Humor is War

September 12, 2010

I highly recommend that you read this book: The Serrated Edge by Douglas Wilson. In it, he provides a defense for the Christian use of humor and satire to advance Christian ideals. One of the things that Wilson notes early in the book is that humor is an act of warfare. He states that like any act of war there can be just actions or unjust actions. Warfare can be waged by a righteous king or a ruthless dictator. But we need to realize that a war is going on.

Saul Alinsky once wrote that “It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule” .

Think of some examples. Bush was a bumbling clown who could barely form sentences. Never mind that he went to Yale and generally did better than “geniuses” like Gore and Kerry. They mocked Bush about being dumb and they won. Pretty much everyone believes it to this day. When Tina Fey satirized Sarah Palin, no one really thought of Palin in the same way. Bush and Palin have struggled to counteract the ridicule.

Rob Bell fans had trouble dealing with this video:

(if you don’t know who Rob Bell is or don’t get the joke watch this)

All this applies to us in three ways.

1 – We as Christians need to be a bit careful when it comes to ridicule. We need to try not to open ourselves up to broadside attacks. Since the normal mode of mocking usually attempts to classify us as stupid hillbillies who are both racist and uneducated, we can remove their ability to attack from this side by communicating carefully and double checking facts before speaking. Nothing opens the door more than repeating a hoax (ie “Darwin recanted of evolution on his deathbed”) or otherwise being reckless in what we say.

2- We need to realize that no matter how careful we are mocking will come. The content of our argument is the reason for the mocking not the errors or missed facts. They do not mock their own side when they misspeak or misreport. No, the mocking is an attempt to destroy. So, if they are not at least attempting to mock us we are probably not a threat (which is not good). In other words, we should not try to avoid being mocked but instead simply avoid giving the enemy free ammunition.

3 – Christians should use this weapon very carefully. It is a powerful weapon that can do damage. Sometimes it can be used effectively (such as laughing at those who are ok with the idea of an Intelligent Designer so long as it is an alien life force and not God). But it can also cause hurt and a destroy relationships. Be careful.


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