Wednesday, April 9, 2014

when to laugh

I don't know much about Ricky Gervais beyond whatever I've seen of him on Graham Norton. There, he's funny, but not excessively provocative, and so I'd shrug and laugh along. But then some friends ("friends") on Facebook posted some FB posts of his, and they were funny too, so I popped over to his page to have a look.

I was scrolling happily along and chuckling to myself, when I came upon a post showing a picture of some men in front of a huge painting of Christ on the cross. I won't go into too much detail (lest I be guilty of sharing the joke!), but suffice to say that the caption at the bottom read, "Blasphemy -- A ticket to hell has never been funnier".

And you want to know the truth? I giggled. In fact, I think I did one of those snorting sort of laughs. I mean, it really was quite funny. And looking at it again now, I'm laughing again. But the thing is, I'm really bothered by the fact that I'm finding it funny. Well, I think I know why I find it funny -- I'm tickled by the fact that those men could actually think of such a thing, and actually pose like that, and then put it all together like a motivational poster.

But whether I should find it funny -- there's the rub. I mean, it's clearly sacrilegious -- that was Jesus, the son of God, dying on the cross. But the three fellows were being so shamelessly inane! I felt so troubled by my amusement that I actually prayed about it, and I did feel God reassuring me that I was not doomed for being unable to help my sense of humour. The Christian life is meant to be joyful, not dull and humourless.

At the same time, however, I did feel Him cautioning me against indulging too much in that sort of thing -- there is a fine line between good humour, and irreverence and mockery. Something that gets laughed at often enough gradually loses its value, its importance, its dignity -- one easily becomes flippant and disrespectful.

It's like the blonde jokes, you know? I don't like them. Some of them aren't too bad, but some really are, perpetuating terrible, belittling stereotypes which do great injustice to blondes everywhere, including millions of little blonde girls who will have to grow up under such an insulting stigma. So I try not to encourage such jokes, by listening to them, sharing them, or laughing with others.

I decided to see what other, wiser heads than mine had to say on the subject. I didn't know how to look such a thing up, and in the end Googled, "Is sacrilegious humour a sin?" Oddly enough, there wasn't much on the topic. I did find this (which, yes, made me chuckle), but it didn't strike me as being really downright SACRILEGIOUS. I did find a couple of the comments below it relevant though, such as this one by Fatima: "I don't think there is anything wrong with this. It is okay to laugh. God is not being mocked. It's people that are being mocked. and It's FUNNY!!! Lighten up guys lol".

That's the key I guess -- how mocking is the joke? Whether about blondes or almighty God, how scornful or contemptuous is it making me when I laugh? As Paul writes to the Galatians: "Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions, or by His precepts being set aside.) [He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God]".

While on the topic, I decided to find out exactly what Ricky Gervais' stand on religion is. And this was the first thing I came upon. Now, this isn't a post about atheism, or bigotry, or fundamentalist anything, but I do object strongly to anyone mocking Christ publicly, on the cover of a magazine, knowing perfectly well that their celebrity would make it widely circulated. People don't need to see this sort of jeering and insult, our young people especially, who are trying to grow and find their way in an increasingly profane, immoral world.

Don't get me wrong -- I don't object to a person's atheism, but I do question the wisdom of treating godly or moral values with scorn; however idiotically the human followers of a particular religion behave, the principles to which they theoretically hold should be universally upheld -- principles such as love, peace, patience, kindness, self-control and so forth.

For Christians, the cross in part represents the theoretical upholding of such values, values which surely are in dire shortage in this fallen world of ours. Why mock or denigrate it? Make fun of some of its followers, maybe; sneer at them even if you must, but steer clear of what is inherently good, pure and holy. I believe this applies to all religions. Certainly, human failings might be deprecated and disaparaged, but not the ethics or credo which makes those humans strive to reach higher and overcome those failings.

So, I think giggling at my mom's comic on the fridge is okaaay (Moses is leading the Israelites through the Red Sea and rolling his eyes because they're saying things like, "Are we there yet?" and "I should have used the bathroom before we left"), but laughing at three immature fellows having fun with the crucifixion -- not so ok. (Also not ok -- What do you call an intelligent blonde? ...).

Trust you're all having a happy, lighthearted week!


The Cranky said...

I believe that we should all treat one another with compassion and acceptance...whether atheist, Christian, agnostic, or whatever. We are all in this together and, as the Bible points out: "even the least of these..."

The Dainty Dolls House said...

Ricky Gervais is completely against religion, he mocks it any chance he gets really. He doesn't get any of it at all. He's very smart and clever about it, but a lot of the times he takes it too far. But, everyone can believe what they want. I just avoid things he says really. I hope your week is going well doll xx

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I can see where you're coming from. Your cartoon is cute though.

My Garden Diaries said...

Very interesting topic....I tend to avoid things that mock others for the reasons you gave. I am so down with people having their own beliefs and ideas but man I feel as though we have lost something as a society. Call it respect or class or kindness....I just think we could do better!! I hope you are well dear friend!!! All the best this week!! Nicole xoxo

Kay G. said...

Ricky Gervais is one Brit that I can live without, his humor is often quite cruel and I have never liked him. Once I found out how very much he was against religion, it made sense to me.
Hope you are doing well!
Love the Adam and Eve cartoon, that is funny!

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Hahaha...I love the Adam and Eve cartoon!

I have a great sense of humour, but there are some jokes/cartoons that just don't appeal to me; ones that are tasteless, and seem to be more mean-spirited and nasty than anything else. We all have our limits on what we find humorous.

Jane Chérie said...

I understand your feelings. Sometimes I find myself feeling guilty about laughing at these kind of jokes too but I think taking things lightly is best. Life is far too short to be serious all the time and people need to be tolerant with one another and welcome criticism to better ourselves :)

Magic Love Crow said...

I thought the cartoon was really cute ;o) I think in any faith, you have to respect it, but it's good to laugh too, as long as you are not disrespecting the faith! Big Hugs ;o)

Almost Precious said...

The cartoon at the top of your post is funny.
As for Ricky Gervais, I can't say as I'm familiar with his comedy. I've seen him on TV but only briefly - like in a commercial. Looks like I haven't missed much. :)

CraveCute said...

Great observations! I too think Ricky G. is pretty funny. I have no problem with people making fun of my beliefs or religion. I really don't care, my beliefs are mine and no one can take them away from me. I think it is "funny" that some people are so certain about all these things, while I am still in wonder at the fact that we even exist.


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