For some years now, I have been a fan of Stephen Colbert, host of “The Colbert Report” (pronounced Col-behr Re-pohr) on Comedy Central. Colbert makes no secret of his Catholicism and uses his show, from time to time to do some unconventional catechizing. Below is one of my favorites
Now, America Magazine has done a feature on Colbert titled “Truth and Truthiness: What Catholic catechists can learn from Stephen Colbert.” In short, the article emphasizes how Colbert “embodies a formula for effective catechesis proffered by St. Augustine of Hippo in the fourth and fifth centuries: delight, instruct, persuade. Here’s what Augustine says on each (On Christian Doctrine):
- Delight: “A hearer must be delighted, so that he can be gripped and made to listen.” St. Ignatius of Loyola echoed this when he said that the most effective way to teach was to “enter through their door but be sure to leave through your door.” In the catechetical process employed in the Finding God program, this corresponds with the Engage Step.
- Instruct: Augustine asserts that the best method of teaching is “one by which the listener hears the truth and understands what he hears.” Simple and straighforward and in a “language” that the listener can understand. In the catechetical process employed in the Finding God program, this corresponds with the Explore Step.
- Persuade: The article explains that, according Augustine, as essential as knowledge is, “teaching falls short if students’ learning does not affect their living.” In short, truths need to be internalized and lived out. In the catechetical process employed in the Finding God program, this corresponds with the Reflect and Respond Steps.
The article concludes quite powerfully with these words: “If Catholic catechists were to apply the lessons of Colbert’s success to their own work of evangelization, our country might very well become not just a “Colbert Nation” but a people of God.”