A propos of which, I didn't mention yet that I got a Christmas present that quietly did me in. Two and a half years ago, when I was in LA hanging with selenak and jennyo, and trying to persuade his Whedonity to co-operate with a big interview book, I found a toy shop in Santa Monica. It had two beautiful plush dinosaurs - I'm sad and that is what a sad person like me collects - and a pot-bellied purple dragon with a supercilious expression. I bought one of the dinos - the styracosaurus, who got called Styro, of course - but I have always regretted that economics and packing meant that I didn't buy all three. And over time, the dragon was the one I regretted most.
And then on Christmas day, while the saddle of lamb stuffed with ground lamb, ground almonds, bread crumbs, mint, rosemary, cumin, cinnamon, and chopped apricots and dates, and the roast potatos and celeriac mash, were cooking, we opened our presents. And Simon, lovely Simon, in whom I had never confided about the dragon, had found him, and bought him, just by guessing it would be something I'd like.
Smaug is as much of a favourite as any of my dinos, in spite of being mythological.
As I said, I am sad.
My reaction to 'Jerry Springer the Musical' was what I thought instantly when very tired. However, I am now angry because of the death threats against television executives and the proposed blasphemy prosecution. One of the reasons for my anger is that the Evangelical Christians are lying again - they claimed 8000 swear words by counting every individual chorus members' every individual curse, for one thing. For another, they claimed that Jesus was represented as a coprophiliac baby fetishist, whereas the truth is that the same actor plays both parts, and the nappy for the one becomes the loin cloth for the other. There is no more identity between the characters claimed than there is when the actor who plays the bisexual multiple adulterer turns up as God the Father. This is known as bearing false witness against your neighbour - when it results in death threats after posting peoples' home addresses alongside lies, it becomes incitement.
The site should be prosecuted, but it won't be.
In the meantime, I want to make the case that the show is itself a religious statement.
I won't bother finding out whether Stephen Lees consciously meant it as such - he turns out to be yet another foaf - because there is a sense in which his intention doesn't matter. Sometimes the culture throws things up irrespective of individuals' conscious minds.
I can see that there is a case that what happens is that a reprehensible chat show host exploits a bunch of people, is shot and dying has a fantasy in which he reduces the figures of Christian mythology to his own level and dies still confused and still infallibly mediocre.
There is a more interesting reading which shows us the dysfunctional people who go on the Springer show and suggests that the characters of Christian mythology are not as unlike them as all that. And it does not say so entirely in a ' there is something of God in all of us' idealistic way - it is saying that, viewed objectively, the power struggles of God and Satan, and the treatment of Adam and Eve, and even the decision of Jesus to leave his mother to her fate because of the overpowering demands of his mission, are as dysfunctional as adultery, fetishism and other pastimes.
Faced by these Powers with the demand that he reconcile their issues, or be tortured for eternity, Springer tries glibness, tries politics and eventually loses his temper and tells them to just behave properly, which is where the Blake quotations kick in.
In other words, we are faced with a contrast between the simple human decency of which even a creep like Springer is capable in extremis and the bad behaviour of the Omnipotent and his friends. What could be a more telling rebuke to those believers who fetishize mythology over message to the extent that they are prepared to kill over insults to the myth?
Because there is a word for worshippers who think that sacred texts or personages are more important than righteous living, or who privilege the punishment of sexual sins over a duty to be loving and kind.
And that word is idolatry.
One of the reasons why I am not a Christian is that it seems to me that to worship any sort of God human minds are capable of creating is to commit idolatry - we are not big enough or clever enough to know what sort of being inhabits the spiritual realm. All we can do is struggle to be nice to each other - we are not worthy of any greater spiritual insight than that and maybe we just need to be good for a few thousand years before we even try.
A few thinkers have had a stab at telling us what to do, and people turn them into more idols. Here is one definition of an idol - someone who tried to make things better and then died and becomes a figure over insults to whose honour people are prepared to kill. Here is another - a text which tries to tell people about lovingkindness which becomes a fetish for which people are prepared to kill.
The whole thing makes me angry and disgusted.
For an agnostic, I am a bit religious, I guess, and, in my religion, something of a Puritan. Or even a Ranter.
Oh, and I filed the big Freud and Horror film piece, which is by way of a pre-emptive strike on the theory bunnies who are going to hate my new book whatever I do, so I may as well just pick a fight and go for it. Because all I can do is say what I think...