Elisha and the Bears: The Animated Version September 26, 2010

Elisha and the Bears: The Animated Version

I’m sure a lot of Christians would like to know: Where were these cartoons when they were in Sunday School? They’re *so* much more memorable than the cheesy stuff that usually passes for Christian entertainment…

(via TheThinkingAtheist)

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  • Anonymous Atheist

    TheThinkingAtheist has some great videos!

  • muggle

    Well, that portrays what’s actually in there so much better than those cutsey felt panels the Sunday schools laid on me.

    Funny how gawd can tear children to bits for poking fun of baldy but can’t do anything about disease, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. I’d mention war but he’s usually ordering it.

  • Bobbio

    We occasionally have a priest give mass at the Catholic church we go to, who would take written questions from the congregation, and answer them the following week. I personally handed him my question, asking him to morally justify the Elisha and the She Bears story. It took him two weeks to answer the question.

    When he did answer my question in his homily, his answer boiled down to: “You don’t mess around with god’s stuff”! He then gave the example of the poor SOB who touched the Ark to keep it from falling in the mud and got zapped by the supreme being. Obviously, no good deed goes unpunished.

    Pretty lame explanation in my opinion. I wanted to ask him how he would feel if he came across some kindergartners throwing around consecrated communion wafers like frisbees, got mad at them, cursed them, and two Rottweilers came into the school and ripped them apart. Never got a chance to, though.

    In the words of Ingersoll, “You are not asked to understand, you are commanded to believe”. I find I am constantly reminded of this quote almost everytime I attend mass.

    P.S. I am not a Catholic, but an agnostic who made a promise to my wife… it’s a long story.

  • And that is why no-one can defeat bear cavalry.

  • Ragnar

    I liked the live action one better. It had dialog, plot, etc.

  • blueridgelady

    this one is way, way better!


  • Ah, blueridgelady beat me to it. 🙂

  • The rationalisation for this verse that I’ve heard from theologians, is that when the youths were insulting Elisha they were saying “go on up, baldhead”. They said that “go on up” was a reference to Elijah going up to be with god, since Elijah supposedly rode a chariot of fire up into the sky. So, the theologian was basically saying that since the children were telling Elisha to go away and go to heaven, it was okay for god to massacre them all.

    I was gobsmacked, how could anyone seriously accept that as a moral action?

  • lol that was awesome

  • I get what they were trying to imply (and I basically agree), but I dunno…something about the presentation just seems a little off. Too strong on the blatant mockery, not strong enough on the actual funny.

  • EL

    Yawn. Making fun of christian beliefs. Haven’t we beat this topic to death already?

  • Yawn!

  • Togii

    Yawn. Making fun of christian beliefs. Haven’t we beat this topic to death already?

    We probably have, but when complete strangers repeatedly tell me that they know I’m an atheist because I simply don’t feel like obeying their god’s lofty moral guidelines and would rather take the easy route of sinning my life away, I do immediately wonder what kind of life they are hoping I’d live, if I based it off of stories like this.
    Sometimes a little humor isn’t the worst thing in the world.

    Maybe someday they’ll start to see that they’re not actually basing their morals off the Bible, either.

    I’m also going to say that the live action one was more awesome, though.

  • Rieux

    Boy, the superiority is thick in this comment thread.

    While you “yawn,” folks, you might want to contemplate how many millions of people on this planet live their lives under the thumbs of brutes who think crazy stories like this one are literal truth. Mockery is too good for them.

    Myself, I think the video’s fantastic; the production values are impressive.

  • Rieux

    blueridgelady – Yeah, that one’s okay. (Note the Wilhelm Scream at 2:16.) I like the ThinkingAtheist cartoon better, though.

  • EL

    Sometimes a little humor isn’t the worst thing in the world

    Humor at christians’ expense isn’t likely to make them “start to see that they’re not actually basing their morals off the Bible”. In fact, this production probably hurts things in its own little way.

    And if the humor is intended for atheists’ enjoyment, it seems like this video was going after the low-hanging fruit. I mean, there are so many sites that I could go to and get commentary on the dumb-ass beliefs of various religions, why endure it here too? Can we not move past this kind of grade-school BS?

    While you “yawn,” folks, you might want to contemplate…

    So if I made fun of your inability to construct a grammatically correct sentence, you would start to see the error of your ways and become more conscientious of your actions, beliefs, etc? No – you’d likely get pissed and retaliate. How about quit adding to the problem and look for a solution? Get out of the victim mentality, Rieux.

  • Wait a minute…. 2 bears come out of the woods and go after 42 children?

    Why, I think we’ve just discovered the first appearance of PedoBear!!!

  • Wait a minute…. 2 bears come out of the woods and go after 42 children?

    Why, I think we’ve just discovered the first appearance of PedoBear!!!

    Now THAT validates this thread for me. Thank you!

  • Rieux

    “EL,” the fact that you are clueless about the enormous political power of ridicule is neither here nor there. It is an inconvenient truth that a huge proportion of the scripture that adherents of major religions swear by is an inhumane, contradictory mess. Exposing that truth, over and over again if necessary, is simply not the negative exercise that you pretend it is.

    That ridiculing True Believers for believing ugly nonsense will not change those True Believers’ minds is clearly true but also (though you haven’t noticed) quite irrelevant.

    Wake up: that cartoon is not aimed at people who actually think that 2 Kings 2:23-25 is a good and reasonable story. They are, obviously, a lost cause, and nothing atheists can say is going to be able to dent that.

    It might behoove you to notice that there are other viewers present, though, as Richard Dawkins pointed out to a critic making a similarly blind point:

    [My critic] naively presumed, throughout his lecture, that the person we are ridiculing is the one we are trying to convert. Speaking for myself, it is often a third party (or a large number of third parties) who are listening in, or reading along. When Peter Medawar destroyed Teilhard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon of Man, in the most devastatingly barbed book review I have ever read, he wasn’t trying to convert Teilhard. Teilhard was already dead in any case. Medawar was trying (and succeeding, in spades) to convert the large number of gullible fools who had been taken in by Teilhard.

    Similarly, when I employ ridicule against the arguments of a young earth creationist, I am almost never trying to convert the YEC himself. That is probably a waste of time. I am trying to influence all the third parties listening in, or reading my books. I am amazed at [my critic]’s naivety in overlooking that and treating it as obvious that our goal is to convert the target of our ridicule. Ridicule may indeed annoy the target and cause him to dig his toes in. But our goal might very well be (in my case usually is) to influence third parties, sitting on the fence, or just not very well-informed about the issues. And to achieve that goal, ridicule can be very effective indeed.

    There are millions of religiously ignorant, on-the-fence sort-of-believers in the United States, to say nothing of other English-speaking nations. Establishing, as this cartoon helps to do, that the Bible is a ludicrous collection of nonsense that respectable people shouldn’t take seriously can have a very significant effect on those millions.

    Your notion that True Believers are the only relevant audience for skeptical critiques of religion–whether those critiques are polite or not–is simply flatly false. The religious world looks much different than you pretend it does, and the huge portions of it that are “soft” religious at best can in fact respond very productively to works that ridicule elements of religion that just so happen to be ridiculous.

  • muggle

    blueridgelady, that was hilarious but I wanted to end back at the church with the kid screaming his fool head off obviously terrified and traumatized by the sermon.

    Tim, me too! NoYourGod, great zinger!

    Yawn. Seems to me someone is reacting to the mocking humor. Someone who is stupid and foolish enough not only to drink the Koolaid but to think this is all about him.

    EL, may I dedicate a song to you, please:

    Yep, it’s all ego on your part!

  • Rieux

    Muggle, good point about the video blueridgelady linked to. That was indeed a missed opportunity for a funny ending to the framing device.

  • Funny video…
    …but nowhere near accurate. If you are an honest truth seeker, feel free to hop on over to my blog for a more truthful rendering of this passage of scripture.

    Christians are @$$holes – I get it. But if you’re going to reject something, at least reject it with full understanding. 🙂

  • Bob


    “But if you’re going to reject something, at least reject it with full understanding.”

    You make some good points on your linked blog. Except you are the one with the mistranslation. The Hebrew word “na’ar” can in fact refer to a young man as well as a child, but in this passage, the word is qualified by the Hebrew word for “little,” thereby making clear that the passage is referring to children… *maybe* young adolescents.

    This idea that the passage refers to “young men” has been going around the internet for some time as a fundamentalist response to the Elisha passage (as if it makes it that much better for God to randomly kill 42 young men instead of children). I suggest you bone up on your Hebrew before criticizing others for not being “honest truth seekers.”

  • Dgmontana

    The trouble with most ostensibly Christian writing is that it is not actually Christian.  Because there is demonstrable continuity between the Old Testament and the New, many conservative Christians seek to legitimize everything that occurred in the Old Testament; witness the many attempts to justify the scene of slaughter with Elisha and the youths.  What is almost always neglected in these treatments of the Old Testament is that Jesus decisively rejected some of the most hallowed representations of God to be found in these writings.  Jesus was a corrective to people who thought they understood God, but did not.  These same people put Jesus to death for his alternative experience of God, which Christians affirm is the one true God, fully manifest. 

    And what are the characteristics of the God revealed in Jesus?  There is, first, the simple renunciation of violence: love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.  Jesus was insistent that the only transformative force in the world was love, the active presence of God.  This non-violent love was to be the singular mode of response to every encounter, including all those that are marked by fear, misunderstanding, even violence.  There is, in the teaching of Jesus, no circumstance that justifies, or can coerce, the abandonment of love as the mode of response.  It is recorded of his death that he prayed for the forgiveness of those who were killing him.  Radical, deep fidelity to love as the only path of life: that was the lived testimony of Jesus. 

    A second quality to be noticed in Jesus is a spirit of universality.  Jesus was a Jew, and the Jewish understanding of God’s blessing was often parochial, or tribal; in the lectionary readings of the Episcopal Church, we recently recited in unison the praise of the psalmist, who said, “You have shown the power of your arm by giving us the lands of the nations.” (Or something close to that…)  As was noted in the remarks for that day, God’s so-called action might be remembered rather differently among those other nations–the Hittites, the Jebusites, the Amalekites, and so on–because the people of that time did not yet grasp that God was truly universal, the God of all people, all creation.   They did not understand that in taking the lands of their neighbors, they were stealing from their brothers and sisters, members of their own family, the one great family born of the one source. 

    Jesus rejected this parochialism, this tribal mentality.  He completely redrew the boundaries according to which some were included and others rejected; his banquet, his feasting, was open to all. Only the hard-hearted stayed outside, and these were not punished but prayed for in the spirit of forgiveness and love. 

    Jesus did not agree with the Jewish understanding of God.  He corrected and transformed that understanding of God in ways that are too often forgotten.  So much of what is spoken and written in the name of Christianity is not of Christ at all; it entirely ignores the transformations of God and our understandings of God which it was Jesus’ entire mission to accomplish.  To be a Christian is to join with Jesus in his critique of the tradition which he inherited, and of every human tradition that is, at its heart, narrow and violent; and to seek the liberation of those who are thus enchanted by these powerful human dreams not with violence, but with love. 

  • Matthewdeardoff

    a child will take a hundred dollar bill and color on it because it is similar to paper and also because he is not mature enough to understand it’s inteded purpose. Some parts of the Bible are hard to understand and will continue to be completely misunderstood until that person has finally reached maturity.

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