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Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life | [James Martin]

Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

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  •  
    lisa reinhart 09-10-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved this audio book."
    What made the experience of listening to Between Heaven and Mirth the most enjoyable?

    I love the way he tells stories. He is very honest and has a great sense of humor.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked his honesty.


    Which character – as performed by James Martin – was your favorite?

    James Martin


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The book is very uplifting and inspirational.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Manchester, MO, United States 03-18-13
    Paul Manchester, MO, United States 03-18-13 Member Since 2011
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    "A whole new meaning to "dry humor""
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    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.


    Could you see Between Heaven and Mirth being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela 02-12-13
    Angela 02-12-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Uplifting"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Between Heaven and Mirth to be better than the print version?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Between Heaven and Mirth?

    How animals in sack cloth are a hilarious image in the story of Jonah.


    What does James Martin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    It is always nice to hear the author's voice, particularly when listening to a joke where timing is crucial.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna Cambridge, MA, United States 07-23-12
    Donna Cambridge, MA, United States 07-23-12 Member Since 2012
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    "The is a great good a must for anyone"
    What made the experience of listening to Between Heaven and Mirth the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    it keeps me interested ...


    What about James Martin’s performance did you like?

    very personable. your can tell his tone is pleasant and humorous.


    Any additional comments?

    Great!! i will probably read/listen to again and again

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peggy King, NC, United States 07-12-12
    Peggy King, NC, United States 07-12-12
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    "Great Listening!"
    Where does Between Heaven and Mirth rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    by far one of my favorites. I have listened to it twice now.


    What did you like best about this story?

    the humour


    What does James Martin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    the tone and inflection he used add a certian punch to the stories that I probably would not have had if I read it.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    many - I had to stop and reflect and listen to passages again.


    Any additional comments?

    I will diffentaly listen to this one time and time again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mark Westville, South Africa 05-02-12
    mark Westville, South Africa 05-02-12
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    "Great Perspective"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam Shields 10-26-14 Member Since 2003

    Book blogger at Bookwi.se

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Why joy & humor are important to the spirituality"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer San Diego, CA, United States 04-28-13
    Amazon Customer San Diego, CA, United States 04-28-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Disappointing"
    What disappointed you about Between Heaven and Mirth?

    Martin's central theme is that the Bible has funny stories in it and that Jesus had a sense of humor. He makes the case early on, and then the rest of the book for me is "so what?" Lots of example, none of them hugely funny, but I can see how they would have been funny to a 1st Century Hebrew, Greek or Roman. But still once the point had been made, I did not see any point to the rest of the book.


    Has Between Heaven and Mirth turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No. The other two books that I listened to from James Martin were excellent: one about the Saints and another about the Jesuits.


    What about James Martin’s performance did you like?

    Very clear voice and conversational style. Excellent to listen to.


    What character would you cut from Between Heaven and Mirth?

    It's not that sort of book. No characters.


    Any additional comments?

    None.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-8 of 8 results
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  • LJLC
    6/19/13
    Overall
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    Story
    "Lightweight and a bit boring"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I expected to be amused in a good clean way. Mostly though, I found this book a little tedious.


    Would you be willing to try another book from James Martin? Why or why not?

    Maybe


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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