Wow—he’s a cyborg, and a pirate, and a ninja. That’s one impressive resumé.
This kick-butt Jesus even has his own theme song, which goes something like this:
“Who diced up Pol Pot like Teriyaki Steak?
Who gave the great Ghangis Kahn all that he could take?
Who used his massive cyborg arm to crush the Axis dead?
Who pumped the Germans in the Rhine full of Pirate lead?
Who kung fu kicks anyone who sells mind-altering drugs?
Who’ll infect a robber with scurvy for everyone he mugs?
He’s Cyborg Pirate Ninja Jesus!
Cyborg Pirate Ninja Jesus!”
He also has a Facebook fan page, a comic book, and his own YouTube video game adventure. Not sure where this meme originated, but it is a few years old. (Update: Neil Duffy created the original image, posted above, in early 2005.) What is interesting to me is that the Internet is chock-full of these inventive Jesus heroes. Most of it’s all in good fun, of course, but what does it say about Jesus and the world’s general attitude toward him? Why do we find Jesus adapted in these playful ways, but not Muhammad or the Buddha (or Abraham, or Confucius, or Laozi, etc.)?
I don’t know if I find this to be a negative view of Jesus or a positive one…how can you even talk about cyborg pirate ninjas in such paltry ways as good or bad?
As to your question about portrayals, to me it is about the way many of us feel Jesus presented himself- as someone free, accepting, loving, and open-minded. Even non-Christians can pinpoint Jesus as a likable character, and I think that’s why it’s easier to make him “fun” in these ways than, say, Moses.
“Why do we find Jesus adapted in these playful ways, but not Muhammad or the Buddha”
Well, for one thing Christians don’t riot and kill hundreds of people whenever someone draws a cartoon of Jesus…
I assume you’re referencing the publication of the Muhammad caricatures in 2005. The editor of The Jutland Post (in Denmark) said that he did that to deliberately cause offense, to teach Muslims a lesson about free speech, and to humble them. Christians don’t like it when artists depict Jesus irreverently either, and there have been cases of violence. For example, in 1988, when a Christian fundamentalist group set fire to a Parisian theater that was showing The Last Temptation of Christ, to name one. Both Christianity and Islam have extremists who, when insulted, turn their anger into violence instead of into constructive dialogue and prayer. Sad, but true.
But I was thinking not so much about intentionally controversial works as about the more light and silly concoctions—those doctored images or YouTube videos that people create when they’re bored. I’m talking about Jesus as a hipster, a Jedi, or The Sermonator (a la Schwarzenegger). And a lot of times, these creations come from Christians themselves! They’re posted on Christian blogs, referenced in sermons, and worn on T-shirts. I just can’t conceive of a Jedi Master Muhammad; and I certainly can’t conceive of a Muslim conceiving of a Jedi Master Muhammad. I’ve searched on Google for that and the like but have come up short.
It seems that Christians, generally speaking, don’t hold Jesus as high and lofty as the practitioners of other religions do their figures of veneration. Jesus is more of a pal whom we can joke with—at least that’s what contemporary Christian culture seems to suggest. These kinds of appropriations, like the Cyborg Pirate Ninja Jesus, amuse me, because they show how much Jesus has become a part of our popular culture. Muhammad, on the other hand, has not, not even in Islamic countries. He remains, instead, a figure to be treated with the utmost piety and respect, which would exclude him from being made the object of any cartoon, no matter how harmless.
I guess I’m wondering whether this difference in attitude and treatment stems merely from a difference in culture (America vs. the Middle East) or if it has to do more with fundamental differences between the two religions and/or the personality of the two individuals, as recorded in their respective sacred texts. Why do most people feel more comfortable, more relaxed, with Jesus–which as a result, means they also feel less reverent toward him?
In retrospect I think my comment was too short to communicate what I meant to say. I wasn’t thinking just of the Denmark cartoons (although they are the most famous example) but of a number of instances where people have been threatened or killed due to whimsical, satirical or irreverent depictions of Muhammad. This has often led to self-censorship of any depictions of Muhammad by non-Muslims for fear of triggering riots and receiving threats. That is why we don’t see more “silly” depictions of Muhammad. Acts of violence by Christians against perceived blasphemous representations of Jesus haven’t had the same far-reaching effects.
On the other hand, I don’t know if we see these types of depictions of Jesus in non-Western countries (or in the West for that matter before the 20th Century). As for why, I suspect it may have something to do with the proliferation of theological ideas which emphasize viewing Jesus as a friend at the expense of viewing Jesus as Lord and King. This is something that I expounded upon at length back when I wrote for the Carolina Review: http://crdaily.com/2010/02/christus-rex/
It originated with me, actually. Early 2005.
It is connected with “might is right” principle, pervasive in our culture nowadays. most movie heroes who are right also kick ass?? yup they do.
so if Jesus is Right, he should also be mighty/cool. pirates are cool, as are ninjas and cyborgs. Jesus is supremely right, so he must be supremely cool, so… Cyborg pirate ninja Jesus!