Matter of Laugh or Death
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?
My wife recently told me that my humor columns are doing harm to my Christian witness. This “Matter of Laugh or Death” column often appears side-by-side (on a website, in emails, and at the bottom of bird cages) with my other weekly column, “The Unauthorized Homily.”
She explained that in an attempt to be funny, I often portray myself as an immoral reprobate. (Yeah, I had to look it up, too. Reprobate means depraved and unprincipled.) She said readers will believe I’m really like that, and as a result they won’t take my views on matters of faith very seriously.
“When you write about what a doofus you are, for example, trying to do home repairs,” she said, “that’s OK, because…well, it’s the truth. But when you exaggerate about other things—like gambling debts, lying to your boss at work, torturing telemarketers, or locking our kids in the basement until they’re 21 years old—some people might not realize you’re just kidding.”
“Oh c’mon, honey,” I protested, “Nobody really believes that stuff.”
Just then the phone rang and my wife excused herself to answer it. When she returned a few minutes later, I asked, “Who was that?”
She replied, “A lady from Cleveland. She said if you don’t unshackle our kids from their basement prison right this minute, she’ll call the police.”
“You’re kidding!” I said.
“No, and she also said stop talking about Jesus until you repent of your evil ways.”
OK, well maybe my wife has a point after all. What I’d like to do is conduct a reader survey. Below are five multiple-choice questions with answers A, B, C, and D. Please email your answers back to me at: email@example.com. Just write the five letters of your answers, for example: “C,B,B,A,D” or “B,C,D,D,A.” (Sending “X,R,T,U,Z” will not be helpful, but it may explain your poor SAT scores many years ago.)
Question 1: Which style of humor is most compatible with religious essays? (A) crude exaggerations filled with sexual innuendo and bodily function jokes which portray the author as an immoral reprobate, (B) witty social commentary which never mentions the personal life of the author (or especially his wife), (C) warm and fuzzy stories about bunnies and kittens which are so syrupy sweet they make Winnie the Pooh look like Hannibal Lector, or (D) none of the above, because religious people are not suppose to laugh.
Question 2: In a column titled “Matter of Laugh or Death” (emphasis on the word “laugh”), when the author describes the time he wore bright red, risqué Valentine’s Day underwear to a fancy country club, do you (A) know it’s true because if it’s in writing it must be true, (B) know it’s false because they don’t make bright red risqué Valentine’s Day underwear in such large sizes, (C) wonder why something so unfunny has the word “laugh” in the title, or (D) think the author should stop talking about Jesus until he repents of his evil ways.
Question 3: If someone discusses the private details of his family life trying to get a laugh, he should (A) be more sensitive to his wife’s and children’s feelings, (B) discuss more private details, including the most intimate and erotic moments, even if he has to make them up, (C) discuss whatever he wants as long as it’s funny for a change, or (D) stop talking about Jesus until he repents of his evil ways.
Question 4: If someone explains that Jesus wants us to love each other, and then a moment later uses five paragraphs to take vicious cheap shots at Bill Clinton, he should (A) seek professional help for his obvious schizophrenic condition, (B) use at least ten paragraphs to take vicious cheap shots at Bill Clinton, (C) realize that if Jesus Himself returned to earth He would take vicious cheap shots at Bill Clinton, or (D) stop talking about Bill Clinton because he’ll never repent of his evil ways.
Question 5: If Jesus Himself did return to earth, and some guy was putting smart-aleck humor columns side-by-side with religious essays, He would (A) tell the guy it’s OK because the world needs more laughter, (B) tell the guy to stop it because although the world needs more laughter, his columns are not contributing any, (C) punch the guy in the mouth, or (D) punch Bill Clinton in the mouth.
Again, send me your answers by email, and feel free to include any comments or suggestions. All four of us (me, my wife, Jesus, and Bill Clinton) thank you in advance for your help.
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