Sunday, February 05, 2006

Cartoon Mohammad, Hollywood Jesus

I received an odd piece of mail last week from an organization calling itself Saint Matthew's Church of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Of course, I'm immediately suspicious of any kind of religious material emanating from Tulsa, where Oral Roberts proffered up his peculiar brand of evangelical dementia.

This mailing contained a "Church Prayer Rug" depicting a rather effeminate image of our lord and savior, Jesus Christ, with his eyes closed, wearing the obligatory crown of thorns. At the bottom of the "rug", which was really nothing more than an 11 x 17 sheet of paper printed on both sides, there were some basic instructions.

Look into Jesus' Eyes you will see they are closed. But as you continue to look you will see His eyes opening and looking back into your eyes. Then go and be alone and kneel on the Rug of Faith or touch it to both knees. Then please check your needs on our letter to you. Please return this Prayer Rug. Do not keep it.

Cool! Sort of like a Highlights Magazine optical puzzle for believers. I gazed into his eyes, and sure enough, he stared back at me, somewhat cross-eyed.

There was an addressed, pre-paid mail envelope enclosed along with a checklist of prayer request that included: My Soul, A Closer Walk With Jesus, My Health, Confusion in My Home, My Children, To Stop a Bad Habit, A New Car . . . and on.

This Saint Matthew's Church, of course, wanted some compensation for petitioning the Lord on my behalf. They call it a "seed gift". The enclosed testimonials told of a woman in Maryland who mysteriously received $46,888.20 after sending in her prayer rug. "If I may have more blessings come again, I would like to help others," she said. Another woman testified that "God blessed us with $10,700. We went out and bought us a car!."

We all know this bogus St. Matthew's Church is not mainstream Christianity, but the truth is that churches have been using images of Christ to save souls and raise revenue for centuries. Hollywood has even exploited images of "The Christ" to churn up money. This is perhaps why so many westerners find it hard to understand why Islamic true believers get so bent out of shape when somebody prints a cartoon caricature of Mohammad in a newspaper.

Which image is more obscene? The one intended to persuade the ignorant to send money in the name of God, or the one that makes a political statement about violence and the killing of innocents in the name of God?

This weekend, thousands of frothing Islamic demonstrators took to the streets in Afghanistan, the West Bank, Iraq and New Zealand, and Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria were set on fire by mobs who charged past security barriers.
All because of a cartoon image.

I'm wondering if maybe I should try to organize a march on Tulsa.

17 Comments:

At 8:03 AM, Anonymous grannygeek said...

Too funny! I wonder what car those folks bought for $10,700. A USED car, obviously. ("Would you buy a used car from this carpet...")

This scam probably is another from Oral Roberts. He's pretty busy these days with his latest venture, Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

http://www.cancercenter.com/about-us/our-hospitals.cfm

 
At 4:45 PM, Blogger RSmith said...

I wouldn't put it past ol' Oral to try something like this. He tried damn near everything. Remember when he holed up in his prayer tower and said he wouldn't come down until the Lord gave him $10 million? The Lord didn't provide that time.

 
At 3:21 PM, Anonymous Jacke said...

Goodman writes:

"Which image is more obscene? The one intended to persuade the ignorant to send money in the name of God, or the one that makes a political statement about violence and the killing of innocents in the name of God?"

I don't understand the question...could you clarify it please?

 
At 12:33 AM, Anonymous zahra said...

hi
i want all pic cartoon mohammad.
please to send for me.
my email:zhsire@yahoo.com
thanks

 
At 6:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of the so-called Mohammad cartoons can be seen at Michelle Malkin's website:

http://www.michellemalkin.com/

 
At 10:05 PM, Blogger Citizenkan said...

On October 17, 2005, an Egyptian newspaper published the "offensive mohammad cartoons." This was during the holy celebration of Ramadan!

Was there the same outrage in October? If not, why not? Why now?

Perhaps the Middle East is unwilling to accept the freedom we are so insistent on shoving down their throats.

I'm starting to develop an attitude about all the religious nonsense going on in the world. (Ok, I've had it for a long time)

 
At 7:55 PM, Blogger justanotherjane said...

Jacke wants clarification, more correspondence, and one more chance to get her panties in a wad.
Come on m.goodman. Respond

 
At 9:05 PM, Blogger RSmith said...

Okay, Jacke (and Janie) . . . I was just trying to point out, in my own clumsy way, that both images are obscene in that they try to depict widely revered spiritual beings for temporal or political gain. Christians throw the jesus image around like a religious pop logo - Muslims have more respect about flaunting their savior's image, but then they let themselves get all worked up by the fundamentalist fanatics over trivial things like cartoons - but seem okay with suicide bombers and beheadings in the name of Allah. There is such a gulf between the two - both have been bastardized by fundamentalist to absurd proportions.
And besides that, I don't want to think about Jacke's panties. It gets me all excited.

 
At 9:21 PM, Blogger justanotherjane said...

Okay m.goodman. Refer to your Jan. 8 posting for my comment!

 
At 10:34 PM, Blogger RSmith said...

Boy, I was set up for that one, wasn't I? Still, I found that particular comment somewhat agreeable, despite our difference of opinion.

 
At 1:54 PM, Blogger Jacke M. said...

Goodman:

"both have been bastardized by fundamentalist to absurd proportions."

I agree. I just don't see Christians reacting and being exploited so violently by their so called "leaders" as I see Islam being exploited. Therein lies the difference.

I'm so glad no one ASSumed what my reply would be. :)

 
At 2:21 PM, Blogger Jacke M. said...

As an after thought, I have a question for you, Goodman:

What is Christianity and what purpose should it serve?

For your info, I have received a couple of these "prayer rugs" in the mail. They are filed in the trash can. But I'm interested to hear what you think true Christianity is, without, as you put it, all the "Hollywood" hype?

 
At 12:10 AM, Blogger RSmith said...

I do see Christians being exploited by their leaders, including their newfound political leaders here in the U. S. I have never believed that George Bush had any real conviction about political positions espoused by his Christian base.

So-called Evangelical Christians have evolved into nothing more than a solid voting block to the GOP, which blatantly panders their direction when the fundies get riled up over abortion, feeding tubes, stem cell research or any other social issue about which they feel particularly righteous.

In practice, opportunistic leaders like Bush exploit Christians for poltical support and then try to keep them in tow as they pursue political goals that have more to do with distributing wealth and power than promoting peace or giving comfort to the poor, which is what I presume Christians want.

You asked me for my definition of Christianity - it's too a big a question for me, really. I'm no theologian, and Christianity is so fragmented with denominational differences that I really have no interest in understanding.

My parents were Pentecostal missionaries to China and pastored several churches in the U. S. and Canada. I grew up thinking Christianity was all about the teachings of Christ. I see him as a man who bucked traditions, spent a good deal of time with outcasts of his time - whores, beggars, the diseased - this to the consternation and disapproval of the established church.

He spoke to the needs of the poor and innocent. He exhorted his followers to love their enemies and called peacemakers the children of God. These are what I think are the underpinnings of Christianity, rather than gaining a ticket to some kind of idyllic afterlife.

The one time JC displayed outrage and anger was the day he went after the moneychangers who were turning a tidy profit working the temple (probably the real reason they killed him). Could he even fathom the amount of money raised in his name since that time? Can anybody?

Based on my limited knowledge of the man, I'm of the opinion that he wouldn't recognize today's church and couldn't possibly grasp the intricate riddles of modern Christianity in all its forms.

What's the purpose of Christianity? To have an excuse to wear that new dress on Sunday? Hell, I don't know.

To some extent, isn't the purpose of any religion to try to explain, through stories and myths, things we can't understand and thus assuage our fear of the unknown? But I'm getting in over my head now - and besides that, I've written too much trying to answer your damn questions. Feel free to pick it apart.

 
At 1:06 PM, Anonymous Jacke said...

You know, Goodman, I'm not so interested in "picking apart" your reply. There always have been and always will be people who are less than genuine in their religious beliefs and/or practices, as a matter of fact, that's true of everything in life. People are, Christians included, in fact, hypocritical, imperfect humans. I sense in you an especially cynical and bitter position on anyone who is religious and that is something that you'll have to deal with on your own, explore on your own but I can't help but wonder what caused all the bitterness you seem to have regarding Christians. Someone must have really hurt you in the past, that's all I can think of that would cause such bitterness.

Anyway, yes, I agree with you that Christianity is exploited but true Christians see beyond that exploitation to a relationship with Christ...that is what Christianity is...a personal relationship with Christ. That relationship doesn't make people perfect, only Christ was perfect and Christians are to allow Christ to work through them. Each Christian reaches a different level according to how much control he allows God to have over his life. That's my take on it, anyway. I'm truly sorry that you are so bitter. Too much of the time non-Christians who really have no understanding of what it is like to have a personal relationship with Christ want to hold Christians to a higher standard, failing entirely to recognize that becoming a Christian makes one no less human. It is through the grace of God that Christians are able to overcome temptation and they do not always choose to rely on God as they should to overcome the temptations of life.

There is a movement to politicize "Progressive" Christianity. It was and is being promoted as an alternative to "Conservative" Christianity. You see, Progressive Christians don't like what the Conservative Christians have been promoting or opposing so they have called them out on it but are engaging in the very same politicization of Christianity which they despised on the part of Conservative Christians. Were you aware of that movement? Jim Wallis is their "darling," if you will. You see, becoming a Christian doesn't make you immune to poor choices, doesn't make you less human, doesn't make you less hypocritical, if anything it shows that a Christian has accepted that he is weak and needs God to help him live his humble life in a better and more loving way.

As far as "peace-makers?" Not all Christians are pacifists. God, Himself, was not a pacifist.

You have a nice day, Goodman. Sorry to trouble you with these "damn" questions. :)

 
At 7:07 PM, Blogger Jacke M. said...

Hey, Goodman, I know of a blog I think you might like:

http://badchristian.com/index.php

 
At 9:44 PM, Blogger RSmith said...

Thanks, Jacke. It was an interesting read. I was wondering if you had a comment about the "Radical Fundamentalists in Education" post on here. What do you think of this type of evangelism?

 
At 10:51 AM, Blogger Jacke M. said...

I'll take a look at it later on, Goodman. For now I am a little spent. :)

 

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