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Pontius Povich
by Mark on 9/27/2004 (3)

"You are NOT the father!"
Ever watch the Maury Povich show? Ever wonder why people travel from across America to publicly humiliate themselves in front of a hostile studio audience as well as tens of millions of viewers worldwide? The answer may date back over 2000 years.

Consider the annual crucifiction ritual in the Philippines:

In the Philippines, the only Roman Catholic country in Asia, religious education begins young - even small children watch realistic re-enactments of Christ's crucifixion, with volunteers wearing crowns of thorns and some even allowing nails to be driven through their hands.

In 2003 the annual event, which is held on Good Friday, saw 10 men and a woman being nailed to wooden crosses. Several hundred spectators, some of them tourists, watched as the 11 Filipinos re-enacted the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

'They had nails driven into their hands and feet and into a wooden cross, which was then raised for the crowd to see. The nails, sterilized with alcohol, were pulled out after a few minutes.'

Who would volunteer for such torture? The truly devout? Or perhaps otherwise? A closer examination of Filipino crucifiction volunteers has revealed that most are criminals, women accused of adultery, or other Islanders seeking to atone for real or imagined social disgrace or 'sins' by enduring public torture. The motivation behind the ritual crucifiction probably has little to do with Christ, and more to do with social redemption. Indeed, it seems to be effective. After being nailed to a cross, ritual participants are indeed held in high regard and respect, and their sordid past forgotten.

The phenomena is so well described, as to be given a name: 'The Jesus Syndrome' by psychiatrists.

How does the Jesus Syndrome relate to the Maury Povich show?

Indeed, one not be nailed to a cross to seek social redemption through auto-mutilation. Substitute the Povich show for the cross, and the jeers and glares of millions of viewers for the nails. The effect is exactly the same. Most of the guests on the show have cheated on their spouses or hidden the questionable paternal identity of a child. By going on National TV, instead of a quiet doctors office in their own town, they seek to atone for their sins through public spectacle and humiliation.

The sad part is, unlike the Filipino crucifiction ritual volunteers, it will probably not work for their benefit in America. Loved ones, friends as well as co-workers are likely to see the show, and levy even further social ostracism against them. Big mistake on their part. Strong, bad medicine.

Of course Maury and his producers know all about the 'Jesus Syndrome' and play it for all its worth. After all, the show gets big ratings. Why? Quite simply, most people love to see someone crucified. Through them, they exorcise their own self-perceived inadequacies, and their own 'sins' seem trivial by comparison and are thus absolved.

Thus a half dozen or so Jesus Christs die every day on the Maury show, Pontius Povich the great orchestrator of their self contrived demise, hounding them back through the labyrinths and darkened studio catacomb halls as they vainly attempt to escape their lives most terrible, ill considered hour.

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1. by punch on 3/1/2007 4:52:29 PM
great job. this should be in Psychology Today, though, not on a satire apge.uildi </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
2. by Mark Motz, author on 3/1/2007 4:52:29 PM
This IS psych today, my friend. Just check out the forum!?si </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
3. by ruleroftimeandspace on 3/1/2007 4:52:29 PM
So far, everything I've read on this page has been extremely hilarious, except </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>

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