Valentine, My First Child’s Name

On the importance of newspaper cartoons being funny
Newspaper cartoons aren’t usually the kind of thing that offend me but then, I usually am too busy being enraged by the latest shockumentary that MTV have greenlighted. However I am not an islamic nutbag hell bent on dominating the ink pens of funny scribblers around the world. The outrage that has exploded 7 months after a Danish newspaper published some not-very-funny jokes should make you sit back and consider whether religion is actually the stupidest thing on the planet. As the excellent Daily Kos pointed out, it is not explictly against Koranic law to depict Muhammed, but against the code of the Hadith. Lots of icons of Jesus are used in mosques. So the question isn’t so much about whether they blasphemed God by drawing some silly pictures of an alleged Prophet but it really does come back to whether political correctness should regulate the free expression of speech.

As I see it, the jokes were crap. They shouldn’t have been published on that basis. But they can’t really be blasphemous since they were not published by Muslims. Let us imagine, if you can, although it ought to be a stretch, that the Koran is true. Now would Allah be infuriated by the drawings or would he be more angrified and wrathful over the whole life of this infidel non believer who doesn’t bow once in a year, nevermind five times a day? If it can be blasphemous at all for a non-Muslim to tell bad jokes about Muhammed, then it is much less blasphemous than, well, their whole lives. This protest nonsense makes no sense.

“But you are a Christian” I hear you proclaim, “And I’ve seen the Simpsons and gathered from that that you have thin skin too!” Indeed, there has been and still is a tendency in some Christian quarters to revert to the “Down with this sort of thing” response to criticism or mockery. But Zoomtard, genius web guru that he is, is about to provide you with an Illuminating IllustrationTM. At the moment there is an art exhibition in London that has caused even less controversy than a crib which featured Posh and Becks as Jesus’ parents. It is an installation by Gilbert and George and it is called sonofagod. It asks the question, “Was Jesus Heterosexual?”



sonofagod, originally uploaded by Zoomtard.

G&G are clear that they intend to offend Christians with this stuff. They actually argued in the Sunday Times that Christian opinion on homosexual marriage was discriminative and that it was offensive, therefore offending them back was worthwhile. I am a philistine. I have no idea what constitutes significant art but I can see that this work required a large dose of technical ability and that in and of itself has to be respected. I would love to go see it to judge one reviewer who wrote:

The crucifix is the prevalent motif: Christ’s body split open upon it like some carcass of beef… The tawdry emblems of superstitious belief glint and beguile and repulse in a body of work that, typically, sets out not so much to preach as to provoke. These images raise questions about the nature of belief, about religious antagonisms and the divisions they spawn. Beneath the glitter lies a darker subtext.

But I suspect that the darker subtext amounts to nothing more than that some people really hate Christianity. Importantly however, the outrage they hoped to illicit is nowhere to be found. The Archbishop of London couldn’t be bothered to comment. No one has picketed. No one has called for G&G to be banned. Their homes have not been stalked. The British Embassy in Holland or Venezuela has not been bombed. This is the right way to react to religious hatred. Indifference is a much more effective strategy than firebombing.

A web-linkage interval
I don’t quite know what this site is, but talking animals have never done quite so good a job at making me want to buy low calorie beer. (Not safe for Alcoholics Anonymous members)

My brainy exiled friend sent me this outstanding link to an explanation of Einstein’s Relativity Theory in Words Of 4 Letters Or Less. It is superb. An outstanding achievement that makes complex things easy.

I like lists. I also like the number 5. This site, therefore, is like a little taste of heaven for me. Go contribute!

Brothers, We Are Not Professionals
Ireland, if you don’t already know, is going through a clerical sex abuse scandal. The Catholic Church in Ireland, like in America, hid a lot of rotten crap in its dark corners for a long time and now very decent and humble priests are left to clean up the mess and the damage that has been done to their legitimacy. I have written about this a couple of times already but some flurry of activity has taken place over the last day or two that I want to comment on. A priest in Galway has called for an end to the automatic removal of accused priests from their ministry. He feels that taking those priests who pose no pressing threat to children out who have not been found guilty damages their professional identity.

Hold up a second there bud. As someone considering ordained ministry as a path for his life, I gotta say this rings alarm bells for me. I have a professional qualification. At least on paper I am capable of being a computer scientist. But when I started working for a Christian charity and if in the future I work for a church, then I will have no pretensions to being a professional. I will not aim for efficiency. I will not establish benchmarks. There will be no standardisation of my work practices. I hope to be a pastor who responds, minute to minute to the needs of my flock. I will seek to be professional in all my duties but I will not be a professional. I won’t want to be seen as a professional and I will not seek to project that idea.

The identity of the church leader should be found firmly and squarely bowed on their knees before Jesus. As I wrote before, I think a huge amount of the difficulties that the Catholic Church has found itself in (and the barrier to getting out of them) has stemmed from moving Jesus to the side. In its place they (we) put modern psychology or social science or a good intention here and a charitable act there. Priests view themselves as humble servants of their parishoners instead of servants of their Lord. They view themselves as capable professionals with something to offer instead of people who have received a glorious honour they are not worthy of.

If that is the route I go on, I will study for years at the finest colleges and have countless conversations with mentors and guides. I will never stop training and learning. But I will never be a professional. Fundamentally, professionals earn what they get. Church leaders, who must communicate grace to their church members, should of all people know that there is nothing we can own without it being given us by our God.

My printing job is done. So too is my self righteous preaching. Roll on rosemantic pap! Give me what you’ve got February 14th. I’m ready for you.

Your Correspondent, A peacock died to colour my lips

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