Does Anybody See that Elephant in the Room? A Fresh Cartoon from Pastor Blazek

Thanks to cartoonist Rev. Scott Blazek for providing this wonderful satire. Be sure to check for the subtle label on the rug…

Click on the cartoon to make it more readable.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Does Anybody See that Elephant in the Room? A Fresh Cartoon from Pastor Blazek — 38 Comments

  1. Well! I recognized the pontifical character on the left. So who recognizes any of the others…

    …including the one in the picture frame? It’s hard to tell whether it’s Walther or the “Mother-in-Law of the Missouri Synod”.

  2. I took it to be Walther. It looks as though it is Walther done after the fashion of Munch’s “The Scream.” I know it isn’t but would be clever if it were.

    I have never met Scott so I am wondering if that his him in the back right drawing the “toon?”

    I just noticed that law and gospel were cut off. How fitting.

    Pastor Rossow

  3. I suppose this falls in line with “careful on the fluff side that we do not cross the line of sarcasm into bitterness and personal attacks, thus compromising our character,” eh?

    Way to go. Looking more and more like Christian News everyday.

    disheartened, but still in Christ,

  4. jW,

    Do you allow for any satire in your world or do you seek to eliminate it on every front?

    Pastor Rossow

  5. Rev. Rossow,

    I think what may have gotten jW’s shorts in a wad is Rev. Blazek’s portrayal of what appear to be a home meeting of Lutherans (a conventicle?!?), at which at least a couple of Lutherans appear to be drinking (cover the youngsters’ ears) generic beer, rather than good German beer.

    Such a drawing of generic-drinking Lutherans could be construed as a personal attack.

  6. Though, I will say, the giant steaming pile of crap and the pope hat with a dollar sign, while funny, and perhaps even fitting, does strike me as pretty edgy. I don’t mind, but I wonder, if this was on Jesus First and the charcters were reversed, would I be upset by it? I think I might.

  7. Quinn,

    If former President Barry (who I knew personally and had a world of repect for) started acting dictatorially and brutishly I would commend Jesus First for picturing him in a mitre.

    Pastor Rossow

  8. “…the giant steaming pile of crap…”

    Oh… that’s what it is!?

    I mistook the pile for a collection of CCM opinions.

  9. Ahh but the light that shines brightly has been put to the corner.
    I find that the cartoons get the most criticism, myself included. We can be critical of the PoS but heaven forbid if we make a cartoon.
    Personally the term POS has a different meaning where I work. :^)

  10. Sharp eye! Yes, there is a strong resemblance. Okay, three main caricatures left. Who’s next?

    What about the guy with a hole in his shoe?

  11. Great cartoon Pastor Blazek! Funny, but sad as well. It captures the state of the Church today. I’m betting that the fellow with the papal hat with the $ sign on it is none other than that non-theologian, but really ablaze fellow, JK.

  12. How ironic is it that this follows directly after the “We shall not snark” commentary of the previous post. Or was that planned?

    Love the cartoon. Edgy, yes; Snarky, probably (I’m not really sure of the definition of snark); Opinionated, very; but altogether honest and straight forward. Nothing Oprahfied here. Thats what I like and respect about this website and the people who comment here. I may not agree with (or even like) them all, but I know they’ll speak their mind and let me do the same. Thanks.

    I’ll try to keep the snarkiness to a minimum in the future (and I mean that sincerely), but not at the expense of representing my true opinions. I hope the rest of you do likewise.

    Eric Ramer

    Eric Ramer

  13. Eric,

    It really wasn’t planned but I certainly got a little smile inside when I posted them.

    Our cartoons remind us that satire is an art and that sometimes we take ourselves a little too seriously.

    I still owe you a personal e-mail on the worship folder – I haven’t forgotten.

    Pastor Rossow

  14. I think the shoe-hole guy is “the Seminaries” in general, or perhaps bronze age-conservatism, who are energetically talking in all the ways that few are listening….but I doubt my opinion, because the prof’s are also the dust bunnies. It’s the two guys on the right that I’m completely lost on.

    As an aside…having always been a bit disturbed the the distinct LACK of satire in cartoons published by a certain weekly periodical from the age of yester-year, try as I might to pass the same judgment here, I cannot. Why is that? I think it is the clear professionalism of the cartoon itself. It is not particularly mean-spirited, harsh or violent – and perhaps violence is the key word here – whereas those other cartoons always had a rather sharp edge of anger to them. Here, rather than political attacks, we get political satire. It has a point, to be sure, and a bias – a good one in my mind. I just can’t quite call it the standard fair of CN.

    The real question I would pose is, “Is this not what is going on?” “Is this a false portrayal of the reality of our current Missouri administration?” “Are people not leaving the LCMS?” “Is giving not down?” “Is women’s ordination not being advocated by pastors and laity alike?” –> “Is this cartoon slander?”

    For those who would say, “Yes, it is,” then I would also ask for clear proof – say, from the Restructuring Task Force proposals and information – that this is NOT what is happening. (Being one who reads “CG” books more than is good for my heartburn, it is not difficult to see that the Restructuring process is playing the Harvard Business School model for enacting change by the book – hence, it is only a fair airing of concern.) Or, I would ask them why I have to debate women’s ordination with laity and pastors alike. Or I would wonder why it is that I have (in three short years of Ministry) met no less than 5 twenty-something born and raised Missourians who are now Roman Catholic for the sake of attention to doctrine and liturgy.

    In any case, I’m not sure this cartoon exhonerates anyone. There are, in fact, TWO elephants in the room. Good satire hits the mark ever so quietly.

  15. Did you notice the positioning of the elephants? It is perceptive that while one on “the left” is entirely on the synodical logo, the one on “the right” is half on/half off.

  16. “What about the guy with a hole in his shoe?” –Carl Vehse

    The SP’s “runner” for Ablaze ™, Eloy Gonzales?

  17. Is the guy with the hole in his shoe the treasurer of LCMS, Inc.? And does the hole in his shoe indicate the financial problems of LCMS, Inc.?

  18. The generic beer (shudder) goes well with the generic American “Evangelicalism” displayed in the room. Whatever happened to generic beer anyway? The stuff in the white can. “Beer. Ask for it by name, accept no substitute.” I suspect the “new measures” will last about as long in popularity and will be remembered as fondly. It will take longer to clean up the steaming pile though. Hand me some hip waders and a coal shovel, modern components of the Armor of God.

  19. The two on the right, sitting in front of the “dust bunnies”, might be the two Seminary Presidents.

    The hole in the shoe on the fellow on the left might imply “Walking Together.” ???

  20. Yes, the caricature drawn on the right is similar to President Dean Wenthe, but it’s harder to picture the caricature next to him as President Dale Meyer.

    Other parts of the cartoon are carefully drawn or portrayed, so I believe there is likely a recognizible person for each caricature. Maybe what is being said is a clue.

    I’m also starting to wonder about the people in the foreground. The androgynous-looking person on the left appears to have three earstuds in the right ear. Those hardly would have been drawn casually or by accident. As Lutherans say, “What does this mean?”

    BTW, note the comment of the diminutive monk (Luther?) next to the caricaturized Rev. Blazek, and the direction in which he is looking. While we are trying to figure out the cartoon we do see, we can pretty much imagine the perspective of the sketchbook drawing we can’t see.

  21. The name written in the rug has a lot of implications, too:


  22. The man in the right with the clerical bears a strong resemblance to the synodical first vice president, do he not?

  23. Edgy, yes, but very skillfully rendered and quite funny.

    I think a sense of humor about these things is absolutely crucial. We need to be able to laugh about ourselves, and gently poke fun at others. Anyone who aspires to public, high-level leadership in the church must know that they will be on the receiving end of some criticism.

    I thought that was Pr. Wilken on the right foreground, drinking his Chelada and asking inconvenient questions about what is going on in the parlor. But I could be wrong.

  24. Rev. Fisk briefly mentioned it earlier, but I’m surprised… no, shocked!… that no one so far has discussed (or questioned) it a lot more thoroughly.

    Despite, or especially with, two opposing elephants struggling for a controlling position (while defecating) on the rug representing the Missouri Synod, I’m referring to the “DUST BUNNIES” drawn hiding in the lower right corner, parenthetically identified as “SEM. PROFs.” and labeled very clearly as “harmless little fuzz balls.”

    That description is a direct mockery of the description of seminary faculty members given in the Synodical Bylaw One of those descriptions appears to be a joke. Or maybe that’s one of the points of the cartoon! Sem profs portrayed as harmless bunny rabbits is a pretty sharp point and it’s jammed in pretty deep, without distinguishing between seminaries. That is why I think everything in the cartoon is drawn deliberately, carefully, and with meaning.

    BTW, note the “Law and Gospel” tusks of the elephant on the right have been cut short.

  25. the law an gospel seems to be afraid an trembling,and if god is with us who can be against us ?
    my grandfather would say manure is good for the crops,it makes them grow , it does smells for a little bit.

  26. I could not help but admire Rev. Blazek’s cartoons. He is continuing the tradition established centuries ago in the Evangelische Kirche as we were known back then of making theological points with a wee bit of sarcasm and wit. If you consider this stuff “edgy” take a look at some of the cartoons Lutherans printed and distributed at the beginning of the Reformation. I remember one in particular showing the bishops of Rome emerging from the nether regions of a squatting demon. Compared with that, Brother Scott’s cartoons are downright bland and tame.

  27. That particular Lucas Cranach woodcut would be the Birth and Origin of the Pope, commissioned by Martin Luther for his “Against the Papacy at Rome, Founded by the Devil” in March, 1545. According to Mark Edwards (Luther’s Last Battles: Politics and Polemics, 1531-1546, Ithaca, New York and London: Cornell University Press, 1983), Luther wrote a rhyming verse for each woodcut.

    According to Edwards, the woodcut “shows the Pope and three cardinals being expelled from the anus of a female devil while three furies are nursing and caring for three infant popes.”

    BTW, this cartoon would have looked great on t-shirts Concordia seminarians could have worn to a protest of the pope’s visit to St. Louis in January, 1999… if they had taken the opportunity for a good Lutheran protest.

  28. I have a new theory on the portrait. It is of course Walther. It looks as though he is melting. Why is he melting – from the heat of the Ablaze lamp glowing nearby?


  29. Yes, something seems to be dripping down the painting; it could be the paint.

    Now, I’m also wondering if there is some meaning to one elephant having large ears like an African elephant, and the other having smaller ears like an Indian elephant.

  30. Cute. But I wonder what God really wants Scott Blazek to be doing…. Drawing cartoons that in no way help the kingdom of God, or tending to the work at hand that will.

    Let’s see a poster that invites the lost to our churches! Let see uplifting work, instead of demeaning work. Let see something useful to God. Something that shows faith in our creator!

    I pray that your drawings don’t keep you from tending to your sheep!

    dan d

  31. Maybe Rev. Blazek can draw a cartoon about a person who assumes God is limited in what He wants for Rev. Blazek by two opposing alternatives, one of which the person has already assumed (without getting His input) in no way helps God’s kingdom.

    Maybe Rev. Blazek could incorporate a tale Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman told about instructing his Fermilab staff of high-energy nuclear and quantum physicists not to be arrogant when dealing with nonscientific visitors to the lab. Later he overheard one of his colleagues praying in his office, “Lord, help me to become less arrogant, and by “arrogant” I mean the following…”

  32. dan d. writes, “Cute. But I wonder what God really wants Scott Blazek to be doing…. Drawing cartoons that in no way help the kingdom of God, or tending to the work at hand that will.”

    Why is he assuming that the cartoon “can in no way help the kingdom of God…”? If anything, it can constructively help the people of the LCMS see that Missouri has two competing forms of Lutheranism (elephants), and the one of church growth and programs and stats is being favored by Pope Gerald’s comments, and his standing on the seal.

    “Lutheran” in quotes constructively challenges us to compare today’s Missouri Synod with Scripture and the Confessions, to ask “Is today’s LCMS truly Lutheran?” And “Synod(s)” is constructive in that it challenges that former Lutheran Witness cover: “ONE” Are we truly united and unified as a synod, walking together? Is “One” meant to be propaganda, or is it a mantra, that if we resonate this word enough, somehow our saying it will make us one? Sounds like the Word of Faith theology! Name it and claim it! Yet “Synod(s)” challenges us to consider unity within the synod with honest, sober judgement: not what we desire, but rather, are there competing ideologies within Missouri, and which is the rightful one (Law and Gospel shows us true Lutheranism over & above gimmicks, gameplans, smoke & mirrors (change, church growth, increased numbers über alles). I hope this cartoon will have the chance to constructively open more eyes, to convict us of what we’ve been entertaining to replace genuine Lutheranism. May God lead us back to true Christo-centric, Confessional Lutheranism. Thank you, Rev. Blazek!

  33. On the anniversary of the day Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed, in light of the message of the above cartoon, we can learn from his (Bonhoeffer’s) words:

    “The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren. Not in the former but in the latter is the lack. The Church will place its confidence only in the simple servant of the Word of Jesus Christ because it knows that then it will be guided, not according to human wisdom and human conceit, but by the Word of the Good Shepherd.”

    “The question of trust, which is so closely related to that of authority, is determined by the faithfulness with which a man serves Jesus Christ, never by the extraordinary talents he possesses. Pastoral authority can be attained only by the servant of Jesus who seeks no power of his own, whom himself is a brother among brothers submitted to the authority of the Word.”

    From Life Together
    as posted by Pr. Mark Schroeder at

  34. praesis ut prosis ne ut imperes

    [[ moderator: to save others from having to look it up:
    Lead in order to serve, not in order to rule ]]

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