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Jesus Christ! You Can’t Blaspheme in Greece?

Sooner or later, God is gonna cut you down

Of all the silly laws – and there are plenty, such as one in Massachusetts which says that a mourner at a wake may eat no more than three sandwiches – it’s pretty hard to beat blasphemy, which makes it a crime to insult or show contempt or lack of reverence for a religious deity or irreverence toward religious or holy persons or things.

Essentially, you can’t say anything bad about someone who doesn’t really exist because it offends the sensibilities of people who believe he does. Or is it she? Because a lot of women like the title Goddess.

Greece overlooked Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, but you won’t be seeing any Atheists running for Prime Minister because the country brooks no disrespect toward God or religion – as long as it’s the Greek Orthodox Church – although it’s pretty hard to blaspheme any institution that tolerates pederasts and tries to avoid paying taxes.

Since God preaches forgiveness you’d think he wouldn’t mind being called a couple of names now and then. But the Greeks are having none of it, and blasphemy in Greece extends to his workers too, such as Elder Geron Paisios, a long-dead ascetic monk and widely-popular religious figure in Greece, where people have trouble driving when they pass a church because they’re trying to cross themselves three times rapidly with their hands off the steering wheel.

An unnamed 27-year-old Greek found that out pretty fast when police, who couldn’t find the cowards ganging up on immigrants with a GPS and a few clues, arrested him in a tiny village far from Athens after the computer crime squad that should be scouring financial records of tax cheats identified him as the miscreant who mocked Paisios by using the name “Gerontas Pastitsios,” referring to a popular Greek pasta dish. All he really has to do is ask if his accusers are Christian and then say, “Well, forgive me,” and we’ll see if they are.

The real crime about pastitsio is that at many tourist trap tavernas it’s so bad, and overpriced, and you’re tempted to scream, “Jesus Christ! Who the hell made this?” when it’s delivered to your table. But be cautioned not to as it could land you in the hoosegow where a fat man who asks you to bend over will make you find religion pretty fast, or take the Lord’s name in vain and extend your sentence. If we’re going to link religion with food, why not try to lure tourists to Mt. Athos with a “Mad Monks of Moussaka!” tour?

Don’t ask me because it seems like blasphemy if someone is screaming, “Yes! Yes! Oh God Yes!” during intimate moments the Church believes should be saved for marriage,  and I can’t tell a monk from a San Diego Padre. The Greek police are spending their time trying to catch blasphemers now because Greeks believe if you don’t stop this anti-God stuff in its tracks the next thing you know people will refuse to pay their taxes, or go to church and cough when there’s too much incense. That’s an insult that should be punishable by kneeling before a priest and begging forgiveness, although you’re taking your chances on that.

Greek law proscribes punishment for imprisonment up to two years for “one who publicly and maliciously and by any means blasphemes God,” but no one apparently bothered to ask Him, especially the provision that includes a penalty of not more than 3,000 euros, a currency they didn’t have back in Jesus’ day in Jerusalem. At least Jesus didn’t have a wife to put up with now that the Vatican said it has de-bunked as a fake an ancient papyrus claiming he was married. Good thing or otherwise he’d have to get used to hearing “Jesus Christ!” all day when he did something wrong, rather unlikely since Jesus Christ was a Superstar.

HELLO,  MY NAME IS JOHNNY CASH

Police said that they made the arrest of The Great Blasphemer after “thousands” of complaints from various parts of the world reached the electronic crimes squad, although it happened right after the neo-Nazi nuts of the Golden Dawn party, who like beating immigrants (apparently that’s not a crime in the Bible they read) complained. It’s a wonder they discovered it as they usually spend their time on the computer trying to erase videos of the Holocaust to prove it never happened. Sooner or later God is gonna cut them down anyway, hopefully when they’re praying to Hitler.

This is insanity perpetuated by people who believe there is a man (why not a woman?) living in the clouds (where’d he go on all those sunny days in Greece) and needing a shave, although those gorgeous raiments leave you asking: “Who is God’s tailor?” If you’re going to arrest people for blaspheming in Greece, you can start in the Parliament where they take his name in vain every other sentence.

People have a right to their beliefs, but they don’t have a right to force them on anyone else. Let’s make a deal though without proselytizing: Don’t tell me there’s a god and I won’t tell you there isn’t one, and we can talk about life, baseball, and women, in that order as it’s best never to give advice about love, religion or politics anyway, unless you’re forced to by an unintelligible proposition.

The arrest subjected Greece to even more international ridicule and is beyond parody, but you probably won’t be seeing any traveling road show versions of Pussy Riot in any Greek Cathedrals, or any graffiti that God is Dead. The Humanist Union of Greece, which promotes a secular view, has launched a petition trying to get the accused released but that’s going nowhere because when it comes to anything religious the Greek Orthodox Church usually rules, although it took a licking after condemning Nikos Kazantzakis’ great novel (made into a movie the church didn’t like either) The Last Temptation of Christ.

Kazantzakis had an answer: “You gave me a curse, Holy fathers, I give you a blessing: may your conscience be as clear as mine and may you be as moral and religious as I,” before the Church, in its infinite compassion, anathematized him in 1955. That led him to respond: Στο δικαστήριό σου ασκώ έφεση, ω Kύριε, “I lodge my appeal at your tribunal, Lord,” although we’re still waiting for a ruling from Him, and it’s been 57 years.

In December, 2003, Greece prosecuted Austrian writer Gerhard Haderer and his Greek publisher for his illustrated, humorous book entitled The Life of Jesus, showing God’s son as a hippie, and judging by the popular depictions what else could he have been with hair like that? Fortunately, the courts, who don’t have to answer to God but only politicians, reversed a guilty finding so he wouldn’t have to lodge an appeal at the Lord’s Tribunal and wait 57 years.

There was no word on what the Church felt about this blasphemy arrest but it has a history of going after those who are irreverent, and Greek authorities follow the lead. In June this year, three actors in Athens were arrested for appearing in Terrence McNally’s play Corpus Christi, which depicts Christ and his disciples as homosexuals living in Texas, which is ridiculous because they would have preferred San Francisco or Brooklyn.

Predictably, and undoubtedly without seeing it, the Church condemned the play as “blasphemous, slandering the God-man face of Jesus Christ” and demanded that, “The screenwriters of the play must show the necessary respect to our people’s historic tradition and the teaching of our Church.” You can almost hear God yelling, “Hello sweetheart, get me re-write.”

GOD IS A POTTER, HE WORKS IN MUD

There’s a pretty basic rule, but it’s of decency, and not religion, that you shouldn’t spill ashes in someone else’s parlor and that also dictates that you behave properly in someone else’s territory and abide by their customs and not ridicule them unless you don’t mind provoking a punch in the nose in retaliation.

But that doesn’t extend to hunting down people for parodies and religion is not above it in the right forum, although you’re still free to tell religious jokes at parties. One of my favorites goes like this: In ancient Nazareth a crowd is about to stone to death a woman quaking in fear on the ground when suddenly, Jesus appears and tells them: “Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone.” One by one, the stones fall out of the people’s hands and the crowd starts to disperse.

Suddenly, a stone comes hurtling through the air and hits the woman on the head, killing her. The crowd gasps. Jesus, looking a little annoyed, parts the crowd and sees the perpetrator, who is smiling in defiance. It’s a woman. He walks over to her, puts his left hand on her shoulder, wipes his face in frustration with his right, looks at her and says, “Mom, if I told you once …..”

The late, great American comic George Carlin pretty much put this stuff to bed in a brilliant piece on “There Is No God,” when he correctly noted that, “Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!” And as only Carlin could, added: “But he loves you. And he needs money.” But I don’t think 3,000 euros will satisfy him.

But let us let Father Paisios have the last word on this since he’s been the one blasphemed. “As a person becomes more spiritual, so much fewer rights does he has in this life. It is obligatory to be patient, to accept injustice, to accept evil words from others,” he said. As long as it’s not Pastitsio.

 

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  • Salconstandinidis

    God is Dead

  • danasta

    This is a great article. Funny stuff. Do Greeks even realize that they are fast gaining the reputation of fascist neanderthals? Money isn’t everything. 30% of the world can appreciate poor Greeks. Maybe 3% will appreciate fascist Greece.

  • Anonymous

    This article is a ridiculous over reaction based on recent arrest on single person on an outdated law that hasn’t been used in years. (who will likely see their case dismissed) People insult region in Greece all the time. (like Andy just did but misses irony)

    I think those that resort to hyperbole against the Greek people are “fascist”.

  • Anonymous

    Hey andy if you are going to talk about sillliness of blashemy laws you think you might want to mention the Islamic extremists that rioted in Athens in support of such laws a few days ago next time (as well as other times as well).

    I hopy you aren’t one of those far leftist types that is bizarrely afraid to criticize non-Greeks and only attacks Greeks.(see Sal who is racist against Greeks)

  • Anonymous

    In the about page of Greek Reporter is written…..

    “We are constantly searching for people around the globe that are proud of their GREEK heritage, ”

    I am still waiting for articles that deal with trying to preserve Greek heritage. Criticism of Greece is fine but what kind of alleged Greek newspaper only deals with single sided attacks against Greeks?   Where are articles condemning the behavior of FYROM for trying to usurp our identity and use it to promote irredentism Andy? (not to mention the current Turkish govenrment that colludes in their behavior by pretending not to notice their sudden change into “ancient Macedonians”)  Are you writing for Greeks or writing for foreign associates?

    I realize you are an American Greek but just because you get attention from foreign press when you say something negative of Greeks doesn’t mean you should forget about Greek people themselves. Please don’t get caught up in overly demonizing Greeks like some people in other countries have done while ignoring issues like FYROM and massive illegal immigration that is also of concern to the Greek people.

    I know you are left on the political spectrum and have mixed loyalities being an American but
    please don’t make the mistake of extreme anti-nationalism ike bizarre
    far leftist extremists like commie Sal. If you don’t really see your heritage as Greek you should stop writing articles for the Greek reporter and stick to American ones.

    If you do see your heritage as Greek though… A “Greek proud of their Greek heritage” would never tolerate their identity being usurped by another country or tolerate an invasion of illegals of their homeland. They would defend their homeland in its time of need.

  • Salconstandinidis

    Iam not racist against anyone try to understand that

  • Salconstandinidis

    I agree it will be dismissed.

  • Cake198434

    Several of my posts keep “disappearing” so I am forced to post this yet again.

    You constantly demonize the Greek
    people  Sal and not once defend Greek people against those that are racist
    against Greeks.  To
    give real world substance to my claim that some (not all) on the left seem to have
    bizarre prejudices against Greeks….

    FYROM natioanlists media alleges
    that someone
    named Aleksandar Samardziev was killed in Thessaloniki. Putting aside
    this case hasn’t been confirmed a thing that caught my eye is the ultra
    nationalist head  of “World Macedonian Congress” using the incident as a
    pretext to call for the destruction of Greece.

    http://tinyurl.com/8loltn7

    This
    is effectively call for genocide against Greek people by prominent
    FYROM organziation. Isn’t prominent FYROM nationalists that calls for
    the death of the Greek people worth reporting and denoucing?

    This isn’t to say Golden Dawn is right either but racism against Greeks is morally wrong too. Where are the voices of the Greek left defending Greeks against any foreign Greek-hating bigots that now dishonestly pretend not to notice FYROM’s behavior? (to cover up their shame for calling them Macedonians)

  • Cake198434

     Or another example….

    A few days ago some Muslim extremists effectively rioted for blasphemny laws. Greek far leftists were  quick to criticize GD but their voices were muted or non-existent just the day before when Muslim extremists were RIOTING for the same thing? (and that would include you Sal)

  • Cake198434

    Another example….

    Where are the protests by far leftists denoucing FYROM govenrments irredentism against Greece? Or is FYROM’s ultra nationalists desire to commit genocide against Greek people “human rights” now?

    When I say there is racism against Greeks today I don’t say it as political rhetoric. Its true. This single sided reporting against Greek people and evasiveness around FYROM’s blatantly obvious sudden change into “ancient Macedonians” and  irredentism is clear evidnece of this.

  • Cake198434

     It is exactly the racism against greeks  by (some) of the Greek left and (some) foreigners that  are a pushing Greeks more into the hands of extreme nationalists.

    Stop being racist against Greeks or tolerating racism against Greeks.

  • Salconstandinidis

    Funny video he is full of it Greece is here to stay Slavs you are not Macedonians you are Slavic people read history your language is South Slavic it sounds like Russian you are Bulgarians that is a fact.

  • Anonymous

     Indeed… by why does it always take me to first point this out for you to say anything? Why aren’t you writing every day complaining aobut this issue? Why isn’t comrade Tsipiras vocally defending the Greek people against those openly threatening it?

  • Anonymous

     I don’t agree with GD’s behavior but the answer to every question in Greece by the left can’t be to blame GD (which is a recent phenomena). Some of the blame for our current problems is to be found in those that for years were too afraid to defend our country and borders.

  • Salconstandinidis

    Because it is an issue I want to go away know and forever.

  • Antonis201

    Blasphemy is permitted in Greece as long as its not directed against the greek orthodox
    church. For example you can “blaspheme” all you want against Islam or even against catholicism, you can even make the most vile racist comments about jews and the nazis will actually be the first to defend your freedom of speech but God forbid you dispute the credibility of the people who run the prophesy-miracle-superstision industry because then you’re in big trouble.

  • Antonis201

    Thank you for reminding us this very important non-issue even though I don’t see how it is related to this article. Perhaps I got distracted by less important things like the fact that Greece is becoming an impoverished banana republic just like “FYROM”. Greeks try to preserve your heritage! Say NO to pasticcio; it’s a Venician recipe trying to dehellenize our cuisine!