Friday, April 01, 2016

Reader's Diary #1289- Margreet de Heer: Religion / A Discovery in Comics

I have not always felt comfortable talking about religion. I used to and I have had strong opinions on it. Then I found myself in a position where I was not at liberty to say how I truly felt. Not a healthy position to find oneself in. Now that I'm not, however, I don't feel the need to release. Instead, I just appreciate a reasonable, respectful, and grounded discussion.

Enter de Heer's Religion: A Discovery in Comics. Taking a look at 5 major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism) de Heer gives a brief synopsis on each faith; their practices, holy books, and history. I can't say I learned anything new, though it was nice to brush up on things I'd forgotten. I also would have liked it to have been longer, focusing on still more religions, branches, and denominations. I'd have loved to have read something about Sikhism, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormons for instance.

Still, there's a calming effect to de Heer's delivery, humorous but intelligent and respectful without sugarcoating facts, that I enjoyed regardless that there wasn't a lot of new insight. The cartooning itself is simple but has flashes of creativity. Especially appreciated was her use of literal eggshells when she acknowledges sensitive topics.

Speaking of sensitive topics, yes, she does draw Muhammad, and yes, she acknowledges it as a  controversial act. She defends it by giving examples of Muslim artists who have famously done the same without controversy, but I'm not all that sure that would get her off the hook in some eyes (considering that de Heer herself is not Muslim). She also states that the Quran only forbids the worship of images, not images themselves. Again, not having the Quran myself, I cannot say whether or not I agree with her interpretation, but it like the book overallwas a brave thing to do.

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