July 27th, 2008

Bast

Allah U'Akbar, Hare Krishna, Praise the Lord, and Merry Christmas

As is my wont, I'm going to comment on the newest Chick Tract. There isn't much new in this one, although I am kind of curious about the idea that Jesus "holds the universe from flying apart." So it presumably WOULD fly apart if he weren't constantly working on this? Even while dying in agony on the cross? Chick apparently also thinks that Jesus personally holds atoms together, so I guess I'm not surprised. The most interesting panels, however, are the first two, where we get some of Chick's typical wacky characters. Since some of them are holding drinks, I guess they're all at a party, but it's kind of hard to tell. The "It's Jesus!" guy is being played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, while poor Max Headroom has been reduced to angrily claiming that Jesus was black. Next to him is a hunchback with a comb-over, while the next panel has a junkie with happy-face earrings, the Mini-Führer arguing with a gypsy, and the love child of Santa Claus and Groucho Marx. As usual, we get some of the totally unrealistic "Jesus? Who's He?" and "I hate Him!" dialog. In Chick's universe, every non-Christian (or, to be even more specific, everyone who isn't part of Chick's specific brand of Christianity) is ignorant, confused (like the guard captain from Disney's Aladdin in the first panel; Jesus is an important personage in Islam, but I doubt you'd find too many people claiming he actually was a member of a religion that wouldn't exist for another six centuries), or hateful. I'll admit that I don't have a representative sample, but it seems to me that non-Christians are more likely to think Jesus was either a generally good guy who was wrong about some things (like the whole "being the Son of God" thing), or a figure so heavily mythologized that there's no way to know WHAT he was actually like (if he existed at all), neither of which would likely lead to hatred. And it bears repeating that even people who have no clue who Jesus is/was still know to refer to him with capitalized pronouns.

Another Bible-related item that I just finished reading today was Asimov's Guide to the Bible, an interesting reference work that puts Biblical passages into their proper historical context. The book was written in the sixties, so it's not entirely up to date as far as historical knowledge goes, but Asimov does a good job of using both then-current research and his own ideas in coming up with what I suppose could be considered a rational interpretation. His commentary isn't negative toward believers, but does offer possibilities for how certain stories could have occurred or developed without miracles being involved.

And if you're interested in commentary on other holy books (which you probably aren't, but I am), this person reads the Quran so you don't have to. I've seen a lot of snarky Bible commentaries on the Internet, but not so many for the Quran. Incidentally, there was another blog where someone was trying to refute the one I just linked to, and the blogger suggested that The Arabian Nights was an accurate manual of human-jinn interaction. Come on, I don't think that even the book itself claims its stories are true! They were supposed to have been made up by Scheherazade, right? Anyway, that blog apparently no longer exists, but there's some discussion of it here.