Footprints in the sand

September 9, 2015 • 12:00 pm

I guess today is gonna be all about religion, though there’s science in the offing.

When I saw this the new xkcd cartoon (sent by reader jsp), I didn’t really understand it. But then Grania told me this:

It’s making a mockery (rather gently) of this sentimental schlock that has been shared around the Christian world for decades as something “comforting”.

Here’s the sentimental schlock:


And the cartoon, which is much better. It’s called “Footprints”.  I love the duckling bit:


If you don’t know what an AT-ST is, go here.

49 thoughts on “Footprints in the sand

  1. I guess Jesus was being extra mean when he was carried across the river by St. Christopher. As they neared the deepest waters, the load increased on Christopher until he thought he’d not make it. Turned out Jesus put the weight of the whole world on Christopher!

    What a joker, eh?

        1. Yep. I recycled an old one where J & Moses descended to Earth to yuk it up & relive past glories. They go boating on the Sea of Galilee; J asks if M wouldn’t mind parting the waters, so J can walk out & grab some fish. M parts, J gets out and sinks like a stone, whereupon M has to part the waters all the way back to shore. They meet up & J is sputtering about how it used to work so well before. Then M delivers the punchline.

    1. I think that calls for a Marvin-ism : “It gives me a headache to think down to that level, and you want me to go LOWER ? !

  2. So what is in a way sad about when the Lord was carrying this person (so there were only one set of footprints) is that the person did not know it, causing them to feel abandoned.

    1. Ah, but they only felt abandoned because it was their own fault, the ungrateful snots.

      Many religious analogies seem to place the skeptical nonbeliever into the role of heedless, rebellious, self-absorbed and selfish teenager trying to get out from the authority of a parent who only wants what’s best for them.

        1. True, but if you insisted you’d much rather burn in Hell than do what they say and live in a happy and healthy home, they might reluctantly grant you your “choice.”

          See, if the religious need to, they carry the analogy far indeed — into the my-kid-is-a-sociopath territory. There’s a lot of capacity for genuinely cruel rationalizations hiding under the seemingly benign “we all recognize God deep down, in our hearts, and choose or reject him.” The possibility of honest nonbelief is nonexistent.

          1. That’s why I like to cut through all the sophistication of the Bible and make it plain that their beliefs are every bit as silly as comic book superheroes and Santa. Sure, you’re old enough to know that Harry Potter isn’t a real boy, so what’s your excuse for not figuring out the bit about the enchanted garden with talking animals and an angry wizard?

            Yes, they’ll retreat into claims of mystery and majesty…but I’d at least like to think that it’s hard to cling to pretenses of majesty when contemplating a really bad snuff pr0n fantasy about the king of the undead getting squicked by his thralls. Some things are just damned hard to unsee.


    2. Yes, that’s one of the things that made me a little suspicious when I was a kid. I couldn’t help but feel that it was rude of God to stay so silent even when asked a direct question in the politest possible way.

    3. Surely most people are at least slightly sensitive to having someone else’s head between their legs.
      “Abandoned” is hardly the word I’d use.

  3. I have two lego builders at home (<12 year olds)…so yes, I know what an AT-ST is. How cool am I? 🙂

    Footprints was a common tripe in my Catholic HS. Few, if any, of the smart kids thought Jesus helped them with homework. Disgusting message, in any case: basically telling a person their self-worth is less than half and, worse, when things get real bad, we have no capacity to deal with it.

    "Cut out my heart! Throw my liver to the dogs!", then Christ can leave his footprints all over me. It's what he wants. The vanity.

  4. That’s funny. I think this poem can be made better to portray religion as the burden it is if you simply change the last line from, “my child, is when I carried you” to, “my child, is when I rode on your back”.

  5. Love the xkcd cartoon, and also all the other examples of similar cartoons.

    With the “Jesus is carrying you” thing, I always wondered how the religious knew that Jesus carrying you in the bad times was an effect and not a cause.

    You’re going happily along, and forget about Jesus, so He makes something bad happen so you’ll come back to him etc. That always seemed more in line with the personality of God than their explanation. I mean, just look at the first four Commandments.

  6. Never mind walking…

    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
    My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
    Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
    So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?

  7. The Easter egg indicates Randall is really fed up with the meme:

    “”There’s one set of foot-p’s cause I was totes carrying you, bro!” said Jesus seconds before I punched him.”

    I’m glad I’ve never heard of it before!

  8. The footprint schlock us something my Catholic relatives would put on their Facebook. Next time, I’m going to put that xkcd commic!!

  9. So according to RCC logic, if we see o jogger’s footprints and a puma’s footprints along a jogging path, and then we observe that the jogger’s footprints disappear, this means the jogger is carrying the puma?

  10. “When you saw only one set of footprints, that must have been when I was appearing on Junior Kickstart”

    “Footprints”, Half Man Half Biscuit, from the 1995 album “Some Call it Godcore”.

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