I’ve never really cared much for Stephen Colbert, whose cartoonish portrayal of a conservative political pundit has earned his Comedy Central show, “The Colbert Report,” three Emmy nominations from his politically liberal Hollywood peers.
But I discovered this past weekend that there is more to the comedian than I previously thought; something that even regular viewers of his satirical “news” show would find surprising.
Colbert is a man of faith.
A lifelong Catholic, the funnyman told an audience of some 3,000 students at FordhamUniversity, a Jesuit institution in the Bronx, New York, “I love my church – warts and all.”
I found particularly interesting a remark by Colbert that alluded to the familiar Scripture, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
The church, said Colbert, teaches joy. And joy, he said, is the “infallible sign of the presence of God.”
Colbert, a family man, a faithful churchgoer (who even teaches Sunday school at his New Jersey parish when his schedule permits) appeared at Fordham alongside New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. They teamed up for a panel on humor and spirituality.
“If Jesus doesn’t have sense of humor,” Colbert joked, “I am in huge trouble.”
Yet, for all his seeming irreverence, both on and off air, the comedian takes his faith seriously. That is a testament to the Christian values his mother imparted to him at a very young age.
“She taught me,” Colbert told The New York Times earlier this year, “to be grateful for my life regardless of what that entailed, and that’s directly related to the image of Christ on the cross and the example of sacrifice that He gave us.”
The future comedian’s mom also prepared him for the vicissitudes of life faced by believers and non-believers alike. “The deliverance God offers you from pain,” she told him, “is not no pain. It’s that the pain is actually a gift. What’s the option? God doesn’t really give you another choice.”
That’s rather profound thinking for a guy who tells jokes for a living; whom I dismissed as a typical Hollywood liberal hostile to political conservatives, contemptuous of faithful Christians.
I’m glad I was wrong about Colbert (at least with respect to his views on faith). I might even find time to tune in to his show.