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We Will Miss Carlin, or Should

June 25, 2008

That I will miss George Carlin may seem out of place on this blog. Of course, many good Christian folks like myself will think I’m supposed to have hated Mr. Carlin and be happy he’s gone. After all, his language was often filthy, he promoted an R-rated freedom of speech in the public square, and he was an atheist who hated religion.

On the other hand, he was right. A lot. And he was FUNNY. And he skewered everyone. He took no prisoners, ever. Left, right, religious or atheist you couldn’t escape the glare of his tongue. I can’t imagine anyone sitting through one of his shows without losing at least one layer of sanctimonious skin during its course.

I think, in his way, Carlin wanted to make the world a better place. His way? Less BS, more honesty. If we are going to say something has value, let’s make *&^$&! sure it does and not be deluded by fantasy or advertising or cultural myths or American Dreams. There’s something biblical, even Christ-like about that mantra. The quote below is credited to him–it certainly captures the spirit of his criticism. (Jesus could have said this–and kinda did):

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways , but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete…

That he aimed at God and believers was hard. I sometimes turned him off when he was spearing God ’cause I just couldn’t take any more. But when he had Believers (of all faiths, by the way) in his sights, belittling stupid ways of viewing God or representing him, we should have all been listening. If we don’t have the stomach to digest our critics, we make a pretty soft, unworthy bunch. Just because he wasn’t one of “ours”–like Dan Merchant and Lord, Save Us From Your Followers–is no reason to write Carlin’s observations off. Clearly, he didn’t see Christians the way we wanted to be seen–and that should tell us something. Some people come by their atheism honestly–paying too close attention to those of us who profess to represent God. We need to hear the kind of criticism he offered on SNL in 1984 without resenting his airing our dirty laundry on a public stage.

I’m not really sure how this church and state separation stuff is gonna work out. Ah, personally, I’m in favor of the separation of church and state. My feeling is that either one of these institutions screws you up bad enough on its own. … You put them together and you got certain death. …

So, uh, I would like to begin the show with a prayer tonight, if you don’t mind. … Uh, this is a little prayer dedicated to the separation of church and state. And I guess if they’re gonna force those kids to pray in school, they might as well have a nice prayer like this:

Our Father who art in Heaven
And to the Republic for which it stands …
Thy kingdom come,
One nation, indivisible
As it is in Heaven …
Give us this day
As we forgive those
Who so proudly we hail …
Crown Thy good
Into temptation …
But deliver us from
The twilight.
Amen …

If you see this as sacrilege, you missed the point. Rest in peace, George, where ever you are.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 23, 2008 11:03 am

    Thanks for this refreshing post. We are talking about a Christianity without, or beyond, the illusions, a faith without the usual props, beyond mere paint and wood, a clarity among us that is yet to be realized I think. As elementary as this might sound, until love is truly master among us, authentic love, the surrendered kind, the kind that costs something, sacrificial and Christlike, I’m not sure this is possible. Till then, it’s like Hamlet said, ‘words, words, words’. All we know in this age is appetite. Christian and non-Christian alike. Greed is like that, I think. It feeds and feeds, and, never being satisfied, it feeds again. And yet greed has no real choice but to eventually consume itself. Maybe there’s a word of hope (mixed with caution) in that somewhere. Anyway, the work of discovery is before us. To rid ourselves of those fictions that drive us, and show something authentic to the world. And you’re right. Let George rest. After all, who among us knows better than him at this moment?

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