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Spirituality in Web Comics

This article raises an interesting question about the lack of serious spirituality in comics, but a.) doesn't really answer it, and b.) mostly deals with mainstream superhero comics.

But this is something I notice - very few comics deal with religion in any way, and the ones that do are usually either hostile, or, much more rarely, heavily evangelical. One of my goals with my comic is to explore what it's like for a person with strong religious beliefs to exist in the modern world. As a result, I got (mostly when my comic was new and there was less nudity and pot smoking) a lot of comments along the lines of 'this isn't going to turn into a Chick tract, is it?' Which of course, no, it isn't. But I guess these things make people nervous.

So I have two questions:

1.) Why, given that most people believe in some kind of God, gods or absolute being, is spirituality of any kind (Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Pagan, Satanist, whatever) such an unpopular topic in comics?

2.) Do you know of any good web comics that deal with spirituality intelligently?

Best,
Charles

Spirituality in Web Comics

This article raises an interesting question about the lack of serious spirituality in comics, but a.) doesn't really answer it, and b.) mostly deals with mainstream superhero comics.

But this is something I notice - very few comics deal with religion in any way, and the ones that do are usually either hostile, or, much more rarely, heavily evangelical. One of my goals with my comic is to explore what it's like for a person with strong religious beliefs to exist in the modern world. As a result, I got (mostly when my comic was new and there was less nudity and pot smoking) a lot of comments along the lines of 'this isn't going to turn into a Chick tract, is it?' Which of course, no, it isn't. But I guess these things make people nervous.

So I have two questions:

1.) Why, given that most people believe in some kind of God, gods or absolute being, is spirituality of any kind (Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Pagan, Satanist, whatever) such an unpopular topic in comics?

2.) Do you know of any good web comics that deal with spirituality intelligently?

Best,
Charles

Re: Spirituality in Web Comics

pclips's picture

[quote:5a133677c1="Charles_Snow"]
1.) Why, given that most people believe in some kind of God, gods or absolute being, is spirituality of any kind (Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Pagan, Satanist, whatever) such an unpopular topic in comics?

I don't have a spiritual bone in my body. I am a complete rationalist/empiricist, and an atheist.

However, I have a keen interest in the way religion makes people behave and interact, since it does seem to make people do so many interesting things. I deal with religion and spirituality from a strictly psychological/sociological viewpoint, and I try to portray real behavior driven by real thought processes, even with characters whose beliefs oppose my own.

Your comic (Sordid City Blues - read it, people!) is one of the only ones I know of which takes on that challenge, too. You have 3-dimensional characters with different and perhaps even opposing worldviews. I can only do little tiny vignettes in my format, but your development of an entire story arc around it is something special in webcomics.

[quote:5a133677c1="Charles_Snow"]
2.) Do you know of any good web comics that deal with spirituality intelligently?

Out of my reading list, the only one I might cite is Schlock Mercenary. Howard Tayler has a deeply spiritual side that he talks about in his blog, and although the social culture he creates is one of flippant, casual violence and military-style morbid humor, the placement of a long-suffering reverend among these gunslingers who worship only money is important. The reverend character is not just played for laughs; you get the sense his unshakable faith is in a constant state of trial. Laid on as lightly as that, it works.

But I have to say, I am really turned off by every comic I've seen that's done from an evangelical perspective. Like the arguments of evangelicals themselves, the jokes reek of illogic and tend to be piss-poor stabs at being clever, assuming the reader to be operating out of the same Fairyland of Self-Evident Truths that the uncritical minds of their creators never stray from.

Maybe, though, just maybe...there is a kind of joke which only appeals to those whose beliefs it reinforces.

In that case, this would be my equivalent to what evangelical readers get out of evangelical comics:

--->Brian McFadden's "Big Fat Whale" - Atheism's One Commandment<---

One print comic I would recommend is Blankets by Craig Thompson. It deals with spirituality pretty effectively I think...it's not preachy or heavyhanded, but religion is a definite presence.

And besides, it's a comic everyone has to read sooner or later.

Quote:
One print comic I would recommend is Blankets by Craig Thompson.

Yes, I should have mentioned Blankets, because it is exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about. Beautiful book.

I often see themes relating to religion in Asian comics, as well. Much of Osamu Tezuka's work comes to mind, as did Masamune Shiro, back before he became exclusively a panty-shot artist.

Quote:
Out of my reading list, the only one I might cite is Schlock Mercenary.

'S about time I checked that out.

Quote:
But I have to say, I am really turned off by every comic I've seen that's done from an evangelical perspective.

Yeah. I like Doug TenNapel okay. When he's drawing, he's a cartoonist first and an Christian second. He maybe has a message he really wants to push, and sometimes that gets obnoxious, but he's still mainly interested in telling the story. And he can handle a little bit of ambiguity here and there. Every little thing doesn't have to serve his message. Nor does every comic he does have an altar call.

This is exactly what most evangelical artists don't do. Obsession with subject matter, even God, is the easiest way to kill any kind of art.

Re: Spirituality in Web Comics

[quote:4c5acba8ca="Charles_Snow"]1.) Why, given that most people believe in some kind of God, gods or absolute being, is spirituality of any kind (Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Pagan, Satanist, whatever) such an unpopular topic in comics?
Religion tends to be a "With us or against us" sort of deal. And if you're not with them, you have to take up an "against them" stance to protect yourself.

And really, these days, a lot of the vocal religious folk come across as anti-modernity. Artists of all sorts tend to enjoy all of the fruits of modern society such as knowing how to use a condom, not having to wear a burqa, thinking it's okay for gays to get married and adopt kids, or use the lord's name in vain without having to worry about being stoned to death.

So when it comes down to it, the hostility is based on the actions of the religious... (more specifically The Christian fundamentalists, The Jewish fundamentalists, and The Islamic funadmentalists. The hardcore Abrahmic religions. You dont see people getting pissed off at Buddhists do you? Nope, those guys arent getting in anyone's faces.)... And if these people could get off of the idea of salvation through force (through weapons or legislation), that'd make things a lot less hostile.

Quote:
2.) Do you know of any good web comics that deal with spirituality intelligently?

Sprituality or religion? They're not exactly the same things.

RE: Re: Spirituality in Web Comics

Townie's picture

God, Jesus, the Grim Reaper, an angel gone rogue, and a demon turned guardian angel, have been pretty frequent characters in my comic lately

- Ben

Quote:
Religion tends to be a "With us or against us" sort of deal. And if you're not with them, you have to take up an "against them" stance to
protect yourself.

Yeah, symbol systems are easily exploited by unscrupulous people, frequently without even realizing that they're doing so. And artists tend to fit poorly into pre-defined symbol systems anyway. I really should have framed this explicitly in terms of spirituality, rather than casually conflating them as I tend to do.

But I see a lot less religion and spirituality in comics than I do in literature or music. Johnny Cash, Madeline L'Engel, Anne Lamont, Annie Dillard, C. S. Lewis, Leonard Cohen, I could go on and on without even looking anything up. With comics, I come up dry very quickly.

I think it might be a question of the nature of the medium. Spirituality is both viceral and complex. Music handles spirituality well because it's very primal, books handle it well because there's a lot of time to unpack complex ideas. Comics have neither that strong impact or that luxury of bandwith, making it a hard medium to deal with spirituality in.

Quote:
Sprituality or religion? They're not exactly the same things.

Either or both, but it's an important distinction to make in this case, and I really should have. Nate Powell's
It Disapears is a very spiritual book that has no religious symbolisim at all.

Re: Spirituality in Web Comics

[quote:4eaedfebe4="Charles_Snow"]
2.) Do you know of any good web comics that deal with spirituality intelligently?

This MZDM strip from a few years back drawn by Denise Jones was quite controversial at the time...
God Metaphors
(click the "Unfiltered" radio button in the upper left to read the comments).

How good or intelligently it deals with the subject is up to the reader I suppose. People tend to see most belief systems objectively except their own.

RE: Re: Spirituality in Web Comics

Uncle Ghastly's picture

Posting Jesus in my webcomic makes baby advertisers cry.

Of course, [url="http://www.sinfest.net"]Sinfest[/url] often toys with ideas of relgion, though admittedly it's not always in terribly insightfu. I do think that the levity towards an otherwise serious subject is appealing; poking fun without without being blatantly offensive, having a joke beyond mere religion-bashing.

I think it's good and healthy to approach serious or controversial subjects with a little bit of humor...but it can be tricky to do that without stepping on toes. Sometimes the best thing to do is to avoid citing a specific religion altogether, but rather to address more general ideas like morality and human nature, etc. For example, Same Difference (Derek Kirk Kim) has a couple of moments that I would consider spiritual, in that they talk about moral issues, but they don't refer to any particular religious group. I suppose readers are more likely to pay attention to the message if they don't feel like they have to go on the defensive.

scarfman's picture

At Arthur, King of Time and Space the four central characters are Christians of varying levels of devotion. Sometimes they visit present day and there've been a couple of times when I've tried to address contemporary religious and spiritual conflicts. While Arthur, King of Time and Space is all about propagating myths, I try to be realistic and not to allow anyone to win or lose all the arguments. I think I'm being even-handed about it; but then, it seems to me Johnny Hart is even-handed about it, and online comics fandom slags on him all the time. I (like, say, Jesus) despise righteous rule-following but it irks me that Christianity-bashing is our culture's token permitted prejudice. I've yet to get any hate mail from either camp, but for all I know that's because I only appeal to moderates (or because my daily audience is only about 200).

Of course the real challenge shall be writing Galahad, but I think I know what to do and he won't even be born for more'n two years so I have a running start.

Malakhim is a rather spiritual comic, though not religious. The main characters are an angel and a dead kid who refuses to let go (ie, he's sort of a zombie, though not a brain-eating variety).

It's a very fascinating comic. If you start reading it, Aleph (the creator) recommends starting at this point as the first couple of comics sum up the entire last storyline, and help eliminate most of the confusion some people have had with those comics.

Enjoy!

I think the question shouldn't be why isn't there more spirituality in comics, but rather you should be asking why more spiritual people aren't creating comics.

scarfman's picture

[quote:8b0bc79d5c="KrazyKrow"]I think the question shouldn't be why isn't there more spirituality in comics, but rather you should be asking why more spiritual people aren't creating comics.
How do you know they aren't? Maybe they are.

One of my main characters is a talking statue of the Hindu god Ganesh. However, while I firmly believe Hinduism is just as valid as any other religion, I will now undermine my own point and say that he's a character because I thought Ganesh looked cool and seemed like a nice guy, not because of any particular spiritual leanings on my part.

Really, it's all mythology to me. I have lots of mythology in my comic, but granted that I don't believe a Judeo-Christian mythos to be any more or less valid than, say, a Mayan mythos (and the Mayan demons have way neatier and ickier names, like "Scab Stripper" and "Lord of Pus") I just go with the myths I think are cool, or make 'em up to fit.

My main character thinks gods are sort of like foot fungus, which may or may not count as a spiritual viewpoint....*grin*

scarfman's picture

[quote:077f33adc3="I"]it irks me that Christianity-bashing is our culture's token permitted prejudice.
I tried not to post this sentence from my second-to-last post before I had fully articulated what I meant, but I failed.

While Christianity-bashing is widely socially acceptable for the intolerance it stereotypically represents, since Christianity is what most of Western civilization was raised in, this very intolerance does tend to run in an undercurrent in our attitudes toward other spiritualities (Does it matter that Scientology was invented in a science fiction novel, when it genuinely brings people worth?). This leaves us, in general as a society, without any. If there isn't any in webcomics, that could be why.

On the other hand - to elucidate on the point from my most recent post - in at least once case I know of, General Protection Fault, the creator's Christian spirituality was (if I remember Darlington's own comments accurately) kept out of the strip in consideration of the general sensibility described in the paragraph above until it was purposefully evoked for a relatively short (for Jeff) storyline of which it was the centerpiece. There's no real telling who else out there that you read every day might not also be saving it up in order to make the point at the right time.

[quote:e936a968ed="scarfman"]..Scientology was invented in a science fiction novel, when it genuinely brings people worth
The worth being the millions of dollars they bilk dippy movie stars out of...

Quote:
I think the question shouldn't be why isn't there more spirituality in comics, but rather you should be asking why more spiritual people aren't creating comics.

That is, in fact, exactly what I wonder. It's a demographic oddity.

My guess, based on the spiritual people I've known, is that the kind of spiritual people who would try to share their spirituality are less inclined to read comics than the general populace. Keep in mind that the percentage of the general populace that's interested in comics beyond whatever's in their local paper is pretty small nowadays.

It's a cycle of sorts, spiritual people don't get interested in comics because there aren't any spiritual comics, so spiritual comics don't get made, etc.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of "spiritual comics" is Jack T. Chick, although I don't know if rants about Dungeons & Dragons turning teens on to witchcraft or the Catholic church conspiring with the UN against America is what you had in mind.

I once stumbled across a comic on Keenspace about Mormon missonaries, written by a Mormon, but I can't find it anymore.

See, to me, spiritual and evangelical are two very different things. The former would be self expression, the later advertising.

Without getting too pluggy, one of the reasons I inlculde spritual/religious material in SCB is because I'm trying to figure out what I think. Sort of a fiction-as-thought-experiement thing.

Admitedly it would be nice if I could make both overzealous Christians and overzealous anti-Christians put themselves in the shoes of their 'enemies', but I don't waste a lot of time trying to sell that idea. Better to tell the story and leave the reader to come to thier own conclusions.

Jamie Robertson's picture

I’ll say this much for my comic, Clan of the Cats. It does not skirt around religion or spirituality. The main character is spiritual Pagan and does not follow any dogma per se. Her brother-in-law is a Christian and pretty devout. The main villain in the current story was once a servant of the Church and God, but now seeks to destroy God and his creation. The secondary villain could be described as a Satanist, reformed. ;)

Whether this is a good example or not, I guess that remains to be seen.

Take care,

Jamie

[quote:4a27e97eb5="William_G"][quote:4a27e97eb5="scarfman"]..Scientology was invented in a science fiction novel, when it genuinely brings people worth
The worth being the millions of dollars they bilk dippy movie stars out of...
Yes, con men are uncool, but that's beside my point and I can't tell whether you're avoiding it rhetorically or unintentionally. When those millions represent an acceptable percentage to the dippy movie star of his/her yearly income and the dippy movie star is genuinely uplifted and comforted and sincere in his/her faith, what has s/he done wrong?

Furthermore, stipulating for the sake of argument that the chiefs of Scientology are also true believers and practice what they preach, what are they doing wrong? I say, nothing.

If you're unable to stipulate even just for the sake of argument that the chiefs of Scientology are believers, then I'd see that as a symptom of the cultural snideness toward spirituality and religion of which I spoke in the paragraph you excerpted.

scarfman's picture

[quote:7afdefa84f="I"]Yes, con men are uncool, but that's beside my point and I can't tell whether you're avoiding it rhetorically or unintentionally. ...
Dammit. Thought I was logged in.

RE: Re: Spirituality in Web Comics

Howard Tayler's picture

There are several reasons why you're seeing what you're seeing:

1) non-religious writers creating escapist literature see religion as one more thing to escape from.
2) non-religious satirists see religion as a straw man with a bullseye on its chest
3) religious writers creating escapist literature see their religion as too sacred to write into their fantasy. Besides, returning Home to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus -- the be-all, end-all of most Christian doctrines -- makes for pretty boring fantasy.
4) religious writers with an axe to grind see secularism in all its forms as a straw man with a bullseye on its chest.

Face it: religion doesn't make very good fiction. You can argue that this is because it already IS fiction if you want to twist the knife a little bit, but there are lots of reasons.

For ME (I'm the Schlock Mercenary guy), the tenets of my faith do not lend themselves well to verbatim portrayal in a science-fiction setting, so I never bothered. There are a few tenets I stick to, however:
1) Science won't ever prove or disprove a religion based on spiritual experiences -- at least not so that those who have NOT had the experiences can convert, and not so that those who HAVE had the experiences will recant.
2) Spiritual experiences only work for those to whom they are given. My own "proof" that there is a God will only work for me. If YOU want proof that there is a God, you have to walk that path yourself.

The result, when applied to my comic, looks a lot like real life. People do what they do, some believe, some don't, and there is a strong moral underpinning to the laws held by various societies. There is also massive inconsistency, evil as an absolute, evil as a relative, and all the necessary bits for making with the funny. Sometimes the religious guy takes it on the chin, and sometimes he gives as good as he got. As a religious guy myself, that's about the best I can hope for.

I've gotten email from people who said "It's nice to see religion winning the argument in a comic." I've also gotten email from people who said "I'm so glad you're not preaching to us, and having religion always winning in your comic." This amuses me on several levels.

I'm sure there are other comics out there with similar approaches to religion and spirituality, but I don't think I read any of them.

--Howard

Schlock Mercenary

RE: Re: Spirituality in Web Comics

Uncle Ghastly's picture

I wouldn't say Religion makes bad fiction. Sheri S. Tepper (my favorite author) wrote some brilliant science fiction novels dealing with religion.

Shepard Book was a very interesting character in the science fiction series Fire Fly.

It's pretty hard not to see "The Force" in the Star Wars movies as a form of religion.

A lot of fantasy and SF novels use fictionalized religions which are often alagories of real world religions.

Even in my naughty little comic religion is present in the form of not just one, but three Jesuses. Basically the way it plays out in my comic is a Jesus exists if someone believes it exists. So I've got Jihad Jesus because that's the Jesus the Luke 19:27 Christians belive in. I've got Aryan Jesus because there are people who believe that Jesus was a blond haired, blue-eyed european dude. I've got Drunk and Bitter Jesus who is dark and cynical, broken and beaten who sees the spirituality he came to deliver usurped by people with their own agenda and crushed under the wheels of Dogma.

Then I've got a couple billion "doesn't exist" Jesuses for all the people who simply don't believe in Jesus at all.

I'd say the subject of religion is a pretty fascinating one in fiction and I don't even believe in a god. Heck the subject of religion is a pretty fascinating one in real life (which is why I minored in Religious Studies).

Re: RE: Re: Spirituality in Web Comics

scarfman's picture

[quote:542409cc96="HowardTayler"]religious writers creating escapist literature see their religion as too sacred to write into their fantasy.
See, that's nonsense to me. (I mean, yes you're right I know people do it, but it's nonsense. When Schulz first put Bible quotations in Peanuts readers complained. What the...?) If people's faith is really that important to them, it's the first thing they ought to incorporate into a world they're building themselves. Too sacred? Father Andrew Greeley didn't seem to think so when he wrote science fiction.

[quote:542409cc96="HowardTayler"]1) Science won't ever prove or disprove a religion based on spiritual experiences -- at least not so that those who have NOT had the experiences can convert, and not so that those who HAVE had the experiences will recant.
2) Spiritual experiences only work for those to whom they are given. My own "proof" that there is a God will only work for me. If YOU want proof that there is a God, you have to walk that path yourself.
Well, now, there you've got me. I've said that to people myself, in so many words.

(Really, I'm still feeling my way through this at Arthur, King of Time and Space, with characters whose beliefs aren't necessarily the same as mine, so treat what I write here as thinking out loud.)

Re: RE: Re: Spirituality in Web Comics

Jamie Robertson's picture

[quote:f338c0338d="Ghastly"]
It's pretty hard not to see "The Force" in the Star Wars movies as a form of religion.

For the most part, "The Force" is Taoism, which is all about balance and flow. On top of that, however, is a sense of the Judeo-Christian ethics of good and evil. Yoda and the Jedi seem to come from a cock-eyed version of Zen Buddhism. What was so great about the Luke character is that he embodied all these traits and made it work.

Jamie

pclips's picture

[quote:ce953ec873="scarfman"]it irks me that Christianity-bashing is our culture's token permitted prejudice.

Oh yeah. There's a serious problem with Christianity-bashing in this country.

'Cause you can turn to half the AM stations in any market in the country and you ONLY EVER hear those drawling voices bashing CHRISTIANS. You NEVER hear them bashing, say, liberals, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, Pagans, atheists, gays, single mothers, scientists, journalists, immigrants, teachers...only CHRISTIANS. What's up with that?

Why, if I turn on the radio and hear one more wacko molecular biologist from Dartmouth or Stanford standing at a lectern and pounding on a copy of The Origin of Species, denouncing Christians for the inherent evil of their beliefs, I'm just going to scream!

[quote:e15d4030a8="Anonymous"][quote:e15d4030a8="William_G"][quote:e15d4030a8="scarfman"]..Scientology was invented in a science fiction novel, when it genuinely brings people worth
The worth being the millions of dollars they bilk dippy movie stars out of...
Yes, con men are uncool, but that's beside my point and I can't tell whether you're avoiding it rhetorically or unintentionally. When those millions represent an acceptable percentage to the dippy movie star of his/her yearly income and the dippy movie star is genuinely uplifted and comforted and sincere in his/her faith, what has s/he done wrong?
Let me thow this back at you then:

Taking what you say as being true: Al Qaeda gets spiritual comfort, and upliftment from seeing foreigners in Iraq getting their heads lopped off on TV, therefore there is nothing wrong with what they do.

Granted, scientologists arent killing anyone... That we know of... but religion is simply another tool to control people through their fears and superstitions. As a means of social control, religion has a lot of worth. So I guess you're right.

Quote:
2) Spiritual experiences only work for those to whom they are given. My own "proof" that there is a God will only work for me. If YOU want proof that there is a God, you have to walk that path yourself.

It's almost as if the existance of god is something made up in people's own heads... Go figure.

Uncle Ghastly's picture

The problem with Scientology to me is that it just screams scam. What the hell kind of religion copyrights its scriptures? What the hell kind of religion protects its rituals as "trade secrets"? It's completely devoid of anything even remotely spiritual and is just about bilking gullible people out of their cash and basically forcing them into slavery. Then there's the whole secretive nature of it. It starts out claiming to just be a philosophy for self improvement and as you progress through the levels you learn that all your problems are caused by alien beings that were imprisoned in volcanoes thousands of years ago by and blown up with atomic bombs. But by the time you get to all the whacky Xenu goodness you've been so conditioned that you'll just swallow anything they give you.

Granted to me beliving that Xenu's legion of blowed-up alien engrammes possess your brain to make you do bad things is really no more nor no less whacky than believing there's a magic dead jew on a stick who will sometimes grant you wishes if you tell him how great he is and will take you to paradise when you die.

The thing is, however, Christianity isn't hiding anything. You know up front what you're getting into. There's no suprise ending. The magic dead jew and his dad the invisible sky elf are out in the open as are the scriptures. It's not like they spring this stuff on you after you've been brainwashed to the point you'll swallow just about anything. Even though Christianity as a religion is just far too whacky and illogical for me to ever believe in at least I can respect its openess. Anyone is free to call themselves a Christian, practice Christian rituals, read Christian scriptures, even found Christian churches without being sued for violating trade secrets.

It's that Scientology hides itself away in the shadows and operates without a shred of spiritual sincerity but merely as a corporate entity that causes me to have no respect for the so-called religion at all.

Who knows, maybe someday in the distant future Scientology will have a reformation just like Christianity did and actually become a genuine spiritual religion. Until then it's nothing more than a means for a few con men to fleece some weak-minded rubes out of their cash.

I do have respect for religion, but as an engineer, Scientology bugs the hell out of me. The e-meter is a freakin' ohmeter fer chrissakes! You can go to any hardware store and buy one for $10, way less than the $80 the Church of Scientology charges. The only difference is that theirs has the damper removed, so that the needle bounces around.

Anyways, here's Harlan Ellison on Scientology:

Quote:
Ellison: Scientology is bullshit! Man, I was there the night L. Ron Hubbard invented it, for Christ Sakes!

I was sitting in a room with L. Ron Hubbard and a bunch of other science fiction writers. L. Ron Hubbard was famous among science fiction writers because he was the first one to have an electric typewriter.

Wings: He claimed to have written Dianetics in a weekend, and nobody can deny it.

Ellison: That's true. He wrote Dianetics in one weekend, and you know how he used to write? He used to take a roll of white paper, like paper you wrap fish in. He had it on the wall, and he would roll it into the typewriter and he would begin typing. When he was done, he would tear it off and leave it as one whole long novel.

We were sitting around one night... who else was there? Alfred Bester, and Cyril Kornbluth, and Lester Del Rey, and Ron Hubbard, who was making a penny a word, and had been for years. And he said "This bullshit's got to stop!" He says, "I gotta get money." He says, "I want to get rich".

Wings: He is also supposed to have said on that same night: "The question is not how to make a million dollars, but how to keep it."

Ellison: Right. And somebody said, "why don't you invent a new religion?

They're always big." We were clowning! You know, "Become Elmer Gantry! You'll make a fortune!" He says, "I'm going to do it." Sat down, stole a little bit from Freud, stole a little bit from Jung, a little bit from Alder, a little bit of encounter therapy, pre-Janov Primal Screaming, took all that bullshit, threw it all together, invented a few new words, because he was a science fiction writer, you know, "engrams" and "regression", all that bullshit. And then he conned John Campbell, who was crazy as a thousand battlefields. I mean, he believed any goddamned thing. He really believed blacks were inferior. I mean he really believed that. He was also very nervous when I was in his office because I was a Jew. You know, he was afraid maybe I would spring horns or something.

Anyhow, the way he conned John was that he had J. A. Winter, who was a doctor, who was a close friend of John's, and he got him to run this article on Dianetics, the new science of mental health.

Uncle Ghastly's picture

Shhhhh... you're violating a "trade secret" by telling everyone that the E-metre is just a simple Ohm meter. Violating religious trade secrets makes baby Xenu cry...

... cry for his lawyers.

I'm starting a new religion. Our faith is based on electrical capacitance, rather than electrical resistance.

I'm a 50 picofarad priest!

Uncle Ghastly's picture

I think I'd like to start a new religion based on masturbation. I figure if my followers spend all their time masturbating they won't be going out there and getting into trouble and making my religion look bad like the followers of other religions often do.

But how can I come up with a scheme to get people to pay me whenever they masturbate... Man... the first person to come up with a scheme to make masturbation pay on the internet is going to be a millioneir...

...oh wait.

scarfman's picture

[quote:46092bda2b="pclips"]Oh yeah. There's a serious problem with Christianity-bashing in this country.

'Cause you can turn to half the AM stations in any market in the country and you ONLY EVER hear those drawling voices bashing CHRISTIANS. You NEVER hear them bashing, say, liberals, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, Pagans, atheists, gays, single mothers, scientists, journalists, immigrants, teachers...only CHRISTIANS. What's up with that?
I don't know. I listen to FM radio.

Sorry, I seem to have generalized poorly. Perhaps I ought to have phrased it, Christianity-bashing is the prejudice employed in the US by those who decry prejudice. And the issue I was addressing was less the labeling, by either side - not that I support the labeling, mind you* - than the attendant prejudice against religion itself. There's a general perception being promulgated by US pop culture that religion is a binary state - you're either a fundamentalist Christian or an atheist - which isn't true. This in turn has given rise to the functional belief that freedom of religion means the other guy has to keep his out of your sight, which also isn't true. And either or both of these untruths are no doubt partially responsible for a lot of the lack of spirituality in webcomics, which is the topic on the floor.

* You may argue that I myself am labeling. Hmm.

Uncle Ghastly's picture

I think the problem with Christian Bashing is more the fault of moderate Christians allowing their religion to be hijacked by the fundamentalist hate mongers. When moderate Christians who believe Christianity should be a religion of love, peace, and tolerance remain quiet while fundamentalists bomb abortion clinics, burn books, and preach hate they have no one to blame but themselves when the secular world begins to see their religion as a bunch of small-minded, superstitious hate-mongerers. Moderate Christians need to decry those who spread hate and misery under the banner of Christ with at least the same volume the fundamentalists use.

It's no different than Islam. A few fanatics preaching hate get all the attention while those Muslims who really do believe in Islam as a religion of love and peace remain largely silent. Worse is when the moderates make excuses "oh, we don't condone acts of terrorism, but we can certainly understand why people would resort to that kind of behaviour".

Instead of telling the secular world they shouldn't bash Christianity, moderate Christians would do much better to look at what gripes the secular world has with fundamentalists and take steps to remedy them.

scarfman's picture

[quote:6107e15b79="Ghastly"]Instead of telling the secular world they shouldn't bash Christianity, moderate Christians would do much better to look at what gripes the secular world has with fundamentalists and take steps to remedy them.
Exactly. You're exactly right. And I like to think, or at least hope, that I am doing that. That's what I've been trying to articulate. Thanks.

You do know why you don't hear people bashing pagans and the like on the radio... it's because if it's on the radio it's in specific areas with lots of like-minded people, or it's in churches and specialized clubs and the like. Though if you want to hear pagan-bashing, just put a pagan who truly believes in magic and the like in a room with any non-pagan crowd and you'll hear people tearing into the pagan's beliefs, faith, the concept of magic, and all sorts of things.

The reason Christian-bashing is allowed in the mainstream is because it's not a "minority" and thus it's safe to be bashed. It's why it's okay to talk about how white men are abusers and horrible and unsafe and prejudiced and all other nonsensical idiocy. White men are "in power" and thus "not a minority" (which is an ironic twist; if you're a poor white man, you're literally at the bottom of the totem pole with no access to programs or the like because you're white and thus shouldn't qualify for anything).

If I were to make a statement like this, I'm sure people will complain: Children are safer in a single-parent household where the parent is a father than in a single-parent household where the parent is a mother. People will claim that children should be raised by women, that children do better with women, they'll claim that children die around men more often and this and that... and if you look at the official research (I did, research paper), a child is far more likely to die in a single-mother household than a single-father household (even when you remove the concept of step-dads, live-in-boyfriends, and the like). (It's a 3:1 ratio minimum. I've seen some research suggesting it's closer to 8:1.)

Men are the scapegoat for this because men are not a minority and thus are safe to be bashed. Likewise, Christianity is not the minority religion in America, and thus it's safe to bash it. If Christianity ever became a minority religion, you'd see bashing of it decline and then end in mainstream literature (assuming of course that we retained our other rights).

Re: Spirituality in Web Comics

[quote:fb6228ffc4="Charles_Snow"]
1.) Why, given that most people believe in some kind of God, gods or absolute being, is spirituality of any kind (Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Pagan, Satanist, whatever) such an unpopular topic in comics?

Well, I think it can be a touchy and emotionally charged subject that is filled with the potential to hurt and alienate readers (whether such an effect was intended). One can inadvertantly insult someone of a particular faith.

[quote:fb6228ffc4="Charles_Snow"]
2.) Do you know of any good web comics that deal with spirituality intelligently?

Heh, well, I deal with spirituality a lot in my webcomic. A large percentage of my readership are Christians. This is largely due to my use of a strong character who represents a mature and thoughtful Christian faith. These readers also enjoy when he is forced to go head to head with my psycho-fanatic faceless "Christian Clones."

I think spirituality can be an excellent vehicle for character development. As well, I think providing a character with some sort of popular spiritual path allows a reader to create a very strong, specific bond. As mentioned above, Christian readers have told me that they are very much "Trent."

The downside, which I brought up in answering the first question is that it can get to be rather touchy. A spiritual belief can be so central to a reader that their is a huge potential for rejected the comic if it digs a little to deep into that core.

Re: Spirituality in Web Comics

[quote:0a4fbbaee4="Charles_Snow"]1.) Why, given that most people believe in some kind of God, gods or absolute being, is spirituality of any kind (Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Pagan, Satanist, whatever) such an unpopular topic in comics?

I would not know from experience as I am not the most religious person; in fact I’m a practicing atheist. My best guess is that the genuinely religious types, the kind that take their religion seriously, don’t want to make a joke of it or have it taken lightly.
After all, these people believe that there is some divine being judging them constantly(even when their in the shower, EW gross) and deciding whether or not they are to be rewarded after death. Would you want to make a mockery of something like that(if you truly believed in it).

My two one-hundredths of a dollar.

RE: Re: Spirituality in Web Comics

There is also a big difference between theology and religion (and spirituality). Usually those who want Religion don't really want Theology, though I think it's an important part of any religion, looking at those beliefs from a very empirical viewpoint.

Anyone know of something more along the lines of Theology rather than spirituality or religion?