Thursday, October 1, 2009

Blasphemy Recap

I made the conscious choice to blaspheme the Christian god yesterday, not the Islamic one. Why on earth would I do that? Am I lending more credibility to one than the other, or letting one off the hook for being full of ridiculous, untestable, supernatural claims? No. A flying horse is no more likely to be true than a talking snake or a talking ass. And we have equal evidence (none) for the supernatural claims of the Koran and the Bible. We have better historicity establishing Mohammad's likely existence than Christ's, but even if two men by those names lived in their respective times, there is still no evidence that any of the miraculous deeds credited to either actually happened.

Still, I chose to mock the Christian god in honor of Blasphemy Day. I did it in part because I was a Christian. I really did think blasphemy was a very bad sin. I was a sexually active, drug abusing teen and young adult, who wouldn't listen to a song if it had the words "God damn" in the lyrics. This particular insane form of guilt was in effect as recently as when this song first came out.

This was my first Blasphemy Day and I wanted to concentrate my efforts on "the god of my understanding" or the god I used to worship and cry out to and grovel before, literally, each Sunday morning. No, thank you! I'm done with all that and I wanted to have a big spectacular "In your face, Jesus!" kind of day. (What? If people worshiped Voldemort I'd be just as pissed at them and think just as highly of their deity, while still not believing it was REAL.)

I saw a lot of people on Twitter and YouTube yesterday had replaced their user icon with the infamous Danish cartoon. I didn't. 1) Because I'm lazy and 2) Because there is still a lot of mistreatment of Muslims in America, and I don't want to encourage that behavior. Words matter. What we say and what we write down matters. My grandmother influenced the lives of and even killed people in far away states and countries through the power of her written words. Until Muslims aren't so mistrusted - I'm sure they rank close to atheists, even if we are the most distrusted minority in the US - I'm not comfortable with the same level of mockery and anger from myself that I direct at Christianity.

I have several very different pictures of Islam in my head. One is of suicide bombers - young men, deprived of healthy sexual relationships with healthy and free women, brainwashed by faith and fervor and wicked Imams - blowing up dance clubs and coffee shops and buses with school children on them in Jerusalem. Another is of the Green Revolution in Iran. Yet another picture of Islam is of the woman forced to wear a burqa, and to quit her teaching job, after the Taliban moved into her country. One more picture in my head is of my old neighbor and friend Khadija, who was born in the US and converted to Islam in her early 20s and chose to wear a burqa. I think of the Muslim girls on my college campus, who were sweet and kind and models of "Christian virtues" while not being at all Christian in their faith or beliefs.

I think that until more Americans have as complex a picture of Islam as they do of Christianity - recognizing the gulf between Scott Roeder, Pat Robertson, and Rev. Barry Lynn; understanding the differences between Catholic, and Pentecostal, and Mormon - until Americans see Islam as being a religion with as many facets and faces as Christianity, I'm not comfortable adding to hatred. I do think that Islam in the larger world is a threat, largely because Islam is so often theocratic and totalitarian. In this country, in my community, Christians are more likely to oppress both me and the Muslim, than the Muslim is to oppress me. When that changes, my approach and tactics will change as well. But for now, I'll leave that particular form of scrutiny, mockery, and blasphemy to someone else.