Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Funny Thing About Religion

My Facebook wall is usually a serious place with political commentary and invitations to events with a focus on social justice and community participation. However, when I noticed this cartoon on a friend's page I found myself guffawing loudly.  It's a bit of a hit now with up to 15,000 likes and 7,000 shares. ( If you don't do facebook check here for like and here for share)

The line from the cartoon is immortalised with a classic comeback in Forrest Gump:

I was not too surprised to find  feedback on the Facebook page which  considered the cartoon disrespectful. Some of the comments echoed the famous 1979 BBC debate about The Life of Brian which centred on whether or not the content ridiculed religion.

Humour and Religion is a recent publication with the very serious price of  $120 that explores some of the challenges and ambiguities of this often contentious partnership. Whenever people get serious about humour you will usually find something to tickle your funny bone. In this work for example most of the writers are from Northern Europe. To my surprise there is  not  one Irish writer among them. To my delight  there is an Aussie in the group!!! Coming down the home front with Chapter 14  The Fool and the Path to Spiritual Insight is Jessica Milner Davis from the University of Sydney.

Back in 2003, Jessica was one of a panel of guests on ABC Compass Between Laughter and Tears. In this program Geraldine Doogue explored" the liaison between theology and humour and how they might work together to explain the human condition". Jessica concluded the program by saying:  "...we realise that spirit has a role to play in the direction of human affairs and that spirit cannot be limited by the human judgment that this is serious and therefore is to be higher up and this is not serious and therefore is to be placed further down. That spirit will transcend all human judgements like that and therefore must embrace laughter along with tears."
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