Thursday, October 11, 2007

Talking About Christian Humor Blogging...Part 1

(From L&H's Dawn of the Knitting Dead post. Or midterms at my school.)

First, let me be honest: it's midterms time for me, which means I am under a pile of papers and tests with no light at the end of the tunnel. Any humorous thoughts I have now have a dark edge...whistling in the dark, black, apocalyptic humor. Not the "gentle satire" and "Laugh like Sarah" humor I try to go for.

So it's a great time to do something I've been intrigued by for a while: a series of interviews for a week with some bloggers in the strange old/new world of "Christian Humor." Let's be honest, there are many people who think religion and humor are like oil and water: they don't mix. I think the right humor about the right things is essential to Christian joy, personally. But it's a tricky business! So I've asked about eight bloggers, who dabble in humor on their Christian-themed blogs, to answer a few questions about the connection (or not) between Being Christian and Being Funny. Some of the blogs consist of all humor posts. For others, the humor is a tasty side dish. All are active blogs and (I think) often hilarious. And no doubt, I have forgotten to invite someone eminently deserving: I definitely can't read all the blogs out there. So I apologize in advance.

First up! John at Locusts and Honey, a Methodist Blog "on faith, art, rabbits, and zombies." Welcome to the Catholic side of the blogdom, John. No need to genuflect, we're not in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament online. Virtual candles to your left if so moved.

What is the role of humor on your blog?
The role of humor on my blog is to make me laugh and make other people laugh.

Why is "Christian Humor" not an oxymoron?
Not only is "Christian humor" not an oxymoron, it's essential! In fact, I would question the faith of the humorless Christian. For humor derives from a loving and humble heart, both of which are the marks of a Christian believer.

Are you funny offline?
In the right mix of people, I'm funny offline. But I'm funnier through my online persona.
I think offline it would be better to say that people laugh at, rather than with, me.

Are there “BIG POINTS” in your humor posts, or are you just goofing around?
My humor is not deep, nor does it have, as Shrek said of onions and ogres, "layers". Most of it is mere play.

What makes something humorous, in your opinion?
Humor is what we know is true but don't talk about. Humor is exposing the Emperor's nudity.

What kind of humor crosses the line in your blog, if any?
I try not to cross any lines, but
this post about Tookie Williams attracted criticism. I think that most of the criticism was a clumsy attempt to emotionally manipulate me. There's a lot of manipulation in the Church, all in the name of "reproving your brother", and we bloggers have to watch out for it.

What humorous post did you create and really like that just flopped? (Feel free to include link.)
[...]I'm having trouble thinking of it right now. [You know, that's what the comments box is for, John!]

Are there any humorists (written or on screen) you really like?
I really like George Carlin. He is what I call a "truthspeaker". Lies, especially obvious lies that we tell ourselves, deeply offend him. They offend me, too.

Humor: evangelization, frivolity, or neither?
It's both. It's a chance to share a laugh together. In my blogging community, comprised of Methodists, we are very, very theologically diverse. The diversity threatens us with schism and Methodists constantly fight one another. But humor is an intimate thing. The moment when a liberal and a conservative both find something funny is sacred; a shared emotion across ideological walls. If I can help liberal and conservative Methodists laugh together, I can help contribute to the unity of my denomination.

Humor is also evangelism. A lot of non-Christians think of Christians as humorless and dour. I've received comments by people pleasantly surprised to find a Christian who didn't take himself so seriously. And that's evangelism.

How do you keep it up online when you don't feel funny?
Do you think that you could let us all know how each other answers this question? 'Cause I'm always looking for good sources.

Name one thing Jesus probably laughed about.
Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Wesley died and went to Heaven. They met St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, who gave them a tour of Heaven. Among the facilities was a small, non-descript office building. Martin Luther asked "What happens there?" St. Peter answered "That's Jesus' office. He still has a lot of work to do, and needs work space." Luther asked "Do you think that he would have time to talk with me about theology?" St. Peter responded, "I'm, sure that he'd make time for you, Martin. Go on in." Luther went into the office building while St. Peter, Calvin, and Wesley waited outside. About a half-hour later, Luther ran out weeping and wailing "How could I have ever been so wrong!" This disturbed Wesley and Calvin, but Wesley asked St. Peter, "Do you think that he would have time for me?" St. Peter said, "You betcha. Just go on in and ask to see him." John Wesley went into the office building. About a half hour later, he came out weeping and wailing "How could I have ever been so wrong?" John Calvin was undeterred. "My turn," he said, and strode into the office building. About a half hour later, Jesus emerged, weeping and wailing, "How could I have ever been so wrong!" [Funny--Catholics have a version of this joke with Hans Kung, Walter Kasper, and Pope Benedict XVI. See how much we have in common?]

Man plans -- and God laughs.

Thanks, John! Humor is exposing the Emporer's nudity--I like that.

Coming on Friday: Joel from Crummy Church Signs.


Jenny from Chicago said...

Hi IC, do I count as a Christian Humor blog if nobody else laughs?

The Ironic Catholic said...

If a tree falls in the forest, but no one hears it, does it make a sound?

It's true that humor blogging is like a sitcom without a laughtrack. You just don't know. It's probably presumptious for me to assume people laugh here, although my husband laughs at, I mean with, me.

Ray from MN said...

Great concept, I.C.

Although there is a danger in revealing humorists' secrets.

Like revealing how to do magic tricks. But once I bought a book on how magic tricks are done and rather than spoil them, it impressed me all to bits how much skill and effort it takes for an accomplished magician to do magic.

I still am in awe of the young guy who sat down at our table at Forepaugh's restaurant in St Paul one evening some years ago and did a bunch of tricks for us. The piece de resistance for me was when he turned a quarter into a double sized silver dollar in front of me when my face was two feet from his hands.

I still can't figure out how he did it.

And I appreciate the skill of humorist like you, too.

I'll enjoy reading about the others.