The response to the Charlie Hebdo attack galls me. The march looked wonderful on the evening news, and the mass declaration of JE SUIS CHARLIE was inspiring. As we get further away from those public displays of solidarity, however, a different message seeps through.
Everybody picks on Islam. All the other religions get a free ride but Muslims are supposed to just live with the ridicule.
Even the Pope has climbed on to this bandwagon, warning about limits to free speech and respect for the beliefs of others. It bends my head that the leader of a community that has been satirised for centuries, AND LEARNT TO LIVE WITH IT, should be telling everyone that Islam is hands-off, mind your manners, don’t poke fun. I don’t know what the Latin is for ‘Man up and grow a pair you sissies’ but it ought to be in neon letters a hundred feet high over St Peter’s. And the Pope should be bellowing it towards Mecca. Nobody is better placed to offer an example.
There were certainly no exemptions from Charlie Hebdo for the Church of Rome. If you think that Hebdo hit peak offensiveness with this
then consider their response to French religious leaders who opposed gay marriage.
Satire of Christianity is arguably as old as Christianity itself. There is a discernible touch of snark in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, written about 150 AD.
After that again [Jesus] went through the village, and a child ran and dashed against his shoulder. And Jesus was provoked and said unto him: Thou shalt not finish thy course. And immediately he
fell down and died. But certain when they saw what was done said: Whence was this young child born, for that every word of his is an accomplished work? And the parents of him that was dead came unto Joseph, and blamed him, saying: Thou that hast such a child canst not dwell with us in the village: or do thou teach him to bless and not to curse: for he slayeth our children.
And Joseph called the young child apart and admonished him, saying: Wherefore doest thou such things, that these suffer and hate us and persecute us? But Jesus said: I know that these thy words are not thine: nevertheless for thy sake I will hold my peace: but they shall bear their punishment. And straight away they that accused him were smitten with blindness.
Child of God? This brat sounds like he was fathered by the other guy. Jesus does reform in Thomas’s telling, but the story can be read as an effort to take the Messiah down a peg or two.
Thomas is thought by scholars to have been a Gentile. Maybe he got tired of being harangued by Christian spruikers in the market and decided to have some fun at their expense. That carpenter was too damn holy by half, Thomas grumbles, as he scribbles into his scroll… The work had an enduring popularity over many centuries and is still good for a chuckle today.
Or maybe it’s just me. Little Horror Jesus is still around today, at any rate.
What a schemer! And wait until he discovers girls!
I died for you. Wish I could use that line myself. But where’s the condemnation for these mockeries, Holy Father? Can’t you rouse yourself to at least one scathing sermon?
Perhaps you could whip something off this evening. After your piano lesson.
The internet abounds with examples of irreverence.
It doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that Jesus was not a 72 inch LCD flatscreen with home theatre sound, either. The Second Coming, Across All Channels! Tonight at 7! Won’t that be great?
And Christ grew wrathful with the purple squids from the distant galaxy, and yea verily, he did fry those motherfuckers with killer green death rays from his eyes. Said no gospel ever. Not even Thomas thought of that.
Oh look! Here’s Jesus giving the other guy a plug! No, not that other guy… the other other guy.
Just to be sporting, I’ll take this opportunity to share my one and only joke about unbelief. As told by Henny Youngman.
I was an atheist for a while, but I gave it up. You don’t get any holidays.
Tom Lehrer put his satire to music. Kenneth Anger put the Saviour shoulder to shoulder with a biker and a hit song from the Sixties.
Jesus Christ Superstar once shocked respectable churchgoers. Nowadays it’s fit for high school musicals and not much else. It’s remarkably conventional alongside Greaser’s Palace, which was made about the same time. Robert Downey Snr, whose son spends a lot of time in tin suits these days, depicted the Christ figure as a Zoot suited song and dance man in the wild west.
Every religion is ridiculous. I’ll say it again: EVERY RELIGION IS RIDICULOUS. Religious belief of its nature demands the believer set aside rationality to some degree. But your irrationality is my tenet of faith and vice versa. Christianity and Catholicism in particular ask the faithful to accept a lot. Transubstantiation. Resurrection. Assorted miracles. Rome provides a good target for satire.
The poor will always be with you, said Jesus. The irreverent won’t be disappearing any time soon either. Believers and unbelievers alike, we’d all better get used to that giggling from the sidelines.
The world has grown too small for blasphemy.