Monday, November 17, 2008

Colbert Goes to War Against XMAS


Brett R said...

Not very funny really.

I have heard several here claim that Colbert is Christian, but if that is so, how can he mock the idea that Jesus Christ is the son of God? He clearly said that for laughs, and got them.

What does scripture say about Blasphemers and scoffers?

And you post this on your web site?

Mark Baker-Wright said...

I've been commenting about this so-called "War on Christmas" (specifically, how too much is made of it) for a few years now, but I appreciate Colbert's humorous take.

Ben Witherington said...

First of all Colbert is a Roman Catholic Sunday School teacher. Secondly, his persona on the screen as a faux conservative pundit is not him--- its a spoof. If you can't tell the difference between a persona and a person...well then of course you will miss the humor.

And no he was not making fun of the idea of Christ as Son of God.


Jc_Freak: said...

I've always been curious of exactly where Colbert really falls on issues. Anyway...

I think there is something too the war on Christmas, other than the war bit. There is a media force that is trying to bury it under "the season". Much of this force is antiChristian.However, even though this is winning in many areas, still, most people know what what Christmas is really about. It's the kind of thing where a real phenonomon is noted, and then exaggerated.

However, it would be too far to say that Christians are oppressed in this country. It is true that there is a class of people that are coming after us, but it is one class. It's more opposition then oppression. That isn't to say that it's not a bad thing, and shouldn't be combated, but state it like it is. There's no need to exaggerate.

Ben Witherington said...

Having spent time with Christians in places like China, Indonesia, Russia, Turkey where there really is persecution, and sometimes even martyrdom, we have no idea what real persecution looks like.


III said...

"If there's one thing Jesus cared about, it's semantics."

Brilliant. Thanks for posting :)

bhuston said...

There's a point where comedy crosses the line from simple satire to questionably irreverent to blatant blasphemy. I don't care if people write Xmas, but Colbert's liberties crossed all of these lines. Colbert simply sold out, no matter how you try to justify it. At the end of the day, his "faux conservative pundit" still reflects on him and frankly it isn't Christian on any level.


Brett R said...


I'm aware of Colbert's persona, but listen to when he says Jesus is the Son of God. Listen to how he draws laughs with this phrase.

Sunday school teacher or not, he is using the name of Christ to mock others. Not good.

Rob Penn said...

I was going to quote the semantics bit....


Cary said...

@ atruefaith:

"I don't care if people write Xmas..."

The first letter in Christ in Greek is chi, or what looks like a letter "X".

Xmas is still Christmas, just shorter :)

Debbie Kaufman said...

Well...I laughed and I'm Southern Baptist. :) I think a few kneck ties need to be loosened on some of those who have commented here.

Craig L. Adams said...

Actually, I thought that was funny. I'm not a big Colbert fan (it's too much of a put-on), but that one was funny. I do not appreciate all the "War on Christmas" rhetoric. Thanks.

Brett R said...

Well...I laughed and I'm Southern Baptist. :) I think a few kneck ties need to be loosened on some of those who have commented here.

I love things that are funny Debbie, but I'm not sure what was funny Colbert getting laughs from saying that “Jesus is the only Son of God”?

Is getting a few yucks from a mostly unbelieving secular crowd by using the name of Jesus not using the Lord’s name in vain? I know that God’s law isn’t hip, but last time I checked it was still pretty important.

P. H. Atherton said...

I agree Brett r.

The "faux conservative persona" it may be, but the majority of his audience don't care about nor see that. They are laughing AT (not WITH) the idea that the birth of Christ is being buried under postmodern secularism. Which it is, but the larger point is that Christian ideals in general are being targeted for removal by the far left and their pop culture buddies.

And some Christians don't seem to care. Perhaps they're just too afraid of not fitting in?

Ben Witherington said...

What an audience laughs at is entirely unpredictable, and in this case, entirely outside the control of Colbert who was certainly not playing the phrase Son of God for laughs. There is a difference between what is going on with Colbert, and say the sad, snide, satirical stuff of a Maher.


Brett R said...

What an audience laughs at is entirely unpredictable, and in this case, entirely outside the control of Colbert who was certainly not playing the phrase Son of God for laughs.

Now that my friend is humorous.

He didn't say that for laughs? come on now. That sounds about like saying Obama is really against abortion, which you have said also. I guess if someone stands to the left, they can be excused of all sorts of things by you.

captain supremo said...

I actually think part of what makes Stephen Colbert's character so brilliant is that it's not just one layer of irony, but it's two... and I think it's so clever that most people either miss or see only whichever aspect of it that they most agree with.

He's neither the far-right conservative that he pretends to be, nor is he the far-left liberal making all the sarcastic jokes underneath the surface. He's someone between the two of them, poking fun at both. You could almost say that he's a moderate pretending to be an extreme liberal who's pretending to be extremely conservative.

So, he makes a lot of jokes that parody the views of conservative Christianity, it's true. But, at the same time, he takes those jokes so far that he ultimately parodies the views of the most staunch atheist, as well.

I could be wrong about this, but it seems to bring a little harmony to what seem like discrepancies in his personal life and his comedy.

Ben Witherington said...

No, he certainly didn't say that for laughs, and the fact that you think so, says more about your willingingness Brett to jump to conclusions about people than about Stephen Colbert. It rather like you're categorization of me being left-leaning. I suppose you would have chareacterized Jesus the same way the day he cleansed the temple. Colbert is a person who strongly believes in Jesus as the Son of God.


Brett R said...


I don't characterize you as liberal, but I think you have suspended your judgment for Christians that are.

I can only imagine the outrage, if I used the name of Jesus in a joke about liberal Christianity.

Do you really think if Rush Limbaugh would have said something about Jesus in making fun of a liberal, you would be so kind?

I am not saying Colbert doesn't or does believe in Christ, but even Christians are capable of blasphemy. OTOH, I trust very little of what I read about him as he is very seldom serious.

himmiefan said...

I looked at the whole video again, and it's a comedy of contradictions, such as complaining about taking the Christ out of Christmas when many, many people know that the X stands for Christ. With the Jesus as the son of God part, about including others, he's saying that we're including people in a belief that they don't believe in. It's an absurdity, so as usual, the audience is laughing at his absurdness. All in all, I thought the video was very, very funny. My co-workers wondered what I was laughing at.

Jody Howard said...

Great satire. Colbert is great and I love his show. I've often noted (and appreciate) that one has to have a certain amount of general knowledge to understand the satire (like the fact that the X in Xmas really isn't "taking away" anything).

Thanks for posting this video.

Jonathan G Caldwell said...

I usually do not care for Colbert all that much. But I thought that this was funny. I do not believe that he was trying to make the audience laugh as the "son of God" comment - they were laughing at the humor surrounding that comment - Including people in Christianity that do not want to be included.

I am not going to tell people to lighten up. Too much lightening up has gone on for the past 50 years.

And, further, I would be willing to bet that a strong majority of the people in America believe in God and that Jesus is His son. The problem is that we are a SILENT majority. And that is sad.

Concerning the "war on Christmas" - I do not believe that Jesus was born on December 25 and I believe that if the Bible wanted us to celebrate the birth of Christ it would have told us when, where, and how. We are told to remember the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and we do that when we partake of the Lord's Supper.

ezekiel said...

No one has mentioned the fact that when he asked, "If not this season, where else will we defend Christianity?", the word "Darfur" appeared on the screen. On this he's right, isn't he? Most American Christians are more concerned with protecting the "reason" behind our consumerist extravaganza than confronting the atrocities of war in Darfur. (Interestingly, some of these Christians defend the war in Iraq because of humanitarian reasons.)

Moreover, Colbert points out the hypocrisy in claiming that "Jesus is the reason" and still practicing sacred elements that are in no way related to the Bible or Jesus (tree, etc.).

Colbert is making fun of people who strain out a gnat ("keeping the Christ in Christmas") but swallow a camel (the plight of the oppressed). No wonder they don't think it's funny.

Brett R said...

Colbert is making fun of people who strain out a gnat ("keeping the Christ in Christmas") but swallow a camel (the plight of the oppressed). No wonder they don't think it's funny.

He Ezekiel,

Please don't assume that I object to this because I am concerned about the war on Christmas. But, this begs the question, why every time a conservative Christian objects to something (i.e. abortion), we must rebuffed with the notion that there are other evils in the world?

I find this objectionable as it is most clearly blasphemy. I would say the same if it were Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh, and I'm sure you would agree with me then.

Stanford J. Young said...

Thanks for posting that hilarious video with a useful message behind it.

The problem here in this discussion is that Colbert is simply having fun with folks who take themselves and the whole "Christmas" thing too seriously - and it seems these are the ones griping about his video. He's saying, in his own hilarious way, "lighten up."

Worrying over how Christmas is viewed by the general populous , or over Colbert's humor,is fretting over the washing of hands, it seems to me.

Yes, Colbert is a bit crude - but, that's really nothing relative to the kinds of barrier-building socio-political views that come from the ultra-cons on the religious right.

Nance said...

I don't think that Colbert was using Christ's name as a punch-line... but all the same, I think that this was probably 'vain', and therefore not good.

His actual meaning, as some of the last commenters have discussed, I think is important and insightful. If we're lost in one failing of the man's in the misuse of the holy name of our Lord, we'll miss how he's nevertheless being used to speak truth into a nation full of Christians concerned with the absolute wrong things, and doing damage or (at best) accomplishing nothing when they could be actually seeing Christ's name out in the world and glorified by a better use of their passions.

Blake said...

I don't think Colbert was trying to get a laugh when he made 'the Son of God' comment, but I found the entire sketch very irreverent. I mean, he says 'G-D D-MN'! What else do you want? Not condemning Colbert because of this, but I don't see how any Christian can not take offense to this? I am not perfect, but if were to say something like this I would expect one of my brother or sisters in Christ to rebuke me for it.

Plus, I guess I just don't understand how someone who has been saved could joke about any subject that involved the Lord. To me, people who do not believe in Jesus probably watched that and laughed and were happy that Jesus was belittle. Even if that was not Colbert's intent.

Robert Lukenbill said...

I found this humorous and not because of the Son of God references, but rather because it describes the denominations far Right very well. They are quick to combat all the evils of society that downplay Xmas or Christmas, but when it comes to the poor or the homeless they are no where to be found in many cases.

I don't think this was an inappropriate posting for this blogsite and in fact it goes along with Ben's great humor with many are lacking in "Religion".

God bless you Ben!