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

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

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by James Martin
     
 

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Between Heaven and Mirth will make any reader smile. . . . Father Martin reminds us that happiness is the good God’s own goal for us.” —Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York

From The Colbert Report’s “official chaplain” James Martin, SJ, author of the New York Times bestselling The Jesuit

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Overview

Between Heaven and Mirth will make any reader smile. . . . Father Martin reminds us that happiness is the good God’s own goal for us.” —Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York

From The Colbert Report’s “official chaplain” James Martin, SJ, author of the New York Times bestselling The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, comes a revolutionary look at how joy, humor, and laughter can change our lives and save our spirits. A Jesuit priest with a busy media ministry, Martin understands the intersections between spirituality and daily life.  In Between Heaven and Mirth, he uses scriptural passages, the lives of the saints, the spiritual teachings of other traditions, and his own personal reflections to show us why joy is the inevitable result of faith, because a healthy spirituality and a healthy sense of humor go hand-in-hand with God's great plan for humankind.

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Editorial Reviews

Harvey Cox
Between Heaven and Mirth is delicious, well-crafted and well-paced. Martin draws on his own experience as a priest and demonstrates both a light touch and an impressive command of his subject. Reading it reminded me that when Dante finally approaches heaven in The Divine Comedy, the sound he hears "me sembiana un riso del universo" (seemed to me like the laughter of the universe).
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
“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.)
Booklist
“Martin’s book suggests numerous ways to foster the strength of gracious good humor and makes a wonderful case for replacing suffering and sadness with an abundance of levity and joy.”
Scott Alessi
“If you ever got in trouble as a child for laughing in church, prepare to be vindicated.”
Spirituality & Practice
“Between Heaven and Mirth couldn’t come at a better time since both individuals and religious institutions are feeling the pressure of hard times. Joy and a playful sense of humor are great antidotes to hopelessness and helplessness.”
Catholic News Service
“Between Heaven and Mirth uses biblical passages, personal anecdotes and saints’ stories to show the importance of humor to the spiritual life.”
Christian Century
“Holy people are joyful people, Martin says. The author suggests ways that humor and laughter can be incorporated into prayer. This is a book that will make you laugh. Sprinkled throughout are many funny stories and jokes.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062098627
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/04/2011
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
94,900
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Between Heaven and Mirth

Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life
By James Martin

HarperOne

Copyright © 2011 James Martin
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780062024268


Chapter One

The MostInfallible Sign

Joy andthe Spiritual Life
Many of myfavorite jokes are about Catholics, priests, and Jesuits.
TheJesuits, by the way, are a Catholic religious order for men (a
group ofmen who take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and
live incommunity) founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius Loyola, a Spanish
soldierturned priest.
It's easyfor me to tell jokes about Catholics, priests, and Jesuits,
since I'mall three. And a self-deprecating joke may be the healthiest
brand ofhumor, since the only target is yourself. The standard Jesuit
joke playson the stereotype that we're (a) overly practical, (b) overly
worldly, or(c) not as concerned with spiritual matters as we should
be. Let meshare with you one of my favorites. (Don't worry if you're
notCatholic or you've never met a Jesuit in your life. As with most
good jokes,you can easily change the details or particulars to suit
your owncomic purposes.)
There's abarber in a small town. One day he's sitting in his shop,
and a manwalks in wearing a pair of sandals and a long brown robe
with ahood. The man, very thin and quite ascetic looking, sports a
shortbeard. He sits down in the barber's chair.
"Excuseme," says the barber. "I was wondering, why are you
dressedlike that?"
"Well,"says the man, "I'm a Franciscan friar. I'm here to help my
brotherFranciscans start a soup kitchen."
The barber says,"Oh, I love the Franciscans! I love the story of
St. Francisof Assisi, who loved the animals so much. And I love the
work you dofor the poor, for peace, and for the environment. The
Franciscansare wonderful. This haircut is free."
And theFranciscan says, "Oh no, no, no. We live simply, and we
take a vowof poverty, but I do have enough money for a haircut.
Please letme pay you."
"Oh no,"says the barber. "I insist. This haircut is free!" So the
Franciscangets his haircut, thanks the barber, gives him a blessing,
and leaves.
The nextday the barber comes to his shop and finds a surprise
waiting forhim. On the doorstep is a big wicker basket filled
withbeautiful wildflowers along with a thank you note from the
Franciscan.
That sameday another man walks into the barber's shop wearing
a longwhite robe and a leather belt tied around his waist. When
he sitsdown in the chair, the barber asks, "Excuse me, but why are
you dressedlike that?"
And the mansays, "Well, I'm a Trappist monk. I'm in town to
visit adoctor, and I thought I would come in for a haircut."
And thebarber says, "Oh I love the Trappists! I admire the way
your livesare so contemplative and how you all pray for the rest of
the world.This haircut is free."
TheTrappist monk says, "Oh no. Even though we live simply, I
have moneyfor a haircut. Please let me pay you."
"Oh no,"says the barber. "This haircut is free!" So the Trappist
gets hishaircut, thanks him, gives him a blessing, and leaves.
The nextday the barber comes to his shop, and on his doorstep
there is asurprise awaiting him: a big basket filled with delicious
homemadecheeses and jams from the Trappist monastery along
with athank you note from the monk.
That sameday another man walks into the barber shop wearing
a blacksuit and a clerical collar. After he sits down, the barber says,
"Excuse me,but why are you dressed like that?"
And the mansays, "I'm a Jesuit priest. I'm in town for a theology
conference."
And thebarber says, "Oh, I love the Jesuits! My son went to a Jesuit
highschool, and my daughter went to a Jesuit college. I've even been
to theretreat house that the Jesuits run in town. This haircut is free."
 
The SilentMonk
A manenters a strict monastery. On his first day the
abbot says,"You'll be able to speak only two words every
five years.Do you understand?" The novice nods and goes
away.
Five yearslater the abbot calls him into his office. "Brother,"
he says,"You've done well these last five years. What would you
like to say?"
And themonk says, "Food cold!"
"Oh, I'msorry," says the abbot. "We'll fix that immediately."
Five yearslater the monk returns to the abbot.
"Welcome,Brother," says the abbot. "What would you like
to tell meafter ten years?"
And themonk says, "Bed hard!"
And theabbot says, "Oh, I'm so sorry. We'll fix that right
away."
Then afteranother five years the two meet. The abbot says,
"Well,Brother you've been here fifteen years. What two words
would youlike to say?"
"I'mleaving," he says.
And theabbot says, "Well, I'm not surprised. You've done
nothing butcomplain since you got here!"
And theJesuit says, "Oh no. I take a vow of poverty, but I have
enoughmoney for a haircut."
The barbersays, "Oh no. This haircut is free!" After the haircut,
the Jesuitthanks him, gives him a blessing, and goes on his way.
The nextday the barber comes to his shop, and on his doorstep
there is asurprise waiting for him: ten more Jesuits.
Now, if Irecounted a second joke or a third joke (e.g., see p. 14),
you mightwonder when I was going to get to the point. But, in a
way, jokesare the point of this chapter, which is that joy, humor, and
laughterare under appreciated values in the spiritual life and are
desperatelyneeded not only in our own personal spiritual lives, but in
the life oforganized religion.
Joy, tobegin with, is what we'll experience when we are welcomed
intoheaven. We may even laugh for joy when we meet God.
Joy, acharacteristic of those close to God, is a sign of not only a
confidencein God, but also, as we will see in the Jewish and Christian
Scriptures,gratitude for God's blessings. As the Jesuit priest Pierre
Teilhard deChardin said, "Joy is the most infallible sign of the
presence ofGod."*

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin Copyright © 2011 by James Martin. Excerpted by permission of HarperOne. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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What People are saying about this

Scott Alessi
“If you ever got in trouble as a child for laughing in church, prepare to be vindicated.”
Harvey Cox
Between Heaven and Mirth is delicious, well-crafted and well-paced. Martin draws on his own experience as a priest and demonstrates both a light touch and an impressive command of his subject.”

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