The Rise of the Fart Joke
Nearly everyone has different opinions about what has worked and what hasn’t. Regardless of what side you take on any issue, there is always room for growth, right? How about a good fart joke to ignite a more healing and loving Jesus community? Yes, yes, I know there is a “time and place” for that kind of humor—it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea at the Nicene Creed. But here’s the thing: No matter what social setting we find ourselves in, a fart joke does “clear the room.” Flatulence humor has its own storied history as well. From the Sumerians in 1900 B.C. to Shakespeare and Twain, it seems humanity has always enjoyed the simple sound of bodily functions. What if just a little flatulent humor could do the trick?
I’m not suggesting a “frat boy” prank will dismantle all the problems within our Christian oligarchies—though that is a fun idea. What I’d really like to address here is the current state of American Christianity and its failed portrayal of “gospel truth” in our day-to-day lives. We have moved to a place within the Jesus tradition where all that matters is winning—no matter the cost. For the love of God, folks! To both progressives and conservatives—instead of getting so heated and entrenched in our own agendas and points of view, can we maybe just squeeze our armpits together and blurt a little fart sound out into this stringent church order? We are all “rough around the edges” creatures who need the reminder to “keep calm and chive on.” We’ve lost the vibrant practice of being a community and fallen into the trap of systemization. When we prioritize conformity over camaraderie (more on this in chapters 4 and 8), Jesus’s vision of joy and peace for the commonwealth of God disappears out of existence.
When it comes to authoritarian control, culture will always be a part of the equation within a community and specifically within a church. All of us have our favorite cult-like beliefs that we use to navigate this life. The thing that still moves me to participate in the way of Jesus is the realization that culture doesn’t always produce healthy, peaceful, and loving outcomes. Injustices are running amok throughout the world. The poor are still poor, the hungry are still hungry, and the rich are still getting richer. The violent cultures of Empire and Civil Religion are still manipulating how the social process works.
What does the Empire involve? All types of “power-over” institutions from, education to government and religion. When our systems become an economy of exchange where the mighty dollar reigns, the result is imprisonment. From a Christian perspective, what we have seen since the fourth century is Civil Religion: The Empire of Christendom, reigning down with an oligarchic thumb. Since that time, the supposed “Jesus Community” has been entangled with the State. This might be the deadliest mixture when it comes to corrupt power. Christians have become the Roman occupiers—plundering and destroying all that gets in their way—instead of followers of Jesus being eaten by lions and burned at the stake. When we become more about geo-political dominance and less about serving those who are less fortunate, the distinction between the Jesus way and Empire is unrecognizable. Palestinian Christian author and Lutheran pastor Mitri Raheb puts it this way:
Empires create their own theologies to justify their occupation. [Just as the early American empires chose to overlook its mistreatment of the Native tribes who already lived here and then justified a slave holder form of Christianity in much of the Americas.
Such oppression generates a number of important questions among the occupied:
“Where are you, God?” and “Why doesn’t God interfere to rescue [God’s] people?” When, under various regimes, diverse identities emerge in different parts of Palestine, the question arises, “Who is my neighbor?” And finally, “How can liberation be achieved?” is a constant question.
I think this is what we are dealing with in our current state of affairs. Will we, Christian Americans, as claimed participants in the Jesus way, continue to behave like Roman occupiers? Or are we finally going to repent and become a people who wash feet, serve the poor, and set the captives free? That is what privilege is all about—breaking free to liberate others. We cannot let the ways of the Empire cloud our minds with this “America first” attitude. Movements change things, not rusted-out institutions. It is a power under method of living for others, not a power over method that brings about resurrection (Jesus on the cross, anyone?). We need to collaborate with each other in our communities and stop dominating diverse ideas. If we do, we might truly see that “our citizenship is in heaven,” which includes “every nation, tribe, people and language.” It’s time to let go of our egos and be humble. We need to educate ourselves about the voices of the oppressors to find harmful cracks in our culture. Then, we must work harder to serve the oppressed. If we can accomplish both, I believe the result will be liberation and healing that frees all of God’s creation.
Jesus showed us a way to develop a new process within our cultures: It is those who act out of love that change the “cult” of culture. Jesus said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” Change is hard, and it requires an abundance of toughness. Having a sense of humor about this painful process will give us the ability to withstand the difficulty. It will also allow us to let go of resentment, see others’ points of view, and continue loving each other despite our differences. If we cannot laugh our way through this mess of cultured oligarchies within Christianity, we are doomed. So, let’s dig deep into our bowels and see what some fart jokes can accomplish.
About the Author
Jordan Hathcock is a father, husband, son, brother, friend, profanity devotee, CSUSM alumnus, basketball lover, pickle ball fanatic, beer enthusiast, aspiring surfer, ongoing reader, and attempted writer. He’s just a dust-creature who loves experiencing the unknown (deep, right?). Jordan has a beautiful wife, Kristyn (whom he calls Kbua), and three kids—Brooklynn, Brody, and Briggs. They live in Oceanside, California, and love the beach, family, and friends. They always seek to seize the day and live in the moment. Jordan has a strong desire to embrace his journey through the mystical fog of life and to experience what trust is all about. He believes that having a sense of humor is important and tries not to take life too seriously.