So last night thirty-three couples, of all makes and models, were married at the Grammys. This solemnified high indignity was performed by Queen Latifah, while being serenaded with “Same Love” by Macklemore and Madonna. Talk about a class event! It was almost as good as getting married by Dr. Phil on Oprah because “all the couples are entitled to the same exact thing,” which is to say, schlock in excelsis. They all have a constitutional right to be treated in exactly the same way, i.e. as dupes and buffoons who agreed to be stage props in Tarantino’s production of Faust.
And in the meantime, those Christians still besotted by our contemporary sintertainment standards are not going to reflect on how compromised they all are until next year, when the Grammys will have John the Baptist’s head brought out on a platter. And even then, there will be no little debate about it, because some of our more illustrious cultural thinkers will no doubt point out that John’s somewhat direct method of approaching Herod left something to be desired. It was not — let us be frank — an invitation to mutually constructive dialog. It ended badly, to be sure, and John did have such promising gifts and so it grieves us to say that, at least in part, he brought it upon himself. What’s next on the program? Why, it is the callipygian Beyoncé, which means no little booty shakin’, and perhaps we might be able to stay for a little more cultural engagement. Some people’s idea of cultural engagement is praying for a wardrobe malfunction.
Speaking of cultural engagement, it is worthwhile to remind everybody that the serpent was the craftiest of all the critters. And because this is just the cultural moment when we all should be reading the story, the prince of the power of the airwaves has arranged for a bunch of epistemological ne’er-do-wells to go big in for story. They are crazy about story. And so we have English professors from third-rate Christian colleges, aficionados of the hard-R, stroking their chins over the brutal honesty they routinely see on the screen. It is only later that they stroke something else. And so we have Miley-haired downstream-floaters, talking about the narratival arc of the latest carnival freak show on HBO. And so we have deeply concerned students of sexual ethics learning everything they know about it from Macklemore. If I were a rapper, I would write a song about him with the phrases spackle more and tackle more in it. And if I won an ironic Grammy for my efforts, I would cackle more.
This too is part of the strategy, which is to create disincentives for anyone who actually is capable of reading the story we are in. If we start talking about “reading the story,” somebody is going to think we are like them, which would be intolerable. Right, but read that part of the story too.
If this were a movie, if this actually were a story, it would be the moment when Odysseus was limbering up his bow. If this were a story, we would be in the banqueting hall of NICE in That Hideous Strength, and Jules has just gotten up to speak. If this were a story, the Levites have all just strapped on their swords so that Moses could send them in to chaperone the rave. If this were a story, it is the night of the great pirate orgy, the night before Port Royal fell into the sea. If this were a story, we would see Lot’s front porch just crammed full of community activists, some of them standing on the rail, looking for some new community action. If this were a movie, the music just turned ominous, and I am staring at the screen wondering what window the divine retribution is going to come through. If this were a story.
Ah, but it is a story.