Discussion Forum Sunday: Humor

Introduction by Reverend Leslie Kee

In 2012, The Reverend Erika Hewitt delivered a sermon entitled ‘The Joke’s on UUs.’ In her remarks she pointed out. “… as a peopIe of faith, we need a practice of articulating our religious identity and what we stand for. It’s always been an uphill battle because myths and half-truths, and in part, fueled by UU jokes – some funny, some bad – but always in the spirit of poking fun at ourselves and having a few laughs.

Did you hear the one about the UU family who moved into a new neighborhood. Their little girl finds a new playmate, and they are happily getting to know each other. One day, the playmate says, “We’re Episcopalians, what are you?” The UU child thinks for a minute and says, “I’m not sure, but I think we’re League of Women Voters.”

Does anyone remember the host of the radio show, Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keillor? Well, he used to make jokes about Unitarians all the time. He said, “Jokes are democratic, telling one right has nothing to do with having money or being educated. It’s a knack, like hammering a nail straight. Anyone can learn it, and it’s useful in all sorts of situations. You can go your whole life and not need math or physics for a minute, but the ability to tell a joke is always handy.”

Reverend Hewett talked about how humor, in particular UU jokes, tend to play on well-known traits of the UU faith and its congregants. In the end, we hope through laughter, we open ourselves to our growing edges and consider how our liberal religious heritage and purpose may be viewed by the world.

UU jokes go back pretty far in our history. In the 1950’s Thomas Starr King is credited with describing the difference between Universalists and Unitarians when he said, “Universalists believe God is too good to damn men; Unitarians believe man is too good to be damned.”

Did you know each religion has its own holy book? Judaism has the Torah, Islam has the Koran, Christianity has the Bible, and Unitarian Universalism has Robert’s Rules of Order😊

Did you know UUs were even featured on an episode of The Simpsons? In one episode, the Simpson family attends a UU church ice cream social where Lisa is impressed with the choices of ice cream: “Wow, she raves, look at all these flavors! Blessed Virgin Berry, Command-Mint, and Bible Gum!”😊

And of course, UU’s penchant for social justice and the democratic process. Did you know the only time UUs pray is if they think a Democrat is going to lose an election? 😊

Even producer and social activist, Michael Moore, has poked fun at UUs. In a National Public Radio show he insisted that audience members get out and do something for their communities. “Do something,” he insisted, “don’t just hold long meetings in the basement of the Unitarian church!” And he later said at an Occupy Wall Street speech in California, “God bless the Unitarians!”

Rev. Hewitt closed her sermon by reminding us, ‘UU congregations exist to transform the hearts and souls of members and friends, who then work to transform the world. Our purpose is to help people live lives of purpose and meaning, and to encourage one another to spiritual maturation.’

Our service today is to help remind us of the importance humor — being able to laugh at ourselves. It keeps us humble, it helps us keep the sometimes overwhelming seriousness of life in balance.

And more than anything, there is nothing so healthy and fun as a good, heart-felt laugh! By the way, what do you get when you cross a UU with a Jehovah’s Witness? Someone who goes door-to-door looking for a discussion! 😊

We will now watch a Ted Talk on the importance of humor followed by questions, comments, and maybe some more jokes?