George Carlin is occasionally funny, is above average in his intelligence, and falls far short of anything we can call civilized. In short, he’s a lot like the baby boomers and makes a fairly good spokesman for the more tribal of them.
So when I came across a video of his on YouTube describing how to reduce the ten commandments to two, I expected the occasional funny line, presumptive ignorance (baby boomers are characterized by their arrogant use of their above average intelligence – a sort of cultivated folly), and contempt for the things that make life worth living, except, of course, for the baby boomers darling: sex.
In fact, boomer sex is so self-centered it’s not one of the things I would agree makes life worth living. Heck, it may be the archetype of their destructive path. Even something so holy, mysterious, and wonderful has been reduced to, as so many young people say in their way, “not a big deal.” I can’t imagine, and yet I see all around, a life so empty that even sex could be considered not a big deal. But I digress.
My expectations were fulfilled. Occasionally, he said something humorous. Frequently, he spoke in abusive stereotypes rooted in some silly book or discussion he must have participated in with people who knew next to nothing of world history. And throughout he degrades what makes worth living with simplistic criticisms that earned the audiences rousing approval.
For example, he argues that we shouldn’t command children to honor their parents because honor is something the parent needs to earn. How many follies can we point out in that position, on the social, psychological, ethical, and practical level. Let me simply point out here that children are rarely capable of making an intelligent, disinterested analysis of whether their parents should be honored.
You, my dear reader, may reflect further on this at your leisure. May it be well with you, as you do so. May you live long in the land of your fathers.
Carlin’s shtick represents one very common attitude toward religion, so if you have a strong stomach, can wander in waste places without throwing up, and want to hear what his ilk think about the ten commandments, click here. The most significant element is what the audience claps at and where they get most enthusiastic.
By the way, if you are looking for humor, this bit isn’t very funny. It’s just Carlin preaching.
Some may wonder why on earth I would include this. Two reasons: one, because at least some Christians, in leadership positions, need to know the depth of resentment people have toward religion and what they root that resentment in, and two, because I’m thinking a lot about humor as the conference comes up.
Humor has an extraordinary power for both construction and destruction. It is the solvent used to bring down the high and mighty, so it’s only used to that end when the joker feels secure. As an aside, this probably has something to do with why court jesters are so important in medievel and renaissance literature and, to a lesser extent, history. When people start casting aspersions at the highest and loftiest, God Himself, an internal and social state has been reached that is not healthy for soul or society.
I am sorry for Mr. Carlin. I hope that he can develop a little less reactionary and simplistic view of the Christian gospel. He has chosen a path and is calling others down a path that I believe is the way of self-destruction and I can take no pleasure in that.
You can hear the echo of his empty soul in his performance. May he awaken to the fuller life the religion he despises offers him. May he see that it’s only abused because it is so powerful and needed. May he and we all do something a little more helpful and fulfill its ideals rather than reject them because they’re so hard. Perhaps then he would stop fulfilling the same destructive role as his hated allies. Those who despise religion turn people away from truth, whether they despise it with hypocrisy or with mockery.