Nearly a week since the Paris terrorist attacks, tomorrow Charlie Hebdo will release their weekly satirical magazine. Here’s the cover:
Depicting the Islamic prophet Mohammed shedding a tear while holding a sign saying “We are Charlie,” the top caption states “all is forgiven.”
- Who’s doing the forgiving: Mohammed, Hebdo, or a combination of the two?
- How does Hebdo define forgiveness? What are the categories?
- Is true forgiveness possible without repentance? In other words, is forgiveness unconditional or conditional?
- Since most if not all of Hebdo’s past and current employees are not affiliated with any religion, and many are self-professing atheists, what is their process of forgiveness?
- How might Christians respond to the Hebdo cover in a posture of humble yet unflinching critique?
What are your responses to any of the above questions? Please share your comments.
Ross Douthat of The New York Times:
…the kind of blasphemy that Charlie Hebdo engaged in had deadly consequences, as everyone knew it could … and that kind of blasphemy is precisely the kind that needs to be defended, because it’s the kind that clearly serves a free society’s greater good. If a large enough group of someones is willing to kill you for saying something, then it’s something that almost certainly needs to be said, because otherwise the violent have veto power over liberal civilization, and when that scenario obtains it isn’t really a liberal civilization any more. Again, liberalism doesn’t depend on everyone offending everyone else all the time, and it’s okay to prefer a society where offense for its own sake is limited rather than pervasive. But when offenses are policed by murder, that’s when we need more of them, not less, because the murderers cannot be allowed for a single moment to think that their strategy can succeed.
Must all deliberate offense-giving, in any context, be celebrated, honored, praised? I think not. But in the presence of the gun — or, as in the darker chapters of my own faith’s history, the rack or the stake — both liberalism and liberty require that it be welcomed and defended.
Read Ross Douthat’s “The Blasphemy We Need” here.