What's Love Got to do with it?

What if we've missed the point? What if Love Wins is enough? And why Rob Bell may just be right.

Right On our doorstep

Think that slavery is a thing of the past? Think that the UK is too civilised to be part of trafficking? Think again

5 reasons why being married to Brit is great (or 5 reasons to marry an American)

5 things you will never know until you marry an American

Masturbation Month

Giving up masturbation for a month. Why we need to save the kittens.

XXXchurch! Whaaa?

Why I love porn (ministries).

31 May 2010

Its always funny until someone gets hurt then its just hilarious A Comical rant

I love comedy. It's funny how much I love comedy actually.

You see I just made a joke. I used a word (i.e. funny) that is synonymous with comedy to describe my feeling about humour and all its connotations.

OK it wasn't the best joke ever, but it was still a joke. You can't deny that. Or maybe a joke to be defined as a joke must have at its very core one simple element...it needs to be funny. And since most people won't have found my joke funny would not then label it as a joke. So me referring to it as a joke in that previous sentence was a lie and so you can't trust anything I write and should therefore stop reading this right now.

But that's the thing about comedy. Everyone is different. Everyone has different tastes. Some people think the Office (UK version) is funny. Other don't (I like to call them idiots). Some people think Laurel and Hardy are funny. Others prefer Abbot and Costello. Some people are offended by shows like Brass Eye. Others see past the controversial topics and focus on what the show is trying to tell us. Some people think a joke is enhanced by the f word. Others think it is unneccessary.

But the thing that is true about all comedy is that it will either make you laugh or it won't.

But are there lines that we shouldn't cross? Or is every topic fair game?

I am going to admit right now that I love dark humour. I love jokes where you go "ooooooooh" after. I love Brass Eye. I love Blue Jam. I love Curb Your Enthusiasm. I love people like Ricky Gervais and Frankie Boyle. I love comedians that have balls to say something they know will be offensive. I heard Ricky Gervais say once in an interview with Larry David that sometimes comedians just have to say things and not worry about the reaction.

Part of me likes that. I like the risk that entails. 

But all this talk about what is appropriate to laugh at leads to an important question.

How should our faith and beliefs affect what we laugh at?

A few years ago a huge controversy arose after a cartoon of Mohammed appeared in a Danish publication. Many Muslims were outraged and offended by it and maybe they had a right to be.

But what about Christians? This made me think. How are we supposed to react to jokes that poke fun at God or Jesus? Is the Life of Brian OK to watch? What about the recurring jokes about Jesus in Family Guy?

A lot of Christians find this stuff offensive. And that's OK. Really it is. We should be free to air our opinions on all sorts of topics, including humour. But what about jokes that make fun of gay people or people with disabilities. I know a lot of Christians that use the word 'gay' as a derogatory word for things. Similarly many use the word 'retarded' to describe situations that they find twisted.

I know Christians who have laughed at and made jokes at the expense of certain people e.g. homosexuals.

Is this OK? Isn't there some sort of upside down logic when on one hand we are offended by jokes made about a Divine God who let's face it can take it, and on the other hand make fun of groups of people who have been marginalised. Is this dare I say it, a form of bullying? Is this what Jesus was about? 

And maybe the problem is that we just have a hard time laughing at ourselves. Maybe if we took the time to look at the absurdities of Religion and Christianity we wouldn't be so quick to be offended by others making fun of us. Maybe, just maybe we would see what others see and it would make us consider how we react to them. Maybe when comedians make fun of Christianity they have a point.

Christians have a history of being offended. We are good at it. What we aren't so good at is always loving our enemies. Sure some jokes about Religion are maybe too close to the bone and we shouldn't laugh at them. But how we react is where we can really have an impact. What would happen if instead of being offended all the time we instead looked at some of our practices and flaws and realised just how absurd they are.

Maybe there are things that are just not appropriate for Christians to laugh at. But maybe those things aren't so much jokes about Christianity but jokes against people who we should be standing up for.

Should we be offended at jokes about God and then turn around and laugh at jokes about gay people? Of course not. 

Which is why I am glad for people like Jon Acuff and Tripp and Tyler. People who aren't afraid to poke fun at our Christian bubble. People, who instead of going on the defensive are joining in and highlighting our faults through humour.

Maybe by doing that we can change Christianity for the better. Being offended so much pushes others who are outside of Christianity away. It alienates them and means we put up our barriers even further when others laugh at us.

So we go out sometimes and offend.

Which is hurtful.

And that's just not funny.

27 May 2010

What we hope for

A few days ago a pretty monumental thing happened. The LRA Recovery and Northern Uganda Recovery Act was finally passed in the House of representatives. Two days ago it passed onto President Obama's desk where he signed it and made it law that the US government will have to take action to end Joseph Kony's reign of terror.
If you have ever read my blog you will know that this is something I care deeply about. For decades, children have been abducted from their homes and forced to fight and kill in the name of a crazy man who has no real agenda other than ruining lives for his own power. I got involved a couple years ago when my girlfriend and I sat down to watch the Invisible Children movie- The Rough Cut.
It moved us so much and we knew we had to help. We had to get the word out. Neither of us had known that this was going on and we knew most of our friends didn't either.
Last April we were involved with the Rescue. An Invisible Children event where we camped out in Dublin to show we were one with the Child Soldiers. We waited to be 'rescued'. We waited on Politicians and media figures to stand alongside us. We waited with hundreds and thousands of others in cities around the world. In New York, London, San Diego, Mexico City, Sydney.
Most of us were rescued pretty quickly. We stood alongside each other. Kids all over the world standing together for something big and important. But some still waited. In Chicago they waited and waited.
And waited.
For a week kids slept out on the streets in Chicago demanding to be rescued. No matter where we were in the world we were united with Chicago. The internet meant all of us could plead for Oprah Winfrey to stand up and declare her support and therefore 'release' the kids in Chicago. We tweeted and facebooked our socks off.
Eventually it happened. It took a while but Oprah stood up and her voice meant the kids in Chicago's voices could be heard. And this meant that the Kids in Northern Uganda could have their voices heard also.
And in this past week this voice has reached all the way to the White House.
It was pretty special to be involved with. Something I will never forget.
When you are united with people you have never met and have a common interest and a common goal it can be one of the most thrilling things. You feel like you are alive. Nothing can stop you. You are changing the world together and there is a high involved that no drug can come close to achieving.
Maybe this all sounds cliched and hard to understand but maybe you need to experience this sort of thing. Maybe when you have put your heart into something so important and joined with people all over the world to end injustice you will understand.
But the problem is that it never lasts.
That high quickly disappears. Maybe it is exhaustion. But sooner or later life goes back to normal. There is still work to do of course but sometimes that work is a bit more boring and mundane. Just as important but maybe not quite as exciting. It takes real commitment to stick at it.
And this is my problem. I lost interest. I stopped checking to see what the latest was in the Congo and in Northern Uganda. I stopped educating myself and getting involved. It's not that I didn't care anymore but it wasn't as exciting.
This happens a lot in life. You go to a concert and singing along with hundreds or even thousand of other people and it's awesome. Then you go home and go to History first period the next day at school (no offense History geeks). Or you go to a huge Christian event and you are united with everyone there and and you feel like you could change the world for God. Then you come home and look at porn at 3am and feel worthless again.
It's hard to keep that high going.
And maybe that's alright. Not all of us are called to work for Invisible Children full time. Just because we go back to the normality of life we shouldn't forget that our participation was important. This isn't about feeling guilty. It's about perseverance.
After Jesus had died I'm sure it was pretty tough for the disciples. Everything they thought they understood was taken away. But then Jesus came alive and he appeared to the disciples. Their response was what you would expect.
Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. Luke 24:52,53
It must have felt as natural as breathing to worship Jesus in that moment. This was what they had been waiting for. Jesus fulfilling exactly what he had been talking about the whole time. They were united with each other and Jesus. It must have been the best feeling in the world. Jesus had just told them to go out and change the world and they were ready. What a feeling that must have been.
Then in Mark 16 Jesus lets them know what he wants them to do.
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." 
When Jesus asked them to go out and spread the word he wasn't naive. He knew that it would be tough. He knew there would be times they would feel like giving up and going home. But he promises them that they will do amazing things. Important things.
Things like healing.
Things like letting someone know they are loved.
Things like helping release Child Soldiers.
The disciples didn't get it all easy after Jesus left them physically. They had it extremely tough at times. But they had a hope that it would all be worth it. That they weren't pursuing peace or justice for nothing. So they kept going until it quite literally killed them.
And the great thing is we are in the same place. We aren't any different. We have jobs to do. We have people to love and injustices to overturn.
Sure it might get mundane at times. We might need a breather. We will definatley need to be reinspired.
But there is a hope that it will be worthwhile that keeps driving us.
The most important thing that Invisible Children has taught me is that none of us are unimportant. That if we keep going we will get there. it happened this week. It took all of us. But there is definatley a lot of work to do. This is not the end. It's just the beginning. But we have come this far. And it has been worth every minute.
So whether you are a Parent, or a teacher, an activist or even the President of the United States.
Keep focusing on the hope that your work is worthwhile.
You might not be able to see the results yet.
But they are there.
And if you keep going.
then soon enough the Invisible will become the Visible.


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