Monday, October 19, 2009

The Book of Genesis Illustrated

In the news today is the story that a graphic novel version of the Book of Genesis has been produced by Robert Crumb, the guy who made the adult comic strip, Fritz the Cat, back in the 60s and 70s and which was made into an X rated (in US) animated film by Ralph Bakshi in 1972. It appears he's using the Robert Alter translation of Genesis.

What I find especially amusing is the response from certain Christian groups, from the sound of them from more evangelical Christian organisations, the type of people termed wryly by Fred Clark over at Slacktivist as Real True Christians. According to the reports, Crumb graphically depicts the biblical characters having sex as well graphic depictions of violence which the report describes as 'gratuitous'. Consequently:

The Book of Genesis illustrated by R. Crumb has been criticised by religious groups such as the Christian Institute in Britain. ''It is turning the Bible into titillation,'' said Mike Judge, of institute, a religious think tank. ''It seems wholly inappropriate for what is essentially God's rescue plan for mankind. If you are going to publish your own version of the Bible it must be done with a great deal of sensitivity. The Bible is a very important text to many people.''

These are generally the sort of people who can read wild homosexual orgies into the terse narrative of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. They can also find condemnations of same sex love and desire in all manner of biblical texts, which don't read that way to me. They are also very creative in imagining the sexual depredations of the hapless Canaanites too.

Over at Boingboing, there is "an exclusive peek" at Crumb's version of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. It's quite instructive to compare it to say Jack Chick's 1980s tract, Doom Town. Crumb is the epitome of taste compared to that Real True Christian. Doom Town goes beyond titillation to full on homophobic pornography, complete with kiddie porn and snuff all wrapped up in an anti-Catholic framework to boot.

Indeed Doom Town is the ultimate in homophobic snuff porn. It enables all those Real True Christian men, when the anxiety surrounding their intensely intimate same-sex relationship with Jesus, their personal Saviour, gets too overwhelming, to cremate their own inner homosexual after first savoring the frisson of same-sex desire explicitly, albeitly homophobically, displayed. And when you get tired of Doom Town, Chick has at least another three homophobic/pornographic tracts depicting Sodom's destruction and the presumed homosexuality responsible for it.

Crumb's Illustrated Genesis looks like a text worth getting for anyone interested in engaging with the biblical texts unlike the execrable work of Jack Chick.

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