As a teenager, I was easily offended. Any perceived slight would earn an immediate “That’s not fair!” to which adults within earshot would either roll their eyes or ignore. (I didn’t think that was fair either, nor do my tween daughters today.) At 15, I became an evangelical Christian and appended this teenage whininess to my faith. When evil sinners denigrated my God or my inchoate beliefs, I would angrily condemn their blasphemies. After all the Good Book states, “God cannot be mocked.” The Big Guy upstairs needs an uptight high schooler to defend His honor!
Wednesday we had a vastly more violent reaction to religious offense. As is all too common, Islamist radicals murdered individuals who mocked not their God, but a flawed human whom they claim as a prophet. Jihadists never seem as defensive about Islam’s other prophets, be they Jesus, Moses or Jonah. No, only the scimitar-swinging Mohammed is so fragile that he cannot even be illustrated without a bloodbath of vengeance.
In the Navy and in college, I was surrounded by petulant atheists who took joy in denigrating traditional religious beliefs. By then I’d learned that God was fully equipped to protect His reputation from their silly insults.
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.” It doesn’t say we shouldn’t mock Him (though we probably shouldn’t) or that we will be punished if we do (though we might be). No, it states that He cannot be mocked — any more than we can be mocked by flies crashing into our windshield.
The staff of Charlie Hebdo not only ridiculed Islam, but furiously lampooned Judaism, Christianity and other religious beliefs. They wasted barrels of ink, intellect and artistry trying to mock their Creator. In that they failed.
But the team succeeded in their pursuit of free speech and all-too-rare classical liberalism. Their murderers may have punished them for their art, but ensured that Charlie Hebdo’s defiant message receives more exposure than ever. Several media outlets will cower while others take up the pens of Charbonnier, Cabu, Wolinski, and Verlhac to draw thousands of new blasphemies against this fragile prophet.
I’ve never claimed theological expertise in any religion. However, the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo reveals the deep insecurity and faithlessness of zealots who boast of being the world’s most pious. How pathetic is a god who needs a bumbling cloud of flies to defend him? How weak is one’s faith that he doesn’t trust this allegedly omnipotent deity to avenge himself?
They claim to follow Allah, but believe only in their lord of the flies.