Thursday, June 30, 2011

Forgiveness and Consequences

by CWK

Last week, while at prayer, I suddenly discovered - or felt as if I did - that I had forgiven someone I had been trying to forgive for over thirty years. Trying, and praying that I might. ... No evil habit is so ingrained nor so long prayed against (as it seemed) in vain, that it cannot, even in dry old age, be whisked away.
 – C.S. Lewis


Does forgiveness wipe away consequences? What is the relationship between forgiveness and consequences? 

Below is an email exchange with a wise pastor friend. My original email is in lower case, and his response is in upper case. Then, in blue, I have included my final reflections -- also originally sent to him as an email.


My Original Email

I have been musing on a difficult topic for the last few months, and have
seen lots of situations in ministry where this needs to be clarified. The
question is this: how do we differentiate between forgiveness and
consequences... or should we? For example, if an Elder sins then the
congregation might certainly forgive him, but a consequence of his sin may
be that he loses his office.

There are some instances where forgiveness and consequences seem to overlap.
If a woman cheats on her husband, he has a Biblical right to seek divorce.
However, if he 'forgave' her completely, then part of this forgiveness would
seem to include reconciling the marriage.

Then, there are some Biblical examples where someone is forgiven, but there
are certain consequences they have to live with. David's adultery and then
murder did not mean that he never was forgiven: "Blessed is the man whose
transgressions are not held against him... (Psalm 32)." Nathan told him
plainly that his sin 'was put away (2 Samuel 12).' However, the 'sword never
departed from his house.' This seems to be an example where the sins were
forgiven, but at the same time the consequences (discipline? punishment?)
were still in effect.

I have always been told in evangelical circles that forgiveness meant the
abrogation of consequences. Clearly this is not valid, as the example of
David shows. However, some of the consequences of our sins are certainly
annulled, aren't they?

Here is my question: is it possible to completely untangle forgiveness and
consequences, and to say that they are two separate spheres entirely? Or, is
there a place of mysterious overlap?

Here is the main thing I am struggling with: forgiveness (our sins being
forgotten, atoned for, washed) seems to imply in its very definition the
removal of consequences. If an act sin is completely forgotten, then how can
it continue to have bearing on the present?

I hope these ramblings makes some sense... I know you might be busy at
present, and if so, feel no need to respond. But, if you get a chance, I'd
love to hear your thoughts.


There are some instances where forgiveness and consequences seem to overlap. If a woman cheats on her husband, he has a Biblical right to seek divorce. However, if he ‘forgave’ her completely, then part of this forgiveness would seem to include reconciling the marriage.

Then, there are some Biblical examples where someone is forgiven, but there are certain consequences they have to live with. David’s adultery and then murder did not mean that he never was forgiven: “Blessed is the man whose transgressions are not held against him... (Psalm 32).” Nathan told him plainly that his sin ‘was put away (2 Samuel 12).’ However, the ‘sword never departed from his house.’ This seems to be an example where the sins were forgiven, but at the same time the consequences (discipline? punishment?) were still in effect.

I have always been told in evangelical circles that forgiveness meant the abrogation of consequences. Clearly this is not valid, as the example of David shows. However, some of the consequences of our sins are certainly annulled, aren’t they?


Here is my question: is it possible to completely untangle forgiveness and consequences, and to say that they are two separate spheres entirely? Or, is there a place of mysterious overlap? YOU PUT IT WELL. THEY ARE PARTLY TWO SPHERES BUT THERE IS AN AREA OF CLEAR, AND IN SOME PLACES, MYSTERIOUS, OVERLAP.

Here is the main thing I am struggling with: forgiveness (our sins being forgotten, atoned for, washed) seems to imply in its very definition the removal of consequences. If an act sin is completely forgotten, then how can it continue to have bearing on the present?



I now see, as I had not before, that sin involves consequences not only for the offender, but for the offended: whether the Church or the individual. One consequence: for the offended,it is necessary to battle against the temptation to bitterness/veangefulness. This battle must be fought by faith in the work of Christ over a period of time; forgiveness is a choice. It is a dreadful thing to sin; also, a dreadful thing to be sinned against.

One of the biggest problems in congregations: They have bitterness toward (fill in the blank) sitting across from them every Sunday. There are feelings of animosity between some church members for things that have piled up over the years, and never been dealt with. 

Forgiveness is not child’s play.

Faith and Science

by CWK

I have been corresponding with a friend from college the last 10 years over issues of faith and science. One of our most recent conversations is noteworthy because it conveys many of the common misconceptions about the relationship between faith and science. This friend is on the cutting edge of the science world, and one of the up and coming young thinkers in their field. For those struggling with the relationship between faith and science, I thought it might be helpful to include an email interchange between this friend and me. My friend will go by AB (not their real initials -- not even close), and I will go by CK.

CK: I believe that God graciously rules all events for the good of his beloved people. I know he guides my life, and yours as well. I believe in providence. However, I don't think we humans can always figure out what God is doing; there will be a lot of mysteries in this life.
AB: I coudn't agree more. In fact, to me, that describes the essence of a spiritual life. I see it as the life journey to understand mysteries for which we won't necessarily find an answer. Although what bothers most of us is always the's the journey and its questions which are more important....but that is just my thought...

CK: Interesting how you describe the spiritual life as a journey to understand mysteries for which we won’t necessarily find an answer. When I talk about mysteries, I'm talking of things that cause wonder and amazement: things so deep and true that the human mind cannot get to the bottom of it because our mind is too small and finite. As I have listened to most Americans, they seem to have a different definition; they think of mysteries as something ‘illogical’ or ‘bizarre.’ Christianity doesn’t leave me with this option since Jesus claimed to be ‘the truth.’

AB: In fact, I came to the States with the idea of going to medical school and then pusuing medical missions. Things have changed  a lot for me since. I ended up being a scientist instead, and I have yet to figure out what my spiritual calling is.

CK: Whatever your calling is, it must be spiritual. It must be done for God’s glory. The man who cleans bathrooms has a spiritual calling! Everything should be done with God in mind and for his pleasure, and everything can be done in that way because God created everything: the heavens, the earth, the stars, and every blade of grass. Science is only possible because we live in an orderly universe that makes sense, that is logical. The first scientists were Christians, and many of them Bible scholars (an example is Isaac Newton; you should read about him sometime- you will be encouraged). The scientific revolution arose in Christian countries. Indeed, it could not have arisen anywhere else. Ancient Greek philosophy actually hindered the rise of science (especially Aristotle), but Christianity freed the thinker because it gave them the starting point of a creator and an orderly universe.

AB: I'm going through a period of time of questioning many things,

CK: I feared this would be the case even when we spoke years ago. I was not afraid that you would ask questions, but rather that the world you were in would teach you to ask questions in the wrong way. For instance, we are told by the university to question everything, but we are never told to QUESTION THE UNIVERSITY. We are not really free thinkers in American Universities (though that is what we are told); instead, we are trapped by the 21st century. We should indeed ask good questions, but we should be sincerely searching for the truth as we do this. I had a similar experience of doubting in college and this led me to nearly abandon Christianity. However, I set out to see if Christianity was true and I started to really think for myself. The more that I earnestly searched for answers the more convinced I became that Christianity was the only sufficient system of thought that really satisfied. Then, I found that a host of other people had been through the same thing; I saw that scientists, poets, philosophers, writers who had sincerely looked into Christianity had often become convinced of its truth. I would recommend that you read a book called “Orthodoxy” by GK Chesterton. If you send me your address I will mail you a copy. Anyway, in that book Chesterton takes on the scientific questions leveled against Christianity. Chesterton himself had been a serious doubter, but later went on to become a Christian and eventually to debate men like Clarence Darrow (in fact, he bested Darrow in a debate).

AB: (I'm going through a time of) of being challenged by my human knowledge and by my faith, and feeling like they both take me in opposite directions.... but again, I guess this is a part of that journey in which there are more mysteries than facts, more questions than answers....

CK: I disagree; there will be a lot of questions, but there should also be a lot of answers. Also, your faith and your science should not take you in different directions. True science, which I would define as “the orderly search for knowledge about the world using experiment and experience” does not in any way contradict Christianity; it rose from Christianity; in fact it was commanded by God when he told Adam and Eve to rule over the earth and subdue it. God meant for Adam and Eve to learn about the world and use it wisely.  Christianity was the light in which science flourished. What reasons do you have to believe that science and Christianity are opponents? Also, what is the difference between human knowledge and faith? Isn’t all knowledge human? Aren’t your brightest prof’s still humans? In fact, aren’t your brightest prof’s still humans who make mistakes? Also, how are you defining faith? How do faith and knowledge relate? It seems to me that you have overlooked the connection between faith and knowledge. If you observe yourself carefully this week you will see that, even as a scientist, you are continually placing faith in all sorts of things. Faith is not bad; it is inevitable. The question is: what do we put our faith in?

Don't Try To Please Everyone

posted by CK

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. In it, Vonnegut said something like, "if you open a window and try to make love to the world your fiction will die of pneumonia," meaning, of course, that nothing you write will please everyone so don't even try. Rather, Vonnegut went on to say, write for one person, and in all likelihood many more people than your intended audience of one will appreciate what you've written. Vonnegut wrote everything for his sister, and even after she died she was still the audience he was writing for. The real thrust of Vonnegut's advice is what has stuck with me, the point being that no single project or author can do everything-the sooner we comes to terms with this the better, as it helps to focus the creative energies on what we really want to do, rather than what we feel we ought to do. In my experience, good writing comes from a place of desire rather than obligation. And like all pieces of good advice, this should be implemented however and whenever the individual sees fit...

-- Jesse Bullington 

Consider Advice Advisedly

by CK

Here's some wise counsel on taking counsel:

"Older / more experienced / more convincing writers may offer rules and varieties of advice. Consider what they say. However, don’t automatically give them charge of your brain, or anything else ─ they might be bitter, twisted, burned-out, manipulative, or just not very like you."

-- A.L. Kennedy


...criticism, even if it comes from credentialed authority figures, is often useless to the writer who does not also possess a somewhat accurate sense of the quality of his or her own work. Opinions of art are ultimately subjective; moreover, criticism is a craft, and like any craft, not everyone is skilled at it. A writer with too little self-confidence will take all criticism at equal value, and will end up pleasing no one by attempting to please everyone. On the other hand, a writer with too much self-regard will take little if any advice at all, no matter how tactful or perceptive it is, and as a result will be unlikely to improve his or her skills beyond mediocrity. The ability to perform an accurate self-assessment of one's work in the light of responses to it is crucial if a writer is to distinguish between criticism that is useful and will help to improve one's craft, and criticism that is wrong-headed for one reason or another, and best disregarded.

--Dexter Palmer


...perhaps the best piece of writing advice that no single person has confided in me but many an author has opinioned is that no criticism or advice is absolute, and to take even the most revered master's advice with as many or as few grains of salt as one sees fit. We should be receptive but we should also be critical, both of our own writing and the advice we are given about it, and in the end whatever works best for the individual works best for the individual.

-- Jesse Bullington


Hypocrisy and Hypocrites
by CWK, 1.26.10

I. Introduction

Hypocrisy has been defined as “doing one thing and saying another.” This contemporary definition is taken for granted, but is both incorrect and dangerous. Why? It focuses our attention only on externals, and leaves sincere people feeling guilty.

gk. hypokrites = originally, a theatrical actor; we need to meditate on what a theatre actor does, and we will have a glimpse into religious hypocrisy. Fundamentally, an actor is ‘acting,’ i.e. not his/her true self; they are acting like someone they are not, playing a role. Thus, there is always an element of unreality. Also, an actor is there to entertain; an actor is focused on pleasing the human audience. Thus, actors are known for ostentation, show-manship.

hypokrites is used frequently in Matthew: Mt. 6.2, 6, 16; 7.5; 15.7; 22.18; 23.4, etc.; 24.51). In the LXX + term for the godless.

“These religious show-offs are “actors” in that they aim to impress others, but at the same time their behavior demonstrates how far they are out of touch with God’s understanding of “righteousness” (France, NICNT, Matthew, 237).

“(Yeast is a metaphor for that which has) penetrating power... corrupting influence... The Pharisaic mind-set is represented as a contaminant with potential to invade even the company of Jesus’ followers[1]. Pushing the metaphor further, Jesus also builds on the secretive nature of yeast, the work of which is concealed at first, apparent later (Lk. 12.2-3)... Such yeast must be avoided, Jesus warns, because nothing will remain hidden... (‘will be manifest’ could mean)... First... the inner dispositions of people are evident in their outward behavior (cf. Lk. 8.17; 11.33-36; 6.43-45)....Second, and more at home in this co-text, the true constitution of a disciple will come to light in the experience of persecution – and, as is becoming more and more clear, persecution is the lot of those who are faithful to God in the midst of an evil generation (6.22-23, 27-28). Third, Jesus’ caution that all will be made manifest may be read as an eschatological warning: Conversation presumed to be secret now will become public then (Joel Green, NICNT, Luke, 480-481).”

“ (Scribes and Pharisees) are accused of having missed the point of true religion especially by focusing on minutiae and externals instead of on the essentials of the sort of life God really desires. This tragically distorted perspective has become so entrenched that it has made them enemies of God’s true messengers (Mt. 23.29-36) (R.T. France, NICNT, Matthew, 869).”

The antidote to hypocrisy? God-centeredness (cf. Lk. 12.1).
It must be acknowledged that hypocritical professors of religion, they do abundance of mischief to souls in this respect: they make a fair and pompous show, a more than ordinary profession; they will always be aping of religion. And no wonder it appears unlovely, as ‘tis in them: it is because they have it not. Hypocritical professors of godliness do more hurt to religion than the most profligate, openly profane man. Men have their eyes upon them, to see what is in them, and they see that it is unlovely; and so they judge all religion to be. The most amiable things, when they are counterfeit, appear the most unlovely... Thus the shape of an ape and their actions are most deformed and ridiculous because they imitate man’s. Religion and knowledge in hypocrites is dead, and appears as deformed, dreadful and melancholy as the countenance of a dead man, whereas, perhaps when alive [was] very amiable. Those who are pretenders to religion, and nothing else, they spoil it and deform it; they make it look dreadful. They don’t know what it is, and can’t imitate it exactly. The only make a bugbear of it, to fright men from religion; make men think that religion consists very much in a melancholy disposition and sour temper; whereas would have a commanding loveliness if it were real and true. And even some that are godly, by their unwariness and imprudence, may do hurt in this regard, mistaking that to be religion in some things which is not so, and not practicing in all things according to pure and lovely Christianity. Whatever we see truly unlovely in any respect in persons, is not religion. (Jonathon Edwards, A Spiritual Understanding Of Divine Things, vol. 14 of works, pg. 92).

II. Hypocrisy and Sincerity Defined

“They make their phylacteries[2] broad, and enlarge the borders of their garments[3]... 
All their works they do to be seen by men (Mt. 23.4-5).”

“They appear outward beautiful, but are within full of dead bones, and of all uncleanness... (they) appear righteous to men, but within are full of hypocrisy and iniquity (v.27-28).”

A hypocrite is, “a person whose conduct is not determined by God and is thus ‘godless (Giesen, upokrisis).’”

A person, “whose concerns with legal observance were not rooted in the love of God or in a commitment to justice (Lk. 11.42; cf. 10.25-37) (Joel Green, NICNT, Luke, 480).”

A. Hypocrisy
1. Focusing on externals to neglect of internal.
2. Putting on a show.
3. Cleaning the outside of cup, and neglecting inside; putting a band-aid on a bullet wound.
4. Doing works as a public show ‘to be seen by men,’ i.e. practical atheism, as if humans were the only audience.
5. Living like image is everything; putting on costumes to impress.
6. Hunger for honorific titles.
7. Obsession with external items (in our day = clothing, tattoos, necklaces, bracelets, etc.) to show and identify piety.
8. Focus on minutiae of law-keeping, while neglecting true godly priorities.

B. Sincerity
1. Confessing sin honestly in high-definition (1 John 1.9)
2. More concerned about God’s opinion than man’s – doing acts of righteousness toward God, to be seen by Him.
3. Loving God’s law in the heart, even if failing in practice.
4. Focus on the inner, hidden person.
5. Living before God, knowing that He sees and knows all – down to heart motives, and that on the judgment day he will bring every last deed into judgment, including ‘every hidden thing – whether good or evil (Eccl. 12.13-14).” In short, doing everything before the Lord, to the Lord, for His glory (1 Cor. 11.33).

So, the contrast of hypocrisy is NOT between word and deed, but between external and internal. Actually, the  practice of hypocrites appears perfect, beautiful, spotless – it is their heart which is ugly (Mt. 23.27-28).

Thus, the biggest hypocrites probably look most righteous to us.

III. Questions to Diagnose Hypocrisy

1) Is our focus on external or internal?
2) Do we find ourselves ‘putting on a show’ around men, hoping they see us and take note of what good people we are?
3) Do we long for praise of God, or praise of men? Who is the real ‘audience’ of our lives?
4) Is there an inconsistency between who people think we are and who we actually are?
5) Are we more concerned with our image than with heart holiness?
6) Are we honest with people about our failings, faults, frailty?
7) Are we obsessed with external trappings of religiosity: looking good at Church, having the ‘right’ Bible, being a well-known teacher, looking like the perfect Christian family, wearing Christian apparel, trinkets (see Mt. 23.5-6)?
8) Are we more concerned with style, or substance?
9) When we pray, fast, give, sing, preach... who are we doing these things for? Who are we most concerned about? God? Man?

IV. Discussion

            A hypocrite is not someone who, “says one thing and does another.” This is defining hypocrisy by a contrast between word and deed, profession and practice. By this rule, the apostle Paul was a hypocrite of the first order, “For the good that I want to do, I don’t do, but the evil which I don’t want to do – this I do (Romans 7.19).” If we say something is evil, and then we do it, that does not prove we are hypocrites. It may prove we are Christians.
            The Christians is one who is in the fight against sin. They are, as Hal Farnsworth put it, “free to struggle.” The Christian is one who is battling to conform their lives to goodness. They profess and cling to what is good. Alas, they still do what is evil from time to time. In their inmost being they delight in the law of God, but their external practice often falls short, “For I delight in the law of God in terms of the inner man, but I see another law at work in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members (Romans 7.22-23).”
So, it is not hypocrisy to confess something as good with our mouths and hearts, and then do the very opposite.
            If Christianity consists of loving good in our hearts, but then failing in external practice, then hypocrisy is loving evil in our hearts, and putting on a show of external practice. Hypocrisy means, literally, “play acting.” It is putting on an external show when our heart is ‘far from God.’ It is pretending. It is pretension. It is cleaning the outside of the cup spic and span, and then leaving the inside filthy and corrupt. Hypocrisy is an inconsistency between heart and deed; it is focusing on the externals to the neglect of the internal. It is a life of smoke and mirrors. It is a life of putting on more and more make up.
            Christians should be encouraged to confess their sins, and be honest about their failings. They should feel free to struggle.
            The definition of hypocrisy as, “saying one thing and doing another,” is bound to leave people feeling guilty, while all the time trying to make their words and deeds consistent. Defining hypocrisy like this drives people to hypocrisy. It drives them to spiff up their external behavior. This definition fails to focus on the heart. The above is a cliché, something you hear in the streets again and again. Some people say it from the rooftops while they look down on poor, struggling Christians. There is an heir of self-righteousness, judgmentalism – aye, hypocrisy – in such a definition.

[1] We need to be aware just how powerful examples of hypocrisy are, and just how easily we ourselves fall into a lifestyle of hypocrisy. Jesus gives this warning because we need it, and if we don’t heed it, we are in danger of hypocrisy. Consider your own (much more than other's) danger of being hypocrites, the Lord Jesus is saying.
[2] Phylacteries were small leather boxes which housed important scriptures from the law. They were worn on the forehead and arm in a literal application of Dt. 6.8, 11.18. The boxes or straps that kept them in place could be made more ‘showy’ by making them larger (see France, Matthew, 862).
[3] The ‘borders’ of garments were tassels worn on Jewish clothing in obedience to Num. 15.38-39; Dt. 22.12). They were a visual aid to prayer.

New Word: Aftertizer

by CK

Aftertizer: (Noun) consumed in small portions after a meal in a similar fashion to appetizers; small hors d'oeuvres type of food which follows the meal instead of proceeding; also, something which is enjoyed in small proportions just because it is good or delicious; anything which does not whet the appetite but constitutes and ongoing feature of the appetite.

The ice cream served as an aftertizer. We weren't hungry, but we couldn't resist. It was just too good.

The Day The Newspaper Died, Pt. 2


I wrote at length earlier about the challenge of writing in a post-print era, and for an internet audience.

Here's one webmaster reflecting on that challenge (this post is a reflection on's long form piece style):

I can't pretend to know where every other webmaster stands, but I know where I stand with my own site. I'm lucky if I bring in revenue of $1 per 1000 hits a piece attracts. From talking to others, that's the situation of nearly every niche site or new site that hasn't found some golden relationships with advertisers or a sponsorship (I have neither). I hear that some sites make $5 to $8 per 1000 hits, but that is currently the exception rather than the trend that it apparently was in the 90s.

What that means is that if I pay someone for a review (which is all that my primary site currently runs), with my current ad revenue options I have to hope for between 200K and 300K hits to justify the amount I paid that skilled writer. I've been fortunate enough to post some incredible content at a considerable monetary loss because it was personally worth it to me and because it earned incoming links that can impact a site's long-term health, but for a variety of reasons even that content has struggled to earn more than 10K hits.

I don't pay writers by the word (which I've found prevents me from working with most UK game critics), but I'm still not likely to post a lot of long content because it requires more of my time for any necessary editing and--most importantly--because readers are less likely to read through a whole piece. If someone clicks through to an unfamiliar site, a lot of readers will scan to see how long a piece is before they do anything else. Some readers, upon finding that the piece is long, will immediately click away (without reading so much as a word to see if that content is written particularly well) and that impacts that site's bounce rate, which prevents Google from sending the site as much traffic and limits its revenue. If a visitor sees the whole article in that first window, he's more likely to stick around and read it. If a site that occasionally publishes long pieces can't turn that immediately into a selling point, then it may have permanently lost a reader.

Those are a few of the main reasons that you won't see a lot of sites focusing on longer pieces, in case you wondered. Other reasons are typically related to those already mentioned. Such harsh realities are not going to stop me from publishing long pieces that I like--because I'm a dork--but it will stop me and a lot of other great sites from building a budget that allows for regular posting of that quality content. I hope that Grantland defies the odds, because the Internet can always use another site with great writing. Having separate "blogs" and "features" sections seems like a step in the right direction.


Confidence For Writers


Where do writer's get confidence? Success and praise. Success: we are published; we win an award; a lot of people visit our blog. Praise: we get good feedback; people compliment our work; a friend encourages our gifts. Generally, some combination of these is involved in the development of confidence. Some people's confidence is naturally frail: one rejection, or one bad comment, sends them into despair. They resolve never to pick up a pen again. Others glide along, and against all odds, persevere.

Yet, what we are ultimately after is what Leslie Newbigen, in another context, called "proper confidence." We don't want to be overconfident, and think of ourselves -- or our gifts -- more highly than we should. Also, we don't want to be under-confident, and devalue our gifts and abilities. I'm of the school that, if a person works hard, they can be a decent writer. So, I would never discourage anyone from pursuing a life of writing. Yet, when it comes to gifts, some individuals are gifted "off the scale." Here's the rub -- some people who are very gifted don't know it. Then, they don't write because they lack confidence.

I came across this fascinating interchange between Bill Simmons and Tony Kornheiser. It illustrates just how frail even a good writer's confidence can be.

From Kornheiser's show on ESPN 980:

Simmons: “You’re a much bigger issue, because when you sit in front of your computer and stare at an empty Word document, you actually break out in a cold sweat.”
Kornheiser: “That’s right.”
Simmons: “So I have to rehabilitate your confidence and keep talking you up, because I know you have stuff to say still.”
Kornheiser: “I don’t know. I mean, these fingers don’t type....”
Simmons: “You are a good writer. You’re a great writer.”
Kornheiser: “I was good. I’m no longer any good.”
Simmons: “Well listen. Your e-mails are entertaining, so it can’t be like you totally lost it.”
Kornheiser: “No, but I will happily send you e-mails and happily chat with you, but writing....You know, Tony LaRussa gets shingles. That could happen to me.”
Simmons: “Here’s my theory, and I think you and Goldman have the same issue. I think you both think you still can write, but there’s like a 20 percent thing inside you that’s saying ‘No, I’m gonna start typing, and nothing’s gonna be there, and then I’ll know definitively that I’m not a writer any more.’ So you don’t even want to try. So in your head, it’s like ‘I can still secretly write, but I don’t want to.’ ”
Kornheiser: “I watched this happen with people I respect. I watched it happen with two people, and I will mention their names. Roger Kahn and Gay Talese. Gay Talese was about the greatest newspaper and magazine writer I ever saw, and then I read stuff when he hadn’t written in while, I read some stuff that wasn’t quite as good as it used to be. The same was true with Roger Kahn. And I was faking people for years. I mean, I know I stink. I just don’t want to go out there and let everybody see it.”
Simmons: “But you still have, like, five or six things per year that I think you could write that would be original and interesting and be something that only you could write.”
Kornheiser: “Well, the only thing that I could write definitely that nobody else can say is ‘My name is Tony Kornheiser.’ And other than that....I don’t know. I don’t know, Bill.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dirty Jokes Kill Comedy (Eventually)

by CWK

We may think that lewd jokes make for the heartiest laugh. Perhaps such jokes evoke laughter, but the laughter doesn't last. Consider,

Stand-up comedians use obscenity to shock their audiences into paying attention. However, one of the reasons given for the mid-1990s slump in the popularity of comedy clubs was that audiences were turned off by comedians' heavy reliance on vulgarity. Jokes about such (obscene) subjects … surprised audiences into laughing, but it was more often a nervous than a full-hearted laugh (1)

And Carlyle reminds us, “true humor springs not more from the head than from the heart; it issues not in laughter, but in smiles that lie far deeper.''

(1) Encyclopedia of 20th-Century American Humor. Contributors: Alleen Pace Nilsen - author, Don L. F. Nilsen - author. Publisher: Oryx Press. Place of Publication: Phoenix, AZ. Publication Year: 2000. Page Number pg. 261.

Humor and Love

Here's a great reminder of how we can "laugh and love."

The positive sense of humor is a kindly one, whose essence is an affectionate and tolerant understanding of the foibles and follies of ourselves and others, seeing them as part of the human condition. 

From: Joseph Richman, Humor and Creative Life Styles; Journal Title: American Journal of Psychotherapy. Volume: 55. Issue: 3. 

Metaphorical Literature (Chart) by CWK


A is B

“God is love.”
Connection: reveal or conceal

A is like B
“is like”

“The Kgdm of heaven is like…”
Connection: reveal or conceal
A is B in narrative form
-God is often main character
-Indirection -> Indirection.

Prodigal Son
Obscure: conceal, then reveal.
-Uncle Remus

-A is like B in narrative form
-each quality embodies a character, “Fox, Lion, etc.”
-Indirection -> Direction.
-usu. non-human characters

The tortoise and the hair.
-Instruction in morals, wisdom.
OT types
Christ, Church,
Ways of God
B is A, only fuller, greater.  Interwoven in salvation history.
-Lesser to greater.
-Shadow to substance.
-Promise to fulfillment.
-Direction -> fuller direction.

-Levitical system prepares categories  for work of Christ.
-Solomon, Moses, etc. types of Christ.
Progressive Revelation aids in preparation.
-Ezekiel 16-17
-Psalm 80, “The Vine”
B represents
A – some quality of A; usually narrative.
-each character embodies a quality

General and Special
-Plato’s “Cave”
-The Fairy Queen
-Pilgrim’s Progress
- Animal Farm
-Gulliver’s Travels
-The Chronicles of Narnia
-Representation for understanding
-Representation for acceptance.

Fairy Story/
Fairy Tales
-Brothers Grimm
-George Macdonald
Spirit world exaggerates and corresponds to real world.
-Spirit world is like this world.
-Tone: mystery; fear; confusion; beauty.

-Representation for understanding.
-Baptize imagination.
Fictional Narrative
Jane Austen; Jonathon Swift
Extends metaphors in great detail
-This world is like the spirit world.
-Tone: realism; reality; detail.

-Lord of the Rings
Through “sub-creation” delight and inspire.