- Say Goodnight Kevin’s “Say Movie Night” – A YouTube show all about reviewing Christian movies, especially with the idea of making fun of the bad ones.
- Stand ups like Tim Hawkins who make fun of a lot of funny things about church culture
- Movies like Believe Me (which make fun of the idiosyncrasies of Evangelical culture)
- Or Shooting the Prodigal and Christian Movie (which both make fun of Christian movies themselves).
- Heaven Bound (making fun of cliché evangelization methods and phrases)
- And satire websites like The Babylon Bee, a parody news site making fun of everything from famous pastors, to cell phones going off in church
Don’t get me wrong, I laugh with some of these shows and comedians too. In fact, Kevin of Say Goodnight Kevin is a friend of mine. But I just wonder if after spotting issues in Christian media, we have done nothing to repair them. Instead we’ve just made fun of them.
I think it’s important that people learn to be able to laugh at themselves, both the funny things we each do ourselves, and the funny things we do as groups. I think as Christopher Green, I do some silly things I can laugh at. As a Canadian, I think Canada does some funny things worth laughing at too. The same goes for aspects of Christian culture.
The thing about "relatable" comedy is, it touches on something true. When someone talks about stereotypes of Canadians saying “Eh?” or frequently apologizing, we laugh, because we know those stereotypes are true. Neither of those stereotypes are bad things, but when we laugh about things we do that we should work on (like poking fun at poor quality productions) it may be funny for a short time, but then you can’t help but wonder if we’re just being mean, especially if we’re not out there making great productions ourselves.
It can be easy to make fun of a movie like God’s Not Dead for cliché moments, or fun of certain worship artists for repetative lyrics, but have we done anything to make it better, or have we just made ourselves feel superior by being able to spot the problems?
Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt once said:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt
A criticism which doesn’t offer a way to improve something, will feel like an assault. I don’t think it’s any of the aforementioned comedians goal to attack people, but to point out things they find funny. That’s fine, but where do we cross the line between “laughing with” our brothers and sisters and “laughing at” our brothers and sisters?
As someone who creates “Christian media” too, I feel bad for the people putting themselves on the line, investing money into projects, and end up having them criticized by Christians. I feel Christians of all people should be encouraging, not mocking. Will every piece of art be a gem? No. Should we “praise” bad work? No. We shouldn’t “praise” good work either. Praise if for God alone. But we should encourage each other in a loving way. We should come along side each other, and if we see an area an artist could genuinely improve, we should pray and check our attitudes first to see if we’re just nit picking, and if we’re not, then we should suggest positive improvements to artists, in a loving way.
We should follow the Bible’s advice in 1 Thessalonians 5:11-14.
Therefore encourage and build one another up, just as you are already doing. But we ask you, brothers, to acknowledge those who work diligently among you, who preside over you in the Lord and give you instruction. In love, hold them in highest regard because of their work. Live in peace with one another. And we urge you, brothers, to admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient with everyone.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:11-14