Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Wondering about the Babylon Bee: Do we need satire?

I love The Onion. When I was a newspaper publisher and editor I loved reading the headlines and laughing at how closely the writers of that satirical newspaper came to making their fake headlines seem almost real. It takes skill and nuance to consistently produce satire, and often there are just as many misses as there are hits with less talented writers and humorists.

When the Babylon Bee, a satirical Christian digital newspaper, came out, I loved it. The writers are hilarious and consistently produce nearly true or could be true headlines almost every day. I've quoted the Bee a few times, always admiringly. I mean, who doesn't laugh at these satire news headlines?
  • Sermon On Tithing Moves Congregation To Commit 10% Of Their Attention...
  • Megachurch Apologizes After Statement Of Faith Found On Its Website
  • Local Man Waiting For Second Person To Gather So Jesus Can Show Up
  • New Journaling Bible To Eliminate Scriptural Text Entirely
All those are hilarious takes on the foibles and issues facing Christians today. The Bee takes on Christian Living, Church Life, Theology, Megachurches, Politics...no sphere is sacred and all have been lampooned. Most, devastatingly so.

However, I've had a growing sense of dismay over the Bee's existence these last few months. Recently I posted this on The End Time Facebook Page:

"The Babylon Bee (BB) is an American Christian satirical news media outlet. African News Updates (ANU) is an African news AND satire outlet. All of the BB is satire. Some of the ANU site presents real news and some of it is satire, but they're labeled. The top story is from the Babylon Bee, posted July 19, and is satire. The bottom story is from African News Updates, posted July 14 and is NOT satire. It's real news and it's horrible."
"The two stories are not related...except for the fact that visible Christianity is getting so ridiculous it's hard to tell when it's fake and when it's real. I say "visible Christianity" because the true church is always beautiful in God's eyes."



And that is the issue. The world of Christianity is so wayward today that many of the satires on the Babylon Bee could actually be happening. And so, many people post and re-post them as actual. I was thinking about this issue a great deal but was unsure how to approach my thoughts which had not yet coalesced.

Then I came across the Wretched Daily Clip from Todd Friel, which mentioned this exact issue before moving on to explain the theology. Friel said,
Several people also sent me an article, and I have to confess to you that it's tragic that they did...not that they themselves are the tragedy, but because we are living in a world right now where this could be possible...the headline is about a megachurch that debuts a water slide baptismal.
I thought it was sad that people had sent in the article as a truthful article with the statements of, 'shucks, what is the world coming to, Todd?' More and more people believe the Babylon Bee articles are real, because as Friel said, it is possible. Outlandish is no longer outlandish. The ridiculous is the new normal. An entire generation of youth have grown up with the kind of Christianity the Bee lampoons, who don't know it's wrong.

My concern in writing a blog has always been to produce clarity, provoke thought, and of course, exalt God. My fear has always been that I would instead be adding to the general confusion. My grief would be to write something that leads someone astray.

So today my question is, do we need a Babylon Bee? Does the Babylon Bee exalt God? Provoke thought? Promote clarity? Or does it add to the general confusion? I submit that it does the latter.

Not that clarity, thought, and exaltation are the only 'good' in Christianity. Humor and laughter are fine. I'm not a fuddy duddy. However, my own opinion is that we are so far gone that the sting of a Bee is lost on a crowd that believes its stories to be real. In 1950, I could envision that a media outlet such as the Babylon Bee would immediately be seen as satire. Pastors wore suits and ties, preached from the Bible and not from anecdotes, didn't arrive on a zipline, didn't have a smoke machine, and were intentional about their call for their congregation to pursue holiness. Nowadays, not so much.

The sad thing is that the point is made by the end of Friel's 2 minute clip. The satirical waterslide baptism? It turns out that one of his staff members informed Friel that there actually is a church that baptizes their kids in a pool with a fire truck and confetti shoots out of a cannon when the child comes up out of the water.

So...do we need a Babylon Bee?


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Sources:

Wretched Daily Clip

Babylon Bee


7 comments :

  1. Elizabeth,

    Hm, I will have to think on this one. Suffice to say, I agree with you that today's satire pieces are a little too close to reality. Much of what the BB posts could actually be tomorrow's happenings...

    After reading on BR that Stanley's "church" opened "worship" with choreographed 90s boy band routines and Beatles' reviews, and considering what we've seen in the Bible-believing churches our own neck of the woods... coupled with the serious issues/scandals that have befallen evangelicalism lately, I wouldn't be shocked at anything that is coming out of "churches" today.

    In far too many "churches", there is no fear of the Lord. If you're a rare saint who desires holiness, you will be turned on by your "elders".

    Though provoking post. I will still have to chew on it a bit.

    While I may sometimes have a different view than you on certain topics, Elizabeth, you always make me think. I appreciate that.

    -Carolyn

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  2. Elizabeth, after pondering this post all am, I find I am in agreement with you for a complementary reason. The BB satire is no longer funny, because it is too close to reality. The apostasy and compromise in the church today is truly not a laughing matter.

    -Carolyn

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    Replies
    1. ha ha you just summed up what I was trying to say - and so much shorter and better too! Thanks! That's it exactly!!

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    2. Elizabeth, you're welcome. I thank you again for posting this. You made me think. And in doing so, refreshed my love for Jesus.

      -Carolyn

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  3. Scott Alan Buss of Firebreathingchristian.com also has a satire website (http://theendtimes.news) that is very good. Here is his take on the subject.

    http://www.firebreathingchristian.com/archives/13175

    http://theendtimes.news/2016/05/21/mob-of-angry-embarrassed-christians-demand-end-to-all-satire-that-they-cannot-recognize-as-satire/




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  4. John,

    With all due respect to you and SAB, I think you missed Elizabeth's point. Her point is simple - the apostasy that is surrounding us is not a laughing matter, and the satire is not helpful. There is the fact that many things are permissible but they are not necessarily beneficial.

    I will take an educated judgment here, but based on my observations from reading and participating in this blog, Elizabeth is perfectly capable of recognizing satire.

    -Carolyn

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  5. First off, Elizabeth, have no fear about your blog adding to the white noise of Christian confusion: I always find it a model of clarity, very discerning and theologically sound. As for satire, yes, in a world where two men can "marry" or men can Wake up and decide they are women, satirists have their work cut out. I remember an English journalist, Malcolm Muggeridge, saying that when he was editor of Punch, a famous UK satirical magazine, it was incredibly difficult to do satire because just when they believe they had found the perfect satirical story for their readers, reality would trump it. However, I still find Babylon Bee is a healthy safety valve. Blessings!

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