A clown as a God figure? Seems like an iffy choice, right? For one thing, many people find clowns creepy. I get it: I find snakes creepy myself. In fact, I created a snake art piece in an effort to face down my fears!
Since I’ve chosen to write a whole series with a clown God figure, I’d better explain myself.
First, let’s give clowns their props. After all, they’ve been around in one form or another since ancient times. We have evidence of clowns in ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, and among the Aztecs. In the Middle Ages boasted court jesters& clowns figured as key characters in Shakespeare’s plays. Plus, we have the French Pierrot and the Italian Pantaloon; we have Whiteface, Auguste, and Character clowns made popular by the English & American circuses. And did you know that each clown’s face is her or his property and is not to be copied?
But here’s the thing about clowns: we don’t know what’s going on behind all that greasepaint. Sure, they look jolly on the surface, but that’s painted on; who knows what’s beneath? Could be outright diabolical. What’s hidden tends to unnerve us. And there’s another thing about clowns: they’re supposed to be innocent, much like dollies and puppies and little kids. Folks working in the horror genre have discovered a market in transforming that which we expect to be harmless and innocent into instruments of evil. Nothing sends the heart racing like being ambushed by what you never expected to have the capacity to do harm. Hence, films and books and video games about evil dolls, evil kids, evil clowns. I don’t know of any evil puppy stories, but I have a few ideas…
Point is, casting clowns as instruments of evil perverts a clown’s true purpose: to delight us and to speak truth.
In contrast, hiddenness is right in line with a clown’s true nature. Behind the greasepaint, the wig or hat, and the huge, distracting clothing, we really can’t see much of the clown’s self. We have to wonder what his motivation is, what is she really thinking? Well, if we’ve spent any time in relationship with God, if we’ve walked around in the world very much, we are moved to wonder at times what God is up to as well. If your life thus far hasn’t brought up some question about God’s goodness and love, just give it time. Sooner or later we discover that God is in many ways confusing, that God is hidden, that faith is WORK. Sooner or later we choose whether or not to give God the benefit of the doubt. Because we can’t see it all. At least, not yet.