Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Laugh It Up

Two editorial cartoons, each satirizing the divinity and holiness of revered Christian and Jewish figures, were immediately embraced by religious and political leaders of both faiths. The first, depicting Jesus Christ as a homosexual predator of pre-teen boys, appeared in the French political weekly Justine. The artist, B. Gistang, shows a lecherous Christ trying to lure two 10-year-old boys into a tent filled with sex toys by promising them "instant salvation." The second cartoon, drawn by Joao Santos for the Portuguese monthly O Deus Está Inoperante, renders Moses as an AIDS-infected rat raping Christian pigs at izmel (circumcision knife) point. Both cartoons have been reprinted in various US papers, and the response has been overwhelmingly favorable.

"First-rate parodies," said "700 Club" host Pat Robertson. "Unlike Islam, ours is an expansive, flexible faith, and we Christians, being secure in our belief, welcome any and all attacks on our Savior Jesus Christ."

"Personally, I think that the Son of God would get a kick out of it," chuckled Jerry Fawell. "Jesus loved a good joke, the nastier the better, and I believe that He would find this cartoon totally hilarious, as I and many in my congregation already have.

"This is what separates Christians from Muslims," added Fawell. "We can take a joke. They simply can't."

Jewish writer and moralist Elie Wiesel concurred. "Judaism is the embodiment of comedy, and this cartoon showing Moses as a diseased rodent celebrates our devotion to a humorous God. How do you think we survived countless pogroms and the Holocaust? By laughing at ourselves!

"I only pray that Muslims can view their Prophet Mohammad as casually and sardonically as Jews and Christians view God." Wiesel shook his head sorrowfully. "I would say more, but it is simply too painful."

He paused, then cackled, "NOT!"

The ability of Christians and Jews to laugh at coarse and racist assaults on their beliefs has led to a cottage industry of novelty religious products. One young entrepreneur, Zack White of Mendham, New Jersey, has cashed in on this growing market.

"I've been swamped with orders," said White, founder of Edible Faith. "I've had to take on additional staff in order to keep up."

His most popular gift items?

"Milk chocolate crucifixion nails packaged in a cross-shaped box," White answered with a smile. "The biggest orders for this come from Catholics, especially around Easter. Then there's the 'Toraham', which is a Torah made of ham with passages written in a honey glaze. My Jewish customers order this wholesale during High Holy Days. It serves as both a religious text and as a filling meal, and the leftovers are a blessing on rye. It's oy-licious!"