In “Red Hot Catholic Love,” Father Maxi Saves the Vatican and Catholicism

This is absolutely one of my favorite episodes.

The parents are afraid that the priest is molesting their children and so they became atheists, abandoning God, the Bible and religion. Meanwhile, the boys learned that shoving food up your butt makes you crap out of your mouth. Thus, everyone starts crapping out of their mouths and being atheist. Father Maxi goes to the Vatican to put a stop to the molestation that has been allowed to run wild and in doing so actually destroys the Vatican entirely.

At the end of the episode, standing amidst the Vatican’s rubble, Father Maxi declares:

“You’ve forgotten what being a Catholic is all about: this book. You see, these are just stories – stories that are meant to help people in the right direction. Love your neighbor. Be a good person. That’s it! And when you start turning the stories into literal translations of hierarchies and power, well, you end up with this. People are losing faith because they don’t see how what you’ve turned the religion into applies to them! They’ve lost touch with any idea of any kind of religion, and when they have no mythology to try and live their lives by, well, they just start spewing a bunch of crap out of their mouths!”

A fantastic episode – do not miss it!

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Korn Stops Father Maxi From Ruining Halloween in South Episode 312, “Korn’s Groovy Pirate Mystery”

I absolutely love this episode of South Park. Not only is it about Halloween and guest-stars Korn, but it’s about the Occult and the conception of religious people about Halloween.

Father Maxi hates Halloween and doesn’t want anyone to celebrate it. He calls it the most unholy of holidays which is an inherently contradictory statement because holiday=holy day so he said it’s an unholy holy day. Dumbass. He should have said something like, “It’s an unholy celebration.”

The priest also calls Halloween an abomination of God. Give me a break and get over yourself, Father Maxi.

I love that this episode fleshes out the tension between the religious establishment and things that supposedly concern the Occult or devil-worship. No, most of us don’t ever have to deal with these issues on the day to day, but that doesn’t preclude the fact that numerous children don’t get to celebrate and enjoy Halloween and candy because their parents are religious psychopaths.

The episode has a wonderful conclusion and offers some great lessons.

What did you think?

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Old People Are Murdering and Father Maxi Speaks of God in South Park Episode 710, “Grey Dawn”

This episode is about how old people shouldn’t drive because they’re practically incapable of doing so anymore. I agree entirely. Old people should have to take driving tests every two years after the age of say, 70 or something. It’s for everyone else’s safety.

My late grandfather, a wonderful man but terrifying driver, used to make left turns across multiple lanes of traffic without looking. “They see me,” he used to insist. Yes, they see you splattered across a windsheild if you keep driving like that. My mother and her brothers tried to get him a driver but he refused. This episode is about this problem.

It begins with a funeral over which Father Maxi presides. He says:

“It is sometimes hard, in times like these, to understand God’s way. Why would he allow nine innocent people to be run down in the prime of their lives by a senior citizen who, perhaps, shouldn’t be driving? It is then that we must understand, God’s sense of humor is very different from our own. He does not laugh at the simple ‘man walks into a bar’ joke. No, God needs complex irony and subtle farcical twists that seem macabre to you and me. All that we can hope for is that God got his good laugh and a tragedy such as this will never happen again.”

That is an hilarious and amazing description and understanding of God, all the more fitting coming from the mouth of a Catholic Priest.

Did you like this episode? What do you think about this understanding of God?

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South Park’s “Follow That Egg” Legalizes Gay Marriage

When Mrs. Garrison decides that she is ready to forgive Mr. Slave and take him back only to discover that he plans to marry Big Gay Al, she vows to prevent the legalization of gay marriage in Colorado and keep them separated forever.

To do this, she creates an experiment whereby the children in her class have to take care of an egg, and by pairing up two boys, she plans to prove that men are incapable of caring for a child. Then she’ll show the results of her “scientific” study to the governor who will have a reason to prevent the passage of the gay marriage bill without being directly responsible. Brilliant….really brilliant.

At the end of the episode, when Big Gay Al and Mr. Slave are getting married, funny enough, it is Father Maxi – a Catholic priest! – who presides over their marriage. Curious, considering that Catholicism doesn’t tolerate homosexuality, much less its sanctioning by the bonds of holy matrimony.

Personally, I think gay people should be allowed to marry, if not in church, at least legally. In fact, I don’t think that the government should have anything to do with the term marriage. I think that only religious or other institutions should concern themselves with that term. My issue is what the government does because only the government affects all people in the U.S. and has the obligation to treat us all equally.

That said, the government should ONLY have the right to grant people the status of “civil union.” Any two consenting adults should be able to join in such a union and then reap the benefits, tax or otherwise, of this union. In this way, marriage and the government have nothing to do with one another and no one has to worry or be treated unequally. You want to be married? Let your priest do it and call it whatever you want.

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“Cartman’s Mom is a Dirty Slut,” is South Park Episode 113

The first part of this two-part episode is all about poor Eric Cartman wanting to know who his father is. Hilariously, South Park fans wanted to know too and as this was the season finale of the first season, we all had to wait until the beginning of season two to find out. As the season began on April 1st, however, Trey Parker and Matt Stone decided it would be funny to air an April Fools joke episode about Terrance and Philip to really piss everyone off. People were indeed angry, but the next episode we learned who Cartman’s dad was.

A particularly funny part of this episode comes when Cartman goes into the local bar to tell Mr. Garrison that he’s his father because he had sex with Ms. Cartman at the Drunken Barn Dance. Mr. Garrison says, yeah, but who didn’t have sex with her at the Drunken Barn Dance. The camera pans over everyone, whose faces all say the same thing: we did her too. Eventually, the camera arrives at Father Maxi, the Catholic Priest who is having a drink with Jesus. Both look guilty as well.

Catholic priests, as we know, are not supposed to have sex, but apparently Father Maxi does. He also had sex with Mrs. Donavan (410) and has had gay experiences (503). The idea of Jesus having sex is also pretty hilarious, especially with a slutty crack-whore like Lianne Cartman.

It’s also amusing that earlier in the episode when Cartman is asking his mom who his dad is, he slams his fist on the table and screams, “Goddamnit” as an image of Jesus hanging on the cross rests on the wall. Tasteful.

Did you like this episode? What about who Cartman’s dad ended up being?

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Cartman Takes to the Pulpit in “Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?”

I’m not sure if Comedy Central is just trying to delight me and my senses these days or if it’s just a coincidence that great religious episode after great religious episode seems to be on. Actually, it reminds me of how many episodes in which South Park focuses on religion. And tonight’s episode is 410, “Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?”

The show begins with Father Maxi preaching fiery brimstone and damnation to his congregation after catching the boys behaving poorly in church. By scaring them into going to Sunday School where they can prepare for their first communion by taking their first confession, Father Maxi ends up filling the boys with all sorts of theological diatribe that they can’t seem to shake.

Concerned by what they’ve heard, Cartman, Stan, Kenny and the other boys try to save their friends who might otherwise be destined for Hell – Timmy, for instance, who can’t say more than his own name, much less confess. Oh, and obviously Kyle. Father Maxi’s ill intentions are best demonstrated when he quotes the Bible to tell Kyle he’s going to Hell but actually quotes from a passage that doesn’t mention anything about the Jews. It is also clear that all he cares about is greater church attendance.

Realizing that it is the Bible from which both the priest and the church’s sister, Sister Anne, draw their authority when making their bold assertions about going to Hell, the boys begin to fear the power of this book. That is, until Father Maxi is caught having sex in the confessional booths and ousted by the children, only to have Cartman take up the pulpit in his place, determined to save the souls of all of South Park’s children. You can’t miss the conclusion of this two-part episode, “Probably,” tomorrow night.

The reason I love this episode is multi-fold, but two issues in particular are its treatment of theology and the Bible. The Bible is used as a source of authority – almost the source of authority – and it’s only by getting a hold of it that Cartman’s power can actually take shape. We see him mimic the terrible lessons he’s learned from his Church: how to wield undeserved and unjust authority through threats and coercion.

Second is the use of theology. When the boys are taught theology as children, they are simply confused. Communion is illogical to them because the notion that crackers and wine really become Jesus’ body suggests that Jesus was made of crackers and wine. They approach these issues like children: skeptical and curious. Why? Why? Why? they ask. In typical dogmatic fashion, they are told, because the Bible says so, because that’s the way it is, and stop bothering me or you’re going to Hell.

And then there’s so much more.

To read up on tonight’s other episode, “Fantastic Easter Special,”  click HERE. Click HERE to read about other South Park episodes.

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Around the World Pic of the Day: Dome of the Rock

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And here I am, in this week’s picture of the week! Where am I? The center of the world – the spot of creation. Holy crap! Now, don’t get me wrong, do I really think that the rock under the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount is the point at which God created the universe. No, of course not, but that doesn’t keep this place from having an amazing aura to it and at the very least a sensational history.

As for the lore, not only was this the place at which God supposedly began the creation of the universe, but it’s also where the Jews eventually concluded that Abraham tried to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22). This place is supposed to be the land of Moriah – the place connected to where God punished King David for taking a census of the people (does that seem like a good reason to kill 70,000 people?). After seeing the destruction he was reaping, God relented and ordered his angel to stop killing everyone. The place God stopped the angel’s hand was the same place the angel stopped Abraham’s hand from killing Isaac which was over the future site of Jerusalem – and here, on what is now the Temple Mount, was the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. David bought it, built an altar and sacrificed animals there to God.

In the exact spot of this altar, King Solomon built the first Temple to God, destroyed in 586 BCE by the Babylonians and here the Temple was rebuilt sometime in the fifth century BCE, only to be made huge and beautiful by Herod the Great, visited by Jesus himself – who was not pleased by the money changing he saw going on but did teach some lessons (wish I could have been there) – and eventually destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE after a huge Jewish revolt (The Great Revolt).

The Romans built a temple to the god Jupiter on this very site in order to piss off the Jews and after 135, another Jewish revolt (The Bar Kochba Revolt), the Jews were forbidden from ever visiting the area. By the time the Byzantines took over from the fourth through sixth centuries, the site was turned into a garbage dump in order to demonstrate Christian thoughts about the Jewish Temple. Not until the Muslims conquered Jerusalem and still only 60 or so years after that (though Muslim histories will claim that it was Omar, the Muslim conquerer of Jerusalem who built it) was the site cleared and the Dome of the Rock constructed. Due to upkeep and repairs it has stood there ever since the end of the seventh century.

Amazing that one building has been there for over 1300 years. Jerusalem, for the Muslims, is the third holiest city, after Mecca and Medina. Jerusalem is never mentioned by name in the Koran, but a number of references are tied to it. After the 1967 War, known in Israel as the Six Day War, the Temple Mount (Har Ha Bait) as it is known to Jews, was taken and has ever since been under Jewish control, though the Dome of the Rock is still there – and rightfully so.

Now, for some opinions:

The Dome of the Rock has every right to continue standing on the Temple Mount. That beautiful building has been there for a long time, as I mentioned, and should not just be destroyed because Jews (and Christians) want a Third Temple there. Indeed, a Third Temple is a bad idea. Why?

First of all, the Temple implies that there will be a resumption of the animal sacrifice that went on there, which is ludicrous. Jews do not need to start sacrificing animals. Talk about bad additional press. Most of them don’t really understand that modern rabbinic Judaism was actually an attempt to function as a religion without sacrifice when the Temple had been destroyed. So what happens to rabbinic law once sacrifice resumes? Serious problems.

Moreover, from a security standpoint, it’s great that the Dome of the Rock is there because during Israeli-Arab wars, Arab and Muslim countries won’t fire rockets at Jerusalem for fear of their inaccuracy destroying the holy site. That’s a pretty sweet security measure.

So why do Jews and Christians want a Third Temple built? To bring the Messiah of course. Jews just think it will be some dude that can only come with the building of the Temple, and Christians obviously think that it will result in Jesus’ second coming. Supposedly the Messiah will rise over the Mount of Olives and walk through the Lions’ Gate, followed by the recently risen dead of all those buried close. Right…

This is why some of the world’s biggest advocates of bulldozing the Dome of the Rock and rebuilding the Temple are American conservative Christians. They’re the ones who are in the process of breeding a red cow (needed for sacrifice) so that we’ll be totally ready when the time comes and Jesus can return as soon as possible.

Frankly, though, holy, historical sites should not be destroyed and we should all try to get along better, perhaps putting the site itself under international control and allowing visitors only at certain hours so that the site can be maintained for Muslim worship throughout the day.

Interestingly, school children’s classrooms are up on the Temple Mount and they play soccer in its gardens. It’s a fascinating place and it should be left alone to the designs of history – not deliberate interference.

What do you think? Destroy it and rebuild the Temple? Bring on Jesus? Ever been there? What’d you think? Send me your pictures at JaySolomon@thezenofsouthpark.com and visit http://www.thezenofsouthpark.com for more.

South Park Tonight: the 10 pm episode, “Grey Dawn,” has a great speech by Father Maxi at the memorial service towards the beginning of the episode where he talks about God’s warped sense of humor when He has old people kill others with their cars. Great and poignant. Do we really need to make up ways of understanding God when we don’t understand why things happen?

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