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Douglas Wilson linked to a blog post recently recapping his experience about seven years ago when he interacted with John Piper regarding the issue of the use and propriety of satire for Christians. Mark Driscoll is going to be speaking at a Desiring God conference coming up and he is particularly known these days for his cheerleading for sarcasm and satire. I know satire is a hard sell for a lot of evangelicals, but as I thought about it, the more I felt that satire is perfectly acceptable for Christians (mature ones preferably) to use.
I’ve read almost all of Flannery O’Connor’s work and for the ininitiated, she almost exclusively tells the stories of folks experiences violent transformations and/or conversions through very violent means. This, coupled with the experiences with real folks in real life, led me to an observation (albeit a pretty obvious one if you think about it) on humanity. When things are going well, no one really feels the need to change. When they are going poorly, they will change whatever it takes to improve things. O’Connor gives us some drastic examples of this in her literature, but I think most anyone can observe this both in their own lives and in the lives of those around them.
And so what does Flannery have to do with satire? Well, I think the basic objective behind satire is to shake up a seemingly positive situation. It also tends to cast things that seem to be dandy in a slightly different light, causing a viewer to see things altogether differently. (Think of Samuel telling the story to David) What satire then can do, in effect, is to move someone who is satisfied with the status quo, thinking things are just fine, and make them realize the gravity of a situation. It could make them realize that things truly are going poorly.
So, all that said, I think that Piper is really taking the difficult position. He thinks you can sell a message of hope to someone who probably doesn’t think they need hope (or change, etc.). He may still advocate stong rebuke of folks, but can you realistically see a particularly stubborn person being moved by such rhetoric?
One final thing. That is the issue of propriety and frequency. Just like any use of strong language, it is stronger the less it is used and weaker the more it is used. When you read Flannery O’Connor cover to cover, her stories don’t seem quite as shocking by the end. You’ve grown accustomed to them. I think the same goes for sarcasm and satire. It should be used in a very calculating manner and for very specific purposes. If it’s not, then you’ll probably wind up sounding like the redneck that simply didn’t get an education and drops f-bombs every other word.
Naturally, I saw 10,000 BC. During the epic I was impressed at how watchable and decent it was. It was only at the end that I realized it was the worst kind of noble savage humanist propaganda. The story is basically that of a hunter in 10,000 BC who leaves his village for the cause of love, and ends up conquering the pyramid builders in a war for independence that highlights his ability to overcome natural obstacles and lead the savages against a god.
Hardly surprising, there was a deep nature theme to it. The savages coexist with nature, and “Earth Mother” (old lady not earth itself) has some mystical powers. However, the earth is clearly stronger than old mother. The next highest power is the aforementioned hero hunter. He conquers the deserts and mountains, fights off beasts, and interacts with others.
This is where it gets weird though. His final test is to fight the gods who are enslaving all mankind to build the pyramids and sphinx. He is told by an ex-slave that the gods used to be three, but are now one. The gods are the only religion in the movie, and I think it odd that they are a former trinity. Naturally, the hero hunter proclaims that “he is not a god”, and emphasizes this fact with a spear. The animals also help him to bring down the house of the gods. So here we have god as a contrivance used to enslave men, and the embodiment of raw man-power overthrowing the mumbo jumbo and leading man to freedom from the tyranny of gods and religion in general.
So, lessons of the movie. The earth gives us life (as the hero and his earth-woman watch plants grow to feed their people at the end).
Religion and gods are used to enslave men away from their natural states of hunting and farming.
These faces of tyranny should be overthrown as violently as possible, and man should go back to the pristine way he was.
Then how on earth (pun) did we get here, making movies and discussing them through the miracle of electricity generated by dead animals from back then, conducted by metal that the savages had no concept of, operating in social frameworks that are only given us by a triune God out of his grace, and not needing to go on yearly mammoth hunts to avoid starvation?
I just came across this interesting article on Christians in Iran. Are we Christians first or Americans?
Mr. Douglas Jones gave a sharp and thought provoking sermon this last weekend. To hear it, you can call (1.800.488.2034) and purchase it through Canon Press or you can download it here. Oh….and you’d better check your politics at the door.
I was reminded tonight of a thought that crossed my mind a few days ago. The other day, I was browsing this thread on the Concept Art website (HT: Stephen Hendersen) of a gentleman who started as a complete novice artistically, but challenged himself to work on a painting or sketch everyday. While I was noting the progress he made, I made a connection that probably should’ve been obvious to me long before now.
When a artist begins a painting, he generally begins by first painting the background. This gives us an idea of the overall context for the picture. Is it nighttime? Is it indoors or out? As he continues on the painting, he’ll move on to the larger items in the foreground, creating trees or furniture, and as he’s nearing completion, he’ll add the finishing touches and the fine details. As I was looking at the stars tonight, I was struck by the similarities that this has to God’s own creation. When God created the world, he began with the background; light and darkness, sun, moon, and stars. As he progressed, he moved on to larger elements of the foreground, the earth and waters, and finally as he fashioned the earth, he formed the landscape, the animals, and finally mankind. And man and woman were the final touches that made his creation very good.
I think that oftentimes, we give lip-service to God, citing him as ultimate creator, the first artist and so on, but that is as far as we go. What we often fail to notice is this initial act of creation was not just a science project or a good and true story, but it is also the retelling of the first painting. It is the retelling of God the Artist’s work of art and what a work of art it is.
I would like to preface this by saying that my parents lived in the 60’s, and they and a lot of other folks are allright. I have been reading a lot about WWII recently, and in doing so have noticed just how much literature seems to portray that generation as heroic because of what they had to overcome. At the same time, we have been reading Joshua in Sunday School, and I was struck the other day by how Simeon and Levi get little inheritance because of their wrath. This got me to thinking about how David is told that he has been too warlike for him to be allowed to build the Lord’s temple. I got to wondering if part of the reason for the disaster known as the 60’s and for the boomers is that they are descended from the generation that went to war and that in some way they are under a curse. It seems to me that it explains how the nation as a whole could transform so fundamentally within a generation.
A sweet sermon that Christians everywhere need to hear.
Is there any special significance to the 14 generations, 14 generations, 14 generations in Matthew chapter 1? I know you could argue he is just showing generational faithfulness, but why 14?
5 Let all those who hate Zion
Be put to shame and turned back.
What do you get when you cross native american incense bearers, chinese streamer dancers, and african american gosepl choir, a woman rabbi, and an immam? The investiture of the new Episcopalean leader bishop. And she even wore purple vestments to symbolize a new dawn. I only wish it were a joke.