May One Joke About Religion?

Religion is, almost by definition, a rejection of tragedy in favor of comedy. Tragedy occurs in the context of an unredeemed, perhaps unredeemable world. The clown is a figure of redemption.

Published on: July 27, 2010
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  • WigWag

    A Chinese sage said: If you are going to laugh at people, it is prudent to begin with your own. (Peter Berger)

    Garrison Keillor of “A Prairie Home Companion” likes to tease his fellow Lutherans by referring to them as “Gods frozen people.” He also likes to mention how the pews in his Church fill from the rear to the front. In other words, the surest way to get a seat in the front is to arrive for services really late. He’s not beyond teasing his Catholic neighbors either. In his fictional town of Lake Wobegon, MN he’s named the local Roman Catholic Church “Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility.”

    Being Jewish myself, I’m reminded of the little old Jewish man who was ship wrecked on a tropical island. After waiting in vain to be rescued, he decides he needs to make a life for himself because he’s liable to be there for a long, long time.

    A decade later a ship happens by and he finally is rescued. Before leaving the island he offers his rescuers a tour of what he’s built for himself.

    He shows his rescuers the hut where he sleeps; he shows his rescuers the mess tent where he eats his meals; he even shows his rescuers the privy that he uses. Finally he shows them the two synagogues that he’s built on the island.

    Perplexed, one of his rescuers turns to him and says, “I don’t understand it; you’re alone on this island; why could you possibly need two synagogues?”

    With a gleam in his eye, the little old Jewish man responds, “This is the one where I pray and that one I wouldn’t go into for all the money in the world.”

  • Peter,

    I don’t get the Lutheran joke. I’ve thought over it three times and I still don’t get it. Can you call and explain it to me, please? I have another question to ask as well……

    Adam

  • jbay

    One of my favorites that for a second I though WigWag was telling.

    During a great flood there was a man standing in front of his house. Just as he was losing faith a boat arrived and offered help. He only replied, I’m waiting for God to save me. Well eventually the flood waters rose so he climbed to the roof. Just as he was losing faith another boat arrived to offer help. He thought for a second and replied I’m waiting for God to save me.

    So he waited as the flood waters rose to his waste. In the deepest of despair he started to pray. As he prayed a helicopter arrived to save him. Without batting an eye he shoed them away saying I’m waiting for God to save me.

    Finally the man died and went to heaven. Standing in front of God he asked, “God why have you forsaken me?” God shook his head and asked, “Didn’t you get the two boats and the helicopter I sent?”

  • John Barker

    Berger writes,”The religious alternative is not unreasonable, but it transcends reason”

    Jane Roberts: “if his [humankind’s] emerging unconscious knowledge is denied by his institutions, then it will rise up despite those institutions and annihilate them.Cult after cult will emerge, each unrestrained by the use of reason, because reason will have denied the existence of rampant unconscious knowledge, disorganized and feeling only its own ancient force. [ This need not happen if we ] “accept unconscious intuitions and knowledge . . . and organize these deeply creative principles into cultural patterns.”

  • As to the Catholic, Baptist, and Methodist…

    One sunny day a Catholic, Baptist, and Methodist were going fishing. Right after they left, the Catholic realized that he had left his supplies on the shore. He got out of the boat, walked on the water, got his supplies on the shore, and walked back on the water and got back into the boat.

    Then, the Baptist realized that they did not have enough bait. he got out of the boat, walked on the water, bought a pack of bait, and walked back on the water and got back into the boat.

    Then, the Methodist realized that his watch was not working, and he wanted to buy a new one. He took it off, got out of the boat, but sunk all the way down to the bottom of the ocean.

    Then, the Catholic and the Baptist looked at each other and said, “Oops, I guess we should have told him were the rocks are!”

  • Heather Ann

    “Why are Southern Baptists against extramarital sex?”

    I’ve always heard that one as “Why can’t Southern Baptists have sex standing up?”

    “Atheism is another matter. It is rather childish. I would define an atheist as an individual who has been assured by a voice from heaven that heaven does not exist.”

    Oh, ouch. Please keep in mind that there are two strands of atheists: strong and weak. Weak atheists like myself can also be referred to as “agnostic atheists”—I have no assurance from heaven but I can’t honestly say that I believe in any gods. Hence, a-theist. Not childish at all.

  • First off – congrats on joining the blogging community!

    2nd… This particular post is quite relevant because I grew up mainly Baptist – so am very familiar with the “sex standing up might lead to dancing” joke. Also went to a Norwegian Lutheran college – and was taught as a fundie that lutherans are going to hell – so I totally get the Lutheran joke. Finally – I blog religious satire – and religious seriousness too so this is right up my alley. Joking about religion – I find – is not for the faint-hearted – but clowns are holy, in my opinion, so religion and humor MUST make peace.

    3rd: I was forced to read you in college (mandatory religion classes at St. Olaf) – and your work shook me to the core coming from a fundamentalist background. I look forward to rediscovering your writing as someone who has happily and healthily left religion altogether – but still love to read and discuss and write about religion. Thank you for all your hard work!

  • Stephen Kahn

    I grew up as an atheist. Now that religion is fading from the world, I am a little dismayed that this web site contains no atheist jokes.

    Here’s one. (Not original).

    ==================================
    An atheist walks into a bar …

    … to meet his agnostic friend.

    After
    greeting each other the agnostic asks what the atheist has been doing

    Atheist – ‘Well today I met a priest and then I met an imam’.

    Agnostic – ‘What did you talk about?’.

    Atheist – ‘I told them how
    they were responsible for the evil and madness in the world. I told them how stupid they must be to believe in all that crap.’

    Agnostic – ‘I suppose they didn’t like
    that?’.

    Atheist – [laughing] ‘NO! But you know what the best
    argument against religion is?’.

    Agnostic – ‘What?’.

    Atheist –
    ‘its so intolerant’.

  • Stephen Kahn

    An atheist walks into a bar …

    … to meet his agnostic friend.

    After
    greeting each other the agnostic asks what the atheist has been doing

    Atheist – ‘Well today I met a priest and then I met an imam’.

    Agnostic – ‘What did you talk about?’.

    Atheist – ‘I told them how
    they were responsible for the evil and madness in the world and
    generally took the P. You know how stupid they must be to believe in all that crap.’

    Agnostic – ‘I suppose they didn’t like
    that?’.

    Atheist – [laughing] ‘NO! But you know what the best
    argument against religion is?’.

    Agnostic – ‘What?’.

    Atheist –
    ‘its so intolerant’.

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