A History of Religious Satire from the Hebrew Prophets to Stephen Colbert
Published by: NYU Press
384 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- ISBN: 9781479886739
- Published: November 2015
Winner of the 2016 Religious Communication Association Book of the Year Award
In God Mocks, Terry Lindvall ventures into the muddy and dangerous realm of religious satire, chronicling its evolution from the biblical wit and humor of the Hebrew prophets through the Roman Era and the Middle Ages all the way up to the present. He takes the reader on a journey through the work of Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales, Cervantes, Jonathan Swift, and Mark Twain, and ending with the mediated entertainment of modern wags like Stephen Colbert.
Lindvall finds that there is a method to the madness of these mockers: true satire, he argues, is at its heart moral outrage expressed in laughter. But there are remarkable differences in how these religious satirists express their outrage.The changing costumes of religious satirists fit their times. The earthy coarse language of Martin Luther and Sir Thomas More during the carnival spirit of the late medieval period was refined with the enlightened wit of Alexander Pope. The sacrilege of Monty Python does not translate well to the ironic voices of Soren Kierkegaard. The religious satirist does not even need to be part of the community of faith. All he needs is an eye and ear for the folly and chicanery of religious poseurs.
To follow the paths of the satirist, writes Lindvall, is to encounter the odd and peculiar treasures who are God’s mouthpieces. In God Mocks, he offers an engaging look at their religious use of humor toward moral ends.
"Lindvall provides a comedic...analysis of the role of satire in religious life across the ages. Lindvall makes the case that satire has been part of religious observances from the outset." ~Publishers Weekly
"Terry Lindvall, a stand-up comedian cleverly disguised as an academic, makes the difficult art of humor look easy withGod Mocks." ~Virginia-Pilot
"Lindvall showcases his breadth as a historian and flair as a writer. He presents an abundance of content with a witty turn of phrase, which many will drink in with delight … it seems implicit that the book was written for educated readers—those who have some knowledge of history and comedic writing. It would certainly be suitable for an upper-level undergraduate or graduate level classroom." ~Religious Studies Review
"This is an excellent overview and introduction to numerous authors of religious satire...will appeal to readers of literary criticism and church history buffs seeking a unique perspective." ~Library Journal
"God Mocksis a catalogue of hundreds of years of religious satire, parody, caricature, commentary, and mockery and most importantly, the differencebetween each and why some are more effective than others all intended to comment on the influence and practices of various religion orders and organizations over the centuries." ~San Francisco Book Review
"This is a godsend for those interested in the role of humor in Christianity. It is remarkably comprehensive and detailed without being pedantic. Lindvalls writing sparkles with the same wit he is chronicling, making this book a delight to read." ~John Morreall,author of Comedy, Tragedy, and Religion
"Readers of Lindvall will certainly understand satire better, while homilists who borrow from his wealth of examples will prompt at least a few hearty laughs from the pews." ~Emmanuel
"God Mocksshould be required reading for all ministers and religious bloggers that regularly speak or write with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other." ~Patheos
"I read Lindvalls book with great appreciation and learned a lot. It contained so much more than I expected, a virtual history of religious mockery, which no one has attempted before. It is a significant contribution to religious and cultural studies. Beside that, it is a just plain good read." ~Harvey Cox,Hollis Research Professor of Divinity, Harvard University
"God Mocksleads readers through the comic savagery that believers have perfected over the centuries...Lindvall's book unfurls a delightfully variegated tapestry." ~Christianity Today
"From Balaam's ass to Erasmus to Kierkegaard to The Onion, Lindvall finds redemption in satire's impulse to make us better human beings." ~The Christian Century
"Lindvalls prose is elegant, and he is a fine guide on this rollicking, significant tour de force that belongs in all academic literature." ~Catholic Library World