Between Heaven and Mirth, by James Martin

There are certain things about my personality and life that most people understand. I love humor. I try to be a spiritual person in the Christian tradition. And I enjoy reading.

So a book titled Between Heaven and Mirth by the man that Steven Colbert calls his priest just had to be on the list, right? Right. And I’m glad it was. James Martin has written a book that balances thoughtfulness with humor, history with relevance, and theology with pragmatism.

Now, the book isn’t perfect. Frankly I’d prefer something even funnier. And when he says that much of the humor in the Bible is hard to understand because of cultural differences, I wish he’d explore that more.

But it’s still a fun book to read. Martin finds the right balance between flippancy (which is rare in the book) and scholarly looks at both Scripture and the writings of the Saints. He points out that most of those dour looking people immortalized in stained glass windows were actually very joyful people who usually had smiles on their faces. It’s good to be reminded of that.

The real focus of the book is on the need for humor and laughter for our spiritual well being. Martin uses tradition, psychology, and the words of Scripture to remind us that laughter is a gift from God that we can use to grow closer to Him. Love that.

The book even has some jokes I hadn’t heard before. Some are very funny. Others are tried and true jokes that have been around for years, but that’s okay.

A fun book. Perhaps not as good as it could have been, but still fun. If you want to see the authors humor at work, here’s his interview on Colbert:

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