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- What is Humour?
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Whatever the reason and I don't intend to suggest an explanation , a wide variety of humorous children's books exist to satisfy the human need for laughter. Most picture books for young children contain a degree of humour, for authors and artists are well aware that comedy is an easy way to capture the attention of the child and to illustrate the idea that books can mean enjoyment.
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It has been suggested, though, that few small children really recognise humour as such. A child who is meeting conventional language and experiences for the first time will lack the ability to distinguish the congruous from the incongruous, or to separate fact from fantasy. Young children take stories seriously, and the adventures of, say, the elephant and the bad baby or naughty Nancy, the bad bridesmaid, may seem exciting and strange to them but not particularly funny. And, of course, much of the visual and verbal humour in many picture books is aimed over the child's head at the adult reader-aloud, or is included as a private joke of the artist or author.
Without such jokes, though, the mind of the strongest parent or teacher might well buckle beneath the sheer banality of many books for the younger child. It is when they reach seven or eight years old that children begin to properly appreciate the wealth of humorous books available to them. Yet, despite their popularity with young readers - or because of it? They never have been. It is not for nothing that the most popular and despised reading matter for children is called a comic.
And it is all too often assumed that if a story is amusing then it cannot possibly be Worthy or Improving or Good Literature. Frankweiler but not very often. If some of our more prestigious children's writers could be persuaded to amuse their readers for a change, then we would have better funny books and funnier good books. Compiling a descriptive list of humorous children's books, as I have done, can present unusual problems. Other book lists, whether they be of multi-cultural books or learning-to-read books or fairy tales or award winners, are all based on easily defined and easily recognised criteria of selection.
But opinions differ as to whether and to what extent any book is funny, and the degree to which children will be amused by it, if at all. All I had to guide me was my own enjoyment of the books I chose, and my own experience or estimation of their effect on young readers. Humorous Books for Children is therefore a personal choice of amusing reading, intended for those parents and - teachers who are looking for funny books to recommend or read aloud, and for those people who, like me, feel that humour has for too long been neglected as a significant factor in children's enjoyment of books.
Children's senses of humorous may well be numerous but then so are children's books. Difficulty only arises when one attempts to match one with the other. With any luck, Humorous Books for Children will help with this. At the very least, I hope that it may be a step in the right direction. After all, laughter is one of the necessities of life, and it is only right that it should be one of the necessities of reading too.
From his list Humorous Books for Children Lance Salway has chosen twenty books with assorted kinds of laugh appeal. That's why they are good for sharing. A small girl finds that she is able to fly and proceeds to lead a mob of astonished adults a merry dance around the town until she comes to earth with a bump.
It is about the nature of humour, its cultural construction and its relationship to explicit and implicit meaning. Humour can act as a vehicle for social and cultural values, and it does so in ways specific to humorous communication. It plays audaciously with boundaries, and this has the potential to cause both laughter and alarm. I identify that humour, when situated in a religious context, needs to be controlled through conditions formed out of the religious culture of the group.
Importantly, humour is a practical experience in the lives of Christians and Mormons, they laugh at what they see and hear. Hence this dissertation is ultimately concerned with what those communities are watching and listening to, that is, what they are choosing to consume as comedy entertainment and why. This dissertation has two goals. Firstly, it is a survey of religious humour. There is yet to be any scholarly collection of religious humour and by collating a number of examples together this study will prove a useful resource and contribute to the scant scholarship on religious humour.
This also allows an overall comparison so that my conclusions based on individual cases may be shown to apply to religious humour as a wider phenomenon. Secondly, by examining material examples of religious humour, as well as what believers say about their humour practices in their own words, I analyse what these jokes about the sacred can reveal about those that are making them.
A principal goal of this study is to develop a model that 1 Brian Nichols, Holy Joke, , http: The development of this model is guided by three research questions that have framed my approach to the material. Firstly, what are Christians and Mormons watching, reading and listening to for the purposes of humorous entertainment?
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Secondly, what criteria do believers use to make their entertainment choices? Thirdly, how does that help them to express and, importantly, reinforce, their religious beliefs and practices? The criteria for what constitutes religious humour is discussed throughout Chapter One. My preliminary criteria here is that to qualify as religious humour it must be made by religious people, include some sort of religious theme s and be intended for a religious audience. In addition, it needs to be contemporary and marketed as entertainment — so this discounts instances such as medieval Holy Fools and casual conversational humour among religious people.
Mormon comedy will contain the same, and will be identifiable through its Mormon label but mainly by its specifically Mormon content, for example copious jokes about being part of a large family, missionaries, Utah, and The Book of Mormon. The choice of evangelical Christians and Latter-day Saints as the subjects of study was informed by an interest in the beliefs and practices of those groups in particular as well as their prolific production of religious humour.
Christians and Mormons are active participants in popular culture, and have a material religious culture that is both accessible and abundant, and of significant interest to the growing body of scholarship on religious engagement with media and popular culture. The Speech Communication Association, , University of Chicago Press, ; Mark T. Decker and Michael Austin, eds. The material is taken from exclusively American sources. The United States of America is a fertile ground in terms of material religion and selecting a single country allows for a more manageable process of data collection, in particular because this dissertation incorporates field research data that I collected from surveys and interviews conducted in four states — Tennessee, California, Utah, and Indiana.
This dissertation is underpinned by both humour studies and religious studies. While much of this scholarship does not focus precisely on religious humour as I interpret it throughout this project, a general understanding of what humour is and how it operates is essential to any understanding of a specific type of humour.
Humour is a widely debated and contested subject, but the aim is to be able to situate this discussion of religious humour within a wider discourse about humour. Similarly, religious studies, notably Christian and Mormon studies, is needed as a foundation for this particular focus on one aspect of Christian and Mormon culture. Within this broader methodological context, there are numerous ways that religious humour could be approached with precision and each aspect under consideration will require different and selective theoretical tools.
The choices made in regards to interpretive methods are done so not out of any notion that they fit perfectly or are exhaustive but because they help to hold religious humour down long enough to explain some of its many features. For instance, Chapter Four required methodologies from theology and studies of religious offence to deal with the question of blasphemy.
Chapter Five employs theories of body and boundaries as well as some linguistics to consider the motivations behind clean humour. Chapter Six uses methodology from humour studies that deals with subversion and the social nature of humour to look at religious humour that is socially safe or socially subversive. The following six chapters explore my research questions by examining religious humour as an instance of popular culture that is informed primarily by religious identity.
Chapter One introduces in further depth the processes I have used to identify and analyse religious humour. I will argue that religious humour must be found by considering both its content and Screen Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, ; J. Michael Hunter, Mormons and Popular Culture: Sample interview questions and a copy of the survey are included in Appendices 1 and 2. Chapter One suggests that contextual markers such as the type of religious references used, the identity of the author and audience, and the manner of distribution all help to shape the distinguishing features of what makes humour religious.
It discusses the methodological approaches needed for a study of this kind, in which the emphasis on empirical analysis of material means that multiple disciplines must be considered as well as field work and popular sources. Chapter Two takes up the multidisciplinary nature of the study of religious humour and presents a summary of the significant scholarship about religious humour. Since religious humour has received very little notice from the academy, Chapter Two also discusses other relevant methodologies from religious studies, theology and humour studies.
This chapter demonstrates that there is much helpful material around the subject, however, there has yet to be any extended investigation targeted specifically at humour made by Christians and Mormons. This dissertation is one of the first of this kind, drawing on a tradition of inquiry into humour and religion as it is seen in the Bible and the historical relationship that Christianity and other religions have had with humour and laughter; and supplementing original data when the subject requires further information than is currently available. Chapter Three moves away from an examination of current scholarship and towards the question of what believers are saying about themselves.
In this chapter I use popular newspapers, magazines, blogs and other sources of popular discourse, as well as survey results from my fieldwork to examine how Christians and Mormons understand the relationship between their religion and their humour. Christians and Mormons have an ambiguous relationship with humour. It is both a positive contribution to faith and society but it is also fraught with the danger of abuse. While Christians and Mormons often speak vaguely and in general terms about their enjoyment and their fear of humour, I will argue that the distinguishing factor is that they desire humour that is appropriate.
This means that if humour is to be enjoyed rather than abused, it must conform to certain standards laid out individually, but informed collectively, by religious interpretations of what is appropriate and inappropriate subject matter for humour. Chapter Four addresses the question of blasphemy.
This is one of the greatest threats that humour presents to religion, but this can be offset by the importance that God and the sacred has in the lives of believers. This conflict is mitigated by blasphemy management strategies that prevent any humour from becoming insulting to God, and will very often result in humour that is faith affirming and promotes a Christian worldview. This chapter focuses on humour that is specifically about God, Jesus Christ and the sacred.
For appropriate religious humour, to be clean means that it contains no swearing or sexual and scatological humour. This preserves their purity without compromising the funniness of the body. Christians and Mormons are uncomfortable with humour that attacks and insults others, and as a result much of their humour can be considered safe in the sense that it does not attempt to challenge anyone in case it may cause offence or hurt. I discuss this approach to humour in the Christian sitcom Pastor Greg This perspective is demonstrated through an analysis of the stand-up comedy of Brad Stine and cartoons published in the liberal LDS magazine Sunstone.
Explaining a joke usually hinders laughter, whilst describing a religious experience can also diffuse its spiritual power. Both rely on a kind of personal assessment; people believe as a matter of faith and people laugh as a matter of taste. What is funny to one person is offensive to another, what one accepts as sacred to another can be profane.
What is Humour?
Yet both religion and humour are so ubiquitous and so human, that when they intersect, that point becomes a fruitful and fascinating manifestation of culture to investigate. I will argue in this chapter that interpreting humour as religious involves a two part analysis; both content and context must be considered.
The distinction will be made between humour that is about religion and religious humour. Humour that features religious stereotypes and symbols does associate humour with religion, it is about religion. This is a broad definition that emphasises two things about the type of humour that is being considered. Firstly, I am interested in an insider perspective, or to put it plainly, religious people joking about their own religious traditions.
The same joke told in a bar will be received very differently when it is told in a church, because the conditions that dictate its reception are informed in part by the religiosity of those involved in the exchange as well as the socio-cultural context. Naturally the inverse is also true, whether one is telling a joke in a bar or a church will affect the choice of joke to be told. While I have just suggested that relying on the presence of religious symbols to identify religious humour is problematic, in practice it can be a helpful preliminary flag when searching through what can quickly become vast quantities of material.
It can be a useful first step in data collection, so long as it is later subjected to contextual analysis. When searching for instances of religious humour there are thus two initial questions to be asked of each sample: Distinguishing religious content and religious context is a complicated task. It is a key argument of this thesis that humorous content of most kinds can, when in a religious context, become religious.
This process will be examined in detail over the course of the study, but for now I will turn first to the question of identifying religious content before discussing how that content can be located within a wider religious context. This chapter discusses the processes by which the data for this study was selected. This brings me to the need to clarify what this term means and how it will be used here.
This is by no means intended to exclude other interpretations of practice or belief from being religious. I use George Marsden as a guide for defining this broad collection of Christians. An Empirical Approach, 4th ed. Guildford Press, , This is a controversial position, the justification of which is beyond the task at hand. Additionally, Mormons draw on much of the same body of religious material as Christians; it will be shown that they have jokes about biblical stories, Jesus Christ and God, and political themes such as abortion, creationism, atheism, and gender roles in common.
Of course each group has different additional material that they draw upon humorously as well; the LDS scripture The Book of Mormon is a very common source of humour for Mormons exclusively, while Christians can joke about aspects of evangelical culture that are not relevant to Mormons. Basically, I want to establish that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is positioned within the historical culture of Protestant Christianity, and as such it shares a legacy of attitudes with Christians, in particular with regard to humour.
However, Mormons and evangelical Christians also simultaneously have beliefs, practices, and cultures that are starkly different, even at times contradictory. Eerdmans, , 5. Ostling and Joan K. The Power and the Promise New York: HarperCollins, , chap. I here acknowledge the complexity of the situation by referencing Jan Shipps who complicates the question each time she is asked whether Mormons are Christian. She does so by attempting to determine the framework within which the question is being asked.
Here the framework is the content and referents within the body of humour that makes up this study and the wider culture of popular entertainment amongst Mormons and Christians. The Pew Centre for Research, , Additionally, all the humour used in my research is American. This is for several reasons, firstly to restrict the volume of data to a single country, which limits the cultural context of the material.
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Such commercialism also results in a stronger sense of mainstream, if we consider it in terms of what sells, although popular culture in general and humour in particular will of course vary widely in terms what is acceptable and popular. Such a focus allows a more manageable and cohesive sample to work with. For now it will be 8 Daniel Radosh, Rapture Ready! Baylor University Press, , University of Chicago Press, This includes open and direct references to features of those religions, such as God, Jesus, Biblical and Book of Mormon stories or characters, church practices, doctrines, and terminology or jargon.
These signs and symbols can also include attitudes or cultural features usually associated with Christian or Mormon worldviews, such as pro-life, sexual abstinence, or references to famous personalities or places for example George Bush Jnr a well-known Christian or Utah one of the most prominent centres of LDS culture.
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This is not least because definitions of humour are limited and difficult to use and subject to long-standing discussion and debate amongst scholars of humour, something that I address in greater detail in Chapter Two. For now, the criteria for considering a work to be an example of humour is primarily based on the intention of the work. If the author creates the work with the express purpose of making people laugh, then the work is an example of humour. This can be a very subjective claim to make, especially in regards to religious humour, since I must frequently deal with the problematic but popular notion that religious people are generally only funny accidentally.
Rather, in an attempt to keep my material from becoming subject to the whimsy of personal taste, the assessment that something is humorous is based solely on whether the creator of the work intended it to be. Humorous intention is distinct from humorous reception, and while both components make up the perspectives examined in this thesis, humour that is unintentional, spontaneous or conversational is a completely different social phenomenon to intentional or scripted humour and relies on different rules of interaction and interpretation and so for the most part will be left aside.
In the first instance the humour has been deliberately selected based on its imagined humorous consequences, whereas in the second the consequence may be unexpected and accidental. Scripted humour is for the most part consistent, especially in its content, despite differences in audiences. Spontaneous humour is so situation specific that it is unlikely to be able to be repeatable and hence it is more difficult to draw general conclusions from it. All the humour examined in this study has been carefully written, rehearsed and edited even in cases where the laughs may appear to be spontaneous, as often happens with stand-up comedy.
I would suggest that this means that the risk of any potential offence has also been considered and factored in to the creative process, and therefore of greater interest to this particular study. Comedy, like most forms of entertainment, comes in a wide variety of formats. The following chapters have a primary focus on stand-up comedy, comedy film, and comic strips and cartoons. These forms are supplemented where necessary with jokes. I am less interested in joking in these situations, however jokes provide a valuable means of analysis of a small parcel of text that conveys meaning and hence are often exceptionally useful in illustrating theoretical points.
See for example Michael Mulkay, On Humour: Polity Press, ; and Ted Cohen, Jokes: This is a worthy exercise, despite many of these examples being discarded after a deeper contextual analysis, especially as they helped to highlight common characteristics found in what would become my corpus of religiously humorous material.
While the presence of such themes does not always exclude humour from the religious category, once a sizable collection had been surveyed it became clear that it is uncommon to find religious humour containing swearing and extremes of sexual humour or blasphemy, so examples such as South Park could confidently be excluded. This process may seem somewhat simplistic, but to date there has been no typology developed to classify religious humour and as such I have worked with largely unsurveyed data that had to be sifted through rather roughly at first.
The only relevant attempt is Christian F. International Journal of Humor Research 16, no. Three nuns in church on a hot day decide to remove their robes because of the heat. Not an unusual habit on a hot day. The three nuns decide to simply open the door because the man is blind. My home teacher is so good he comes on the first day of every month!
My home teacher is so good he comes the day before that! There will must contain at least one Christian script. This joke was taken from an online collection of jokes and so its ideological foundations cannot be traced. His definition of Christian jokes does not take into account who is telling the joke and to whom as well as under what circumstances. In being so reliant on religious content without religious context his framework is limited in its analysis of that content as well as in dealing with humour that may not have explicit religious content but be situated within a religious context.
Ultimately religious content is certainly indicative but not sufficient to qualify humour as religious. Clues within the Work — What is it called? What are its main thematic concerns? This is a different process to identifying religious content because it focuses more specifically on the ways in which that religious content is presented. When examining clues within the work, concentration is shifted towards finding the possible intentions behind the work and determining the perspective that it is coming from or promoting.
This means a consideration of the language and imagery used as well as the key themes and messages presented. Does the work promote an overall positive attitude towards religion? Does it contain any notable inclusions for example blessings from or thanks to God, positive jokes about church or community, negative jokes about atheism, and assumed knowledge of religious practices or doctrines , or notable exclusions such as swearing, dirty humour, hostile, violent or blasphemous styles of humour?
Sometimes a humorous work will explicitly self-identify as religious. This can usually be seen in the title of work, the tagline or the description for example on promotional material and websites for films, books, and stand-up comedy. For example, there are a number of Christian stand-up comedy tours that explicitly announce their Christian perspective by using religious terms to describe themselves and their comedy.
New York University Press, , 5. Berghahn Books, , 2. Live Comedy , a play on the popular sketch show Saturday Night Live. What that religious perspective means is a question to be pursued further throughout this study, but for now it allows the postulation that religion plays a key role in the performance and appreciation of such works.
When religious language is not as immediately obvious or familiar, there are other places to search for indicators of religious perspective. The religious identity of those who create works of humour is of great significance to this project; even though it must be noted that simply because a humourist is personally religious does not necessarily make their humour religious.
Nor does creating religious humour necessarily mean the author is themselves personally religious. But it does provide a connection between religion and humour that in many cases is worth investigating. The ways in which the religiosity of comedians affects humour are numerous and varied, but the first step is to identify the perspective and worldview of the authors.
This is much easier to do with stand-up comedy, because this analysis is concentrating on one individual whose comedy is often largely dependent on their personality and opinions and they will have sole control over the content and form of the humour. Stand-up comics in the age of the internet are accessible to researchers not only through their shows but also through self-promotion that utilises media such as YouTube. The Movie First Look Studios, Live Comedy HaleStorm Entertainment, I am equally interested in the ways that less devout comedians use religion in their comedy and the comedy of those who would be considered very religious.
There are many reasons why a humourist may want to emphasise or de-emphasise their personal beliefs and I am including both cases as it can be assumed that such decisions are informed in some way by those beliefs, hence fitting into my definition of religious humour regardless of the level of individual piety. Moyer has been involved in the majority of LDS comedies as writer, director or actor including The R.
The Home Teachers Halestorm Entertainment, And Mobsters and Mormons Halestorm Entertainment, Who is its intended audience? In order to gain an understanding of any religious intention behind the work it is crucial to consider the environment that produced it and the web of discourses within which it is situated. Knowing where the work is coming from as well as the marketing strategies employed to distribute and sell religious comedy reveals much about the intended reception of the work, and such strategies are specifically and deliberately designed to locate the work in a religious context.
One of the most important considerations for determining how the work can be accessed is to consider whether it is widely available or whether it is limited to specific audiences. It is also essential to note where the comedy is performed, purchased or otherwise accessed and whether the companies and venues involved are known to produce other religious products or services.
These factors are solid indicators of the influence of religion on the context of the work. For example, many religious stand-up comedians, especially Christians, will perform in church in addition to or more rarely instead of the usual haunts of secular comedy clubs or television specials, and their recorded comedy is available sometimes exclusively from Christian retailers.
By making comedy available through Christian retailing, it can then be assumed that the work is in keeping with the mission and vision of those retailers. This will be considered further in relation to Christian and Mormon motivations for their humour choices. Oxford University Press, , Additionally, it is important to consider where secondary information about the comedy can be found. This helps in gathering details about the work and its authors as well as gauging public reception and opinion.
Comedy, especially film comedy, is often promoted and reviewed in the media, and often mostly in religious media, for example in publications such as Christianity Today or Deseret News. Such media includes news, newspapers, magazines, review websites and blogs. Reading through insider commentary on the material being considered assists in assessing the impact that the comedy has in a wider sense, beyond what clues are contained within the work itself. This is crucial in understanding the social, cultural and religious forces that shape it. Through the coverage of these films in LDS media the rise and decline of the popularity of these films can be traced.
The reasons for this can be seen in opinion pieces, film reviews, and blog discussions about these films which demonstrate that Mormons are thinking and talking about the issues associated with religious humour that I will analyse in this dissertation. Of course not all religious humour analysed in this project is available through such explicit and mainstream means.
It would make an unbalanced study if only humour available through institutionally endorsed channels was considered and would overlook some of the most interesting and important examples of religious humour, in particular those that do not necessarily sit so comfortably with the commercial or the mainstream. Note that attendance at a mosque, or other place of worship is excluded from this group. An excellent example of this is the cartoons printed in the alternative Mormon periodical Sunstone, which will be analysed in detail in Chapter Six.
This magazine is not found in mainstream LDS retailers and has an independent relationship from the institutional church, allowing its critical and controversial discussions to feed into the kind of satirical political cartoons that are regularly published in it. Its depictions of religious content are markedly different to other forms of religious humour such as that available through conventional popular Christian retailers, but they are no less informed by their religious perspective.
Since there are clues in the environment in which we find this source, it encourages the researcher to consider ways of being religious that may not ordinarily occur when considering more conventional material. Religious humour is deeply embedded in specific religious cultures. For the researcher studying communities of which they are not members, access to the meaning of the jokes of the group will be significantly increased simply by participation, as much as possible, in its culture. The design of the project incorporated fieldwork from the outset.
Given the experiential nature of 34 Joanne R. Wayne University Press, Religious comedy in action is more than simply being able to attend live shows, although the importance of this is paramount. Religious comedy in action also allows for significant interaction with audience members and performers enabling additional background information to be gathered that would be completely inaccessible from recordings or other static documents. My primary aim for the fieldwork I conducted was to confirm hypotheses that emerged from researching the primary comic material.
In general, theories that emerge from reading through examples of comic data are always somewhat speculative when the researcher has no lived experience of the culture and so must be supported by travel to the country of origin, time spent with people involved in the industry, and with those who not only appreciate or depreciate the humour but then consequently shape the market forces and notions of popular taste.
Field research was carried out over two months in in which I travelled to the United States to conduct interviews and survey religious audiences. My fieldwork strategy involved three approaches; firstly I aimed to immerse myself in Christian and Mormon cultures, as well as American culture in general, in order to familiarise myself with new cultures and conduct some general participant observations. Secondly, I carried out interviews with comedians in the Christian and Mormon comedy industries.
The third approach involved surveying religious individuals on their opinions about religious humour.
The interview questions and the survey are both included in the Appendix. SAGE Publications, , 9. Rather they were designed to familiarise myself, to the degree that is possible as an outsider, with the experience of living as an American Christian or Mormon in general. Such small banalities are important in gaining a general sense of attitudes or practices that may be exploited for comic effect by religious humourists.
Jokes about Jell-O are abundant in LDS humour culture and are made more meaningful to me by the experience of eating it in its home context. This was in contrast to my experiences in Bremen, Indiana for example, where my main aim was participant observation. I attended the live stand-up performance of Brad Stine, an evangelical Christian comic. This can be traced by noticing the kinds of laughter evoked by certain kinds of jokes; a gentle chuckling crowd demonstrates a different level of amusement to a crowd full of loud, explosive guffaws.
Comic effect is especially determined by the interactive nature of a live audience and without such experiences the understanding of the way that humour is operating in a social situation is undernourished. Harvard University Press, Journal of Audience and Reception Studies 8, no.
I intended to interview religious comedians that I could also watch perform their shows live. This meant that I had to select a group of comedians from those that I had already researched and considered to be of some degree of influence or standing in the community. I contacted each comedian and set up meetings depending on where they would be having a show that would be convenient for me to observe.
This produced detailed information about what motivates religious humourists. The creation of comedy, particularly in a commercial sense, is locked in a symbiotic relationship with its reception. This meant that most comedians I spoke with had thought about their humour in an analytical manner since one of their primary concerns was how to appeal to audiences.
Hence their comedy is informed both by their own personal beliefs and tastes as well as how it will be not only accepted but actively enjoyed and by extension purchased by their target market. I interviewed six Mormons and two evangelical Christians. I attended the live performances of all but one interviewee, Kurt Hale, who is not a stand-up comedian but a writer and director of comedy films and head of HaleStorm Entertainment, the production company responsible for the release of the vast majority of LDS comedy films.
Tampere University, , — Stine has released six DVDs and is a prolific writer, blogger and commentator. I developed the survey online, so that a link to the survey could be easily distributed along with information about the project via leaflets at events. This reduced any ethical concerns about pressuring people to participate in the research, although it did mean that my sample was entirely self-selected.
A copy of the survey can be found in Appendix 2. I had seventy-five responses in total, with approximately half the respondents identifying as Christian and half as LDS. The survey was designed to test my hypothesis about the ways that religious individuals conceptualise the relationship between religion and humour and what kind of language they use to describe it.
On the whole, the surveys did confirm that religious individuals viewed humour positively but with certain reservations about its potential for misuse, primarily in regards to blasphemy, profanity and hostility. All the fieldwork conducted for this project was crucial to understanding religious humour and its relationship to the lives of Christians and Mormons.
My interviews and surveys support the findings from both scholarship and primary textual research. The field research contributes original data collected from the communities under examination, and facilitates a better general understanding of the context for the researcher. Approaching Religious Humour The above discussion illustrates the initial process of sifting through potential sources of religious humour and explaining the criteria that I have applied in accepting or rejecting a comic instance into my body of data. One of the goals of this project is to collate data together so that it may be an accessible resource for future study into this field.
It is a nod to the familiar practice of collecting jokes together into compendiums, although my efforts here are the first to offer an analysis to accompany a collection of religious humour from a scholarly rather than pastoral or evangelical perspective. People do not always think about their sense of humour theoretically, rather it plays a living and practical role in their lives.
It is the job of the scholar to take the cultural artefacts of social groups and apply theories to interpret real life experiences and religiously informed choices. There is yet to be any substantial academic study of religious humour as it is experienced in the contemporary religious lives of Christians and Mormons or other religious people in general , and as such in undertaking this fieldwork and research I decided that the novelty of the topic required that I develop a specific methodological framework. There are a vast number of theoretical approaches that may be borrowed from to develop such a framework or frameworks that help to interpret religious humour.
It is the focus of the next chapter to consider in depth the academic fields that provide the background in which this dissertation sits and to draw out the methodologies that will be employed now that I have drawn a preliminary sketch of religious humour. Abingdon Press, ; James E. Family Library Guild, An Analysis of Sexual Humour, vol.
It discusses the existing literature on and around religious humour and hopes to provide an overview of the theoretical material. Most importantly it sifts through that material to find the particular components of it that will be helpful for this project and signpost the methodology that will then be considered in greater depth in later chapters alongside analysis of primary sources. As already mentioned in Chapter One, both phenomena are so fluid and changeable, so multiplicitous in meaning, that attempts to study them tend to focus on one aspect or another in order to pin them down long enough to undertake analysis.
Often they fail to fully integrate, in any practical sense, the religious into the humorous and the humorous into the religious. There are of course a small number of studies that look at religion and humour, and the valuable work that has been done will be discussed below.
This chapter presents an overview of the scholarship that paves the way for this current study, and discusses the literature as a foundation upon which this dissertation sits. I will review and evaluate religious studies, theology, and humour studies as disciplines from which methodologies for studying religious humour may be sourced. They were made to be hung in bo The DVD intended for adults 18 and older. Magic Tricks Add to Favorite Categories This set includes the following figures: Stanley from the new book, "Five Nights at Freddy's: