Is God Playful? Between Heaven and Mirth Book Excerpt #6

Is God Playful? Between Heaven and Mirth Book Excerpt #6 December 12, 2011

The Between Heaven and Mirth Twitter Book Club continues this week with our next excerpt, below. Join the conversation by reading the excerpt and tweeting a response or a question for author Father Jim Martin – and don’t forget to include the#patheosmirth hashtag!  You can follow the whole Twitter conversation here:!/search/%23patheosmirth

Between Heaven and Mirth, by James Martin, SJ

Excerpt 6:  Humor Deepens Our Relationship with God (pp. 97-98)

One of the best ways of thinking about our relationship to God is as a close personal relationship or an intimate friendship. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it can be quite helpful.

Like any relationship, for example, our relationship with God often starts with infatuation (as when everything about the spiritual life seems easy and wonderful); it goes through exciting times (when prayer is rich and worship is satisfying) and sometimes dry periods (when the spiritual life seems at a standstill). Like any friendship, our relationship with God requires that we devote time to it; it requires a willingness to listen, a tolerance for silence, and a desire for real honesty. All the things that we can say about friendship we can say, by analogy, about prayer.

Obviously, a relationship with God isn’t exactly the same as a relationship with a friend. None of our friends created the world ex nihilo (though some act as if they had). But thinking about our relationship to God in these terms can help to show us where our spiritual life might be lacking.

For example, would you say that you were a good friend if you never spent time with your friends? Or if you never listened to them? If you were never honest with them? Yet some people approach their relationship with God in those ways. Again, the metaphor of friendship with God can help us see our spiritual life in a fresh way.

In that light, our relationship with God–like any relationship–can use some humor from time to time.  That is, it’s okay to be playful with God and accept that God might want to be playful with us.

The Book of Isaiah says, “The Lord delights in you.” One of my spiritual directors used to quote that whenever I would tell him something wonderful or unexpected that happened to me.  “The Lord takes delight in you, Jim!” hi would say.

What a strange thing that was to hear! Previously, I had imagined God creating me, caring for me, maybe even taking an interest in my life, but certainly not delighting in me.  But why not?  Doesn’t a parent delight in a child?

Join the Patheos Book Club by tweeting your response to one of these questions (include the #patheosmirth hashtag):

  • Can you allow yourself to think of God as playful?
  • Can you allow God to be playful with you?
  • Can you imagine God delighting in you?


Visit the Patheos Book Club on Between Heaven and Mirth for more resources on this book.

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