Friday, October 06, 2006

A Potentially Relevant Fact You Didn’t Read in the Houston Chronicle

Friday’s Houston Chronicle carried a big, above-the-fold front-page story on Bible thumper Luis Palau, whose CityFest Houston (a combination “concert meets X Games meets Christian revival,” as the paper describes it) is being staged this weekend in Eleanor Tinsley Park.

The Chronicle story notes that among the sponsors of the Palau to-do are “the Houston Astros, H-E-B and more than 550 local churches.” Elsewhere in the story the paper provides approving verbiage from another sponsor, David Weekley of David Weekley Homes, and quotes one of Palau’s assistants explaining that 19 percent of the festival’s costs are being underwritten by corporate sponsors (a beneficence that apparently permits Palau to admit all comers free of charge).

What the paper didn’t mention---and we’re sure this was an oversight---is that Palau’s corporate sponsors include … the Houston Chronicle.

This was brought to our attention earlier this week by sharp-eyed correspondent Il Pinguino, who, while reading the daily newspaper through a powerful magnifying glass, noticed the Chronicle logo tucked amid the other corporate logos at the bottom of the ads the paper has been running for the City Fest. We’ll let Il take it from here:

Other predictable sponsors (religious organizations and pious businessmen who are known Christers) and some other not-so- predictable ones, like the secular or at least unaffiliated (as the George Clooney character called himself in O Brother, Where Art Thou) Texas Children's Hospital.

Anyway, the Chronicle sponsorship (also noted on Bro. Luis' website) seemed singularly weird.

I mean, this "festival" (NOT "crusade," as Billy G. used to call such events) looks to be wholesome family fun and all that, but Palau makes no ecumenical noises beyond the big tent of traditional-doctrine Christianity. (Believe in JC's divinity or fry, in so many words--- again, check his website.)

Which leads me to wonder: Why in the world is a big city newspaper (with lots of Jews and Buddhists and Hindus and Unitarians and Muslims and non-theists [among its readers]) sponsoring a literal come-to-Jesus event? I can see the Jackson Clarion-Ledger doing it in 1954, but the Houston Chronicle in 2006?

Further cause for wonder is the nature of the Chronicle’s sponsorship of the event: Does it entail some contribution of monetary value, such as the donation of prime advertising space to Palau (our guess)? Or what, exactly? Obviously the town’s leading daily newspaper didn’t see fit to address this question in its highly favorable report on the X Games evangelist.

Another question: Would it be all right with Palau (and by extension, the Chronicle and his other corporate sponsors) if we excuse our self to go beat the holy pee out of our manservant? We believe this is biblically sanctioned in Exodus, or Leviticus or perhaps Deuteronomy, one of ’em (our Bible learnin’ went in one lobe and out the other).

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