Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 01/24/01


Artist's Statement

    My editor, Andy Markowitz, called to tell me about an angry phone call he'd received about this one. Andy has gotten very adept at thinking on his feet when it comes to defending the outrageous offenses to public sensibility I perpetrate every week, and said that he thought it was an absurd depiction of a very human behavior in extremis, in contrast to what the Bible holds up as an example.
    "That sounds like a lot of intellectual bullshit," the man said. [I'm paraphrasing Andy's paraphrase here, so pardon me if I'm gettng the phrasing wrong.] "This is just typical of the anti-Christian sentiment in this culture. You would never hve run a cartoon that insulting to any other group!"
    "You obviously aren't a regular reader of Tim's cartoons," replied Andy. God bless him.
    Andy gave me the guy's phone number in case I wanted to discuss it wih him, which I didn't--what, I'm going to go out of my way just to get yelled at?--but in case that guy, or anyone like him, is reading this, let me speak for myself now:
    I realize how disingenuous this will sound, but it honestly hadn't even occurred to me that this cartoon might be controversial. I admit that I have drawn cartoons that are pretty unambiguously hostile to Christianity (for example, "Sour Grapes at the Rapture," which shows me and my friend Jim swigging whiskey out of the bottle and taking pot shots with a rifle at the Elect ascending into Heaven), but I never thought of this as one of them. In fact at first I was going to depict myself on the cross, breaking down and bitterly cussing out my persecutors in the same unChristlike manner shown here, but I'd just done a couple of other cartoons using myself as a character and I didn't want to get to self-centered. So I just used Jesus instead. As it says on my tombstone n the cartoon on the back of issue #3, "I Thought It Would Be Funny."
    I'd just sort of forgotten that there are people out there for whom the image of Christ on the cross is just not an acceptable subject for humor or parody under any circumstances. I live a very insulated life, and it's easy for me to forget that  people still actualy believe in God, just like I forget that most people still think we live in a democracy and actually watch TV every day.
    There are three reasons I tend to mock Christianity more often than other religions:
    1.) I was brought up as a Christian, so I have a few personal resentments against it. Although not as many as you might think. It didn't really do me any harm, except made me feel guilty about everything, and once I figured out that it was a bunch of hooey I turned out okay. I don't have the kind of rabidly rebellious or vengeful feelings about it that a lot of lapsed Catholics and Born-Agains sem to. I don't believe that I'm any more entitled to make fun of it than non-Christians, but I do think that my familiarity with it makes me better at making fun of it and all its lovable foibles.
    2.) Christianity is the majority religion in this country, and it is the job of cartoonists, comedians, humorists, artists, and other cultural critics to subvert the dominant culture. I know that Christians, like pretty much every other group in this increasingly Balkanized culture, likes to feel like an embattled minority holding out against the overwhelming onslaught of secular humanism, but come on: ninety-five percent of the population believes in God; some appalling percentage, like fifty, actually believe in angels.You can't run for public office in America wthout pretending to believe in God. You guys need to accept that there are plenty of non-Christians, agnostics, and atheists out there, and I'm afraid we get to say whatever we want, just like you do.
   3.) Christianity is just much stupider than other religions.
    I'm just digging myself in deeper here. Well, I probably can't convince anybody not to be offended by this cartoon, but maybe I can convince you that offending you was not my intention. You can only use something as a subject for irreverence if you, or your readers already understand it as sacred. What Andy tried to explan to the caler was correct; the only way this cartoon could even be considered funny is by absurd contrast to the example of (literally, if you believe in the divinity of Christ) superhuman dignity, unfaltering faith, and compassion for his executors that Christ is said to have exhibited on Golgotha. (Yeah, I went to Sunday School, you fuckers.) So at least give me credit for familiarity with (if not reverence for) the text I am parodying. Thank you for your attention, and may the Lord Jesus Christ bless you and keep you all, the humorous and the humorless alike. Amen.