Holy Hate Mail


bz panel 12-26-13bz strip 12-26-13bz panel 12-27-13bz strip 12-27-13Bizarro is brought to you today by Sanforized Swinging.

I trust you all had a lovely holiday this week, except for those of you who disobeyed my command and had a lousy one. You should’ve listened to me.

As expected, I got a couple of complaints about my religious cartoon on Xmas Day. I post them here for your analysis.

From this blog’s comments section: “I take great offense to your immature, diabolic publications which you call comics. You are insulting our Almighty God many times over from previous printings. They are not funny by any means, neither are you amusing whatsoever. The papers should be ashamed to even publish your disgusting creations. They have the same mentality as yours.”

According to this poster, I am insulting a magical, invisible person with Satanic cartoons which are neither “funny” nor “amusing.” I was hoping to score in at least one of those categories, but I guess I failed.

This next complaint came by email: “As an American Christian, I was deeply offended by the cartoon strip of 12-25-13 that showed Mary degrading the three wise men for “just one small gift each”. Any religious person would know that of all people, Mary would be the least interested in physical gifts.  She’d just given birth to the greatest gift TO humanity.


Would you be equally quick to offend Muslims with a cartoon strip eluding(sic) to a recently departed Muslim complaining of only receiving 35 vestal virgins or showing one of someone asking a blind person if they’d seen any good movies lately?

For less, Salmon(sic) Rushdie received a fatwah for writing Satanic Verses.


Please be considerate of all religions whether you believe in any or not.

In this note, I learn that Mary would never had said anything like what I have her saying in my cartoon. But since my I.Q. is above 75, I already knew that. In fact, I supposed that very fact was exactly what made the cartoon funny. Apparently, I was wrong. The writer goes on to ask (in common, Fox News vernacular) if I would do a similar comic about Muslims, especially knowing that “Salmon” Rushdie was sentenced to death for doing “less.” No, I would not, because I don’t want to be sentenced to death. Perhaps she is saying that she and her kind are equally irrationally superstitious as are the Taliban. I certainly hope that is not the case. She goes on to wonder if I would draw a cartoon about a blind person being asked something stupid. No, I would not, but only because her proposed scenario isn’t funny. I have done jokes about blind people that were funny, however, and likely will again. She concludes by asking me politely to be “considerate of all religions.” That is not likely, I’m afraid. I’ve found that most Christians have a better sense of humor than she does and know that the humor in the comic in question is precisely that Mary would not say such a thing. They read it, smile, and move on to something more important.

This cartoon makes no attempt to denigrate anyone’s personal beliefs, but I feel that an adult in our society should know that if they believe in myths as literal truth, they may on occasion be the butt of a joke. I suggest that rather than becoming indignant, they take this kind of soft jab as a badge of persecutory honor, like the early Christians but without lions. Who knows, it could actually increase their reward in the next life.

This brings me to a point I’ve been thinking about since I was a young Christian and believed the gospels were historical truth. The nativity story is from the Gospel of Luke. Even if the writer of this gospel knew Jesus personally (highly unlikely, according to modern scholars) where did he get that story? How did he know what happened in Mary’s personal life before Jesus was born? Did he interview her?

Mary: So when I was a young virgin, an angel came to me in the middle of the night and told me I was pregnant by magic.

Luke: And you were engaged to Joseph at this time? How did he take this news?

Mary: Oh, he was really pissed at first and threatened to have me publicly stoned.

Luke: I know! Right?

Mary: But eventually I convinced him that if he did, God would smite him bigtime so he backed off. It always bothered him that Jesus didn’t look anything like him, though.

Or maybe because the original writer of that particular gospel was Greek, and the heroes of Greek myths were routinely the product of  virgin births, that these myths got combined when the stories about a dead folk hero that had been passed verbally for decades were finally written down? Seems logical. But logic and this kind of religious doctrine are always mutually exclusive.

I also always wondered what Mary and Joseph did with the gold, frankincense, and myrrh that the three kings gave them. That stuff would’ve been worth a fortune to peasants like them, yet they never mention it again. You’d think if they saved it for Jesus’ college education, the scene where he tells them he’s not going to college but is just going to wander around the countryside with a dozen of his bros would’ve been in the Bible somewhere. I don’t know. Just thinking out loud.

bz 06-13-01 scissorhandsWEBJAZZ PICKLE JAR: From 2001 comes this strange cartoon that has nothing to do with anything else on this page. And who really cares if it doesn’t?



64 thoughts on “Holy Hate Mail

  1. Oh, my goodness – “Salmon Rushdie” is priceless! I’m going to be chuckling for a while over that one. You are so lucky to be a cartoonist who generates that kind of hate mail! And, I guess, so talented and funny and subversive.

    I have to say, the characters in the cartoon from the Jazz Pickle Jar appear to possibly be related to these four chaps: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAMRTGv82Zo

  2. This is one of the most profound things I’ve read. Today, anyway.

    “I also always wondered what Mary and Joseph did with the gold, frankincense, and myrrh that the three kings gave them. That stuff would’ve been worth a fortune to peasants like them, yet they never mention it again. You’d think if they saved it for Jesus’ college education, the scene where he tells them he’s not going to college but is just going to wander around the countryside with a dozen of his bros would’ve been in the Bible somewhere. I don’t know. Just thinking out loud.”

  3. I too, like Dan, was raised Christian. But it was not until 2013 that it came together because of the teachings of Pope Frank, and Dan Piraro. I did not get a chance to wish you a Merry Christmas…so there it is. Prosperity and good fortune to you and yours.

  4. I’m one of the Christians who read the cartoon, smiled, and moved on to something more important. :)

    But as for this: “The nativity story is from the Gospel of Luke. Even if the writer of this gospel knew Jesus personally (highly unlikely, according to modern scholars) where did he get that story? How did he know what happened in Mary’s personal life before Jesus was born? Did he interview her?”

    Yeah, I believe he did exactly that. Luke 1:1-4 says this:

    1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

    That suggests to me that he did go around interviewing primary sources who were eyewitnesses, and Mary could well have still been living in Luke’s time, given that Mary was likely around 13 at the time of the Nativity. I’m just addressing the question you’d been wondering about, not out to stir controversy. Happy New Year! :)

    • The Gospels were written after the alleged death of Jesus(I say alleged because there is no actual proof of existence no contemporary writings and no relics) by those who did not know Jesus. The time the Gospels were written is highly suspect also. And the re-writing of them through history also makes them suspect. How would Luke interview a person that has been dead for several decades at least(the average lifespan of humans was 35 and since they were not rich they would most likely have not lived to this age)

  5. What a shame that people take offense instead of using the humour as a starting point for deeper reflection- which, as believers, should be their first duty.

    At Christmas dinner conversations, my father would often point out that while the Three Kings seem like the most honoured guests, they’re the ones who actually brought the Holy Family the most trouble. Drawing Herod’s attention, for one, but their gifts were also useless. Yes- items worth a fortune to peasants, and thus difficult for the peasants to then sell without being accused of theft.

    The kings were bumbling, rather useless figures who arrived late, while the simple shepherds were the ones who brought the sensible gifts. Warm wool, mutton to eat, sheep’s cheese perhaps. The metaphor here is particularly significant, for while the hommage of Kings is a powerful symbol, the true worth is in the aid brought by ordinary people. It was for them, after all, that Jesus was supposedly born, and to commune with them was he born as a poor baby in a lowly manger, not a prince in a golden palace.

  6. You are a credit to our Almighty God many times over from previous printings. They are funny as !#$% by any means, AND you are SO amusing whatsoever. The papers should be lauded, applauded and beknighted to even publish your distinguished creations. They have the same mentality as yours (Not sure if I’m referring to your publishers or your distinguished creations there, but what the hell, let’s throw them all in the mix; it’s the holiday season, after all).

  7. Luke interviewed everybody he could. Though by that point Mary herself may not have been available for comment.

    Joseph had a vision telling him Mary was telling the truth and he should marry her.

  8. Actually, I’ve seen cartoons making fun of blind people. I’ve even seen a cartoon where a Muslim is disappointed by a vested Virginian…..I think they are funny. So do my blind friends, and my Muslim friends. My Christian friends liked the one about Mary and the gifts….. Maybe I just have no common decency!

  9. I too am an American Christian; a devout one who knows that 1st century biographies were not necessarily a recitation of facts.

    I personally enjoy the hell out of your cartoons and was bummed when my local paper stopped carrying them. So glad to have found your blog to catch back up.

    Keep up the good work!

  10. Those “deeply offended” by your cartoons are missing the point entirely. These folks have never heard of Allan Sherman, Bob Rivers, Tom Lehrer, and numerous others who satirize the commercialistic joke that “Xmas” (as opposed to Christmas) has become. The satirists, including yourself, remind us of the absurdities of the season, and help us remember and hold true to the solemnity of the real meaning of Christmas.

    There are those of us yet to be offended by your work. Please don’t stop trying. You are a classic among classics.

  11. Personally I find it rather amusing that the Bible trumpets this as being an immaculate conception – that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Christ. For anyone who reasons in a rational way would say this is shooting oneself in the foot. Because this raises some awkward questions. For a start it places Joseph in a bad light. He may only have been a carpenter, but even carpenters can figure out how to consummate a marriage. Otherwise the occupation would have become extinct. And, whilst this would have left us with far more trees, it would not have provided our poorer forefathers with any decent shelter from the elements. Then there’s the question of the Holy Ghost impregnating a married woman. The Holy Ghost is described by Jesus as a “comforter.” Did that mean he can comfort married women? More to the point, did Mary know the Holy Ghost was comforting her? If not, we’re looking at rape. Or was he sent by God to show Joseph how it was done? Sex education from up high. And the guy just forgot to use a condom? As one sometimes does in the heat of the moment. We must therefore wonder at the sort of company God is keeping. It also makes his thoughts on the sanctity of marriage sound hypocritical. He can’t keep his own staff in check and he tells the rest of us men not to covet someone’s wife? Come on! What’s good for the goose, right? Get your own house in order! That is if it was, indeed God, and not Satan. But was it an immaculate conception? There’s no mention in the Bible of anyone checking Mary’s vagina to see if the hymen was still in situ. In which case we may be looking at a family of swindlers.

  12. Pingback: Death! Before Dishonor? « Sun Country's Weblog

  13. Seriously, I thought the only 35 vestal virgins comment was sort of funny.

    The joke would be funnier if they were not all female vestal virgins.

    – Enjoy

  14. PS: Come to think of it, there’s yet another possible scenario. Maybe one of the Wise Men just happened to be a King who had trained as a gynaecologist. As Kings are sometimes wont to do. Just so they can feel a bit of a cunt now and then. Sorry, this is no joking matter! Anyway, his Majesty used his medical knowledge to confirm that Mary was, indeed, a virgin. Adding that the presence of the hymen was a clear indication that Christ had not vacated the womb via the birth canal. Instead he’d made his way into the world through another nearby passageway. Not a very auspicious mode of travel for the Son of God. Now that would have made the Bible more interesting! It would also have given God a sense of humour which – from what I’ve read – is sadly lacking in the old man.

  15. Dan, of course your cartoons are neither funny nor amusing! Which is why yours in the only blog I follow (fact) and visit each day.

    I’m mildly miffed when there isn’t a daily update however I do understand being unfunny and unamusing requires a huge effort and I patiently wait for the latest update.

    What others may call irreverence, I call shear genius (hey some of your cartoons are hairy tales) and more power to you. I live way across in India and I’m probably your biggest fan here. I tried to post an image as proof, but I’m kinda tech challenged sometimes.

    May your tribe increase.

  16. What about the most important question of all? What’s the tie in with Zach Galifianakis? I know he does cartoons, I see some of them in the WaPo associated with Carolyn Hax. They’re clever and well drawn but what does any of that have to do with Santa coloring his beard? Inquiring minds want to know and so do I. I wait with ‘bated breath*.

    *Not really, I’d pass out.

    Thank you sir.

  17. I’m an atheist living in Singapore and I absolutely love your work. Please continue to do what you are doing. Life is too short not to have fun.

  18. Amazing that someone could read a newspaper full of murders, assaults and all misfortunes suffered by innocent people and then complain about a cartoon. Is that what their religious beliefs command? God help them.

    • Excellent point, Alan. Any time someone writes to me in this regard, I can’t help but wonder if they’ve ever written their congressperson or Senator.

  19. I’m sure you can create an Islam joke with that Salmon Rushdie quip somehow. Maybe that will make the second responder happy.

    Also, the person in charge of responding to the responses to cartoons has been sacked.

  20. “… but I feel that an adult in our society should know that if they believe in myths as literal truth, they may on occasion be the butt of a joke.”

    I love what you said and can’t find the extra unique funny way to say how-so at the moment, so I will just tip my hat to you, Grand Imperial Exhalted Jazz Poobah. tip*

  21. Okay, so I specifically did not read your cartoon on Christmas just in case it made light of something that might offend me because I quite aware of the differences in our beliefs. Of course, when another Christian gets offended, I suddenly get curious and have to take a look. What was my first reaction to your cartoon? “Oh brother, Mary and Joseph did not put up a tree! It was still at least a good millennium away from being a tradition associated with Jesus’ birth.”

  22. Well said mdz! Keep people thinking and laughing my good sir, you’re bringing a great source of medicinal joy to the masses! Don’t let senór, or senórita uptight grumpy pants rants get to you..people throw rocks at things that shine! Btw, I’m Catholic and would happily be the butt of your jokes anytime !

  23. Clearly, depth of meaning that you allude to (upstream?) in your own Satanic verses escapes some. I, too, thought the 35 vestal virgins was pretty funny. That 35 vestal virgins elude “the recently departed Muslim” adds still another layer of humor. Maybe you should steal the idea and really piss off the poster

    Happy New Year, and thank you

  24. Sorry, Dan, but I gotta’ point out your “sic” miss:

    “…equally quick to offend Muslims with a cartoon strip eluding to a recently departed Muslim complaining…”

    Unless, of course, such a strip managed to elude a recently departed, complaining Muslim. On second thought, maybe you were correct in not inserting a “sic” in there.

  25. As ever Dan- you are spot on and make me laugh!

    I love this bit: “That stuff would’ve been worth a fortune to peasants like them, yet they never mention it again.”

    That’s just it- what is mentioned and why ends up being history and that is why it is important we have your cartoons to set the record straight!

    All of this while you were not feeling well – I hope you feel better now. I have had lingering flu all over Christmas and any blog I would have written would have bored the pants off everyone- I admire your tenacity!


  26. Gotta say, Bizzaro is in my top five daily comics. I am a Christian and am able to laugh genuinely at the humor, as anyone secure in their faith can. Believing in God, I understand that he too is big enough to take a joke. Those taking the time to complain about a comic strip ought to examine their priorities, and develop deeper convictions in their own lives before coming down on something so trivial.

  27. that’s an excellent question. I don’t think what they did with the gifts was ever covered in my years of religious education.

  28. The religious poking-fun-at I can take. But aiming at Zach Galifianakis? That’s a new low; even for you! If he were a real person; do you think he’d laugh at it? Probably not.

  29. Dan, been following your strip ever since the other great one panel comic by Gary Peterson ran off into the sunset, and I gotta say that your humor is the best non-PC I’ve ever read. Still got a few of them that I keep at my work cubie whenever I need a chuckle (love the vending machine that has a “noisy, shiny crap” button sold out).

    Anywho, gotta love it when people have nothing better to do than to complain about a cartoon that doesn’t fit their hypocritical white bread view of the world. For me, Mary complaining about the fact that the 3 Wise Men only brought one gift each is an accurate reflection on the current generation’s sense of entitlement, which in turn means we have no one to blame but ourselves.

  30. Pity there’s no huge holiday-type event devoted to Lot and his fantastical adventures. He was a bucket o’ fun, as well as his salinate wife and seed-obsessed daughters. Your cartoons would have, no doubt, stirred up vast swathes of citizens. (As a devoted JP, I would’ve relished that. Tsk.)

    Meanwhile, continue to poke fun, where fun needs to be poked. We salute you.

  31. I’m very puzzled by anybody being offended by your Christmas cartoons or even Catholics that say they are not offended because they have a sense of humour. To me, in no way do any of your Christmas cartoons insult or disrepect the story or the meaning of the birth of Christ. Instead, I find they’re simply a commentary of how we have managed to take what should be a beautiful and inspiring story of peace, love, and hope (wether or not you believe it to be true, the message is there), and instead have twisted and simplified it to a holiday filled with over-consumption, consumerism, selfishness, and an overall disregard to its simple, peaceful message. If anything, your comics strengthen the original intent of the story.

  32. My father, the reformed Southern Baptist turned UU, used to tell this joke on Christmas:
    A most holy monk died and went to heaven. He was wandering the clouds, came across Mary, and got the chance to ask the questions that he had been pondering his whole life. “In all the paintings of you at the nativity, are so sad. Is it because you knew your son would die to cleanse the world of sin?” No, came the reply. “Was it because you knew he would suffer greatly before he would die?” No, she sighed. “Then why do you always look so sad in the nativity scenes?”
    “Because I kind of wanted a girl.”

    Dad had 4 daughters.

  33. …still reeling over the micro-details, such as the “Bunnies Dilemma” movie poster, [background/far right]

    in the 12.26 cartoon…the best.

    Bring on the Easter “love”.

  34. I didn’t see the cartoon — and I’m glad. I’m not sure of the logic that says “I don’t share your beliefs so I’m free to take what is central to your life and insult it”, but since I’m pretty sure your arrogance means you don’t care what I think …

    Incidentally, I’m pretty sure the gifts of the Magi were what Joseph, Mary and Jesus had to live on in Egypt when they had to run for their lives in the face of the threat posed by Herod.

  35. Hi, I appreciate your strip and just started working my way backwards through the archives recently :)

    One thing that caught my eye off on a tangent on this post, however, was the reference to Jesus, Joseph and Mary as “peasants”…they weren’t, Joseph was a carpenter (even in today’s workplace, that’s firmly middle-class/blue-collar or higher, without considering that he could even be considered the equivalent of an upper-middle/white collar-or-better Architect depending on his level of skill, craftsmanship and acclaim, etc. and certainly not homeless peasants, hobos or trailer trash equivs) and they’re all actually descendants of David…as in “King” David (through Joseph, ironically enough, considering that some of the lesser-important prophecies that Jesus fulfilled were due to his being descended from Dave).

    That’s actually one of the main parts of the whole Jesus “story”, is that he rejected his higher-class upbringing and background and entitlement to create a radically different way of thinking. He ran with the wrong crowd, did outrageously different things and made no apologies for any of it…and which ultimately got him rejected and condemned by his immediate peers and associates.

    The prophecies called for a warrior king to come and lead the Jews, as many, many before him had done, but Jesus took the totally opposite approach and instead rode into town on a donkey and preached to the sick and the lepers and the prostitutes and accepted non-Jews into his teachings, etc. etc. etc. All of which earned him a reputation as an oddball, an outcast and a free-thinker (ie: Jewish teachings are not just for Jews…Jewish teachings are for everybody). He even references this in his final defense when he states that if he “wanted to”, he could have called a host of angels to his defense, ie: he could have staged a violent and bloody war with tons of bloodshed and killing and maiming and loss and destruction, again, as many had done before him…but he didn’t, which is *why* he was the “Prince of Peace”.

    He was deliberately under-cutting himself and passing himself off as something else completely different from what his higher-class background and entitled upbringing would indicate, kinda like Jim Morrison did in the anti-establishment 60’s by rejecting his Navy Aviator father’s upbringing to instead become the uncrowned Lizard King :D

    If Jesus was a peasant, then it was by choice, not by birth ;)

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