At The New York Times, the simple act of publishing a book review can lead to a news story. As noted on GetReligion in early June, Andrew Sullivan praised Tony Hendra’s confessional book Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul in a cover article for The New York Times Book Review. (Hendra is on the left in the photo from This is Spinal Tap.)
That review brought forward Jessica Hendra, 39, a daughter from Hendra’s first marriage, to say the book had not been nearly confessional enough and to accuse her father of molesting her during her childhood. The Times’ story is even-handed and thorough, quoting extensively from Jessica Hendra, her mother and therapists who have treated her for anorexia.
As Sullivan’s review made clear, Hendra’s salvation was a decades-long journey under the gaze of an all-loving God who has no particular trouble with nonmarital sex.
Sullivan was impressed with this passage of Father Joe’s thoughts on sex:
“Sex is a wonderful gift, a physical way to express the most powerful force in all existence — love. Sex is a brilliant idea of God’s, I think. Almost like a sacrament.”
“Sex is a sacrament?”
“D-d-don’t tell the Abbot!”
“There’s no sin in having sex?”
“Yes yes yes. There can be. But sex is a sin less often than we’re led to believe. It’s all a question of context. If you have sex to hurt or exploit another, or to take pleasure only for me, me, me, and not return as much or more to your lover . . . then it becomes sinful. . . . They’ve made sexual sins the worst sins of the lot, haven’t they? Because sex is so powerful, people are fearful of it! We must take the fear out of sex as well.”
Hendra’s website, which mostly promotes Father Joe, includes some of his recent satirical pieces for The American Prospect and Details. The TAP pieces reflect a consistent hostility toward George W. Bush, other conservative politicians, the religious right and Mel Gibson.
A few sample paragraphs:
From Osama’s Endorsement
Today the Hard Drive has a surprise for its faithful Database. Let us praise Allah a thousand, thousand times for sending us George W. Bush! After his three and half years in office, could we have dreamed of the power and visibility we now have? Assuredly not, o my brothers. Thanks to the Beelzebub Bush, we are a global brand!
How has this happened? Consider:
The crusaders are even now hotly debating whose fault the 11th of September was. Let us answer for them: We would never have attacked America during the reign of the cloven-hoofed Bill Clinton. He was too wily a diplomat; he had curried too much favor abroad; he could have whipped up European and Asian and even Arab rage, forged a lasting worldwide coalition against us, strangled us in infancy.
From an unexpected quarter comes some rare good news for embattled U.S. military commanders trying to contain the widening prison-abuse scandals in Iraq. The conservative San Diego-based scientific review No Junk Science published an article today by a team of researchers from the Adolf Coors Center for Studying Arabs at Pepperdine and the Charles Murray Institute of Eugenics at West Texas Christian University. The study presents “overwhelming evidence” that Arabs are not, by any prevailing scientific standard, human.
From We See That Now:
And yes, it’s true, just as your more sagacious radio hosts have maintained: Hillary Clinton does owe her success to the practice of witchcraft. And no, it’s not true that ridiculing Chelsea at the most vulnerable stage in her development was the media equivalent of child molestation. Chelsea Clinton was fair game because she is the spawn of Satan. Scurrilous of us to suggest that the tirelessly moderate and civil proponent of these and so many other truths, Robert Bartley, now resides in the circle of hell reserved for hate-mongers and bigots! Mr. Bartley dwells in the bosom of his Republican creator. We see that now.
From The Last Word:
The Life of Brian takes the only approach possible to such explosive material: oblique, referential, and, above all, well-informed. Brian is based on solid biblical scholarship. The Passion isn’t. Gibson has admitted as much, claiming that it’s based solely on the New Testament as interpreted by his guiding light, the Holy Spirit. (A common cop-out of film directors — blame the screenwriter.)
From Divine Words (written as a memo from Jesus Christ to Mel Gibson):
You’re no different, Mel. The Christ you flog and flay and strip the meat from, the one you chew the ears and lips of, the one you smash the nails through the helpless palms of — that’s you, Mel. Because, for all the reasons that only you and I know, you hate yourself. Self-hatred drives you as it has driven so many self-flagellators and sunken-faced self-deniers, born-again, self-loathing sinners, washed in my blood, dripping with the precious blood that flowed from the bloody gash made in my side by the holy spear — all those terrible and murderous images that sublimate the anger and savagery in their hearts. But self-hatred is still hatred, Mel, and the only thing I hate is hatred.