The Haphazard Theology of Louis C.K.
The stand-up comedy star offers accidental insight into our relationship with God.
November 24, 2013 - 12:00 pm
Louis C.K. may not be the first person you think of when considering the topic of theology. Nevertheless, his work contains at least one observation about the human condition which reflects a truth about God found in Romans 11:33-36. That passage reads:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
For who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Unpacking those verses in a recent Sunday sermon, my pastor illustrated our relationship to God as the relationship between a young child and her parent. He recalled the experience of driving around town with his nine-year-old daughter in the backseat. Whether correcting his navigation or critiquing his road etiquette, our pastor’s little girl believes she knows how to drive better than him.
The tale reminded me of a stand-up comedy bit by Louis C.K. where he details a dispute with his three-year-old daughter over the name of a popular cookie:
So I give her a Fig Newton. … I go, “Here, honey. Have a Fig Netwon.”
She goes, “There not called Fig Netwons. They’re called pig newtons.”
“No, honey, they’re called Fig Newtons.”
She goes, “No, you’ don’t know. You don’t know. They’re called pig newtons.”
And I feel this rage building inside. Because, it’s not that she’s wrong. She’s three. She’s entitled to be wrong. But it’s the [expletive] arrogance of this kid, no humility, no decent sense of self-doubt. She’s not going, “Dad, I think those are pig newtons. Are you sure that you have it right?…”
… I’m like, “Really, I don’t know? I don’t know? Dude, I’m not even using my memory right now. I’m reading the [expletive] box!… You’re three and I’m forty-one! What are the odds that you’re right and I’m wrong? What are the sheer odds of that?”
These stories make us laugh because we see them from an adult perspective. We come at them with the benefit of an adult’s knowledge and experience. Yet, in many ways, we prove no less arrogant as adults when we question the ways of our father, God.
“How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” the Apostle Paul wrote. Like young children, we all like to believe we have life’s answers, or at least the means to discern them.