Your Opinion: Fundamental thoughts on humor

Dear Editor:

Among the long list of oxymora like “military intelligence,” “honest lawyer,” “brave politician,” etc. one frequently finds “fundamentalist humor.” Is there a truth in this generalization?

One of my areas of interest is the thought processes endemic to the religious fundamentalist mindset. I use “religious fundamentalist” here in the broadest context which is meant to include the Big Three monotheistic faiths; Judaism, Islam and Christianity. In spite of their hatred and their demonizing of each other, the fundamentalist pathologies of all three exhibit an amazing similarity in both their etiologies and in the way they manifest their beliefs in the world. Perhaps it is just my exposure, but Christian fundamentalists seem to exhibit a singular lack of humor both in the telling of and the understanding of jokes. One only needs to search the fundamentalist responses to letters to the editor in these pages to find examples of their inability of take a joke or even understand one.

So why is this? The fundamentalists Christians’ Savior seems actually to have been a pretty cool guy. He was, for example, a great punster: Mathew 23:24 & 16:18. (BTW, Jesus calling the weak and cowardly Simon Peter his “rock” seems to add a high level of irony to his pun.) His fundamentalist followers, on the other hand, too often fail to take a playful approach to belief. If anyone dares to laugh at or critique their faith they become greatly upset. It seems to me that, were they secure in their own belief system, they would not feel so threatened.

Personally, my philosophy is best reflected in that famous quote from renowned commentator on the foibles of humanity, Mae West, “Anything worth taking seriously is worth making fun of.”

It is good to remember that poking fun at the tenets of sacred belief is still called blasphemy and used to be punishable by death (still is in Islamic fundamentalism). We should remember this when advocates call for a return to a Christian Nation and the reestablishment of “old time religious values.”

I thought our readers would also like to know about the following:

Last week I heard that a world-renown medium was able to contact Christopher Hitchens’ departed spirit, who asserted definitively that “There is no God and no afterlife.”

I hate to be the bearer of such disheartening news, but I hope this will finally settle the whole question once and for all.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com

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