I love it when Stephen Colbert gets sacrilegious.
Well, maybe that's a strong word for what the comedian often does on "The Colbert Report," his nightly parody of reactionary news shows. (We've written about Colbert before, including the host's actual faith background.) In regular bits inspired by the latest religious news, he doesn't really desecrate the sacred as much as lampoon the ways religion - with all its rules and restrictions - often gets in the way of faith.
Colbert was at it again last night with a routine about a Doritos contest ad. The commercial, which never aired, suggested that churches could increase attendance by offering snack chips rather than bread during communion (you'll find it at the 2:15 mark in the above video). With an eye on corporate sponsorship for his show, Colbert heartily endorsed the idea, asking "Why can't Jesus be a Dorito?"
If you're already uncomfortable, be forewarned that there's more (including an idea for using Mountain Dew in "extreme baptism"). Yet I'd propose this sort of joking is valuable even beyond the way Colbert intends. Laughing about the ways we've let religion get in the way of a relationship with God can actually bring us closer to him. After all, what is more personal - more bonding - than sharing a laugh? It's often the way our closest friendships and romances are formed.
As for Colbert's stunts, we may think of them as laughing at God, but in reality the joke is on us and the way we use religion to try and put God in a box. I even wonder if God might find "The Colbert Report" funnier than we do. If he does, in a sense then aren't we laughing together?
Do you think that's a possibility? Is there any upside to this sort of irreverence or am I just looking for justification after enjoying a good, guilty laugh? And if such joking does have a place, when might it go too far?