The video parody of Rob Bell’s for Live Wons, I mean Love Wins, has been online for just over 24 hours now, and has already topped 13,000 views. Kudos to Stephen Sampson, who nailed it, and Ben Merkle, who had just the right amount of fun writing it, and Dane Wilson who shot and edited that thing over the course of just a few days. I would hasten to add that Dane is no relation, except that he is my nephew.
As Orwell would say, that which is funny is subversive, and the real question is the foundational question — what is it that you are subverting? That’s where people get their hackle on.
But if you do it right, there is no real response. And this is why people object to satiric humor — almost invariably they are objecting to the effectiveness of it. Because it was effective, they can no longer defend that which was subverted, so they move on to retroactively defend the little bits of plastic all over the floor (that used to be their balloon) by criticizing the propriety of the humor. Now was that nice? Was that really necessary? Well, yes. People used to take the pomoballoon more seriously than they should have, and now they don’t.
When conservative critics throw ineffective darts the defenders of the (still intact) balloon don’t have to worry about the propriety of the humor. It is when parody does its job, to use James White’s descriptive phrase, that compromised teachers who have a demonstrable and real contempt for the authority of Scripture suddenly discover that their ideal Sermon on the Mount is filled with marshmallow clouds and sparkly rainbows, with the foreground filled with little blue Christian smurfs hugging each other. Can’t we teach whatever the heck we want and still get a hug? Why can’t we? That’s what we want. And what we want is the god of the system, but that’s another topic.
But every orthodoxy uses humor on the outsiders, and every group of outsiders uses humor on the orthodox. This is the way it is in the world as God governs it, and this reality does not exclude Jesus and the holy apostles. When it came to Pharisaical balloons, Jesus and His righteous pin set some kind of a record. Archeologists in Jerusalem are still finding little bits of plastic. Whether it is an appropriate use of satire or not is a question of truth and righteousness, and if you belong to a faction of the church that wonders what those are, then all you are doing is using your seminary degree as a device for blowing up balloons.
All the tell-tale signs of a soul-corroding liberalism are here in this controversy over Rob Bell, and a defensive reaction when the faithful have a good laugh is one of them. Lenny Bruce once said that liberals were the kind of people who understood everybody except for those people who didn’t understand them. That pretty much covers it.