Thursday, 18 March 2010

Christianity and Comedy

A very good friend of mine is bemused that Christians would want to arrange a comedy night such as just happened during the Bedford Passion for Life week. He doesn't feel that it squares with certain aspects of New Testament Christianity.

Of course for many people (of a certain age) comedy and Christianity evokes memories of Dick Emery or Derek Nimmo or the hapless Mr Bean struggling with the intricacies of Anglican worship. The humour comes from the ease with which to mock and satirise the Christian faith-or a least its rather effeminate followers!

So at the Corn Exchange in Bedford on Tuesday evening three comedians (Paul Kerenza, Tony Vino and John Archer) who are all professing Christians, did their stuff. It was funny and was followed by a stimulating talk on joy and laughter in the Bible by Richard Coeken.

I guess some still imagine a Jesus of unbearable earnestness with never a smile nor chuckle and who relentlessly challenged people with his message. But that's a very plastic Jesus-and certainly not a real human being.

Many commentators have pointed out the remarkable use of humour which Jesus demonstrated in his life and teaching. Indeed Elton Trueblood noted '"The widespread failure to recognize and to appreciate the humor of Christ is one of the most amazing aspects of the era named for Him. Anyone who reads the Synoptic Gospels [Matthew, Mark and Luke] with a relative freedom from presuppositions might be expected to see that Christ laughed, and that He expected others to laugh, but our capacity to miss this aspect of His life is phenomenal" (Elton Trueblood, The Humor of Christ, p. 15).

It's yet another case of ignorance of the personality of Christ, aided and abetted by great artists down the centuries who although oftentimes inspirational, generally leave us with a one dimensional view.

There's much to be sad, concerned and troubled by in this world but thank God for the ballast of joy and laughter. There is indeed a time to mourn and a time to laugh.

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