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Monday, March 20, 2006

Faith and Humor

I think those who know me consider me fairly jovial and those close to me know that, honestly, sometimes I am absolutely ridiculous. I’ve never questioned humor from a spiritual perspective before. It’s always been a part of my life. I’m a serious person but I tend to find humor in almost everything. There are only a few things I consider to be very serious and those things I’ve written about here. I’ve also included some humorous articles similar to my previous post when I thought they might be enjoyed. The Numa Numa Dance may be the most extreme example of that and even today I can’t tell you what the appeal in it really is. Perhaps it’s past time I examine what the scripture has to say about humor.

My initial investigations are a bit disheartening. I searched the New Testament for any form of “Laugh” and it seems laughter is always portrayed as negative, or at least the laughter that’s mentioned in this present life. There’s a wealth of opinion on the subject here online as well as vast amounts of “Christian Humor” but I had hoped to gain some scriptural insight on the matter. I’m only beginning my search so I’ll put it before you my friends. Do you have an understanding on this? What place does humor hold in the life of a believer? I would much prefer yours to those unknown to me. ;-)

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24 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I think humour is positive in itself.

However, I think perhaps people today value humour too much. I think it can be a great idol.

I think many people are terrified of being accused of being hmourless. That is thought of as being a terrible thing to be.

A lot of Christians tell jokes that are not really appropriate.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

3/20/2006 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Seeker said...

Humor in scripture... I've never even thought about it.
I do think a lot of humor is anger in disguise at worst and self-deprecation at best; with a lot of nuances in between.
It's very different from happiness or joy. I do believe there is positive humor, but it's probably a small percentage of all humor.
I'll be interested to see where this study leads you.

3/20/2006 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

If you think humor's polar extremes are anger and self-deprecation, then I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest you haven't been exposed to enough humor. Of course, humor can become an idol, but so can my children, so can our religious traditions. Of course there is humor that is inappropriate, but that doesn't negate the value of a good laugh.

To laugh at funny things--do we really wonder at the benefit of it? To my thinking, if scripture doesn't address humor, it's only because it's so obviously a part of our makeup that it really requires little explanation, much like sleeping or breathing...or farting (now that's funny).

I have to also disagree that humor is not very different from happiness or joy. I believe the best humor is positively borne out of joy. "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones."

Do you think Jesus didn't regularly share a good laugh with his friends? Granted, scripture is largely silent on the subject, but here's the man who came to, among other things, exemplify relationship to us. I cannot believe that He didn't see the humor in humor.

I agree that this should be interesting.

3/21/2006 01:37:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

There is a ton of humor in the New Testament. Many of Christ's comments, while a bit obscure in our language, would have been seen as bitingly funny in His earthly day.

I will soon post about humor in scripture. In the mean time, don't dispair for a merry heart doeth a man good.

3/21/2006 05:37:00 AM  
Blogger Seeker said...

Re-read my comment, please. It's not a blanket statement.
Just for fun, analyze the things you find humorous.

3/21/2006 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger nathaniel adam king said...

I am quite positive God has a sense of humor. Have you not seen Dorsey? ;)

I really don't know about this. I'll allow you, oh wise investigator, to search this matter out for me. It seems more practical, hence not my cup of tea.

But I will give you my favorite verse from the Scripture concerning laughter.

Psa 2:2-4 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers conspire together against the LORD and His Anointed One: (3) "Let us tear off their chains and free ourselves from their restraints." (4) The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them.

Isn't that, at first, just amazing. God laughs at these people. They all come together and want to rebel against God, and He laughs at them. NO. He ridicules them.

That is just puzzling and strange and amazing all at once.

It of course excites the cold-hearted determinist within me to think that it is quite humorous. But the warm-hearted dispy within me would think that this is just peculiar. Yes, I do have a dispy within me.

Kc, look what my friend from Germany taught me. You know how I always sign 'awaiting the hope'. Welp.

erwarten der hoffnung,
Adam

3/21/2006 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger Kitty Cheng said...

I am certain that our God has a great sense of humor. Just look around his creations...koala, polar bear, platypus (do you know what it is?)hahah

3/21/2006 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

Humor is good and healthy where appropriate. If God did not want us to cultivate our sense of humor, and use it, He would not have created it. He would not have created some with a strong sense of humor if it were wrong to use it. I find many things that are humorous in the Bible.

Now, granted, there should be a limit put on it, just like everyhting else. We shouldn't find humor in sin or in the pain of others. But, when used correctly and effectively, I believe it to be a good thing.

3/21/2006 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

I will share my suspicion although as yet I’ve only my experience to substantiate it. I’m really looking forward to Joe’s post.

First I know that laughter is only a physical response to an intelligent perspective. I say intelligent because it’s not something you feel. You “think” something is funny. I suspect it is probable that some, if not many of our humorous perspectives are formed when we fail to bring unholy thoughts captive though I would not say these things are necessarily sinful, only that the potential exist. I agree with Karen in that “most” humor is offered in sarcasm but like Matthew and Dorsey I know the value of a good laugh. Here’s where my suspicion is formed from my experience.

The ability to be humorous in a profitable manner is a gift. While everyone may have a “sense” of humor only certain people can be humorous in a profitable way. Others who are not gifted but desire the attention given to humorous people (okay, call them comedians) seem to always inflict damage with their humor while those who are gifted inflict damage when they fail to utilize their gift.

My theology would agree with Kitty’s and I agree with Adam that the scripture he offered clearly indicates that God finds our rebellion ridiculous.

I’m going to try and focus my studies on humor as it relates to the believer though it may tie in to theology by virtue of Imago Dei.

3/21/2006 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

The Bible doesn't mention laughter often, (the reference quoted by sofyst is one of the clearest), but laughter is usually the expression of a merry heart.

Matthew was right in that we often laugh at things that are off-color or irreverent, but that should not inhibit us from enjoying a good laugh at clean humor.

3/21/2006 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Kc, I am really glad you raised this issue.

I think a big problem on this issue is perspective.

Most English-speakers have minimal skill with foreign languages.

It is therefore hard for them to appreciate the nature of humour in other cultures.

Thus, us Anglo-Saxons are limited in our perspective on humour.

Therefore, it is difficult for us Anglo-Saxon Christians to do anything other than accept the nature and role of humour within western society.

Does anybody admire humourless people?

I think most people have an unspoken and largely unidentified fear of being identified as humourless. This creates a huge pressure to accept anything that masquerades itself as funny.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

3/21/2006 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Kristi and Gordon it seems we all agree that humor has a valid place in the believers life.

Matthew I think you're zeroing in on what triggered my desire to find what the scripture says concerning humor. Like so much of our daily walk it seems it really does come down to an individual matter of faith but as most have pointed out we usually approach it from a carnal or "faithless" perspective.

3/21/2006 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger Jayne said...

There are verses that I think are funny by context, but I know they aren't meant to be funny. I think scripture is the one thing I don't want to find humor in. It's my rule book.

On the other hand, I think God has the biggest sense of humor! He has too...we are a funny bunch! :)

3/21/2006 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Jayne my first reply seems lost in cyberspace so I'll try again.

I think you make a valid point. The scripture is given for a specific purpose and although through it we might experience many emotions and form many perspectives, humerous or not, it is not given for entertainment or as instruction for the pursuit of it.

3/21/2006 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

I still get a gas out of Haman thinking he was getting an honor from the King when asked what he would do to honor a man..then he's the one marching behind Mordecai proclaiming honor and banging cymbals declaring it.

Also as you meditate on the guy in the balcony falling asleep while Paul preached and falling off...you might get one or two guffaws out of it.

Perhaps this is serious but I get a crack out of Thomas when Jesus said Lazuras was dead, then he said, "Then let us go so we can die with him."

Then again I may be one of those guys that doesn't know when to laugh or cry.

I also like the blind guy when all the priests are surrounding him asking who healed him and that he should confess that Jesus was a sinner and in the same breath asked how he opened his eyes.

He answers: "I have told you already and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?" John 9:27

3/21/2006 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Light-hearted humor makes people comfortable with one another. ... unless one of them takes themself too seriously.
I think it is definately a part of our make-up, even though some supress it.
I am looking forward to your's and Joe's posts on the subject!

kc, I love your humor and wit!

3/21/2006 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Humor in the bible! oh yeah...

speck of sawdust compared to a plank

Straining nats and swallowing camels

healing a withered hand just to tick off the religous...can you just here Jesus telling His disciples.....hey its saturday watch this!


If I could ask God to change one thing.....and I don't mean any disrespect.....it would have been to have Jesus show up on the high priest's porch Sunday morning after He rose with all His followers and watch Caiaphas's face when he opened the door and saw Jesus standing there. Then ask Caiaphas, have you seen Pilate in the last couple of days?

Can you just imagine what would be going through his mind? Now that would be funny, not very loving, but funny never the less!

I liked Adams verse to. I can't help but think about that verse when I see video of a United Nations meeting.

3/21/2006 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Brian it seems you and Kris have a similar sense of of Humor. Those things had never crossed my mind but now that you mention it... ;-)

Rose thank you for your kindness and support. It's a great blessing to me. ;-)

Kris the things you've mentioned I never had considered as being humorous before. I'm going try to look at all the verses that have been mentioned in a new light. ;-)

3/21/2006 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Paul's use of sarcasm utterly validates my existence. My favorite is his reference to the legalistic proponents of circumcision, their teaching, and the ensuing bondage.

He suggests, while they're waving their blades around down there, that they should go ahead, finish the job and castrate themselves.

Now that right there's funny. I don' care who you are.

3/22/2006 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

I think I have been inspired to investigate humor and scripture... Another topic for study Oh Vey!

I recall years ago there was a Christian comedy team... very funny skits expressing the Gospel etc.

One guy came out and explained what Christian humor was NOT:

"When was a motorcycle first mentioned in scripture? When David's Triumph was heard throughout the land"...

I have to admit though, that looking at myself, I have got to beleive that God has a sense of humor.

3/22/2006 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorsey I will be honest and say that you are a prime example of someone I believe is gifted with humor. Your points are always well made through your sarcasm and hardly ever are they offensive. I can see how Paul's sarcasm is the same.

Rev I laughed out loud at the Triumph joke. I really would like to know what you find. This is unchartered territory for me and I was surprised I never considered it before.

3/22/2006 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

...and hardly ever are they offensive."

I'm sorry. I'll try harder.

3/22/2006 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

I think when God leads us or is teaching us a lesson it often has a humorous aspect to it :)

3/22/2006 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorsey I should have said "it seems no one is ever offended" but instead went with the assumption that no one is perfect. ;-)

Jodie I know I often end up laughing at myself for my foolishness. ;-)

3/22/2006 04:15:00 PM  

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