Category Archives: humor

Toeing the secular line: On the Easter Bunny, Hell and Crucifixion

Before you get to your Easter ham, we have to get through the solemn Passion period, the holiest week of the religious year. 

Then you can wash your hands of everything.

Sorry to break it to you, but you will kindly notice there is no Easter Bunny present at the Last Supper.

Personally, I like the Easter Bunny and all he/she represents in that euphemistic parallel world that honors the coming of Spring. 

In the prolific bunny, the ears may be large and the teeth cry out for orthodontia, but we really have the perfect symbol for life and renewal. 

It’s just not very spiritual.

Deep in the throes of an economic recession, with no real end in sight and the partisans bickering about bottom lines and Donald Trump’s hairline, it doesn’t’ surprise me if  you are yearning for something slightly more spiritual than an Easter Bunny can provide.

As a journalist, I’m conditioned to keep things in the Easter Bunny realm, unless I’m doing a story about  organized religion. When I covered Papal visits to America, I didn’t have to get into whether there was really a God. Or if Martin Luther was re ally right.  I just had to report on the guy in the Pope-Mobile.

That’s the standard approach by the media: Keep God out of it. What’s he got to do with anything.  We’re covering humans and what they say.  God?  Show me two sources.

It’s an important distinction. Reporters are information providers, not missionaries. And we’re respectful of the line that keeps the Holy Spirit on one side and Lady Gaga on the other.

Constitutionally, that’s what America guarantees. You’re free.  You can be God-fearing or God-less, no problem. We keep God out of our policy debates. And we keep him out of our reporting.

Reporters only pray when deadline approaches. Just like athletes only thank God when they win. (I didn’t hear anyone on the Knicks after losing by a point to the Celtics on Palm Sunday say, “O God, why have you forsaken me?”)

But Easter and Christmas are different for the media when it comes to approaching religious ideas, mostly because this is the time when even the non-believing believers start to believe.  It’s a spiritual migration. 


This year the mainstream media’s  most spiritual reflection apppears to be Time Magazine’s  “Is Hell Dead?”,8816,2065080,00.html

Asking if there is a hell  is really just another way of asking the age old question ,” Is there a God?”

You can’t have one without the other, right?

That a young evangelical reverend like Rob Bell has a best selling book, “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who ever Lived,” is a nice timely excuse for some kind of re-examination.

I actually like the idea that if the churches were full of love and not guilt, fear, and repression, we’d see more people at churches.

Bell is proof of that. He’s  packing in the people.  And more conservative pastors  consider some of what he says to be  pure heresy. But someone wants what he’s selling. 

The questions he raises are worth discussion.  If there is no hell, does that mean there are no consequences? 

If hell is the place for punishment, and it didn’t exist, wouldn’t that be like closing down Rikers Island?  If that happened we could save money, make the “bad guys” stay at home, give the cops more to do.

OK, maybe we really could use a hell.

But does hell act as a deterrent?

Does it make you want to commit fewer ill-advised acts?  Or do you even think about it at all?

For a minute, let’s say you are a hell believer. Would it be terribly disappointing if in the afterlife, you show up all virtuous, and then it’s revealed that there wasn’t a real place called hell after all.

“Hell? “a voice would say. “That’s a placebo.”

Ah, didn’t you know, you were in “hell” when you committed that act?

Why would God want to create a new place just for you and your bad-acting kind?

Besides, Hell isn’t green. Too big a carbon foot-print.  Without it, think of God’s energy savings.

If you’re non-Christian, all this hypothesizing may make you feel superior as a Buddhist or Muslim, or perhaps an atheist.  Or not.

But whatever your perspective, an examination of conscience, a spiritual tune-up is always worthwhile. (Don’t worry. No one is trying to inculcate. No missionary will call.)


For me, I am a traditionalist in the organized realm. I’m a Filipino American, and the Spanish got there first.  I am a Catholic.

As a reporter, I don’t know if there’s a hell or heaven. But as a believer, I have faith in the teachings that  there is a there there.

Given that, here’s my secret Spring Break/Holy Week  fling:

I’d like to go to the Philippines to see a crucifixion. Maybe even my own.

Call it “Extreme Catholicism,” though I’m really more curious than passionate about driving some nails into my hands.

One guy Ruben Enaje is practically a professional. He’s been nailed 24 years in a row.

 It’s good to see that in the Philippines, crucifixion is an equal opportunity thing.

Given that the Church will frock a man, but not frock a woman, to crucify a woman is practically a sign of progress. Imagine you can have his and her crucifixions, maybe even re-do your marital vows on the cross.

Of course, if I go, I’d have some practical concerns. For example, wouldn’t you want to make sure the nails are sterilized first? Maybe bring your own nails?

And I’m not sure if I’d want to go all-nail  the first time around anyway. It may be better to gradually take it in. Perhaps a little back-whipping self-flagellation (not the metaphorical kind) then do a cross on a subsequent trip.

What do you think? Maybe next year we can organized a “Passion Pilgrimage.”

Too real?

Well,  now you know why God created the Easter Bunny.

SNL/Hader’s Hu? Not sure about it, then watch it again. I thought we were done with Charlie Chan’s Showbiz?

Get past the ad and go to the open.  It’s about 8 minutes long.

Non-traditional casting aside, don’t you think there are enough unemployed Asian American actors out there to add to the realism of a comedy sketch?

Conan O’Brien soars with 60 Minutes; Leno falls flat in Washington

Conan got a lob toss from “60 Minutes” yesterday and hit it out of the park.

But a  review in the TV trades said Conan’s first public media foray backfired a la Tiger.

I don’t think so.

If Tiger had employed a strategy to give up control to the even bigger control freaks at “60 Minutes,” he  certainly would be further along the comeback trail instead of still being seen as a villain.

By contrast, Conan gave an honest,heart-felt interview that humanized him, made him sympathetic, and even more likeable. Everyone already thinks Conan got screwed. A “60 Minutes” score just makes it official.

No NBC or Leno perspective in the Steve Kroft story. So it’s totally one-sided which only aids in being pro-Conan. But Conan does have a point. The bean counters had their way and made their decision. It’s all the subsequent talk about the “Tonight Show” losing money that is pure corporate B.S. Conan’s honesty on this subject  was compelling. So was his take on hisCatholicism:   “If I experience any joy in life, I will go to hell.”

Nice touch also to include his wife, Liza.The “stand by your man” thing is something we haven’t seen in the Conan vs. Jay war. Tiger could have used some of that.

So overall, how can this be anything but a positive for Conan? Even singing “I Will Survive” was funny and to the point.

And the beard is such an improvement, a nice distraction from his frontal red-head wave. I see more man-crushes in COB’s future, especially now that he will be on cable.

As for Leno at the White House Correspondents Dinner: He got titters, but no guffaws. No one was LMAOROFL, in other words. In fact, Leno looked like he could have used cue cards. He was reading his jokes from a script and kept bobbing his head down. It just wasn’t his best.  He did have a few good lines, like when he mentioned how diverse the Obama cabinet was with representatives from every ward in Chicago. But many lines fell flat. Really flat.

The president, on the other hand, was pumped up. He was funny. And performed much better than Leno. I liked the line where he described Sarah Palin’s objection to Twitter and Facebook as “socialized media.” But there were other gems. An item on the web said some Daily Show writers contributed. Doesn’t matter. The prez was funnier than Leno.

Overall, a better weekend for Conan.

(A point of disclosure: Like Conan and his “friend,” NBC President Jeff ZuckerConan, I have a similar connection. Conan and I are Lampoon brothers, but the last time I saw him  he was in a massive jester outfit and a senior at Harvard. I have photos. He also was too much in character to acknowledge me. I have also taken him to task in the past about some of his tasteless takes on Asian Americans).

Who gets the blame when a bi-racial Obama screws up?

Thanks to Wanda Sykes, we know.

At Saturday’s White House Correspondents Dinner (now simply called the WHCD), comedienne Sykes pointed out that the “first black president,” was in fact  bi-racial.

So when Obama’s wonderful, he’s  TFBP (the first black president).  But when he screws up—then he’s the white guy.

Obama is positioned by birth to be at both ends of the joke.  He can be the pin-pricker and the pin-pricked.  It’s the new ethnic humor.   As mixed marriages and their offspring grow in number,  expect to see more of this  new ethnic joke form come up.

I said the same thing recently about Giants’ Tim Lincecum, last year’s Cy Young winner for best pitcher in the NL. When he’s pitching well, we Filipinos love to point out he’s  at least a quarter Filipino (which explains his greatness, of course).  But when he’s getting shelled and pitching poorly,  that must be the white part  giving up all those hits.

I point this out because ethnic humor may be one way to break the ice and begin having those awkward race conversations Attorney General Eric Holder said we should be having.

If we start talking wonkily about race by exploring Brown and Plessy, or their latter day counterparts that could impact us all,  no one will be having a conversation soon.

But if we talk about our president like Sykes did at the WHCD, we may be able to sneak up on the tough conversations we are too  cowardly to have.