|Dancing Jesus Website from The Simpsons|
Usually when we think of God an image of a stern, bearded old man constantly bitter about His flawed and never-learning creation comes to mind. We think in Old Testament terms where He does not think twice about nearly destroying all of humanity. We think of a school teacher or principal giving us the classroom rules of what we should and should not do. With the exception of the rare and admittedly rather humorless “prank” played on poor old Abraham and desolate Job, there seems to be very little indication of a sense of humor on God's side.
I have previously looked at religion and laughter and how Jesus, His son (out of wedlock!) is quite a fun-loving guy. His life obviously ended in pain and unbearable suffering, but he did seem to have a sense of humor, roaming the country and engaging and confusing people with mysterious parables, asking prostitutes and lepers to join his troupe and yes, even turning water into wine for the merry benefits of a wedding.
I can see Jesus laugh with a full heart; I can see him tell jokes among the Apostles; I can see his sense of satisfaction as he is watching the faces of the crowd when fish suddenly multiply or a “dead” man walks out of his cave. And after his own death, Jesus is said to appear in order to appease the heartache of his disciples and to remind them that he will be among people whenever food, wine and merriment are partaken, all of which provide physical and sensual pleasures.
On the other hand, his father and many of his equally stern followers need to cheer up a little. Religion is taken way too seriously today, while blasphemy is on the tip of many a devout person's tongue. It seems that most people are still holding onto the iron fist of the Old Testament God that makes demands, accuses each one of us to be a sinner at heart or to have a sinful nature and asks us to make amends and to repent by doing a number of impossible things, such as sexual abstinence.
Now where is the fun in religion? Of course, the more serious-minded church officials insist that life is meant to be suffering, that suffering is actually good and brings us closer to God. But if given a choice, a life of suffering is not something I specifically look forward to.
And why does it even have to be this way? Why give us a body and then curse it and call it a prison? Why should suffering be the norm and the given pathway to God? Why can it not be drugs and dancing? Or is it all simply a joke? Is this a case of dramatic irony? Are we all “punk'd” by the Almighty?
Or else, in a less blasphemous manner, is God misrepresented here? Is the joke ultimately on us with God laughing at how we are chasing our own tails down here? Or is He simply angry that He is being misunderstood and misquoted by those who claim to know Him?
I think one of the reasons why many people turn their backs on religion is its lack of fun. Going to church is seen as weekly duty, one imposed upon the good and (self?) righteous citizens of this world. But the moment laughter is introduced, when a sense of joy and merriment appear on the church floor, religion can revive and vibrate souls everywhere, while God can smile down on His flawed but still adorable creatures.