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Podcast 035: “Why Should I Have to Develop a Sense of Humor?”

In This Episode: Another story based on religion, another complaint from a reader asking “Why should I have to develop a sense of humor?” In this week’s podcast, my response to that question.

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Show Notes

The story in question (click to see larger).

  • Mike’s tagline on the story discussed (“There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to defend your faith — and a time to have a sense of humor.”) is a twist on Ecclesiastes 3: “There is… a time to weep and a time to laugh….”
  • Rev. Straw told me the parentheses in “Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)” are important. If you’re unsure what that church is, there’s info here. She also mentioned the podcast Pulpit Fiction.
  • And since she brought it up, the Get Out of Hell Free card site is here, and the place to order some if you want to chill out about stuff like this is here.
  • Would I (as the reader challenged) appreciate a cartoon about Mohammed? Sure — “not just because I’m a thinking person,” I said on that page, “but also because I make my living saying what I think needs to be said, even when I know some will be offended by it.”
  • My figures for the percentages of Christians in Canada are from here, and in the U.S. from here.
  • Kit was slightly off on the name of the “Peak Flown From Afar” — it’s a rare (for China) limestone structure clearly distinct from the sandstone around it. According to legend, an Indian monk named Huili was there 1,600 years ago and was very surprised to see something so different from everything else in the area. He decided the peak had flown over from India since such formations are common there.
  • I wasn’t sure about the percentage of atheists in the U.S. and guessed off the top of my head. The Pew Religious Landscape survey reported that as of 2014, 22.8 percent of the U.S. population is religiously unaffiliated, atheists made up 3.1 percent and agnostics made up 4 percent of the U.S. population. The 2014 General Social Survey reported that 21 percent of Americans had no religion with 3 percent being atheist and 5 percent being agnostic (Wikipedia).
  • Are there any atheists in Congress? According to the Huffington Post, as of 2017, no: not one, and only one “identifies as religiously unaffiliated.”

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Transcript

Randy: Welcome to Uncommon Sense, the Podcast companion to the ThisIsTrue.com newsletter with the mission to promote more thinking in the world. I’m Randy Cassingham.

Kit: I’m Kit Cassingham.

Randy: This week we’re discussing a story from issue 1242 of the newsletter, which will be included on the Show Page at thisistrue.com/podcast35

I had some negative feedback on that story written by TRUE contributor Mike Straw. There is another detail, and you’ll see the relevance of this in a moment: His wife is an ordained minister, and not just someone with an online mail-order certificate. She has a Master’s of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, and is ordained clergy with Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I’ll read the story in its entirety. Mike titled it, “I like to Picture My Ice Cream in a Tuxedo T-Shirt”:

Andrew Richmond and partner Amin Todai named their Toronto, Ont., Canada ice cream parlor chain after an employee tasted their ice cream, and repeatedly exclaimed “Sweet Jesus!” Thus: Sweet Jesus Ice Cream. “Our aim is not to offer commentary on anyone’s religion or belief systems [as] our own organization is made up of amazing people that represent a wide range of cultural and religious beliefs,” Richmond says. Rather, he continues, they wanted to celebrate “the popular phrase that people use as an expression of enjoyment, surprise or disbelief.” Some conservative Christians disagree. “Sweet Jesus is all about trashing Christianity and mocking the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ,” a petition hosted on the conservative advocacy group CitizenGO’s website claims. The petition accuses the parlor of “hate speech,” and demands the their name be changed to “eliminate mockery toward our Lord Jesus.”

Mike’s tagline on the story, which generated the complaints, is “There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to defend your faith — and a time to have a sense of humor.”

I’ll read you two of the letters, though without naming the writers since my point isn’t to embarrass or call out anyone, but rather to help illustrate what the point is here. The first letter was from a reader in Michigan, who writes:

I don’t normally get bothered by things like this. But the ice cream place called “Sweet Jesus,” why should I as a reasonable Catholic have to develop a sense of humor over a violation of the second commandment? Would you tell a Muslim to get a sense of humor over a Mohammad cartoon you found funny?

I’m going to let Kit weigh in on this first.

Kit: Oh, and I’m probably the wrong person to be talking about this, because my spiritual beliefs are pretty different from most people’s. I think people should have a sense of humor about the things that are important to them in life.

Randy: And we both had a usual Christian upbringing, so….

Kit: I was raised Presbyterian, and I’m not “religious.” I was in a liberal church; we talked about a wide variety of things. I had an epiphany in, like, 8th grade. And when I’d tell adults what that was, they’d go “Pfft — that’s stupid, that can’t happen.”

Randy: And that was what?

Kit: My epiphany is that all religions have the same message.

Randy: The same goal.

Kit: The same goal, the same ideals, which is to be better people. Kind, good, honest.

Randy: Help each other.

Kit: And the adults would say, “Well what is that?” And my answer to them was, “To be more like God.” And they’d say “No, that can’t be.” and I said “There’s just a different word for God in all the different religions.” I also was raised to bow to my seniors, to adults in my life — the teachers, the ministers. And that was the first time that I never backed down from my belief. I knew then that I was right….

Randy: And you still haven’t backed down from that.

Kit: That’s right. So here, a couple years later, I firmly believe that is true. So, to make fun of religions — I mean, clearly I already have a different perspective — why would you be offended when you have confidence, and knowledge, as I did as an 8th grader, in your belief systems? So I’m not the right person to talk to about this!

Randy: But I still think that your point of view is interesting even though that it’s not—

Kit: It’s not mainstream.

Randy: …a minister giving their opinion on this.

Kit: Well it’s not mainstream at all.

Randy: Right, but I still think it’s interesting to see that there are other points of view. So here’s my reaction to that letter.

Kit: Ooh I haven’t heard this before! I’m looking forward to it.

Randy: All right! So first, absolutely: I think everyone should develop a sense of humor over the things they feel strongly about, since every topic known to humanity should absolutely be able to stand up to humor, especially humor this gentle. So why should you have do so? Because you live in the world. Everyone, Christian, atheist, or — as the reader suggests, a Muslim — has a choice whether or not to be offended.

For humanity to grow, what everyone really needs to learn is, you don’t get to dictate whether someone else respects the second commandment or anything else you hold dear. You get to dictate whether you respect your beliefs and how you respond to the world, and that’s all. So the choice is, the overwhelming majority in this country can get your knickers bunched up every time you hear a minority opinion, or you can realize that because you can’t dictate what others say, or think, maybe you should endeavor to take a brief moment to see another point of view so you can understand the world better. You get to choose whether to go through life in a huff, or to practice your own faith’s dictates and choose to forgive, choose to “turn the other cheek to be struck on the other one also,” or maybe even choose to “judge not, lest thee be judged” — to quote from my own cultural learnings in this realm.

And in fact, this is exactly what TRUE’s mission is: to provoke thought, with “provoke” in bold type. You laugh at other people’s foibles illustrated in the stories — and the reader here has been a Premium subscriber since 2014, and presumably reading the free edition before that — and now he’s upset that someone is gently chuckling at what he perceives to be his point of view. My take from reading his letter is, he’s disdainful of the reaction of Muslims to, for example, someone else laughing at a cartoon of Mohammed, implying that’s an overreaction. Yet after seeing that, and realizing that, he then complains about a really gentle nod to calling Jesus “sweet” and doesn’t see the irony here?

Kit: Well, he’s taking “Sweet Jesus” as a swear word, and I have to say if I were to use that phrase, it would be more in horror reaction to something like…

Randy: A car wreck or something.

Kit: Or something atrocious that somebody was saying or doing, or “I can’t believe you said that.” I mean, if I’m going to use that phrase, it’s not going to be “Wow! This is really the best!” It’s just not the way my brain works.

Randy: Yeah. So let’s get to Mike’s comments about the story: after all, he wrote it. We tried to work out having him on the show, but it was just too short notice for him to make it, so he emails:

I’ve always felt that if your faith can’t stand up to scrutiny and criticism, there may be something wrong with your faith (not necessarily your belief, but the strength of your faith). If something is the truth, then the closer you look at it, the more it should be evident.

I believe the same thing applies to humor. We should be able to laugh at ourselves and our follies. In this story, there was no disrespect shown towards Christians. Instead, many Christians showed a lot of disrespect to the store owners. The Second Commandment (Catholic Edition) may be “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” But the second Great Commandment is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Publicly shaming people who aren’t of the same faith as you is a reflection on your faith, not the person you’re attacking.

Kit: Well put.

Randy: I think it’s very insightful.

Kit: Yeah.

Randy: And I think that has to do with him being married to a minister. So I’m going to let her weigh in.

Kit: (gasps) Oh good! I always love what she has to say.

Randy: The Reverend Deanna GW Straw, and amusingly she weighed in even before Mike did, because when Mike sent the story, he noted to me that, “The Rev. Deanna Straw loved this story,” so I asked Mike if she’d like to comment on the letter in context with the story she had already enjoyed. Well she did want to, and I’ve condensed her comments. She wrote:

Thank you for asking me to comment on this story. Of course, I’m glad we have some Get Out of Hell Free cards laying around, because if I believed in a conventional “hell” I’d need them!

Kit: (laughs) Good ol’ Deanna.

Randy: She continues,

We would often joke at seminary that we were going to hell, but that we would be in good company, because we were all heretics. St. Louis is a very Catholic area. Once a year we would have what was called a “Day of Theological Conversation” where we would have other schools come and talk about scripture and politics and how they fit into our systems of faith. Eden was affiliated with the United Church of Christ in partnership with my denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Eden was very liberal. We would also have Missouri Synod Lutherans (very conservative, believing that women should not be ministers for example), ELCA Lutherans (the “liberal” Lutherans who believed that women could be ministers), and Aquinas School of Theology which was Catholic. We had a certain way of making sure each other had their voices heard, although we didn’t always agree.

I started a softball team at seminary, and you should’ve heard the jokes about God, Jesus and scripture used in that situation!

Kit: I wish I could have.

Randy: And then she comments on Mike’s tagline specifically:

It’s OK to have a sense of humor about your religion. It doesn’t make it any less significant or special.

When I was running services, after 40 days of Lent including Holy Week, which usually meant we had multiple services remembering Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, Crucifixion and lastly Easter and the empty tomb. It’s an intense time of study and reflection. The Sunday after Easter, to help us focus one the gifts that God through Christ gives us — humor — we would have Holy Humor Sunday.

Kit: Ohhhh!

Randy: (continuing to quote)

We’d tell jokes. We’d make Easter bonnets, we’d run the service backwards, we’d sing Christmas hymns, have contests over who could create out of crafts the Last Supper scene or do it in person. We’d wear fun shirts, and have funny pictures in the bulletins. My point being, it’s OK to laugh and have fun and it is needed.

Although I am not offended by Sweet Jesus ice cream, it’s OK if some people are — don’t shop there, but don’t spew hate. The Great Commandment tells us to “Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul AND mind.” And the second is like it, “Love your neighbor as your self.” (Matthew 22:34-40) I take this to mean a couple of things. All commandments fall under the Great Commandment. If you’re not out doing good, that is breaking that commandment. If you’re spewing hate, that is also breaking the Great Commandment. And really, Jesus and God are WAY more interested in doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8). So if Sweet Jesus offends you, I’d ask that an individual reflect on really why that bothers them. In seminary, an answer like, “Because my minister said, or the bible said,” would never fly. It had to be deeper than that.

I’m not saying that Sweet Jesus is for all people. I just saying it’s OK to have some humor about what is holy. There’s a picture you can Google of the Laughing Jesus. The artist made a picture of Jesus where he’s on a fishing boat laughing. He was just being a dude. And I’d like to think that Jesus was more than a Christmas and Easter Jesus, but also a man who made a difference because he understood humanity. And humanity has to laugh.

I’d also refer you to Pulpit Fiction, a podcast done by two people I went to seminary with that uses pop culture and theology together. Their humor is in there too, and it’s thoughtful — most of the time.

I’ll link to that in the Show Notes.

Kit: I love Deanna’s response. And the part— I’ve not seen this cartoon or picture of laughing Jesus in the fishing boat, which is of course very appropriate for Jesus, but it reminds me that Buddhists have got a broad sense of what’s OK in reference to Buddha. In Hangzhou, China, there is an area called “The Mountain that Flew from Afar”. The stone there is different than surrounding stone. It’s like it’s from India, it’s like totally different, one’s sandstone and one’s granite — I don’t remember that detail. But, the Chinese decided to keep that piece of land there, and in their understanding of the world and the universe, they carved like a thousand Buddhas, all over this area, and there’s a monastery and all kinds of stuff. But there are laughing Buddhas, meditating Buddhas, sleeping Buddhas — all kinds of Buddhas. The laughing Jesus and the laughing Buddha were probably fishing together, and maybe Buddha had just fallen overboard or something! So it’s good to have humor.

Randy: I think so: that’s why I’m in this business.

Kit: Yeah.

Randy: And I’ll say that Deanna noted she told me about her education because “people will say I’m not a real minister because of my gender. But with my credentials I am held to the governing body of my denomination and their set of rules, ethics and standards. Anyone can get ordained online, but I went to school for it.” I think that’s a fair statement.

So the second letter that I wanted to read is from a reader who also happens to be in Michigan. He writes,

On the “Sweet Jesus” article: Some folks have a strong faith, not much bothers them. Others are very weak in their faith and thus everything bothers them. Clearly the complainers are among the latter.

Now I’ll point out he is referring to the people within the story who are complaining, not other readers, since he didn’t know there were any complaints from readers. So this is how the rest of the world sees such complainers: as insecure in their faith. They can be shaken to the core — and again, we’re speaking about the people in the story who are complaining with such strong words — by the name of an ice cream parlor? Then save the calories and don’t go there!

Kit: Indeed. And to continue my thoughts on this, I believe when you have the power of conviction — I said you were grounded before — but it is the power of conviction. When you have faith in what you believe, then people can’t ruffle your feathers by using terms that are….

Randy: You might be disappointed and think, “Well, they’re going to hell!”

Kit: I think if you have the power of your conviction, you don’t judge people like that.

Randy: Good point.

Kit: I think you just look at that and think, “Huh. That’s now how I would have reacted.” Which is my reaction! It’s like, “That’s not how I would have named my ice cream parlor.”

Randy: Right, and that’s what the Get Out of Hell Free cards are all about: you know, take a chill pill, you don’t have to be so serious about not only other people, but even more importantly, your own feelings.

Kit: Especially your own feelings.

Randy: Especially.

Kit: Take responsibility for how you feel and think, and let the rest of the world do its own thing — because it will.

Randy: Yes it certainly will.

Kit: Don’t let it pull your chains.

Randy: So there’s another point I want to make: most of the ice cream parlor’s customers are very likely Christians themselves, since we’re talking about Toronto here. Wikipedia notes that 67.3 percent of Canadians are Christians, with most of them being — yes — Roman Catholic, just like Roman Catholic is by far the largest Christian denomination in the United States.

The second-largest religion in Canada, by the way, is Islam, and they are a very tiny minority by comparison at just 3.2 percent.

Kit: Wait wait: so you’re saying that Islam’s second, and it’s only 3 percent?

Randy: 3.2, yeah.

Kit: Oh Sweet Jesus!

Randy: (laughs) Well, here’s the elephant in the room. That leaves an awfully big chunk of people, so if you wonder, those having no religion in Canada is 23.9 percent of the population. If Christians think they’re persecuted, they might want to ask what percentage of their elected officials are atheists. Not many can get elected even though the percentages in the U.S. are roughly similar, though in the U.S., the second-largest religion is Jewish, though interestingly, 19 percent of self-identified American Jews do not believe God exists.

Kit: I find it interesting that atheism has become a religion.

Randy: Well they’re not saying that. They say, and to be very specific, “those having no religion.” So that’s not necessarily atheist: I used that as an example.

Kit: So I feel like I have no religion. But I’m not an atheist. So I’d fit into….

Randy: Yeah, so agnostics, and others….

Kit: Yeah, I just don’t have a religion. Good point, so we rely on some interesting measuring sticks on how to judge people, whether they’re good to govern us, or lead us in church.

Randy: But you know if we have a “representative” government, you would think there’d be… I don’t know what the percentage of atheists is in the United States, but something like 10 or 12 percent. Do you think 10 or 12 percent of our elected officials are atheist? I doubt it!

Kit: I’d like to think so. Maybe there’s more!

Randy: And of course— No. There’s like one or two that have acknowledged it.

Kit: Well, but how many are silent?

Randy: Yeah, a lot, I’m sure. But I’m not saying that that’s something unusual, because half the population, maybe 51 percent, is female, too, and that’s not the case in government.

Kit: Well, you can’t hide that fact. You can hide your religion.

Randy: Right. I actually one more short letter, from a reader in Pennsylvania, who clearly has a sense of humor:

I had a thought on the ice cream shop. If he starts serving Mexican ice cream he can keep the name by pronouncing it differently.

Kit: (laughs)

Randy: So if you were offended by the story, or otherwise wish to comment, let us know on the Show Page, at thisistrue.com/podcast35 — I would really like to hear your point of view on this: that’s how I learn about other people’s reactions.

Kit: I wanna hear too.

Randy: I’ll let you know what the URL is.

Kit: Thank you.

Randy: (whispering) thisistrue.com/podcast35

Kit: Hmmm!

Randy: I’m Randy Cassingham.

Kit: I’m Kit Cassingham.

Randy: And we’ll talk at you later.

20 Responses to Podcast 035: “Why Should I Have to Develop a Sense of Humor?”

  1. Kim, Texas April 6, 2018 at 7:26 pm #

    Rabbi Jesus knew how to party. You can’t tell me he wouldn’t have enjoyed ice cream!

  2. Glenn, Texas April 6, 2018 at 8:31 pm #

    A sense of humor will help you live longer.

    …which you need to counter the life-shortening effects of the ice cream! -rc

  3. Denny, Pa. April 6, 2018 at 8:45 pm #

    Oh sweet Jesus, what a bunch of pansies.

    I wonder if they’re starting to get the idea that this IS how the world sees them as they rant? -rc

  4. David, Michigan April 6, 2018 at 11:54 pm #

    A lot of people need to learn to unclench.

  5. Mike, south Louisiana April 7, 2018 at 1:49 am #

    I have a friend, a Catholic priest, whose sermons always includes humor. He is a very talented musician and has incorporated this also in his sermons. His most famous (and shortest) sermon was the names of the soap operas, put together to actually make sense. It received a long round of applause, which was unheard of at that time in church. Humor is needed.

    Clever and interesting — he’d get MY attention! -rc

  6. Jonathon, Taiwan April 7, 2018 at 2:00 am #

    ~$8.00 for an ice cream cone??? Almost the same as a quarter of a year of “This is True”!

    Many would prefer a few minutes of fattening pleasure over three months of thought provocation. Which is part of the problem in the world…. -rc

  7. Wayne, Toronto April 7, 2018 at 4:41 am #

    The critics are annoying but they do provide free publicity for the company. I live in Toronto and hadn’t heard about Sweet Jesus Ice Cream until the protest began. Like book and movie banners these idiots don’t understand they just make their target more appealing. They’ve added probably 20% to the company’s sales since this began.

    Typical for boycotts and protests, actually. -rc

  8. Martin April 7, 2018 at 8:19 am #

    I was raised a catholic and sung in the choir, but very soon believed there was no God, except these imaginary friend(s) that societies need to cement communities with communal beliefs. And I’m sure that many christians have uttered the lord’s name in vain many times such as in, “God, that teacher is full of it!” or “Sweet Jesus that was some orgasm!” or “God almighty I got that promotion over that son of a bitch.”

    So that use of that phrase over how good an ice cream is not much of a problem per se. The only thing that bothers me with the name is that it is indeed geared towards some market and there is a commercial surfing on that I object too, a kind of religious endorsement, if you will. If that ice cream was turning all its profits to christian charities, no problem there. If they were employing the poorest of the poor, washing their feet on every morning at work, if they were bringing free ice cream to all poor corners of thee earth for free (well one can argue ice-cream might not be the best thing for them, since Ben or Jerry (I don’t remember) died from his personal sugar ice-cream abuse on the job.

    But indeed it is a secular company and profits go into stockholders pockets for their own profit, greed and selfish, materialistic needs. So maybe, just like your get out of hell free card, it should have a disclaimer in small letters saying “not affiliated with churches of any kind”. Now that is not putting money where your mouth is, and in that sense, that company is using the notoriety of biblical teaching without any of the faithful’s counterpart, I am a bit offended, and not in a religious way, in an intellectual way.

    Hiding it under humor is fine and I can smirk about it too. But deep down, I cannot help wonder what our world is becoming: just a gigantic shopping mall, trying to attract us by every means available. Isn’t that crass merchandising Christ tried to kick out of the temple some 2000 years ago? (not that I believe in Christ anymore) Something the vatican lawyers can ponder about.

    The other thing I’m wondering about is

    – how is this company branching out into other international market?
    – would it, for instance, keep its slogan in Muslim countries, or say “it’s a Allah of a good ice cream”?

    Not sure where you got the idea that one of the Ben & Jerry’s founders died from “his personal sugar ice-cream abuse on the job,” but it’s a myth. Both are still alive. -rc

    • Sacha, Western Australia April 10, 2018 at 1:44 pm #

      Martin: ‘And I’m sure that many christians have uttered the lord’s name in vain many times such as in, “God, that teacher is full of it!” or “Sweet Jesus that was some orgasm!” or “God almighty I got that promotion over that son of a bitch.”’

      I suppose there are those who do. But there are also those of us who do not. The first line of the Lord’s Prayer is about keeping God’s name holy. I personally don’t understand why someone who has a genuine love for Jesus would be happy to use his name in the same way one would use a swear word.

  9. Cathy, Washington April 7, 2018 at 9:50 am #

    Why do people need to criticize all things? This is a waste of energy to complain someone uses Jesus name for ice cream. I am a Christian and I think it sounds nice to here the name of Jesus proclaimed in joy and ice cream brings joy to many. We need to get his name out there as much as possible today — I would shop there on purpose just because they mention the name of Jesus. Amen.

  10. Scott, Texas April 7, 2018 at 12:47 pm #

    I Have to say I like Kit’s perspective on religions. I came to the same decision in my teens when I became disillusioned with the people running my church at the time and began studying many other religions. All but one of the many have basically the same objective and that is your relationship with God regardless of what you call it. Buddhists in my opinion were the most open on accepting other religions, and Islamists the least based on the fact they would not talk to me unless I converted first.

    “Buy this thing!” “But what are the benefits of the thing?” “No! Buy it, and THEN I’ll tell you!” Yeah, sure. -rc

  11. Graham, Queensland Australia April 7, 2018 at 6:11 pm #

    You reminded us Randy that “TRUE’s mission is: to provoke thought” — this topic succeeded for me.

    I find it interesting that it seems that more people were offended by the CitizenGO’s reaction than the name of the ice-cream parlour.

    I agree that we all need a sense of humour but this topic causes me to ask: “Are the majority here saying that humour is still OK even if it is based on disrepect?”

    Take the religious element out and ask yourself the same question.

    What humor about the goings on in the world doesn’t have a target — a group or even an individual? That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily mean-spirited; in fact, it can be a way to cut to a deep level of truth. But there is usually someone who can claim some sort of “injury” from it. -rc

  12. Paul, San Diego April 7, 2018 at 7:27 pm #

    I just think that Arthur C. Clarke was on a good trail with “The Nine Billion Names of God”.

    • Gregory, Virginia April 8, 2018 at 5:03 am #

      Don’t forget his other work “The Star” which also offended some religious folks. But they’re two of my favorite science fiction stories.

  13. Gregory, Virginia April 7, 2018 at 8:05 pm #

    I’m not Christian, I’m Jewish, but there have been similar incidents in the Jewish community. A few years ago, a Kosher caterer in Westchester County, New York faced a lot of controversy over its name and was eventually forced to change it at the behest of its Kosher certifier. The company’s name was Hakadosh BBQ, a reference to one of the Jewish names for God, Hakadosh Baruch Hu (literally translated as The Holy One, Blessed Be He.) In this case, the owner was Jewish, but some people still felt that he was insulting their faith and their God. I, meanwhile, thought it was a great name for a Kosher barbecue caterer and am just mad I didn’t think of it myself.

    I’ve always joked about opening a Kosher Mexican restaurant called Tequilla Gedolah, a reference to the long shofar blast on Rosh Hashaah and Yom Kippur called Tekkiah Gedolah. It doesn’t hurt that Gedolah translates as big or great. But doubtless some idiot would be offended then too.

    I remember a few months ago, some Fox News reporter claimed some mass shooter shouted “Aloo Akbar” before carrying out his heinous crime. Of course, the actual Islamic phrase is “Allahu Akbar” (which just means “God is the Greatest” and is used by millions of non-terrorists every day, but that’s besides the point.) “Aloo Akbar” means “Potatoes are the greatest.” I have a Muslim friend who thought that would make a good name for a Halal potato restaurant. I’m not Muslim, but I’d totally go to that place. Who doesn’t like potatoes? But doubtless some people would be offended by that too, even if it were run by a fellow Muslim.

    Aloo Akbar, my friend — baked or fried! -rc

  14. Brenda, Baltimore April 9, 2018 at 7:40 am #

    I appreciated that someone brought up a comparison with Muslim religion, but I think it was dismissed too quickly. In like manner, were the name a turn of phrase on Allah, yes, many people would think it was funny and there would also be a group of Muslims who fought to have it changed. But what about all the people in between? Whereas with the Christian group, people are inclined to either ignore the story or ridicule the group that is offended, I think that the Muslim scenario would elicit a rather large and vocal group of non-Muslims who would be HORRIFIED on behalf of Muslims and decry this as religious intolerance, insensitivity, xenophobia, anti-immigrant, blame it on the attitude of the current Administration, denounce American society. There would be protest rallies and national news coverage. And there would probably be threats from overseas (albeit hopefully empty ones from clerics hopefully without true influence here) declaring Death to America for the millionth time and maybe making specific calls for the death of the proprietors.

    No, Christians are a not generally persecuted people in the US, and yes, there are pockets of society where Muslims ARE mistreated in the US. Maybe in backlash to that, some liberals have made Muslims a protected class, and I think that angle — that jokes at the expense of Islam — would get a very sympathetic ear from most national media outlets.

    I’m sure you’re right that there would be an uproar. My point isn’t to say there wouldn’t be, but rather that there shouldn’t be, in that it’s not mature to try to control what others say and think, even if there are laws to control what people do (and there are, and they’re mostly good laws). The other point I may not have made clearly enough is, many seem to decry how touchy Muslims are, implying that’s a bad thing — yet many of those same people, while dismissing Islamic concerns, then are touchy in the EXACT same way about Christianity. If it’s a bad thing for Muslims to be so touchy, why isn’t it a bad thing for Christians to be touchy too? The hypocrisy is often blatant. -rc

  15. David Sevenoaks UK April 10, 2018 at 3:02 am #

    My architect is called Jesus, I believe that he originates from somewhere in the middle east. Jesus is a name just like David or Randy, would anyone take offence at an ice cream called “Sweet Randy”? It the ice cream were called “Sweet Jesus Christ” there might be a legitimate objection.

  16. Leo, Florida April 10, 2018 at 6:10 am #

    Wow!! Imagine if you will a beer named “Sweet Baby Jesus”!!! I suppose the world would end if that were to happen.

  17. Lisa, Houston April 10, 2018 at 11:10 am #

    Why did “they” assume the “Jesus” in the name of the ice cream shop is referring to the one from their religion? He could have easily been the second cousin of the employee that made the exclamation.

    I’ll note you posted this before I approved David’s similar comment. Bottom line: many really want to be offended. -rc

  18. Karl from Tujunga, CA April 14, 2018 at 11:31 pm #

    One point Dennis Prager makes is that the commandment “Do not take the Lord’s name in vain” is more properly translated “Do not *carry* the Lord’s name in vain.” He takes the commandment as meaning, do not set forth the claim that God supports vain or petty things.

    Saying “Oh sweet Jesus” is not doing this.
    Saying “Jesus commands me to commit foolish or evil acts” is. Making the religion look foolish or evil is a violation of that commandment.

    And frankly, if someone insists that God commands them to have no sense of humor about their faith, that makes the religion sound unappealing, and could easily drive people away from it.

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