1937 - 2008I have always been one to be very selective about the way I choose to occupy my mind.  I like to be challenged.  I enjoy spirited debate.  I love to be faced with conflicting points of view.  In essence, I like to think.  So this has led me to engage my mind in ways that often push me to the edge of what many consider abnormal or radical or (OMG!!) liberal personalities, authors, musicians, artists, politicians and yes comedians.  Although I enjoy comedy just for the sake of comedy (like from these guys), I really enjoy comedy that makes me question my own ethics and values.  George Carlin, who died this weekend, was for me, one such challenger.  Irreverence and relevance all rolled into one.  Obstinately opinionated; courageously outspoken; he feared no subject.  Nothing was taboo and nothing was sacred.  He viewed every human frailty and personal totem to be valuable comedic fodder, ripe for his caustic reaping.  He approached every subject as if he possessed a personal vendetta.  He attacked his subject matter as a philosophical hit man, armed with daggers of comedy.  He at once could rip the rug of philosophical stability from beneath your feet, all the while making you laugh out loud and regret laughing at the same time. 

George Carlin took pleasure in challenging the norm.  Any personal belief held by anyone was explored for the opportunity for dissent.  One of his favorite subjects to demean and lambaste was religion.  Openly atheist, he challenged every form of religion and religious thought.  Although I do not share his position in this regard, his sharp intellectual dissent always forced me to question my long held beliefs.  I fully credit him with many changes in my own spiritual journey.  There were several times where his hilarious approach to the sacred forced me to throw out beliefs that I had held since childhood.  Other times his unending attacks would take my thoughts to the very edge of doubt and leave me with an empty void, a feeling of hopelessness.  His quest for comedic genius at my spirituality’s expense would drive me to deeply examine my stance, and to shore up my own belief system.  He helped me to find firm ground for my own philosophical and spiritual beliefs.

In one of Carlin’s favorite rants he very confidently proclaims the non-existence of God and his position of the outright silliness of any hope or thought of an after life.  Of course the irony of this position is that at this moment only he knows whether or not he was correct.  But, if he is correct, then he actually doesn’t know.  Comedic Irony at it’s finest.

George Carlin: 1937-2008; may you rest in peace.