Think the spiritual life has to be so serious? Think again, says Fr. Jim Martin, Jesuit Priest, Colbert Nation “Chaplain” and author of the new book, Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life. You’re invited to join the Patheos conversation on the lighter side of faith as we tweet through his book over the next two weeks. It’s easy to join — just read the brief daily excerpt here, and then tweet a response or question with the hashtag #patheosmirth. You can follow the whole Twitter conversation here: https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23patheosmirth
And to make it even more fun, Fr. Martin will join the Twitter chat every few days to respond to a few of his favorite tweets. If he responds to yours, you’ll be entered to win a copy of his book, just in time for Christmas. So get ready to smile … and tweet about Between Heaven and Mirth! (And don’t forget to check out the Patheos Book Club for more great content, including a Q&A with Fr. Martin, videos and a blogger roundtable about the book.)
CHAPTER 1: Excerpt
Reprinted with permission from HarperOne Publishers.
Here is one example of what leads me to believe that many modern believers often fail to link spirituality with anything joyful or even lighthearted.
For the past twelve years, I’ve worked for a Catholic magazine called America, which we often call the “National Catholic Weekly” (A few years ago, one of our detractors write saying that the magazine was so awful we should spell that last word “W-e-a-k-l-y.”) One of the magazine’s regular features is called “Faith in Focus.”“Faith in Focus” is reserved mainly for stories about a writer’s personal spiritual life. Each week we get dozens of articles submitted for that section of the magazine. And guess what the most commmon topics for submissions are. Sickness, suffering, and death. How my illness led me to God. How losing a job led me to God. How my pain led me to God.
Now you might say, “Suffering is a way to God.” And often that’s true. We can sometimes experience God more intensely during times of suffering, since we are more vulnerable and, therefore, perhaps more open to God’s help. With our defenses down, God can often more easily enter into our lives. Sometimes suffering can be a window into experiencing God in a new way.
But during the twelve years I’ve worked at the magazine, I’ve rarely seen a funny or even mildly humorous submission for that section. Lately the editors have even agreed to guard against running too many depressing articles in that section. Just recently we accepted an article called “A Journey to Death,” about the writers’ mother’s final illness. (We changed the title to something less morbid, since we had published articles about illness in three consecutive issues.) This is just an indication that, at least in American Catholic culture, suffering is linked to spirituality far more often than joy is.
Tweet your response (#patheosmirth): Should joy have as significant of a place in the spiritual life as suffering? Why do you think suffering is linked to spirituality more than joy?
OR tweet a question for Fr. Martin….