Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The Bird Bible: 'Saturday Night Live' Gets It -- Do the People Doing It?

We don't have television to watch SNL, but with that disclaimer, they had an interesting sketch last Saturday.  It's obvious some of the folks at SNL understand what's going on in evangelicalism and fundamentalism.  In other words, they get it.  First, I'll let you watch, if you haven't seen it already.

Some might be upset with the writers and actors/comedians there.  I'm not endorsing it all.  I'm just saying they nailed it.  This is how obvious contextualization is in evangelicalism and fundamentalism.

Is SNL mocking Christianity?  I don't think so in this case.  I have a highly sensitive Christianity-being-mocked nerve, and it wasn't engaging.  It's very fine-tuned, so it would.  I was already to get really, really angry when I saw this posted somewhere else, but I watched it and I saw that SNL wasn't mocking Christianity.  Don't get me wrong, I do think they were making a joke out of a big part of Christianity, a major part of it.  Unfortunately, it is a joke.

What SNL was making fun of was the strategies that Christians use to make Christianity interesting to its professing adherents.  It opens with two boys sitting while one of them reads the Bible.  That's obvious. He's reading from the Old Testament.  The younger boy gives up very early and walks away.  Instead of being bored with the Bible, instead of losing the interest of others who don't find it very interesting, make it entertaining.

SNL chose to use a Bird Bible.  They could have used a lot of things to show how silly almost all of evangelicalism and most of fundamentalism has become.  If you don't like the Bible, turn it into something people do like -- birds.  Do I need to go further explaining?

If the Bible is the truth and it is authoritative for our life, and it is God speaking, we don't need to turn it into a form of entertainment to enjoy it.  And yet that is what a huge majority of churches have done with many different aspects of church.  They have done this kind of thing already to the Bible, but instead of losing friends (as the SNL cast dad says to his stage son), just turn it into something people will like.  It's not good enough on its own, so morph it, contextualize it, make it acceptable to various crowds -- in this case, people who like birds.

You want Christianity for an urban crowd, give them their gospel in hip-hop and rap.  Certainly explain that there is no dress code.  Everyone is tolerated, and it will all be a lot of fun.  You don't like it for what it really is -- that's obvious.  So turn it into something else.  That Moses story is a bit too much to take, David cutting off Goliath's head.  It will go down much easier if it is found in bird pictures.

Would birds work?  Maybe.  But the point is, of course birds wouldn't work, except they will.  It's silly.  But hey, if you're desperate enough to make something look good, that you think doesn't, then why not?  Sky is the limit (no pun intended).  Birds represent the idea that you can just fill in the blank.  Go anywhere with it, just as long as it works.

Towards the end, the boy complains that the wisemen should be owls.  His dad corrects him, tells him just to let it be what it is.  Why is that funny?  It's funny because the whole book has taken something and made it into something else.  The Bird Bible doesn't let the Bible itself be what it is, so why not make the wisemen to be owls.

The way people apply scripture today is just like the Bird Bible.  Does the Bible say it's wrong?  No.  Does the Bible say you can't do this?  No.  So that means you can.  Silence is permission.  Most of Christianity thinks this way today.  And none of it means anything, because nothing means anything any more, well, except being a success, and making sure that your friends don't walk away from you when you say you're going to do the Bible.

If you oppose even something worse than what this fictional family has done, then you are the bigot and the unchristian person.  This is where we're at today.   Oh, and notice how it costs 800 dollars.  That's a little shot at Jesus Junk.  It's just another way for Christians to sell Christianity like anything else, in order to make merchandise of its followers and its potential followers.  It's a modern day version of a moneychanger.  SNL gets it.

Saturday Night Live can see through what Christians can't.  What's with the Christians?  How could they be so blinded?  Think about that.

I've thought about putting a parody of some of the churches in our area in our marketplace.  Their ads are akin to the Bird Bible.   I've wondered if we mocked those churches in an ad, like they actually do churches of the more traditional variety, whether that might get people's attention.  But then, I thought, that might be doing exactly what they're doing.

My favorite part is when the mom asks, "Do you see how they are all birds?"  It's a joke, but only because people really are that stupid.  "Uh, no, I didn't see that.  Good point.  Now I love the Bible!"  Um, no.

And, oh, by the way, since SNL says it -- they's celebrities -- it must be true.  It goes down easier when a celebrity, or a bird, says it.


Doulos said...

"Truth in the strangest places" indeed.

And this truth correlates nicely with the truth in your "Cleverness" post methinks.

Gary Webb said...

I really am impressed with the insight of this SNL skit. I wonder if guys like Chuck Swindol will even understand the skit?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks for the comments.

I'm surprised there hasn't been a bigger reaction in evangelicalism at least in the skit -- pro or con. If they support, it's right back in their eyes, and if they are against, then they're uncomfortable being nailed to the wall. With such a lose-lose, no reaction.

d4v34x said...

Is it too much to hope that the lack of reaction is due to multitudes of leaders forsaking their keyboards for sackcloth and ashes? Probably.

Woe unto us who have made such a mockery of the Christian faith that the world need no longer do it.

Don Johnson said...

Since I am in the True North, I am not allowed to watch your video clip. Oh well, maybe not missing much??

Your comments remind me of something I just read. I am reading Allan Harman's excellent little biography of Matthew Henry. He has this paragraph describing Henry's approach as a commentator:

"In approaching Holy Scripture, Matthew Henry believed that we have to come to it recognising [sic] that it is indeed the Word of God, and treat it as such. 'Seriousness' or 'solemnity' has to be the characteristic that marks our attitude to the text of the Bible." (p. 167)

Thought you might like that.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Kent Brandenburg said...

Nice quote, Don. It's true.

Doulos said...

"If you like to talk to tomatoes...if a squash can make you smile...if you like to waltz with potatoes...up and down the produce aiiiiiiisle...have we got a show for you!"

Maybe, d4, they are indeed considering their ways and their purses. Maybe.

From this article though
it looks like we can't even interpret the obvious theme in the skit, much less, repent.

Until then, we'll keep being clever and getting our theology from produce departments and pirate ships.