Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Stranger Misses the Mark in Last Week's Edition

Here's a note I wrote yesterday to editors at The Stranger, one of Seattle's alternative newspapers:

Dear Editor,

Last week your usually well-written paper came off as, well, a little disappointing.  Many of us in the religion field look forward to The Stranger's irreverent wit and biting satire. I couldn't believe how funny the "Burning Plastic" edition was (in a very crude way). The "Back to School Bible," though, mistakenly tried to ride the coattails of the unfunny "Rev. Buddy" column, and left this reader disappointed.

Satire requires knowledge of its subject in order to succeed.  To lob dirt bombs at fundamentalist Christians is easy -- we can all recite the absurdities -- but it's way too easy to be truly funny.  I hope you'll try some day to learn about Seattle's progressive religious community, which has long since moved past the silly scruples of conservatism and deserves some teasing on its own right.

Seattle has a long tradition of progressive religion, so it's not fair that someone like Rev. Buddy should get all the ribbing.  Yes, he exists, darnit.  But he's very rare in Seattle.  If next year you tried a "Back to School with the Liberal Bible," it might take more work to research, but you might succeed better at spearing the actual religious community of our area.  The extra work would be worth it, and we religious progressives need the chastening that your smart satire can provide.  Until then, it's a little disappointing that Seattle's Christian community is being painted with one big Stranger brush.

In short, please abuse us a little, too.  We'll benefit from it, and you'll look smarter and funnier as a result.


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