A Laughing Stock

Ewan takes me to task for describing the activities of Rep anthony Weiner as risible.  In a comment on Bring Back Sin he writes, “I do not think the description of Weiner’s pathetic and sordid behaviour as ‘risible escapades’ to be at all appropriate. I know it is true the Lord ‘laughs at the wicked’ but I sense it does not apply in the way suggested by the phrasing here. What he did was shameful and brought disgrace to himself and no doubt distress to his family. We certainly shouldn’t laugh indulgently at such actions as if they were minor infractions.”

Ewan has a point. The actions of Weiner in tweeting lewd pictures of himself to young women and girls was despicable. His initial stubborn refusal to resign was unfortunately only to be expected. Such behaviour, especially  in an elected representative tasked with legislating for the community, is to be roundly condemned. The only area in which Edwin and I differ is in the tactics we use to deal with such incidents.

As we look at Scriptures, especially the Old Testament we see that the prophets had a somewhat robust way of dealing with those who threw over God’s instructions for life. Outright condemnation was a typical response, but not the sole one.

We find them using plain abuse as Amos did in describing the wealthy women of his day who exploited the poor as “cows of Bashan” Amos 4:1. Ezekiel employed a number of symbolic actions, including eating food cooked on human excrement, to make God’s point concerning Jerusalem Ezekiel 4,5.

Most startling perhaps is what occurs in one of the great dramatic events of Scripture, the contest on Mount Carmel I Kings 18. There, as the priests of Baal called on their god,  danced around and frantically slashed themselves Elijah did not denounce them, he mocked them, he employed sarcasm. “Perhaps your god is deep in
thought, could he be busy on another project, or has he nodded off? Maybe he is relieving himself on the toilet,” is a fair paraphrase of Elijah’s response.

Mockery or laughter is not necessarily indulgent, it can be an appropriate response to wrongdoing, even to evil. In the case of Weiner mockery can be considered a fitting response, amongst others. As Ewan points out what he did was not a minor infraction. Weiner did something despicable and yet clung to his position. He acted in a way which he would have condemned in others and yet insisted he had done nothing wrong. He brought shame to his family and acted as though he were shameless. In such a situation laughter and mockery can be the right response to the self-righteous who appear impervious to reasoned criticism. It is difficult to maintain position when you are a laughing stock.

We should use all the tools at our command in the endeavour to uphold God’s law, that includes humour. General Booth supposedly asked why the devil should have all the good tunes. Perhaps we should ask why the devil should have all the laughter.

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About Campbell

Now retired but once upon a time a parish minister in Glasgow, before that the South West and initially the Black Isle. Been a prison chaplain and lecturer. Still am constantly bemused by the weird world around me.
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One Response to A Laughing Stock

  1. Ewan Wilson says:

    Good evening! Having been ‘off line’ for a few blessed days away from the screen I have only just seen this. Actually, I think we would be in substantial agreement about the Scriptures’ robust withering way of dealing with miscreants. However laughter can be, like anger, a dangerous tool. It can indulge the behaviour fondly as if shared pleasure can be drawn from an act or situation. I think it is sometimes open to miscontruction and in this instance I felt it lent itself to that. However I do as I say wholeheartedly endorse what you say in response, so maybe it’s not entirely misplaced humour though the behaviour is seriously sad and disgusting.

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