I’d never heard of Reuben Kaye until yesterday, but the shock value of Kaye’s ‘joke’ clearly fell flat across the country. The comment was more like a drunken Uncle misbehaving at a wedding reception: unpleasant, not funny, and kind of embarrassing.
I missed the great offence as I’m not a viewer of Channel 10’s The Project. I’ve since gone back and watched the 15 seconds of stinging jocularity. Yes, it was pretty offensive and yes, it was pretty unoriginal.
I’ve grown in an Australia where snide remarks and jokes at the expense of Christians are a common pastime. A lot of the comments may lack the deliberate bite that Kaye offered, but our political representatives regularly deride Christian beliefs, and so do teachers and university lecturers, and our mates on the sporting grounds. Christians have long been easy pickings for public insult. After all, what does it cost someone to crack a joke about Jesus or the church? Nothing If anything, you’re likely to win more adulation than less.
Let’s admit, there are some Christians whose behaviour probably deserves a few words of humour.
And yet, on this occasion, it seems as though people realised that there exists a line and Reuben Kaye had crossed it. I’m sure that the same joke will garner claps and cheers in the local comedy clubs, but there was something about adding sexual innuendo to Jesus’ death on a national television program that didn’t sit well.
Are we experiencing a conflict of conscience? Australians want to mock Christianity and yet we’re also taught to respect alternate views. After all, the media steers well away from mocking certain religions, so why should targeting Christians be allowed?
I’ve gone back and watched the clip in question, and yes, Reuben Kaye’s attempt to put down Christianity yet again, fell flat. I wonder why?
Insulting Christians is as original as crucifixion and as old as the Bible. That’s the sad irony about mocking the death of Jesus. Far from standing over the Christian faith with comedic judgment, you’re simply following the crowd who were present that day and jeering Jesus as he died. It wasn’t comedy, it was spite.
Luke’s Gospel records the so-called comedic hour at the crucifixion of Jesus,
“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Attacking the cross is little more than a pale copy of what the Romans did. The first Christian knew it was a symbol of shame and disgust. The Greek intellectuals happily pointed out how absurd it was to consider the cross as an act of Divine love and redemption. But this foolishness turned out to be the answer that the world so desperately needs.
The attempted humour was offensive but that’s par of the course. It is important for the 6 Christians who watch The Project, and for the rest of us, to respond in a manner that matches how Jesus turned insult into grace. Don’t get fired up. Don’t write angry emails to Channel 10. Avoid spitting on your iPhone as you send that tweet.
“Blessed are meek…Blessed are the merciful…Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me”
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
The Apostle Paul writes,
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (Romans 12:14)
The Project co-presenters, Waleed Aly and Sarah Harris, have since offered a public apology. While never watching The Project I often read Waleed’s opinion pieces in the newspaper. His writing is thoughtful and worth consideration. I have no reason to doubt the genuineness of their apology. Thank you. We accept.
So if anyone is thinking about protesting outside Channel 10 today, maybe give it a miss and instead take a few minutes to share with someone why this cross of jokes is in fact more remarkable than they realise.