Catholicism and Humor – When Can We Laugh At Ourselves and When Are We Being too Uptight?

I first posted the video at the bottom two years ago on this blog. I thought it was quite funny and a humorous look at the culture of Catholicism. In no way did I think the “deacon” in the video was ridiculing the faith. In fact it was really more a spoof on used car salesmen who will often do anything to sell a car.

But, when I published the video there were a number of strong reactions in the combox from readers who did not think the commercial funny at all, and offensive to boot. Here are a couple of  examples:

  1. I’m sorry. I know the attempt at humor was well meant and may appeal to some. But I found it in bad taste and almost offensive. It was the use of sacred words and realities in such a flippant manner that I could not appreciate.
  2. Not funny and what is being promoted? Open on Sundays? What about keeping the Sabbath Day holy?

Others thought differently –

  1. I thought this was a brilliant way to connect…Sometimes we get just too uptight and try to keep our religion in a pretty box. Well done brother, I hope to see more.
  2. My favorite line is: “We’re on South Water Street, just before it turns into Wine” That’s funny and clever! Anyway, some here don’t agree. I see it as lighthearted humor and some of you clearly do not.

As I have said, I think the spoof is more on car salesman, and not that far from the truth either. I remember that, some years ago, in the Catholic Standard, our Archdiocesan Newspaper, a certain Deacon, who was also a car dealer, used to advertise each week. He loved to point out that he was a permanent Deacon at such-and-so a parish. There was more than a hint in his add that he had a special deal for practicing Catholics: “An outrageously low price for a new or used car! Just bring a Church Bulletin and get the discount!” Hey, why not. I think if I’d been in the market for a car I might of just paid him a visit!

But humor is clearly risky sort of a thing, for what often makes it funny is that goes out to the edges, sometimes engages in stereotyping, and usually has a element of truth wrapped up in hyperbole and histrionics. We human beings are often funny even when we’re doing serious stuff and a good laugh doesn’t always mean ridicule, sometimes it means appreciation of the traits we notice in others.

Finally, the word humor and humility are likely related. The Latin word “humus” means soil, earth or ground. Another root of the word is the Latin and Greek word “humor” referring to the water and other bodily fluids that make up our bodies. Either way, we are dust and water and unto dust we shall return. Recalling this is a way to remember, among other things, that we not take ourselves too seriously. Proper humor and laughter that is not ridiculing in intent, can help us to be more humble.

I am interested in what you think of the video below. Is the humor of it appropriate, as I think it is? Does some or all of it go too far? What’s the balance between being able to laugh at ourselves and being too uptight? Clearly some people, two years ago were offended. I was not. What do you think?

Anyway, enjoy this rather humorous and well done video.