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Knowledge & News
Thought provoking topics and series, necessary news and information.
Collective has kicked off its sermon series titled, Prophets of Comedy. It delves into the idea that comedians are modern day prophets. My job is to give my take on each sermon and featured comedic video. I promise to strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain my responses. I also promise to link the sermon video to the picture above... but we'll see how that goes.
What are Prophets? Prophets are the voice of religious and social protest against economic and political injustice. Comedians seem to identify with this role by continuing the tradition of addressing such injustice and being brutally honest about our weaknesses, which can hit us on both individual and social levels. Comedians operate from what Ben refers to as, "The edge of the inside". They criticize what is a part of them. Well within and well supported by the system, they address the unspoken flaws and fallacies. This method is brilliant. Touching on difficult topics only to send a wash of humor to soothe the burns of truth. After all, insight outweighs offense. Offense being the key word here, prophetic comedy is the thing that breaks through our comfort zone. It most often triggers our offense, but that's what makes it stick. You are not alone in this. Offense is communal and so is humor.
I like my comedy much like I like my coffee, the darker the better. My relationship with a routine is often contingent upon the subject being addressed. I don't have to identify with it, but I have to be able to understand it. All comedians are different. We see different backgrounds, beliefs, and delivery. But the thing most seem to agree on is bullshit. Comedians love to call bullshit on bullshit. They do it like it's their job. And much like prophets, it is. Society is riddled with bullshit, both sly and abrupt. Lucky for us, comedians are here to check under the hood of almost any action and find its flaws.
This week's video was a call to bullshit by Jon Stewart. Stewart is both funny and honest as he looks straight into the camera and delivers his truth. It reminded me of a much shorter rendition of Harry Frankfurt's On Bullshit. Both on the topic of distinguishing bullshit and the flavors it comes in. Stewart and Frankfurt stress that the cure for bullshit is vigilance. This means that by keeping our eyes peeled and our nostrils flared, we are able to detect it and stop it at the source.
Beyond bullshit, Ben makes connections between old prophets and modern comedians by discussing nationalism, which is supported in early books of the bible that claim that Israel is supremely chosen. These ideals have clearly seeped into our current culture through mediums of being lucky and Irish, owning an "I am better than you thanks to my birthplace" bumper sticker, and the beloved, "God bless America" which translates to "God bless ourselves". Comedians and prophets alike rebuke such exclusionary claims. And this is only one example, making it clear that the resemblances are uncanny.
Comedy cultivates the contemplative awareness that prophecy does, and the Collective team does an excellent job of proving just that. After hearing this service I felt both more aware and more inclined to take in comedy. To laugh at the flaws and soak in the truth, because these topics are the things we need to hear the most and comedy may be the most effective way to absorb it. This series is intriguing to say the least, and identifying the prophets of our time to be comedians is no casual argument. Yet, Collective has led me to believe this to be true. Holding on to the knowledge I now have, I urge you to listen to comedians, swallow your offense, laugh at their humor, and assist them in their quest to call bullshit.
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We value highly the metaphor of journey. We’re different people from different places and backgrounds, representing an intergenerational community, and we’ve traveled different paths. So, we agree not to make assumptions about the person across from us, next to us, or in conversation with us. We challenge ourselves to be sensitive, knowing this community includes a diverse group of people from life-long followers of Jesus, to people who are just now open to the idea that God might exist. We strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain our responses. We don’t assume fluency in bible, spirituality, or Church language, because we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity. So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace.
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