Humour and Religion

I was set to thinking today [but not too deeply] about humour and religion.  I use humour when teaching my history of religion classes, but not in the sense that I make jokes about any particular religion.  I may be mad, but I am not stupid… or is that I may be stupid but I’m not mad?  Anyway, I think more to the point, can religion – its history and beliefs – be communicated to others with a light touch?  Or is it so deadly serious that humour has no place?

In my last class [my only face-to-face teaching], I touched briefly on the Hasidim – how they see joy as central to their beliefs.  Even when times are dark, the Hasidim believe one should be filled with joy.  Why?  Well, because creation overall is from God and must therefore be wonderful and joyful.  The vicissitudes of life are temporary and perhaps [well one hopes this] aberrant and not the norm.

There are preachers who use humour on occasion – but it is rare.  Only rarely do you see any kind of joy or laughter when the topic of religion arises.

I do not think it appropriate to laugh at any part of a religion – say in the adolescent style of that American TV show Saturday Night Live.  But religion can be discussed, debated, learned, explored with a light touch – with a smile of recognition or of surprise.

That’s my intent and goal, anyway.

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