Monday, June 23, 2008

Who’s Laughing Now? George Carlin 1937-2008

My friend and colleague Rev. Jim Mascow of Tyrone Covenant Presbyterian Church in Fenton, Michigan penned these thoughts about the death of comedian George Carlin.

Who’s Laughing Now?

George Carlin 1937-2008

"Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?" Ezekiel 18:23

George Carlin died yesterday (June 22). He was a comedian who became famous back in the 70’s with his seven vulgar words routine. Carlin was a talented counter-cultural performer. He understood wit and humor in the tradition of Mark Twain. It takes a comedian to spot and lampoon the duplicity and inconsistencies of our culture. But Carlin found his fame by pushing the envelope with his jokes. He particularly went after people of faith with traditional values. This reflected his view of life. To Carlin, nothing was sacred. There are no norms or values that come from a Deity or tradition that should have any hold on us today. My wife was a guest with a number of relatives who went to one of his shows several years ago. His first two jokes were so profane that she walked out. He openly ridiculed not only the Christian faith, but Jesus Christ. Who’s laughing now George?

It’s not my intent to gloat over the death of a non-believer, but to point out the old Pascal’s wager/argument. It goes like this: I believe in God and in Jesus Christ, George Carlin did not. If I’m wrong, the worst that can happen to me is that I will have missed out on some of the worldly pleasures indulged in by unbelievers (though the benefits of having a coherent value system far outweighs that loss). If Carlin is wrong, he has to give an account of his life to the Living God that he mocked all his life. Don’t think that Carlin wasn’t thinking about that during his lifetime. Some of his best jokes had to do with coming before God and realizing that he’d rather be in Hell anyway. Mr. Carlin, your wish has come true.

Psalm 14:1 says that "The fool says in his heart 'There is no God.'" The New Testament Epistle to the Romans (chapters 1 &2) say that there is plenty of evidence of God’s existence through creation so to render man without excuse. When people say they don’t believe in God, they are often infuriated with those who do. Comedians like George Carlin, Bill Maher, Chris Rock, and a whole host of others make a living ridiculing people who don’t share their unbelief. We should take no pleasure in the death of anyone, especially those who will come before God still in their sin.

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