Friday, February 5, 2016

Shut Up, You Believe In Talking Snakes

Dwayne: PWNER?
Jimmy: Uh...that was one of my hacker names.
Dwayne: Is that even a word?
Jimmy: Shut up, you believe in talking snakes.
-The Tithe #7
by Matt Hawkins and Phillip Sevy

Dear reader, I must apologize.  I fear recent posts have been somber, sappy, and overall serious in tone and subject matter.  This, in itself, is not bad.  Indeed, theology should be very serious business.  But I also believe theology should, and perhaps must, be conducted with a sense of humor and hopefully a rather charming wit.

There is an inherent absurdity to the process of theology.  This pursuit of ultimate truth concerning the Divine is inevitably futile, for we are finite beings attempting to understand the infinite.  And how can you not laugh at hubris like that?  Further, there is no practical end to theology.  If the goal of theology is to understand God, that goal will remain forever elusive, at least in this lifetime.  But I think theology isn't about reaching that destination, it's about the journey we take chasing that goal we can never catch.

Now, that might sound very depressing.  Indeed, if you were led to believe God, the Bible, and everything related were easy to understand, the multi-faceted, undecidable pursuit of theological exploration may prove quite frustrating and aggravating.  However, I think this mad adventure can be quite a lot of fun, especially if you maintain a sense of humor about the whole thing.

Christians aren't generally known for their sense of humor, though.  When I think of Christian humor, I think of cheesy, groan inducing jokes or, worse yet, misguided and mean-spirited mockery of others that are different from us.  Aside from that, Christians are often serious as they grumpily cross their arms and insist that dancing is forbidden.

It doesn't have to be that way, though.  And, contrary to the perception I have just presented, much of my personal Christian experiences have strayed far from the super serious side.  My schooling in seminary was some of the most fun I have had in my life.  In my spare time I occasionally listen to theology podcasts where prominent, highly educated, and way smarter-than-me theologians are interviewed about lofty and obscure subjects.  I realize that sounds incredibly boring, but honestly many of those podcasts are flat out hilarious.

I think part of it has to do with humility.  Fundamentalist and legalistic Christians can be so serious and self-righteous about their own moral and religious superiority that they don't dare speak about God in some lighter tone.  I don't know about you, but that sounds boring to me.  It doesn't sound like fun or a religion I want to join.

We can make jokes about God, the Bible, and faith without being blasphemously irreverent.  And even if we are, I'm thinking God has a big enough sense of humor that he can handle it.  I want to enjoy my faith.  I want it to be a source of laughter and smart, witty jokes.  Yes, there are many issues I want to be serious about, but I think I should be able to find a way to make such serious theology enjoyable.

So, dear reader, if I stray from the laughter and start bringing everyone down with some grim and gritty theology, tell me to shut up.  I mean, come on, I believe in talking snakes.  Is this a mean slight against my beliefs?  It could be, unless you present it with good humor.  As a Christian, I believe in some very odd things, including talking snakes, talking donkeys, people turning into salt, water turning into wine, people walking on water, and, of course, she-bears mauling a group of children for mocking a bald dude.

Seriously, you guys, Christianity is weird.

Instead of seriously defending the (ir)rationality of my beliefs all the time, I want to embrace the weirdness.  So no, I don't consider "Shut up, you believe in talking snakes" to be a disparaging insult.  Instead I see it as a light ribbing acknowledging the wonderful absurdity of faith.  So if you ever disagree with me, say, "Shut up, you believe in talking snakes."  Or if you do agree with me, say the same thing and give me a high five (or a like, or retweet, or whatever it is one does on Google Plus).

Embrace the weird.  Enjoy the faith.  Have some fun.

But come on, man, shut up, you believe in talking snakes.

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