Hilarious, holy hugs

Christians can do funny, goofy things. That's why reaction to a Christian rap group's video seemingly advocating the sexually chaste "Christian side hug" was so interesting. Apparently, the group was kidding. But that didn't stop critics and bloggers for missing the joke and getting snarky about it. As Steve Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported in "Christian side hugs: The joke's not on fundamentalist Christians":

The joke, it turns out, is on the people who thought the joke was on fundamentalist Christians...

"Because you will definitely go to Hell if your genitals get anywhere near other peoples' genitals," the New York Web site Buzzfeed said in putting up the video. Bloggers for alternative newspapers in Washington, D.C., and Denver also posted the video, along with commentary bordering on the derisive.

"I think Christianity just jumped the shark," wrote a commenter about the video when it was put up on The Huffington Post.

But Ryan Pann, the 23-year-old Californian who wrote and was lead performer of the tune, the chorus of which commands, rather catchily, "gimme that Christian side hug," said he wrote the song as self-deprecating humor.

The line, "When I hug people, I leave room for the Holy Spirit," may have been the giveaway.

Pann and his group may joke about the side hug, but as one Pentecostal pastor told The Roanoke Times last year in an article entitled, "The pastor's holy hug: Divine but demure":

"I have my politically correct hugs," he said. He demonstrates by bending into a pronounced stoop to grasp the parishioner's shoulders while pulling back at the waist. That way, the huggers' midsections don't touch.

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