In Between Heaven and Mirth, James Martin, SJ, assures us that God wants us to experience joy, to cultivate a sense of holy humor, and to laugh at life’s absurdities—not to mention our own humanity. Father Martin invites believers to rediscover the importance of humor and laughter in our daily lives and to embrace an essential truth: faith leads to joy.
Holy people are joyful people, says Father Martin, offering countless examples of healthy humor and purposeful levity in the stories of biblical heroes and heroines, and in the lives of the saints and the world’s great spiritual masters. He shows us how the parables are often the stuff of comedy, and how the gospels reveal Jesus to be a man with a palpable sense of joy and even playfulness. In fact, Father Martin argues compellingly, thinking about a Jesus without a sense of humor may be close to heretical.
Drawing on Scripture, sharing anecdotes from his experiences as a lifelong Catholic, a Jesuit for over twenty years, and a priest for more than ten, and including amusing and insightful sidebars, footnotes, and jokes, Father Martin illustrates how joy, humor, and laughter help us to live more spiritual lives, understand ourselves and others better, and more fully appreciate God’s presence among us. Practical how-to advice helps us use humor to show our faith, embrace our humanity, put things into perspective, open our minds, speak truth, demonstrate courage, challenge power, learn hospitality, foster effective human relations, deepen our relationship with God, and ... enjoy ourselves. Inviting God to lighten our hearts, we can enjoy a little heaven on earth.
©2011 James Martin, S.J. (P)2011 HarperCollinsPublishers
I love the way he tells stories. He is very honest and has a great sense of humor.
I liked his honesty.
The book is very uplifting and inspirational.
You can pick up this book at any time and not necessarily finish it all at once. You can come back again and again and get something new every time.
A well balanced, easy to listen to and useful perception. It focuses on the important things in life for when we get bogged down by gloom and drudgery. A simple and clear perspective about choices we have in life.
I feel richer for having taken in this book.
Well done, Jim.
Book blogger at Bookwi.se
Donald Kim’s A Down and Dirty Guide to Theology, is the only book on systematic theology that I have read that includes a section on theological jokes. Kim makes the point that too often when we talk about God and Theology, only the dry stuff gets passed on. Instead Kim thought a section on theological jokes was important (in a very short introduction to theology) because it would help the reader remember that theology is not only dry academics, but rooted in a relationship with God and any relationship needs laughter. Not long after that I read David Dark’s The Sacredness of Questioning Everything. One of his chapters was on the importance of being able to laugh at yourself (and your religion).
James Martin picks up both of these ideas and expands them, looking not only at why it is important to be able to laugh at yourself and your religion but why so many of the spiritual saints have been fans of laughter and jokes.
This book caught my eye a couple years ago when it first came out. But it wasn’t until I saw Glenn Packiham recommend it on twitter a couple weeks ago that I decided to pick it up. This is my second book by James Martin, the first, a short book on Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Jesus, and a few others is on the short list of best books I have read this year.
Martin, a Jesuit priest, writer and speaker has the helpful ability to talk about serious things, be very open about his own struggles and foibles, bring in appropriate humor and still convey real spiritual depth.
The main point of this book is that our faith is missing something when we believe that spiritual things need to be serious things. At root, many things are just funny. And even the when they are not funny, a joke or laughter can make serious or hard things better and help both us and those around us to be better off.
I did not think this was quite as good as Becoming Who You Are. He spends a decent amount of time trying to talk academically about laughter and humor and I think that is important to the topic. Otherwise it would just a book of jokes. But I think Martin draws out the topic too much. I think this would have been a better book if it were about 50 pages shorter.
The book is funny and there are lots of good presentations of humor. (The audiobook is narrated by Martin so he is telling his own jokes.) Martin also strives to show that humor is a part of a variety of religious traditions. And I think that part of the book was less successful and less important. It is not that he is wrong, it is just that I think it was not necessary to try to make laughter universal. It would have been better to make it more particular. Although much of the humor, especially the self deprecating kind, is based around his own Catholic background.
I still think, even with the weaknesses it is worth picking up, especially if you find it on sale.
James Martin SJ provides a thoughtful analysis of why humor appears to be missing from the Bible, how to find it by adjusting your cultural perspective and the importance of mirth in religion.
How animals in sack cloth are a hilarious image in the story of Jonah.
It is always nice to hear the author's voice, particularly when listening to a joke where timing is crucial.
I felt like i was sitting with the author and he was telling me a lot of great stories. He is very pleasant and easy to following. Very intelligent and funny. Lots of humor. You will thoroughly enjoy this book no matter what religion u r.
it keeps me interested ...
very personable. your can tell his tone is pleasant and humorous.
Great!! i will probably read/listen to again and again
by far one of my favorites. I have listened to it twice now.
the tone and inflection he used add a certian punch to the stories that I probably would not have had if I read it.
many - I had to stop and reflect and listen to passages again.
I will diffentaly listen to this one time and time again.
While I was intrigued by the topic of this book, I was disappointed with the content. A few of the included jokes and stories were good, but most were simply not funny. I did not find the book to be very enlightening. Most was just common sense. I struggled even to finish listening.
I am writing a women's Bible study on Joy because Nehemiah 8:10 says "The Joy of the Lord is your strength". I thought this was a book about how to lighten up in life drawing on Biblical references about how to actually do the James 1 commandment about finding joy even when you fall into all kinds of trials.
This book made the case that humor and a light hearted approach to religion should be the norm. This idea has plenty of truth. The book is interfaith, and draws upon Examples from Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Islamic and by implication any other religion. Even Atheists (yes it is a form of religion too) should be able to find humor in their world view. I mean isn't a joke if Hitler and Mother Teresa end up in the same place?
The book did not appear to draw much upon the writings of the various religions, just the salubrious effects of being able to be joyful and light hearted in how you live out and communicate your faith.
This is a great book, a really nice and psychological healthy vision of a balanced spirituality, thanks father James, this book help me a lot in the way of knowing God.
"OK but not brilliant"
An OK book but not brilliant. I listened to this on Audiobook and although I enjoyed listening to it I did lose interest now and again. I chose it because I listened to and really enjoyed another of James Martin's books. I have to be honest to admit I was glad I finished it.
"Lightweight and a bit boring"
I expected to be amused in a good clean way. Mostly though, I found this book a little tedious.
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