The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

MATCHMAKER, MATCHMAKER: In case you don’t keep up with this sort of thing, and I know for years I didn’t bother to keep up with this sort of thing either, so don’t feel bad if you didn’t, there are, throughout the length and breadth of this our Great Republic, scores upon scores, if not actual myriads, of Christian bodybuilders willing to come to your church for the express purpose of breaking baseball bats in half with their bare hands and blowing into hot water bottles until the bodybuilder turns a somewhat unattractive shade of purple or the hot water bottle explodes, whichever comes first. These bodybuilders for Christ, most of whom are Pentecostals, as I understand it, perform these prodigies of physical strength for the purpose of spreading the Gospel to young people who previously may have associated Christianity with a certain milquetoast attitude towards life that is not in keeping with the reality of the True Faith. One can hardly blame these young people for having acquired such an incorrect idea, what with the whole “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” syndrome one sees extant in so many churches these days. Frankly, I blame the churches for this subtle denigration of their founder. The fact that over the millennia various and sundry Christian denominations have turned a first century Jewish rabbi given to whacking currency arbitrageurs over the collective noggin with a knotted rope into a somewhat Aryanish, granola eating, blue-eyed pseudo-gay wimp spouting the sort of Chinese fortune cookie wisdom that would embarrass the most completely stoned spectator you could find wandering around the parking lot after a Grateful Dead concert, has, I think, gone a long way to reinforcing this obviously mistaken belief that Jesus of Nazareth was some sort of theological Liberace, minus, of course, the excessively campy wardrobe.

So the bodybuilders are out to change the paradigm, as it were, by putting the muscle back into muscular Christianity. I’m pretty sure this must be the reason for what they are doing, as there seems to be little textual basis in the Christian Bible or in the writings of the Church Fathers for the spiritual efficacy of smashing cinderblocks to pieces with your skull or breaking baseball bats in half with your teeth. Actually, I’m pretty sure that if Abner Doubleday didn’t invent baseball in Cooperstown, New York in 1849 then the chances of him inventing the game and the bats to play the game with in first century Judea are minimal to the point of nonexistence, and therefore baseball cannot claim to be a product of divine revelation or an integral part of Christian theological exegesis and experience, which means that there will be no religious tax exemption for the owners and players. There is an upside to this, as there is to almost everything, when you think about it; with baseball theologically profane, the fans at the ballpark are free to partake of the not terribly holy communion of seven-dollar hot dogs and beer whilst in a state of mortal sin, and the owners can get away with charging seven dollars for a eighty-five cent hot dog without worrying too much about passing catchers or packs of camels through the eye of a needle. You charge what the market will bear; someone has to pay A-Rod’s salary, after all.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as you may have heard, and with the extraordinary success of the Christian bodybuilders other denominations have gotten into the act, in a manner of speaking. The Old Order Amish, for example, are now getting the word out about the joys of God, family, and the simple life by sponsoring a horse and buggy on the NASCAR circuit, the Southern Baptist Convention and Arthur Murray are in negotiations to start a string of born-again combination megachurch and dance studios, which is not the same thing as bodybuilding, I know, but it’s close enough for government work, and the Mormons have gotten corporate sponsorship from Morton’s and Red Cross for the first annual Lot’s Wife marathon swimming competition, wherein the greatest swimmers in the world today will try to swim from one side of the Great Salt Lake to the other and back again before dissolving in the brine. This phenomenon, however, reached its apogee this past week with the announcement from the Nagoyaishe Rebbe of the first Hasidic sumo wrestling team anywhere in the world.

I must admit that this news came as a complete surprise to me, as I didn’t know there were any Japanese Jews to begin with, much less there being enough Hasidim in the city of Nagoya to rate a rebbe of their very own. But there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy, as the man says, and one of these things is Hasidic sumo wrestling. A spokesman for the team that the wrestlers’ mothers are now bringing their boys up to fighting weight in time for next year’s wrestling season by nagging them into eating several courses of matzoh ball dumplings, kreplach, and kugel at each meal; I’ve even heard rumors that Neil’s mother is sending some kugel as well, but the team denies this emphatically, since the World Sumo Federation bars all of its wrestlers from consuming non-Japanese kugel, as well as Pop-Tarts, corned beef and cabbage, those red strings of licorice you get at the movies that I hate, and almost anything with liver, especially almost anything with liver, which I hate even more than I hate those long red strings of licorice you get at the movies. There’s been no word yet from Neil or his mother on the veracity of this rumor, however; if I find out anything I will let you know.

Having established that Hasidic sumo is alive and well in Japan, the true believer in multiculturalism will celebrate this paragon of cross-cultural pollination, which will finally combine Talmudic scholarship and intellectual depth with the need some people have to watch fat guys in diapers knock each other on their asses with their guts; there’s a man’s life for you and don’t you ever forget it. This team is probably the sharpest group of Talmudic minds ever to step into a sumo ring. One of these guys, I hear, can drive his head through a stacked pile of the collected volumes of the Talmud and then deliver a learned disputation on the subject of whatever page his head stops at. You can contrast this ability with someone like me, for example; the depth of my Talmudic knowledge is such that I can take a pin and stick it into any page of the Talmud you can pick at random and I can safely tell you that every letter that pin passes through will have a hole in it. I suspect my being a Roman Catholic has something to do with this inability to pass the finals on the rules for divorce—I don’t think writing “get a good lawyer” counts. I am also not sure I can go along with the concept of a man giving a woman a get; doesn’t the wife usually tell the husband to get in these situations or do I have this backwards?

And thanks to Snoopy at Simply Jews for the concept.


  • At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My mother recommends kugel not only to Sumo wrestlers, but to the entire country of Japan.

    "Neil once brought me to a sushi bar, but there was NO WAY I was going to eat raw fish. You can get poisoned by that. Kugel tastes good... and it is cooked."


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