Charlie HebdoBeing born with thick skin is one of the blessings of life liberty and even the pursuit of happiness. Happy is the man or woman who is not threatened by nonsense.  

In this era of guns, bombs and sectarian hysteria, having a thick skin is like wearing a permanent Kevlar psychic vest. A thick skin protects you from the verbal, written and graphic slings and arrows of not only the offenses of others but of blowback of your own as well. Thick skin, having properties to deflect snark (psychological or theological) has this built-in cooling off property. Gives you time to think. You do not lash out first. You think. Unfortunately some do not like to think and this might be at the crux of our problems.

Thick skins are especially protective against ideas that push the envelope of civilized conventions. Among such ideas are those that flow from religious scriptures. At the best end of the spectrum, scriptures tend to bend the truth just enough to make the bending palatable, but at the opposite end call for a total rejection of reason, science and fraternity. Also affected at that extreme are two other historical ideals: liberty, equality.

“Liberty Equality Fraternity” is French for “stability”.

On a religious plane (one I admit I don’t fly): it’s well known that a religious person with a thick skin is on of the great blessings of God, especially in a pluralistic society. But a religious person with a thin skin is often tight with Satan, linked in a bond of hate —sectarian skin with the thickness of tissue paper causes fanatics —ones who will hurl themselves passionately into Satan’s bonfire while raking a Kalashnikov through the ranks of infidel cartoonists in the offices of a satirical magazine.

When in doubt, think, “thick skin”.

Thin-skinned members of sects tend to rant against those who offend God. And liberals often gloss over such declarations. But it’s not unreasonable to assume that what’s really offensive to any god worth his or her salt is the idea that God (The Almighty) would be offended by the predictable utterances of such flawed and clueless creatures as homo sapiens —who some say are under God’s wing.

S/He must be proud. .

There is one question religious fanatics will never ask themselves: why would God, being omniscient and already knowing what to expect, be offended? God probably got over that eons ago.

Religious offense (or any other psychological offense, verbal or graphic) is not only an affect from the outside, but is also an interior matter. Giving offense is not offense’s only voluntary aspect, taking offense is also responsible for trouble —both tango in violence’s spotlight.

The religious authorities of Jesus’ time thought Jesus offended God, but the truth was: Jesus offended them —them, their doctrines and authority. What Jesus suggested was that the real offenses against God were perpetrated by the faux-spiritual, the sanctimonious, the self-righteous.

Offensive ideas vary with the political and theological winds. It just seems more likely to me that God would take offense at the arrogance of anyone who assumes they know what offends God. Better to take the risk of offending those peddling crazy ideas than to let those ideas fester and erupt.

by Jim Culleny