Sunday, April 20, 2008

intuition of comedy

Comedians are not unlike preachers. They stand in front of crowds of people talking about life. They both are responsible for being able to interpret culture in a way that gets at the truth of things. They both reveal the silly way people act and that, if we would just stop and think about things, we would see how ridiculous most of our normal behaviors really are.

The main difference is that while the comedian interprets culture in order to be funny, preachers must interpret both scripture and culture and they do so in order to transform lives.

But preachers could learn a thing or two from comedians.

Comedians are masters in timing and delivery. They are also brilliant in the way they see the world. They pay attention to life in order to really see it differently. They can speak a hard truth to their audience, while simultaneously making people laugh at themselves. That ability is something most preachers are wildly inept at doing.

Comedians seem to be able to get people to see a truth about themselves by sneaking it in the back door of their heart and mind. Many preachers try to knock down the front door, which as been locked and double bolted shut. They think being forceful with truth is the way to get it into people's hearts and minds. Comedians, however, intuitively understand that a truth sometimes needs to come at people from the side rather than straight on.

Jesus understood this principle as well. That is why he told parables and stories most of the time rather than just spewing out propositional statements about the Kingdom. Jesus didn't just tell his audience, "Stop running away from God." Instead, Jesus told the parable of the prodigal son. He didn't just tell Jews to stop being prejudice. Instead, He told the parable of the good Samaritan.

The ability to help people see themselves for who they really are is rare. Unfortunately, these days we see this ability more often used by comedians than preachers.

I wonder what would happen if preachers gained the intuition of comedians and applied that wisdom to preaching the word of God. I imagine people in the pews would finally begin to receive the truth rather than just ducking as it is thrown at them from the pulpit.


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