The Gospel According to R.C.

The Orange County Register makes a filmed case for the real messiah: its long-dead publisher

Illustration by Bob AulChristians got it only half right—the Savior's last initial was C, but the first one is R. And that blasphemous H? Not in the middle but at the end.

The Messiah was R.C. Hoiles, who disguised His real identity by serving as The Orange County Register's cantankerous publisher for nearly 50 years. But before Hoiles departed from this terrestrial realm to combat the devil known as Otis Chandler, the God of Grand Street left behind a testament unsurpassed amongst the world's publisher-prophets. Its title: the Articles of Faith, 22 ruminations meant to guide the faithful toward a better life—and a six-month Register subscription wouldn't hurt, either.

Now all unbelievers—that is, the 5.99 billion souls currently not reading the Register—can learn from the Gospel according to R.C. Late last year, the Register published a special section on its website (ocregister.com) devoted to all things Hoiles. Included is a personal history, selected passages from His weekly editorials, a copy of the Articles of Faith, even pictures of Hoiles that confirm a description of the King of Kings once offered by the New York Times: "slight of build, hawk-nosed, toothy, bespectacled, with a fringe of still-dark hair around his otherwise bald head." Sure, including portraits ain't the best way to attract converts, but Jesus probably didn't win over crowds based on His looks.

But the Hoiles shrine's holiest relic is a filmed version of the Articles of Faith, a five-minute inspirational video meant to make the Word more accessible and moving. It plays like what would happen if Thomas Kinkade ditched the canvas for the camera. Still images running the gamut of Hallmark stock art from clouds to kite to balloons slowly zoom in or out of the video screen, backed by a mournful horn soundtrack on a loop that would make John Tesh retch. The somber, sonorous voice of Register editorial writer Alan Bock recites the Articles of Faith in their entirety. "I have faith that we will be better educated by voluntary, competitive schools than by government schools," booms one such passage, as pictures of studious children appear. "I have faith that competition will create both material and spiritual development. I have faith that free competition or an unhampered market in both material things and ideas is a blessing to all mankind." Occasionally, the legend "I have faith" appears onscreen, a not-so-subliminal affirmation that viewers should also keep the faith—and would it cost too much to subscribe to the Register?

The cinematic Articles of Faith is the greatest filmed argument for anything since the training tape for al-Qaeda—and if you don't believe such a bold statement, then the Register also includes videotaped testimonials from individuals who imbibed from R.C.'s free-market chalice while He still walked among us. Chapman University ethics professor and Registercolumnist Tibor Machan recalls that R.C. offered him a job while Machan attended UC Santa Barbara during the 1960s; Machan declined at the time since he was earning a doctorate in philosophy and still thought he could "withstand all the pressures of a state institution, which [R.C.] was very worried about." Former Register pressroom worker Shaun Odrane confessed that he was a member of the John Birch Society anda Young Republican until speaking with Hoiles; since that chance encounter, Odrane has remained a member of the Libertarian Party. Only process flow manager Henry Dillon speaks badly of Hoiles, admitting that he would hide whenever Hoiles would try chasing him down to discuss politics. And Dillon's curse? He still works for the Register.

To view the Hoiles cinematic shrine, visit The Orange County Register's website at www.ocregister.com/commentary/rc.
 
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