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About the Author
Table of Contents
Introduction: Professional Courtesy
1. God Has to Be in There Somewhere
2. You May Not Have a Sense of Humor, but You Are Funny
3. High Holy Days, Part One: Christmas
4. High Holy Days, Part Two: Easter
Interlude One: Sarah Laughed Twice
5. Seeing God on Tuesday, or Any Other Day That Ends in “Y”: Extraordinary Ordinary Time
6. Going to Church with Bacon-Eaters, Dead People, and Superheroes
Interlude Two: Esther as Comedy
7. Does This Eschatology Make My End Look Big?
Epilogue: Laughing with God During Earthquakes
What People are Saying About This
"From the first page to the last, this book sparkles with good humor and engaging wisdom. In smart, funny ways, Wilkens shows how humor is the ideal approach to our 'magnificently paradoxical' human condition as spiritual animals, somewhere between angels and apes. 'If you don't believe God has a sense of humor,' he writes, 'just look in the mirror.' He includes not only Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and modern theologians but also humorists like Jim Gaffigan, Gary Larsen of The Far Side, and the writers of The Big Bang Theory. Arguing that our unique ability among animals to appreciate humor is linked to our rationality, moral sensibility, and aesthetic sense, Wilkens makes a good case for adding a fourth transcendental to the true, the good, and the beautifulthe funny. Along the way, he provides comedic interpretations of biblical books like Jonah and Esther and others in the New Testament. This is the best Christian understanding of humor to dateand by far the funniest."
"Steve Wilkens's What's So Funny About God? adds fresh insight to the study of religion and humor. It is playful, thought provoking, and generous with funny quotes and stories. Wilkens takes devices of humor such as incongruity, surprise, paradox, and reversal and uses them to explore theological themes and the church year, especially Christmas and Holy Week. He also opens out the funny features of the biblical stories of Abraham and Sarah, Jonah, Esther, and varied New Testament texts. The book demonstrates and invites us to new ways of thinking."
"Mark Twain said, 'Show me someone who knows what's funny and I'll show you someone who knows what isn't.' Steve Wilkens knows what's funny, and he knows what is profound. I was so taken by this marvelous book that I read it twice; once for the jokesconveniently italicizedand once for his refreshing look at key theological themes. From peekaboo to punch lines, humor is a form of surprise. Can anything be more surprising than a God who exists as three, steps into human flesh, defeats death by dyingbefore the ultimate peekaboo of Easter morning? What's So Funny About God? is the best book I've read this year. I just wish I read more so that that would be even higher praise."
"We Christians live between the deadly serious crucifixion and the incredibly exhilarating resurrection. One leads us to somber reflections on our mortality, injustice, and the gifts of grace and forgiveness. The other leads us to ponder immortality, to live with courage, and yes, to consider the utter hilarity of God entering death to bring life, of becoming human so we could become godly, and of telling stories (like Job, Jonah, and the parables of Jesus) so we could find the mysteries of life. Over the years of teaching the New Testament, I am convinced that humor, sometimes subtle and indirect and other times overt and direct, is found in the New Testament and can be used to enlighten our faith. It takes no imagination to consider those overhearing Jesus give it to the political and religious leaders poking one another in the ribs, and one can't read Paul's letter to Philemon and not feel the clever moves Paul makes to convince the man to welcome his runaway slave home. There it is: utterly serious dimensions of life-opening grace through the gift of humor. The funniest evening I ever had with theologians was in Baltimore, and Steve Wilkens was in the middle of it. Every pastor and professor needs to read this book, perhaps a few pages at a time before speaking to humans who can know God's ways through humor. Hilarity is the reverse side of serious."
"Steve Wilkens is funny in many waysbut God? In this funny but also serious guide, Wilkens shows what humor is and how the Bible, theology, church folks, and yes, even God, are indeed funny. Who knew? This book is even funnier than the six-volume Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, at a fraction of the cost! You should buy it."