Humor from the Pulpit: is it a good idea?

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Humor from the Pulpit: is it a good idea?

Post  VicarJoe on Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:11 pm

I thought this article raised a question I'd never even bothered to ask.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/drop-the-comic-altar-ego-clergy-told-20090608-c0we.html
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Humor in Church.....

Post  stihl on Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:10 pm

....if done in the right proportion and for the right reason, I don't have a problem with it.

If the humor is in support of Faith and not the other way around, it is appropriate.
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Hey, Jesus started it

Post  Thereforeiam on Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:35 pm

when he changed water into wine at a wedding reception for his first miracle. To me that is inherently humorous.

Aside from that, "any" communication tool when badly used is painful, not just humor. Many a priest, minister and rabbi at the pulpit has been painful to the ears of the congregation irregardless of what might be a great lesson or an insightful subject. Sometimes it's so bad that it's............. humorous.
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In my experience

Post  VicarJoe on Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:58 pm

pastors & priests who tell jokes usually do so (or at least it feels this way from the front row) for two reasons: to kill time (since they have to give a homily or sermon but assume no one wants to hear anything substantive) and to come across as just an approachable, jolly fellow (as opposed to some dour, serious man of God a la the Hollywood depiction of grumpy clergy).

I can't imagine actually objecting in principle to humor. But then again, it does tend to trivialize the commentary, and it tends to detract from any feeling of solemnity that some people might be seeking (as opposed to bad stand-up comedy).

What I'd give my eye teeth for (whatever those are) is a priest who really delved into exegesis of the Sunday readings in order to explain what they mean specifically about our faith and how they inform our creed. Would that really be so boring to everyone else?
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It depends, of course.

Post  cradlerc on Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:22 pm

We have a priest who is a gifted, gifted, speaker. He can be completely funny, but he can do it in the way that really comedy can, which is that he eases you, make you laugh a little, and then Ka-Pow! You're suddenly sober and chagrined. His sermons are always an invitation to look inward, and to me, his ability to use humor makes me take his serious edge all that much more seriously. I think good teachers can do this too--get them to laugh a bit because what you're askig them to do is actually uncomfortable, difficult and painful.
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And he also tends

Post  cradlerc on Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:25 pm

to be really smart about getting us to think about which gospel we're reading, what its writer's intentions were, how it fits into the context of other readings--but he does it in a way that's totally engaging. He's like a good professor, which is probably why I like him. But like I said, he's gifted; like you, I'd prefer a sound exegesis to lame humor attempts.
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Humor as it relates to the human condition....

Post  stihl on Mon Jun 15, 2009 9:23 am

what I consider appropriate humor is when a priest can bring is own personal human experience to bear as it relates to the readings. There is a time and a place for everything.

Jokes, as in, "stop me if you heard this one, a priest and rabbi are on a plane.....", are generally not what I consider appropriate humor.
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I think cradle's priest

Post  AustenFan on Mon Jun 15, 2009 9:31 am

sounds like he uses humor effectively and for the proper reasons. I don't think preachers should use humor for the sake of humor- written into the sermon almost as if they are stand up comics. One of the few exception was yesterday and our pastor told a joke right before his message on a stewardship program. Money is an uncomfortable topic to cover in the church, so I think he was trying to put people at ease and the joke made sense in the context.

Apparently, some people are church often find a number of things in my sermons funny. I don't think they are painfully funny. But I don't try to be funny. It just sometimes comes out in a more spontaeneous delivery style
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That's true of teaching as well.

Post  cradlerc on Mon Jun 15, 2009 12:27 pm

I don't plan to be funny. Sometimes (often!) I'm the only one who thinks something is funny. But then, sometimes, a point becomes very very funnny, it's a hard to tell why, and it's a great way a class bonds together. A grace, really.
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