Jamey Tucker, the blogger over at WKRN’s [A Certain Strain of American Evangelical Protestant] Faith and Ethics blog is railing against television’s depiction of God.
This is the kind of thing that gets passed around as if it’s the truth which really ought to be challenged every time it comes up, just because the myopia involved is exceedingly dangerous to Christianity as a whole.
Here’s the root of the problem as I see it: Protestantism was born when some folks decided that the Catholic Church had strayed too far from true Christianity and could not be salvaged, therefore, the time had come to set up a new church, more true to Biblical precepts.
But what happened when those first Protestant churches had theological differences (or even more minor disagreements)? They broke apart and formed new churches, AND the believers who attended those new churches allowed themselves the luxury of believing that they were the ones with the line on the truth and those other folks–even the ones sitting in church every Sunday–were not real Christians.
I’ve oversimplified it a great deal, but I think we see this same impulse in America today, which is how, in a nation that is predominately and overwhelmingly Christian, Christians can believe that they are a persecuted minority.
It reminds me of my favorite joke, which is a tiny bit Baptist unfriendly, so, if you are Baptist, you might choose to skip ahead.
Sadly, there was a plane crash in the middle of the ocean and only one man survived. He made his way to a desert island where he lived for ten years. Finally, a passing ship saw his signal fire and stopped to rescue him.
The captain was all, “Wow, you’ve been out here a decade. How did you survive?” And the man took the captain around the island.
“Here’s the spring I got my drinking water from. There’s the bush that provided berries. Once I learned to fish, this lagoon over here was a good source of protein,” and so on. Then they came to three huts. The man explained. “This hut on the left is my church. I’ve been a Baptist my whole life and I do believe that it is my faith in Christ that has brought me through this terrible ordeal. I spend a lot of time in this building, just praying and spending time with my Lord.”
“And this middle hut?”
“That’s my house.”
“And the hut on the right?”
“Oh, yeah, that’s where I used to go to church.”
Oh, Baptists, I love you, but you have to admit that’s pretty funny.
Anyway, my point. Most people in America are Christian. Even most of the folks like me, who’ve left Christianity, were brought up that way and still feel some great fondness for it.
As much fun as it is to believe that Hollywood picks on God because they’re a bunch of godless heathens who hate Christianity and find Christians stupid and worthy of derision, I think it’s much more likely, in most cases, that folks pick on Christianity because they feel so closely tied to it.
Like your crazy but beloved uncle, it’s fine for y’all to sit around the living room and talk shit about his inability to hold a job, but if you were to catch the neighbor lady calling him a lay-about, you’d have to toilet paper her house–that seems to me to be the driving impulse behind making jokes about Jesus/God most of the time.
Tucker’s mistake, and it’s a common one, which is why I’m devoting all this space to refuting it, is to believe that only folks who practice Christianity in ways he recognizes have a right to feel that kind of teasing affinity with Jesus/God.
What kinds of stereotypes about people in Hollywood do you have to harbor as true to believe that they have no right to feel teasing affection towards Jesus/God? And who are you to decide that?
Which brings me to my next point–Allah is God. If you are the “Faith and Ethics” blogger, shouldn’t you understand enough about “Faith” to know that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all trace their religious heritage back to Abraham and the God of Abraham?
So, technically, when you’re watching shows that make fun of God, it’s not just Christians who have reason to be offended. There are two other major world religions who could be offended if they cared to.
But Tucker is all the time equating religion with Christianity, so I can’t say that bit of sloppiness surprises me.
But to get back to my larger point–making fun of someone is not necessarily a sign that the person making fun of someone dislikes the person being made fun of. Often, it’s a sign of great affection.
When Christians pass judgement on whether other folks, whose religions they don’t know and have no way of knowing, but who are probably also Christian or of Christian descent or at the least monotheistic, have a right to feel teasing affection towards Jesus/God, they look like assholes.
If you don’t like what you’re seeing on TV, change the channel. But don’t force your smug, patronizing will on the rest of us.