“Confessions of a Bad Christian” – March of the Pompous

One of my favorite quotes is from conservative author P.J. O’Rourke who noted that  “Making fun of born-again Christians is like hunting dairy cows with a high powered rifle and scope.” Sadly  it is often that easy. And I am often horrified at how we (Christians) give fodder to the critics.

But it gives me great pleasure to report that the director of the surprise hit movie March of the Penguins has actually given me some material to have fun with while defending my Christian colleagues.  March of the Penguins is the amazing story of the mating habits of Emporer Penguins in Antarctica. It is a heart warming and inspiring treat. But some viewers and reviewers have had the audacity to see the hand of God in the extraordinary rituals of the penguins.

Writing in the Christian publication World magazine Andrew Coffin, noted that the complexity of the penguins’ lives was clear evidence of intelligent design, demonstrating it could not have come about through random selection.  

I am not sure that I would make quite so bold a deduction. But if that’s his opinion it’s okay…right? Apparently not.

March of the Penguins director Luc Jacquet is unhappy that Christians have “hijacked” his movie. (Did some zealous group grab the film and demand to go to a different theater?) But I digress. Mr. Jacquet is annoyed that some Christian commentators have used his movie as an example of Intelligent Design. This offends Mr. Jacquet.

 “It does annoy me to a certain degree,” he said. “For me there is no doubt about evolution. I am a scientist. The intelligent design theory is a step back to the thinking of 300 years ago. My film is not supposed to be interpreted in this way. Some scientists I know find the film interesting because it can be a good argument against intelligent design. People should not jump on these bandwagons.”

Immediately my three hundred year old thinking processes creaked into action. What would WilIiam Penn do? And I realized what I needed. I would be most grateful if Mr.Jacquet could give me a list of which bandwagons I should jump on. Without his help I might have jumped on this one. Whew!

But the Christian right wing wasn’t done offending our beleagured director. Radio host and film critic Michael Medved (who is Jewish but that’s not relevant to the greater good of bashing Christians), noted the story of the emperor penguins’ journey “most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing.”  Who could disagree with a sweet affirmation of values like that?

Well, Mr.Jacquet could. Now he had to throw the penguins under the bus with the Christians.

“If you want an example of monogamy, penguins are not a good choice,” Jacquet told The Times. “The divorce rate in emperor penguins is 80 to 90 per cent each year. … After they see the chick is OK, most of them divorce. They change every year.”

This shook me to my core. I had based the foundation of my marriage on the example of the penguins. Now what could I look toward? Properly chastised I began to compose a letter to Mr. Jacquet to win back his favor.

Dear Luc,

Please forgive this knuckle-dragging, pea-brained Christian. You see I thought I had the right to “interpret” a work of art anyway that I wanted. For some reason I once thought that when I plopped down eight bucks I could think what I wanted. I guess I was wrong. Can you help me next time to interpret your film the correct way? I would be most grateful since it is obviously dangerous to you and others if I think for myself. By the way, I know some scientists who find the film interesting because it can be a good argument for intelligent design. But now I realize that they don’t count. You are right Mr. Jacquet. Forgive me.


A Bad Christian

Sadly, these stories are becoming common place. Why is the intelligent design movement so infuriating to those who believe in evolution? If it is such bad science then it should be quite easy to debunk. As Billy Shakespeare once said, “The lady/gentleman doth protest too much, methinks.” Can we simply allow the process to go forward? Can those who believe in the hand of a Creator have the courtesy of not being ridiculed as flat earth Neanderthals? Paul wrote to the church at Corinthians about such debates.

 Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”[ and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.  I Cor 3 NIV

Mr.Jacquet leaves no room for intelligent discussion and that is by design. “For me there is no doubt about evolution. I am a scientist.” So if I suggest I have some doubts about evolution I have announced that I am a moron. I’m okay with that. And on that I suspect Luc and I can reach agreement.