Filters


Detail of frame from "Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor", episode 9, 'They Met One Day, Unexpectedly ...'.  L-R, Kiko Kayanuma, July, and Suou Pavlichenko discuss the profitability of a cat café versus more mundane work as a book editor, and Mao (lower right) hides in Suou's satchel.

“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Matthew 6.1-8 (RSV)

Prayer is certainly something to do if you cannot or will not do anything more useful.One starts to wonder what God’s spam filter looks like. In the age of social media, the great testament to humanity seems to be a flood of cat videos and calls to prayer.

One could simply sever ties with their friends who are religious, but that seems stupid to the point of bigotry, and, besides, it will do nothing about the cat videos.

No, really, do you realize cat videos are a cartoon joke? As with hikikomori, the shut-ins, anime jokes about the Japanese obsession with cats are a societal critique, as gentle a prod as possible to remind that something is amiss.

In these United States, we are starting to adopt the cat obsession, and while the idea of becoming a shut-in because one owned only one pair of trousers that fell out the window one day while drying so he decided to just never leave the house again might seem obscure―and probably makes much more sense to the Japanese―what, exactly, would the joke look like if it was about Americans and prayer?

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Those annoying details


At first it seems like a simple notion: If you root against Tim Tebow because he openly expresses his faith, raise your hand.

Tim Campbell, January 12, 2012 (detail)Cartoonist Tim Campbell raises the issue in an editorial cartoon, that he might demonize—quite literally—those who would criticize the Almighty Tebow; the frame includes what appears to be Satan raising his hand.

Yet such questions are not so simple.

Some are disgusted by the idea of Tebow’s greatness, since he’s not actually that good of a quarterback in the context of the NFL; despite his wins, he finished the regular season with a 72.9 rating, which works out to about twenty-eighth in the league, behind such luminaries as Tarvaris Jackson (79.2) of the Seattle Seahawks (7-9), and Colt McCoy (74.6) of the Cleveland Browns (4-12). Tebow’s success, such as it is, owes much to his fellow Denver Broncos (8-8).

And, certainly, there are some among those critics who would focus on the fact of Tebow’s faith alone.

But Tebow’s faith is a Christian faith, and one wonders as he “Te-bows”, much as one might wonder about other players sharing that Biblical faith, when and where Jesus comes into the picture.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminds:

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Then, of course, are the rumors that Tebow, in his autobiography published at the ripe old age of twenty-three, distorted the story of his gestation and birth for political reasons.

Which, in the end, makes Tebow’s faith seem more an advertising pitch to increase his monetary value in the American capitalist marketplace. And that might mean that the real devilish work is from those hands not raised in Campbell’s cartoon; the people who would celebrate Tebow’s blatant disregard for the words of Jesus Christ and willingness to deceive people in order to spread the Good News.