Mockery in the Bible (One Peter [Vader] Five & Steve Skojec)

Mockery in the Bible (One Peter [Vader] Five & Steve Skojec) March 21, 2020

Once again it is time to defend the use of fully warranted biblical humor. This time, it’s over against James Russell, who takes objection to one line in my recent post, Priestly Celibacy as a Discipline: Steve Skojec’s Ignorance: “Reactionary Steve Skojec of One Vader Five infamy  . . .” His words will be in blue.

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Armstrong’s petulant use of “One Vader Five” is childish and off-putting. He can do better than that.

Harmless sarcasm. Isn’t it interesting that anything goes when it comes to pope-bashing and trashing; literally lying about the Holy Father, which 1P5 does on virtually a daily basis. But try a little bit of gentle play-on-words (which the Bible is full of, along with other sarcasm and parody and satirical material) and it’s Chicken Little . . .

It’s a double standard among reactionaries bigger than the Grand Canyon.

It’s a weakness, not a strength. A vice, not a virtue.

Then Jesus, Paul, Elijah, and God in the Old Testament had it, too. You complain about this? You should see what Skojec writes about me. You wanna see some true insults?

I see a difference here from Biblical examples. I can think of no Biblical example in which it’s deemed okay to simply take either a person’s name or the name of their endeavor and mock it. I do see Biblical evidence for Christians avoiding any speech that intentionally serves merely to tear down another or objectify them.

You weaken your own intellectual arguments each time you resort to language that suggests your animus isn’t merely toward the erroneous claim or assertion, but that the animus also seems to attach to the person.

So in that sense it is harmful because it serves to distract from your actual points. As I said I found it off-putting for this reason. Additionally, you and I have both been the brunt of such supposedly harmless “sarcasm” from others, and the Patheos site is filled with other Catholic writers who regularly engage in this. “Everyone’s doing it” just isn’t a good defense. In this case, it probably should elicit in us a desire to avoid such weaknesses.

Put even more simply–sorry, but I simply cannot see the OT God, Elijah, or Paul, or Jesus referring to One Peter Five as “One Vader Five”….just not the same thing. My two cents.

You ought to be familiar with the biblical use of sarcasm. It’s irrelevant whether a name was made the object of a play-on-words or not. All that matters is whether satire and sarcasm are used in the Bible by those who are our models: Jesus, Paul, etc. And of course it is. It’s not arguable.

In the meantime, it’s a mortal sin to bear false witness: all the more so about a pope. That’s what One Peter Five does all the time. Yet you have nothing better to do than to condemn a simple play-on-words.

I showed in this very article of mine (above) how Skojec spewed falsehood about whether celibacy is essential to the priesthood, and whether it is a discipline. That is serious. The use of “Vader” is extremely mild to describe what Skojec and his site regularly do.

I haven’t called him a viper or a whitewashed tomb. I haven’t made a joke that he should castrate himself . . .

Whatever, Dave. I shared how your words distracted me from your actual point. That you wish to justify yourself here is inconsequential to me.

For the record, there is an important distinction to be made, in my experience at least, between *irony* and “sarcasm.”

I’d defend irony, but as a Christian I would not defend sarcasm directed at persons. .

St. Paul, when he wasn’t telling men to take circumcision to the next level, is the same guy who wrote in Ephesians 4:29 to say only the good things that people really need to hear. And I for one don’t claim to assume the mantle of authority of a prophet, apostle, or Messiah in order to justify mocking and objectifying persons. I’ll mock an erroneous idea with no problem. But creating pejorative pet names for ideological adversaries or their projects doesn’t seem to me to be the “good” that people need to hear. God bless.

And again, I say to you what Jesus said to the Pharisees:

Matthew 23:23 (RSV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”

Here you are all concerned about one word of mild sarcasm, while you wink at the lies day in and day out, and slander of the Holy Father and Holy Mother Church, that goes on at 1P5. That is a violation of the Ten Commandments, and it breeds disunity and discord. Mine is simply sarcasm that is all over the Bible.

Biblical humor indeed includes mocking as well:

The Bible almost certainly only records part of the humorous taunts Elijah hurls, which were loud enough for the Israelites in attendance to hear. He mocks the prophets by stating, “‘You’ll have to shout louder than that,’ he scoffed, ‘to catch the attention of your god!'” (1Kings 18:27, The Living Bible).

Elijah’s deriding humor hits a crescendo when he offers reasons why Baal does not answer them. He sarcastically shouts, “Perhaps he is talking to someone, or is out SITTING ON THE TOILET, or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be awakened!” (1Kings 18:27).

The verbal jabs, at the expense of the pagan priests, entail some of the best humor in Scripture. Could Baal’s lack of a response be due to severe constipation that has consigned him to a toilet? Maybe he is in a lengthy conversation that is far more interesting than listening to the whining of his priests. Could it be he is sound asleep? Maybe he needed a break and took a well-earned vacation! Baal certainly seemed too involved in his own self-interests to answer anyone!

Biblical commentators elaborate on this passage:

(27) Elijah mocked them.—The mockery of Elijah—apparently even blunter and more scornful in the sense of the original—has been with over-ingenuity explained as applying to various supposed actions of Baal. It is merely the bitter irony of sheer contempt, calling Baal a god only to heap upon him ideas most ungodlike; “He is busy, or he is in retirement; he is far away, or in the noon-day heat he is asleep.” Characteristic of the fierce indignation of Elijah’s nature, in this crisis of conflict, it is yet not unlike the righteous scorn of the psalmists or the prophets (see Psalm 115:4-8; Psalm 135:15-18; Isaiah 44:9-20; Isaiah 46:1-7; Jeremiah 10:2-10, &c.) for the worship of “the vanities” of the heathen. There was no place for toleration of prejudice, or tender appreciation of a blind worship feeling after God, like that of St. Paul at Athens (Acts 17:22-23). The conflict here was between spiritual worship and a foul, cruel idolatry; and the case was not of heathen ignorance, but of Israel’s apostasy. (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)
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The worship of idols being a most ridiculous thing, it is perfectly just to represent it so, and expose it to scorn. And “nothing can be imagined more cutting and sarcastic than these words of the prophet, in which he ridicules, in the finest manner possible, their wretched, false, and derogatory ideas of the Deity. The two last notions of being asleep and not at home, how absurd soever they may be, when applied to the Deity, were certainly such as several idolaters conceived of their gods, as appears from various passages in Homer; in one of which, (Iliad 1. 18:423,) he tells us, that Thetis could not meet with Jupiter, because he was gone abroad, and would not return in less than twelve days; and at the conclusion of that book he gives us an account of the manner in which the gods went to sleep. How debasing ideas these compared with that awful intelligence which revelation gives us of the true God, who neither slumbereth nor sleepeth; but who, everywhere present, is, at all times, conscious even of the secrets of the heart; at all times ready to hear, and able to grant the petitions of his people!” — Dodd. (Benson Commentary)
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The drift of the whole passage is scornful ridicule of the anthropomorphic notions of God entertained by the Baal-priests and their followers (compare Psalm 50:21). The pagan gods, as we know from the Greek and Latin classics, ate and drank, went on journeys, slept, conversed, quarrelled, fought. The explanations of many of these absurdities were unknown to the ordinary worshipper, and probably even the most enlightened, if his religion was not a mere vague Pantheism, had notions of the gods which were largely tainted with a false anthropomorphism. (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)
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Elijah mocked them; derided them and their gods, which were indeed, and had now proved themselves to be, ridiculous and contemptible things. By this example we see that all jesting is not unlawful, but only that which intrencheth upon piety and good manners. (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)
R.V. gone aside. The word appears to be used here to express the idea that Baal had withdrawn himself for rest or some other physical necessity. (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)
Verse 27. – And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked [or deceived] them, and said, Cry aloud [Heb. with a great voice]: for he is a god [i.e., in your estimation. “Here is one of the few examples of irony in Scripture” (Wordsworth)]; either he is talking [the marg. he meditateth is preferable. Cf. 1 Samuel 1:16; Psalm 142:3. But the word has both meanings (see 2 Kings 9:11), fairly preserved in the LXX., ἀδολεσχία αὐτῷ ἐστι], or he is pursuing [Heb. for he hath a withdrawal, i.e., for the purpose of relieving himself. A euphemism. Cf. Judges 3:24; 1 Samuel 24:3. Stanley attempts to preserve the paronomasia, שִׂיג שִׂיח, by the translation, “he has his head full” and “he has his stomach full”], or he is in a Journey [the thrice repeated כִּי must be noticed. It heightens the effect of the mockery], or peradventure he sleepeth [Though it was noon, it is not clear that there is a reference to the usual midday siesta of the East], and must be awaked. (Pulpit Commentary)
God mocks idolaters and other sinners throughout the Old Testament (obviously, then, it can’t be intrinsically wrong). Some examples of many:

Then the woodcarver takes the axe and uses it to make an idol. He measures and marks out a block of wood and carves the figure of a man. Now he has a wonderful idol that can’t so much as move from where it is placed (Isaiah 44:13, Living Bible).

Such stupidity and ignorance! . . . The man never stops to think or figure out, “Why, it’s just a block of wood! I’ve burned it for heat and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat. How can the rest of it be a god? Should I fall down before a chunk of wood?” (Isaiah 44:18 – 19).

Who but a fool would make his own god – an idol that can help him not one whit! (Isaiah 44:9 – 10).

Or, similarly, St. Paul (one of my favorites):

Philippians 3:18-19 (RSV) For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. [19] Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

“whose god is their belly” [KJV]? That’s not biting mockery and sarcasm? Really? And Paul was the one who said several times that we should imitate him. Equally sarcastic is his passage:

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings,

Yes: those in sin are roundly mocked, by Paul, by God, throughout the Proverbs (the biblical “fool”), by the prophets, by Jesus . . . You can ignore all this if you like, simply because it’s not to your taste.

Me, I follow the biblical model all the way.

Yeah, Dave, sorry–I don’t really feel like a Pharisee by telling you that your use of childish name-calling in mature public discourse is off-putting and takes away from your main point.

Feels more like a work of mercy.

Right. I provide Bible. You insult (and thus contradict your already mistaken point).

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Related Reading

Christianity, Sarcasm, Satire, Irony, Jesus & Paul (1999 and 6-2-07)

Blaise Pascal on Ridicule & Sarcasm Regarding Sin & Folly: Sanctioned by God; Many Biblical Examples Provided [12-29-11]

Atheism: A Remarkably Strong, Impervious Faith in “Atomism” [8-19-15]

Clarifications Regarding My Atheist Reductio Paper (referring to the immediately preceding, vastly misunderstood satirical piece) [8-20-15]

Did Jesus, St. Paul, & the Prophets Use Sarcasm? Yes [8-16-17]

Silent Night: A “Progressive” and “Enlightened” Reinterpretation [National Catholic Register, 12-21-17]

Inept Satire Case Study: Dr. Edward Feser’s “Lexicon” [2-2-18]

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Photo credit: Christ and the Pharisees (c. 1660), by Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

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