Liberal evangelical Jim Wallis, editor of “Sojourners” is saying that the satirical comedian Jon Stewart of the “Daily Show” is a prophet. Wallis thinks the Old Testament prophets were all about condemning social injustice, so since that’s what Stewart does, he is one too. Stewart himself rejects the compliment and even the idea that his satire is based on condemning social injustice:
“Because we’re in the public eye, maybe people project onto us their desires for that type of activism coming from us, but just knowing the process here as I do, our show is maybe the antithesis of activism, and that is a relatively selfish pursuit. The targets we choose, the way we go about it — it’s got more of a personal venting aspect than a socially conscious aspect.”
Part of the problem with what Wallis says is that he gets tangled up in language and its figurative possibilities. I might say that I predicted that the Nationals would lose their last game and I was right, so I am a prophet. But that doesn’t make me, you know, a PROPHET. There needs to be some supernatural stuff going on–specifically, the working of God’s Word. This can happen in ordinary preaching. But, again, that doesn’t make the pastor a PROPHET prophet in the Old Testament sense.
I’m intrigued with Stewart’s honest and insightful analysis of his own humor: that it’s selfish, that it’s just venting. It has been said that only conservatives can be satirists, since that genre requires the existence of objective standards by which to measure society and to find it wanting. Can you think of examples of that kind of humor?