I had no idea cartoonists wielded such vast power. First it was the Danish cartoons that outraged the Muslim community, and now an Austrian named Manfred Deix has drawn the ire of the Catholics: the Viennese archdiocese has ‘tattled’ on him to the public prosecutor for violating the National Socialist Prohibition Act and for degrading religion (it’s in German; there is a horrible Google translation).
He has mocked the EU’s ban on crucifixes in the classroom with a cartoon that argues that the “ban shall be deftly circumvented,” and which includes a “multicultural compromise” — Jesus on a cross with a crescent and a Buddha on it, wearing robes with both the hammer and sickle and the swastika on them.
The top right example is familiar — that’s a typical American classroom, I think.
Another one that has spurred Catholic outrage is a cartoon that speculated about just what this god we’re supposed to worship looks like, and asks, “we know the church, but just who is god?” (nudity and some scatological content in portraits of the deity…click at your own peril).
How odd that people would react with such anger at depictions of what the earnest apologists for religion are always telling us is just a metaphor. If their god really is the grand creator and maintainer of the entire universe, reducing him to a sketch in a magazine is really no more degrading than reducing him to, say, a set of stained glass windows, a liturgy, and a holy book. If he really is a cosmic being who loves everyone, I should think he’d love a cynical cartoonist as much as he does a pope. Or are they going to declare certain renditions of the deity privileged, while others are proscribed? How will they determine which vision of god are true and accurate, and therefore protected by secular law?
For more thought on these kinds of issues, read Greta Christina’s article on the great metaphor myth of religion. If religion really were an abstraction, a metaphor, a personal sentiment about a universal divinity, we’d expect a certain kind of response to satire, art, and opinion about this god-creature…and it’s not the reaction we see. The Austrian Catholic church seems to have a fairly specific idea about what kind of portrait of god you are allowed to paint — I wonder where they get their specific details?