I wanted so badly to like Dogma.
If you haven’t seen it before, the movie is a comedy about a Catholic abortion clinic worker who is chosen by God to stop two fallen angels from exploiting a loophole and reentering heaven. If I could be a fan of this thing, I would be the hip Christian who thinks the movie that makes fun of his faith actually brings up some interesting and helpful points. But, try as I might, I just couldn’t like it.
For me, the movie failed not because it was sacrilegious, but because it was poorly executed. Sure, there were some bright spots (the Buddy Christ scene is both hilarious and very telling of parts of the church today, even in a movie over 10 years old) but those were outweighed by bad acting and unimaginative lowbrow humor.
The fact of the matter is “sacrilegious” humor doesn’t really bother me. In the past few years, I’ve even found myself drawn to humor that pokes fun at Christians. While we’ve been getting better and better about this recently, I think there’s still a tendency among Christians to instantly recoil any time someone starts telling a joke and we find ourselves at the punchline.
Maybe I’m just trying too hard to laugh with the people poking fun of me, but there’s a part of me that thinks this sort of humor can even be beneficial. In many cases, humor is able to provide us with an unfiltered, exaggerated view of things. So when Christianity is joked about by people from outside the church, we’re able to see this perspective blown up on a projector screen with no attempt to be nice or hide flaws or anything. At this point we can look closely and ask ourselves, “How much of this is valid? How much of this is something I can fix? How much of this is something I should fix?”
I do realize it’s possible to go overboard trying to maintain the public image of Christianity. There are things about this faith that, no matter how we dress them up, are going to be unattractive to lots of people today. Obsessing over how those things look to outsiders is ultimately a practice that accomplishes very little. But I do think it’s a little irresponsible not to stop every now and then and do a little image maintenance.
Question of the Week
How do you usually respond when you hear jokes about Christians and Christianity?