Ronald McDonald for President: It could happen!


Fast food icon Ronald McDonald shocked the political world today by announcing his intention to seek the Republican nomination for president in the 2012 election.  Early poll numbers have been impressive, as Mr. McDonald’s celebrity quotient and name recognition are off the charts.

Political analyst Robert Blake says, “Basically, no one can beat this guy on his celebrity, now that Liz and Michael are dead and Tiger is on the ropes.  Maybe Oprah could do it if she was interested, but hey, this guy’s got the numbers!”

Major GOP leaders say they are interested in his candidacy, and representatives of the evangelical right say that some of his previous indiscretions can be overlooked and that he has changed on some major policy positions.  Also he is working on overcoming earlier allegations that he is “a clown.”

(Note:  None of this is intended to be a factual statement.)

“Don’t Know Much about Geography:” Mike Huckabee’s Map of the World


So let’s not be too hard on poor Mike Huckabee for saying that President Obama was born in Kenya.  I don’t know about you, but I always confuse Kenya with Hawaii.  They’re both far away and they both have hot climates.  Yeah, I know one is an island and one isn’t (I can’t remember which) but they are practically the same.

And his mistake is not really his fault since Huckabee didn’t get taught geography when he was a kid growing up in the Duchy of Grand Fenwick (see note below) because of Fenwickian proto-Republican budget cuts.

Besides, he wasn’t really putting down the President by saying he was born in Kenya. After all, think of the foreign policy and national security experience the President got from keeping an eye on the Russians across the Bering Straits, or is that someone else?

Huckabee is surely right that a history of foreign travel is a big liability for an American politician.  We know George W. Bush hardly ever traveled, so there you go.

(Note:  “The Duchy of Grand Fenwick is no more than five miles (8 km) long and three miles (5 km) wide and lies in a fold in the Northern Alps. It features three valleys, a river, and a mountain with an elevation of 2,000 feet (610 m). On the northern slopes are 400 acres (1.6 km2) of vineyards. The hillsides where the ground is less fertile support flocks of sheep that provide meat, dairy products and wool. Most of the inhabitants live in the City of Fenwick that is clustered around Fenwick Castle, the seat of government. About 2 miles (3 km) from the City of Fenwick is a 500 acre (2 km²) Forest Preserve that features a 20 foot (6.1 m) waterfall and attracts many birds that the nation claims as its own native birds.[1] The Duchy, ruled by Duchess Gloriana XII, is described as bordering Switzerland and France in the Alps. It retains a pre-industrial economy, based almost entirely on making wool and Pinot Grand Fenwick wine. It takes its name from its founder, the English knight Sir Roger Fenwick who, while employed by France, settled there with his followers in 1370. Thanks to Sir Roger, the national language is English.”  Wikapedia)

(Note 2.  One of my readers e-mailed me to correct me that Mike was actually born in Hope, Arkansas.  Well that does it for his presidential hopes, since we have had lots of presidents from Kenya and Hawaii but none from Hope, Ark.)

Ridiculous and sublime: Richard Bauckham’s “The Pooh Community”


More and more I am finding satire the proper vehicle to address some of the more foolish antics of both the church and the academy.  So I was delighted to come across Richard Bauckham’s delicious deadpan savaging of his own guild in his lecture “The Pooh Community,”  in which he employs some of the methods of contemporary New Testament scholarship to analyze A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh.”
His careful sifting leads him to posit the existence of several “communities” behind the final redaction of the text.  Here’s a sample:

“The very distinctive nature of the Pooh community can be further appreciated when we compare it with other children’s literature of the period, such as the Noddy books or the Narnia books (though it may be debatable whether these were already written at the time when the traditions of the Pooh community were taking shape). Words and concepts very familiar from other children’s literature never appear in the Pooh books: the word school, e.g., is completely absent, as is the word toys, even though the books are ostensibly about precisely toys. Conversely, the Pooh books have their own special vocabulary and imagery: e.g. the image of honey, which is extremely rare in other children’s literature (not at all to be found in the Narnia books, e.g., according to the computer-generated analysis by Delaware and Babcock), constantly recurs in the literature of the Pooh community, which clearly must have used the image of honey as one of the key buildingblocks in their imaginative construction of the world.

The stories afford us a fairly accurate view of some of the rivalries and disputes within the community. The stories are told very much from the perspective of Pooh and Piglet, who evidently represent the dominant group in the community – from which presumably the bulk of the literature originated, though here and there we may detect the hand of an author less favourable to the Pooh and Piglet group. The Pooh and Piglet group saw itself as central to the life of the community (remember that Piglet’s house is located in the very centre of the forest), and the groups represented by other characters are accordingly marginalized. The figure of Owl, for example, surely represents the group of children who prided themselves on their intellectual achievements and aspired to status in the community on this basis. But the other children, certainly the Pooh and Piglet group, ridiculed them as swots. So throughout the stories the figure of Owl, with his pretentious learning and atrocious spelling, is portrayed as a figure of fun. Probably the Owl group, the swots, in their turn ridiculed the Pooh and Piglet group as ignorant and stupid: they used terms of mockery such as ‘bear of very little brain.’ Stories like the hunt for the Woozle, in which Pooh and Piglet appear at their silliest and most gullible, probably originated in the Owl group, which used them to lampoon the stupidity of the Pooh and Piglet group. But the final redactor, who favours the Pooh and Piglet group, has managed very skilfully to refunction all this material which was originally detrimental to the Pooh and Piglet group so that in the final form of the collection of stories it serves to portray Pooh and Piglet as oafishly lovable. In a paradoxical reversal of values, stupidity is elevated as deserving the community’s admiration. We can still see thepoint where an anti-Pooh story has been transformed in this way into an extravagantly pro-Pooh story at the end of the story of the hunt for the Woozle. Pooh and Piglet, you remember, have managed to frighten themselves silly by walking round and round in circles and mistaking their own paw-prints for those of a steadily increasing number of unknown animals of Hostile Intent. Realizing his mistake, Pooh declares: ‘I have been Foolish and Deluded, and I am a Bear of No Brain at All.’ The original anti-Pooh story, told by the Owl faction, must have ended at that point. But the pro-Pooh narrator has added – we can easily see that it is an addition to the original story by the fact that it comes as a complete non sequitur – the following comment by Christopher Robin: “‘You’re the Best Bear in All the World,” said Christopher Robin soothingly.’ Extravagant praise from the community’s major authority-figure.”

To see the entire lecture go here.

Richard Bauckham is a theologian and biblical scholar who was Professor of New Testament at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.   His web site is here.

Let’s Get Keith Richards to General Synod!


The United Church of Christ’s “Let’s Get a Celebrity” Sub-Committee” in Cleveland has recently been promoting getting Ellen De Generes to come to our next General Synod, but I think Keith Richards would be a better idea, and here’s why:

I know Ellen is a big gay icon and all, and I like her as much as the next person, but Keith is a way bigger celebrity, and let’s face it, he’s hipper, too.

Sure, there are other hot celebrities right now, but their minuses outweigh their pluses.  For example, take Lil Wayne.  He’s a person of color, which is a plus. He wears a cross around his neck, and has a couple cross prison tats, which are pluses.  But he is in jail on weapons charges and might be too dangerous even for Synod.  See what I mean.

Or take Bristol Palin.  She’s young and she’s a Christian, and she been on Dancing with the Stars, which are all pluses.  But she’s not our kind of Christian and she’s too Republican, which are deal breakers.

I could go on and on, but I think it has got to be Keith. He has a new autobiography out, and he is on the cover of the current Rolling Stone, so this is definitely a Keith Richards moment.

He has some minuses it’s true.  First of all, there has been some unsavory behavior in the past, but who are we to judge, especially a big celebrity like Keith.  Secondly, there is no evidence he is a Christian.  But, hey, I haven’t heard anything about Ellen being a Christian either.  And years ago we had Carl Sagan as the keynoter for the big-church Orlando Conference.  When someone asked him if he believed in God, he said, “No.”  That wasn’t a deal breaker then, why now?  And Keith once sang in an Anglican junior choir. That’s good enough for me.

So I say. Let’s get Keith Richards to Synod!