Musical whiz Tim Minchin has performed a pop culture Christmas carol:
Praise be to Magic Woody Allen Zombie Superman Komodo Dragon Telepathic Vampire Quantum Hovercraft Me Jesus!
What is it? Like pretty much all comedy, there’s a point to it and there’s something that it’s skewering. Tim Minchin more or less explains it himself: the song is about a stupid idea that ought to be ridiculed, the idea that Jesus is a supernatural being. It’s no surprise that the song takes up the Zombie Jesus meme. It’s a pop culture carol but you could also call it an atheist carol.
What’s your response to it? Firstly, this song marks an addition to the who-owns-Christmas debate (see also here and here). Which Jesus is on view here? In this case, it’s an Atheist Jesus rather than a Christian Jesus, rather than My Jesus. So, as a citizen, I’d say this is another voice at the public table. It’s simply up for discussion, not censuring or censoring. I’d better hear it and engage with it, whether or not it agrees with me.
Secondly, this song generates laffs by riffing on Christian belief. On one hand, as a Christian, I can laugh along with it because it’s a deliberate caricature, as with Eddie Izzard’s comedy. Tim Minchin and I have at least one thing in common: we scoff at fake gods and useless beliefs.
But on the other hand, I might say this is an ongoing reflection of Isaiah 53. Jesus got crapped on at the cross and it hasn’t let up since. This song is part of the public denigration of Christ — the denigration that Christians believe that Jesus bore for us.
Woody Allen Jesus might be a distortion of Jesus. But so might be a Christian response that’s so intensely preoccupied with protecting God’s honour that it has no room for forgiveness coming from the cross.
As Christians, we could cry sacrilege. Or, like the indomitable disciples in Acts 4, we could continue to witness to what we’ve seen and heard, praying for boldness and letting God be the judge. It means that, instead of complaining, we present a better Jesus.
Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.