Another strip featuring guest writer Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who is strongly opposed to some forms of barbarism.

Discussion (49)¬

  1. Algolei says:

    Because a barber would never do such a thing.

  2. Ballykeith says:

    Another case of abuse defended because it is prescribed by religion.

  3. My Dad collects Stamps, rather than foreskins.
    It’s a lot more hygenic. a lot less painful and doesn’t involving mutilating the genitals of young lads, at a time when their sex drives are starting to kick in and just the vibration of the Bus & a wanderingly inquisitive mind/libido, will send the blood rushin to newly haired and freshly cut bits…

  4. Hobbes says:

    Excellent! I’d love to see author bring in Joshua on the barbarism issue and have him agree with Moses. Oh, I forgot, Yahweh had Joshua do an ethnic cleaning of Canaan (invade without warning or negotiation and kill everybody).

  5. Author, you have condensed the irony to a fine point. Beautiful. This one goes up on my website, with a link of course, if that’s okay with you. Thanks.

  6. tfkreference says:

    I was hoping Moses would show up. Thanks, Author, your subtle exposing of religious non sequiturs keeps me laughing all day.

  7. siwuloki says:

    …because God fucked up when he put foreskins on baby boys…

  8. IanB says:

    “And God made man in his image, in the image of God he made him”

    Apart from the end of the penis that is – brilliant.

  9. To Hobbes: All the massacres and ethnic cleansing pretended by Joshua & company are not confirmed by historians and archeologists. It’s just jewish propaganda of their power, to intimidate enemies, or better jewishs priests propaganda and pretence of power to show their people they had to submit to the god they represented if they wanted to survive. All these are inventions of the nobles-sacerdotal class of revenants back in Israel from the exile in Babylon, to regai power over the people remained there, and becoming accustomed to other gods and goddesses. Equally false is the invention of the period of slavery in Egypt, again unconfirmed by historians, acheologists glottologists. The nobles-priests wanted to demonstrate IAHWE was specialized in saving jewish people after exiles-slavery periods, and so invented the “discovery” of the book of EXODUS (pretended written 600 years before and never heard about before) in the ruins of the TEMPLE of Jerusalem: Showing a previous divine rescue from a parallel situation of exile- slavery theu could incite the people to submit to them and Iahwe’ would act again as in the (fully fabricated) precedent of the return from egyptian exile. So ancient jews are not responable of genocides, just of boasting for propaganda never happened genocides. And subsequent generations of jews paid dearly these lies, with their own true genocide so it looks to me it is time to deny such inexistent ethnic cleansing every time it is mentioned.

  10. Author,
    I love your strip, but this time I think that Hobbes’ version of your joke is even funnier than the original.
    God sayeth unto Joshua “Kill the men women and boy children. Rape the virgin girls.” Joshua asks “Why Lord?” God replies “To prevent barbarism”.

    Well done Hobbes and Author both. 🙂

  11. MarcusPrometheus,
    So an imaginary conversation between three individuals that are also most likely imaginary is ok, but the imaginary conquering of Canaan by the imaginary Joshua should be off limits?

    Aren’t you a bit like the man in the theater yelling “THAT is NOT how a lesbian vampire would have sex with a werewolf!” at the screen during the movie?

  12. Tom S. Fox says:

    What is Mo doing in the background?

  13. DocAtheist says:

    Oh, jeez, I feel a pun coming on… Something about throwing out the baby with the bath water!

  14. earlejones says:

    Of course those foreskins are totally unnecessary and should be amputated.
    And those earlobes, what the hell are they good for?

  15. Don says:

    The rabbi’s argument would certainly explain why the more secular societies, such as Scandanavia, Canada and Japan have descended into violent, depraved chaos while the more religious societies such as Somalia, Pakistan and Alabama are havens of peace, justice and social well-being.

  16. Jonathan Sacks should read Gibbon’s chapter 15.

  17. Don says:

    God; all-knowing, all-powerful but just rubbish at designing genitals. Really, I could improve on that with just a sharp piece of flint.

  18. TheMostMerciful says:

    Modern day atheists are simpletons and their attacks on the foundations of faith can be dismissed.
    Primarily because societies without religion disintegrate. And … this we know because of about 2 examples of cultures that may or may not have disintegrated around the time that some few people may or may not have started questioning some of the more prevalent belief systems.

  19. white squirrel says:

    could be worse, at least judism spares girls from FGM
    [for what its worth]

  20. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    Religion is supposed to represent civilization?
    With this form of genital mutilation?
    What makes people think that perversity
    Is desired by a deity
    Along with absurd accompanying incantation.

  21. J Ascher says:

    @Tom S Fox: Mo is going back and forth on the issue!

  22. DocAtheist says:

    I see lots of arguments, but I don’t see lots of scientific research backing up the arguments. It would be nice if we, as thinking atheists, could separate religion and religion-based biases from factual data, accumulated and interpreted, on any and all sides of the argument, with the more recent studies included so as not to let older, perhaps outdated studies simply argue to support our presuppositions.
    Just sayin’…..

  23. machigai says:

    I have an iPad.
    It’s weird.

  24. Blizno says:

    Is the bearded gentleman… Is the one wearing a robe…
    The one who is not Jesus or Mo – is he Moses or is he the Chief Rabbi?

    I followed the link and see a lot of resemblance.

  25. fenchurch says:

    @TheMostMerciful- your coy and vague post may or may not have been an example of Poe’s Law which may or may not be something that we should concern ourselves with.

    Now pardon me whilst I, as a simpleton, contribute to the disintegration of my secularised community with dismissable attacks on religious foundations… next time, no word salad for me, thanks. Weight Watcher’s™ doesn’t include word salads in their point system 🙁

  26. Guest says:

    And then the secularist says: “Give me that scalpel, you barbarian Moses! I’ve got a partial-abortion to perform!”

  27. Dalai Llama says:

    @Fenchurch – TheMostMerciful was sarcastically paraphrasing Sacks. The last sentence of his/her post gives it away.

  28. wokmastermfg says:

    I’m gonna take a wild guess and say that Guest is American Christian.

    The main reason that anti-abortion campaigners won’t give up: Delusional busy-bodies have an irresistible compulsion to interfere in the private lives of complete strangers. Just so happens, the “pro-life” crowd are usually against birth control as well. The end-all goal for fundamentalists is to have absolutely no sex outside of marriage. Since birth control promotes safe sex, it obviously promotes sex in general, and that is “wrong”.

    Great cartoon, Author! I love when Moses stops by.

  29. UncoBob says:

    Perhaps DocAtheist should include a notification of personal interest.

    Her point about most recent evidence would be relevant if this was an academic discussion group. This reference for example seems to add an interesting point or two.

    For me the issue is – OK the OT may contain injunctions to do things that, through a particular lens may be far sighted and health-promoting. However, even then, do the claimed health benefits of circumcision justify the costs and risks? It’s also a bit hard to describe cutting off a part of a person without anesthetic as anything but barbaric, and that was presumably the way for thousands of years.

    Then, of course, is ritual circumcision mainly a means of distinguishing the members of the in-group as seen in practices such as in scarification, tooth evulsion or penile sub-incision in Australian Aborigines. There may be positive side-effects, but it’s a bit hard to claim major credit if the positive outcome is a fortuitous accident. When the OT contains other messages such as that the chosen can massacre the neighbours, take their land and rape their daughters, it’s probably better to avoid the issue.

    And MarcusPrometheus – when the message is that one, it doesn’t matter whether the underlying events were real or not, unless the loud and strong message of those who teach on such things today is: This is the rubbish our forbears believed. It’s terribly embarrassing and it doesn’t help our group or others achieve the goals we need to have if we are going to survive on this planet: how to have all members of humanity live together in peace, mutual respect and equality with one another.

    And as I understand the cultural practice, surgical removal is not a part of the deal?

  30. UncoBob says:

    Forget the last line on my comment. It was part of an earlier revision that snuck through.

  31. fenchurch says:

    @Dalai Llama — whew, thanks for your superior sarcasm detection skills… such is Poe’s Law 🙂

  32. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    UncoBob, I can see what you’re getting at regarding circumcision as a tribal symbol but I don’t think it would apply to the desert tribes. Penile incisions, scarrification and the like only work as a tribal ‘ID’ when they’re clearly and instantly visible, which is fine if you’re an Australian Aborigine or Kalahari Bushman running about the place in the altogether, but not so useful when its hidden beneath flowing gowns and robes.
    Sometimes the simplest, most obvious ideas tend to be nearer the truth, and I think that the original reason for snipping Jewish and Muslim boys was very simple indeed, and just like the ban on pork and shellfish, was a solution to a health problem. These people were nomadic desert tribes for whom water would have been a precious commodity – too precious to waste on washing for most of the time, so you have all these boys and men living in intense heat, yet covered from head-to-toe in heavy woven robes to avoid being sandblasted with every gust of wind. The robes allowed some air circulation around the body to evaporate perspiration and keep it relatively cool, but there’s one place the air cannot circulate and thats under the foreskin. Subsequently, this is the only place where moisture can linger, providing a mineral-rich broth for all kinds of nasty bacteria. It wouldn’t be so bad for the younger boys, there’d be a build-up of stale urine and sweat, but nothing too bad except for the odour, but as they got older there’d be the obvious additional secretions, plus whatever else they might pick up from sticking their bits into the goats and camels, all of which would fester away quite happily between their likely infrequent washes, leaving the men, and the women they slept with, liable to all manner of infections and diseases. Removing the foreskin would allow the glans the same benefits of air circulation as the rest of the body (even if they didn’t understand germs and infections, they’d have to be spectacular idiots not to notice where the problem stemmed from).
    My guess is that initially circumcision would have been performed on adolescents, or maybe only on those who had a problem, but this would soon have turned into a preventative routine carried out soon after birth. Unfortunately, rather than simply being passed down as a pearl of wisdom subject to alteration when a better method of personal hygiene came along, it was instead enshrined in the religious laws and therefore became immutable, and as the two willy-chopping sects retained their nomadic lifestyle far longer than any of the others in the area, by the time they had discovered the benefits of a regular supply of water for washing they had forgotton why the chopped ’em off in the first place.

  33. white squirrel says:

    Acolyte of Sagan may have a possible solution
    4 points however
    1 -the point would be valid for all tribal groups in the region – thus it does not explain why others did not follow the same chain of logic

    2 – the bible susgests that nudity was not unknown among the hebrews
    the bit about the wife grabbing the genitals of men fighting her husband suggests exposure to allow such action

    3 if hygeine was low among the population it would make little diff if they stuck their bits in animals or people [ and the rule agianst bestiality does suggest such activity occurred]

    4 there are less drastic ways of keeping that body part clean even in the absence of water
    after all leviticus only bars men form ‘lying’ with other men as a woman- it does not ban other activiites of a homosexual nature

  34. hotrats says:

    Speaking as one who was cut at adolescence, I have to agree with advice of the sad old Jew of legend, who said that the only sensible way to remove a foreskin was to “Wear it off!”.

    The lack of sensitivity it induces (more severe than wearing a condom) has its own plusses and minusses – duration and exhaustion. The hygenic argument, as others have noted, has been an anachronistic irrelevance for some time; while, ironically, a religiously induced distaste for touching the genitalia except when absolutely necessary, is distincly unhygenic. That smug Mormon wearing the magic anti-sex underpants is probably crawling with smegma.

  35. hotrats says:

    Or to put it another way, if you think genitals are dirty, yours probably are.

  36. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Would a Jewish whale have to be circumcised by four skin divers?

  37. hotrats says:

    I sometimes wonder how adolescent male Jews feel about the personal value of a ‘Covenant of Flesh’ for descendants of Abraham, as compared with the tripling of sensitivity they would have enjoyed, had they not been mutilated in infancy; I suspect it would be somewhat less enthusiastic than, “Well, gosh, for me? A real Covenant with Jehova? What an honour! Pleasure, schmeasure! Thank you soooooo much!”.

    Whatever doubts may be engendered by this consideration, it always seems to mutate into, “Tell you what, I’m so impressed, I’ll make damn sure it’s done to any of my own offspring with the chutzpah to be born with a foreskin”.

  38. Mahatma Coat says:

    Free Fox from a couple of strips ago. Yeah, Mary 2’s is pretty good but I go gaga over Fenchurch’s – she’s hot!

  39. JoJo says:

    Hobbes… Don’t dis Joshua. He was just trying to bring Jazz to Jericho…..

  40. henry says:

    I think hotrats for the most part hit the purple nail on the head. Speaking as an atheist solipsist (I don’t believe in myself) raised by secular parents, I’m glad I was circumcised. Foreskins are quite literally fugly.

  41. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    JoJo, and then came Solomon to give them soul….

  42. Yahweh says:

    A bit of a non sequitur but, this discussion puts me in mind of a delightful story I first heard from an Indian colleague:

    “In olden days there was a practice of confining the cat in the house in a basket during the performance of the Sathyanarayana Vratha so that the cat would not go after the various offerings kept for the deity. The cat was maintained in olden days when there was the fear of rats eating up the grains stored in the house.

    Even though there are no rats any longer in houses today and there is no need to keep a cat, the practice of confining a cat in a basket is still being observed as a part of the religious ceremony.”

  43. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Yahweh, that’s another good example of rituals being strictly adhered to, even though the original reason for them is no longer applicable, just like the end of my conjectured reasoning over circumcision above:

    Acolyte of Sagan says:
    June 29, 2013 at 2:39 am
    Unfortunately, rather than simply being passed down as a pearl of wisdom subject to alteration when a better method of personal hygiene came along, it was instead enshrined in the religious laws and therefore became immutable, [so] by the time they had discovered the benefits of a regular supply of water for washing they had forgotton why [they performed circumcision] in the first place.

    It would be interesting (to me, anyway) to look again at the rituals of all religions just to try and work how many of them – the rituals, not the religions – began out of neccessity, such as the cats and possibly circumcision; how many were borne of a genuine belief that they placated or pleased the gods – think Harvest Festivals, the making of Corn Dollies, and, in England, well dressing, all of which wereoriginally carried out to assure fertile crops, to keep ‘bad spirits’ from entering the crops, and to thank the goods for a successful harest; and how many could be traced back to one person’s or group’s personal greed and ambition – tithing springs to mind here.

  44. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    That last sentence should read “…to thank the gods….”.
    Damned hands are still a bit dicky!

  45. RavenBlack says:

    Will Durant at the end of the linked article: “There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.”

    Is there a significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life *with* the aid of religion?

    For that matter, is there a significant example in history, before our time, of a society without the ‘aid’ of religion, *failing* to successfully maintain moral life?

  46. FreeFox says:

    Mahatma Coat: wrong chromosome preference to appreciate the image with your fervour, but the literary reference is unbeatable. Turns a fall into flight. ^_^

  47. DocAtheist says:

    @Henry, personally, I agree with you.
    @UncoBob, it’s much harder to select out the ingrained antisemitism which has been part of western culture since Christianity decided it, in the time of Emperor Constantine. Most antisemites don’t even realize they see Jews as somehow different or apart, lower, reviled, etc., especially when they have a personal experience or two with a singular Jew whom they respect. I’ve observed this for over 50 years and still didn’t fully appreciate it (though I thought I did) until I saw the documentary called Constantine’s Sword. It is based on what must be a very well researched book. The writer, who presents his findings in the video, was a Jesuit priest, when he began to suffer from cognitive dissonance over how the church saw and dealt with Jews. Too much of that same subtle antisemitism he found is visible in our atheist community, as well. We will require insight to recognize and appropriately deal with it.

  48. DocAtheist says:

    @UncoBob, one other thing: When do you think anesthesia was invented?


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