Before the People Attempting to Help news conference to announce PATH Week began, the board members and staff were bantering with one another.
He smiled and grabbed his sunglasses.
“Now I only need one of those spiral things that goes behind your ear,” he joked.
Religious leaders are some of the most playful people, from the Dalai Lama to the Pope.
It’s been several years since the film “The Passion of the Christ” was released, but there’s one scene that stuck with me. Despite the film’s graphic nature, the scene that always comes to mind is lighthearted.
It’s a scene between Jesus and his mother, laughing together.
A 2008 study by Baylor University found that Americans see God primarily in four ways: About 28 percent believe in a harsh, authoritative God; 22 percent believe in a benevolent God; 21 percent of Americans believe in a critical God who only observes and reserves judgment for the afterlife; and 24 percent see a distant God who sent the world spinning, then left humanity alone.
“Sometimes he (God) gives you something like a nudge and says, ‘Don’t take yourself so seriously!’” said Pope Benedict XVI in his book with Peter Seewald, “God and the World: Believing and Living in Our Time.” “Humor is in fact an essential element in the mirth of creation. We can see how, in many matters in our lives, God wants to prod us into taking things a bit more lightly; to see the funny side of it; to get down off our pedestal and not to forget our sense of fun.”
In his book “Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life,” Catholic priest James Martin discusses the odd notion that people of faith are sticks-in-the-mud.
“The idea of being religious and joyful really makes sense,” he said at a presentation at St. Thomas of Villanova Church in Philadelphia. “We all seem to know people who think that being religious means being deadly serious all the time, but if you’re deadly serious, you’re probably seriously dead.”
He goes on to give examples of how Jesus was funny, but because we’re so far removed by time and culture, the humor is lost on us.
As C.S. Lewis said in a letter to a friend who dismissed the idea of fun in heaven, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”
We would do well to remember to bring a little bit of that business to Earth.