I’ve been a fan of Dennis Miller for a long time, ever since he was the best Weekend Update anchor in the history Saturday Night Live. (Yes, yes, Chevy and Norm McDonald are close; Tina Fey, while hottish, is wildly overrated.) It’s been interesting to watch his evolution over the years. In his early SNL days of course he was funny, and he worked comedy from the smart end of the scale, but he didn’t give any inkling that his thinking was any different than your typical show biz types.
Then after his SNL run, I caught one of his HBO specials. For a part of his routine, he talked about politics, and he … made sense. I couldn’t believe it. I watched it slack-jawed thinking, “Is it possible that this guy actually believes some of the same things I believe? Or at least doesn’t hold them in contempt?” My brain had a hard time accepting this from a comedian who a) didn’t take up a love offering at the end of his show, and b) wasn’t named “Bill Cosby.” I wouldn’t exactly call him “conservative”–he would hook a conservative thought and play it, but never actually haul it into the boat. But I don’t need people to be conservative; I just need them to be reasonable. And reasonable he definitely was.
As he appeared in more stand-up specials, and then in his own talk show, he talked sense more and more.And every once in a while, he would talk about religion. He was always respectful, and he seemed like he believed in God, but he was firmly in the “I just try to be a good person” school of religious thought. Well, at least that’s something, I thought, and hoped that someone would one day blow his mind with an explanation of God’s grace.
Then a few nights ago, he devoted a goodly chunk of his radio show to callers who wanted to tell the stories of their supernatural brushes with God. “Holy Ghost experiences” Miller called it.
Stories like this are woven into the fabric of Southern Baptist life, so I hear them all the time. I probably take them for granted and roll my eyes at them a little more than I should, too. But Miller took these spiritual tales and treated them spiritually.
With every caller, he was completely polite and completely credulous. Every story got as much respect and reverence as Billy Graham descending from Mt. Sinai wrapped in the Shroud of Turin. And it was obvious that Dennis was eating it up.
So I’m wondering: Where is Dennis Miller spiritually now? I don’t know if anybody has explained God’s gift of salvation to him, but if you happen to run into him, I think he’d love to hear it.