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A comedian for the New Evangelization?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jun 07, 2013

A Washington Post writer wonders whether comedian Jim Gaffigan is an example of the New Evangelization. If the point of the New Evangelization is to make jaded inhabitants of the First World take a fresh look at the Catholic faith, then the answer is probably Yes.

Countless comedians have grown rich making jokes about how Catholic institutions are oppressive. Their gag lines may be funny, but the thinking behind them isn’t; the contempt for the faith comes through loud and clear. The jokes bring more sneers than smiles. Gaffigan’s approach is different. He seems to think that Catholic institutions are funny because people in general are funny.

Gaffigan certainly doesn’t preach. But he does speak about his Catholicism during his comic routines. His approach is irreverent—he’s a comedian, after all—but his loyalty to the faith comes through, as does his love for his family. Put it this way: When Gaffigan pokes fun at his own Catholic background, he does so gently, with the sort of wit that expresses fondness rather than rancor. If the people in Gaffigan’s audiences learn to smile when they think about the Catholic Church, that’s a step in the right direction.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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