It's been out a few years, but yesterday was the first time I heard Hayes Carll's song, "She Left Me for Jesus". The lyrics go like this:
We've been dating since high school, we never once left this town.
We used to go out on the weekends and we'd drink till we drowned.
But now she's acting funny, and I don't understand.
I think that she's found her some other man.
She left me for Jesus, and that just ain't fair,
She says that he's perfect, how could I compare?
She says I should find him, and I'll know peace at last,
If I ever find Jesus, I'm kicking his ass.
She showed me a picture, all I could do was stare,
At that freak in his sandals, with his long pretty hair,
They must think that I'm stupid, or I don't have a clue,
I bet he's a Commie, or even worse yet a Jew.
She's given up whiskey, and taken up wine,
While she prays for his troubles, she forgot about mine.
I'm gonna get even, I can't handle the shame.
Why, the last time we made love, she even called out his name.
It could have been Carlos, or even Billy Ortez,
But if I ever find Jesus,
He's gonna wish he was dead. Amen.
I'm a Christian. How did I feel when I heard someone singing about kicking Jesus in the ass? To be honest, a little uncomfortable. It sounded disrespectful to someone for whom I hold great respect. If I were a singer, that tune probably wouldn't be on my play list.
But how I felt is irrelevant, of concern to no one but myself. The important thing is how did I react, what did I do? Other than posting this article, nothing at all. I didn't send death threats to the singer, nor organize boycotts of his concerts. I didn't even issue veiled warnings that some of my less moderate coreligionists might be unable to control their rage and harm him. He's an artist, after all, and has my full support to write and sing about Jesus anyway he wants. If I take his lyrics seriously, I can even commiserate with the jilted guy whose girlfriend found religion and left him behind.
Most readers of this blog are well aware of Muslim reaction to the Danish cartoons a few years ago, and the more recent "Draw Muhammad Day". This response to a cartoon of Muhammad meeting with a psychiatrist was typical. Who knows how many thousands of people have published articles or given speeches around the world about how offended they were by these drawings? The common theme in them all is that it is unfair and impermissible to treat in this way the Prophet who is so beloved by his followers.
I don't think Muslims are being honest with themselves or with us. I think the real reason they act as they do is not their love for Muhammad, but their need to protect him. As I have noted here, the life of Muhammd raises many questions for anyone seriously considering whether or not he was a Prophet of God. To this day, Muslims continue to avoid those questions and choose instead to express their hurt and outrage at those who reach and express conclusions about Muhammad that are not the conclusions they would want them to reach.