Resist Sarcasm? I’m Trying!

Resist Sarcasm? I’m Trying! December 14, 2015


I was asked to contribute a piece to Aleteia today, a short reflection for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. They liked it enough to publish it – I hope you like it, too.

Sarcasm I now see to be, in general, the language of the Devil; for which reason I have, long since, as good as renounced it.

—Thomas Carlyle

Last week Elizabeth Scalia tweeted Aleteia’s post “56 Ways to be Merciful during the Year of Mercy.” After reading it, I tweeted back: “Not gonna lie. No. 1 on the list is a toughie.” That’s how I got asked to write this reflection. If you’ve read my blog, you know I can be sarcastic — I say that with no degree of pride. There’s a fine line dividing sarcasm and satire, and I sometimes trip over it.

Why is resisting sarcasm tough? Short answer: I can be a jerk, and I’m good at it. Long answer: since Elizabeth wanted a short reflection, I’ll stick with the short answer.

The Jubilee Year of Mercy is the perfect time for me to address this.

Sarcasm is derived from the Greek “sarkazein,”  meaning “to strip off the flesh.” How’s that for an image! It’s a verbal velociraptor, capable of rending flesh from bone more precisely than any tooth or talon. It separates, yet not in the way that Scripture does. God’s word is “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12), separating truth from lies. Sarcasm, however, separates truth from truth, dignity from character. God’s word is the Word, who came to bring us life, to show us the Father’s mercy. Sarcasm is merciless, and thus I concede Carlyle’s point. Satan loves sarcasm, because it leaves wounds that can be difficult to heal.

Click here to read the rest.

Image source: Mike Mozart [Creative Commons] via Flickr

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  • I’m not sure if it’s a blessing…..but living among so many folks who are not native English speakers, I’ve come to find out that my sarcasm (in English) goes over their heads. I cannot use it in my everyday life-because no one gets it.

    Puns don’t work so well either.

    • LarryD

      So what you’re saying is, the people where you live haven’t yet had their fill of puns?

      • I’m so slow, I had to read your comment twice before I caught it. Very good, Larry.