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New Church Perspective
is an online magazine with essays and other content published weekly. Our features are from a variety of writers dealing with a variety of topics, all celebrating the understanding and application of New Church ideas. For a list of past features by category or title, visit our archive.

Entries in laughter (2)


My Spiritual World 

Sometimes the stories in the Bible can feel inapplicable, and even when we have access to the inner meanings behind them they take work to relate to. Here Susan uses the teachings of the New Church to find the humour, interest, and applicability in the story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. -Editor.

Emanuel Swedenborg explained that laughter is a spiritual (as opposed to celestial) indicator. Reading Arcana Coelestia made parts of the New Testament funny to me, so ‘celestial’ is not me. I will not find myself sitting at the popular kids’ table in the afterlife. I will be snickering along with the other yahoos in the second heaven (I hope).

Martha (Luke 10:38-42) represents the spiritual realm while her sister Mary represents the celestial. Technically, they are the spiritual and celestial of the natural, but I will leave out the details and concentrate on how endearingly hilarious Martha is.

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Does God Have a Sense of Humor?

Do you have to be boring in order to be good? This week Coleman Glenn wonders if God has a sense of humor... and what God's sense of humor might imply about human joking. Coleman acknowledges some gray area in distinguishing appropriate and inappropriate humor but works towards his own conclusion. -Editor

A person may frequent places of amusement, talk about the affairs of the world, and need not go about like a devotee with a sad and sorrowful countenance and drooping head, but may be joyful and cheerful. (Heaven and Hell 358)

Some persons from habit, and some from contempt, make use in familiar conversation of the things contained in Holy Scripture as an aid or formula for jokes and ridicule, thinking that doing so makes these more pointed. But such things of Scripture when thus thought and spoken add themselves to their corporeal and filthy ideas, and in the other life bring upon them much harm; for they return together with the profane things. (Arcana Coelestia 961)

Does God have a sense of humor? In the New Church we worship a Human God – and it seems hard to imagine someone who is truly human lacking a sense of humor. On the other hand, there is no story in the Word where the Lord tells a joke or laughs at one; there is nothing that explicitly says He does have a sense of humor.

That’s the first question I want to address in this article. The second is related, but not identical: if God does have a sense of humor, does that mean it’s okay to make jokes about Him or about the Word? Maybe you can tell from the tone of the question that I think the answer is “no.” But I’ll get to that in a bit.

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