Moral Outrage
Whew! God help us!

Can God take a joke?

Can God take a joke?

Absolutely! Say Christians and Jews, Mormons and Muslims.

There’s a fresh wave of humor among clergy, comics and believers alike, who are putting out new books and taking to the comedy club stages.

Their jokes can be contemporary, but they’re rooted in holy texts. When Muslim comic Azhar Usman tours the USA with a routine called Allah Made Me Funny, he stands on a passage from the Quran: “It is He (God) who causes man to laugh and weep.”

There are no jokes at the expense of the prophet or anything sacrilegious. There are plenty of human foibles for fodder, Usman says.

Not only can the Almighty take a ribbing from Adam and Eve’s descendents, God makes jokes, too. “Humor is a sign of God’s creativity. Look at giraffes. If Jesus didn’t have a sense of humor, he wouldn’t have been fully human,” he says.

Even Christian martyrs could be faithful and funny. Jesuit priest and humorist James Martin points to the 258 A.D. martyr St. Lawrence. As he slowly roasted over a bed of coals, Lawrence told his Roman torturers, “This side is done. Turn me over and have a bite.”

“People who can’t laugh have a wrong-headed notion about Christianity and the Bible,” says Martin, author of a new book, Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life.

Liel Leibovitz, who writes Blessed Week Ever, a weekly Torah column for the Jewish magazine The Tablet, says “There’s shared DNA between faith and humor. That’s why so many rabbis and priests walk into a bar at the beginning of jokes.”

[Excerpt of USA Today article by Cathy Lynn Grossman]


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