Provocative Church: N. T. Wright was on The Colbert Report Thursday night.


  1. It seemed weird, actually. I was at a party with friends from work last night and when we were watching the re-run, everybody got up and left when N.T. Wright came on. They were totally not interested.

    I really like Stephen Colbert and from what I can tell, I think he’s a more or less devoted Roman Catholic. So, I don’t think it’s fair to say that he brought N.T. Wright on there to make a mockery of the subject matter. I think he does more than that with his show. Still, it was weird.

    I got the impression that Wright wasn’t quite prepared for Stephen’s style and he seemed constantly on guard. Parts of what I’ve heard from that book seem helpful, and I’d really like to take a look at it sometime. But I’m not sure Colbert quite understood the “novelty” of what Wright was offering and so he couldn’t really do more than make wise cracks to keep the show entertaining. That may have come across as belittling, but given the circumstances, I guess it couldn’t be helped.

    As for the extra comments on Bill’s site from that Denny Burk character, I think they’re unnecessary. I think there’s room for comedy and lightheartedness in the things of God. (I’m suddenly reminded of the question in The Name of the Rose as to whether or not Jesus laughed.) I think that Burk misunderstands Wright’s aims for that book. It’s not an evangelistic tract. It’s a clarification of a popular misconstrual of sound Christian teaching. Given the large Christian population in America, it makes sense for the book to be promoted on a popular American television show.

    Scott Schultzs last blog post..Jenson on the Theology of the Church

  2. I got to “see” (mostly heard) Wright when he came to Emory about a month ago, and I have read his book and there was no way he was able to communicate effectively in that format the essence of the book and it’s views.

    I was disappointed in the exchange because Colbert is in the business of humor and rarely ever gets to substance. That’s ok, it’s why I watch and enjoy him, he’s funny!

    But too much good substance was lost or never even discussed concerning Wright’s book.

    If it did anything, I hope some people were curious enough to buy and read the book.

    Bill Reicharts last blog post..Oh Dang, How did I miss this?

  3. Under the circumstances, I think Wright handled himself fairly well, though I doubt anyone unfamiliar with his work really understood his point.

    It’s just the nature the show, pretty much everyone who goes on to promote a book ends up spending more time deflecting or responding to jokes than actually explaining their argument.

    My favorite example is Steven Johnson, promoting Everything Bad Is Good For You a couple years ago. He’s trying to argue that television makes us smarter, and he can barely finish a sentence without getting interrupted by Colbert’s intentional misunderstanding (“so basically we should all stop reading, right?”). Perfect irony.

    Ken Browns last blog post..Get Smart Review

Comments are now closed for this article.