CSotD: Monday Funny Pages

Stephen Collins wrote a cheerful alternative holiday cartoon, starring the pagan goddess Eostre, who may or may not have inspired many of our Easter traditions, as this research into the story suggests.

That article traces Eostre back to a mention by the Venerable Bede, which was picked up by a trusting Jacob Grimm, and then embroidered by later storytellers. While none of this proves there ever was a cult of the goddess, none of it disproves it, either.

A lot of modern paganism is based on pure hokum, but, then again, those eggs and rabbits came from somewhere, and it certainly wasn’t Jerusalem.

The Irish say of fairyfolk, “I don’t believe in them, but they’re there,” and that seems like a good way to approach Eostre.

It’s also good that Collins had some fun with the non-religious aspects of the holiday without stooping to blasphemy, and Spring as a petulant adolescent is a great touch.

Clay Jones came a little closer to blasphemy, but his target was the book-banners and education-tamperers who dictate what must not be taught, specifically the ones who claim teaching topics like slavery should be off-limits because it makes white kids feel guilty.

He’s being kind by suggesting the crucifixion would make Romans feel guilty, since for centuries, the story was used by Anti-Semites to make Jews feel guilty, and, going back to the dubious roots of Eostre, it’s generally accepted that some passages of the Bible were added later to emphasize the shameful notion that Jesus was betrayed not by Rome but by the Jews.

It’s worth remembering that the tales of the Trojan War were dismissed as folklore until Heinrich Schliemann found the site, which didn’t prove that ancient gods took an active part in the war but did force scholars to try to sort the history from the legends.

Similarly, a First Nations people in western Canada won a land claim by citing the legend of a great bear who had wiped out a village with a sweep of his paw. Archaeologists found the ancient remains of a village that had been destroyed by a massive mudslide. There may not have been an actual giant bear, but it was clear that they had, indeed, been living in that area and had a valid claim to the land.

Ancient histories were often embroidered to make their chosen heroes seem greater and their hated villains seem more despicable.

Thank goodness we don’t do that sort of thing anymore, eh?

Jeff Stahler dropped this Moderately Confused (AMS) panel today and sent me back, first of all, to a You Damn Kid strip from 2015:

Fact is, the Pledge is legally required to be said in schools in 47 states though individuals may opt out, according to the Supreme Court, in a 1943 decision by Robert Jackson, who wrote a stirring dissent in Korematsu vs United States, was chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials and joined the Court in striking down racial discrimination in Brown vs The Board of Education.

Mister, we could use a man like Robert Jackson again!

Stahler’s cartoon also reminded me of the morning flag-raising at Camp Lord O’ The Flies. We’d all line up while the flag was raised and then put our hands over our hearts and say the Pledge of Allegiance. There were a substantial number of kids from Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico who came to camp to improve their English, and every morning they, too, pledged their allegiance to the United States.

Even at 10, I was cynical enough to suspect that the Pledge was not all that binding on any of us.

Mind you, by then Joe McCarthy and Simple J. Malarkey were seven years in the past, and nothing like that Red Scare super-patriot nonsense could ever happen in America again.

And, as Non Sequitur (AMS) reminds us, we’ve moved on to more important issues, and so I’ll do the same.

For instance, Bob Eckstein also sent me back in time with this one, but in a good way. I dropped out of college at the start of my senior year and moved to Colorado to write a novel. Given the quality of my friendships there, including a girlfriend who became my wife, and the general tone of life in Boulder in 1970, I could very easily have spent the year contemplating a novel instead of writing one.

However, said wife-to-be was also a John Stewart fan, and among her albums was one in which he sang

Noone reads the papers anymore
They are nothing more than lectures on the war,
And those who hold the hope
They just sit and smoke their dope
And they talk of “where it’s at”
And all the books they never wrote.

That wasn’t who I wanted to be, and so I embraced the idea that the hardest part of writing is applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.

The book was mediocre, but it got written, which puts it well above all the books that never were. And I did go on to make a living by keeping those pants on that chair.

Doing what you told yourself you should beats the hell out of ending up on the couch like this poor fellow in Pros & Cons (KFS). The unexamined life is not worth living, and — while certainly better late than never — you should figure life out before you’re halfway through it.

The idea that Sixties people sold out simply isn’t true. I knew people who became teachers, lawyers and other conventional professionals, but they didn’t place their trust in the organizations, institutions and corporations in which they worked. And I knew people who became EPA administrators and jazz-club operators and magicians and whatever you call someone who makes ebony tuning pegs for expensive violins.

But before all that, we used to joke that our kids were going to rebel by cutting their hair, putting on ties and carrying briefcases around.

At least, we thought we were joking. We hadn’t anticipated the creation, and popularity, of Alex P. Keaton.

And there’s the split: Michael J. Fox is someone I admire, but, as it says in that Wikipedia article, “Ronald Reagan once stated that Family Ties was his favorite television show.”

Hardly the same thing.

Ah well, perhaps Samuel Johnson had the best solution to it all:

7 thoughts on “CSotD: Monday Funny Pages

  1. During the grade school Pledge of Allegiance, I stood out of respect for the teacher and classmates, but didn’t pledge anything.

    1. After my son’s first day of kindergarten, I asked what he had learned . First, he said I don’t want to talk about it. So I gave him a snack and asked again, and he said “They thought us to talk to the flag.”

  2. It became clear to me, by the fifth or sixth grade, that the flag was not a symbol of freedom, it was a religious icon, and that the Pledge of Allegiance was not a patriotic statement but a prayer. and as I became more and more less Catholic, I was extremely uncomfortable with that. I remember the esoteric rules that were laws about handling flags, and by the end of the ’60s, Abbie Hoffman had the gall to wear an American flag as a shirt on Merv Griffin, and I knew that soon enough, American companies would figure out that the marketing of the flag as product was more lucrative than leaving it as a sacrosanct symbol, and those old rules would (and did) lose their application in national law. The tell of the “under God” thing being added during the Red scare wasn’t lost on most of us, but I doubt that anyone beyond school age ever found the occasion to recite the Pledge anywhere, for any reason unless they were in the company of kids who needed to do it because it was required.

  3. In sixth grade, I was not yet an American citizen (and was being raised without any religion), so I did not say the P of A. My Mother was called in for a discussion with the principal. No idea what was said, but I was no longer chastised in class for not saying the P of A. Saying the P of A is no different than bowing before any other idol.

  4. I’ve always found it ironic and profound that Christian folk decided to use “under God” to split up “one nation indivisible.”

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