Comedy on the edge

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I am a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin’s screen-writing.  His political series The West Wing, is a masterpiece – brilliantly scripted, crisply acted, and not afraid to tackle the most testing topics. His portrayal of anger with God in Season Two’s ‘The two cathedrals‘ is performed on a knife-edge between honesty and offence.

This year I received another Sorkin series, Studio 60, as a Christmas gift. Initially I was disappointed – feeling that the backstage world of a Hollywood late night comedy show could not possibly generate the tension and stimulus of the West Wing.

Last night, I was proved wrong. With a customary deftness of touch Sorkin plays with  issues of decency, tolerance and bigotry in an episode entitled ‘Nevada (1)’. In order to highlight our peculiar approach to religious sensibilities, he casts Jesus as the head of the Broadcast Standards Agency to discuss the misuse of his name on screen. He runs rings around the people he meets, and declares that

Caring for the weakest amongst us, that’s my thing. Lend a hand, be a good neighbour, don’t cast the first stone. Do those things and you can call me Betty for all I care.

If you want to watch the clip in full, including an interesting comment on the relationship between Jesus and his father,you can click  here.

Last year I met a Jewish storyteller who told me that she didn’t realise that Christians could be funny. I think we can – but we don’t always get it right. So afraid of mocking what is holy, we sometimes fight shy of submitting it to scrutiny, don’t you think?

Just yesterday a fellow Pastor  from California wrote to me with reference to @chatbible to say ‘a huge thank you for being confident enough in your faith and the Bible to say it doesn’t need to be mollycoddled’.

Are we ready for some scrutiny of our faith this year?