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Dec. 23 2009 - 11:17 am | 71 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

The Vatican Approves of The Simpsons

It is not very often that the Vatican approves of anything that endorses impious behavior and challenges religious belief, but the organization seems to have done just that by giving The Simpsons an official blessing on the show’s twentieth anniversary. According the a report this morning from the Associated Press, the official Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has deemed the show worthy of its praise.

If it were not for The Simpsons “many today wouldn’t know how to laugh,” the article says. The show, the papers says, is based on “realistic and intelligent writing.”

But L’Osservatore Romano is not unaware of the frequent acts of unholiness on the show. For example, Homer spends many hours at the local bar Moe’s drinking himself into a stupor, and he has made an entire hobby out of mocking his overly righteous neighbor, Ned Flanders. Addressing these matters, the paper acknowledges the “excessively crude language, the violence of certain episodes or some extreme choices by the scriptwriters.” Even with this grievance, the paper comes to a conclusion: Homer Simpson is “a mirror of the indifference and the need that modern man feels toward faith.”

Though this news may cause a few snickers–and perhaps we should give the Vatican a hand for slackening its often conservative judgment–the person who might be most amused by this development is the creator of the The Simpsons, Matt Groening, who has openly expressed his belief in agnosticism. In a December 1998 interview in The New York Times, Groening was asked whether he believed in God.

Q: You poke a lot of fun at organized religion. Do you believe in God, and what is the most comical story in the Bible?

A: I was very disturbed when Jesus found a demon in a guy and He put the demon into a herd of pigs, then sent them off a cliff. What did the pigs do? I could never figure that out. It just seemed very un-Christian. Technically, I’m an agnostic, but I definitely believe in hell — especially after watching the fall TV schedule.”

Then in the September 6, 2000 edition of The Onion A.V. Club titled “Is There A God?,” Groening was asked again about his religious leanings.

The Onion: Is there a God?

Matt Groening: [Laughs.] Hold on, I have to think about this. [Long pause.] If there is a God, all evidence shows that He hates me.”

Well, according to the recent approval from The Vatican, apparently he does not, or at least he is able to forgive and forget.

via Vatican paper says ‘The Simpsons’ are okely dokely.


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    I am a Brooklyn-based writer and editor covering arts and culture. I was an editor at Art & Antiques magazine, an editor at Picador USA, and an editor for a magazine about coffee and tea. On the best of days, I get to write about art, or work on fiction. My writing can be found on the Huffington Post, The Rumpus, and in Art & Antiques, Art in America, Tin House, Willamette Week, San Francisco magazine, Food Network Magazine, and Fresh Cup magazine. I also write about and promote the arts for Columbia University in New York.

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    An essay on the painter Robert Vickrey for The Rumpus.