A few weekends ago a series of thunderstorms confined me to the house. I had no indoors chores and didn’t feel like writing or reading, so I watched a rented DVD “mockumentary” about religion by a professional comedian and “political commentator.”
In spite of the interviewer’s coarse language and “over the top” arrogance, the film offered some funny moments.
We human beings have an amazing capacity for complacency and self-delusion, and it isn’t surprising that we sometimes use religion for those ends. Extreme examples of religious foolishness, self-righteousness, and hypocrisy ARE funny…in a sad way.
But the mocking interviewer never acknowledged that all people of faith aren’t like the examples in his mockumentary. Nor did he acknowledge-or even seem aware-that foolishness, self-righteousness, and hypocrisy are often completely unrelated to religion.
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” (Lu 6:41-42 RSV)
He also gave a severe warning against judgmentalism:
“”You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.” (Mt 5:21-22 RSV)
A mocker feels justified in scorning the foolishness, self-righteousness and hypocrisy of other people only because he ignores his own. (Proverbs 9:7-8; 13:1; 14:6; 15:12) Maybe that’s why the best way to respond to an inveterate mocker is to turn the cheek. (Matthew 5:39)