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Comedy and Christianity

You thought the Busey Builder was disturbing.  What about this?


I fear that anyone who comes expecting either Reverend Horse-Teeth or actual comedy will be sorely disappointed. 

Nonetheless, the date and the title is set.  It's an evangelistic gig.  The big question is - what on earth should I say?

Help gratefully received.



0 thoughts on “Comedy and Christianity

  1. Missy

    Glen, I suspect I would only hinder. I've heard your songs - you'll be funny. :)

    I do have to say, an evangelistic event of only 20 minutes is brilliant!

  2. codepoke

    Dude! It was around this very subject my girlfriend and I met. :-)

    I'm going to be NO help to you at all. Don't worry, though, I'll still burden you with my thoughts.

    I'm tempted to declare humor the bane of our age, the spiritual death of billions, and Satan's easiest tool. And I'm not kidding. On the one hand, humor is a tool in the same way fire is. It can be handled well and profitably to many or it can be handled poorly and kill. On the other hand, is a tool in the same way cocaine is, without all the negative press. In its refined form (uncut, the way everyone likes it) humor is a highly addictive, mentally disarming, motivation killer. It's the opiate of choice for all Western culture, and I'm tempted to believe it causes more lost opportunity for love than porn.

    Through humor our children are introduced to the hookup culture of Friends, the nihilism (with a redeeming message at the end) of Southpark, and the endless profitability of video-cam'ing shots to the crotch. Who wouldn't rather watch the current top comedy than visit the sick, read a biography, study for anything, or even beautify his home in some way?

    Humor makes an excellent seasoning for almost everything, but who's satisfied with sprinkles of humor any more?

    But shoot. I'm on a roll, so why stop now?

    Think back on your favorite sitcom episode or movie. How funny would that episode have been if anyone had ever told the truth? It seems to me the essential element of all sitcom humor is the attempt to save face. If anyone ever modelled honesty and/or humility, the sitcom would wither on the vine. And after 21 minutes (or so?) of humrous lying to avoid embarassment, does the 15 second denoument of honesty really teach anything? Evidently not, because the characters in the sitcom never learn anything.

    Do you think our children might not be more honest if they ever saw honesty respectfully modeled? Instead, they see caustic humor, strength, and superiority praised, and the simple, weak, and inferior humiliated. Quickest wit wins.

    We're at war on this planet, and our enemy doesn't need us to be miserable. He just needs us to quit loving. I think he's doing a pretty solid job just by amusing us.

  3. theologymnast

    I was thinking the other day that a Biblical Theology of laughter would be very interesting. I've read Wilson's Serrated Edge and like it a lot but I don't know if there's much material in there that'll help evangelistically (at least beyond stuff you'll surely already know). Nevertheless you can read all 121 pages online here:

    Specific verses/passages:

    Psalm 2:4
    The birth of Isaac (he laughs)

    However, if I had to speak off the cuff this moment I'd go straight to Jesus and some of his humour. Camel/Eye of a Needle comes to mind. Jesus perfectly represents the Father to us, and he used humour to do so. The Bible wants us to laugh at the wicked, and laugh, sing and shout at the goodness of Christ and his salvation.

  4. Gav

    I'm lost for words! Maybe you could change your avatar to the above picture:) Code has some good points though.

  5. glenscriv

    Missy, perhaps I'll bring my guitar along with some false teeth. On second thoughts...

    Marc and Paul, thanks for the links - I was definitely thinking along those lines, though I didn't know the Wilson book was free so that's good.

    Gav, I've already had people thinking the picture is me (including friends who know me, which is *really* worrying!). So no, I don't reckon I'll be changing my avatar!

    Many, many good points! Yes it is like fire - powerful for good or ill. Didn't hear too much in your comment about the good though.

    I've written some sketchy thoughts about positives in my latest post.

    Thanks very much for the feedback - it's gotten my creative juices going.

  6. codepoke

    Does America really need a lot of help with the good side of humor? I think every American's indoctrinated with that insight from birth, right along with diptheria.

    In your next post, you've covered the obvious stuff really well. Humor is the side door to the mind. It opens the inner sanctum when no amount of logic or pathos can, and it's almost magical for keeping people awake during a long talk. The happy surprise is a golden thread to sew a point into the mind.

    Less obvious is how humor can mean the difference between survival and death. Humor works as a shock absorber between us and reality, so in any kind of crisis a sense of humor is almost mandatory. Hence fighter pilots tend to be really funny people, as do outdoor adventurers. People going through divorce and other such losses can really benefit from a friend who can make them laugh, but that takes a little skill.

    Me, of course, I'm blazingly dull. And moreso on the Internet than in real life. I got tired of hurting people's feelings or getting their ire up out here when I thought I was side-splittingly amusing, so I more or less shut down my excuse for a sense of humor. It's never done anything but get me in trouble. (Well, except for maybe this post:

    Anyway, I commend your effort, Glen. Enjoy.

  7. theologymnast

    I've read some of the Leithart and he does mean it contra tragedy. However it's also available for free online if you search on Google Books. I was really getting into it until it skips one of the pages. And I have little chance of following Leithart at the best of times, let alone missing a page of his argument.

  8. francisdrakeprivateer

    Hi Glen

    Regarding entertainment for the sake of the gospel I confess to reservations. I like Cowpokes comments!

    I totally believe that God has sense of humour beyond our comprehension, and if we could all clearly read the Hebrew and Greek of the bible we would see it, and be thoroughly entertained as we grow in Christ

    Sour faced Christians object to the manifestation of joy by God's children, yet who can't be glad when you truly know God.

    However we must not lose sight of the fact that the hearts of people are won by the Holy Spirit at work, not by man's wisdom which may include entertainment.

    1Co 2:1 And I, brothers, when I came to you, did not come with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring to you the testimony of God.
    1Co 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
    1Co 2:3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear, and in much trembling.
    1Co 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

    There is man's way and there is God's way. Paul didn't need a side show to grab attention.

    Having said that, Paul was not above using humour to emphasise a point. Witness his derisive comments to the Galations over the legalisers.

    Gal 5:11 And I, brothers, if I yet proclaim circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the offense of the Cross has ceased.
    Gal 5:12 I wish that those causing you to doubt will cut themselves off.

    He is refering to those who would have all the gentile christians be circumcised. The Greek original indicates that Paul would complete the knife job they were attempting if he caught them, and remove the lot. ie castrate them!

    Check the various translations, some are a bit too genteel to give a full version but you can see it if you go to the Greek.

  9. theologymnast

    Of course comedy/humour are not necessarily aimed at entertainment. In Jesus and the prophets' ministries it may have been a side effect but the main aim was to stick a sword through the belly of some legalist/Baal worshipper/whatever else.

    Humour is a dangerous tool and so some say that we shouldn't wield it as Christians. But the same could be said for anything else we do with the tongue; teaching, exhortation, counselling. All could cause unneccessary offence, all could deny the gospel (one way or another).

    Is the humour for the building up of others or to help you look good? IN home group tonight we had intense debate on predestination-related topics AND on baptism. But the fact that we were cracking jokes beginning to end helped us see that our goal was not to beat each other into submission but to seek the truth without breaking unity.

    Is the humour to tear down idols in people's hearts, and if so, have you correctly determined what those idols are?

    In either of those cases we can mean well but miss the mark, offend, insult or discourage. But the same can and should be said of every other word we speak, so let's strive to be like Christ and keep trusting him.

  10. glenscriv

    That's exactly right Paul. Humour's a tool and it cuts. Cutting tools can be used for good or ill. (Or as Codepoke has said, it's like fire).

    What's interesting is when the same people object to using humour because a) it's insubstantial and merely entertainment *and* b) it offends. Well which is it?

    In reality it does both jobs in different circumstances. Therefore it can be belittling and deflating for good or evil and it can be offensive for good or evil.

    Predestination *and* baptism in one night. That's a hard core study! :-)

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