This is the true purpose of satire: to mock power. It is, truly, the language of the powerless. From the biblical prophets, to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, to Swift, to Twain, to Orwell to our beloved Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, satire works best when the targets are the powerful and elite—be they institutions or people.
Jesus’ sharpest comments were always directed toward the politically or religiously powerful. Always. Indeed, you could argue that Jesus’ entire life—from being born in a barn in the midst of a genocide, to hanging out with prostitutes and drunks, to healing on the Sabbath and touching the untouchables, to riding into Jerusalem on donkey rather than a war horse, to healing the ear of a Roman soldier after it had been cut off by Jesus’ allies—was a stinging indictment of religious and political power.
The above quote is from a post on Rachel Held Evans blog. I am a regular reader. I have never seen such a clear picture of Jesus as a satirist. I announce it frequently on my other blog over at RJsCorner that I am a huge fan of Will Rogers so am kind of disappointed that Rachel didn’t mention his name in her list. 🙂
As Rachel says Jesus’ sharpest comments were always directed toward the politically and religiously powerful. He was by his very nature the ultimate spokesman for the marginal, down-trodden and on the edges of our society. He spoke for those who had not voice of their own. So, shouldn’t we expect Jesus’ church to carry on that task? To me the answer is a very emphatic “YES”, but sadly that just doesn’t seem to be the case.
It greatly saddens me to see the radical right political agenda so often espoused by many evangelical fundamentalists is being perceived to be the voice of the church. It total dumbfounds me how that came to be! Why were so many in this group so adamantly against providing healthcare to those who cannot afford it on their own? Why are so many in this group so enthusiastic toward the Ryan/Republican budget that balances the budget on the backs of the poor instead of taking it out of our bloated war-machine budgets?
I have a very strong belief that if Jesus were to return to us today he would have even stronger comments directed towards the politically and religiously powerful of today. Why aren’t they carrying the mantel for those on the margins of our society?
Another thing the church of today seems to almost totally lack is a sense of humor. I think Jesus was a pretty fun-loving guy who could give and take a joke. He means for us to joyfully live out our lives as he taught us. He would be disappointed that his church is more in the mode of hunkering down against the big bad world than engaging it full-on as he did. Even if it does poke fun at him once in a while.