The First Epistle of St. Paul to the Cartoonists

The First Epistle of St. Paul to the Cartoonists May 8, 2015

Tom McDonald has written a fine piece about the rank hypocrisy of those who scold Christians on their Philistinism for failing appreciate Piss Christ or the genius of caking the Blessed Virgin with elephant dung or the thousand other cowardly acts of bravely facing the applause of the Christ-haters–all while wringing their hands over Muslim sensitivities or maintaining a stony silence as Bronze Age goons threaten death to those who insult Islam.  I have zero respect for the gutlessness of the cultured despisers who slap Christians in the face, secure in the knowledge that their victim is constrained by “turn the other cheek” and will not retaliate, and then boast of their “courage”.  And that, duh, goes in spades for the Islamic dolts who try to kill people when they feel insulted. (You always have to go through the kabuki of explaining that you think terrorism is bad for the benefit of culture war zealots–such as the cartoonists–who otherwise will claim that you are “taking the side of the terrorists” if you criticize their poke-the-crocodile stunts.  So:  killing people=bad.  Don’t don’t do that, Bronze Age Savages.)

That said, I want to take things in a somewhat different direction from Tom’s argument and comment on the weird confusion of our time which concludes that the solution to Christ-hatred of our Chattering Class is to respond with some Islam-hatred instead.

The confusion, of course, turns on the fact that Islam-bashing is, like Christian-bashing, protected free speech.  And thanks be to God for the first amendment!  One of the great paradoxes of the gospel, enshrined in the American tradition, is that freedom is so precious that God gives it to us even though it will mean we sometimes misuse it.  Those who want to inflict speech codes and penalties for ungoodthink are menaces whose real itch, of course, is to crush the speech of those they wish to oppress while giving themselves carte blanche to say whatever they like.  I thank God on my knees that the Founders enshrined in law an instrument that stops such people from having their way–at least for now.

The trouble comes when people abuse their freedom.  I don’t mean the classic “Shouting ‘FIRE!’ in a crowded theatre” form of abuse.   For that you can and should get jail.  Rather, I mean things that are perfectly legal, that should remain perfectly legal, yet which no decent person should do any anyway.

St. Paul sums things up this in a passage from his first letter to the Corinthians where he first quotes a letter to him from the Corinthians (drunk on licentiousness they confuse with Christian liberty) and then rebuts the quote.  The remark clearly sticks in Paul’s craw because he attacks it three different times in two separate places:

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. (1 Co 6:12).

All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. (1 Co 10:23–24).

This is is where Paul stays sane while Pam Geller and the cartoonists in Garland, and similar “thumb in the eye” mockers of Islam veer off into a false idea of freedom.  Should they have the freedom to mock Mohammed?  Absolutely!  I will be the first one in line to argue that.  It’s more important to have freedom than to try to stop the abuse of freedom.  That’s why God allows us to sin even to the point of eternal damnation if that’s what we are stupidly bound and determined to do.

But, though everything is (constitutionally speaking) lawful, not everything is helpful, not everything builds up.  And the cartoons mocking Islam were among them.  They were deliberately done in the hope of picking a fight and they achieved exactly that goal.

Does that justify the shooters?  Of course not. But the fact that the shooters were wrong does not mean Geller and Co. were right.  They wanted violence and are delighted they got it.  Indeed, as this meme attests:

there is a deep and sinister delight in that bloodshed and the covert hope for more–preferably more dead Muslims, but if it means a few dead non-Muslims to really get the ball rolling for some serious Muslim body count to be racked up then, well, you have to break some eggs to make that omelet.

All of this, while perfectly *legal* is, quite simply, foreign to the mind of Christ (though not, ironically, foreign to the mind of Mohammed).  It is done, not to help anything, not to build up in any way, but to provoke hatred, retaliation, bloodshed, and death.

Paul’s advice is simple:

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. (Ga 5:13–15).

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  • Amazing……..something else you and I agree on!

  • Joseph

    I just wish others would understand this. I once asked a Franciscan monk what he thought of tattoos or piercings. He said there isn’t a problem with them, in general (i.e. the Church doesn’t frown on them). But, it’s the intent of the person getting the tattoos and piercings that could be problematic in the realm of personal sin. If they are getting piercings or tattoos to simply draw the attention of others, that’s vanity. If they are doing so to draw the negative attention of others, to deliberately offend or be abrasive, then it becomes sinful. They are free to do it, but they’d be abusing their freedom and committing a sin. As you know with sin there are the spiritual and temporal consequences. When one gets a tattoo or piercing with the intention of drawing negative attention towards themselves, thus sinning, there are consequences that they will *naturally* face for doing so. They will find their options for employment will be limited, that people around them will perceive them in a negative manner and perhaps treat them differently, that the police may profile them and treat them differently in particular situations, etc. One can’t escape the consequences of sin and it’s not a *punishment* by God, it’s the nature of things.
    Reminds me of the cartoonists. Sure, they are free to draw what they want, and they should be, but they need to be prepared for the natural consequences of using that freedom to deliberately offend and agitate people. That’s no excuse for a Muslim to go chopping their heads off, but it’s an obvious possibility of using their freedom in that way. In the case of Christian-bashing, however, in a world that is anti-Christian (more specifically anti-Catholic), there isn’t much in the way of temporal consequences as most Christians are willing to let it roll off their back and usually it comes with the benefits of being able to join the *cool kid’s club* and be invited to Cosmopolitan wine and cheese tasting events. The temporal punishment is probably not as immediate as it would be for Islam-bashing… but I suppose it will eventually come as it enables the acceptance of Christian persecution that will inevitably negatively affect their friends, family members, and acquaintances who may disagree with them in silence. My thoughts are that the zeal for such things that deserve immediate consequences will have more severe consequences revealed at a later stage. But that’s for another topic.

    • antigon

      Per accidens, Franciscans aren’t monks, they’re friars.

      • Nate

        You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

        • antigon

          You’re right. Per accidens would be more precise, albeit also two words.

          • Nate

            Obiter is one word. Sort of.

            • antigon


  • Dave G.

    My sons were talking about this. One of them said something that I think is spot on. He said we are a society without a common sense of anything. Decency being one of the things we no longer have in common. And this is the part I liked (warning, I changed the language a little to make the point): the only common complaint today is ‘that asshole’s a jerk because he says mean things.’ I loved that. He had actually made that observation some years ago, but brought it back while we watched a discussion this week on CNN. And that’s true. Not that in societies where everything is in common you won’t have things like this. But let’s face it, consistency is not the strong point of the modern era. Perhaps we can step back and wonder how often we fall short of Paul’s admonition above. I know there are times I do, even though I am able to spot when others do it. But before launching into the obvious problems with statements like those in the illustration above, let me make sure I’m not justifying doing the same on my own watch. I will say I’d rather people say such things than do them. But that’s for another post.

  • ManyMoreSpices

    They were deliberately done in the hope of picking a fight and they achieved exactly that goal…. They wanted violence and are delighted they got it.

    A lot of mind-reading going on here at Kreskin and Enjoying It!

    To suggest that any of these organizers hoped that Muslims with guns would show up to the event and attempt mass murder is calumnious. Now I don’t know if that’s what you meant by “in the hope of picking a fight,” but if I give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you simply mean that they intended to provoke a spirited argument or irk some Muslims,** I see little or nothing wrong with that type of provocation.

    Lest you think I’m going around looking to poke Muslims in the eye, I’ll tell you that the whole “Je Suis Charlie” thing rubbed me the wrong way. At the time I said Je ne suis pas Charlie, because I don’t believe in insulting people for the sake of getting a rise out of them, particularly when the insults pertain to their cherished religious beliefs, even when they’re wrong. It’s rude and I can’t imagine that it’s in any way effective to insult millions of peaceful Muslims as collateral damage of the efforts to insult the jihadists. I have Muslim friends and I’d never dream of being such a jerk to them. And I certainly won’t identify as a publication that insults Christ.

    We’re fortunate not to live in a binary world. I can say that I do not believe in going out of my way to insult other religions. I can also say that I do not believe in kowtowing to the spurious religious demands of heretics. Creating art depicting Mohammed can fall somewhere in the middle. Not if it shows him buggering a sheep or something, but using art to advance a reasoned argument about religion falls well within the boundaries.

    **Now as I read this over, I see you’re actually saying that Gellar and others actually wanted violence, and were cool with having innocent people die in Texas if it meant that some Muslims died too. This is a grave allegation of sin, and one that I urge you to consider retracting.

    • Doyle

      Good response. I think the article makes good points but-unless I missed some direct quotes–this is over the top: “But the fact that the shooters were wrong does not mean Geller and Co. were right. They wanted violence and are delighted they got it.”

      • Mark Shea : “They were deliberately done in the hope of picking a fight and they achieved exactly that goal.”

        First and last time I’ll read your blog. I guess during
        Christ’s time you would side with the Pharisees and Sadducees that Christ was wrong to drive those misguided merchants out of the temple. After all, He was just picking a fight.

        I guess during the medieval period, you would be one that didn’t see the need to stop the Muslim invasion. That it was better to turn the other cheek and let them do what they will. Thank God, God had a different idea and raised up men like Charles Martel.

        I grow weary of liberals like you who are always pontificating and putting words in conservatives mouths. I think if you are honest with yourself, you view people like Geller as more threatening than the likes of those that would kill her. I would continue but you are like a brick wall, firm in your convictions, lacking in facts or intelligent thought.

        Sleep Soundly Mr. Shea, Ms. Geller has your back.

        “We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready
        in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” ― Winston Churchill

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          What kind of candyass compares drawing pictures to either disrupting a major, and majorly corrupt, banking institution, or defending oneself and one’s allies from foreign armies?

          The delusions of grandeur on the whacko right are almost as funny as calling Mark Shea a liberal.

          • Rebecca Fuentes

            It seems to come from the idea that condemning the violence of the offended Muslims AND pointing out the imprudent and uncharitable event that sparked it are mutually exclusive. We are only allowed to do one or the other. Today, the Liberals get to point out the latter, and Conservative the former. Don’t worry, they’ll switch roles and people pointing out both will still be wrong according to both sides.

            • “It seems to come from the idea that condemning the violence of the offended Muslims AND pointing out the imprudent and uncharitable event that sparked it are mutually exclusive.”
              Funny, when people objected to the showing of “Pissed Christ” or the “art” project that had elephant dung on a picture of Mary, there was not the sense of outrage that there is when Geller does the same thing. And to take it to the same level.
              If a “Christian” chose to try and kill the author, would all you “enlightened” readers of this blog be talking about the gunman or the intended victim? I suspect it would be the gunman with a footnote about the “artist”. While in this case, you are more annoyed by the “victim” than the gunmen. Something that you might want to think about- Liberals would have no standards at all, if it were not for their double standards.

              • Rebecca Fuentes

                I recall plenty of outrage over both those pieces. Christians are a safe target because we don’t usually go out and shoot offensive artist and politicians. It would be lovely if every religion was such a safe target, but reality says that in this day and age, it isn’t. It just isn’t.
                If someone gunned down either of the “artists” responsible for the works you mention, I can guess that the discussion would be for prayers for the victim. But those “Artists” could be assured that being shot was unlikely. That doesn’t make intentionally creating something to offend people less uncharitable, just less risky. It deserves to be pointed out that the cartoon contest was designed to intentionally provoke a religious group, some of whom are KNOWN for resorting to violence when offended. That’s not brave. That’s stupid. If going to Mass, receiving the sacraments, or identifying as a Christian also had that risk, doing these things would be brave, because Christ is worth the risk. The Eucharist is worth the risk. But a cartoon contest is not worth that risk. It was a stunt–and it killed people.

              • Hezekiah Garrett

                If you don’t understand why nobody tried to shoot bystanders for looking at Piss Christ, maybe you should try reading that dusty old leatherbound book on your credenza?

                We forgave the pathetic sons of bitches for ‘transgressing’ us. It isn’t oure place to forgive the same transgressive sons of bitches for ‘transgressing’ Islam.

                Your spiritually ignorant comment just marks you as no better than me.


              • antigon

                ‘Liberals would have no standards at all, if it were not for their double standards.’
                As your liberal enthusiasm for the pro-abortion Geller amply illustrates Mr. Scott.

        • Rebecca Fuentes

          There is a big difference between defending against a direct and imminent physical threat and doing something you KNOW will be offensive and provocative. I can’t see how the contest was anything other than intentionally offensive to Muslims. Whether or not Ms. Geller foresaw the potential for violence to be directed at it, it was intended to provoke a negative response from Muslims. I am morally and legally allowed to defend my house and family, but it would be really foolish of me to provoke a break-in, despite that.

        • chezami

          Boy do anger addicts *love* that bit about Christ driving out the moneychangers.

        • antigon

          Dear Mr. scott:
          Since she is also big on mass murder of the unborn, one grows weary of brick-wall liberals like you with your truncated view of ‘us’ who yearn not for a Charles Martel to rise up & in fact protect us, from celebrants of such slaughter as Mz G.

    • “This is a grave allegation of sin, and one that I urge you to consider retracting.”
      True but something the author does not seem to have the capacity. I believe he would view the intended victims as a bigger threat than those that sought to kill them.

      • chezami

        And I would view you as illiterate since I made very clear I think no such thing.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      Has the meaning of art fallen so low in the West that you confuse the scribbles of xenophobes with Caravaggio or even Rembrandt?

      This was not art that happens to . offend some, this was waste excreted to offend.

      The incredible terror of the Caliphate doesn’t frighten me nearly as much as living among such ignorant and dehumanized peoples.

      • ManyMoreSpices

        “Has the meaning of art fallen so low in the West that you confuse the scribbles of xenophobes with Caravaggio or even Rembrandt?”

        You must be great at parties.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          And that’s why your decrepit civilisation will fall to bronze age barbarians.

          • ManyMoreSpices

            Even Mark doesn’t agree with you, and he’s pretty far out to lunch on this:

            Keep thinking that if something isn’t Rembrandt-quality it can’t be art.

            • Hezekiah Garrett

              No one said that here except you.

              But art, properly so called, is aesthetic, that is it possesses a beauty which inspires. The horsetheiving murderer Caravaggio got that.

              What this twaddle in Texas was meant to do was shock, inflame, insult, and degrade. It is transgressive, like much of the creative output of the West today. It edifies no one. In fact, an argument can be made that it numbs the nonmuslim, and is therefore anaesthetic, the very opposite of beauty, the opposite of art.

              You may now have the last word, as my time is too valuable to waste on demonstratedly semiliterate cretins.

              • ManyMoreSpices

                You do sound like someone who makes valuable use of his time.

                Anyway, thanks for letting me have the last word. You stay classy, friend.

    • antigon

      ‘you’re actually saying that Gellar and others…were cool with having innocent people die in Texas if it meant that some Muslims died too. This is a grave allegation of sin, and one that I urge you to consider retracting.’
      Mr. Spices:
      That (rather large) celebration in Mr. Shea’s post of the two dead Muslims might indicate he should not rush too giddily, nor too pompously either, towards thy recommended retraction.

    • chezami

      “To suggest that any of these organizers hoped that Muslims with guns would show up to the event and attempt mass murder is calumnious.”

      Then it’s a good thing I didn’t suggest or say that. I do say they were picking a fight and hoping for violence. And the glee over the chalk outline “art” is clear proof of that.

      • ManyMoreSpices

        It’s your position that they were hoping for violence and were cool with having non-Muslims die in that violence,** but they were not hoping for attempted mass murder? So they were hoping for what? A shooting that ended in a single death, not many deaths? Or maybe two, because that would only be a double-homicide and not a mass-murder? Exactly how much violence were they hoping for, Kreskin?

        I thought you were mind-reading before; now you’ve doubled down on calumny. My goodness. Take a step back. Maybe they were jerks. Maybe they were hoping to infuriate Muslims. But to suggest that they wanted to provoke the murder of innocent non-Muslim Americans is… well, it’s obscene.

        **”if it means a few dead non-Muslims to really get the ball rolling for some serious Muslim body count to be racked up then, well, you have to break some eggs to make that omelet.”

        • chezami

          When you set out to provoke violence, you are deliberately taking the risk that should your hoped-for violence come, the innocent will suffer. These guys were hoping or violence and are delighted it came.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          Okay, they were incredibly stupid.

          Feel better?

  • The aim should be to win converts, and I’ve never understood that mocking and insulting people is the way to go with that.

    • Konservative_Punk

      Yes, agreed. We are instructed to comply with our overlords. Who are we to defy Shar’ia through civil disobedience? The same law that outlaws drawing any depiction of the Pedophiliac Prophet also requires women to cover their heads. How can we be so insensitive as to incite our ‘peaceful’ neighbors to violence by disobeying this law publicly?
      We should stop being so hypocritical and just convert to Islam rather than pretending that Christianity is a faith of deep convictions. Lets admit it, we are spiritual weaklings who cower in fear to the will of our oppressors, and as such we must obey the tenets of their faith before our own. Denying Christ is our first duty as Christians. We don’t want to offend anyone.

      • chezami

        Yeah. Cuz shariah is totally going to happen in Texas.

      • You must be addressing someone else who advocates what you write. Wrong party.

      • antigon

        Dear Mr. Punk:
        Try seeing how that reads if you replace ‘Shar’ia’ with, say, ‘the modern Sanhedrin’ along with but a dollop of other judicious edits.

  • Rich

    I agree with you Mark, in that there really are far too many “Christians” who are ready to see lots more dead Muslims. Sadly, it does seem that they are willing to “break eggs” as you say, to make that omelet.

    It is too bad so many people get easily hijacked by their emotions and stop thinking, especially when thought is desperately needed. Nice post.

  • Gunnar Thalweg

    I think we as a nation can ask the question of whether Islam in fact tests the limits of freedom of religion. I am undecided on the issue, but I am willing to explore the idea that perhaps Muslims should not be allowed in the United States, and that those who convert should perhaps realize the cost of their conversion is their citizenship, and should be required to leave.

    I know it’s heresy from a freedom-of-religion standpoint, but I think it’s a discussion we should have. Islam may be incompatible with a pluralistic society, or may cause so much trouble, through terrorism, that it imposes security costs on everyone that are either unsustainable, or so onerous as to make mockery of the idea that we are a free society. The fact that it’s only a small minority of Muslims is irrelevant — the critical mass to make the U.S. miserable is very small.

    I know people said the same thing about Roman Catholics, that is, about not being compatible with U.S. values. But just because it wasn’t true about Roman Catholics doesn’t mean it’s not true about Muslims.

    Muslims are simply too expensive to have around. I am open to alternative viewpoints, but I think it’s a discussion we should have. Ultimately, we may have to drive them out before they make life unlivable here.

    • antigon

      ‘Catholics…not being compatible with U.S. values. But just because it wasn’t true about Roman Catholics doesn’t mean it’s not true about Muslims.’
      Save a moment’s thought reveals that outside la-la land it’s no less true of Catholicism as well. Likely always was, as Papa Leo XIII gently suggested in his condemnation of Americanism, but when our oligarchic Court in Casey v. Planned Parenthood ruled & explicitly stated that mass murder of the innocent is the very essence of what US law & society considers freedom, the confirmation became unassailable. Catholicism is incompatible with what its chief legal power proclaims to be USA’s very central value, of freedom as they call it.
      Thus by your reasoning, Mr. weg, such as it is, due to this manifest incompatibility t’would only be fair to ban, & not for the first time, the Catholic Faith as well, & so necessarily Her adherents.

      • Gunnar Thalweg

        Well, I don’t believe that the Supreme Court decides what is American and what isn’t, but that’s also an arguable point. I don’t know anything about Pope Leo 13’s condemnation of Americanism.

  • For those of you that would like to read a more reasonable view of the situation try reading this. Written by a classical liberal who has some grey matter between her ears.

    “I find this one of the most curious aspects of the entire episode, although very emblematic of the leftist mind as I’ve come to know it. It is open season on Geller, and no one seems to feel the need to prove that she deserves such contempt. Nor was Geller a household word until this incident, so it’s not as though all the readers are familiar with her work. And yet some of the same people doing this also manage to defend free speech with some vigor, while the majority of their fellows (and some on the right as well) do not.”

    • antigon

      But Mr. Scott, Geller supports the massacre of quite literally millions of innocents via legal abortion. Is that contemptible enough for you?
      As for the neocon agitprop, one fears you mistake for grey matter what is, as usual, but a large concentration of wax.

      • Dave G.

        Again, is there proof she did this because she wanted there to be violence and is delighted she got it? If so, no problem. If not, or no evidence, then false accusation. Whether she supports abortion or not is irrelevant. For it’s been demonstrated that someone can be a known advocate of something like ‘the massacre of quite literally millions of innocents via legal abortion’ and still earn respect from pro life Catholics in other areas. So the point remains with this subject: what did she intend and what is the evidence from her that she intended it? I’m fine with whichever way the evidence leads. I just think it would be nice to see the evidence (and not just ‘obviously she wanted it’ as the evidence).

        • antigon

          It is perhaps not wholly out of the question to suggest the two dead Moslems may be considered a measure of evidence.

          • Dave G.

            The fact that two individuals decided that the appropriate response was bloodshed and were killed before they had a chance to do the same does not prove at all that the planners wished for violence and were delighted that it happened. If they said they wanted violence, or have said they are delighted it happened, then that would be evidence. Of course we could say they were foolish to think it wouldn’t happen, and even speculate if they wanted it to, because only a fool would think such a response might not happen given the recent reactions to such things. But since we are called to avoid such accusations without overwhelming evidence to support the accusations, we have to do better.

            • antigon

              ‘If they said…they are delighted [violence] happened, then that would be evidence.’
              You mean like that giant poster in Mr. Shea’s post?

              • Dave G.

                Oh, Geller and the planners made that? If so, if that was made by Geller and the planners, then yeah, that would be proof they clearly are happy with what happened. I didn’t know they were the ones who made the poster. I just thought it was one of those internet graphics you can find in large numbers.