The heart of the matter in four frames

Kenan Malik wrote the introduction to a new Danish collection of Jesus and Mo cartoons and he has posted it on his blog.

One of my favourite cartoons shows Jesus and Mo explaining to the barmaid the Aristotelian idea, later picked up by both Islamic and Christian theologians, that ‘Everything that has a beginning must have a cause’ and ‘the universe has a beginning, therefore it must have a cause’. ‘Therefore?’, asks the barmaid. ‘Therefore no bacon’, replies Mo. ‘Or gay sex’, chips in Jesus. It is a typical dig at the illogicalities of religious faith. It also, in Jesus and Mo’s inimitable way, taps into one of the most difficult theological conundrums for believers, the tension between the idea of God as ‘first cause’, or as a ‘condition of being’, and the God of scriptures that does all the other things that religion requires of Him: perform miracles, answer our prayers, wrestle with the devil, set down moral law, punish sinners. And tell us to keep off the bacon sarnies and gay sex. I give an hour-long lecture on this topic. Jesus and Mo get to the heart of the matter in four frames.

I did a post about that years ago, in which I called it the theist four-step. The four get compressed into one by the interested parties: it’s just assumed that if you accept this idea that there’s a deity, then you also accept the idea that it’s good, and it gets to tell you what to do, and that you reliably know all three. That’s silly: the four are quite separate. I accept that it’s a fact that there’s a pope. The end. I don’t accept the claim that the pope is good, I don’t accept the claim that the pope gets to tell me what to do, I don’t know of any duty I have to the pope. Same for god (if I accepted that it’s a fact that god exists, which of course I don’t).

Nor is it just religion that Jesus and Mo cartoons dissect. They unpick many of the idiocies of liberal culture too. Another of my favourite cartoons shows Jesus and Mo sitting at the bar having ‘pledged not to say anything that might cause one of them to feel offended.’ They sit in silence. And still more silence. Until finally Mo says, ‘This is nice, isn’t it’. In one cartoon strip, getting to the fundamental problem with the liberal fear of giving offence.

Always relevant, alas.

Comments are closed.