I was looking for a quote from Garrison Keillor where he jokes about his ancestors coming to America in search of less freedom of religion. I couldn’t find it, but I did find an article he wrote in The Washington Post right before Donald Trump was inaugurated president, Trump Has Me Searching for a New Religion. It’s okay — more a testament to how we liberals felt at the coming of President Trump than anything else. It’s well written and as funny as one could expect under the circumstances. But Lutheran pastor Hans Fiene doesn’t think so!
The Problems With Garrison Keillor
In his article, Garrison Keillor Is on a Quest to Leave the Religion He Never Found, Fiene tells us two important things: Keillor isn’t a real Lutheran and he isn’t funny. Now I have a general problem with both of these claims. You can’t really say that someone isn’t funny — only that you don’t find it funny. For example, I couldn’t make it more than 5 minutes into Dumb and Dummer, yet I know it is funny because people laugh at it. As for being a “real Lutheran,” that’s not just a classic case of No True Scotsman, it is the height of hubris.
I’m not sure what to make of the sexual abuse allegations against Keillor. They don’t seem terribly strong, but just the same, why would any woman have a reason to lie about such a thing? I’m sure that Hans Fiene would have said something about this, but these articles were both written before these allegations became known. Regardless, they don’t really have anything to do with Keillor’s humor and they certainly don’t have anything to do with his status as a Lutheran.
Hans Fiene Thinks He’s Funny
One person Hans Fiene does think is funny is himself. His bio on The Federalist explains that he is “the creator of Lutheran Satire, a series of comical videos intended to teach the Lutheran faith.” Wow. There’s nothing like pastors who think they are funny. So I checked out his YouTube channel. Here is his most recent humorous video:
I’m sure that this video is hilarious to fellow conservative Christians. But I don’t see anything to laugh at. If I hated Catholics and loved guns, I’d probably find it somewhat amusing just because it is fun to pretend you are having a debate with someone you hate and showing how dumb they are. But since I’m kind of ambivalent toward both Catholics and guns, I don’t see anything to laugh at.
Fiene used another fallacy in his attack on Keillor: appeal to authority. He claimed (more than once) that Keillor wasn’t funny. And the closest he came to defending it was to refer to The Simpsons episode “Marge on the Lam.” In it, there is a parody of a PBS pledge break. It’s a pretty tame parody and doesn’t make the point that Keillor isn’t funny but that different people like different things. But whatever.
Normally, I would say that it takes a lot of guts for someone who supposedly makes comedy to make such unsubstantiated claims about the most successful humorist of his generation. But in the case of Fiene, it’s just arrogance. The man is full of himself. But what do you expect from a religious person who is so focused on politics?
I was going through his recent videos and they are mostly just about how awful other religions are. If they aren’t, they are explicitly political. How they “teach the Lutheran faith” I can’t say.
Hans Fiene: More Catholic Than the Pope
Probably the worst part of the video above is its presentation of Pope Francis. It’s all based on this tweet:
Do we really want peace? Then let’s ban all weapons so we don’t have to live in fear of war.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 29, 2018
Hans Fiene doesn’t just tell the pope things about Christianity that I’m sure the pope knows more about he does. He also tells the pope about Catholic doctrine. Again, I’m sure this makes his fellow conservatives very happy. If you look at the replies to the pope’s tweet, it is filled with similar arrogance like “Pope needs to remember the story of Sampson and Goliath. I stand with the true God. I don’t know who the pope stands with.”
But Fiene isn’t just some idiot on twitter. He is a Lutheran pastor. Frankly, I would think he would show more humility and class. But such is not the case.
It’s all kind of a shame because the videos themselves are well made. If Hans Fiene had something good or even positive to say, I would recommend them. But it’s a waste of effort to just tell other Lutherans that they are the right kind of Christians. It reminds me of how in 17th century England, you were an atheist if you weren’t protestant. Meanwhile, in France, you were an atheist if you weren’t Catholic. It’s all very silly but also sad.