unfortunate cultural vaccinations

By Diogenes (articles ) | Aug 11, 2006

Milwaukee auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba wants you to know that he's horrified by television footage of Mideast carnage -- and by road rage as well. Not content with the standard explanations, however, he burrows beneath the surface to probe the root causes of our destructive impulses.

When they tell us that the television cartoons children of all ages watch are filled with violence, we tend to shrug it off with, "It's always been that way." As a matter of fact, all the way back to the days of Popeye and Olive (for those who can still remember that far back) arguments were settled by physical blows; somehow we mistakenly thought it was funny.

Our juvenile mistake was a costly one. Follow Sklba closely here:

The fact of the matter, however, is that art imitates life and our modern life is very violent indeed! The tragedy of these past three weeks along the border of Israel and Lebanon seems particularly brutal, and the loss of so many innocent civilian lives only underscores that reality.

Few commentators on the recent bloodshed have located such recondite tributaries. Sklba admits that our own religious language likewise encodes tolerance of inappropriate behaviors, and suggests that "we ought to be more cautious" about invoking Old Testament imagery of God as a warrior. If only we'd been given positive examples of compromise and reconciliation! As I understand the argument, we are called to be a Church of Wimpys but, lamentably, joined forces with the Blutos:

The fiery explosions and weeping mothers who fill our evening news reports are vivid testimony to a world gone terribly wrong. Maybe the cartoons of our childhood were unfortunate cultural vaccinations which made us immune to the tragedy of violence in more mature adulthood. None of this is acceptable.


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  • Posted by: sparch - Aug. 21, 2006 2:26 PM ET USA

    How many popeye cartoons have been braodcast and seen in the middle east? The Good Bishop can not be implying that just by the mere broadcasting of these images in the western world, they somehow influence other cultures around the world. When will our bishops begin to talk of issues that should directly influence eveyone, prayer, fasting and almsgiving?

  • Posted by: - Aug. 21, 2006 12:49 PM ET USA

    Cartoons and violence are an old issue. The man run over by a steamroller who is slid under his door and then pops back into shape drew many laughs in the old days. People shot never really died. Powerful blows did not do much more than cause the victim to see stars and recover. The real question then was: How can we laugh at such things? The answer: We knew that these acts were not real and the action was a gross exaggeration not meant to be taken seriously. A proper perspective is required.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 17, 2006 3:04 PM ET USA

    He didn't mention the Warner Brothers' cartoons of Bugs, Daffy and Yosemite Sam. We didn't ask for anvils, bats or cannons to hurt each other cause we knew the difference between right and wrong. We had good parents, neighbors and teachers to lead us rightly and when to fight for the common good. What we didn't have was self esteem classes to tell us how good we were no matter what we did..we had a sense of sin but we also had angels at our side and God's love in our heart.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 16, 2006 5:25 PM ET USA

    Lets face it. Many clergy and bishops, alas, don't have a clue concerning the consequences of originaI sin. I sometimes think that God permits such horrific wars to occur to provide us with an earthly analogue to the reality of Hell. War is not Hell, but it certainly points to it. Do they not know that we live in a fallen world? Have they forgetton that the purpose of the Church is the salvation of souls?

  • Posted by: - Aug. 14, 2006 12:57 PM ET USA

    The first fully-animated film ever made was "Humorous Phases of Funny Faces" (1906). So using the Good Bishop's logic, any war or violence prior to 1906 is a figment of our imagination.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 13, 2006 10:26 PM ET USA

    Here's to a big helping of episcopate Spinach for our prelates, especially in San Francisco.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 13, 2006 3:01 PM ET USA

    The three stooges must have been more to his liking.

  • Posted by: Fatimabeliever - Aug. 13, 2006 2:39 PM ET USA

    I wonder if you will hear a peep from this Bishop or anyone in regards to the judge that is allowing evil video games be allowed for the youths of our nation as per today's Chicago Sun-Times and erroniously claiming its free speech when the truth is it corrupts the young???

  • Posted by: - Aug. 13, 2006 9:20 AM ET USA

    I always liked the divine allusions in Popeye: God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, `I AM has sent me to you.'" Exodus 3:14 “I am what I am and that’s all that I am, for I’m Popeye the sailor man.” - Popeye. And another good Popeye quote, appropriate to the issue (substitution is mine): “This may sound confusing but (Bishops) are confusing to Popeye the sailor man, toot, toot!”

  • Posted by: - Aug. 12, 2006 8:44 PM ET USA

    It's one thing to meet violence with meekness when it's being done against yourself, but what do you do when somebody else is getting beaten to a pulp? I always was and still am all for Popeye!

  • Posted by: SentimentalGent - Aug. 12, 2006 8:37 PM ET USA

    I grew up on Popeye and the cartoons of that era, along with the various westerns (Wild, Wild West a favorite) and war series (Combat! was my favorite). I've never punched any out and never owned or fired a gun. Those cartoons and show had violence, but they usually taught something — there are good guys and bad guys and there is something good about being ready to fight for right. As for the bishop's remarks, I'd like to know how many Popeye cartoons does it take to become a terrorist?

  • Posted by: - Aug. 12, 2006 1:49 PM ET USA

    What would motivate an auxiliary bishop (not aB) of Milwaukee to think he can weigh in with words of wisdom and grace on mid-east peace? Probably the same kind of thing that makes Joe Sixpack always think he could do better than Brett Favre: P (is for personality charting), R (is for Renew), I (is for the center of the universe), D (is for difficult, delirious, deceptive, and drunk on the wine of foolishness), and E (is for everyone). If you’re worried about improper images fight porn, Bishop.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 12, 2006 11:16 AM ET USA

    Well the aB makes a point of how the glorification of violence effects our affect and can perpetuate the problems of violence - something which God would be displeased with. But I wonder if the aB has considered the effects and affects of watered down homilies and moral relativism from the pulpit in the Church, which is to be the pillar and bulwark of the Truth. Perhaps a weakened sense of personal sin is the affect of such and the effect is the perpetuated violence, which he condemns. Hmm...

  • Posted by: - Aug. 12, 2006 12:03 AM ET USA

    When he said "cartoons" I thought he was waxing nostalgic over his previous homilies.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 11, 2006 9:08 PM ET USA

    Adam and Eve should have been more vigilant when Cain was spending all that time staring at those violent cave paintings.

  • Posted by: michaelwilmes - Aug. 11, 2006 6:25 PM ET USA

    I simply sing a few bars of "Gather Us In" or "All are Welcome" when I'm troubled by violent images on TV. Most of my childhood damage was inflicted by Ranger Dale not allowing Yogi an occasional picnic basket or two. How the hell did we ever survive it all?!?!?!?

  • Posted by: Hammer of Heretics - Aug. 11, 2006 5:21 PM ET USA

    Methinks that Auxiliary Bishop Skiba is a bit of a "cartoonist." I wonder how he explains the fact that there was vicious fighting in the Middle East long before TV brought us "Popeye." Well, one thing I know, it couldn't possibly be original sin or man's tendency toward concupiscence. It just couldn't be.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 11, 2006 4:42 PM ET USA

    Not to worry, after all Milwaukee is the beer capital of the US and people say strange things.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 11, 2006 4:32 PM ET USA

    C'mon, Diogenes. We know you don't like liturgists, but there's no call to run cartoons of them.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Aug. 11, 2006 4:11 PM ET USA

    Bishop Sklba isn't flirting with Marcionism there, is he? Nah, probably just Oprahism. It's OK, as long as he doesn't flirt with Olive Oyl.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 11, 2006 4:07 PM ET USA

    Anyone who has any sense of history know that violence is not a modern phenomenon. What is different is that one can see it happen almost instantaneously on one's TV screen. Warriers of the classic and medieval eras received just as horrible wounds and were killed just as dead as the victims of modern warfare. Moreover, violent punishments (e.g., the cross, drawing & quartering, the guillotine) were public spectacles in the "good old days." The Ancient Enemy is the root cause.