Why can’t we laugh at ourselves?

Brother Bob & JoshWe take ourselves way too seriously.

Nowhere is the paranoia more obvious than in churches.

I discovered this phenomenon while trying to promote our film, “By the Grace of Bob” over the last year. Those who seem to be most uncomfortable with our film are clergy. One pastor was honest enough to tell me, “I was really uncomfortable watching your film. It depicts the stereotype that I’m not, but that everybody outside my church thinks I am.”

I understand. I spent most of my career as a church staff member. A Baptist church. I was usually quick to point out to a new acquaintance, “But not that kind of Baptist.”

We’ve had such a hard time getting “church folks” to give our film a chance that we pulled it from distribution, gave it a new title, and we’re now re-releasing it as secular entertainment.

(Another “strike” against our film is that it has Muslim and gay characters. If you want to kill the buzz in most churches these days, just mention those two groups. But that’s a topic for another story.)

The film is satire. And if they would give it a chance, our movie could spark some timely and meaningful discussion among people inside the sacred spaces of our land. It could allow religious folks to talk about why those outside their religious bubbles see them as irrelevant at best… and dangerous at worst.

As one astute reviewer noted, “Many films set out to accomplish satire. Unfortunately, some of them aren’t funny at all; others, end up highlighting their mean-spirited critique without ever loving their subject. To walk the fine line of critique and laughs, a film must actually appreciate the thing which it critiques and have a sense of humor. Powers’ film accomplishes that… With humor and challenges for the church. (Jacob Sahms review at Christiancinema.com.)

I’m grateful that Jacob “got it.” I hope more church folks will let down their defenses long enough to have a laugh and join the conversation. God knows we need it.


One thought on “Why can’t we laugh at ourselves?”

  1. A sense of humor requires empathy, the capacity to comprehend, at least, that the “other” exists. And it also requires the ability to look at our own ways without defensiveness. That is hard to do from a bunker.

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