Joel Kilpatrick is the founder of the religion satire website, LarkNews.com, and has been profiled in Christianity Today and Time. He has authored and coauthored many books, including the satirical, A Field Guide to Evangelicals and Their Habitat.
Q What inspired you to start a website of satirical Christian news?
A I had written well-received satire in college. Then I graduated and kind of got serious. Five years into my career as a writer for Christian publishers and magazines, the Holy Spirit began bugging me about creating a satirical Christian newsletter. I resisted his nagging because I thought I would lose work over it. But I couldn’t get away from the idea, so I finally gave in and started LarkNews in January 2003 just so it would fail and I could move on to other things. But it became popular very fast.
Q Has your well-meaning humor been misinterpreted in the past?
A Yes, especially in the beginning. When I started LarkNews I was astonished that nobody else was satirizing evangelicals with any real knowledge of them. That meant that evangelical audiences were caught off guard when LarkNews came along. Several big radio shows and news outlets spent time denouncing LarkNews stories before learning they were not true. Then they got angry that someone would deceive them. As I said, it was new territory for a lot of us.
Q Is there anything off limits in what you will joke about?
A I addressed that very question in my recent book God, That’s Funny. The book talks about God’s humorous personality throughout the Bible — not in some yuk-yuk way but deeper than that. God is funny in virtually everything he does, and his humor takes many forms: bizarre, sly, mischievous, scathing, tenderly teasing and openly satirical. We are far less humorous, daring and fun-loving than he is. I want people to know him that way.
Q What do you think Jesus’ funniest line was?
A My favorite passage is in John 1 where Jesus messes with Nathanael, mocking him as a man “in whom there is no guile.” This provokes Nathanael’s hostile response, and Jesus then goes on to make fun of Nathanael even more. The entire conversation is an example of how Jesus entered so many situations with mockery, a joke or a ridiculous statement (“The girl is not dead. She is only sleeping!” At which they, appropriately, laughed). He even treated his miracles like improv comedy. Satire and slyness are Jesus’ favorite language in the New Testament. Once you see that he messes with people — and with you and me — it draws you closer to him. Humor flows from love and trust. That’s why the worst “humor” is angry, insulting and insecure. Jesus is none of those things, of course. God is love, and God is very funny. He created comedy.
This article originally appeared in the NAE Insight.