Is the Death of Satire a Thing?

by | Sep 21, 2016 | Josh Sommer

 

There aren’t many things funnier than a good satire piece.

Sites like Babylon Bee, Chorus in the Chaos, and even The Onion have probably made all of us laugh at some point.

Satire continues to be hilarious for those of us who recognize absurdity when we see it. That’s what satire is, absurdity. It’s essentially a made up article which exaggerates truth to such an absurd level that it’s actually hilarious.

The problem is is that the absurdity is becoming real.

Sites like the Babylon Bee have even been criticized because people thought they were reporting true stories and then making fun of those involved. Twenty years ago no one would ever question whether or not these stories were real or fake. People would’ve laughed until sundown because it would’ve been obvious.

But now, in our day, it’s getting harder to separate the humorous makebelieve from the scary truth.

Satire Becomes Real

I have read things in satire which are becoming more and more real everyday. For instance, we could compare Babylon Bee’s piece on Elevation Church installing a water slide to be used for baptisms and the church which actually has a rodea inside the sanctuary on Sundays. I don’t know which one is worse, the rodeo or the slide. But the most ridiculous part about it –– one is actually real.

We could look at a second, more recent, example like Chorus’s “Man’s Faith Completely Undone Due to Flying Spaghetti Monster Argument”. There are actually atheists out there who think it’s intellectually stable to invent a false god called the ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’ and set it over against Christian theism. What’s worse is that there are Christians who can’t answer this argument and may actually think it’s valid. Thus, we have another instance wherein goofy fiction meets reality.

Does This Spell the Death of Satire?

Well, for some it certainly does. Those people in the actual real stories may have a hard time taking satire with a grain of salt, let alone in a humorous way. The rodeo church, to be consistent, would probably have no problem with a water slide baptismal, and many atheists certainly may object to the fact that the spaghetti monster argument is absolutely stupid. So, for some, the art of satire is definitely over, I’m sure.

However, as I mentioned above, those of us with a truly Christian worldview can still thoroughly enjoy the art of satire.

Heck, one of the funniest satire websites online right now is Babylon Bee, a Christian creation!

What explains this ability to enjoy satire which is a consistent characteristic of the Christian worldview?

The explanation resides in the fact that we recognize the Christian God as the creator of all things physical and abstract. We believe in moral objectivity as well as a biblical pattern for our lives. We can then make a distinction between what is ridiculously chaotic and what is in line with objective reality.

All people, I would submit, have a sense of this which is suppressed in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18-21). This suppression leads to this unbelievable match-up we see between satire and reality.

The Satire Safe-Haven

Christianity has a worldview which consistently allows for satire and is able to consistently distinguish it from reality. Satire includes reality, but it also includes punctuated elements which add to the humor of it all. For instance, a baptismal font is normal, and it is proper according to Scripture. But a water slide into the baptismal font is absolutely unheard of and ridiculous which makes it all the more funny.

Without a Christian worldview, these types of distinctions, between reality and possible absurd reality, cannot consistently be made. In other words, it makes sense for an atheist to think the spaghetti monster is a rational response to Christianity because his idea of rationality is actually irrational since he suppresses the truth about God and God’s objective reality.

On the other hand, a church who hosts a rodeo in the sanctuary has stepped off from a biblical pattern of worship, and no longer uses that as their standard. Therefore, to have a rodeo in a church is really consistent with their belief about the role of Scripture (or lack thereof) in worship.

It’s the truly Christian worldview which consistently allows for satire. Only in this way may satire live.

Otherwise, the art is dead.

Co-founder, editor, and contributor of The Reformed Collective. He is a member and pastoral intern at Word of Life Baptist Church, Kansas City, MO. He has co-coordinated the evangelism ministry at Grace Bible Church in San Diego, CA. At present he is pursuing a B.A. in Biblical Studies as well as an M. Div. He currently resides in Overland Park, KS with his wife, Christina.