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Jesus was Fat

Entry 955, on 2009-02-28 at 21:31:00 (Rating 4, Religion)

I noticed in the news today that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has issued an official apology for a comedy skit on a TV program which caused outrage among the Christian community, especially in Israel.

Private broadcaster Channel 10 aired a show featuring Israeli comedian, Lior Shlein, who mocked Christian beliefs, including the myths that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus walked on water. Instead he depicted the Virgin Mary as a pregnant teenager and Jesus as being too fat to walk on water. In the show, Mary become pregnant at 15, thanks to a schoolmate and Jesus could never have walked on water because "he was so fat he was ashamed to leave the house, let alone go to the Sea of Galilee with a bathing suit".

I often find this sort of humour quite hilarious, partly because it is so daring in lampooning a subject which is often considered to be off limits. Of course, a lot of the humour in a comedy act is in the delivery so its hard to say how funny this would be in real life.

Just to make things more complicated there was a political aspect to this as well. It was intended to criticise Pope Benedict XVI's recent decision to lift the excommunication of British bishop Richard Williamson, who has said that no Jews had been gassed during the Holocaust and that only 200,000 or 300,000 had been killed.

The Vatican said the show had ridiculed Mary and Jesus with "blasphemous words and images" that amounted to a "vulgar and offensive act of intolerance". There are two claims here. First, that the act was blasphemous. I guess that's true, but blasphemy is only a problem to people who take their religious beliefs too seriously, so it is rather subjective. And I think compared to some modern comedy the level of vulgarity and intolerance seems fairly mild.

So my advice to the Vatican would be to get real and worry about things that really matter instead of reinforcing the common idea that it is a antiquated institution which is out of touch with reality.


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