"The Other ‘S’ Word" with Jon Acuff

November 2, 2009

I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve worked in a church for almost 10 years and was involved in many churches and ministries before that, but for some reason, I really, really, really love the website Stuff Christians Like. I think it has a lot to do with just how universal and odd some things are in the Christian faith–and really, how funny some things are.

The other ‘s’ word is “satire” by the way. A lot of people were afraid it was “sex.” And by afraid, I think I mean hopeful because the room was packed out like the youth room when I send out a postcard with the word “sex” on it.

Jon started out with some of his funny things. He talked about Deep V-Neck Syndrome, Booty God Booty (one of my favorites), saying “I’ll pray for you,”, and breaking up with someone after the retreat.

Satire can be an important vehicle for truth.

Satire is not permission to be a jerk or mock anyone.

Satire is humor with a purpose.

Here are three things Satire does:

1. Satire surprises. It is not expected or predictable. It breaks down walls.

2. Satire admits faults and creates authenticity. We can be honest about the small things through satire–often the small things are very funny. Look for small stories kids in the youth group can connect to.

3. Satire reflects. “It’s better to look at the clouds for ideas than to chum the water for sharks.” Kids are already cynical, they don’t need help. There should not be a victim.

He expressed his frustration with how the church usually deals with humor. It comes out cheesy or we condemn it as sinful. But God gave us laughter. There are funny things in the Bible.

Maybe satire is not your thing. If this is the case, you need to find another device that you are good that at surprises, admits and reflects. As Christians, we have a responsibility to do these things.

When asked about creativity, Jon said, “Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye.” He said his creativity flows out of his quiet time with God. Writing about God is not the same as spending time with God.

When asked about the difference between satire and sarcasm:

Satire usually has a purpose.
Sarcasm often does not have a purpose.

He also mentioned that he really wanted Zondervan to make the title of his new book “Stuff Christians Like: The Book C.S. Lewis Would Have Written if He Were 40% more sarcastic and 100% Less Dead.”