Word Spy rightly honors journalist Alex Heard as the father of the word hathos, which he defined as “a mixture of hatred, disgust, embarrassment, and pathos” (The New Republic, Feb. 11, 1985).
GeReligion now honors Heard further by creating a category for hathos.
Think of it as the flip side of Creeping Fundamentalism: A time for the editors to salute a well-aimed arrow at certain figures from the religion world whose brush with popular culture does not give the Kingdom of God a healthy image.
Our first hathotic entry comes from the Sept. 24 Entertainment Weekly, which tweaks Christians who make God their conspirator on network “reality” shows.
Consider how Adria, a contestant on Big Brother 5, explains her suggestion to evict Will, a gay man, and Marvin, an African American: “Things were revealed to me in my prayers.”
Or consider Brandon, a contestant on The Amazing Race 5, praying with his girlfriend, Nichole, after they declined to cut their hair in a traditional Hindu ceremony: “It’s okay, baby. You want me to pray for us? Lord, we just trust you ’cause you’re ultimately gonna get us to wherever you want us to be. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Set aside for a moment the ethical dilemma of whether Christians should busy themselves as contestants on these shows. Have they really convinced themselves that God is concerned about who will triumph in these competitions?