It's not. The image is in a handwriting workbook published in India.
The company that made and distributed that book made a really, really big mistake. India is one of those countries where deliberately offending someone's religious sentiments is illegal.
Which may or may not be a good idea.
Anyway, here's an excerpt from the news:
"Christians in India's northeast are outraged after a picture showing Jesus Christ holding a beer can and a cigarette was discovered in primary school textbooks.Interestingly, here in American blasphemy is - according to the dominant culture - a constitutional right, guaranteed by the idea of 'free speech.' American academic institutions are particularly 'open minded' about blasphemy, since acts like trashing a page from the Quran and some atheist's book, driving a nail through a consecrated Host and publishing a photo of the lot are considered an exercise in 'academic freedom.'
"The image appeared in a handwriting book for children in church-run schools in the Christian-majority state of Meghalaya, where it was used to illustrate the letter 'I' for the word 'Idol'....
"...Police said they were hunting for the owner of the New Delhi-based publisher, Skyline Publications, who faces charges of offending religious sentiment, local police superintendent A.R. Mawthoh told AFP.
"The Roman Catholic Church in India has banned all textbooks by Skyline, while Protestant leaders called for a public apology.
"The state government also denounced the publication.
" 'We strongly condemn such a blasphemous act. Legal action has been initiated against the publisher,' M. Ampareen Lyngdoh, an education minister in the Meghalaya government, said...."
(myFOX New York) [emphasis mine]
(from PZ Myers, Pharyngula (July 24, 2008), used w/o permission)
Maybe America could learn something from India. That country has been learning to deal with differences in religious belief. Religious affiliation broke out this way in their 2001 census:
- Hindu 80.5%
- Muslim 13.4%
- Christian 2.3%
- Sikh 1.9%
- Other 1.8%
- Unspecified 0.1%
(2001 census, via CIA World Factbook)
As far as historical accuracy goes, I'm not at all convinced that my Lord wore clothes like that, or had those long ringlets. As for looking like a teenage boy in need of fresh air, exercise and an adequate male role model - I've been into that before. (February 15, 2010)
The beer bothers me only on historical grounds. It simply wasn't part of the culture where my Lord lived. When they were running out of drinks at that wedding in Cana, Jesus provided wine, not beer. Which I've discussed before, including this, from March, 2009:
When it comes to booze, the Church teaches that we're not supposed to get drunk: not that alcohol is the work of Satan. (Catechism, 2290, for starters)" On the threshold of his public life Jesus performs his first sign-at his mother's request-during a wedding feast. The Church attaches great importance to Jesus' presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ's presence.'"If you'd rather think that Mary having Jesus get more drinks for everybody is a purely spiritual thing: fine. As I said before, that's your business. Fact is, though, the party was running out of wine: and Mary was very insistent about her son doing something about it. Which he did...."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1613)
(The story's in John 2:1-10.)
("Annulment: Divorce, Catholic Style - NOT!" (March 27, 2009))
Up until around the mid-point of the 20th century, someone who smoked might not realize that there were serious health risks involved. And, as far as I know, the jury is still out on whether there is a safe minimum limit to smoking and chewing.
There was even a Pope - Blessed John XXIII (1958-63), I think - who smoked. It was either one or two cigarettes a day, again as I recall.
As with so many other things, it looks like moderation is the key.
My own opinion, by the way, is that we'll find that zero is the safe maximum for tobacco use: but that's no more than a guess. And, another topic.
But then, Maria Monk wrote a book too - which quite a few people still buy - that's full of whoppers about those wicked Catholics over there. (September 26, 2008)
As I researched Catholicism and the Catholic Church, I discovered that quite a bit of what I thought I knew was centuries out of date - and much of the rest was flat-out wrong. Where the Urban VII story lies, I don't know.
For me, the idea that Urban VIII banned tobacco because he thought it led to sneezing - and that sneezing was too much like sexual ecstasy for his taste - sounds like one of those urban legends that's a little too good to be true. Sure, people who use snuff sneeze. But sexy sneezing reminds me, humorously, of the 'good old days' when sophisticated people discovered that sex was sexy and started talking and writing about sex. It was, like, "relevant." Fer sure.
"...The image appeared in a handwriting book for children in church-run schools in the Christian-majority state of Meghalaya, where it was used to illustrate the letter 'I' for the word 'Idol'....."From Maria Monk's day to this, quite a few 'good Christian' people in North America (M.M. lived in Canada, as I recall) 'know' that those heathen Catholics worship idols.
(myFOX New York) [emphasis mine]
There's a (tiny) grain of truth in this assumption. Catholic churches and Cathedrals are not, as a rule, the sensory-deprivation chambers favored by some Protestant groups. The Catholic Church noticed that most human beings can see, and has used visual imagery to get the Christian message across, since before the days when my ancestors were cobbling feudal Europe out of a network of local warlords.
So today you're more likely to see pictures and statues in Catholic Churches, than in Protestant ones.
The statues are illustrations, not idols. We do not worship idols. But historically we don't go out of our way to insult people who do. (Acts 17:22) And yes: I'm sure you've encountered a Catholic who did. What can I say? We're human beings: sinners, members of a fallen race.
It's idolatry that's on the no-no list. (Catechism, 2112-2114, for starters)
"...Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc...."
As the Catechism explains, Catholics use statues and pictures to assist worship. Not because we don't believe the Bible: but because we understand it.
"The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, 'the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype,' and 'whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.'70 The honor paid to sacred images is a 'respectful veneration,' not the adoration due to God alone:I venerate (a few) people. I adore God: And I know enough not to get the two mixed up.Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is.71"(Catechism, 2132)
- "Jesus, Men, and a Marketing Campaign Gone Wrong"
(February 15, 2010)
- "Halloween's Coming: Why aren't I Ranting?"
(October 29, 2009)
- "Tolerance: Yes, it's a Good Idea"
(August 3, 2009)
- "Catholics Don't Believe the Bible: Who Knew?"
(September 26, 2008)
- "Image of Boozing Jesus Christ Upsets Indian Christians"
myFOX New York (February 22, 2010)