Leaving my apartment the other day, I couldn't help but overhear a young neighbor across the hall trapped in a hopeless phone argument with her father.
"Yes, Dad," she was saying, wearily. "I'm aware of what it says in the Bible, Dad."
My heart started to sink for her.
"Yes, I know it says that, Dad," she continued. "But there are other sources of information, and you and I both know that people are having sex. So you can choose to ignore that, or you can live in the real world."
I sighed and headed to work, convinced yet again that, aside from maybe Dharma & Greg reruns, there's nothing more simplistic and annoying than an argumentative Bible thumper.
I mention this because, along with all the other red-state rhetoric, it reminded me of the increasing cries by oppressive Christians that they're actually the ones being oppressed—that it is, in fact, their belief system in danger of being usurped by mass cultural forces. Long before November's depressing election, as New York Times columnist Frank Rich has been diligently noting, the "moral values" hysteria was out of hand. Janet Jackson's sharp-eyed booby came out to survey the crowd last January, and suddenly the Super Bowl, apparently once the refuge of the Nazarene and all His little children, had self-righteous cultural critics claiming that if we weren't careful, even Sesame Street might fall prey to Lord-less, nefarious nipples.
What country do these people inhabit? Did I fall asleep during Clay Aiken's holiday special while the nation secretly turned Hindu, or do we still live in a country smothered in Christianity? God is, indeed, everywhere. America just suffered through a month of every last half-witted series from here to UPN trucking out their annual Christmas episode, several of which, I have no doubt, pulled the old It's a Wonderful Life shtick out of their hats and had wisecracking angels visit our sitcom schmucks (gosh, I certainly hope The King of Queens realized how precious his life is). And, please, there's year-round sanctimony: You can't even enjoy garbage like the Daytime Emmy Awards without catching some talentless hunk who's spent his prolific eight-month soap career nailing various busty ingenues run up to the podium to thank Jesus for his Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama statuette. Wacko media wags like Michael Medved complain of the dearth of Christian television characters simply because a handful of programs have managed to integrate two-dimensional homosexuals into their dynamics, as if it's some liberal plot that's resulted in the outlandish emergence of a gay Manhattanite on Will & Grace or a poofter decorator on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
I was quietly engrossed in ABC's adventure drama Lost last week when even that show hauled out the God routine. A faith-based woman who'd been separated from her husband in the series' plane crash began leading a despondent junkie rocker through a prayer to our Heavenly Father, and I thought, geez, is there no refuge? If I were crying on the beach after an air disaster and someone asked me to call on Him for help, I have to admit I'd be inclined to ask where the hell He was when the back end of the plane fell off and I got stuck on a desert island without Gilligan or Ginger for entertainment.