James McGrath: Jesus, Laurel, and Hardy

James F. McGrath, What Jesus Learned from Women (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2021), 64. (See my review of McGrath’s book here.)

How might it change our perception if we imagine Jesus not merely reciting a verbal parable about a man with a speck in his eye, but performing it as a skit, perhaps with assistance from his apprentices? Imagine Laurel and Hardy or Abbot and Costello acting out a scene in which one of them has a tiny speck of something in his eye and calls for help, and help comes in the form of his friend who has a problem of his own, a lengthy board sticking out of his own eye. Slapstick hilarity ensues. Not only is it possible to teach through entertainment, but genuinely comical (or otherwise engaging) performance can be particularly effective, as it lures the audience in and then challenges us after we’ve lowered our defenses. Most religious people know this from our experience of effective sermons and holiday pageants. Why do we tend to think that these tried and true teaching techniques were unknown to Jesus or somehow beneath him?

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