Today (9/30/09) is Blasphemy Day! What to do, what to do …
It sounds fun but, it can be pretty hard to do. Blasphemy is, after all, in the eye of the beholder. One individual’s actions or speech could be completely pious in their eyes, yet still be considered blasphemous by someone else. So, in a sense, you don’t even need to try. Or, if you do try, you might not be successful.
Here’s a definition of blasphemy from Wikipedia:
Blasphemy, in the context of religion, is reference to God, in a manner declared by God, to be offensive to God.
As interpreted by his followers, of course. Here on earth, a blaspheme is really nothing more than the offense of a theist. If a blaspheme is made in the forest, and nobody hears it, is it still a blaspheme? If you’re an atheist … of course not. I’m sure theists still think it is, but they think that gods are snooping on them all day.
Ok, some blasphemous things:
- Christianity: Blaspheming the Holy Spirit (not Yehweh or Jesus) is unforgivable (Luke 12:10). I have, however, also seen it translated as denying the Holy Spirit. So, is simply denying a god a blasphemy? Didn’t Peter deny Jesus 3 times (or 9, if you’re one of those)? So, would have blasphemed Jesus. Since, he only blasphemed Jesus and not the Holy Spirit, he’s probably ok, but still … you would think that his denials would have affected his standing amongst the saints. Maybe that’s why he’s stuck on door duty in heaven (bouncer for all eternity). Well, he may not have had the guts, but I deny the Holy Spectre with all my might. Dr Fate, that’s my guy.
- Judaism: In Leviticus 24:16, the death penalty is the punishment for blasphemy, but it still doesn’t really define what blasphemy is. Assuming that other crimes punishable by death qualify as blasphemy would not be logically correct (i.e., all oranges are fruits, not all fruits are oranges).
- Islam: This one’s easier. Speaking ill of Muhammad is a blaspheme (which is quite strange, since he is not god, just the messenger of god). So, Muhammad is a douche bag. Done.
- Buddhism: You might think there’s no blasphemy in Buddhism. You would be wrong: In 2007, Buddhists in Thailand petitioned the government to enact a blasphemy law. Of course, it might have been purely social, but they must have thought there was a good enough reason to give their religion a protected status above all criticism.
- Hinduism:Paul Courtright was threatened with blasphemy for his book, Ganesa: Lord of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings. Followers sought to remove the book from publication (after 16 years in print, mind you) so no one would ever read it again.
So, in short, blasphemy looks to me to be nothing more than the follower of a religious movement getting worked up about something. Which didn’t prevent Ireland from passing an arcane, unenforceable, and outdated law this year.