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« Voting under Threat of a Wood Shampoo | Main | A liberal at Liberty »

June 01, 2009

The wrath of God: Sunday comics edition

I hadn't read Doonesbury in months, but a panel in this Sunday's strip (the "Reverend Sloan, I've been noticing" panel; the Washington Post doesn't run the first two "throwaway" panels) caught my eye, and I went on to read the whole thing.

How would you respond to some of the points Garry Trudeau raises here? I realize it's hardly the first time they've been raised, but they usually make for a pretty interesting discussion topic, whenever and wherever they're raised.

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Comments

Jason Taylor


That comic strip is remarkably ignorant. Jesus does not come across as nice. What about "Woe to you, scribes and pharisees, teachers of the Law?"

Dan Gill

I've learned to simply ignore Gary Trudeau. Nothing he writes (or draws) is worthy of my time.

Steve (SBK)

Agreed, Jason. It's pop culture level stuff, but what do you expect from a 6 panel comic that's supposed to be funny.

Like this phrase: "mellow with everyone" - like Jesus is some kind of hippie on drugs?

And this: "Whenever you read from the Old Testament, God is always crabby and snarky to everyone..." - like God is a hippie who needs a fix.

Trudeau grew up in the 60s right?

Anyway, I wish people could see the 'furious longing of God' (to use a Brennan Manning phrase) in the OT.

LeeQuod

I'd ask for proof that God is **always** crabby and snarky in the OT. And I'd ask for an opinion about Ananias and Sapphira.

But the main point is that God is *justifiably* crabby and snarky in the OT. People in the liberal Protestant tradition seem to assume that OT characters were just minding their own business when God came along and smacked them upside the head (or as Allen might colorfully express it, "gave them a brimstone shampoo"). They don't seem to apply Hosea to themselves, or any of the numerous other passages where God shows just how unrequited His love has been.

Oh, and Jesus said he didn't come to bring peace, but a sword. Doesn't sound too pacifistic to me.

Jason Taylor

Well, LeeQuod, Leroy Jethro Gibbs is famous for smacking people on the head. Of course NCIS always gets it's man so perhaps there is a small anology.

David

It is indeed foolish to discuss Gary Trudeau's theology. I thought the strip was about money lending - as in "are money lenders "good" or "bad"?".

Gina Dalfonzo

Is it foolish? Just because the problem has been much better and more accurately expressed elsewhere, that doesn't mean it's not a real problem with which many people wrestle.

But of course, the "money lenders" issue is worth discussing as well.

LeeQuod

Imagine preparing to drop a tithe check - or, for that matter, a few bucks - into the offering plate, and being told that you'd have to go over yonder to purchase "church tokens". Then, at year-end, getting a statement showing that the exchange rate for "church tokens" was not dollar-for-dollar, but only a percentage, so your tax deduction was smaller than it should have been. And, reading the annual treasurer's report, you found that the church reported the percentage to the IRS, not the full amount.

You would probably feel pretty grumpy - not unlike those coming to worship who found that their currency wasn't acceptable, nor were their lambs brought from their own flocks. You, like they, probably wouldn't be in a mood to worship God with your whole heart.

Shucks, you might even turn into a bitter, religion-hating liberal.

That is, unless you saw how Jesus felt about it. And, *did* about it. (Hmmm, a "rope shampoo"? Allen's a treasure, he is.) It is indeed puzzling, from a liberal perspective, that Jesus didn't simply seek an injunction or ask them politely to stop. But Jesus always did seem to be kinda passionate about making sure nothing hindered even the worst cynic's access to God.

Glenn Sunshine

I find it particularly odd because the scriptural passage cited appears to be from Rom. 1, which the last time I checked was in the New Testament section of my Bible.

Rolley Haggard

Another thing – Biblical revelation is progressive. With the passage of time and the growth of the canon of scripture, the truth about God and His works became clearer.

There is no essential difference between YHWH in the OT and the NT. It is only that now we see clearly what formerly we saw obscurely.

The Old Testament is true, but it is not complete. The Old Testament shows us “the backside of God”; the New Testament His face. Both give accurate views of God, but the one is partial (“veiled”), the other complete and unmistakable. We can see the back of a person and know it is a person, but we do not know what the person really “looks” like. When we see the face, we see the person – i.e., we can distinguish him from all others. Christ is called the exact representation of God because finally, in Christ, we see what God is really like.

The point being, I think there is certainly some truth in the popular conception noted in the cartoon, and if we have failed to satisfy people as to why there is a seeming difference between OT and NT, maybe it’s because we’re not so clear on it ourselves. At any rate, I’m taking it as one more challenge to “be able to give an answer” to others for the hope that is in me.

Jason Taylor

"With the passage of time and the growth of the canon of scripture, the truth about God and His works became clearer. "

In the IDF a recruit calls his officers "sir". A soldier calls them by their first name.

Dave

The main thing to remember about 'pop-theology' is that the people who write it have never read the Bible. Trudeau has, no doubt, heard from some "theologian" that the OT God is different from the NT God and never bothered to check it out for himself. Jesus comes across as a hippy because, to the 60's mindset, Jesus was a hippy. A lot of people picture Him as just another long-haired guy in robes wandering through a hostile world, eschewing possesions, and preaching peace and love. It is a symptom of the superficial culture in which we live.

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