Saturday, March 8, 2008

Just kidding

Today's topic is irony or sarcasm or whatever variation of having your tongue firmly planted in your cheek appeals to you. It's amazing to me how many people are incapable of it.

Last weekend, at the Ministry Wives retreat, I led a workshop on "Ministry Transitions" and to make things a little more interesting, I delivered my main points under the heading, "How to make change harder than it has to be" with suggestions like "Isolate yourself" and "Complain constantly" and "Refuse to accept the changes for as long as possible." In the first two sessions, the participants just howled--they laughed and interacted with a lot of energy. In the third--remember, same presentation--they sat completely silent with wide, horrified eyes, shaking their heads in disbelief that I was giving such obviously wrong advice. Even after I veered into "It's a joke!" there were no smiles, no signs of recognition that I was being facetious. I changed my approach quickly, but needless to say, it felt like an eternity before the workshop was over.

Last night we watched a wonderfully wickedly ironic movie Thank You for Smoking, directed by the same guy that did Juno. I wonder how many people went to see it and thought it was "awful--just awful!" how they were making light of smoking deaths, not taking a very serious subject seriously. I can imagine moviegoers with their shocked expressions, unable to do anything but take it very literally.

And of course, these same people with their deficient or nonexistent "irony receptors" read Scripture and apply it to their lives (and unfortunately to mine, too) and then we've got fundamentalism on our hands and can't get it off.

1 comment:

Rob said...

I think sometimes people are afraid of some topics, so they're not able to see anything funny about them. They can't laugh about it because they aren't comfortable with their own belief/relationship/attitude/whatever.

There are also some topics where "just kidding" would never be appropriate. Maybe we draw that line at different places. It's one of the dangerous things about being quick with a smart-aleck remark (as I often am). It's pretty easy to hurt people without intending to.

Now, I do agree that there are a whole lot of folks who seem a bit too sensitive to this sort of thing. I need to try to err on their side because I can't figure out how to get them to lighten up.