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The Holy Observer Resurrected

In a move reminiscent of Christ himself, my favorite e-zine, The Holy Observer, is back! This is Christian satire and parody at its finest. Perfectly irreverent and hilarious, they put their finger on everything that makes us cringe about Christians and their culture.

A few years ago, the site went down without any explanation, so in their own tradition I wrote up a fake news article about what had happened. I never got around to posting it, but now is the perfect occasion. Looks like I may have been wrong!

Anyway, here it is:

PLYMOUTH, MI – Marcus Crosby, founder of the online newspaper The Holy Observer, was discovered dead in his apartment early this afternoon. While local authorities have not released any autopsy data as of yet,the police officer who responded to an anonymous tip and found Crosby (himself speaking on condition of anonymity) informed us that it looks as though Crosby had been dead quite some time, possibly weeks.

Suicide appears to have been ruled out, since Crosby suffered a number of massive blows to the head with some large, flat object that was removed from the scene of the crime. Our anonymous source also said that there were curious gold dust sparkles left in the impressions made in Crosby’s skull, which may be meaningful evidence for the crime scene investigators.

While authorities are calling it murder, Crosby was indeed known to be somewhat of a recluse; we spoke with one of the tenants in his apartment building, who said that Crosby would often stay in his apartment for days, working on articles for his Internet newspaper, and only leaving to go for a jog around the nearby park from time to time.

When asked about The Holy Observer, Crosby’s neighbor replied:

“Yeah, I knew he worked on that paper. What I couldn’t figure out is how he could write so many news interviews without ever leaving his apartment! Maybe he always took the red-eye. Anyway, I haven’t read [the news site] much myself, but I know it wasn’t really popular with some folks, you know, the Fundamentalists and all. I bet you that’s who’s done him in; now I come to think of it, isn’t the Fundamentalist Threat Level at “High” or something these days? Crosby must have been a ripe target…he obviously didn’t take the right precautions.”

Crosby’s neighbor left off speculation there, but continued to say that he wasn’t too worried about himself or his daughter, as they went to a nearby mega-church and were doing a good job at pretending to be “regular Christians”.

“It’s just not worth it these days not to believe, what with the religious and political climate in this country, and so many Fundamentalist leaders willing to call for assassinations at the drop of a hat! It’s crazy–they must not be reading their Hezekiah very closely! Aren’t we supposed to observe the news of the Lord?”

A homeless woman who had been spending the nights in the park across from Crosby’s apartment proved to be a valuable resource for local authorities. While they were initially inclined to regard her as delusional, due to her reports of “glorious silver laptops” appearing under nearby trees when no one was looking, she has provided the only sliver of a lead they have. Apparently, earlier in the week, she was woken by the sound of a door closing and looked across the street to see someone run down the stairs from Crosby’s apartment, jump into a white 15-passenger van, and drive off.

She said she took no notice of the event because she thought it was Crosby himself leaving. Crosby did not own a vehicle, however, and so law enforcement believes this woman might have caught a glimpse of the killer and getaway vehicle. Initial reports also indicate that the vehicle was not entirely nondescript, but appeared to be a professional service vehicle of some kind, as there was a phrase written across the length of it. Despite prodding from police psychologists, however, the homeless woman has not been able to remember the words, though she has said that it was not a delivery van, such as FedEx, and instead looked like a passenger vehicle.

Crosby’s next-of-kin are not known, nor is it known whether there were collaborators on his website project, which evidence indicates he was preparing to update with a new issue of The Holy Observer. Unfortunately, his Apple laptop was destroyed, and authorities have found only sketch-drafts of the to-be-published articles. They are now perusing them in the hopes of finding some incriminating evidence the killer might have been trying to prevent being published.

Authorities are also scouring The Holy Observer online (which has been left unchanged since the end of 2004) for clues, and are hoping to add a few names to the suspect list, since Crosby was in the habit of making public vitriolic and/or ignorant feedback e-mails and then commenting on them. We were informed that the most promising lead is one “Carol”, who said that Crosby was a “blight on [the information] highway”, and who might have a grudge against Crosby and The Holy Observer, or other motives for revenge.

A team of analysts has reportedly been set to a somewhat different task–discovering if there are any others who worked on The Holy Observer–with the goal of warning them of and protecting them against similar attacks. Plymouth police chief Frank Cassano has received special confirmation from the FBI that they will be invited to accept the asylum of the US Witness Protection Program, which has a high degree of success in potentially-serial cases like this one.

For now, readers are advised to be aware that the Christian Fundamentalist Threat Level is indeed at orange, or “High”, and to restrict activities which might bring attention from the Religious Right. Furthermore, if you have any information regarding this crime or anyone connected to The Holy Observer, you are asked to please contact Chief Cassano.

By Jonathan Lipps

Jonathan has been making things out of code as long as he can remember. Jonathan is the architect and project lead for Appium, the popular open source automation framework. He is also the founding Principal of Cloud Grey, a consulting firm devoted to helping clients leverage the power of Appium successfully. He has worked as a programmer in tech startups for over 15 years, but is also passionate about academic discussion. Jonathan has master’s degrees in philosophy and linguistics, from Stanford and Oxford respectively. Living in Vancouver, he’s an avid musician, and also writes on the philosophy of technology.

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