Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ Abe

This week’s Jesus and Mo strip, called “dodgy,” highlights one of the immoral acts of God from the Old Testament. Curiously, Mo (Moses) first characterizes Abraham’s actions as “dodgy”, but then praises him.

 

38 Comments

  1. glen1davidson
    Posted March 28, 2018 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    If you can’t believe the voices in your own head, who can you trust?

    Glen Davidson

    • W.T. Effingham
      Posted March 28, 2018 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      Particularly when they shout in unison.

      • Doug
        Posted March 28, 2018 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        “You’re jealous because the voices don’t talk to you.”
        –a t-shirt I once saw

        • busterggi
          Posted March 28, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

          The voices in my head are laughing at the voices in your head.

  2. busterggi
    Posted March 28, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Wonder if the voice in Abraham’s head who told him to sacrifice his son really was the same voice that later told him not to?

    • grasshopper
      Posted March 28, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Great point!

  3. eheffa
    Posted March 28, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    I can’t remember how many sermons I heard over the years extolling Abraham for his great faith… at no time did anyone I know really point out what a horrific story it is.

    If the Neighbour reported this as his experience we would have all been convinced he was a deranged criminal.

    Somehow, amongst the faithful, the Bible gets a free pass on the most deplorable ideas.

    • yazikus
      Posted March 28, 2018 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Seth Andrews did a great retelling of this tale. It is horrific at best.

    • Sastra
      Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:11 am | Permalink

      In the story, you can consider Abraham’s actions in light of the known fact that it really WAS God speaking to Abraham. In real life, we can’t have this certain knowledge.

      Unless, of course, you’re creating a narrative inside your head and living it out in real life, playing God concerning God. Which is what religious faith encourages.

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 28, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Such a great trick for all future g*ds to follow. Put the fear of me in them. Or is this just Trump style?

  5. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted March 28, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Aside from being morally questionable, the Abraham story is simply one of the most enigmatic and cryptic stories in the Old Testament, since it’s just hard to figure out what the writer was thinking. Various attempts to defend it (the most notable being the philosopher Kierkegaard) all fail.

    A modest saving grace of Judaism is a tremendous freedom to question and/or radically re-interpret these stories, and I have a sneaking fondness for Jewish philosopher Martin Buber’s suggestion that perhaps this was really the voice of the devil. (Elsewhere Buber renders a more traditional reading which I am not familiar with.)

    This story and the equally troubling story of Noah actually co-exist in the same book (Genesis) as the delightful story of Joseph and his brothers, one of the most genuinely delightful of Biblical stories (and the source of Thomas Mann’s 4-volume “Joseph in Egypt” which is almost as long as “Lord of the Rings”.) Also, that entire section of the Bible (Genesis 37 to the end) is remarkably sparse on mentions of God, though not as wholly absent as in the Books of Esther and the Song of Solomon.

    Finally, (if needed) a tell-tale clue that the story is false is Abraham’s usage of a camel as a beast of burden centuries before they actually became widely used as such.

  6. Charles Minus
    Posted March 28, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    No one knows the source of these bible stories of course, most probably the arose slowly from ancient myths. One interpretation of the Abraham story is that infant/child sacrifice was common in ancient Canaan (there is archeological evidence), and the story is about the change to animal sacrifice (abraham goes on to kill a ram instead of his son).

  7. Heather Hastie
    Posted March 28, 2018 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    This is the story that had me questioning religion from as early as I remember (c. 3 yo). I remember my grandmother (a church elder and Sunday School teacher) reading us (my siblings and cousins) the story and telling us it was a sign of God’s love that Abraham didn’t have to kill Isaac. I never understood that. I puzzled over it constantly.

    Then one day a couple of years later at Sunday School back home (different religion) we were told we were going to have that story, which would show us how God loves us. I was so excited – I thought I was finally going to get my questions answered. But I just got the same thing I’d got from my grandmother.

    I’ve looked at what theologians say about it since of course, and there’s a Jewish one who came up with something (sort of) reasonable, but I still don’t see how anyone can just accept that story as is.

    • Lizard Breath
      Posted March 28, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Me too! Maybe it’s natural that kids whould find it disturbing that a parent would even consider sacrificing a much loved child, regardless of who told them to do it.

      The other big issue for me as a kid was that there would be no animals in heaven. We didn’t even have a pet but I couldn’t imagine a world without animals. And then there’s the related idea that good people (including babies) couldn’t go to heaven unless they were baptized but bad people could as long as they repented.

    • Mark R.
      Posted March 28, 2018 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      The story of Job did it for me…I might have been 10. I was still young, but my indoctrination didn’t begin until I was 7 or so; I truly thank Ceiling Cat for that. But god wagering with the devil whether or not constant torment of one of god’s “children” would sway Job’s faith just seemed petty; why did a loving god want this to happen? If god was so powerful and righteous, why would he even stoop to the devil’s level and make a wager (also a sin I thought). If god could see all, and knew that Job would stick with him in the end and still love him, why allow all the suffering in the first place? I guess the simplest (and dumbest) reason was to one-up his only nemesis (who apparently isn’t omni-everything). “See?! Job has no belongings, has lost everything in his life, is riddled with ailments, but he still loves me; I’ll help him out now!!!” How pathetic.

      Perhaps it was the first time I struggled with theodicy (not knowing the term of course). The wheels were turning though and would keep me up at night. It wasn’t until high school when I finally (and secretly) stopped believing. Good times.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted March 28, 2018 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, that was a big one for me too. I couldn’t understand how eventually giving him more was supposed to make up for all the murder and animal killing from before. The people he lost were still gone, and he didn’t get them back. As I got older it was the stuff you mention – such as thinking it was a really cruel way to treat someone who stuck by you no matter what and showed a pretty nasty side to his character.

        • James Walker
          Posted March 28, 2018 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

          It’s always struck me as the quintessential abusive relationship.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted March 28, 2018 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

            Yep! I’ve never been able to work out how to put a pic in a comment, so I’ve tweeted a pic that speaks to your comment so I can show you the pic.

            • Sastra
              Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:17 am | Permalink

              Excellent.

              There seems to be something inside people which automatically tends to respond to these buttons — possibly an evolved genetic survival strategy involved with fitting in with ones caretakers/authorities.

              • Posted March 29, 2018 at 11:32 am | Permalink

                Yes, in many situations failure to fit in would result in extra misery or even death.

  8. Posted March 28, 2018 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    What I find also appalling are the attempts to say “well, this is how animal sacrifice gets introduced and so it is an improvement”. Well, maybe, but the point is that Abraham (who is fortunately a fiction) is revered anyway for being prepared to do the heinous deed.

    Where are the Furies when you need them? 😉

    (Wrong mythology!)

  9. grasshopper
    Posted March 28, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink


    “The Story of Isaac” – Leonard Cohen. The best version in my opinion.

  10. grasshopper
    Posted March 28, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Probably the song related to the Vietnam war era. Contemporary relevance might equate to the child victims of school shootings, and the altar mentioned in the song as “gun rights”. Just a thought.

  11. Steve Pollard
    Posted March 28, 2018 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    People may know Wilfred Owen’s poem, “The Parable of the Old Man and the Young”, which retells the story in appropriately Biblical language, and ends:

    “Behold, a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
    Offer the Lamb of Pride instead of him.

    But the old man would not so, and slew his son,
    And half the seed of Europe, one by one”.

    Set to music in Britten’s “War Requiem” and incredibly moving.

  12. Posted March 28, 2018 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    If god was the know-it-all he was trumped up to be i never understood as a boy, why he would ask this of a father… free will!
    Which is ironic to me, as lack of free will as part of the process, eventually killed off god.

  13. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 28, 2018 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    “Curiously, Mo (Moses)…”

    Umm, ‘Mo’ is Mohammed in this strip, not Moses. (It’s a confusion I keep making, too).

    cr

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 31, 2018 at 2:15 am | Permalink

      Look again. 😉

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 31, 2018 at 2:19 am | Permalink

      Whoops, never mind. I misread just what it was you were pointing out. Yes, the “Mo” nickname is definitely short for Mohammed.

  14. Posted March 28, 2018 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    How it really happened.

    • Mark R.
      Posted March 28, 2018 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      Blocked in my country?

  15. Mark R.
    Posted March 28, 2018 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    My favorite Jesus and Mo strips tend to include Abe. Don’t know why…perhaps he’s the pawn stuck in the middle of two imaginary man-gods, and his responses (or lack of) allude to the ridiculousness of it all. And isn’t “Absolute Boy” a British slang term for a mischievous kid? Makes sense in the context of this strip. I wonder if the author of “Jesus ‘n’ Mo” is British.

  16. Lee
    Posted March 28, 2018 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    I’m confused. I thought Mo was Mohammed, not Moses. And that the guy in the middle was Abraham, the subject of the discussion. Please clarify for me.

    • Posted March 29, 2018 at 5:04 am | Permalink

      No, that’s Moses, identified by his staff. I called him “Mo,” which was confusing, so I’ll fix that.

  17. Sastra
    Posted March 29, 2018 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    One of the better strips, I think. The real message lurking behind “obey God” is “when God speaks to you, you can be sure it’s God speaking to you” — which translates into “you’re infallible in religious matters.”

    Believing you’re infallible in order to become a humble, obedient, self-effacing servant doesn’t work.

    • Posted March 29, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      “Sometimes we stand in front of the light and assume that we are the center of the universe – God looks astonishingly like we do” (G’Kar, slightly truncated.)


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