Friday, January 29, 2010

A Godless Take on Abraham and Isaac

OK, I know this is supposed to be atheist humor and all that, but are there any other believers out there who find this Abraham sketch hilarious? I've watched it a dozen times, and it still cracks me up.

One of my favorite books ever is Søren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, which is an extended reflection on the Abraham and Isaac story, and one of my favorite blog posts ever is Mr. Fob's wrenching reflection on the same. So appropriate, I guess, that I add this sketch to the collection.

Every once in a while, some mentally unstable parent makes national headlines by reenacting the drama of Abraham and Isaac in real life, except that in their "revelatory" experiences, God forgets to tell them it's just a test. Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling agonizes over the dangerous potential of preaching on the story of Abraham and Isaac, for fear of certain inappropriately pious parishioners taking it too literally.

So part of me thinks this is absolutely no laughing matter at all. Still, I laugh my ass off every time I watch this. Maybe it's because the story of Abraham and Isaac is so existentially unnerving, and I need the comic relief to help me process it.

But I guess I also like it because it so deliciously lampoons the kind of mindless, uncaring group-think I find to be the antithesis of true faith. My southern, fundamentalist sister-in-law thinks the sketch is hilarious too. So maybe to the chagrin of my atheist readers who think this is a spot-on portrait of faith... For what it's worth, at least two believers appreciate it for what it tells us faith is not.

(Or maybe it's just that the lines are so perfectly delivered. The guy who plays God in this sketch is brilliant!)

6 comments:

kuri said...

Have you ever read Woody Allen's version?

MoHoHawaii said...

You might also like Mr. Deity, a Web-based comedy sketch series. (Season1, episode 4 is particularly funny.)

EL said...

All I can say is "Brilliant!"

Reuben said...

Hilarious...
Here's another
good one.

Year One, overall, was a pretty weak movie... but I really did enjoy the reinterpretation of some famous biblical stories...

sara said...

The only interpretation I have heard is that Abraham failed the test for not refusing. There's scriptural basis for that as well.

J G-W said...

Sara - I've heard that interpretation of the Abraham and Isaac story as well.

That interpretation is certainly more comforting and makes a lot more sense if you believe that the principle "thou shalt not kill" is an absolute principle from which we should never waver -- even if God himself commanded us to break it.

That interpretation certainly seems to have been the inspiration for this sketch -- given how God is portrayed as saying, "You're sure you'd tell me if you thought I was asking you to do something wrong..." And then the sarcastic tone in his voice later on when he says, "Oh, YOU passed!"