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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"A religion without a sense of humour is like . . . "

(Cross-posted from Burkean Canuck).
Pseudonymous Asia Times columnist Spengler points, here, to a key difference between the practitioners of Islam, and the adherents to Judaism and some followers of Christ.

Observant Jews and Protestant Christians both have traditions of humour. Spengler cites the following story from the Talmud, the ancient tradition of rabbinical commentary on the Torah:

Typical is the joke whose original is found in the Talmud, of the four rabbis debating an obscure point of law. Rabbi Feinstein is outvoted 3-1, and prays for a sign from above. A heavenly voice announces, "Feinstein is right!" The other rabbis shrug, "So now it's 3-2."

Spengler also credits Luther for founding a Protestant tradition of humour. I found the following in what is popularly known as Martin Luther's "Table Talk":

When one asked, where God was before heaven was created? St. Augustine answered: He was in himself. When another asked me the same question, I said: He was building hell for such idle, presumptuous, fluttering and inquisitive spirits as you.

In contrast, Spengler writes this about Islam:

Islamic humor is another thing altogether. Muslims do not joke about Mohammed, as casual newspaper readers now know, the way that Jews joke about Moses. Muslims joke about themselves, sometimes mercilessly. [4] The best Muslim jokes, which ridicule religious megalomania, date back to the 9th century and are recounted today only with caution (on this see  Why Americans can't laugh at American culture , December 16, 2003). But Muslims do not tell jokes to Allah. Unlike the Judeo-Christian God, Allah is not a lover, but a sovereign. One does not risk lese-majeste before such a monarch by making bad jokes at him.

One of my favourite Moses and Jesus jokes is about an evangelical Christian and an observant Jew who see a billboard that reads, "Jesus saves." When the evangelical points out the sign, his companion merely observes, "Ah, yes. 'Jesus saves.' But Moses invests." Then there was the plaster-of-Paris bust of Jesus a seminarian painted in a certain way and gave as a parting shot to his professor of pastoral care and counselling which he entitled, "Effeminate Jesus."  Whole books have been devoted to the humour of Jesus in his sayings recorded in the Gospels. And in respect of Catholics and humour, Spengler may have missed the letters of Abelard and Eloise, for one.

Now, as I've already blogged, here, I'm not a fan of the modernist, secular liberal distortion of free speech (discourse) into "free expression" where "anything goes," and which is used to justify a certain school of art, the same that produced "Piss Christ." But humour in the Jewish and Christian traditions has long been a means of dissent -- a means of gently chiding those who have gotten a little big for their britches, or issuing a challenge to the status quo.

So, I gotta ask:  Where are the Muslim stand-up comics?

As my contribution to the canons of humour, I invite commenters to complete the following: "A religion without a sense of humour is like . . ."

Posted by Russ Kuykendall on February 22, 2006 in Canadian Politics, Religion | Permalink


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...a pressure cooker without a safety valve.

Posted by: Prometheus | 2006-02-22 10:19:23 PM

"A religion without a sense of humour is like..." - a Feminist?

Posted by: simpleton | 2006-02-22 10:23:26 PM

"A conservative group is calling on Americans to sign a petition to encourage the nation of Denmark to stand firm against the Islamic rage over the publication of cartoons satirically depicting Islam's prophet Muhammed in a Danish Rusty Weller, the editorial director for the two sites, says the overreaction by many in the Muslim community to the Muhammed caricatures is really an attack on free speech."Our research shows that the Muslims are trying to do something more than just complain about the cartoons," Weller notes. "They are trying to get one European country to cave in to their demands not to print anything they deem objectionable about Islam, the Quran, Muhammed or Allah." That one country, Denmark, finds itself at the center of this campaign because it was the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that first published the offending cartoons last September. Since then, several or all of the cartoons have been reprinted in publications in more than 50 other countries, where their appearance has sparked outrage, criticism, charges of cultural insensitivity and racism, and in some cases even violent protests leading to dozens of deaths. Outraged Muslims are targeting Denmark because of these cartoons, and Weller insists, "they're not going to stop their protests until legislation is passed that gags the press in that country." But even then, he is convinced, the Islamists will not be satisfied. If the Muslim protesters succeed in censoring the Danes, the petition websites' director says the radical Islamist drive will not end there. Using that victory as a precedent, he contends, "they plan to silence the media in the rest of Europe, further distancing the people there from the truth about Islam and distancing us -- America -- from Europe, further impeding the war against terror." Free speech must be defended, Weller insists, and he is encouraging people of faith and lovers of freedom to sign the petition aimed at urging Denmark to resist the Islamists' attempts at censorship. The editorial director says the petition supporting free expression and freedom of the press will be sent to the Danish Embassy in Washington, DC, and to the Danish Consulate in Los Angeles, California. " Stand up for Denmark!
Why are we not defending our ally? see ChristianPetitions.com and ConservativePetitions.com newspaper. http://www.slate.com/id/2136714v

Posted by: James | 2006-02-22 10:50:53 PM

I found this on the web back in 2002...

"And it came to pass that God visited the earth, and He did behold a series of billboard ads attributing to Him utterances of such banality that they would never pass His lips in a billion years. And it came to pass that God in His wrath considered a libel suit, but in the end opted simply to mount a cantankerous, self-contradictory ad campaign of His own..."

* I never said, "Thou shalt not think."
* I don't care who started it. Just stop it.
* If you seek to know my ways, read a damn science book.
* Here's a clue-if they say they're doing it in my name, they're lying.
* I'm flattered you liked my book so much. Now why don't you read something new?

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-02-22 10:55:29 PM

Wanna know another key difference between the practitioners of Islam and Christianity? The former don't constantly obsess over what the Christians are doing now for rather they the bad Muslims first kill any of the Muslim converts to the Christianity in many of Muslim countries and how is that for an obsessed compulsive behavior of the bad Muslims. Why bother to show the Christians love when you can legally or illegally kill them.

Posted by: Ahib | 2006-02-22 10:56:31 PM

It was the arrogant Danish mullahs who patiently hawked those cartoons around the world (yes, don't worry, they are allowed to exhibit them as much as they like) until they finally provoked a vicious response against the economy and society of their host country. For good measure, they included a cartoon that had never been published in Denmark or anywhere else. It showed the Prophet Mohammed as a pig, and may or may not have been sent to a Danish mullah by an anonymous ill-wisher. The hypocrisy here is shameful, nauseating, unpardonable http://www.slate.com/id/2136714/

Posted by: yesyesno | 2006-02-22 11:00:18 PM


Posted by: joe | 2006-02-22 11:05:15 PM

>"A religion without a sense of humour is" ... <

... a lot like being dead, just not as much fun.


Posted by: Ian Patton | 2006-02-22 11:15:03 PM

Hah ! That Robert kills me...the former don't constantly obsess...Hah ! What a delivery...

Posted by: MarkAlta | 2006-02-22 11:32:37 PM

It is not just the Muslim demonstrations and protests that bother me. What bothers me is when many Muslims decide it is appropriate to do so. They go crazy over cartoons but lose no sleep over Muslims crashing planes into tall buildings.

Here is a Dutch cartoon that puts this in perspective.

Posted by: Doug | 2006-02-23 12:07:46 AM

"A religion without a sense of humour is like
the Egyptian God Osiris...without his penis"

The myth of Osiris said he was killed by Seth
who separated his body in thirteen parts spread
over the country.

His sister-wife Isis reunified all parts of his
body, except for that part which was replaced
by clay, then ressucitated Osiris.

A religion without humour is missing something.
You might substitute someting, but it is never

Posted by: Red Crusader | 2006-02-23 2:35:13 AM

Not all Protestants are having sense of humour.
I felt that Jehovah was a terrifying god for its Witnesses.

What about the Puritans? They condemn fun during
sex between husband and wife.

Posted by: Red Crusader | 2006-02-23 2:39:56 AM

I think the person who posted this should have specified evangelical protestants. "Traditional" protestants and other denominations don't typically have a sense of humour.

Posted by: Andrew | 2006-02-23 3:23:34 AM

Doug -many thanks; that Danish cartoon is superb. It 'says it all'.

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-23 7:00:55 AM

Andrew, damn it, I do too have a sense of humour.

Posted by: nomdenet | 2006-02-23 7:26:47 AM

I am an evangelical protestant and I never have so much fun nor laugh so much as when I am with other evangelical protestants.

Posted by: Herman | 2006-02-23 7:58:26 AM

A religion without a sense of humor is like a world in black and white.

There are verses in the Word of God on the subject. We are careful to discern between mockery and humor.

Why is there no humor with Islam? Because it comes from the devil.

Posted by: Rémi houle | 2006-02-23 8:35:12 AM

A religion without a sense of humour is like a fish without a Day of Abstinence.

(I don't think it was Gloria Steinem that said that.)

Posted by: Jim Whyte | 2006-02-23 9:03:55 AM

I am a traditional Protestant and am ' offended ' by all this poking of fun at religions . It`s starting to make me laugh.

Posted by: daveh | 2006-02-23 9:09:35 AM


Thank you for bringing the columnist Spengler to our attention: fascinating little piece that I will happily pass on to others.

Fitting, then, that the answer to your question about the lack of joy in Islam may lie in the writings of the real Oswald Spengler, in his "The Decline of the West".

Posted by: Paul Canniff | 2006-02-23 9:15:50 AM

Shouldn't one examine the source of laughter? The source is the ability to examine, either by one's self or by the comments of others - a basic axiom or situation.

One can carry out this examination by many tactics - satire, parody, contrast - which can produce enlightenment about the contradictions and problems and produce laughter..and then change.

Or, reason, logic, comparisoon - which can produce enlightenment about the contradictions and problems - and produce change.

Islamic fundamentalism rejects both self-examination and examination by others of its basic axioms. You may not use any tactic to examine its axioms.

As Robert McClelland correctly stated, even though he was trying to use it to denigrate us - the Islamic community is unable to COMPARE its axioms with those of others. That is because it refuses to analyze its axioms and won't permit others to do so. Equally, it rejects analysis of its behaviour. Its reaction is purely physical and violent - kill. That's all.

This refusal to analyze leads to the current situation, where the axioms have been sabotaged and denigrated by the Wahhabi version of Islam and are being used as a means of coercive control over the population and preventing the people from moving into an industrial social and political mode.

At the moment, Iraq is close to civil war. Why? Because the Wahhabi Islamicists, who are trying to maintain tribal control over the ME, are trying to maintain the population as mobs, pure mobs - and prevent them having any capacity to reason. These Islamicists are found in Iran, in Syria, in SA - and they form the basis of the so-called 'insurgency' in Iraq. They don't want the Iraqi people to have democracy. They don't want democracy in the region. They want a population kept as mob-peasants..so they can retain their tribal power.

Again- the key to assisting the ME, is not simply the US with its military capacity to prevent the insurgents from gaining control. The key is the moderate Muslims in the region and above all, in the rest of the world. Their duty, is to take back their religion from these extremists. To show their support for freedom, for democracy, for assisting their fellow Muslims in the ME.

Instead - they are silent.

Or- they file hate crime suits against the WS for publishing the cartoons. You know- this action actually HELPS the insurgents in Iraq; it empowers them to continue to fight against democracy.

Iran would very much like to move into Iraq, via a civil war, and take over the country.

When will the moderate Muslims grow up and, since they are living in a democracy -act like it???

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-23 9:46:53 AM

A religion without a sense of humor is like a teachers union.

Posted by: Duke | 2006-02-23 9:49:48 AM

Proverbs 17:22 (New King James Version)

22 A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones.

Posted by: St. John | 2006-02-23 10:06:13 AM

My bones were dried when I realized that we are the undisputed champeeens of the world in ---skeleton ..

Posted by: daveh | 2006-02-23 10:17:31 AM

ET I disagree with every thing you say, would it be already if I could post a cartoon of you on the NET?

Posted by: Colin | 2006-02-23 10:55:20 AM

Colin - I think you mean 'alright' rather than 'already'. And, I think you mean of my 'theories' rather than of 'you'. Posting a cartoon of me, without a 'ground' (history, meaning) would be without meaning. No-one would understand your point!!! Sure, you can post a cartoon of my theories.

Now, if you are going to make up a cartoon, you have to set it up within a particular framework - which consists of X - the theories. You draw them,if you can...and..then, you have to show, in images, why they are invalid, or questionable, or 'far-out'. So- your drawing must have a BINARY infrastructure. Just like the cartoon of the 'stop, stop, there's no more virgins'... That's made up of (1) Reality - where fundamentalists are killing themselves..and are assured of '72 virgins'..and (2) the question - is this really true?

So-, sure, go ahead. You disagree with everything I say. That means, you have a clear outline of exactly why you disagree. So, set up some cartoons, showing this disagreement. Have fun!!!

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-23 11:01:49 AM

ET - I will not allow you to dictate to me what parameters I am to protray for debate, To say I should have a particular framework that suits you, is really Funny. If I deem funny and frankly the stupider the better I will publish. with a hotlink to your email. if this offends you let me know I will not publish.

Posted by: Colin | 2006-02-23 11:13:53 AM

People, there is humor in Islam.


Posted by: Dishwasher | 2006-02-23 11:23:33 AM

Colin - the point of a cartoon is that it is supposed to promote questions. You are the one who suggested that you wanted to do a cartoon of me. Since, as I said, the function of a cartoon is to pose a question - and your questions concerned what I had to say (and you said that you disagreed with everything I said) - then, you set up the parameters YOURSELF.

The parameters are - your disagreement with everything I said. YOU SET UP THOSE PARAMETERS!!!

Go ahead - and make up your cartoon, within the parameters that YOU YOURSELF SET UP!

I'm not sure what you are suggesting with a 'hot link' to my email. Are you suggesting something that is illegal? Why would you provide my email on your web site, when I didn't write or post anything to your web site? I think that's illegal. I'm sure you aren't threatening me, for I have no idea why you would do so. Please inform me.

Again, if you want to draw and post cartoons about your questions about my statements (which are hardly confined to me)..please do so.

But- if you are going to provide my email on YOUR WEB SITE, then - this is illegal, for, since I didn't draw those cartoons, you have no right to do so.

You ought to, on your website, provide the link to the Shotgun, and also post copies of my posts. That will enable readers to read my posts for themselves, and see whether/not your disagreements, as drawn in your cartoons, are accurate.

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-23 11:28:37 AM

I think Colin is sharing a room with Paul and the rest of those wild and crazy guys , up in Red Deer.

Posted by: daveh | 2006-02-23 11:28:52 AM

Daveh - Not at the Red Deer inn, Good guess that you think I'm in Alberta, I know Alberta Well from Indian Cabins AB to Sweetgrass MT and all in between.

Posted by: Colin | 2006-02-23 11:35:58 AM

ET - OHHH how the tables have turned - OK now you are saying I cannot offend you and link you to any offensive cartoons because you deem it illegal. Don't worry I won't make a cartoon and offend you. Just try in illustrate my point. Funny WS has no problem doing this to 1.2 billion people.

Posted by: Colin | 2006-02-23 11:46:47 AM

No, Colin, you don't understand. Or perhaps you are deliberately misunderstanding.

I didn't say that you couldn't make a cartoon of my theories and your objections to them. I said that YOU COULD - and I suggested that you do so. By all means - draw a cartoon of my theories and show how you object to them.

That is the exact nature of the Danish cartoons; they are not of any one individual - though a cartoon of an individual IS a valid cartoon (eg a political leader with the cartoon showing why his actions/theories are invalid; a public figure with the cartoon showing why his actions/theories are invalid).

The Danish cartoons were not about an individual; they were questions about Islamic axioms - ie, which assert that they are a peaceful religion..with the reality of the 'bomb in the turban'..which shows the reality of not being peaceful. And so on.

However, I said that it would be illegal of you to provide my email, on your website, if I didn't have any part in making those cartoons.

But, you COULD, on your website, provide the link to the Shotgun and my comments (which provide my email)..

Get the difference?

I'm sorry, but I'm not offended by you. And the cartoons that you might draw, rejecting my theories, couldn't be offensive, for I would hope that they would open the topic for debate.

What is illegal, would be for you to post my email on your website, without also providing my comments on the situation. Just my email? Nothing else? That's illegal - and it doesn't make sense. But, if you post the link to the Shotgun, and my comments, which as I said, has my email - then, you have provided the reader with the opportunity to read my comments AND, observe your rejecting cartoons. Now, that's a good debate format! OK!

No- WS's publication of the cartoons has nothing, zilch nothing, to do with individuals. They were not even discussing what any one individual said! Those cartoons are important public questions about the gap between group behaviour and group belief in the Islamic world.

Again, you CAN draw and publish a cartoon of an individual. The way to do it with me, is how I outlined it above. You make the drawing, showing how you disagree. But, you have to either provide the full text of my comments as well, on your website. Or, post a link to the Shotgun. That enables the reader to see the full question.


Posted by: ET | 2006-02-23 11:58:26 AM


You seem to be a knowlegable and thoughtful person. I enjoy your writing and agree with most of it.

When you allow a half wit-like Colin to engage you in debate it's like reading a conversation between a drunk and a sober man.

Please, your argument with this fool is nothing but a distraction from the points that are so well made by you and others on this blog.

When an attention seeker is ignored ... they tend to go somewhere else to seek attention.

Just a thought.


Posted by: Duke | 2006-02-23 12:50:00 PM

You mention in your exchange with Colin that it would be illegal for him to post your email on his website. Just out of curiosity, do you have any authority for this, any idea what statute he'd be violating or common law tort he would be committting? It seems a novel, but interesting point.

Posted by: truewest | 2006-02-23 12:54:34 PM

Truewest - posting ET's email may be illegal depending on the editorial comments that came along with it....just a thought.

Posted by: Prometheus | 2006-02-23 1:16:46 PM

This is unbelievable


Posted by: Duke | 2006-02-23 1:21:29 PM

Duke- yes, I agree with your comments about Colin. I am assuming that he is young and writes without thought. I figured I'd explain just what his statement involves - and show him how he could draw his cartoons, about my theories, in a responsible manner.

As for truewest, he's a pontificating sophist, 'full of himself', always pointing out how superior he is to us (we amuse him).

Truewest - here's a link to the privacy act of Canada. Colin couldn't post my personal email on his website without my permission. Furthermore, it would be unethical for him to do so, if he was not providing his readers with my comments.


The Australians, as usual, are far ahead of Canada in their outline of the use of private information.


Posted by: ET | 2006-02-23 1:34:13 PM

Duke - yes, that's quite a video. Is his hair dyed white?

The strange thing is, it doesn't occur to him that he is making use of technology developed by 'white people'.

He's just dumb. I wouldn't pay any attention to him; I quite frankly, think that he has a right to say what he is saying...as long as the TOPIC is open to debate. So- I don't see why he should be shut up. Let him talk..as long as the topic is open to debate. Remember, he's not an authority, preaching to submissive followers that they MUST kill white people. He's making an assertion, about a theory. That's his right.

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-23 1:38:49 PM

ET - I tend to agree with Duke, this guy is a fool and has shown that many times over. When asked to back up any of his points he simply spews the tired rhetoric of the left. It truly is like listening to a spoiled child with no knowledge (him) verses a master. (you).

Posted by: deepblue | 2006-02-23 1:39:58 PM

Duke, that shit ain't funny. Next we will have militant environmentalists saying the only way to save the planet is to eliminate the white man.

Dark and lonely, summer night,
kill my landlord, kill my landlord,
Watch dog barkin, Do he Bite?
kill my landlord, kill my landlord,

Slip in his window and break his neck,
Din his house I start to wreck,
kill my landlord, kill my landlord
C-I-L-L, kill my landlord

Skit performed by Eddie Murphy on SNL back in mid-80's.

Posted by: Lemmytowner | 2006-02-23 1:41:52 PM

Once again, gentlemen, spoken loosely of course, stop trying to project yourselves as being smart, you are not.

We live in a very serious world believe it or not, so try to act accordingly for a change, i.e. grow up eh?

Stick to the subject and try to help one another by building up, not tearing down.



Posted by: J.L.W. | 2006-02-23 1:42:30 PM

Baptists have no sense of humour.

Duke: I watched the clip. I know lots of black people and I can tell that they don't like me. It's kind of natural to be racist to a degree. I had an Indian friend years ago (native), who introduced me to some distant relatives as his best friend. I was very flattered and later I asked if he really considered me his best friend. He very thoughtfully answered "you're my best white friend". I almost busted a gut, but I got the message.

I'll bet that most blacks are as offended by Kamau Kambon as most whites. In North America the black-white issue is slowly improving. Guys like that are trying to cash in on the Black Panther movement of the 60s. The comment on the clip is right. He should go to jail.

Posted by: dan | 2006-02-23 1:47:39 PM

>The comment on the clip is right. He should go to jail.<

No he shouldn't, he has the right to say it, as we all have the right to speak. But he most cerainly should be deported to where he or his ancestors came from where he can spout off to his hearts content.

Posted by: deepblue | 2006-02-23 1:57:39 PM

deepblue: That's probably a better choice. If he can actually figure out where his ancestors came from. His family has probably been over here for 150 years.

It seems really odd that so many black people are beginning to identify with Africa, just as that continent is destroying itself. I've never even considered visiting Ireland, especially since I quit drinking.

Posted by: dan | 2006-02-23 2:10:23 PM

Yeah, this guy is actually a reactionary. The 60s were littered with people like him, H. Rap Brown, Stokeley Carmichael, Angela Davies, and so many others.

The problem with these guys today is that they act as a conversion from street gangster to revolutionary. Eventually members of the Crips, Bloods, Gangster Disciples, and all the other notorious street gangs find themselves incarcerated.

While they are in prison, leftist black revolutionaries in the "new Afrikaner" movement get hold of them and introduce them to a revelation. That perception is that they have been foolishly and needlessly killing each other in street gang rivalries and business transactions, when they should have been killing white people in the power structure all along.

This is frequently an intellectually intoxicating idea to these disaffected and alienated young criminals. And the idea that they need to see a new ideology of revolution against the white power structure acts as a solace against remorse over killing each other. (Wars between the Crips and the Bloods, etc.)

In as much as the revolutionary leaders in think tanks like Fulsom prison are ultimately black Muslims or affiliated with black Muslims, prisons become a rallying point for people who are sympathetic with Islamic terrorists and who share a common ideological foundation with them.

Needless to say, these gangsters are already hardened criminals, killers, and drug traffickers who would find it much easier to shoot people than your ordinary citizen would.

If you would like to get a look at the mentality of these folks, you could read a book called, "Monster, the Autobiography of an LA Gang Member," by Sanyika Shakur, aka Monster Kody Scott.

Posted by: Greg outside Dallas | 2006-02-23 2:32:22 PM

Thanks Greg: Lots of us up here aren't that well aquainted with this subject.

Posted by: dan | 2006-02-23 2:38:17 PM

I stand corrected. I guess some traditional protestants do have a sense of humour.

Dan - Baptists have no sense of humour? You thought you'd just throw that one out there? From what I've observed in my life, Baptists are pretty funny people. You ever heard of this evangelist, Billy Graham? He's a pretty funny guy and he's Baptist too.

Posted by: Andrew | 2006-02-23 2:44:20 PM

Thanks for that. Perhaps, though, you can point me to the section that makes an individual posting your email illegal. as far as I can see, the Act applies to information collected by organizations (a term which includes an individual) for commercial purposes and does not apply to personal or domestic use or, for that matter, use in a journalistic or artistic setting. Further, there may be an argument that since you made your email address available in a public place (as distinct from giving it to an organization in circumstances that suggest an expectation of privacy) you've waived any privacy rights you might have.
That said, I agree that it would be unethical for Colin to post your email to a website -- his or anyone else's.

Posted by: truewest | 2006-02-23 2:53:59 PM

... The Alberta Tories.

Posted by: Ian Patton | 2006-02-23 3:12:42 PM

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