Unfortunate Covers: Missionary Impossible

19 Nov

I LOOOOOVED missionary stories when I was younger. And when I say loved, I mean uncomfortably titilated by a concept so foreign to my Jewish soul. Not like having a crush on a bad boy, more like casting side-long glances at the smelly kid with oily hair whom you secretly found cute. You can barely live with yourself for the shame and squirmy good feeling you got out of it. Since Jews cannot missionize to non-Jews, (or goys, as we not-so-secretly call you all; and FYI: it’s not as benign of a word as you might think. Oh, schlemeil! Jew Police might come get me for giving away one of our secrets.) this concept of setting out to wilds unknown to ask people to give up their culture of thousands of years puzzled me. And I just really liked the word “savage.” Took me a few books to realize it was NOT a compliment. That said, whatever your take on missions, I am hoping we all find the following cover just a really poor choice for portraying the story of the first priest to visit the Arctic and woo the Eskimos. His name was Father Patrick Joseph Frank O’Malley Murphy, or close to that. And apparently he walked right off of the set of “Hawaii 5-0” and onto the frigid Arctic landscape to bring hope and something to heathens (another word I still love.)

Looks like a deal is about to go down.

Oh, I didn’t mention the book is titled “MY Eskimos”? Oh, how could I forget such a patronizing detail? Perhaps now is a good time to mention this golden thread persists throughout the entire book. Dude lovingly refers to the group he infiltrates constantly this way. We all know what that means. Doesn’t mean he thinks sweetly and protectively of them like a father (never mind that I am sure the Eskimos already have daddies). “My” in such a context implies creepy ownership. Like as in “my Hummel figurine collection” or “my slave girl” or “my ex-husband shackled in my basement.”

Then let’s take a look at the crazy art going on here. I am really unclear why the two dudes in the forefront find now a good time to try out for a modern dance troupe based on aerobics moves. With their sunglasses and shady demeanors, it looks more like the priest introduced Arctic drug-running to his Eskimos than the love of Jesus. And what’s John Turturro doing on the right there? Or maybe that’s a thin Alfred Molina? This is a lot more benign that most of the missionary books I had the pleasure of working on this summer (need to find the Victorian one that thought pretty much every activity was to set the stage for sex. Eating dinner? Clearly the ritual leading to sex! Talking to your neighbor? Same thing. Rinse, repeat.)

Three cheers for missionaries and avoiding eye contact with them!


One Response to “Unfortunate Covers: Missionary Impossible”

  1. Dalilkisrekly November 24, 2009 at 8:45 am #

    Lots of guys write about this topic but you said some true words.

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