What Hagiography?

What Hagiography? May 14, 2012

Now and then, you can actually run into people who totally deny that there is any such thing as secular messianic adoration of our God King. Ahem:

I think this is what the term “hathos” was coined to describe. And who better to lead the orgasm of worship than the Pope of Obama Worship, the leading pop theologian of Re-Visioned Religion in the Service of Genitalia: Andrew Sullivan.

Sorry, but this piety is gooier than this diabetic can take. It requires a full Tina Fey Eye Roll Response.

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  • Tim

    May I ask, Mark, why are you so dumb?


    Though, I guess you aren’t really criticizing Obama, but his most devout fans. But if you persecute them, you persecute him.

  • Or it could be about selling product for corporate…

    • Chris

      I’m waiting for a the rainbow pitchfork.

  • Chris

    Wait, I thought Lincoln was the first gay president…

    • Dale Price

      Actually, it was James Buchanan, and the evidence is essentially incontrovertible. Buchanan had a relationship with Senator Rufus King that was…how shall we say…non-platonic. Their correspondence pretty well confirms it.

      In addition, he was a lifelong bachelor whose one foray into heterosexual relations ended with his fiancee breaking the engagement and committing suicide.

      But Buchanan was a godawful President, easily one of the five worst, so the gay community has been much more interested in turning the married father Abraham Lincoln into the first haloed one.

      • Tim

        From Wikipedia:

        “Buchanan wrote to a Mrs. Roosevelt, ‘I am now ‘solitary and alone’, having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them.'”

        It all makes sense.

        • Sue in soCal

          Tim,to finish the quote from Wikipedia (a notoriously unreliable source, by the way), whick I am quite sure you accidently overlooked:
          “I feel that it is not good for man to be alone, and [I] should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.”
          Circumstances surrounding Buchanan’s and King’s close emotional ties have led to speculation that Buchanan was homosexual. Buchanan’s correspondence during this period with Thomas Kittera, however, mentions his romance with Mary K. Snyder. In Buchanan’s letter to Mrs. Francis Preston Blair, he declines an invitation and expresses an expectation of marriage.”

      • Paulus Magnus

        The evidence is far from incontrovertible, especially given that his correspondence from the period where he was living with King refers to a romance with a particular woman.

        • Dale Price

          I guess you’d have to define “gay” then. The relationship with King raised eyebrows even then.

  • Ben the Atheist

    Very glad to see that this is driving the homophobes completely nuts.

    • Chris

      I’m curious what an Atheist thinks about draping Obama in religious iconography… Hurt much?

      • Ben the Atheist

        Not as much as it hurts you to see the President of the United States endorse marriage equality.

        • Not hurt, so much as embarrassed.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          Um, who’s hurt? So Obama’s got one more dumbassed opinion? So he’s the president?

          So what? Is it all emotion with you, Ben? Can you think? Have you ever tried?

        • Chris

          No, it would hurt if, say, my parish priest endorsed gay marriage. With Obama, it’s like watching a poorly written tragedy told in Claymation.

        • SteveP

          Ben: The largest population, in the United States, of those who cannot marry are those who are married. You and I do not have equal opportunity to marry Lady Gaga if you are a bachelor and I am married. How is that equality?

          • Ben the Atheist

            We did re-define marriage once from polygamy to monogamy because polygamy is exploitative of women.

            It’s hard for me to take your argument seriously when your Old Testament is riddled with polygamy. I heard God even got miffed one time because Solomon had “too many” wives (mentioned in the same breath, revealingly, as too many horses. You stay classy, Yahweh).

            • SteveP

              Ben: If I understand correctly, you can marry Lady Gaga and that is not exploitive. If I marry Lady Gaga, that is exploitive. How would you defend this stance as non-judgmental? That is, how does Lady Gaga’s consent differ between consenting to your proposal and consenting to my proposal? Why does the state care?

            • Excellent example of the Mark Shea Truism ™ “Scratch an athiest, find a fundamentalist….” (all rights reserved)

            • Dale Price

              The women of “Sister Wives” take issue with your claim that polygamy exploits them.

              The polygamists are in the on-deck circle, and there’s no argument that gay marriage supporters can honestly deploy against them.

              • Ben the Atheist

                “Sister wives”? Look above.

                I love when prebuttals happen.

                • Dale Price

                  It rebuts squat. The presumption in the studies is that polygamous marriages would become the norm–the studies are of polygynous *societies,* which the U.S. clearly is not. The polygamists’ rebuttal is a warm chuckle: “surely, if we can accommodate a few thousand same-sex marriages, we can accommodate a few thousand polygamous marriages. There’s no dysfunctionality in our relationship.”

                  So, special pleading. Unless, of course, you’re going to start acknowledging the unique social and medical costs attendant to the sexual relationships of gay men.

                  This, of course, leaves aside the legal arguments advanced by gay marriage supporters, which boil down to “irrational bigotry.” (Certainly the case in the 9th Circuit’s Prop 8 ruling).

                  Legally speaking, you haven’t a leg to stand on, and you know it. Which is why you’re pointing to studies.

                • Tim

                  “The Canadian researchers are really talking about polygyny, which is the term for one man with multiple wives, and which is by far the most common expression of polygamy.”

                  It is certainly feasible that women could consent to polyamorous relationships. It would be paternalistic to say that they can’t or shouldn’t. Just look at this young woman:

                  “Ms. Adams, a former Lutheran youth minister, was raised by conservative Christians in upstate New York. She said she was skeptical of monogamy from the time she was a child — “I always had this lurking concern: ‘How am I going to find a man and be married to him for 60 years?’ ”


                  In fact, there may be a good argument that the state should be involved in polyamorous relationships in order to ensure that women’s interest are adequately represented in such relationships (which they consented to enter).

                  I admit this is just a slippery-slope argument, but it is plausible (and probable) that the revisionist version of marriage advanced by gay marriage advocates will result in recognition of polyamorous relationships.

                  • Dale Price

                    Precisely. The argument would be “OK, then, don’t *ban* polygamous/polyandrous relationships–just make sure the State keeps a close eye on them to prevent exploitative behavior. Make sure no one’s getting forced into them, can leave them freely and the like. Then everyone can both protect people and allow them their liberty. Because, at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Polygamists have the same right, too.

                    I will give Ben props for arguing against polygamy, though. Most GM advocates could care less. Or even support it, like the advocates at “Beyond Marriage.”

                    • Huh? When Santorum said “If you accept this, you have to accept polygamy”, the liberal apparat went into a monotone chorus of “How DARE he?”, while repeatedly failing to offer any argument more convincing than “That’s DIFFERENT!”

            • Hezekiah Garrett

              Actually, you did it because Christianity says it is a sin for a person to have more than one spouse.

              That’s the only reason polyandry in either form was suppressed in early European, and later Modern, culture.

              If I was as ignorant as you, I’d probably try keeping my mouth shut to hide it.

              • Yeah, how did those Christians dare Impose Their Religious Belief that polygamy is wrong?

              • Rosemarie


                Good point. It was Christianity that spread monogamy throughout the world. Ben’s argument against polygamy is an odd sort of complement. Though hostile to Christianity, he admits we are right about that at least.

        • John C

          Equality? It’s about Nature, pal. You know, male and female? Sexual reproduction? Common sense for most paople.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      Again, again, who’s afraid?

      The immense ignorance loaded into that word, and your repeated use of it, demonstrates all one needs to know about your intellect, Ben. But since you’ve shown up here, you’ve done little but sound like an ill-informed ignoramus.

      I’m still waiting to find out your source for the claim that ALL human cultures once accepted slavery and absolute monarchy, because I don’t even have to think real hard to provide multiple counter examples. And I bet if you were ever exposed to something broader than a Best Buy, you might be able to as well.

      • Ben the Atheist

        You, you’re afraid. And not just when it comes to LGBT people. Your whole religion is built on fear of death and fear of hell.

        • Brian

          Ben is such a cute little anti-Catholic troll.

        • Tim

          John did say “God is fear”…. right?

          • Ben the Atheist

            I prefer to let the Big Guy speak for himself:

            “I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy.” Deut 32:42

            I know he’s nice in some verses, too, but if that means anything, it means that Yahweh needs to go on a mood stabilizer stat. What a nightmarish universe you live in, with a manic-depressive omnipotent God, and apparently surrounded by invisible demons that can attack you at any moment.

            • Tim

              Wait, what!? There are invisible demons surrounding God that can attack me at any moment?

              That is nightmarish.

            • John C

              This guy Ben is the Village Atheist and the Village Idiot rolled into one! It’s a two-fer!

            • MattyD

              OMG! Ben’s right! There are complex, seeming contradictions in the most-read, and most-beloved, text in the history of humanity. How did humanity never notice this? Forget Augustine, Aquinas, von Bingen, Francis and hundreds of the most brilliant minds and spirits in the history of the world. What we’ve really needed is the brilliant exegesis of Ben! E.G. “God’s in need of a mood stabilizer.” Brilliant. How did he grasp this epiphany? By reading, maybe, five passages of the Bible, a book or two by Christopher Hitchens and watching Dawkins on You tube. Phew! Finally this troubled earth has the wisdom it has lacked for millenia. All hail Ben The Moron Who’s Read a Few Books!

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          Mine is? Actually, my ‘religion’ is built on a supernatural encounter I had once with what appeared to be a cracker. That ‘Cracker’ (I was but a simple pagan Indian at that time, struggling with other approaches to metaphysics, specifically those derived from the Greeks and Jews) told me “I am… the God of Aristotle. What will you do about that?” in the most challenging, and kind of smart-assed voice I could ever imagine, but a voice dripping in Love nevertheless. Later I found out what He was talking about, and since then He has stood by me, even when I was screaming for Him to go away. And He helps me become better, more human, more truly Ani-yunwiya.

          But I don’t ever give a thought to my afterlife, or Heaven or Hell. He promised me the hundredfold here, now. If He’s not going to follow thru on that promise, then who gives a rat’s ass about Heaven?

          I think you don’t know the first thing about my religion, anymore than you know about human cultures, or any number of other things. I doubt you really even know what fear is. Most Americans have been insulated from it in their cul-de-sacs.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          So where do you support your claim that ALL human cultures once sanctioned slavery and absolute monarchy? I’m still waiting, dipsqueeze.

        • Vincent

          May you consider living in one of the four official atheist countries of Vietnam, China, Cuba, and N. Korea to see what are meant by death and hell.

        • Chris

          How does an atheist know so much about Catholicism? Oh wait, he doesn’t…

    • SteveP

      Ben: “Don’t agree with homophobia? Don’t be a homophobe!” Why cannot you not live and let live?

      • Ben the Atheist

        I’m against homophobia being encoded in our laws.

        • Dale Price

          You’re like some kind of electronic fallacy generator. It is fascinating to watch, I’ll say that.

        • Tim

          Encoded? Not in my C++onstitution!

        • SteveP

          Ben: As I asked before: what evidence do you have that what you call homophobia is not innate and immutable? Do you really think anyone would choose to be a homophobe given all the disparagement heaped upon their heads? Why can you not live and let live?

    • Dale Price

      I couldn’t be happier to see this cover. I’m sure Newsweek thought it would help, too.

      • Carbon Monoxide

        That was my first thought: “These idiots probably think this will boost their God-king’s image.”

    • Alias Clio

      I expect that depends on what and who you mean by “homophobes.” If you mean opponents of gay marriage and your country’s Democratic Party, then you’re quite wrong. I was decidedly amused: to me, this is one of Sullivan’s all too frequent “own goals” that is as likely to hurt as to help your President.

  • I guess Obama really needed the fundraising bump. It certainly isn’t going to help him in a lot of swing states where he won last time, like North Carolina, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Virginia.

  • SteveP

    Well, President Obama could not be the first black president as that was taken by President Clinton. Equality demands he, President Obama, be first at something.

    Great eye roll!

  • dpt

    Why is thinking marriage as being between a man and woman = to homophobia?

    • Dale Price

      Because the argument for it is built almost entirely on marginalizing opposing views, demonizing them as bigoted, rooted entirely in backward religion, etc. If Ben concedes any validity or good faith to the opposition, he’s afraid he’ll lose.

      That’s why his argument starts with the fallacy of defining all opposition as rooted in fear of/hatred towards gays.

  • dpt

    “Your whole religion is built on fear of death and fear of hell.”

    It is built on hope, forgiveness, and redemption.

    • Rosemarie


      I know. Where does he get the idea that we Christians fear death? Certainly not from the multitude of Christian martyrs who have faced death bravely, even singing. They knew it was not the end of existence but the beginning of eternal life with Christ, and that we will rise again on the last day. We have nothing to fear of death because Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Atheists, OTOH, believe that death = annihilation, which is a scary thought.

  • victor

    Christianity sure better consider itself lucky that Andrew Sullivan came along when he did to save it from 20 centuries of error.


    Come up here with Me on this crosspiece –
    O no my Lord, let mercy grant release,
    I have no will or courage to attend
    To that dread invitation to defend

    I have not bid you up here to let go
    The nails that keep me fastened here below,
    But to companion Me and do My work
    Alongside where I hang here, do not shirk

    My wounds admit the toxins of your sin
    Both to forgive and let the poison in,
    So you will labor here, it must be so
    If you would join the kingdom where I go

    Forgive My bitter enemies and yours
    If you would come with Me through open doors,
    See, there is the light that shines within,
    Forgive and do not let the poison in

    May 13, 2012

  • Ben the atheist is already dead, which is why he does not fear death. It is something else he fears: Life.


    He died and so he disbelieves
    In life beyond the tomb,
    Fears to feel himself alive,
    That living might resume

    For then he would touch pain and woe
    Remorse and empathy,
    The anguish that it is to grow
    Into eternity

    And so he has renounced a trust
    In something yet unseen
    To eat the meager rotting crust
    On the slab of the obscene

    May 14, 2012

  • Kirt Higdon

    This magazine cover is so much a gift to Romney and the Republicans that my suspicious mind, always quick to subscribe to conspiracy theories, wonders if this wasn’t done by some Mormon in deep cover on the Newsweek staff. All the Repubs have to do now is reproduce the cover, blow it up, put it on billboards, make sure it’s shoved in every voter’s face a few hundred times between now and November. They couldn’t be accused of smearing Obama. Gay is a compliment, not a smear. Indeed it is the ultimate progressive good of the moment, surpassing even abortion. And it will especially be popular with young people, who we are constantly told are all pro-gay. Why everyone knows that when a young person says of something “That’s sooo gay”, he really means “That’s awesome”. Right?

    • I cannot imagine why people who favor Mr. Obama could imagine that this furthers him politically, unless they speak only to people who agree with them.

    • Yep, only a Mormon would want to undermine the Obama campaign.
      But, of course I’M “paranoid”.

  • Rich Fader

    First, that thing needs a couple of hands grasping it.

    Second, if we accept Pope Andrew’s proposition as true, I want to…heh…start raising questions about whether Sasha and Malia are actually OGK’s biological children. I say this because it’d probably make Pope Andrew even angrier than OGK.

  • I don’t see how this will help him in the polls among independents. Although it is cliche’, independents will decide the election.

  • Jonathan Carpenter

    Mr. Sullivan gives new meaning to the term “Sycopant”.

  • Linda C.

    Second blog post in two days in which the same commenter shows up to change the subject to polygamy (which has nothing to do with the OP in either instance), which makes me wonder what he finds so unnerving about discussion of the actual topic at hand.

    My first thought was that I remember being told in 2008 that I was imagining all the halo images and messianic language about O. Can’t wait to be told “it’s all in my head” again.

  • How hard is it for the Church to rename the Sacrament of Marriage?

    If the Church renames it, will secular law try to redefine that name also?

    • Well, the whole point is that marriage cannot take place unless the two people being married are of opposite sexes. Same sex marriage is not marriage.

      • Renee

        Well, the government gets the final say in what marriage is for. Not sure what the government’s interest in two people coupling? While it made sense to promote children being raised with both direct kin (mother and father) as related through marriage. The church’s view and the government’s view, see marriage as two different things now. To avoid confusion, rename the Sacrament.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          Well, the government gets the final say in what marriage is for…
          To avoid confusion, rename the Sacrament.

          We can’t rename the Sacrament. The Sacrament is descriptive, not proscriptive. It has always existed and was given its sacramental meaning by Christ. The Church didn’t institute marriage and has no authority to change it in any way, in name or not.

          • Renee

            Just refer it in Latin then. Wait wouldn’t that be matrimony? Argh…

            • Rosemarie


              The government didn’t institute marriage either, for that matter. It was instituted by God in the beginning with our first parents, has existed throughout human history and is still found in cultures all over the world. That some Western governments think they have a right to redefine it on a whim is the very definition of hubris.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          Government gets final say in NOTHING.
          You will have to kill me before I will compromise this.

          I am willing to undermine and destroy your society, much less your government, in pursuit of justice, of course using only thos emeans morally at my disposal. Are you willing to kill me because I dispute that government gets final say?

          If not, I win in the long run.

          • Renee

            Thinks it is odd when I hear ‘gay nuptials’, do people even realize what nuptial even means.

            I want to defend marriage, but if government is telling us we can no longer use that word to defend it, we better create a new word to keep the Sacrament or else the government will change our Sacraments.

            • Hezekiah Garrett

              Do you not believe in the Sacraments? Are they just ceremonies to you?

              Even if a federal agent holds a gun to a priest’s head and he, in fear and cowardice, officiates the rite between 2 men or 2 women, the sacrament has not changed. There is not valid matter, no matter how valid the form used.

              Your government CAN NOT change the sacrament, if Catholic theology is remotely trustworthy.

              • Renee

                I believe in the Sacraments. Just saying if government wants to control ideas by redefining words, we need use words that translate correctly. If there is no english word that translates, use Latin or even Greek.

                • Hezekiah Garrett

                  Governments do not define words. Ok, maybe the Soviets tried, but…

                  Words are defined by how they are used. They are defined by the people who use them. Go on using marriage properly, and just laugh when people use it wrongly.

                  It takes guts, it ain’t easy, but Jesus ain’t gonna judge us by which cocktail parties we attended.

                  • Renee

                    Government defines words all the time.

                    • Hezekiah Garrett

                      Not with any authority you or I must recognise.

                    • Renee

                      Well yeah, we do have to.

                    • Hezekiah Garrett

                      Keep telling yourself that.

                      I am always amazed Americans pride themselves on their freedoms, and then proceed to lick the boot upon their neck, rather than face inconvenience.

        • Jayjay

          Renee: the “Sacrament of Holy Matrimony”, perhaps? Has a nice ring to it. Let’s go with that, instead.

          Marriage is also a civil contract; it isn’t only a Christian sacrament. Two atheists who wed before a Justice of the Peace acknowledge nothing of a “sacrament” and yet even the Church regards that as a “marriage”.

          • Renee

            While the word Matrimony mean (act of becoming a mother). Same sex couples use that word as well. The word nuptiual is used to reference mating, but again anything related to marriage is used to describe same sex couples.

  • Thats some crap graphics there. I mean, artists in the 1500s did better halos with far less technology. Sad.

    • Renee

      Best commentary.

  • Mark R

    Newsweek? What is that? Something you read?

  • BPS

    To Ben the Atheist-
    Read the Slate article. The studies it cites deal with one man/multiple women polygamy. That’s not how our egalitarian society will do it (and with the coming of homosexual marriage it’s inevitable, as is eventual extinction of age of consent laws). Marriage will be legal with any combination and probably more commonly will be a woman with several male spouses. Divorce will be unnecessary, because you, as an adult will not need the consent of any already existing spouse. Current laws against bigamy are just as arbitrary as laws against homosexual marriage. So why not get rid of them?

  • Rosemarie


    It gets better, though. Obama isn’t just teh first gay president but our First Gay-Female-Hispanic-Asian-Jewish President:


    IOW, he’s Anything You Want him to Be.

    • Kirt Higdon

      And Rand Paul got slammed for commenting “I didn’t think Obama’s views could get any gayer”. He underestimated our Barry by orders of magnitude. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Barry announced that he and Joe Biden will be married in a special ceremony on the White House lawn.

      • Rosemarie


        Remember Larry Sinclair, the guy who claimed during the 2008 election to have had a cocaine-fueled homosexual tryst with Obama? I don’t know whether I believe his claim, but the web site he set up is having a field day with this article. They’re like, “Hey, we said he was the first gay president three years ago!”

        • Kirt Higdon

          Well, his claim certainly just got a lot more credible.

          • Rosemarie


            I’m not convinced that he is homosexual because of, y’know, his wife and kids. Nevertheless, I just find it ironic that four years ago that charge was dismissed and condemned while today it’s published in Newsweek.