Silent Satire

My Dad is in the habit of emailing me funny videos that are doing the rounds. I like to be attached to this old-school internet, one which finds facebook and twitter frightening yet isn’t scared of clogging up inboxes with large .wmv files and racist jokes relayed in size 16 yellow comic sans.

Anyway, one that came up recently was this:

The video itself is amusing, but not as much as the comments underneath…

This performance can be seen several times in different locations, sometimes schools and even churches including the ‘Simply Jesus Conference’ with Pastor Wayne Cordeiro. Not Catholic churches, obviously.

While Carthusian Monks are famed for their silence nearly all orders of monk have silence orders built into their worship rituals. I am not an expert. I last saw monks in my last year of primary school when I got to see inside a cell. He had a laptop. From the age of ten, I wanted to be a monk. I didn’t have the correct sort of genitals for this, but as they weren’t allowed to use them anyway, I couldn’t understand what difference it made.

The point it is, this video is mocking the way monks use silence as part of their worship, when music and art are the more common ways to waste your sundays. I mean, express your love to the all-knowing Gamesmaster in the sky.

What I imagine God looks like (he knows all the cheats and planetary systems)

What youtube thinks is happening is quite different.

First of all you have the angry christians who don’t understand that this is a parody and the people making the parody obviously have no respect for real acts of silence anyway and they don’t need to restate the fact that it is ridiculous.

“Can we get something straight? 1st of all “silent” monks don’t “sing” anything! They have made their choice. They should watch what they vow. (Ecclesiastes 5:5) OR they need to get out of the business, then. As far as holding up cards, the Alaskan native peoples do a far superior job. Why do they take an oath of silence if they want to fool around and act silly? God would be glorified far more if they’d talk some since, or even sing. This is not only a SILLY oath of silence, it’s hippocritical!” MiristWurst 

Alaskan native peoples doing what they do best... okay, it's dancing with the stars... I couldn't find out what the youtuber was on about.

At least the above commentator was unafraid of expressing their opinion honestly. These monks 1) don’t treat their vows with respect 2) god hates silliness and prefers a conversation or good tune anyway.

While it is ridiculous to know what god wants (unless it is to get you to complete Echo the Dolphin), at least this person isn’t afraid of upsetting the monks with a critique of their act of worship. Better still, they have revealed themselves to be an idiot yet still believe they know what kind of entertainment the deity prefers.

The comment below, however, I found much more disturbing.

“I love the video and the good job .. but I did not like the laughing in the audience , I find it insulting!!!! but the monks where very good, they did their best, it didn’t look easy.bravo to them, and shame on the people laughing!!!!!” hoquis1 

Shame on the people for laughing. Shame on the people for mocking other’s beliefs. Shame on you, you nasty person, for seeing that really, all religious rituals and practices are inherently funny. This is the view that is most dangerous to the atheist. It is most dangerous to art and certainly most dangerous to comedy. Worse still, an atheist could have written it.

While I’m first to point out that I believe my atheism stems from an emotional standpoint and am happy to have it labelled as a faith (yeah, aboooo!), I still want to be mocked for it. I want my beliefs questioned. Like I do all faiths, beliefs and traditions. I don’t want to be ‘respected’. I don’t need to be patronised like that.

Similarly, anyone who takes a vow of silence should be mocked. It is silly, it needs to be tested, and to be giggled at. It does not need defending by someone who clearly cannot recognise parody from reality.

Besides we all know that catholics only like to go silent about one topic only, and that is what some of their priests get up to when they think we’re not watching.


Iszi Lawrence is an English comedian and paid doodler. Iszi helps run skeptics in the pub Oxford and performs throughout Europe. Listen to her free weekly podcast www.sundaysupplement.com. She has up to ten toes at any one time.

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