Comedians of every sort have taken on religion since those monkeys touched that monolith. These criticisms and satires are usually delivered by humorists thinking outside of any established church or religion. Likewise, their messages are often only heeded to by other atheists, agnostics, spiritual-but-not-religionists, pantheists, panENtheists, post-theists, infidels, Satanists, and those ever-allusive “nones.” These comedians are preaching to some sort of unholy choir.
And yet, even as a member of said choir, I can’t help but see these irreligious warriors as actually akin to the prophets of the Jewish Tanakh, especially Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos, and Habakkuk.
You see the prophets from the Babylonian exile are hyper-critical of Israel. All condemn the sins of the individuals of Israel. It seems they’ve been worshiping other Gods and just generally not following the rules. Shame on you Israel, someone should correct you. You’re the one with these rules, you should probably follow them yourselves Some of the prophets go even further. They don’t just chastise the people, they draw into question the importance of the Temple, usually though of as central to ancient Israelite religion. Habakkuk, along with the story of Job, go so far as to even question God.
So now I present to you Comedians and Prophets: The Parallel quotes.
These comedians are critical, sharp, brazen, often ragged (at least Frank Zappa) and have much more in common with the ancient Prophets than these televangelists, or indeed many priests, ministers, and pastors of today. The prophetic voice was countercultural and was aimed at institution, priest, and laity alike Though they operate outside of the churches, it may well be these comedians that the churches have to look to in order to realize their lofty purposes (provided their purpose isn’t the accrual of wealth).
If you believe the New Testament narrative (which is problematic but it helps my point along), Israel ignored and killed the prophets because they didn’t like their message. Only later did they canonize them as prophets in their holy book. If the only difference between blasphemer and prophet is time and getting published in the right book, let’s just skip those steps.