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the Gospel according to...Biff??

In the opening pages of Christopher Moore's novel "Lamb, the Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Friend", is this quote attributed to Voltaire:
"God is a comedian playing to an audience that is afraid to laugh"

(Minor point of clarification: according to Wiki, the quote is misattributed to Voltaire, but was actually by H. L. Mencken: "Creator - A comedian whose audience is afraid to laugh")

In any case, it's a great quote - I see no reason why prayer must preclude humour. It seems acceptable to worship while in tears, why not also in the presence of laughter? Humour can bring people together, and brighten a dark day. To adapt a line from Bono (ref the Rattle and Hum CD): the God I believe in isn't short of laughs, mister! Humour - respectful humour, that is - can be a terrific way to diffuse a tense or awkward situation.

I highly recommend "Lamb..." to anyone open to an hilarious - yet through the profanity and goofiness, oddly sensitive - tale of the life of Jesus. I just lent it to Rev. Valerie and am most curious to know if she, as a member of the clergy, will find it as funny as did my daughter and I.

An openness to humour is yet another reason I feel at home in the United Church of Canada. I don't think you'd see anything like Valerie's cheerleading routine in every church!

I am sure, though, that there are many other clergy among us who also possess a sense of humour. When we were visiting England last summer, we'd gone to a garden party at the vicar's house. I noticed a cartoon in his entryway. The first panel was Christians being thrown to the lions, the second panel was rougly 2000 yrs later and was Gay Christians being thrown to the Christians. Wow, I thought...a sense of humour AND a gay rights proponent, cool vicar!

I couldn't find that cartoon online, but did find this one that stuck my funny bone...

Completely irrelevant sidebar: is "vicar" a British term, or one used by the Anglican community globally, I wonder...I don't think it's used in Canada but perhaps in the U.S.? In any case, it has cache somehow...great fun to be able to say "we went to the vicar's garden party". Hyacinth Bucket (which she pronounces 'Bouquet'), from Keeping Up Appearances, would be so proud (or possibly jealous)!

Comments (5)

Great post! And thanks for the recommendation - I'm going to check "Lamb" out since it sounds like something I'd love.

Have you read Anne Lamott? Her essays on faith are hilarious - she has a female minister too, named Veronica (what's with the "V" names?!).


Thanks Annie, I haven't read her, but will now be on the lookout. That IS a neat coincidence - both the minister's name, and the fact that the author's name is "Anne"!


I've always said, God has nothing if not a strong sense of irony.

I think you'd like her. She's written a bunch of novels but I prefer her non-fiction. It's very auto-biographical(she lives in California). The books I like are "Traveling Mercies," Plan B: More Thoughts on Faith," and her most recent, "Grace (Eventually)."

Her church sounds a lot like yours (a place I'd love to go if I lived closer)!

She also wrote a hilarious book called "Operating Instructions" about her pregnancy and first year of her son's life. I buy it all the time for baby shower gifts!

I love Hyacinth! She would definitely be up for a party in the vicar's garden.

This books sounds really funny. It reminds me of a piece in the humor anthology "Mirth of a Nation." Wonder if it was the same author. I tried to find out but wasn't able to.

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