Tuesday, February 5, 2008

South Park Video and The Bad Language of the Church

This is the second in a series of presentations I am doing using short film clips from the South Park television show. I am using federal fair use copyright law in using these. The intent is to give short teachings related directly to the clip which is part of falling under fair use.

This particular clip is one of my favorites. When I do my presentation across the country, it is one that seems to get the biggest laughs. It is funny, but rich with meaning. One has to watch it several times due to the ease of missing things in the video.

I remember a number of years ago watching a musical artist Time Magazine called the Most Prolific Song Writer of the 20th Century talk about how Christians in particular just didn’t know how to communicate. That musician, Larry Norman, couldn’t have been more correct. It seems that after people become Christians they learn a 2nd super secret, coded language. Terms like, “Born Again,” “Saved,” “Baptism of the Holy Spirit,” “Slain in the Spirit,” “Washed in the Blood,” and among my favorites, “Sanctified,” “Anointed” or “Glorified.” This language spiritualizes things that don’t need to be, and makes things confusing for the person we are speaking to.

I know a little American Sign Language. It is one of those things I practice and use often, although not as much as I would like. Sometimes I have fun with it and speak to people who I know knows nothing of it. They become confused, paranoid and to be honest, normally don’t like it because it is as if I am flaunting my knowledge. When we over spiritualize things, speak in terms that aren’t typical then we tend to have the same effect on people.

As a Christian, I am amazed how easily my fellow followers of Jesus forget that one of the beautiful things about the person of Jesus was his willingness to go out of his way to communicate and relate to the common person. His actions in remind me of something my grandfather taught me when I was growing up. Paps told me that whenever I was speaking I needed to make sure I spoke in a way the least educated person in the audience could understand. He knew what he was talking about as he was the smartest man I ever knew, and he only had a third grade education. Paps understood when sharing about faith with others, or when carrying on a conversation with a group, that if the least educated understood then every person understood. If someone had to use big words to show their intelligence, they would often garnish little respect.

I love this clip because it helps illustrate some of those concepts. It illustrates how religious people take their faith and make it so hard to understand that it will have little effect on those hearing it. My forgiver and leader, Jesus Christ spoke often about becoming as a child, he also had a special place for children. These children, whether intending or not, teach us lessons about how confusing our language is. See if you can relate. Until the next South Park Lesson, enjoy, have a laugh, and learn once again, from Cartman.

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