Miles Kington: A refreshingly old-fashioned controversy

The Catholic God said that cartoonists had been drawing him for years as a white-bearded old bloke on a cloud, and nobody had ever objected
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1. The chairgod said that under Any Other Business someone had asked if they could discuss the subject of cartoons.

2. The Jewish God said that one of his favourite cartoons showed two Martians landing from a space ship, and one of them goes into an amusement arcade ...

3. The chairgod said he thought the discussion should be more specifically about the anti-Islamic cartoons which had appeared in a Danish newspaper and had led to widespread rioting throughout the world.

4. The Catholic God said that he thought there was something rather refreshingly old-fashioned about the whole episode. At a time when the death of newspapers was widely forecast, and all publicity focused on the internet, it was encouraging that a newspaper could still arouse passions. And with a black-and-white drawing at that.

5. He asked if anyone could imagine a website arousing similar fury.

6.The Anglican God said the Catholic God should be careful about what he called "refreshingly old-fashioned". It was not so long ago that the Catholic Church was torturing and burning people for expressing uncomfortable opinions. Would he call that "refreshingly old-fashioned"?

7. Allah said that while he took no responsibility for what Muslims did on Earth, he was glad some people still took their religion seriously enough to get enraged about it.

8. The Catholic God said that Allah was in an odd situation. He was the Muslim God. But he, Allah, never seemed to take the direct flak. It was his prophet, Mohamed, who was always in the firing line. Would there have been an equivalent fuss if someone had depicted Allah?

9. Allah said that nobody had ever agreed what he looked like, so he was safe, whereas there was a consensus about Mohamed's image.

10. The Catholic God said that if it was forbidden to depict Mohammed, where did this consensus come from? How did you know what someone who could not be pictured looked like?

11. The chairgod said cartoonists did not care what people looked like. They just drew a bearded person in Arab clothes and wrote "Mohamed" on the headgear.

12. The Catholic God said that cartoonists had been drawing him for years as a white-bearded old bloke standing on a cloud, and nobody had ever protested.

13. The Jewish God said that, anyway, this Martian goes into the amusement arcade and pulls the lever of a fruit machine.

14. Zeus said he had always enjoyed being depicted by painters. He was proud to say that some of the greatest painters in history had gone on portraying the Greek gods long after people stopped believing in them. His encounter with Leda had been immortalised by not only Leonardo da Vinci but also Michelangelo.

15. The Catholic God said that there must be more to immortality than being painted as a swan. (Laughter)

16. Zeus said it was good enough for him. In any case, he thought painters had made a poor job of portraying the Christian Son of God. There were millions of paintings of Jesus the baby, and millions of Jesus being crucified, but not many of anything in between. Had Jesus done nothing of interest meanwhile?

17. The chairgod asked Zeus not to stir up religious hatred (laughter) and said he would make one last effort to get the discussion back to Danish cartoons. He wanted to know if anyone had actually seen the offending cartoons.

18. There being no affirmative answer to this, the Jewish God said that the Martian hit the jackpot and coins were cascading out of the slot. So the Martian (who is portrayed as a metal robot not unlike the fruit machine) turns to his companion and says: "I just shook his hand and he was sick all over me!"

19. Zeus said he didn't get it and would someone explain it to him.

More from the gods soon.

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