Written by Jesse Hove of Toronto, Ontario
Some of our readers have called to express concern over our article about the fake Happy News Translation in our previous issue. We’re sorry that this satire and its adjacent commentary didn’t convey more clearly that this phony translation does not actually exist. The article was actually written to show in an exaggerated, satirical way how our flesh might lead us to ignore or water down the hard parts of Scripture. Sometimes, humour falls flat. Ultimately the key intent was to encourage readers to resist such urges and to cling to the full gospel, including parts of Scripture that challenge us. We will be more careful in the future.
We asked Jesse Hove to explain the value of satire as a genre, why it’s effective today, and why he likes using it to communicate with youth and young adults across Canada.
We live in a world where reality and truth are becoming more and more obscured every day.
The media blurs truth to fit their political narrative, scholars turn opinion into historical fact, and national leaders run entire political campaigns on false or exaggerated claims and promises. As Christians I believe one way to convict and respond to this culture is through satire.
Probably the most famous Christian satirist was Jesus Christ Himself. When Jesus calls out hypocritical judgement in Matthew 7:3, He asks His listeners why they “look at the speck of sawdust” in their “brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank” in their own eye. This is the satirical method of hyperbole which Jesus often uses, but is not the only method of satire in His tool box. In Luke 5 the Pharisees are complaining that Jesus is hanging out with “sinners” and Jesus is sarcastic in response that “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick,” and that He has not “come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Jesus is fully aware of their sin and the great need of their own repentance but uses sarcasm to convict the hypocrisy in their heart.
This was the goal of my previous satire article in discussing an entirely fictional translation of God’s Word the “Happy News.” By exaggerating the folly of some forms of modern biblical interpretation, my goal was to convict us into a greater submission of God’s Word.
While this literary form of satire is used throughout the Bible, it has also been proven to connect with younger audiences today. Increasingly, young adults are finding satirical characters like Stephen Colbert, satirical news programs like The Daily Show and satirical websites like The Onion to be more informative and interesting than traditional news sources. The popularity of satirical Christian websites such as The Babylon Bee and Lark News shows Christian young adults are no different.
Satire is not something for us to be afraid of, but is a literary tool that can be used to speak the truth of Jesus Christ into the hearts and minds of young adults in a way that the WWJD bracelets simply aren’t doing anymore.