In the wake of all of this religious division and Christian insanity – or Christinsanity (stop trying to make fetch happen!), I had a listener ask for advice on how to talk with people that didn’t believe the same way they did. Let’s talk about how to talk with people who don’t believe like you. If we can see the common humanity in the ‘other’ we can walk out our faith in a meaningful way. Being hateful and angry is so 2016. So how do you evangelize the right-leaning conservative Christian? Join us to find out how to talk to people.
Come along for the ride as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.
• First, Christians didn’t want to bake wedding cakes for LGBTQ couples, but now a right-wing pastor, Lance Wallnau, is claiming that an ‘anointed cake’ freed a man from homosexuality. What’s next, donuts that cure heresy? Wait, I may need a dozen of those. Either way, this is Pat Robertson level craaaaazy. [JMG]
• An Alabama church wants to have their own armed police force. I thought the Bible was supposed to be the sword of the spirit, but apparently, someone’s been watching a little too much John Wick. This is what happens when the non-violent Jesus isn’t sexy enough and the church feels that all of this trusting in God business is way easier when you’re packing heat. Who would Jesus Shoot – WWJS [Huff Po]
• Enough of all the bad, want to hear a story about how the government is actually working together to make a positive change? Full Frontal with Samantha Bee aired a segment about the passing of a bill that will allow thousands of rape kits to be tested. This renewed my faith (briefly) in humanity and government.
• We’ve got Nerf darts all over our house, but I’ve never once picked one up and thought, “I bet this can break the sound barrier.” Apparently, I was wrong. So much for being soft and safe. [Uproxx]
If you see any snark-worthy news that’s either good or bad, feel free to send it us: email@example.com. Have a great week!
• Everyone beware the dastardly anarchists of Portland! They’re sticking it to the man and creating havoc by… fixing potholes on the city streets? Yep, you read that right and Portland is having nothing of it. Join the resistance and fix something that helps the greater good. [Huff Po]
• A rabbi, a priest, and an atheist smoke weed together and talk about religion. Yep, it sounds like a joke, but it’s a beautiful picture of different viewpoints bonding (and bong-ing) around a common table. How about giving up preconceived notions for Lent. Anyone with me?
• We can’t have all good on the list this week with Trump’s new proposed budget torpedoing everything left in the government that was compassionate and beneficial. With planned cuts to the EPA, the Endowment of the Arts and even Meals on Wheels in [NPR] & [Huff Po]
• So guess what? While the governmental good gets the ax, the military and the wall get funded? Yeah, that’s a bad as bad can get. [ProPublica]
• Need some palate (or soul) cleansing after those last few points, how about some Bonhoeffer? Read about how Dietrich Bonhoeffer can speak to life in the Trump age. It’s an outstanding reminder of how we can (and should) learn from history and those that came before us. [Englewood Press]
If you see any snark-worthy news that’s either good or bad, feel free to send it us: firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great week!
• Life happens, especially when you have kids. It’s rarely expected, often embarrassing, but ultimately you just have to laugh. Take this example of a rogue kiddo as he interrupts a weatherman mid-broadcast to offer his own weather prediction, “There are farts everywhere. And toots!!” Someone hire this kid pronto. I want him to give me the weather every day.
• As a parent, we’ve always had those moments when the kiddos crash the party, interrupt a phone call or say something inappropriate (that they learned from us). This instance of a kid-tastrophe happened live during a BBC interview. I definitely believe this deserves to be in the parenting hall of fame. Hats off to Professor Robert E. Kelly, of Pusan National University in South Korea for keeping it together. Bonus points for his wife for cleaning up the hilarious carnage. We’ve all be there.
• Say hello to Madison, the newest viral video star. After winds swept through the state of Ohio last week, they had power outages and mass destruction. The winds were even enough to make four-year old, Madison Gardner fly.
• Can twenty-one kids take on Trump and the fossil fuel industry? I truly hope so.
There’s a showdown a-brewin’ in the courts that has Trump taking on a group of organized and motivated young people from the advocacy group, Our Children’s Trust. Per their website, “Our Children’s Trust elevates the voice of youth to secure the legal right to a stable climate and healthy atmosphere for the benefit of all present and future generations.”
From Mashable: “If successful, this first-of-its-kind lawsuit could force even a skeptical government to curb carbon dioxide emissions and help communities adapt to the effects of global warming.”
Ever wonder what a conversation would look like between Jesus and President Donald Trump? Well, wait no longer. Here’s the Snarky Faith interpretation of a hypothetical interaction between the heavy-weight savior and the orange-light-weight POTUS. If you didn’t catch this on our show, here’s the dramatic reading of Karl Giberson’s satire “Jesus at Trump Tower.”
You can find Karl’s original piece here: [Huff Po]
• Oh, Iowa state Senator, Mark Chelgren… you made quite the faux pas when you decided to post in your government website bio that you had a business degree, when in fact, all you had was a certificate from a Sizzler restaurant’s training program. When asked about this ‘mistake’ Chelgren replied that he was confused with the terms “…because apparently a degree and a certificate are different.” I worked at Chuck E. Cheeses when I was a teenager, does that mean that I’m a licensed animal control officer? Perhaps. [WaPo]
• Peeps are now an annual Lenten/Easter tradition. This year, they have debuted a new, limited edition Oreo Peeps. While that is news in itself, folks are noticing that eating these processed delicacies have had quite the reaction. Not only does it dye your tongue pink… it also has a similar effect on your poo. Does it count if we give up regularly colored poo for Lent? [Huff Po]
• Looks like Jesus needs to give up escalators for Lent…
• Jesus isn’t the only zombie you’ll encounter this Easter season, Randolph county residents in Indiana had a bit of a scare when emergency radio alerts of a zombie attack were broadcast last week. They were later deemed to be the product of a joke/hack, but it’s gotta make you wonder. Stranger Things do happen in Indiana…
Either way, stay vigilant, my snarky friends and remember the quote from Max Brooks, author of The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, “Humans who believe they have outrun their undead pursuers might do well to remember the story of the tortoise and the hare, adding, of course, that in this instance the hare stands a good chance of being eaten alive.” 😉
My day started like any other day… in the darkness before dawn, where a screaming baby, with no patience for my morning stumble, demands his first breakfast. Before my brain could even comprehend a new day has started, I sat down to feed “the dude.” Picking up my phone, I catch up on all the important things going on in the world… i.e. check who commented on my witty Facebook status, pin multiple DIY projects on Pinterest that I will probably never do, and finally, check the news to keep up with what’s happening in the world. Many days, I have sat in the darkness of the pre-dawn hour saddened by the atrocities happening around the world, but not this day. I experienced a myriad of emotions I rarely feel together ranging from anger to embarrassment.
The headline at the very top of the page read, “We Don’t Want Them Here.”
Only moments before reading this headline, I scrolled past images in my newsfeed of Jesus standing over Trump in the Oval Office and even carrying suitcases back to the White House. I’m thinking neither of these is very accurate considering they probably didn’t have suitcases back in Jesus’ day, and Jesus wasn’t white. Maybe I’m wrong, or maybe they’re just alternative facts… I digress…
There are many things wrong with these sentiments, but what stood out to me so very early on this particular day was the juxtaposition of these memes against the reality of what is currently happening in our country. Trump is being hailed as an advocate for life and for Christian principles, yet this administration has blatantly turned it’s back (and, by default, our backs) on those who are in desperate, life and death situations.
People who are marching in the streets are told to suck it up, called snowflakes, and told how appreciative they should be to live in a great country like America. All the while, what we should be asking is why are you marching? If millions of people are hitting the streets to protest the travel/Muslim ban (insert BLM, women’s rights, etc… here), we should realize that there is a group of people who are hurting. That should be enough for us to question our methods and go seek change. Instead, we have the complete division between those who are hurting and those who are privileged enough to not have to worry. From the comfort of my home, I have watched the crisis unfold in Syria, and I cannot wrap my head around the degree of suffering these people have endured. As I hold my two-month-old in my arms, I try to put myself in the shoes of a woman fleeing for her life with her child in her arms. Tears stream down my face as I remember these are the people we are denying a safe haven.
What do I want to ask my friends and family who truly believe that Trump is bringing back conservative Christian values to this country: Where is the empathy? Where is the compassion? If we were faced with the same life and death situations these refugees are running from, would we not hope that someone would be brave enough to take us in? Bible 101 teaches us to love our neighbor. Who is our neighbor? The Samaritan. The one who is considered to be the lesser. As a Christian, I am not told to help those who hold the same belief system, those who look like me, or those who can help me get ahead in life. I am called to show the love of Christ.
By this point, you’re probably asking “What exactly is this post? A pessimistic rant about the state of our nation?” Maybe…but what if we turned it into a call to action. There are people hurting in our world. More importantly, there are people hurting in our neighborhood. What if we could step outside of ourselves for even a brief moment each day and seek these people out in order to ask them how we can help? If we can’t help, maybe we can listen. There is a deficit of listeners in this country. We can fill that void. And maybe, just maybe, we could inspire the change we seek in this world. What America needs most is empathy.
Kelley is a woman of many questions and very few answers. Unfinished projects, awkward silences, and karaoke top her most hated list while good beer, a solid community, and puppies top her most loved. She is realistic to a fault, but has hope that all things have the potential for change.
• Ken Ham, you saucy minx of a creationist. You have truly outdone yourself this time… and I don’t say that lightly. This past week, via Twitter, the Answers in Genesis poster-boy debuted a new exhibit in his Kentucky’s “Ark Encounter” theme park that features humans, giants, and dinosaurs battling to the death in a Roman-style arena. Sure this sounds crazy, but you know what’s worse? The fact that they dropped $101 million to create the Ark Experience to push their new earth agenda. Hey Ken, sometimes the answers are not in Gene$i$, they’re apparently in your wallet. This smells like someone is taking a page out of Jim Bakker’s playbook. Heritage USA anyone?
• After that ark madness, want something truly great to bring a smile to your face? Sure we all do. This may go down in history as one of the best post-game interviews ever. Check out pool player, Naoyuki Oi’s post-match interview in all its broken-English glory. It’s pure joy. The British interviewer couldn’t even handle himself as he simply responded, “I’ve not ever done an interview quite like this…”
• I’ll be the first to admit that I incidentally, yet routinely butcher people’s names. It’s not my strongest suit, but, I’m also not the White House press secretary. Feel like, having Sean Spicer butcher your name? With the help of the Sydney Morning Herald you too can be spicer-ized. Spicey dubbed me Stubbins Delt. Drop your ‘new’ name in the comments section below. [SMH]
• If you enjoy the wilted delights of canned veggies, you may want to read this interesting article that dives into the FDA’s Defect Levels Handbook. It’s reassuring to know that we have acceptable lives of large and mildew in our food. Yummers! [Huff Po]
• Ever want to see Donald Trump eat his own words? Well, are some wise words from candidate Trump speaking about the failings of President Trump (sort of). Retroactive hypocrisy has never been so much fun. Thanks Stephen Colbert!
• Living in Trump’s world can be pretty taxing and stressful for a lot of us. Living in the bizarro world is never easy, but I’ve got a great way for you to relax. Electronic singer-songwriter, Moby, has created some amazing ambient music for this just issue. To put it in his own words, “over the last couple of years I’ve been making really really really quiet music to listen to when I do yoga or sleep or meditate or panic. I ended up with 4 hours of music and have decided to give it away.”
This weekly feature gives you the best of what’s good and what’s bad out there in the snarkiverse. This content is explored more in-depth on our weekly radio show, Snarky Faith, so you should check that out too. Without further adieu… here’s your rundown this week of the good, bad and ugly of the interwebs. Enjoy!
• Oh, John Oliver, we missed you. Returning from hiatus, the Last Week Tonight host came back with the bang that we all needed. John may have found one of the few ways to influence our megalomaniac Orange POTUS… through a slew of commercials (made by Oliver and his team), set to air on MSNBC, CNN, and Fox news against their morning news shows in the Washington, D.C., area – because we know Trumpy uses cable news as his official daily briefing. Enjoy.
• Need some inspiration? Need a pep talk? Check out Denzel Washington’s eloquent speech a the Image awards. It gave me all the feels. Thank you, Denzel!
• Can we save the planet, one burger at a time? Pat Brown seems to think so. NPR did a fascinating story of one man’s journey to make the best veggie burger that looks and tastes like a real burger. Is this a step towards saving the planet? Yes, and it’s a delicious one. [NPR]
• I’m not sure if I’m disgusted or impressed. “Hammer Head” John Ferraro crushed his way to a record earlier last week for the Guinness World Book of Records. What did Ferraro do? Well, he pounding 38 nails into a board with his skull in under two minutes. Yep, you heard me correctly. And we all thought our President was thick headed…
• Lastly, you can stream Ryad Adams’s new album, Prisoner over on NPR. It’s beautiful, vulnerable and heartbreaking. I may be a biased, fanboy, but I really loved this album. You’re welcome (in advance). [NPR]
A rundown of Martin Scorsese’s movie Silence, based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Shūsaku Endō. This was a tough movie to get through, but a rewarding and powerful one, none the less. Join us as we talk about the importance of doubt in the journey of faith. We also have an interview with Scorsese presented by FULLER studio. It’s an outstanding talk about his faith and how it impacts his films. We’ve also got What’s Good? What’s Bad? chronicling the interweb’s best and worst of the week. Buckle up for a wild ride as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.
For more resources for a deeply formed spiritual life can be found on Fuller.edu/Studio.
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Episode: # 139
Program: Snarky Faith Radio
Host: Stuart Delony
Well, good afternoon, and welcome to another round of Snarky Faith Radio. I’m your host, Stuart Delony. My. We’ve got a show that’s going to be—I think it’s going to be a little different, but I still think it’s going to be something special. How about you just buckle up your seats? Make sure your tray tables are up and ready, so we can just launch into the snarkaverse. First up, let’s go ahead and just hop right into “What’s good // What’s bad” from this last week. Just a reminder that you can catch everything from “What’s good // What’s bad” on our website www.snarkyfaith.com. Just go over there. We’ve got the videos. We’ve got the links. They are sitting there and they’re just waiting for you. They’re like, “We’re lonely. Why haven’t you come and found us? We’re here. We’re waiting.”
One thing I have learned over my many years of being here on the earth is simply this. If you’re going to insult somebody, especially in a snarky manner—because again, you’re listening to Snarky Faith Radio, and I take snark very seriously. If you’re going to insult somebody, do it right. With the Super Bowl, I’ll just give you a snippet of snarky comebacks. I had a friend of mine that had been saying, midway through the Super Bowl, there’s nothing that can stop our Falcons’ rise-up. All this other blah, blah, blah, blah. Yeah. He had commented, “Who’s the joke now,” at halftime because he’s a Falcons fan. If anybody who’s anybody that was either watching the show or has any amount of news that you get, that you consume regularly on your feed, know that the Falcons really didn’t return from halftime. The Patriots came back. Huge win. When you start trying to insult things and insult people, just make sure you have your facts straight. I had a buddy, so I snarkily threw something back at him, who was casually saying, “Oh. Look who’s the joke now?” It was him that was the joke. He threw back an insult at me that, “Well, you like in North Carolina. When you guys actually get a football team, then you can talk.” I said, “What are you talking about?” He’s like, “Well, the closest thing that you have is the South Carolina Panthers.” [made a wa wa sound] If any of you guys know the NFL, there are no South Carolina Panthers. There’s the Carolina Panthers who have a stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Again, if you’re going to take something on, if you’re going to insult somebody, at least do it right.
I’m using that as a pivot over here to “What’s good // What’s bad” with the Fox News crew in the morning. They were slamming Al Sharpton, Reverend Al Sharpton, because he tweeted this out last week. He said, “Before you head to church today, remember to thank God for his Son. Jesus was a refugee who fled to Egypt.” What began to happen with that statement was they started to tear it apart. They were saying it was inaccurate, and foolish, and the Reverend needs to go back to Sunday school to be able to get his facts straight, which is funny because one of the things they went on to say was, “It was simply known that Jesus’ parents were just simply going to go and pay their taxes. That’s why they were going to Bethlehem.” You see, the only problem with that is, yes, there was a census. Yes, Mary and Joseph were required to go to Bethlehem for the census, which as we know census, oftentimes, is like secret code. We want to count you, so we can tax you. The problem with that is Sharpton wasn’t even talking about that at all. He was referring to the fact when King Herod decided to start killing the babies to get rid of this child Messiah. Then, Joseph gets a dream. An angel tells them, “Hey. You need to flee. You need to get out of here. You need to go to Egypt.” He wasn’t going to Egypt to pay his taxes. He was going to Egypt to flee from being killed. In essence, Jesus was a refugee. There’s actually several scriptural notes where Jesus actually refers to himself as a refugee. If you’re going to insult somebody, Fox News goons, just make sure you have your facts straight unless you want to look like an idiot. If that’s what you were going for, well done. You get a gold star for being a bunch of morons.
Speaking about religion in the news, if you haven’t checked this out, again, the links are on our website. There is a fascinating interchange that goes on between Stephen Colbert and Ricky Gervais where they begin to have this dialogue/debate. I would say more dialogue than debate because I thought it was very classily done. It was done in a way that I thought was very evenhanded where, again, Ricky Gervais is well known to be an Atheist. Stephen Colbert is a good Catholic boy. They have this dialogue, this back and forth that goes between each other. What I love about it is that it is a spirited conversation, and it is a respectful conversation. For those of us that don’t know how to do this, this is a great example of watching two people that respect one another, have a dialogue about positions where they are very, very diametrically opposed to one another, but they can still do it. They can still smile, and they can still be friends for another day. I thought it was a beautiful interchange. You don’t have to agree with either side of them to at least note that they did dialogue quite well.
Next. I’m not sure if you want to classify this one as good or bad. It all really just depends on where you’re sitting and really, your taste in movies. Guess what, folks? This is big news. The Syfy channel has announced that Sharknado 5 has finally begun filming. Yes, Sharknado 5, known as the unemployment check for Ian Ziering and Tara Reid. The fact that they have no careers, but have found this weird little niche in the pop-culture universe to keep acting in bad movies. It’s really fascinating. The movies are so bad. They are so bad. My kids love watching them. It’s almost phenomenal how bad they are. I hope Ziering and Reid can understand this that they suck so bad that they actually make something better by being together in this. How can you take anything seriously called Sharknado. Well, you could also say that, probably, about the president of our United States right now. It’s as absurd. It’s as horrifying, and it is just as awful as Sharknado except for in Sharknado you can sit back and enjoy the escapism as it rolls over you as you have a tornado full of sharks, whereas, with our new president and the way our government is heading, it’s one of those things you actually can’t sit back. I mean, I wish it was on the Syfy channel because then we could go, “Oh my gosh. The credits will roll at some point. It will be over,” and we can say, “Wow, that was just awful.” Sadly, every day I wake up and I’m still living in Trump’s America. It’s incredibly sad, and we’ll get more to that [Laughter] as we move through this show.
Next. If you’re in the mood to read and not simply watch stupid videos on our website, the Atlantic put out an article last week that is fascinating to be able to go through. I’ll just summarize it up in small little bits right here so I don’t steal anything from this. I would say it is well worth sitting down and reading through this. The title of it is called “It’s Putin’s World. How the Russian President Became the Ideological Hero of Nationalist Everywhere.” It takes you on this journey through the past couple of years and the rise of Putin, and the rise of nationalism, and how all of these things, much like Sharknado, were a perfect storm. You should check out the website. You should check out the link. It is very good, and it is well worth your time.
Next. If you don’t like reading about reality and Vladimir Putin, I’ve got another article for you that, again, I will repeat myself by saying it is well worth your time. This one is escapism. It’s snarky, and it’s satire. Yes, Karl Giberson whom I’m going to work on trying to get on the show. He’s the Professor of Science and Religion at Stonehill College. He wrote for the Huffington Post. He wrote an article called “Jesus at Trump Tower.” I would say it’s a satire. It’s a parable of Jesus having a meeting with Donald Trump. It’s funny. It’s sad. It’s mainly just sad because there’s so much truth in the midst of this. I think it’s one of those things for us that would say that we walk this path of faith that we walk after this Jewish Rabbi, that we follow his teachings, that he matters somehow to us in this insane world that we find ourselves in. It is beautiful to be able to watch one of these modern-day parables unfold in the face of the horrors that we’re living. I just lay out like it’s not funny at all. It’s actually really satirical. It’s funny. It’s worth your time. Go out and read it because reading is fundamental.
Next. You know what’s also not satirical even though it sounds like it? Yeah, the fact that Trump has vowed to destroy the law that bans churches from endorsing political candidates. It’s finally come down to that. Yep. Good ol’ MacDonald pledged to repeal a 50-year-old tax law that prohibits churches and other tax-exempt organizations from participating in political campaigns. This is why we have the separation of church and state. To go and to smash that divide, smash that line, leads us into some scary, scary, dangerous places. Now, I know a bunch of pastors out there who would love that because, simply, they’re using the pulpit as a political platform week after week. The scary part about that is churches, in many ways, should have very little to do with politics. Now, I think politics should inform what our faith calls us to do, especially when we see atrocities, especially when we see bans, especially when we have refugees that are in crisis and folks that are hurting. Yeah. I think our faith can move us to want to do positive change, positive impact in our community, but I do not believe that our churches need to become more and more political. It is a dangerous move that he is playing with amongst all of the other dangerous moves that he is playing with. This is one of those that slides under the cracks that I think we need to know about, that we need to know that that whole separation of church and state is a good thing. We want our government to be about the government. We want our churches to be about our churches, and never the two shall meet. We do not want that to happen.
I’ve been in those situations too often. I’ve actually literally been in churches that passed out voter pamphlet guides. They would preach, and they would bring in candidates that they believed were whatever “God’s chosen people” were. The problem with this that I have is that you’re not educating your congregations, churches out there. You’re not educating them to have a lens of faith in how they look at the world around us. All you’re doing is telling them to think. You’re telling them how to walk through the steps, how to pantomime this, how to lip sync a faith. I know you do it mainly because it’s an easy control structure for people. Don’t teach them to think, but tell them what to do. [Sarcasm] It’s like one of those big parenting mistakes that I’ve seen people make with their kids over and over. They don’t teach their kids to think. They just tell their kids what to do. Guess what? At some point, the authority structure breaks down, and the kids have no idea how to make decisions rationally for themselves.
Churches, you are doing the same thing to your congregants. Teach them to walk out the ways of Jesus. Teach them to walk out the loving, and merciful, and gentle ways of Jesus. Then, let them apply it to their world. Do not steal the act of learning from people because, otherwise, we’re just having congregations of parrots and not prophets. We’re having congregations of people that do not know how to think for themselves when it comes to matters of faith. Then, we have situations where you have people saying, “Oh. He’s God’s chosen one. Whatever he does, he farts mercy and grace because he has God’s favor.” [Sarcasm] Then, we get in this crazy, cranked-up situation that we find ourselves in where the religious right puts an insane fanatic in the presidency, and they say that they are doing this for God. When you begin to look at the actions of what is happening from this administration, they are far from anything that Jesus would ascribe, or endorse, or actually call His followers to do. Frankly, Jesus calls his followers to do quite the opposite of everything that we are seeing done by this Trump administration. The long story short, the fact that there is a divide between church and state is a good one. It’s a check and a balance. It’s something that keeps those two parties, even so thinly, apart and to break that, will cause a ton of religious ugliness even more so than we’re seeing right now in this country. Mark my words. To get rid of that is a huge flaw, a huge mistake. By no means, does it have anything to do with the name of Jesus.
Lastly for “What’s good // What’s bad”, we all sat through the Super Bowl, saw the commercials. For the most part, for probably the last three years running, I could say, for the most part, I was quite disappointed with the content that they were pushing out. I get tired of that forced sentimentality that tends to happen during the Super Bowl, and I’m more of a fan of the outrageous stupidness that we used to have like the over-the-top if you keep going over the top. At least, I felt like I’m being amused or having the opportunity of being amused. When it comes to these commercials, I don’t want to be preached at during the Super Bowl with one exception, and I’ll get to that in a second. My main beef is with Netflix. You threw out a Stranger Things season two commercial in the middle of the Super Bowl. Everyone in our family was excited. We were all jazzed up until the end of the commercial, which is what ruined it when it said we have to wait all the way to Halloween. I’ll get back to the commercials in a second.
Anyone check out Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer on SNL. It was everything. It was absolutely everything that I needed to be able to laugh my way through this week. I feel like this is three episodes in a row when “What’s good // What’s bad” is filled with escapism because it’s my only outlet for sanity. It’s my only outlet to make it through the insane news cycle that we find ourselves caught within.
Lastly, circling back to the Super Bowl. Again, we’ll make sure links for this are on the website. They had had a commercial during the Super Bowl. Surprise. Surprise. No. There was a commercial by a building supplies company called 84 Lumber. First of all, it’s to be noted that there was a bunch of controversy surrounding their ad because the Super Bowl would not let them show the entire ad. They said it was too controversial. What they did was they put in part of it, and then, called you to go to their website to go and watch it, which all of us did at the same time because we were confused and curious about what it was all about. It’s an ad featuring a Mexican mother and daughter embarking on this difficult journey north, which we’re assuming, how they left us, that they’re trying to get to the wall, to get into the country to have a better life. It’s five minutes long. It’s powerful. I would just say it’s definitely worth a watch.
Moving on in the show from that from one thing that was worthy of a watch to another thing that was worthy of a watch. What I wanted to bring today—which is why I said earlier, this episode is going to be a little bit different than usual. I went to Fuller Theological Seminary for my master’s degree. One of the reasons I chose them was that they were an interdenominational seminary, meaning that they are a seminary that doesn’t have one kind of groupthink fuelling what they educate. They’re from a broad spiritual spectrum of traditions that comes together. I will tell you this. One, I don’t know that my master’s degree has necessarily paid off for me. I had a conversation with a friend of mine, that I went to school with, the other day, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. It was one of those things where going through that program messed up my faith in a good way. It messed me up in a way that probably—well, I’ll just go ahead and say this—that means I can never work for a church again simply because of—I’ll circle back to what I mentioned earlier—it taught us to think critically with our faith, to think critically in how we view culture and the world around us with our faith. Part of Fuller is they have all of these other initiatives on the side. They have all these faith and film, faith and art and culture initiatives that are informative. They are brilliant, and I got an email out, since I’m an alumni, last week about a session that they had held with Martin Scorsese who directed the film Silence. As soon as I got this interview back, I was like, “This is great. This is really interesting. This is an interesting conversation about someone’s journey of faith, and how they wrestle it through, how they deal with doubt, and how doubt is good.” As I was watching this, I was like, “Oh man. This is really, really good.” I decided to write them. I said, “Hey, I’ve got a radio show. I’m an alumni. Can I use this on our show?” The odd thing that they told me was, “Absolutely. We would love to bring this to a broader audience.” I will let that be the last part of our show, the interview with Martin Scorsese. Before I get to that, I wanted to debrief you on the movie that he’ll be talking about. I wanted to debrief you on the movie Silence.
I went and saw this movie a few days ago. I will tell you that it’s still haunting me. Now, it is not an easy movie to watch. I will go as far to say that this is not a movie for everybody. When you think of Oscar contenders, which this movie, by and large, was shut out. It doesn’t have the feel goods. It doesn’t have those feels that La La Land would have. It doesn’t have that religious, war bombasity that you’d have in something like Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge. You see, the problem with this movie is also its greatest strength. This is why I think a lot of folks were surprised that it did not get more Oscar nods than it did. It’s well done. It’s got Andrew Garfield. It’s got Kylo Ren in it, and Liam Neeson. I mean, hey, this is like Taken for the Catholic clergy, I guess, except for Liam Neeson. He’s the one that has been taken. That’s how that works. Okay. I digress. No, but what I’m saying is this is a movie that doesn’t give you clear answers about faith, which is one of the main issues that I have with Christian films is that the message is everything. The acting, and script, and cinematography, all of those things, nah, it doesn’t matter as long as we have a good message. [Sarcasm] Typically, those types of Christian films are the ones that give the audience what they already know. They do not require you to wrestle through anything. They do not bring up any poignant parts of faith. I mean, they’re just candy-coated religious tracts for people to consume, and nod their heads about, and feel good that they’re doing their godly duty by sitting down and watching whatever Christian crap movie that they’re watching. Silence is very different than that.
If anyone knows Martin Scorsese, one, he’s a master filmmaker, and two, if anybody knows the book Silence, this is a difficult one to adapt. Let me just read you the summary of the movie before I give you my knee-jerk, deep-gut reactions to this film. I’ll read you the summary here. Alright, I’m taking this from Matt Solarsice. This is part of his review, which I thought actually summarized the movie quite well. His words for this was, “Silence is monumental work and a punishing one. It puts you through the hell with no promise of enlightenment, only a set of questions, propositions, sensations, and experiences.” Yeah. [Laughter] Yeah. I would say that that is 100 percent true. The synopsis of the film goes like this. You have priests. They leave for Portugal for Japan to find a third priest who’s gone missing while working as a missionary. The third priest, which is the Liam Neeson character, is believed to have committed apostasy. Apostasy in this context is renouncing God or renouncing Jesus. He’s seen to have committed apostasy by stepping on an image of Jesus while being tormented by the Japanese. This is a work of historical fiction that is going on here from a famous novel. The movie is just simply that. It’s just a quest to be able to find the truth of what happened to this other priest. While I’m not a Catholic and I don’t really comprehend all the nuanced elements that were going on, I still comprehended the entire thrust of what Scorsese was trying to do with this.
There was a few lines in the movie that just really, really hit me. I felt like this movie was a meditation. As I’m sitting there watching this and letting it just wash over me, it was gut wrenching at times. It was hard to watch at times. There were these two quotes that I wrote down while I was watching it. I’m the nerd that has a notepad when I watch movies, probably not when I’m watching the Fast and the Furious. I don’t need a notepad for that one, but for movies that I expect (a) to talk about here on the radio with you, and (b) just ones that I think are going to move me in a way that I want to remember. I do. I’ll take in a notepad and I’ll jot these things down. Really what this is, is you have these priests coming to this island of Japan in a time where it was very hostile towards missionaries to be there. As these young missionaries, these young priests, are beginning to see how people are hungry for the gospel, but at the same time, the government wants to squash all of it. It’s really, really hard to watch just the martyrs and all that goes on, torture-wise, within this movie. By no means, is this like a—I mean, there’s movies that have far more torture than this. I’m not even talking like Saw-level torture. I’m talking even like Braveheart-level torture. I guess what wrung my soul out was this idea of silence, and what do you do when God is silent to you.
It made me just think of so many different things in the Christian landscape. One of the quotes in the movie was, “The price for your glory is their suffering.” This was somebody who was taunting one of the priests. This idea that the priests were there to be able to share the gospel because that’s what they feel called to do based on the Great Commission in the Bible. By doing this, it was causing great pain amongst the people because the government was oppressing them because they did not want this to spread. Another line that stuck out to me was, “This is of no use and has no value to us in Japan.” I think that it’s something that should lay true to all of us that walk in faith regardless of what faith tradition you’re a part of is that, especially, when you think of just the historical context of colonization and how, especially, the Catholic church moved along the colonization of, well, England, of France, of Italy, all of these, that somehow, they saw these imperial conquests or conquistadors, but they also saw them as bringing their religion along with going in to change their culture and subjugate their people in a certain sense.
It brought up a lot of issues that I’ve had a lot in my life mainly that being this idea of apostasy, this idea of renouncing your faith. I’ve always just thought about this when you see posts on social media when folks are like, “Look at these Christians that are standing and being killed for their faith through ISIS.” In my own heart, which is funny because—well, (a) I’ve been through seminary, and (b) I’ve actually been ordained as a pastor. I think of context like this where I’m just like, “Well, if ISIS is wanting to kill me and all I need to do is renounce what I believe in, what do crazy people care.” For me to tell crazy people something to make them stop being crazy, I don’t necessarily know if people can touch where my faith lies in my heart. Now, I may be wrong with that, but I always just think in these incidents where—because they have several people, they show incidents of folks that are willing to try to not to go through the torture just to renounce their faith even though they go back to living their life in faith, and this idea of what your words mean, and this idea of renouncing something. It’s a very strong film that just really deals with these elements of faith, and doubt, and what does it look like when God is silent because we’ve all had those times when God doesn’t answer, where God seems distant, where God doesn’t seem to be a part of what’s going on.
I loved how Scorsese wove in elements that, in a certain sense, that it all at times, for those of us that are trying to follow after God, there are moments where we are like Jesus. There’s other moments, probably more moments [laughter], when we are like Judas. I just felt like, watching through this movie, it was something that really took great endurance of the soul. It just made me just think on just a couple deep levels. These are really just off the cuff in that when our faith—see, this can easily be misconstrued, but our faith needs to make sense to all people. When we’re sending people to go out and be missionaries or whatever around the world, are we bringing them American Christianity, or are we bringing them Jesus? I think that it’s easy to paint this picture in broad strokes when you begin to look at this from the realm of missions work. Even in our own communities, are we still bringing a white Jesus to a Hispanic community or a white Jesus to an African-American community? I don’t know.
This movie’s still ruminating in my soul. It’s something that I will return to again. I think that Scorsese does it in a very eloquent and evenhanded way. It’s not simply that Japanese bad. White Catholics good. It doesn’t really give you those solid answers that most Christian films do, and because of it, I loved it. I loved the torture that it did to my soul. I love how my faith was pulled and pushed within me. For that reason, I would absolutely recommend this. Enough of me in all of this, I think it’s better to be heard in the conversation that Martin Scorsese lays out. What I want to give you, is what I mentioned earlier, is this interview. It is presented by Fuller Studio. Just for you to know that there are more resources for a deeply formed spiritual life that can be found at fuller.edu/studio. This is the interview that Fuller published, produced, and gave us license to be able to use here on the radio. Enjoy.
Well, that’s all we’ve got for this show this week. Thanks again to Fuller. Just a reminder as we end this broadcast, you can always catch us on podcast at www.snarkyfaith.com. Thanks so much for listening. Thanks so much for being a part of the conversation. I’ll catch you again next week. I am out of here.
Transcribed by Miriam Delony