Saturday, September 16, 2006

Why do the heathen rage?

Because some newspapers compound brainless news judgment with clueless writing? Yeah, something like that.

Let's review the bidding for a moment. Running a story about Local People who see divine manifestations in foodstuffs (or on kittens, alligators, or whatever seems to be at hand) is one thing. Running any and every such vision from around the country just because some idiot put it on the wire is a whole different level of sin entirely. And closing your eyes and imagining that words are interchangeable -- well, you and St. Peter are in for one very short discussion punctuated by your exit downstage.

There is, as always, a proximate cause:
[Editor's note: this post has been updated with a mug of the Virgin of the Pastries, from the originating paper. Tnx to alert readers who pointed out the fundamental lapse in news ethics]

Faithful gather around image of Mary formed in chocolate
Candy made shape as it dripped on floor, but some remain skeptical

Ho hum. Another day, another month-old tale of the Virgin showing up for dessert. This one, though, is different, as you'll notice from the deck. A short flip through the dictionary will suggest that "but" isn't Old English for "random guitar noise." It actually has a meaning -- in this case, "notwithstanding," "however" or something like that. In other words, even though the candy made a shape, some unbelievers cling to their frayed skepticism. Poor hellbound fools.

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. -- Cruz Jacinto found her faith in God in a 2-inch blob of chocolate, and she hasn't even tasted it.

Oops! Sorry. We thought this was the Stupid Lede Contest.

Jacinto is a kitchen worker at Bodega Chocolates' new store in Fountain Valley. In August, she showed up at work and found a figurine had formed under a drippy vat of dark chocolate in the test kitchen.

Jacinto pulled a tattered picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe from her pocket and held it next to the chocolate clump.

... Jacinto has been among the visitors who have prayed to the chocolatey idol since the shrine was set up near the gourmet chocolate shop's front door.

Don't put those dictionaries away yet, kiddies, because now we're going to look up "idol." And we're going to find "broadly, a false god." Or, more formally, "An image or similitude of a deity or divinity, used as an object of worship: applied to those worshipped by pagans, whence, in scriptural language, = false god." Now let's see how long it takes to find something really lurid from the Protestant ranks about the Roman Catholic concept of Mary.

Think it might suggest just a tad bit of bias on our part to go around calling the Romish hordes idolators? Especially since the hed declares them the "faithful"?

"I can't believe it," said Miguel Chapa, 32, who was cutting hedges in the business park and went inside to see why a crowd had formed. "It looks just like her. I can feel it."

Chapa said he planned to bring his wife and 4-year-old daughter to the shrine after work so they could feel it, too.

But this chocolate figure is particularly miraculous, said Martucci Angiano, owner of Bodega Chocolates. Chocolate that drips from the vat usually falls flat onto a sheet of wax paper.

There's that damn conjunction again. Chapa's going to bring the family to check the thing out. NEVERTHELESS, it's especially miraculous! Meaning (flip, flip, flip) ...

"Of the nature of a miracle; produced or effected by a miracle; not explicable by natural laws; supernatural."

So chocolate that drips into a pile is somehow not explicable by natural laws? (Ruling out gravity, one supposes.) Gang, we really ought to get together for a friendly game of chance someday. Meanwhile, if we want to do something with the whole credibility thing, maybe we can start by putting our resources into the mundane rather than the supernatural.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait, wait. If you report that something looks like something else, aren't you *required* to run a photo?

3:41 PM, September 16, 2006  
Blogger fev said...

Right, absolutely. There it is, staring you in the face in the _very first line_ of the Walter Williams Creed. Pls see updated.

4:59 PM, September 16, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

emil anonymously said--I'd guess the writer was looking for icon instead of idol and lost the way. Maybe I'm giving 'em too much credit? Whatever. Running stories like this makes the paper look foolish and condescending. emil, bj69

7:56 AM, September 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, my poke was directed toward the linked publication, which did *not* have a pic. But kudos to headsup for providing illustration. :)

12:12 PM, September 18, 2006  

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