Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Religion's no laughing matter? Ha!

Have you heard the one about the unscrupulous contractor who watered down the paint he was using on the church's steeple? A sudden storm came up, a gust of wind blew him to the ground, and as he looked up in pain and fear, a deep voice boomed, "Repaint and thin no more!"

Do you know the four religious truths all people of faith need to know?
1. Muslims don't recognize Jews as God's chosen people.
2. Jews don't recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
3. Protestants don't recognize the pope as the leader of the Christian world.
4. Baptists don't recognize each other at Hooters.

And then there are those party-loving, far-from-teetotalling Episcopalians: Wherever two or three are gathered together, you'll find a fifth.

Go ahead. Laugh. You know you want to.

The more important something is to us -- whether faith, family or a great cause -- the more essential it is to laugh about it. I don't mean the mocking, derisive sort of laughter, but the chortles that spring from seeing the absurdity that lurks in every human endeavor. It keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. It punctures our pomposity.

When joking about such a potentially sensitive subject as religion, of course, it's wiser to poke fun at your own tradition than to rib others. In your own family of faith you're more likely to know where the line is drawn between humor and attack. Laughter turns ugly when that line is crossed -- I was once appalled to hear a Christian make a casual joke about the Holocaust. Hint to aspiring comics: Anything that kills millions of people is not a laughing matter.

Some Muslims have reacted with deadly violence to cartoons and caricatures that they saw as an attack on Islam or the Prophet Muhammad. As British author and broadcaster Sarfraz Manzoor wrote last month in The Washington Post, "Muslims aren't exactly famous these days for lightheartedness." But that's changing, he wrote, with the rise of Muslim comedians who can poke fun at themselves:

"Earlier this year, I sat in a West London hall watching a heavily bearded Muslim man rip into his audience. Azhar Usman is no fundamentalist; he's an American comedian who tours with two fellow Muslims in a show they call 'Allah Made Me Funny.' Everywhere I looked, British Muslims of all ages -- some women wearing head scarves, some men in suits -- were doing something you hardly ever see: laughing. Here were ordinary, moderate Muslims reveling in a good time, as if in defiance of the extreme voices that overpower theirs in the public square.

"The irony is that 'Allah Made Me Funny' springs from a tradition that stretches back to the days of the prophet Muhammad himself, who by all accounts enjoyed a good laugh; indeed, he had a companion with the honorific title 'jester of the prophet.' It's only recently that Muslims have become sensitive about religious jokes. "

Laughter: the antidote to extremism. What a great punchline!


Care to share a joke about your own tradition?


Anonymous said...

Some time ago I've found this one funny :)

There was a Christian lady who lived next door to an atheist. Every day, when the lady prayed, the atheist guy could hear her. He thought to himself, "She sure is crazy, praying all the time like that. Doesn't she know there isn't a God?"

Many times while she was praying, he would go to her house and harass her, saying "Lady, why do you pray all the time? Don't you know there is no God?" But she kept on praying.

One day, she ran out of groceries. As usual, she was praying to the Lord explaining her situation and thanking Him for what He was gonna do. As usual, the atheist heard her praying and thought to himself, "Humph! I'll fix her."

He went to the grocery store, bought a whole bunch of groceries, took them to her house, dropped them off on the front porch, rang the door bell and then hid in the bushes to see what she would do. When she opened the door and saw the groceries, she began to praise the Lord with all her heart, jumping, singing and shouting everywhere! The atheist then jumped out of the bushes and told her, "You ol' crazy lady, God didn't buy you those groceries, I bought those groceries!" At hearing this, she broke out and started running down the street, shouting and praising the Lord.

When he finally caught her, he asked what her problem was. She said, "I knew the Lord would provide me with some groceries, but I didn't know he was gonna make the devil pay for them!"


pornstudent said...

Back when I was a Christian, I often thought God was humoring me, playing hide and seek, kind of testing me. I took it in a light hearted way.
I'd say, "God, you are having fun with me."
He'd say, "I love you."
I'd say, "And I love you."
Then He'd continue teasing me.

D.J. said...

One of my favorite sources of humor as a Christian is our penchant for really stupid church signs. Some examples...

Soli Deo Gloria

mike huckabee said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sky said...

"Funny" you should ask... I was just reading this to my wife when she came over upset because the she thought the zipper tab had come off her favorite, warm robe in the dryer. I looked her up and down and reached out and pulled the misplaced zipper tab down into place and she immediately said "Oh, thank you, Lord!" I then looked up to heaven and exclaimed... "see what I have to live with Lord? I find the missing zipper and she thanks YOU!"

Oh well, we've already been married 24 years, I guess I'll keep her!


sky said...

Heard at the play "Late Night Catechism"

Did you know that there is increasing evidence that Jesus, was actually Irish? Oh yeah, don't laugh... let's look at the facts. He lived with his mother until he was 34, then spent his nights out with the boy's, and his mother thought he walked on water!

D.J. said...

These may be a little inside, but...

You might be a reformed baptist if...

- When asked to name the twelve apostles you say Matthew, John, James, Andrew, Peter, Nathaniel, Phillip, Simon, Thomas, Augustine, Luther and Calvin.

- You can spell supralapsarian.

- When the spirit comes upon you in power, you don't raise your hands and shout Hallelujuah, rather you scratch your chin, turn to your neighbor and whisper "hmmm, . . . that was a good point."

- You know, or think you know, the difference between "calvinist" and "reformed."

- Charles Spurgeon is just a little too Arminian for your blood.

- You started drinking ("in moderation" of course) after you left the Baptist church and became a Presbyterian.

Credit to David Wayne

Soli Deo Gloria