Saturday, June 13, 2015

Christianity, Islam, and Insults

Last month, two gunmen opened fire at a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest in Garland, TX.  They were apparently driven to a murderous rage by the thought that the prophet, all powerful though he may be in the afterlife, might be offended by people drawing his picture.  Thankfully, their opposition to the First Amendment was answered by a devotee of the Second, as a traffic cop shuffled them off this mortal coil with a few well-placed bullets.

If you find drawing some silly cartoons a sad and stupid reason to be targeted for murder, join the club.  It got me thinking, though, about the context of all this.  And no amount of media spin can make the contrast between the contemporary followers of Islam and Christianity any less stark.

As a young Christian child circa 1992, I was first made aware of this stimulating piece of art:

That's a picture of Jesus Christ submerged in "artist" Andres Serrano's urine.  Believe it or not, I wasn’t taken aback by the fact that my mom and dad weren’t demanding the death of the guy who put the likeness of my Lord and Savior in a bowl of piss and called it art. 

This was, early on, a lesson in life: There are those who believe in things other than my beliefs, and even those who would ridicule my deepest convictions for fun. 

Then, and over the years, I’ve learned to laugh at it.  And why would I not?  They're sad little people, those who would insult me and my innocent choice to find faith in God -- the God of peace and love and tolerance for one's fellow man.

In my religious conviction, I never even considered that Andres Serrano should die for his insult, nor did I ever wish ill will toward anyone else who disagrees with my faith or would ridicule my personal beliefs in such a way.  Why?  Well, two reasons.  One: Because I am right, and they are wrong.  Plain and simple.  God will vindicate that choice, so I have no need to spur worldly recompense in His stead.  Two: My God's instruction doesn't entail directives to harm anyone who might disrespect His image.  Blasphemy is sin, but I am not the judge in that ethereal and prospective Court.

In hindsight and in consideration to those other faiths that require worldly justice for such insults?  I just count myself lucky that I'm not a savage, indoctrinated to commit hateful acts for such trivial nonsense. 

And the furor over a Muhammad cartoon is just that.  Trivial nonsense.  Look:

There are millions of Muslims who would kill over that innocent picture (which is the unveiled message that the image conveys).  Millions more would not kill, but would understand the impetus to kill over it.  

Would Jesus Christ truly care about Andres Serrano putting his likeness in a vat of urine, or the millions of people who celebrated it?  Or some unbeliever casting his likeness in ink?  Would my God have me murder someone else in His name for something so insignificant?

No.  And as for Muslims who would either commit violence or sit silent as their religious cohorts attempt murder over something so stupid as a Muhammad cartoon, well… they are threats to a pluralistic society and/or complicit fanatics which must be removed from our culture with which they and their beliefs are not compatible.

William Sullivan