I love The Onion. When I was a newspaper publisher and editor I loved reading the headlines and laughing at how closely the writers of that satirical newspaper came to making their fake headlines seem almost real. It takes skill and nuance to consistently produce satire, and often there are just as many misses as there are hits with less talented writers and humorists.
When the Babylon Bee, a satirical Christian digital newspaper, came out, I loved it. The writers are hilarious and consistently produce nearly true or could be true headlines almost every day. I’ve quoted the Bee a few times, always admiringly. I mean, who doesn’t laugh at these satire news headlines?
- Sermon On Tithing Moves Congregation To Commit 10% Of Their Attention…
- Megachurch Apologizes After Statement Of Faith Found On Its Website
- Local Man Waiting For Second Person To Gather So Jesus Can Show Up
- New Journaling Bible To Eliminate Scriptural Text Entirely
All those are hilarious takes on the foibles and issues facing Christians today. The Bee takes on Christian Living, Church Life, Theology, Megachurches, Politics…no sphere is sacred and all have been lampooned. Most, devastatingly so.
However, I’ve had a growing sense of dismay over the Bee’s existence these last few months. Recently I posted this on The End Time Facebook Page:
“The Babylon Bee (BB) is an American Christian satirical news media outlet. African News Updates (ANU) is an African news AND satire outlet. All of the BB is satire. Some of the ANU site presents real news and some of it is satire, but they’re labeled. The top story is from the Babylon Bee, posted July 19, and is satire. The bottom story is from African News Updates, posted July 14 and is NOT satire. It’s real news and it’s horrible.” The two stories are not related…except for the fact that visible Christianity is getting so ridiculous it’s hard to tell when it’s fake and when it’s real. I say “visible Christianity” because the true church is always beautiful in God’s eyes.”
And that is the issue. The world of Christianity is so wayward today that many of the satires on the Babylon Bee could actually be happening. And so, many people post and re-post them as actual. I was thinking about this issue a great deal but was unsure how to approach my thoughts which had not yet coalesced.
Then today I came across the Wretched Daily Clip from Todd Friel, which mentioned this exact issue before moving on to explain the theology. Friel said,
Several people also sent me an article, and I have to confess to you that it’s tragic that they did…not that they themselves are the tragedy, but because we are living in a world right now where this could be possible…the headline is about a megachurch that debuts a water slide baptismal.
I thought it was sad that people had sent in the article as a truthful article with the statements of, ‘shucks, what is the world coming to, Todd?’ More and more people believe the Babylon Bee articles are real, because as Friel said, it is possible. Outlandish is no longer outlandish. The ridiculous is the new normal. An entire generation of youth have grown up with the kind of Christianity the Bee lampoons, who don’t know it’s wrong.
My concern in writing a blog has always been to produce clarity, provoke thought, and of course, exalt God. My fear has always been that I would instead be adding to the general confusion. My grief would be to write something that leads someone astray.
So today my question is, do we need a Babylon Bee? Does the Babylon Bee exalt God? Provoke thought? Promote clarity? Or does it add to the general confusion? I submit that it does the latter.
Not that clarity, thought, and exaltation are the only ‘good’ in Christianity. Humor and laughter are fine. I’m not a fuddy duddy. However, my own opinion is that we are so far gone that the sting of a Bee is lost on a crowd that believes its stories to be real. In 1950, I could envision that a media outlet such as the Babylon Bee would immediately be seen as satire. Pastors wore suits and ties, preached from the Bible and not from anecdotes, didn’t arrive on a zipline, didn’t have a smoke machine, and were intentional about their call for their congregation to pursue holiness. Nowadays, not so much.
The sad thing is that the point is made by the end of Friel’s 2 minute clip. The satirical waterslide baptism? It turns out that one of his staff members informed Friel that there actually is a church that baptizes their kids in a pool with a fire truck and confetti shoots out of a cannon when the child comes up out of the water.
So…do we need a Babylon Bee?