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As a Christian, I can tell you that Christians can have a tendency to take their religion a wee bit too seriously. Not that religion isn’t serious, but it’s also ripe for humor, right? Too often we confuse disrespecting God with disrespecting his followers, who, let’s face it, frequently deserve the ribbing.

Case in point: the “Mr. Deity” video podcast.

The Mr. Deity of the title is God himself, portrayed here as a Hollywood producer type, complete with a long-suffering, straight-guy assistant, Larry, a freeloading son, Jesus, and a resentful ex-girlfriend, Lucy, who, you guessed it, is in charge of hell. The show is a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Heaven, offering, as the Mr. Deity website tells us, “a humorous (and slightly irreverent) look at the day-to-day operations of the universe and the ‘Big Man’ in charge.” The podcast confronts these issues “with a smile (and sometimes, a wink). Our goal here is not to mock religion, but to use it as a foundation for the humor.”

Creator/writer/actor Brian Keith Dalton, who describes himself as a former Mormon (or “Forman”) came up with the idea for Mr. Deity after the unspeakable carnage of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 300,000 people. Dalton found himself in agony, wondering how a just and loving God could allow such a horrific tragedy. He decided to
flesh out his doubt in the best way he knew how—with humor.

The result was the first episode of the series, in which Mr. Deity is just putting the final touches on the universe when Larry informs him that they need to confront the problem of evil. Should they allow holocausts, disease, natural disasters, childhood cancer, Celine Dion? Begrudgingly, Mr. Deity allows it all and then, clinically depressed, takes off the 7th day of creation.

It’s a fantastic concept, and Dalton and his team nail it. (You can watch it at the bottom of this post.)

Realizing the podcast offered them a unique way to work through their own issues (while simultaneously generating some buzz for their careers in Hollywood), the team decided to do more episodes, poking fun at other timeless and thorny quandaries such as the Ten Commandments, the inerrancy of Scripture, Jesus’ sinlessness, homosexuality, the merit of
prayer, and the answer to the age-old question—does God care who wins the Superbowl?

When I was first introduced to Mr. Deity (by a delighted minister friend) I felt compelled to share it with everyone I knew. The response was fascinating. Those who I thought might be offended—like my conservative Christian friends—lavished it with praise, while many I assumed would be instant fans found it borderline sacrilegious or downright blasphemous.

A quick perusal of the comments at iTunes (where each episode is free for the taking) reveals a
fan base that seems to transcend religion—both born-again Christians and die-hard atheists profess an undying love for the series.

To be sure, Mr. Deity is not without its detractors. One Christian attempts to refute what he sees as errors and cites chapter and verse to back up his claims, while another calls it “sacrilegious crap” and argues that “if you are a Christian, you have no place watching this.”

Mr. Deity certainly walks a fine line, but I find the podcasts to be hilarious without ever being offensive, insightful while never straying into sacrilege. I find it refreshing to see the really
serious questions of life tackled with thought-provoking humor instead of the usual dry
dissertations.

But am I wrong? Is Mr. Deity blasphemous, a dangerous and profane sacrilege wrapping itself in a candy coating? What do you think?

(Note: The podcast, which usually updates every two weeks, has gone on a recent hiatus. The buzz is that it is in talks to be converted into a half-hour television series.)

–By Brandon Fibbs

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