Sunday, July 01, 2012

[understanding the cartoons on this blog]

First of all, if all you are looking for is a good laugh, you've come to the wrong place.

So sorry about that. This is a social commentary blog, and the majority of cartoons are involved in making comments about society and culture, especially the Christian subculture. Think of the editorial cartoons in major newspapers, with a Christian angle to them and without all the politics. The sidebar list of labels will give you a sense of the range of social, cultural and justice topics which are being addressed here. You can also check out about this blog to read more about my goals and vision.

Now about the cartoons. Most of the cartoons are a springboard to the discussion and questions contained in the text before and after the cartoon. It is thus important to read the surrounding text to understand the point of the cartoons. If you read only the cartoon and it does not make sense to you, read the rest of the post. If it still does not make sense, please post a comment with your questions or thoughts. (If it does make sense, I'd still love to hear from you).

A number of the cartoons use a pastor figure as the mouthpiece for negative views. No, I don't hate pastors. My dad is a pastor and I love and respect him. So why the pastor figure? Two reasons: first, pastors are often the public mouthpiece for the views of the church, and often the primary mouthpiece that tells the congregation how and what to think. Secondly, I'm not a great artist and so if I had to come up with a different drawing each time of different average people saying these things, I would be quite exhausted. This way, I can reuse the same basic layout which is easier. That having been said, the pastor cartoons will be evolving now that he has inadvertantly outed himself. Stay tuned for more on that.

Types of Humour

This blog deploys various literary devices and types of humour to get its points across in the cartoons and in the related text. These should be taken into account when trying to understand the content of the cartoons. Here are some examples:
  1. Tongue in cheek
  2. Hyperbole (exaggerating)
  3. Irony
  4. Inversion (saying the opposite)
  5. Taking something out of its normal context
  6. Caricature (this is particularly the case with the 'western jesus' cartoons, which recast jesus in the style of a contemporary north american christian)
  7.  etc.
Thus, do I always exactly mean what the cartoon is saying? No. Do I always mean what the text is saying? No. But I do mean the cartoon and text to make the point that it is making, using whatever literary and humorous devices it's using. That having been said, you won't find me saying offensive things and then excusing them with the line, "I was just kidding." If something seems offensive, it's often either because you haven't read the text and understood the context, or because it's pointing out something that is not popular to point out and which the reader may not want to acknowledge.

Types of Cartoons

There are a variety of cartoons on this blog and I will describe some of the types here:
  1. Purely funny with no deeper meaning. Simply a good laugh in the middle of the seriousness of this blog [example: chicken soup for everyone]. Because this is a social commentary blog, you won't find a lot of these, but there are some.
  2. Funny with a deeper meaning. [example: man's best friend]
  3. Possibly funny, but giving a twist to a familiar Bible story or passage, with a deeper point being made. [example: lost sheep]
  4. Probably funny, and relating to a broader theme or exploration. For example, there are a number of cartoons labeled "western jesus" and "unclean". The "unclean" label is because this cartoon relates to my reading of (and quoting from) Richard Beck's book unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality and Mortality. The "western jesus" label is because Jesus is portrayed in these cartoons as responding as modern-day westerners might respond in similar situations. [example: jesus febrezus]
  5. Maybe funny or not, and relating to a broader theme or exploration. This is similar to the previous item. For example, there are a number of cartoons labeled "love the sinner, hate the sin." After hearing this one day, I came up with a number of cartoons which are meant to deconstruct this saying, to point out what it is about, how other people hear it and how it can impact others. [example: third row] Similar themes would be "not anti-gay" which explores what it means to be or not be anti-gay, and "defining" which looks at how words are defined and who gets to decide what their definition is.
  6. Not funny, and with a serious point. Essentially, the cartoon here is a pictoral way of introducing a topic. [example: the christian agenda]
  7. Horrifying with a deeper meaning. There are a few of these, and they are not funny in the slightest, neither as a cartoon nor in the point that is being made -- but the point is an important one. [example: ecclesia]


If a cartoon or statement seems offensive to you, take a look at the whole context including the type of humour used, to see if perhaps it is really making a valid point. And keep in mind that I in no way mean that all Christians or all churches are a certain way, but that some Christians or churches are that way. Of course, it might well be that some readers will be offended — either by my perspectives and beliefs, or by the fact that I'm pointing out bad attitudes and wrong actions on the part of others. But my goal here is not to offend but to bring to light what is the case, to explore and process ideas, and to help us all move forward in loving each other as Jesus did. Again, check out about this blog.

This page is a work in progress, and may be updated from time to time.

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