Laugh Your Way to Grace: Reclaiming the Spiritual Power of Humor [NOOK Book]


Laughter—the GPS System for the Soul

Laughter was honored by the ancients as a spiritual healing tool and celebrated by the world's great religions. So why aren’t we laughing along the spiritual path today? What would happen if we did?

In this personal and funny look at humor as a spiritual practice, Rev. Susan Sparks—an ex-lawyer turned comedian and Baptist minister—presents...

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Laugh Your Way to Grace: Reclaiming the Spiritual Power of Humor

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Laughter—the GPS System for the Soul

Laughter was honored by the ancients as a spiritual healing tool and celebrated by the world's great religions. So why aren’t we laughing along the spiritual path today? What would happen if we did?

In this personal and funny look at humor as a spiritual practice, Rev. Susan Sparks—an ex-lawyer turned comedian and Baptist minister—presents a convincing case that the power of humor radiates far beyond punch lines. Laughter can help you:

  • Remove the fearful mask of a God who doesn’t laugh
  • Debunk the myths that you don’t deserve joy
  • Find perspective when faced with adversity
  • Exercise forgiveness for yourself and others
  • Reclaim play as a spiritual practice
  • Heal—emotionally, physically, and spiritually
  • Keep your faith when God is silent
  • Live with elegance, beauty, and generosity of spirit

Whatever your faith tradition—or if you have none at all—join this veteran of the punch line and the pulpit in reclaiming the forgotten humor legacy found in thousands of years of human spiritual history.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this sometimes amusing, often earnest book on the importance of humor in spiritual life, the author makes her case for the healing power of laughter as a cleansing, transforming, and renewing gift from God. Senior pastor of New York's Madison Avenue Baptist Church and a standup comedian, Sparksasserts that believers who abandon their "spiritual geliophobia" (fear of laughter in the presence of the divine), will discover that humor in the context of the sacred can change the way they see God--and view themselves. In a series of chapters that include reflection questions for readers, the writer looks at sacred laughter in history; through a childlike lens; as a tool for healing and acceptance; and as a way of coping with the stress of overbooked modern lives. Readers who don't expect a constant stream of wit may find a provocative case for adding leavening levity to sacred spaces where it might be sorely lacking. (Aug.)
From the Publisher

"Like music, laughter is a universal language. And Susan Sparks speaks this language like no other. [This book] weaves humor and the sacred into one beautiful work of art. If you want to blast some fresh air into your spiritual life, then by all means read this book!"
Naomi Judd, multi-platinum country music artist; actress; author, Naomi's Guide to Aging Gratefully and other books

“Thank God for Susan Sparks! By immersing ourselves in her honest insights, warm encouragement, and hysterical stories, we’re able to shatter the crust around our hearts that has kept us from fully experiencing the grace of life as God intended.”
Peter Wallace, host and producer, Day1; author, Living Loved: Knowing Jesus as the Lover of Your Soul

“Pure joy. Lively and lighthearted examples illustrate the connection between guffawing and God. A must-read if you want to laugh, learn, and lighten up your journey on your spiritual path.”
Allen Klein, author, The Courage to Laugh and The Healing Power of Humor

“The definitive book about how humor and laughter have everything to do with God. You will laugh out loud, and then it will move you to quiet contemplation and awe. It has done more for me than most of the theology books I’ve been forced to plow through. I’m still smiling ... and contemplating.”
Edward L. Beck, CP, author, God Underneath: Spiritual Memoirs of a Catholic Priest; ABC News religion contributor

“Helps us transcend to a higher and better place, no matter what our circumstances. A much needed balm for a world that often forgets how to laugh.”
Saranne Rothberg, CEO, The ComedyCures Foundation; host, ComedyCures LaughTalk Radio

“More than a delightfully written book; it is a Saturday afternoon conversation with a favorite friend at the neighborhood coffee shop. I hope that this is just the first installment in an ongoing Saturday afternoon conversation with a new favorite friend, Susan Sparks.”
Pam Durso, executive director, Baptist Women in Ministry

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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940000922736
  • Publisher: SkyLight Paths Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/12/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 335,197
  • File size: 565 KB

Meet the Author

Rev. Susan Sparks, the only female comedian in the country with a pulpit, is senior pastor of the historic Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City (the first woman pastor in its 160-year history). She is author of Laugh Your Way to Grace: Reclaiming the Spiritual Power of Humor. She has been featured on ABC, PBS and CNN, as a regular guest with country music star Naomi Judd on Naomi's New Morning on the Hallmark Channel, in the New York Times and in numerous comedy clubs. She is the recipient of an award from Intersections International for her interfaith work to promote justice, reconciliation and peace among diverse communities. Find out more at
Rev. Susan Sparks is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Transform Your Life, Work and Spiritual Path Through Laughter
  • Life Transitions and Finding Your Path
  • Humor and Life Crisis
  • Presentation Skills Using Wisdom from the Courtroom, the Pulpit and Comedy Clubs
  • The Power of Humorfor Clerics, Chaplains andCaregivers

Click here to contact the author.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xiii

We Are Hot-wired for Laughter xiv

Why "Grace"? xvi

Where Are We Going with This? xviii

A Letter from God xxiii

Disclaimer xxv

Part I Why Aren't We Laughing?

1 Humor and Holiness Are Not Oxymorons: Finding My Way as an Ordained Comedian

God Is Not Funny 3

Laughter Is the GPS System for the Soul 5

It's All Holy 7

Practice, Practice 9

Reflections 11

2 The Lost Branch of the Family Tree: Remembering Our Legacy of Laughter

The Pete Townshend Question 13

Why Is Everyone Else Laughing? 14

Enlightenment through a Smile 15

My Kind of God 17

Laughing in the Ear of God 19

Sacred Clowns 21

Reflections 23

3 Spiritual Geliophobia: The Fear of Laughing in the Presence of God

The Legend of Mad Dog Murphy 25

Mad Dog Returns 27

The Legend of Mad Dog God 29

And God Smote Them with Hemorrhoids 31

The Man Behind the Legend 32

The God Behind the Legend 34

Reflections 36

4 Eating Dessert on the Titanic: The Opportunity for Joy Is Now

You Can't Laugh Until... 37

We've Been Plutoed! 39

Human Lowriders 41

The World's Greatest Buffet 43

Reflections 45

Part II What Would Happen If We Laughed?

5 High Places of the Heart: Finding Perspective through Laughter

A New Way to See 49

Helium for the Heart 50

A View from Kilimanjaro 51

Up High, the World Seems Less Scary 53

Up High, We Can Appreciate the Little Things 54

Up High, We Can See Our Way Through 57

Reflections 59

6 We're All Hells Angels: Using Humor to See Past Our Differences

Too Funny to Believe 61

Whatever Happended to "Love Thy Neighbor"? 63

Humor Is the WD40 and Duct Tape of Life 64

Is This Some Kind of Joke? 65

We All Laugh in the Same Language 67

There's a Little Hell in Every Angel and a Little Angel in Every Hell 69

Reflections 70

7 Burping in the Pulpit: Rediscovering a Fresh Spiritual Practice through the Eyes of a Child

Left, Right. Left, Right. 73

Ranger at the Helm 75

You Gotta Get Real 76

A Real Live Chat with God 80

Get Out of the Living Room 82

Reflections 85

8 Breathe, Just Breathe: The Healing Power of Breath and Laughter

Bursts of Laughter 87

Not a Good Sign 89

The Grief Trip 91

A Joke a Day Keeps the Co-Pays Away 98

Reflections 101

9 Into the Ark: Laughter in Times of Crisis

The Lifeboat of Laughter 103

Precious Cargo 106

Tears of Laughter 107

Rising Above the Flood 109

Humor as a Second Chance 111

Reflections 113

10 A Leo's Search for God: Laughter Helps Us Keep Faith When God Is Silent

God Is a Scorpio 115

We Don't Know 117

Let Go and Laugh 119

When All Is Gone, All Is Possible 123

Reflections 126

11 The Dash In Between: How We Live and What We Leave

The Critical Part of the Formula 127

How's It Going? 128

Change the World One Smile at a Time 130

Just-In Time 133

Reflections 135

Suggestions for Further Reading 137

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 5, 2011

    Delightful Read!

    This is an easy read and a perfect addition to the United Methodist Women's Reading Plan!

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  • Posted June 11, 2011



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  • Posted March 20, 2011


    A very enjoyable book. Ms Sparks shows us that humor has a place in our lives, even in our spiritual lives. Laugh out loud funny!

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    Posted May 4, 2011

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    Posted July 9, 2011

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