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

James Martin, Joint Author
James Martin. HarperOne, $25.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-202426-8
Reviewed on: 08/08/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Paperback - 263 pages - 978-0-06-202425-1
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“So a humor book and a serious theology book meet up in a bar...” Martin, a Jesuit who is something of a regular on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, makes a strong case for the necessity of humor in the spiritual life, offering what he calls “a serious argument for joy.” Weaving funny anecdotes and jokes with biblical and historical research and interviews with scholars, Martin does much to rescue the Christian tradition from joylessness. In his telling, church history is filled with levity if you only know where to look—his portrayal of St. Teresa of Avila shows her to have been downright hilarious, and Jesus himself drew upon humor in ways we don’t always appreciate when we read the Gospels today. Rather than laughter’s trivializing faith, Martin sees humor as a faithful response to God, a default stance that invites other people into God’s family. Winsome and comical but also provocative and thoughtful, Martin’s book is a breath of fresh air for those who would take religion—and themselves—too seriously. (Oct.)
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