Book Review: The Sacred Art of Joking by James Cary

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We might think that people won’t get easily offended in this post Christian and social media saturated age. But that’s not the case especially when we joke about someone’s religion. James Cary sets out to explain this and other issue surrounding humor and Christianity in this book, The Sacred Art of Joking.

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The title is one reason I requested a review copy and I think people who might not even be familiar with the author will do that also. The catchy title grabs hold of me. We’ll it did deliver the goods but not with some rough parts. For those who are not familiar with some references it will be a bit bumpy. Also there are parts that really nailed it and some parts that took you off the rail. Nevertheless, discussion about how humor works, the French satire Charlie Hebdo, and why comedians don’t usually poke fun with Islam are some of the highlights of this book. By that you’ll consider The Sacred Art of Joking a worthwhile read.

The Sacred Art of Joking primarily seeks to present comedy as a part of the Christian experience and it did in some point. Cary raises some concern on how jokes are presented in either in church or secular setting. Cary wants us to consider the comedy found in the Scripture and presents the Bible a dark and gritty book.  A delightful and fresh read for those the curious on a Christian perspective on using humor from a comedy writer.

My verdict:

4 out of 5

Read quotes from the book by clicking this link.

8 Favorite Quotes From the Book “The Sacred Art of Joking” by James Cary

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It’s been a busy weekend because my father in law was admitted in the hospital due to kidney failure. Please pray for him for recovery and financial support.

Anyways, here are 8 favorite quotes from James Cary’s book The Sacred Art of Jokingpublished by Inter Varsity Press.  If you like these quotes, please get yourself a copy of this book by ordering at Amazon or at the author’s website.

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“clichés have a grain of truth in them. Jokes rely on clichés and stereotypes, and this can easily be the cause of offence”

“the impression is given that any laughter in church will only ever come from the preacher and never from the Bible itself. This will perpetuate the stereotype that the Bible is always sombre and stern when that is not the case. The result will be that comedy will continue to be seen as a deviation from scripture, and something transgressive.”

“The Church needs an antidote for the barbed and pointed jokes made at her expense, some of which are undoubtedly justified. For a shift in culture to be sustainable, this revivial must spring from the foundational.”

“If the preacher repeatedly uses his or her own comic gifts and gets the congregation to laugh, what does that say about the comic potency of the scriptures?”

“Having been exposed to the extraordinary miracles of Jesus from a young age, many Christians have essentially been inoculated against seeing the humour in the gospel accounts.”

“Modern-day Christians who only want to focus on the lovely and the pure run the risk of trying to be holier than Jesus.” “

“There are other reasons for my concerns on starting with a joke, but here is the one most relevant to the matter in hand: it undermines the idea that comedy can be found in scripture itself. “

“Comedy has the power to awaken feelings of outrage or laughter. Either way, the response is immediate and vocal.”