I am always the last to discover cool and interesting things. Hat tip to Facebook friend Beverly Emond for helping me deduct one more dollar from my Shameful Ignorance account by introducing me to Mr. Deity.
Mr. Deity is a brilliant and hilarious series of satirical shorts on YouTube that proves once again that comedy beats the keeeey-rap out of every other means of enlightenment.
We think of comedy as entertainment, which is about like saying sex is exercise. Sure, comedy’s fun, but it also reveals the truth more head-top-removingly than any argument could — especially when the purveyor has his head on straight. In the case of satire, that means understanding and, if you can manage it, empathizing with your targets. Brian Keith Dalton, the creator and star of Mr. Deity, does both, and we get the benefit.
Wanna grapple with the Problem of Evil? You can read volumes of treatises and apologia on theodicy and the Epicurean paradox. Or you can watch this:
You can lunch with Benedict XVI for a week to explore substitutionary atonement — the idea that one person can atone for the sins of another — and the dual nature of Christ. Or you can watch this:
And you can ponder and argue how and whether God answers prayers, and the implications of the conclusions you reach. Or you can watch Bruce Almighty, a smart and worthwhile comedy. Or watch this:
I know why these things soar the way they do here. Dalton is uncovering inconsistencies and problems and nonsense, but he is not sneering. He gets religious belief, empathizes with it, respects the impulse, even though he doesn’t share the conclusions. That’s essential to the comedy. My own religious satire falls flattest when I am least understanding of my targets and soars highest (imho) when I get where they’re coming from — because the latter is more likely to be rooted in the truth.
This from Mr. Deity’s FAQ:
I am a formerly religious person (non-bitter), and as such, have great sympathies for the beliefs and feelings of religious people. I love the fact that they are concerned with the big issues like Good and Evil, Existence, Creation, etc… I don’t always agree with the answers they provide to these questions, but I deeply respect their concern. Our goal here is not to mock religion, but to use it as a foundation for the humor. I’m thrilled that so many religious people have written to tell me that they love the episodes. In future episodes, I intend to turn the tables a bit and poke fun at what I call the “angry atheists” (of whom I am not fond). We’ll see if they take it so well.
As for his implied question….
We’ll see if the [angry atheists] take it so well [as religious folks have]
…with a few notable exceptions, I’m not even one tiny bit optimistic.