Three Cheers for Irony!

by Michael Potemra

Catholic blogger Tom Kreitzberg is opposed to irony, basically because he views it as a destructive form of humor, one that is parasitic on the good. But he inadvertently offers one of the best justifications of irony I’ve ever read. He writes: “Irony has no place in the Kingdom of God.” Which, in my view, is exactly why irony is so crucially helpful in the world we live in. The Kingdom of God is a place of love and truth — a place where there is joy because there is truth: “What is” and “what should be” are identical. In our world — excuse the understatement — the powerful and the good are, ahem, not identical. Irony is the weapon the powerless use to reassert human dignity — to point out that when preening politicians lie, unctuous clergymen are vicious and faithless, regimes that glorify “The People” actually torture and oppress the people, none of this is as it should be. Irony has no place in the Kingdom of God — but, boy, do we ever need it down here. Irony points out precisely the ways in which we fall short of the Kingdom — and can therefore serve as a prophetic grace.

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