God Mocks: A History of Religious Satire from the Hebrew Prophets to Stephen Colbert

Terry Lindvall. New York Univ., $35 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4798-8673-9
Lindvall (Surprised by Laughter) provides a comedic, uneven analysis of the role of satire in religious life across the ages. While he offers some trenchant analysis—as in his sections on the Hebrew Bible, which offer fresh perspectives on Balaam's donkey and Elijah and the Baal worshippers—Lindvall's use of jargon will be an obstacle to comprehension for lay readers. Although the book is well researched and examples are clear, academics are likely to find Lindvall's gratuitous references to popular culture an annoying distraction. The closing sections, in which Lindvall discusses how Stephen Colbert's Catholicism played a part in his Comedy Central show, are apt and interesting but diminished by hyperbole, such as when he labels the comedian as having "taken on the mantle of Elijah." While Lindvall makes the case that satire has been part of religious observance from the outset, his intriguing thesis feels inchoate and will leave many readers craving greater explication. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/19/2015
Release date: 11/01/2015
Genre: Religion
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