Book Review: Between Heaven and Mirth

Martin, a Jesuit priest who has been called “The Official Chaplain of Colbert Nation,” is convinced that joy, humor and laughter are central to spirituality. He calls readers’ attention to humor in the Bible and in the lives of spiritual leaders throughout the centuries.

Most of the jokes that he tells and examples that he gives are from his own Catholic tradition – all the cartoons on the cover seem to be of Catholics, save Martin Luther, who had a well-known spat with the Catholic Church. However, he does give space to humor in Protestantism and even other religions. When writing about humor, there is always the danger of being unfunny. Thankfully, Martin escapes this danger. This was a fun read, and it was fun in large part because Martin is able to poke fun at himself. I had no idea there were so many jokes about Jesuits.

Here is a link to an interview with Martin at Duke Divinity School’s Faith & Leadership blog. This is a great quote from that interview:

We feel drawn to religious leaders with a sense of humor. It shows us that they understand their essential poverty of spirit and their own reliance on God. It shows humility, which is also essential in the spiritual life. You take God seriously, Jesus seriously and the gospel seriously, but you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously.

To which I can only say: Amen.


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