CSotD: Easter Duty and other sources of guilt

It’s always good to make your Easter duty, and so I’ll confess that I have to look twice at Ella Baron’s cartoons because her style makes me like them even when they are irrelevant to a Yank.

In this case, she’s talking about Britain’s freshwater crisis, which involves raw sewage in what should be clean rivers and streams, but I’m fascinated by the fluffy, joyous little bunny about to plunge into the mess and the nasty-looking one who has climbed out and is on its way to your home.

I like all the bunnies, and the water and the grass and the contrast between this ghastly picture and the cheerful script greeting. And I’m against dumping raw sewage in rivers, so it’s valid for me to like the cartoon.

I’m also aware that it wouldn’t print well and I hope nobody is printing it grayscale, but perhaps that’s like observing that your Chevrolet is too heavy for the horses to pull. Unhip to say the least.

It’s probably more relevant to wonder how it looks on a phone, because my reading cartoons on a large desktop monitor makes me a very small piece of the audience.

I also like Matt Pritchett‘s ultra-simple style, which addresses the same raw sewage issue but would look good reproduced black and white on pulp.

Which brings us to Pearls Before Swine (AMS), where Rat is attempting to make his Easter duty but running into that Deadly Sin of Pride. In order to be shriven, the penitent has to be penitential.

Which is central not only to Rat but to Stephen Dedalus in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. His dying mother wants him to perform his Easter Duty — go to confession and take communion — but he refuses because, while he doesn’t believe, he fears committing sacrilege.

Pride is a category that includes arrogance and being a stiff-necked prig. Think of it as a puddingstone model rather than a system, all those things muddled up into a conglomerate.

It’s even equal opportunity: You can be a stiff-necked fundamentalist or an arrogant cocksure atheist!

It’s easier to be a Stoic or a Sufi where it’s assumed you are proud but they’re willing to help you work through it, and where things begin by accepting guilt as a natural instinct to be gotten rid of.

But another confession: I’m proud of my Stoicism, making me unlike Rat but too much like Stephen Dedalus.

I feel guilty about it, if that helps.

Arlo and Janis laid it out for discussion a quarter century ago.

F’rinstance, if Robert Burns sits there judgmentally watching bugs on a lady’s bonnet, does his being in church count?

I studied a significant amount of theology in college, and I know that, if you laugh at this James Mellor cartoon, you’ll go to Hell, either for the inherent blasphemy or — if you’re High Church Anglican — for disrespecting HRH the Princess of Wales.

If you apply the principles of Overthinking Everything, you might suggest that the rumors touched off by Catherine’s disappearance were presaged by a similar flood of speculation about the fate of Joshua ben Joseph.

And oh my goodness gracious sake’s alive, don’t mention James, who is in the Bible but not in many of the paintings, unless you count this Man Overboard.

Whether or not Jesus had a couple of brothers doesn’t change the theology, but it sure clashes with the tradition. I respect the folkloric aspects of the Bible, but doing that makes me a heretic in a lot of places.

So I avoid those places.

Juxtaposition of Jonesy

Jonesy appears to have a temporary fascination with Crusaders or at least with k-niggits, since the second cartoon might simply refer to those who kill each other rather than traveling long distances to kill pagans.

In days of old when knights were bold, people only went to confession maybe once in their lives, en route to the Holy Land, where they would slay a few heathens and then fill a small bottle with water from the river so they could come home and baptize their son as Jordan, or, if the child were a girl, as Tiffany (Theophania).

Assuming they got home at all, which assumes that they didn’t die on the trip out, or from disease once there, or possibly even in battle with the aforementioned heathens, or on the way back. Which includes the possibility of being captured by Leopold of Austria, but I’m sure things like scurvy and cholera were far more likely.

At which point, when you find yourself face-to-face with the Almighty at the Final Judgment, you’d better hope the dude isn’t wearing a turban.

In any case, if you were hoping for a heroic death in battle, your odds would be much better signing up with the French, since, as Jonesy indicates in that second cartoon, the English were rather good with a longbow.

But his cartoon reminded me of this famous illustration of a WWII bomber, used to explain survivorship bias and here’s the truly fascinating story of all that, the important part being this:

The idea was that airplanes returned from missions with bullet and flak damage in predictable areas, which suggested adding additional armor to those places. The logical, tactical flaw being that the damage patterns showed not the vulnerable place airplanes could be hit but, rather, the places where airplanes could get hit and still make it home.

The real vulnerability was where you don’t see bullet holes, because the planes that got hit there didn’t make it back.

It’s similar to the “fact” that wearing helmets in combat increased brain damage. Rather, it increased odds of surviving brain damage. Those who didn’t wear helmets didn’t survive to be treated.

Meanwhile, going back to Jonesy’s piece, getting consistently hit in the legs with arrows would certainly discourage me from standing there waiting to find out what happens next.

Which is probably why they bother to shoot arrows at you.

Wallace the Brave (AMS) reminds us that there are better ways to spend your time than shooting at each other.

Then if it turns out there is a Heaven, they’ll find you a slot.

Unless you believe you’ve earned one. That’s prideful.

Though not as prideful as this guy:

15 thoughts on “CSotD: Easter Duty and other sources of guilt

  1. I suppose it might have ruined the style to make the water chunkier, but as is had I not already known about the sewage issue I would have thought it was meant to be a chocolate river given the Easter connection.

    Probably not as much of an issue with the intended audience, though.

    1. In a season of chocolate bunnies the sewage can be mistaken. But it looks great on my phone.

  2. James Mellor came real close to the Far Side cartoon Gary Larson chose not to submit showing a haggard-looking bearded man pouring himself a cup of coffee. Caption: “Jesus rises from the tomb.” (I like both of them, so unless it’s true that “God writes a lot of comedy*” I too am damned.

    (*Yes – I have heard Garrison Keillor say this, so I’m relatively sure it wasn’t Mark Twain or Chief Seattle who said it first.)

    1. The entire quote is “God writes a lot of comedy the trouble is, he’s stuck with so many bad actors who don’t know how to play funny” so I think you are safe

  3. Mike wrote: It’s probably more relevant to wonder how it looks on a phone, because my reading cartoons on a large desktop monitor makes me a very small piece of the audience.
    I reply: it’s not the size of the audience that’s important. It’s the ‘fidelity’ and ‘readability’ of the image. Phones screens and cameras are crap no matter how high the resolution you cram into a tiny image.

    A comment elsewhere asked: “how did jesus find guys named mark, luke and john in the mid-east in the first century?”

    I’ve always considered ‘easter duty’ to be what it sounds like: a distasteful task that provides no real benefit. Even a pastor once agreed with me that the confessional is just a fast revolving door: being forgiven of a crime so you can go out and commit more crimes with a clear conscience and not feel guilty about it for more than 6 days.
    I always thought that guilt was important as it is the conscience telling us ‘stop doing that, it’s wrong!’ But, in today’s world so many have murdered their conscience.

    And, speaking ill of Gordon Lightfoot is blasphemy (he tried to say ‘tongue-in-cheek). I’ve always loved his work. I’m sad that he’s gone.

    O.K., I’ll stumble off the soapbox, now, and let others participate. (But, sincerely, thanks, Mike for keeping us ‘woke’.

  4. I’ve never seen it mentioned anywhere, but it occurred to me that Jesus assigning Mary’s care to John was an indication that she had no other natural children, as tradition of the time was that care of the widowed mother is the responsibility of the the eldest living son. If James was Mary’s step son, he would not have been obligated to care for her.

    Of course, I’ve never attended any church-affiliated schools, so maybe this is a foolishly simple point that has been long dismissed by theologians.

  5. Mark 6:3 and Matthew 12:46 are just a few of the places where the Gospels mention Jesus having multiple brothers and sisters. He is definitely not portrayed as an only child.

    1. The Catholics say that the brothers are more distant relatives, and linguistically it’s possible. For instance, in Genesis, Lot is called Abraham’s “brother” four times (Gen 13:8, 11; 14:14, 16) even though he was Abraham’s nephew. In the Deuterocanonical book of Tobit (7:5) Raguel calls his cousin Tobit his “brother.” And Mark 16:40 list James and Joses as being the children of a DIFFERENT Mary.

      Also, the Orthodox (using a 2nd century text called “The Gospel of James”) believe that Joseph was a widower, and the “brothers” are Joseph’s children from an earlier marriage.

      1. I’m a little leery of the Apocrypha, which isn’t surprising since I’m also a little leery of the canon when it comes to this sort of thing. James contains a lot of traditional material but doesn’t seem like much of a history. Which is to say it offers a alternative explanation of the boys but — heh heh — it isn’t canon.

    1. Don’t know how happy they are, but The Heretic Brewery in Fairfield, CA has a great line-up of beers and a decent pub menu.

  6. As you like song, there is a ‘found filk’ in the xkcd recently about the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

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