Consider these words from Presbyterian minister and author, Frederick Buechner, from his book Telling the Truth: the Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale:
The Gospel is bad news before it is good news. It is the news that man is a sinner, to use the old word, that he is evil in the imagination of his heart, that when he looks in the mirror all in a lather what he sees is at least eight parts chicken, phony, slob. That is the tradegy. But it is also the news that he is loved anyway, cherished, forgiven, bleeding to be sure, but also bled for. That is comedy. And yet, forgiven when the very mark and substance of his sin and of his slobbery is that he keeps turning down the love and forgiveness because he either doesnn’t believe them or doesn’t want them or just doesn’t give a damn? In answer, the news of the Gospel is that extraordinary things happen. Henry Ward Beecher cheats on his wife, his God, himself, but manages to keep on bringing the Gospel to life for people anyway, maybe even for himself. Lear goes berserk on a heath but comes out of it for a few brief hours every inch a king. Zaccheus climbs up a sycamore tree a crook and climbs down a saint. Paul sets out a hatchet man for the Pharisees and comes back a fool for Christ. It is impossible for anybody to leave behind the darkness of the world he carries on his back like a snail, but for God all things are possible. That is fairy tale. All together they are the truth.
And again from chapter 1:
From the DVD jacket:
In this new comedy… comedian and TV host Bill Maher takes a pilgrimage across the globe on a mind-opening journey into the ultimate taboo: questioning religion. Meeting the high and low from different religions, Maher simply asks questions, like “Why is faith good?” “Why doesn’t an all-powerful God speak to us directly?” and “How can otherwise rational people believe in a talking snake?” For anyone who’s even a little spiritually curious, this divine entertainment will deepen your faith…in comedy!
Let’s just say that even from the jacket, it is obvious that there are quite a disparity of opinions being expressed in this “documentary” that comes in the spirit of a Michael Moore film. Bill Maher has quite the abrasive personality that is also darkly engaging. This seems to be at least at some level a personal journey for him. The film starts with a conversation with his mother and is salted with his own experiences in being 50% Catholic and 50% Christian.
In the sacrilegious tradition of Monty Python, here is a new take on the sacrifice of Isaac from the show That Mitchell and Webb Look (BBC – July 16, 2009).
Year One is a film that is resplendent with elements from the book of Genesis. Characters such as Adam, Cain, Able, and Abraham take the screen in settings such as the Garden of Eden complete with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the ancient Canaanite countryside, and the city of Sodom. Yet, don’t get fooled: this is not a Biblical film.
No doubt it would be very easy to criticize this movie and say that it was not accurate and therefore should be boycotted and banned. Recent history has only shown that banning tends to bring attention to the subject of the boycott. So let’s take a different look at it.
Even if you choose not to see the film (which I am certainly not encouraging), it can prove to be an interesting point of conversation with our culture. The arch of the story has the main character (Jack Black) eating of the Tree and ultimately becoming the hero of the story by saving the city of Sodom from a famine as well as gods of all kinds, specifically by proving that he could enter the “holy of holies” and by killing the high priest. The reputation of Sodom in the movie is the same as that of Sodom in the Bible, which is prized as a proper and worthy way to live.