As we often do on the way home from church on Wednesday nights, my kids and I were listening to MPR’s Fresh Air last week, and Terri Gross was interviewing the comedian Louie C.K. It was an interesting interview from several angles, but one section of it specifically caught my attention.
Terri asked him about the response from Christians to some of his more offensive material (and it is quite offensive), and he responded with a story -
I did this thing, this clip that went viral on “Conan” about everything is amazing and nobody’s happy, and it just was about appreciating what the world is like and not, you know, grousing about it. And it got really popular with Christian groups. And I heard that a lot of pastors would play it before their services and stuff. Anyway, so a lot of people that saw it would go to my website and be horrified by everything else that I say.
My comment to pastors:
So I guess here’s more evidence that you should do your research before you put up videos during sermons, or ‘like’ a clip on Facebook, or link to them on your blog. Because as a result of your actions, your congregation – those people who trust you – could be taken in directions you didn’t mean them to be.
So I got a lot of emails from people saying, why can’t you just keep it clean? Because I am now shut off from your act by the horrible things you said, and that’s such a shame. And I would not really respond to them because I don’t usually return emails, but in my head and to a few of them I said, well, you’re the one putting the limit. Not me. I mean I’m saying a bunch of stuff, and you’re saying that I should only say one facet of it. That’s a limit…. But at the same time, when these people would write to me, I kind of liked them. So whenever I’ve encountered a Christian saying, why don’t you stop talking like that so that I can hear you, you know? I think, well you’re the one putting the earmuffs on, but at the same time, I wish you could hear me because I like you…
My comment to Christians:
Did you see that? Despite the fact that he’s heard from lots of Christians complaining about his act he still ‘kind of liked them?’ He said it twice. Whoever wrote to him, good for you. You apparently didn’t alienate him. I’d like to know what you said.
This is yet another reminder that our message to non-Christians (even critical messages) can be made more palatable to the receiver if we say it in gracious ways.
He continued further:
… There’s been a lot of really simple vilification of right-wing people. And it’s really easy to just say, ah, you’re Christian, and you’re anti-this and that, and I hate you, and you should just go away. But it’s more interesting to find out, what is this kind of person like and how do they really think? Do I have any common ground with people like that who find me really, really offensive?
My comment to Louis:
It was encouraging to hear you say that you liked us. Or some of us. Thanks!
Yes, there is common ground. Listening to other parts of the interview, I heard that you love your daughters and want to protect them from offensiveness. We do, too, and we call that honorable. It sounds like you’re fairly strongly against suicide. We are, too, and we think positively about your comments calling it wrong, considering what they may prevent. You like honesty. We like it, too.
But there’s one other very important common ground that we share (at least I assume we do): You and Christians both care about what happens to you, Louis, and your soul when you die.
If we Christians are thinking biblically, this is much more important to us than any offensiveness in what you show on your website. Can we talk about it?