On Humor…

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I’m writing this particular topic in response to some mail I have gotten regarding things I post on the internet. To let you all in on a little secret, about 20 people read every blog I post (honestly, I don’t even know who about 10 of you guys are, but you’re cool, thanks.). However, a lot more people read my blog occasionally. My posts about effeminate worship leaders, prayer, reconciliation, and Easter eggs have all drawn over 100 hits each. I know that’s not much, but it means people do care what I think…

I say this to tell you all about a little secret that I keep about my blog. I, Steven L. Ford, receive hate mail because of what I write. Every one of those blogs generated at least one piece of hate mail, and I occasionally receive a letter or two for things I post on facebook also. I decided to school you all on humor in the Bible and hyper-sensitive, Pharisaical humorless people.

I am aware that I have a very dry, intellectual sense of humor. Most of my jokes come without a smirk and do not wait for a reaction without continuing, so if you don’t recognize them you immediately you won’t get them. I know, it means I’d suck at stand-up, but I’m fine with that… I think I’m funny.

So what wonderful piece of hate mail is inspiring this particular post? Well it came in two parts, a couple private messages (that I restrained myself from saying my immediate thoughts) and status update to drive the point home. I compared Jason Vorhees (notorious movie serial killer) to Kenny McCormick (a character on the tv show South Park). They both have a rare “super power” built into their stories; nothing can kill them. In doing so, I mentioned that even Jesus died in response to one person’s comment. It was a piece of dry humor that spoke to the rarity of the “power,” that even God incarnate submitted himself to death. You may recall in my post about Thunderstorms I talked about God’s power being so great that death itself has only heard rumors of wisdom compared to God… God’s power greatly surpasses the “power” to never die. I’ve never stated anything contrary.

This particular piece of hate mail said that I put Jesus lower than fictional characters, that I make hell itself quake, that even Satan quakes at the disrespect for Christ that I have, that I make him look like an amateur, and though not specifically stated, several comments paramount to “you’re not a Christian.”

…actually, that’s not the worst piece of hate mail I’ve received. I think I got a worse one after posting On Reconciliation… you know, the one where I talk about “Jesus the drunk.” I’m responding to this particular one to say LIGHTEN UP. There is no book more filled with humor than the Bible. It’s got everything from potty jokes to political humor, from puns to satire. Jesus is the ultimate master of wit. He created jokes, he can take them.

Potty Jokes:

  • The Bible tells this great story about a fat king. He was killed in one of my favorite Bible stories. It describes his death in pretty graphic details. I literally poops himself out of his guts as he dies. This detail adds nothing to the lesson of the story, it adds nothing to understanding God, it isn’t necessary for understanding what’s happening. Why is it there? Cause it’s FUNNY! One of the oldest jokes in the Bible is a joke about poop. Pretty much every comedian, every humor sitcom, every comedy makes jokes about poop — the Bible did it first! You can read the story here: Judges 3:12-30.
  • Isaiah described quite the scene. Because we are polite, the words in most English translations have been made a little misleading. Isaiah says our righteousness is like “filthy rags.” What I’ve found out from some research is that the Hebrew word being used is actually more closely related to saying “Our righteousness is like a bloody tampon.” Think of the ridiculousness of the scene he’s painting. You’re standing at the thrown of God and He asks you why he should let you into Heaven. He asks you to show him your righteousness… and you pull out a bloody tampon on show it to God… It’s tragic, yes… but it’s a funny scene. AND that’s what Isaiah was going for; it’s supposed to be funny how ridiculous you look trying to prove that you’re good enough to God. HUMOR!!!! Isaiah 64:1-7
  • There is a story when King David is running from King Saul. David hid in a cave with all his followers. Who, other than Saul, would happen to choose that particular cave to poop in. Now there are dozens of men in this cave, but Saul couldn’t hear them. With all the echoes and such that must have been in the cave, there is only one explanation why Saul wouldn’t hear anything— especially since David got close enough to cut a piece out of Saul’s underwear without being heard — Saul was louder than everyone else! He must have been constipated or something to be making so distracted. I mean, how many people wouldn’t notice someone inches behind them in such a vulnerable position? I can only imagine that Saul was moaning and whining about his predicament. Once again, poop is funny.  1 Samuel 24:1-7

Political Humor

  • If you worship a false god, who is better to tell you about the Lord than your god? Remember, it happened in the bible! God turned Jonah into Dagon to preach to Nineveh. Dagon was the Assyrian god; he was half-man and half-fish in appearance. Do not think for even a second that it was a coincidence that Jonah spent three days in the belly of a fish before preaching in Nineveh. God knew Jonah would flee and God prepared that fish to swallow him. There have been a few cases of people who were retrieved alive from the bellies of fish after being in there for days. Jonah couldn’t have looked or smelled much different than these people, so let me paint a picture of what it must have been like when Jonah first arrived in Nineveh. He smelled like a fish, his skin was yellowish in color because it had been partially digested, he was highly dehydrated, his hair bleached, he may have looked a little deformed overall. Jonah came with the story to people who worshiped a fish god that a giant fish brought him to them to tell them to switch Gods. To them, not only did their god approve of the switch, he must have commanded it! When you look at this picture, it’s pretty stinking funny. A fish man tells people who worship a fish man god that the fish man god is false!! Seriously, read the whole story over again with this picture in your head… you’ll laugh, because it’s funny. Jonah 1-4
  • For the few people who have followed my blog from the beginning, you may remember that I wrote a blog about the world’s greatest rebel…Jesus. He was not okay with the status-quo. I didn’t share this particular example of the shots Jesus took at the Roman government. He met a guy who was possessed by many demons. Jesus asked what the demon’s name was, and rather than each give their names, the demons simply said “We are Legion, because we are many.” “Legion”… a legion is a military term… a military term that the Romans invented. Jesus cast Legion into pigs (the lowest of all animals according to Jewish tradition) and they ran off a cliff to their death. Did you catch the double meaning? Jesus didn’t JUST heal that man. He also sent a message to the Romans that not only is he more powerful than demons, he’s more powerful than Caesar. Jesus said he would make them the lowest creatures on earth and send them to their doom. Jesus wasn’t naive; he knew exactly what he was saying. He was a master at political humor. If you look through the rest of his teachings, he takes shot after shot at the Roman government and at the religious leaders. Jesus made fun of them every chance he got. Jesus definitely has a sense of humor, and he isn’t afraid at making jokes or poking fun of others. You can read this particular story in Mark 5:1-20.

Puns

  • Firstly, remember puns are tricky because the Bible gets translated, and puns mostly only make sense in their original language, so I had to copy and paste these from other places by people who are much smarter than me… but you cannot deny God’s purposeful humor in these verses.
  • His thirty sons rode around on thirty burros [´ayirim] and lived in thirty boroughs [´ayarim] in Gilead. Judges 10:4
  • Becayse you have forsaken the Lord and His Temple– and now worship the gods of “Fate” and “Destiny” — I will “destine” you to die by the word, and your “fate” will be an evil one. For I called you, but you did not answer. Isaiah 65:11-12a
  •  Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the con-cision [katome, mutilators] because we are the truecircum-cision [peritome, the ones who carefully cut away]. We worship God in the spirit [not in the flesh], we rejoice in Yeshua haMashiak [rather than in a ritual], and we put no trust in fleshly rites. Philippians 3:2-3

Riddles

  • Ok, this one is too simple. There’s a bit of back story that isn’t important to this point, but one of the judges, Sampson, made up a riddle based on a true event from his life. He made a wager with the Philistines (the bad guys). Really, Sampson’s whole story is a joke when you read it carefully. But the riddle goes like this: “Out of the eater came forth meat, out of the strong came forth sweet. What is it?”    —-A Riddle.
  • The Philistines can’t be beaten my a Jew! So they get Sampson’s wife, who is one of them, to give them the answer. The answer the riddle, but they respond in the form of another riddle. They say “What is stronger than a lion and sweeter than honey?  … First of all, honey coming from a lion’s carcass is the event that Sampson used to make the riddle. Second, What’s the answer to their riddle? LOVE. Love is stronger than a lion. Love is sweeter than honey.
  • LOVE is what made Sampson give his wife the answer at her request. LOVE is what beat Sampson. This one isn’t a riddle, but it a sexist joke that was purposely added to the Bible. Sampson said the only reason the Philistines were able to answer is riddle was because the “plowed his heifer.” There are two jokes there: 1. He called his wife a cow, and frankly a whore. 2. It’s the cows that do the plowing, but he’s telling the Philistines that they are the ones doing the plowing.
  • All of these are found in Judges 14

Satire

  • So get this story. It’s pretty simple, but there was a wizard kind of guy named Balaam. He was being sent to curse the Israelites as there prepared to enter the Promised Land. Along the way he is so misguided, so not paying attention to God’s message for him that his donkey scolds him. That’s right, the guy chewed out by his donkey… talked about exposing a guy’s stupidity. The full story is in Numbers 22:21-35
  • This one is good too. There was a prophet named Elisha. Elisha was bald, but he was very faithful to God. He was going to prophesy what God commanded him when a crowd of boys started making fun of him because he was bald. Yes… this is a real Bible story. So Elisha gets real upset and called a curse upon him — yes, for calling him bald. Well 2 female bears (it’s specific about gender) come and maul 42 of the lads (again, specific about gender)… Again, hilarious. I’ve heard one pastor say that the moral from this story is to never make fun of bald men. Obviously that’s not it, but what great satire. It’s found in 2 Kings 2:23-25… Told you it really happened!
  • A good one is what God does to you when you whine. The Israelite’s were upset because they were tired of God’s gift of manna (food from Heaven). They wanted meat. So God made them eat only meat for 20 days. He told them that since they wanted meat so much that they said they’d rather go back to Egypt than go without, that they would eat meat until they were sick and begged him to stop.  Numbers 11:18
  • One time a boy sat in a window listening to Paul preach. Apparently the boy wasn’t too interested because he fell asleep, fell out of the window 3 stories, and died on impact. Acts 20:9. I’ll ruin the rest of the story and tell you that Paul was nice and raised him from the dead… But still, there’s a lesson for everyone about falling asleep during church!

Women humor:

  • I already mentioned the heifer comment, but this is simply a reminder
  • Over and over in the book of Proverbs are there proverbs about how it is better to live alone in the desert, or on a roof, or in the corner of an attic than it is to live with a crabby or nagging woman. Here are some examples!
  • I know, this one is a terrible one to add in, but hey, it’s biblical.

One Liners

  • If only you would have been altogether silent, for you that would be wisdom! Job 13:5
  • As a dog returns to it’s vomit, so a fool repeats his folly Proverbs 26:11
  • This one takes a little bit of story. There’s this process of circumcision, and Moses didn’t follow it with his own son. God was getting a little bit ticked (by that I mean a lot ticked) and it causes some pretty high tensions. Finally, Moses’ wife grabbed the boy (don’t get me wrong, he’s an adult at this point) and cut off his foreskin in front of Moses, then she threw it at Moses’ feet and said, “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.” Exodus 4:24-25
  • Solomon gave a great one-liner (courtesy of James) “Also, if two lie together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm along.” Ecclesiastes 4:11
  • “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” Psalm 137:9
  • Said by the king of the Philistines about David: “Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?” 1 Samuel 21:15 (Courtesy of Lance)
I could easily continue. There are many verses about damaging your boy parts, bodily fluids, killing men to collect foreskins, bromance, etc. So what’s the point of all this?
The point is that God created humor. He loves it, and he encourages us to enjoy it. No one made fun of people more than Jesus. He insulted some of the most powerful people to their face with his incredible wit and with amazing poise. To the religious nuts out there who don’t understand this, I’m sorry you’ve been so blind that you missed one of the greatest joys in life. I hope that maybe these tidbits of funny things will open your eyes and you will stop taking yourself so seriously.
Time and time again, the Bible warns you not to foolishly condemn people. It says that on judgment day Sodom and Gomorrah, Sidon and Tyre, will be better off than that kind of person. It says that you would be better off throwing yourself into the sea with a millstone around your neck than be that kind of person. Jesus warned the men who tried to condemn the adulteress woman that the condemnation they heap on her would come back on them much greater if they weren’t perfectly just themselves.
Lastly, I’d like to link to a youtube video from Mark Driscoll about how Jesus uses humor. Some people know that I fight Mark about some of his more controversial views, but this video is pretty good. Courtesy of Lance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1y-XN-rsZ80
Lighten up.
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My New Home

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I’m finally willing to say I’ve moved into my new home. I’ve been living at the Pretzel Palace for a week today, but I I’ve just now gotten to the point of being mostly unpacked. I’ve turned in the key to my old place and set up my garden gnomes. Just a couple more days until I pay rent and there will be no doubt that this is my home. It may be weird, but since I still haven’t paid anything to live here, I still feel kind of like a guest. It’s the same way with new jobs: I feel like a volunteer until I get my first paycheck.

Right now there are 7 people who are coming and going in a 3 bedroom townhouse, so it’s pretty crowded. I moved in before the guys who were subleasing for the summer moved out and the two guys that left for the summer are back in the area. One of the things I’m most grateful for is the hospitality of the guys I’ve moved in with.

They’ve been super awesome, because this is already a small house, and it’s packed with so many peoples’ stuff here, but they’ve found room for all my stuff.. pretty prime location for stuff too. The only thing I haven’t found room for here is 16 really big glasses, that I’ve just decided to store for a while or as long as I live here. There’s absolutely no problem with that, because the easiest way to keep your dishes clean is to not have any more than you need (then you can’t put off cleaning them). It’s pretty awesome. They have very little cupboard space, but they gave some of it up so that I can have some. They have very little bathroom space, but they gave some up so I can keep stuff in there. Lance moved out of his and James’ room into Kent’s so I could have that space. Kent gave up half of his room for Lance to make room for me. James gave up part of his cave/work area so I could have a place for my desk.

The guys at the Pretzel Palace know all my closest guarded secrets; my silly little habits and addictions, the things that make me feel hard to love, and the thoughts that I just don’t like to say out loud, but they’ve been so good to me and show me God’s love every time I see them. So, I can’t wait to see what the next year is going to look like as part of the Pretzel Palace family!

Things I Like Thursday!! July 28th Edition

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I’ve been having trouble coming up with things to blog about for the past couple months, so I decided to start my very first series. Hopefully I can remember to maintain it, but I’m calling it Things I Like Thursday… It’s pretty simple: every Thursday I will make a short blog of something that I like.

Today’s Edition of Things I like: Basset Hounds!

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Basset’s aren’t actually my favorite of all breeds of dogs, but they certainly one of the best. I love big, floppy dogs, and there is no dog that quite compares to the basset in this regard.

Bassets were bred to hunt; particularly small game. This means they are bred to be extra loyal, obedient, and smart. Their skin is so floppy because it made it harder for the animals they chased into dens to claw at vital organs such as their eyes and throat. Bassets are small and cylindrical so they can get into tiny dens and wriggle their way through. While all these things mean nothing for the kind of basset that I want: spoiled, lazy, round; they certainly do add to the allure.

I’ve set up a cute little slideshow above of basset hounds. Hopefully after watching through it you’ll agree that basset hounds are the cutest, and you’ll want to get one so I can come over and play with it all the time.

Thunderstorms

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I had a REALLY long and stressful day yesterday that ended with me going to sleep at 5:30p. I woke up this morning at 4:20a to one of my favorite sounds in the world. A THUNDERSTORM. I just moved to the Pretzel Palace two days ago, and I have no idea how I am the only person awake. 1. Thunderstorms are loud. 2. Thunderstorms are bright. 3. Thunderstorms are awesome.

I absolutely love watching thunderstorms, and if I thought my internet here reached as far as my car, I would have gone out there to get a much better view of the storm than the living room window. Something that’s really cool about thunderstorms is that instinctively everything is an awe of them. Adults tend to teach themselves to ignore them or whatnot, but look at children and animals. Children know the power of thunderstorms even though they have never been hurt by them. They wake up, they cry, they fear the storm. Think of how dogs respond to thunderstorms. They bark, they hide, they alert the family, they cuddle. They know the power of thunderstorms too.

Well, as I sat awake by myself for the past little bit, I got to to wondering about what people used to think of thunderstorms — before they became nuisances or not worthy of attention. So, I pulled out a history a book and started looking. Here’s what I found:

Jesus spoke about thunderstorms. Jesus said thunderstorms are a visual image of what it will be like when he returns. He says that people will point to all these hidden places (the wilderness, the inner room) and say that the Son of Man is there, but Jesus says it be like a thunderstorm. It will light up the sky from one side to the other. Everyone will see his coming, not a select few. That’s something to be in awe of. (Matthew 24 and Luke 17)

God spoke about thunderstorms: When speaking of wisdom, God spoke of powerful things that when asked don’t know wisdom. Wisdom can’t be found in the depths, it can’t be found jewels, mortals can’t understand its worth. Even death and destruction themselves have only heard of wisdom as a rumor. But with all these powerful things, God chose to use a thunderstorm as the example of his power. He said that he measured the water, he established the wind, and he set the path for the thunderstorm — that is how we know God is powerful. That is how we know wisdom is found only in God. Thunderstorms. Further, God, who is speaking from a storm by the way, uses thunderstorms as the example to put us in our place and remind us that we aren’t Him. He asks if you have seen the storehouses for hail or know how to get the place where lightning is dispersed. He asks who cuts the path for the storm to move through. God asks if you can shout at the clouds and make them rain. Do lightning bolts report to you and do you send them where they strike? —– So, how do I know that I am not God? Thunderstorms. (Job 28 and Job 30)

The prophet Isaiah spoke about thunderstorms: He used a thunderstorm to describe God. He says that when God brings judgment it will be like a thunderstorm. His voice will shatter nations, his arm will come down like a strike. He says that God’s arm will be like a thunderstorm and like hail and it will be like music as he keeps bringing his arm down. (Isaiah 30) Also God reiterates this to Ezekiel about the place where he is in Ezekiel 22.

I see a theme. Everything the Bible has to say about thunderstorms is about the power of God. People used to recognize the power of thunderstorms. Thunderstorms are a reminder of who God is, that you aren’t God, God’s awesome power, and that one day Jesus will return. After hearing all these messages, I can only imagine the reverent fear that the people in Biblical days must have had for thunderstorms. Thunderstorms were like a physical manifestation; a small snippet of God himself. It’s like God reveals himself to us through thunderstorms, and we shouldn’t just ignore them.

This is your meteorology lesson for today. This is your Bible study for today. Next time watch the thunderstorm. Thank you.

Effeminate Worship Leaders

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Everybody knows that I am a big fan of Mark Driscoll Facebook statuses. I agree with about 80% of what Marks says, but he says so many outright provocative things. This is his most recent update. It had 100 replies within 10 minutes, 300 within an hour and at the time of writing, 600 replies.

So, what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed?

I reply to very few Mark Driscoll status updates, but some of them are just too good. It’s just too many replies to read them all, but I figured I’d give my readers my opinions. I have to be careful as I say this, especially since I’m moving in with 2 of the guys who lead worship in a couple days, but I think it’s fair to say that I attend a ‘hipster’ church. It’s not effeminate, but it certainly isn’t some uber-manly, insensitive church.

My first issue is with Mark’s obsession with gender roles. I’ve never been sure why he puts so much emphasis on men following some preset of values that he has determined to be masculine. Listening to his messages, sometimes it seems as if he’s only memorized about 10 passages (all about masculinity), because they get incorporated into every topic he preaches on.

Some of Mark’s fans are absolutely ridiculous. In skimming the replies I read everything from “this isn’t appropriate / edifying” to “all effeminate worship leaders are closet gays.” Of course, you have to throw in the occasional comment about the ‘sin of feminism’ and rapist priests. One of my personal favorites was that effeminate worship leaders are all going to hell because of 1 Corinthians 9-10 (in some versions, the effeminate are included in the list, in others it isn’t).

I think it takes a special personality to lead worship, especially to write it yourself. The pervasive macho man gender role isn’t the kind of personality that submits itself. It isn’t the personality that can let others sof ee it’s weakness. It isn’t the personality that can allow itself to show emotion. I’m not saying that it is impossible for a macho man to worship God or even lead worship, but I don’t think it is anyone else’s place to say that someone is inept or incapable of being a church leader based on their personality. It shouldn’t be considered a requirement for leadership that you follow a particular set of mannerisms.

anyone else got any thoughts?