I think Jojo Rabbit is an amazing movie. It is the story of a ten-year-old boy, Jojo, who has Hitler as an imaginary friend. It deals with horrific events and highly significant themes with humour – and often skirts scarily close to the edge of inappropriate bad taste. But, in my opinion, never crosses that line.
In one conversation I had, a highly educated person did find the film offensive. This person said, “Hitler was nothing like that. It was a presentation of a very infantile Hitler.” The reason Jojo Rabbit’s Hitler was infantile is because this was a ten year old’s inner Hitler. And in the film it was explicitly stated that this ten year old was not a nazi. His inner Hitler was not really like the historical Hitler.
As the conversation continued, the person explained that they tend to take things very/too literally. This approach extends into religion.
I always stay through a film’s credits. I have not seen a stronger disclaimer about there being no connection between a film and history than in Jojo Rabbit. This film is a parable of the way we differentiate and demonise people now – not simply a literal history lesson.
People can take religion very/too literally and end up as atheists or fundamentalists, making God silly or scary.
Jesus had (has?) a great sense of humour. He deals with horrific events and highly significant themes with humour – and often skirts scarily close to the edge of inappropriate bad taste. But, in my opinion, never crosses that line. And we take his humour very/too literally and end up with dour, pious nonsense, and a Jesus that no one would invite to a party…
Now actually look at the sense of humour of Jesus the party person:
Jesus the carpenter told of getting sawdust in your eye and someone with a log in their eye offering to take your speck of sawdust out of your eye! And Jesus told the story of building someone’s barn one day, with hopes of massive increase in wealth, and his coffin the next.
A recent Sunday Gospel reading began, “Two men went up to the temple to pray…” People, it’s the normal start for a joke…!
Jesus catches out the guy who plotters sent to entrap Jesus. Without thinking, the guy accidentally produces a denarius – which he shouldn’t have had on him in the temple! “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Then there’s “The blind leading the blind“; and I just love the image that Jesus gives of someone who strains out a gnat but swallows a camel! [And there’s a play on words in this joke that we miss: the Aramaic word for gnat is galma with the word for camel being gamla.] As for getting a camel through the eye of a needle – I can imagine the discussion continuing with Jesus explaining that you put the tail through first!
“Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?” Lk 11:11-12
“Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand?” Mk 4:21
“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.” Matthew 6:16