Here’s my new one about COVID super spreader churches.
This is a recurring theme, where big, conservative churches that take a Trumpy, casual attitude about the pandemic, insist on holding their indoor, massless, mass events with singing, no distancing, and lots of disease spreading.
This church/hands thing is a kind of standard for editorial cartoonists, like the Hokey Pokey or the theme from Gilligan’s Island, or the Cats Cradle game. Some years ago I drew a similar cartoon about Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate, and I lifted the first panel for the new cartoon. The perspective on the hands in the first panel is odd, because we usually see the other side, with the thumbs as doors, but that is the view of the person who is performing this, and not the observer, and I like flipping it open with the thumbs on the close side. Yes, I think about all this stuff.
The oldie wasn’t a very strong cartoon. The first panel was fine, but I didn’t like the awkward second panel hands – that needed a redo, so I drew my own hands today. (There seems to be some disagreement about whether the “people” should properly be presented upright or upside-down.)
And I drew some coronavirus and assembled this in Photoshop.
That’s your recipe for a church pandemic cartoon.
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On Sunday, for Fathers Day and my birthday, my wife took me to the Creation Museum in Kentucky, outside of Cincinnati. I expected this to be a strange excursion into a foreign culture, and it was, but one I was prepared for after living in Tennessee for a couple of years. That’s me below with an exhibit.
This is a kids’ museum with lots of animated, life-size dinosaurs accompanied by exhibits explaining how the theory of evolution is wrong, the Bible is right, and dinosaurs are not so many years old after all. There are zip-line adventures through the lovely grounds, an ambitious petting zoo, and lots of shows. It is a place to bring the kids. I heard the same conversation everywhere in the museum as parents explained to their kids, “your teachers lie to you” and “don’t believe what they tell you in school.”
The photo below shows an exhibit where cave-kids are playing alongside the dinosaurs, much like in The Flintstones. It was explained that, in the beginning, animals were all vegetarians and everyone got along with the animals. It was only after Eve ate the forbidden fruit (depicted as berries) that the dinosaurs and other animals starting eating meat and getting surly.
Many of the exhibits are organized as rebuttals to science, contrasting man’s “theories” with God’s truth, and offering alternative explanations to rebut popular misconceptions – like the notion that Earth’s geology formed over millions of years, or that canyons are carved out by rivers. One recurring theme is the refutation of the scientific method, since the Bible gives us the truth as a starting point and the truth is not to be refuted. We learned that “natural selection” is OK, but “evolution” is wrong, a distinction that they seem to think is very important.
There is a lot of space devoted to the mechanics of Noah’s Ark, with descriptions of how the animals all fit into the ark and how they were probably cared for and fed while on the ark (for example, all the animals were likely young, so they would be small and easy to manage). There was a giant replica of a portion of the ark, and lots of talking, animatronic Bible characters. Methuselah was particularly chatty. There also was a lot of space devoted to how long these characters lived and how Adam and Eve’s kids had sex with each other, and why that was no problem. Different times. The museum also had a nice looking mural of the Skopes Monkey Trial from 1925 – the good old days when the government in Tennessee understood that evolution was a sham.
An interesting part of the museum was styled to look like an urban ghetto, with graffiti on brick walls; a heading on the entryway says “Scripture Abandoned in the Culture Leads to Relative Morality, Hopelessness and Meaninglessness.” Much like the attendees at the museum, the urban area featured no minorities. Peering through the broken windows on a blighted building there were videos of middle class white folks doing terrible things, like discussing how they were considering having an abortion. This was the chamber of horrors for the Creation Museum.
My math teacher wife tells me that her science teacher friends in Nashville get lots of blowback from students who call them liars. She said the museum made her sad. There is a big sign on the front door of the museum warning that anyone who acts disrespectfully, or who wears a t-shirt with a disrespectful message, will be kicked out. This is no place to argue. The docents seem hardened by many encounters with disrespectful visitors in the past; they have a stern attitude until they discern that the person they are talking to isn’t arguing, then they open up and are quite friendly. I didn’t test getting on their wrong side.
The museum has nice pizza, movies with impressive special effects, and a cool array of zip-line adventures. Also, as a father visiting on Father’s Day, my admission was free!
That’s me at the entrance with a nice looking dinosaur. Kids love dinosaurs. At the Creation Museum dinosaurs introduce kids to God and science – the museum hosts Summer science camps for kids, where “Science meets Truth,” encouraging kids to enter STEM careers. God help us.
This weekend I went to the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Nashville, Tennessee, my hometown. I’m an editorial cartoonist; I sit at home drawing and I rarely go to big conventions. The only thing I have to compare the NRA to is the San Diego Comic-Con, and I thought the NRA convention stacked up pretty well to Comic-Con.
The NRA convention is half the size of Comic-Con. The crowd was certainly different, with the NRA sporting more beer bellies and gray hair than Comic-Con. Both the NRA and Comic-Con are mostly male, and both are full of fervent fans. It is a lot easier to park and get a hotel room at the NRA convention, and it is much cheaper and easier to get into the NRA than Comic-Con, which costs well more than ten times the $25 it costs to join the NRA and attend the NRA convention. Comic-Con sells out months in advance; anyone can go to the NRA at the last minute – like me.
There isn’t much religion at Comic-Con, although it isn’t unusual to hear people exclaim, “Oh my God” when they see the length of the line to meet the cast members of “The Big Bang Theory.”
There’s lots of religion at NRA conventions. The Saturday morning NRA annual meeting began with everyone in the audience holding hands and bowing their heads as someone on the stage prayed about how God has chosen the NRA to lead the fight against the “enemies of freedom” who, we were later told, are President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Michael Bloomberg, in that order.
There are enemies at Comic-Con too; scattered through the crowd are assorted Darth Vaders, storm-troopers, super-villains and monsters. Years ago there were Klingons everywhere, but the Klingons have dwindled in recent years, and now they are rare. My effort to build up my Klingon vocabulary has clearly been a waste of time. “Ghay’cha’!”
There was an anti-gun protest group, in town for the NRA convention, that had trouble making a dinner reservation. I’m told they were unwelcome at nearby restaurants, and their group had to drive thirty minutes out of Nashville, to Murfreesboro, for dinner. It is also difficult to make a dinner reservation at Comic-Con.
The exhibit floors at the NRA and Comic-Con are fascinating. One NRA exhibit I enjoyed featured videos of cool stuff getting shot, including row after row of watermelons, which made impressive explosions. Rows of televisions being shot were much less interesting than the watermelons. The legislature in Tennessee is debating allowing exploding targets. Tennessee already allows for the sale of fantastic fireworks – the aerial kind that would start forest fires if they were allowed in flammable California – but in Tennessee, fireworks are wholesome fun. Explosions are popular at Comic-Con too (the Death Star comes to mind). Alas, real, legal explosions in California are just the stuff of dreams.
Tennessee’s Republican legislature has been pandering to the NRA in the weeks leading up to the convention; they are close to passing a “Guns in Parks” bill that would prohibit cities from banning guns in their municipal parks. Most of the prospective Republican presidential candidates gave speeches at the NRA convention on the first day. At the annual meeting, many mentions of vile Democrats were met with hisses from the enthusiastic, Republican crowd, who were equally angry about Islamic extremists, defending the border with Mexico, and President Obama as they were about threats of gun control. The NRA convention is about much more than guns; it is about a broad agenda that is Republican, conservative, and Christian.
The same mission-creep is apparent at Comic-Con, which should be about comic books, but has grown to be about anything entertainment related, which may have nothing to do with comics. Any TV show. Any movie. Whatever. Are there some TV stars from a detective, procedural show doing a panel? Yes? Let’s go stand in line! My God, the line is so long.
I get lots of e-mails with the same message, like this one from little Johnny in Nashville, who writes, “Dear Mr. Cagle, Please explain your cartoon to me. My paper is due tomorrow.”
I hate having to explain myself. So does Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker.
Walker doesn’t like “gotcha” questions from the media. When a reporter asks a politician a question, and knows that an honest answer would be an answer that many people won’t like hearing, that is a “gotcha” question. Walker has been clumsy while learning to avoid “gotcha” questions.
I drew a cartoon showing a reporter interviewing Walker.
Reporter asks, “Gays?”
Walker says, “I don’t wanna answer that.” Walker thinks, “Homos are so nasty.”
Reporter then asks, “Evolution?”
Walker says, “I won’t answer.” Walker thinks, “This liberal ape doesn’t know that evolution is only a ‘theory’.”
Reporter asks, “Do you think Obama is a Christian?”
Walker says, “I never asked him.” Walker thinks, “I never asked that liberal, Muslim, Kenyan atheist.”
Journalists must be accurate and report the exact words a politician says. My job is better. As an editorial cartoonist, I have the freedom to put any words into the mouths of politicians that I want; I can even choose to put any thoughts into their brains.
Republican candidates must pander to the basest of their conservative base, especially in the presidential primaries. My worry is that politicians really believe the blather that they spew. I would like to hear honest answers to the “gotcha” questions.
The problem with avoiding “gotcha” questions is that I’m left with the impression that Walker really believes the knuckle-dragging nonsense that I write into his thought bubbles.
An even bigger problem is that cartoons are not so funny when they are explained.