Friday, March 7, 2008

Sarah Silverman: satire as social commentary (how alliterative)

In this clip from her program, dear Sarah, in her blunt, brilliant, over-the-top and funny way shows how both sides have a lot to get over when it comes to abortion. This is something like a Sarah Silverman short adaptation of the 1996 film Citizen Ruth, starring Laura Dern, which was praised by people of vastly different opinions on this deeply serious and grave matter. This clip, which is not for the easily offended, shows how satire can serve a social purpose, though I know Sarah would probably skewer me by ruthlessly making fun of my earnestness.

To further demonstrate, as with posting a live performance of Green Day's Jesus of Suburbia last fall (blame any lapses of judgment on the fact that the clip is Sarah Silverman AND Green Day), that there are serious points I am trying to make, I offer a link to one of the most insightful things I have read on the sore subject of abortion over the past few years. It is an article that appeared in the 30 May 2005 edition America magazine, written by Dennis O'Brien and entitled No to Abortion: Posture, Not Policy.

So, to point out the futility of sloganeering, which is how we do politics in this country: If it is a child and not a choice, then why urge people to choose life? Implicit in the latter phrase is the recognition that choice is always involved, even if abortion were to be made illegal. By recognizing that choice plays a role in every human situation, we recognize that we must respect freedom because choosing requires freedom. Of course, in turn, freedom entails responsibility. Our responsibility is moral, which means doing what is good and avoiding what is evil. Indeed, the intentional killing of a nascent human being is objectively wrong.

All of this requires correctly formed consciences. This gets us back to respecting the freedom of each person. To be a mature, well-integrated, person with a properly formed conscience is precisely not to be a moral automaton, but a free person. I think we all chafe at things like: "it's not that you can't; it's that you must not". The truth of the matter is I can, even if I must not. Indeed, what is important is knowing what is right. It is in knowing what is right and freely choosing it that I find true liberation, the freedom to become who I am. Therefore, knowing what is right does not in any way limit my freedom, it is the path to freedom to true liberation. Any teaching about what is right that seeks to limit freedom is rightly to be rejected. It is our failure to recognize this that results in many young people walking away. You know what? They are right to reject it. Jesus did not teach this way. So, in walking away, they are not rejecting Jesus. In fact, it is precisely by walking away from dictatorial Christianity that follow Jesus, many are quite conscious of this fact. That is why many people, rightly, have an aversion to organized religion.

Freedom is what we often find so damned perplexing and scary. It is our fear of freedom, and that of others, that causes us to want to make God a dictator. Well, God is not and never will dictate to us, that is, eradicate our freedom. "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor. 3,17). People in recovery learn this truth. They learn that I must not drink/use drugs/engage in compulsive sexual behavior, etc., but I can. When I feel my addiction bursting the seams of my freedom, or even when it becomes my desire to do what I must not do, I remain free to do it. This is scary because it is here, at intersection of must not and can, that I understand the limits of my freedom and my weakness, my need for One who is greater than me, but my need is not for someone to tell me what to do, I know what I should do, what I must do, but do not want, for whatever complex of indeterminate reasons, to do it. I need compassion, not somebody to suffer for me, but with me, to share my broken-ness. Like Martin Darrow in Susan howatch's novel Absolute Truths, I learn that "It makes all the difference to know there's someone else screaming alongside you - and that's the point of the Incarnation, I can see that so clearly now. God came into the world and screamed alongside us". More than that, in his resurrection, Christ bridges the infinite void, the gap between us and God.

We also need other people who care about and who love us. For people in recovery, this is where one picks up the phone and calls a sponsor, a friend, someone who will come to my assistance and make haste to help me- this is why we begin each hour of the Liturgy of the Hours, with the exception of the first hour (Lord, open my lips. And my mouth shall proclaim your praise) with O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me. Many days this is the most heartfelt and truly prayed part of Evening Prayer. God usually answers this prayer through people who care. That is why if our congregations are not communities of care what we do is mostly pointless.

At the end-of-the-day, what most matters is that our lovely God makes all things intermingle for the good of those who love him, bringing hope from the pit of despair, and life from death.

"(Now) this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. Beloved, if (our) hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit that he gave us" (1 Jn 3,19-24- italicizing and underlining mine).

(Please notice the lovely people in the audience).

"It's not a question, but an answer learned in time". This, dear friends, is our Friday traditio.


  1. Thank you very much. It is always nice to be encouraged!

  2. That is hilarious! I am told The Shoah is also fertile ground for high comedy. I hope the zany Sarah Silverman may soon delight us with a madcap depiction of prisoners filing into an Auschwitz shower.

    (This is satirical sarcasm as social commentary. Oh yeah, my comment is not for the easily offended.)


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