Satire involves the use of humour to expose our folly. I’ve always found it a powerful tool, largely because as we laugh, our defences are lowered and truth can then pierce through. So often, our defences are raised and we are reluctant to accept any views contrary to our own. Satire is a way through those blinkers and can, in my experience, be a powerful means of changing wrong thinking.
The prophetic voice challenges the mainstream worldview, bringing us God’s word as a truth-tipped javelin (to use Eugene Peterson’s phrase.) The prophets used vivid imagery, shocking language and bizarre human theatre to convey God’s truth. Satire is another tool in the prophetic armoury.
I’ve just listened to the new album from Casting Crowns (‘Healer’). This contemporary Christian group often speak to my heart in prophetic fashion, seeing the issues of our modern Western society through the lens of Scripture. Many of their songs have a prophetic ‘bite’ to them (‘Stained Glass Masquerade’ points to the hypocrisy often seen in churches; ‘City On A Hill’ shows us the need to refrain from internal divisions, for example.) The final song on the new album (‘2nd Opinions’ – listen here) has a jaunty country and western tune that houses bitingly satirical lyrics about how we value the world’s opinions and soundbites more than the truths of God’s word. I laughed out loud at the line ‘it’s high time we turned our interest to God’s word instead of Pinterest’, but as with all satire, once the laughter fades, the truth has a chance to linger and change us.
The song looks at our tendency to want a cosy life, following our heart ‘where ere it leads’ without the need for discernment or obedience. It speaks of our reluctance to change (‘it’s just the way I am – I got all the proof I need right here in my Enneagram’) and the beliefs that sound Christian but only go so far, never acknowledging the need to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Christ. It talks about our desire for conformity and compromise, believing all roads lead to Heaven without understanding ‘there’s one throne and I’m not on it… Jesus is the truth, the life, the way.’
That ‘yee-hah!’ jolly melody masks the cutting scalpel of truth in this song, but its message needs to be heard loud and clear. Living our own truth based on ‘the book of second opinions‘ is not the way to live for God. His way is the way of truth and demands commitment and change from us.