I was invited to join an atheist network of bloggers. I was totally opened to it. But then I noticed some of the other atheist bloggers, upon seeing that the nakedpastor, as well as some Christian bloggers who are open-minded, were invited to join, responded with comments such as, “It wouldn’t hurt to have a few village idiots around I guess.” I don’t like being mocked. It’s a dangerous and harmful sport. It’s fruit is division. You may not agree with my ideas, but that doesn’t necessarily make me an idiot. Calling me one keeps me away from the debate. A debate where everyone agrees is not a debate but mutual masturbation. No babies forthcoming.
I realize atheists have been the brunt of mockery from Christians for a long time. It’s still going on hardcore. It embarrasses me. We also have atheists mocking Christians. That embarrasses me too. It reminds me of high school. Because it is soooo high school. It’s like these two guys laughing at each other, each sitting on their respective high horse. What’s funny is what they can’t see the obvious: they’re both weak and on the same level. They don’t contribute anything to the peace effort.
It is important to differentiate between mockery and satire. I believe I am a satirist, not a mocker. There is a difference. Mockery is insulting or contemptuous action or speech that maliciously intends to humiliate, shame or make fun of the other. Satire is an art form that critiques the others’ vices, follies, abuses and shortcomings in order to provoke them to improvement. Okay, maybe I’ve mocked something I thought was truly ridiculous a few times. But I always hope the one I’m addressing can laugh at it too. I aspire to be a mature satirist. That’s because I think it is fruitful and useful.
I don’t dismiss atheism because I have an inner one and I appreciate such things as the rich intellectual, scientific and humanist developments it brings to the table. I don’t think Christianity should be dismissed either because it also brings such things as a rich heritage of intellectual achievements, ethics, and spiritual care to the table. Let’s not mock each other. But let’s satirize each other to abandon the worst and encourage the best of what we have to offer.
Chesterton, in his book “Heretics”, suggests three kinds of great satirists. He says these are people who are able to laugh at our weaknesses without losing their souls.
The first great satirist first of all loves himself and then loves his enemies. So the more and more his enemies become enemies, the more he loves them. He has an “aggressive happiness in his assertion of anger”. This kind of satire is voluble, violent, indecent, but not malicious.
The second great satirist is one whose passions are released by an intolerable sense of wrong. He is mad about how mad we’ve become. The tongue of this satirist is an unruly member and testifies against all mankind, including himself.
The third great satirist is one who “rises superior to his victim in the only serious sense which superiority can bear, in that of pitying the sinner and respecting the man even while he satirizes both.” Consequently, he enjoys pointing out his enemy’s strengths as well as his weaknesses. Chesterton believed this was the highest and most honorable form of satire.
Mockery is often motivated by arrogance and ignorance, and in that order. When someone thinks they are superior to another, they also feel no need to understand the other. For example, I’m a Canadian who used to make fun of rednecks… until I married a girl from southern Alabama. Now that I understand the culture, I appreciate it and respect it. I still love a good redneck joke though. So does she! Duck Dynasty is for real!
I try to understand that which I satirize. Because I’m after the idea or the deed. I do not wish to shame. But I do wish to provoke people and institutions to change. I’m like a political cartoonist is to politics and government who hopes to expose the weaknesses in order to provoke change. I hope to be the same with Christianity and the church.
Stay tuned for more satire!