Saturday, October 2, 2010
Funny is funny, isn't it?
I love to watch Rowan Atkinson’s skit in which he plays the Devil welcoming new souls to hell. Atkinson’s timing is impeccable, and delivery flawless. I loved him in the Blackadder series, and Mr. Bean, and this is really more of the same first rate comedy.
He spares no one including us Christians, and it is one of the funniest routines I have ever seen. “Ah hello, its good to see you all here,” as if the devil would be so genteel and polite. He greets them, and tells a joke to break the tension, then begins dividing them into groups based on their sin of choice. “Adulterers over here and all other fornicators over there. Male adulterers if you would just form a line in front of that small guillotine in the corner.” Atkinson's Devil Welcome
I’ve watched it multiple times, and always enjoy it, but maybe I shouldn’t enjoy it. An eternity in hell is a real possibility facing every soul born into the world. If I laugh at these jokes do I in some way reject or diminish the awful finality, or the unremitting anguish and suffering of hell? Do I by my levity lead an uninstructed soul to the notion that there is nothing to fear in a life of sin?
We don’t appear to need comedians to go about diminishing the reality of hell, there are plenty of ministers that are downright anxious to do the job. I guess polite society doesn’t care for a god that is mean and sends people to hell. But what did our Lord say on that topic? “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” (Luke 12:4-5 King James Version)
Are we to fear real fire and pain in hell? Many say not. Yet our Lord told a story, some say it is a parable, but then again the Lord gives names to the characters of the story, but does not in any other parable, and in this story, “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” (Luke 16: 24-25 King James Version)
Sounds for all the world to me like a real place with real fiery torment, not just psychological angst, and separation from God only.