Our Between Heaven and Mirth Twitter Book Club continues today 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: https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23patheosmirth
Between Heaven and Mirth, by James Martin, SJ
Excerpt 7: Laughing in Church (pp. 142-144)
Despite the seriousness of the call to preach the gospel; despite the ancient traditions of Christianity; despite the place of suffering in Christian spirituality; despite the sober writings of the church fathers; despite the grave issues that have faced the church throughout history; despite the fallout from some painful recent history, like the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church; and despite widespread theological divisions that keep Christians separated, churches can still be, from time to time, very funny places.
For that we should be grateful. Thank God for salt, leaven, and light.* Thank God for salt in bland times, for leaven in flat times, for light in dark times. Humor is salt, light, and leaven. Humor is a gift to the church.
Is it any wonder that many people find religious settings stultifying? “The lack of humour and irritability into which we in the contemporary Church and contemporary theology have so often slipped is perhaps one of the most serious objections which can be brought against present-day Christianity,” wrote Cardinal Walter Kasper, a German theologian and a Vatican official.
Levity is still considered excessive in some churches. (Believe me, I’ve visited them and worshipped in them.) And when bishops, priests, sisters, brothers, ministers, pastors, elders, pastoral associates, music ministers, hospital chaplains, directors of religious education, and religious education teachers act as if they have the weight of the world on their shoulders, that no job is as difficult as theirs, and that they alone are responsible for doing God’s work, then we’re in trouble.
What do you think ? Are churches too serious? How can we bring laughter and levity into worship? Tweet your thoughts, and include the #patheosmirth hashtag to join the Twitter conversation!
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