Humor in the bible

By The Beacon | April 15, 2015 5:27pm

By Christine Menges |

Laughter is probably not what comes to mind when one thinks of the Bible. For those who have taken a theology class recently, boredom might be a better word. But last Friday night on the third floor of Franz, theology professor Anita Houck erased that stereotype with a small presentation on humor in the Bible.

Her presentation, titled “God, Humor and Humanity: From ‘The Iliad’ to ‘The Onion,’” explored different ways humor can be found in the Bible and in popular culture about religion, and how that humor affects the relationship between humans and God.

Houck told a joke to the audience.

One day, a teacher in a Sunday school classroom went up to a girl who was scribbling away at her table, and asked her what she was drawing.

“I’m drawing God,” the girl replied.

The teacher told her that nobody knew what God looked like.

“They will in a minute!” the girl said.

The audience burst into laughter.

Similarly to the girl drawing at the table, Houck said, humans also imagine a relationship with God, but through laughter.

Even parodies of religion, according to Houck, help people imagine a relationship with the divine. Houck presented a news article from The Onion on the screen titled, “Blessings From God Burn Up Upon Entering Atmosphere,” with a picture of a burning comet headed towards the Earth.

The audience burst into laughter again.

Houck presented a slide from a cartoon of The Simpsons. She pointed out how God is always drawn with five fingers, while the other characters are always drawn with four. Houck mentioned one episode in particular, where God appeared to a character by speaking through a taco, something both strange but also relevant to the characters’ lives.

“Cartoons remind us to laugh with God, not just at God,” Houck said.

Christine Menges is a reporter for The Beacon. You can reach her at or on Twitter @ChristineyBird.