While re-watching one of the greatest comedies of all time, something occurred to me: We take ourselves far to seriously. As people, as a society, as speaking as a Christian, as Christians. Especially as Christians. Just look at all the controversy about Rob Bell’s new book, which hasn’t even come out yet. Especially here in ‘Merica, we get so absurdly offended and defensive about any real or implied challenge to the way things are or always had been, it’s no wonder that so many people are fed up with the Church.
I was answering a survey this weekend at the student service at my church and one of the questions was asking me to name my greatest weakness. My answer, after some thought, was my inability to take anything seriously. This can often get me into trouble, and challenges me in my goal to grow in maturity. On the other hand, I also believe that it can sometimes be my greatest strength, because it allows me to avoid dogmatism, and often gives me a perspective that allows me to see both sides of an issue. It keeps me honest. And genuine intellectual honesty is the only way to truth.
Some would say that sarcasm and satire are two of the least Christian modes of expression, and that using them is contrary to Christ’s command to love your neighbor as yourself. First of all, anyone who thinks God doesn’t use sarcasm needs to go read the book of Job. Second of all, that argument doesn’t make sense to me since I am usually the first to make fun of myself, and therefore I would be loving my neighbor like myself. But I do think that when used to tear down people, sarcasm and satire can be and are extremely hurtful and even hateful. But when used to tear down misconceptions and hypocrisy, they can be a powerful tool for good.
This is why so many of my favorite movies (Saved, any Monty Python movie, Spaceballs, etc.) are parodies and satire. This is why I like to read blogs that point out the foolishness all around us. This is why Ben Folds is one of my favorite musicians around. Maybe that makes me a heretic, or a cynic, or some other increasingly meaningless label. But I believe it makes me a truth-seeker. A truth-seeker with a great sense of humor.
For more perspective on some of these ideas, go here and here.