ken Ham, the moron who founded the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY, challenged Bill Nye to a public debate and… Nye accepted! The debate is being touted in a message on the museum’s blog.

The February 4th event will ask “Is Creation A Viable Model of Origins?”


 
According to a recent Pew poll, for 46% of Americans—including 53% of Republican voters—the answer, sadly, appears to be a YES.

Nye’s original video prompted a response video from the Creation Museum (below). I wouldn’t put money on Ham to come out ahead in this debate!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘F for Fake’: Orson Welles on art forgery and what’s really ‘real’


 

If you’ve seen Orson Welles’ late period quasi-documentary F for Fake, then you know about the mysterious art forger Elmyr De Hory. In his freewheeling cinematic essay, Welles explored the funhouse mirror life of de Hory, who found that he had an uncanny knack for being able to paint counterfeits of Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani and Renoir’s work. After some of his fakes were sold to museums and wealthy collectors, suspicions were raised and his legal troubles—and a life spent moving from place to place to avoid the long arm of the law—began.

At the time Welles met up with Elmyr in the early 70s, he was living in Ibiza and had been the subject of Fake! The Story of Elmyr de Hory the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time written by notorious “biographer” Clifford Irving, who himself figures prominently in the film. During the course of filming F for Fake, Irving (who was later portrayed by Richard Gere in The Hoax), was serendipitously revealed to have forged his own “autobiography” of Howard Hughes (not to mention Hughes’ signature). The resulting film, an essay on the authorship of “truth” in art, is a dazzling, intellectuality challenging masterpiece that can never quite decide if it’s a fake documentary about a fake painter of fake masterpieces who himself was the subject of a fake biographer… or what it is. (It’s no wonder that Robert Anton Wilson was such a fan of F for Fake, which figures prominently in his book, Cosmic Trigger II).

 

image
Self-portrait of Elmyr de Hory, approx. 1970, recently discovered in France.

F or Fake also calls into question the nature of “genius”: If Elmyr’s forgeries were good enough to pass off as Picasso or Modigliani’s work, or even to hang in museums under the assumption that they were the work of these masters, wouldn’t Elmyr’s genius be of equal or even nearly equal value to theirs? (Worth noting that it was ego that got in the way of Elmyr’s scam at several points in his life: He was often left apoplectic at hearing how much crooked art dealers were making from his paintings!)

De Hory’s former bodyguard and driver, Mark Forgy, has kept Elmyr’s archive since his suicide in December 1976. In recent years Mr. Forgy has been trying to make more sense of Elmyr’s odd life. From the New York Times:

“I’m so far down the rabbit hole,” Ms. Marvin said in a recent phone interview, “I’m just not going to rest until I find out who this man is.”

A few weeks ago, she and Mr. Forgy traveled to western France and unrolled a dozen de Hory paintings that had been discovered in a farmhouse’s attic. In Budapest, they found birth records, dated 1906, for Elemer Albert Hoffmann, son of Adolf and Iren. No one knows when Elemer upgraded his name, or how he financed art studies in Munich and Paris before moving to New York in 1947.

He claimed that his father was a Roman Catholic and a diplomat, but the Budapest ledgers list Adolf as a Jewish merchant. The Nazis killed his entire family, Mr. de Hory said. But a cousin named Istvan Hont visited the artist’s villa on Ibiza, where Mr. Forgy was working at various times as a chauffeur, secretary and gardener. Mr. Hont, it turns out, was the forger’s brother.

Mr. Forgy knew that his boss copied masterpieces but did not much question their life on Ibiza, in which they kept company with celebrities like Marlene Dietrich and Ursula Andress. “I accepted the amazing with a nonchalance,” Mr. Forgy said in a recent phone interview. Mr. de Hory was the focus of Orson Welles’s 1974 documentary “F for Fake,” and Clifford Irving breathlessly titled his book “Fake! The Story of Elmyr de Hory the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time.”

After Mr. de Hory’s suicide, Mr. Forgy returned to Minnesota. “I went into deep seclusion” working as a night watchman and house restorer, he said. He held onto the papers and paintings. “I have schlepped them around endlessly,” he said. “The walls here in the house look like the Pitti Palace in Florence.”

His wife, Alice Doll, encouraged him in recent years to examine the stacks of false passports, Hungarian correspondence and Swiss arrest reports. Ms. Marvin contacted him last year. She had helped organize a show about faked and stolen art at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment in Washington, including a portrait of a pensive brunette by Mr. de Hory imitating Modigliani.

The researchers are now raising money for the documentary, developing an exhibition for the Budapest Art Fair in November and preparing to interview a nonagenarian de Hory cousin in Germany. They also plan to send paintings for lab analysis. “We’re trying to create a forensics footprint of his work,” Ms. Marvin said.

They already know that Mr. de Hory tore blank pages out of old books for sketching paper and bought paintings at flea markets to scrape and recycle the canvases. His fakes have become collectibles. Last fall, at a Bonhams auction in England, a buyer paid more than $700 for a seascape of crowded sailboats, with a forged Raoul Dufy signature on the front and “Elmyr” on the back.

Elmyr website

F for Fake is on Hulu and YouTube.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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