Next time you have a problem with your sink backing up, maybe you ought to blame Jesus. But don't make him cry, or you might wind up drinking water from a rusted pipe.
It seems Edamaruku had the temerity to question the source of the "tears" that were flowing from a statue of Jesus. People thought they were real tears. They even started drinking the "holy water," hoping for a miracle.
But Edamaruku spoiled it all by declaring that the "tears" were actually the product of a leaky pipe in the wall behind the statue.
Now he's been charged with blasphemy - a criminal offense in India that can lead to three years in prison.
If this sounds absurd, it should. If it sounds scary, well, that too. As an author who has turned up his share of leaky pipes behind the facades that elicit misplaced faith, this is disconcerting. (Shameless self-promotion: You can find examples galore in my books "Requiem for a Phantom God" and "The Phoenix Principle.")
The thing is, these guys have real power. Edamaruku has been forced into exile because he doesn't want to condone a bunch of bullshit.
And let's not sugarcoat it. That's exactly what this is: bullshit.
Isn't it ironic that fundamentalists of various stripes argue so vehemently for "absolute truth" when they're so tenacious about clinging to their illusions? When the illusions are exposed, they blame the messenger and go whining to the keeper of those illusions. In this case, that would be the archbishop of the Catholic Church, who offered to let bygones be bygones if Edamaruku would publicly apologize for his remark.
The question is, to whom? The archbishop? Leaky Jesus? The plumber whose shoddy work produced the faulty pipe? Your guess is as good as mine.
The funny thing is, Edamaruku wasn't criticizing some fundamental tenet of the Bible or even Catholic dogma. He was saying a statue leaked. That's it. Imagine if he'd questioned some central article of faith. If exposing Leaky Jesus as a fraud gets you three years in prison, imagine what would have happened if he had questioned the feasibility of a virgin birth or bodily resurrection? Off with his head, they might have said! And you'd certainly better not question that Tim Tebow is the divine messenger of the touchdown god.
But should any of this really surprise us? The Catholic Church is the same institution that condemned Galileo for saying the sun was at the center of the solar system. (I'm guessing they didn't call it a solar system back them.) And now, five centuries later, our friends from Rome are still up to their old big brotherly tricks, clinging to their illusions at any cost.
Still, one has to wonder at the can of worms they've opened up. Can someone be accused of blasphemy for questioning the whether a statue of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is weeping actual Ragu? Or is it Prego? And what if we were to use a wooden pole in celebrating Festivus rather than the traditional aluminum? Hell, the pope himself might be in trouble. After all, he recently declared that there weren't any angels or animals at the manger with Jesus, despite clear evidence to the contrary in every nativity scene on the shelves of Walmart, Target and Big Lots.
I call blasphemy, Sir Pontiff! I hereby sentence you to fifty lashes with a wet noodle, courtesy of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Not happy with that sentence? Well, I suppose you could always file an appeal with Leaky Jesus.
Then again, that probably won't do you any good. The story goes he was a carpenter, not a plumber.