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Introducing "The Sacred Sandwich"

It is not often that I promote a humor site, but this Christian humor site (Protestant) has been so consistently funny (and quite clean, if not absolutely squeaky), has given so many laughs to the point of tears in just one day, that I think readers will appreciate it. Introducing...

The Sacred Sandwich.

We have, for example:

PoMo the stuffed bear. (Note the resemblance of the man in the pic to Rob Bell.)

David suffering psalmist's block.

The deacon you must escape.

A new invention to help with Mormon missionaries.

What dogs think of the Bible.

The fate of meatloaf.

A very scary Halloween costume (at least to regular church-goers).

And much, much more.


P.S. Oh, and this one, relevant to the Dearborn case, of all things.

HT: Rich Gelina

Comments (18)

Hey, I like green bean casserole! Now, that Jello dessert with the fruit imbedded in it. Disgusting! And the things people do with canned tuna during Lent. Yuck!

My whole family and I love green bean casserole, too, but the poster is still exceedingly funny. :-) And I'll bet there are people who do feel that way.

Thanks for the hat tip, Lydia. I'm glad you enjoyed the site. I try to visit that site at least once a week to get in my quota of belly laughs.

I'm amazed that they can think of so many funny things so consistently, Rich. I browsed _fifteen pages_ of the site yesterday and found it funny all through, and clean, too. (One or two things that would be not perfectly child appropriate, but nothing actually bad that I saw.) Not necessarily every single one equally funny, but lots and lots that were definitely worth sharing. And the production value seems high, too. Someone there is very creative and is putting a lot of time in to keep up the standard, apparently over a period of years. It's definitely publishable material--should be syndicated, really.

What dogs think of the Bible.

The dog was reading the wrong version. Everyone knows that cats rule.

Well, speaking of cats and the Bible:

Why cats don't study theology:


"To err is human, to purr is feline." - Robert Byrne

"In order to keep a true perspective of one's importance, everyone should have a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him." - Dereke Bruce

I think I must be one of only three people in the world who actually study the theology of humor. I keep meaning to write a paper on the subject. I did an extended blog post under my civilian name at a Catholic blog a few years ago. Humor is related to the theological virtue of hope. Just as hope can have various objects as its end, some good, some bad, just so, humor can be both supportive or destructive. Just as one can hope for the defeat of an enemy, one can express the same sentiment through humor and then one has negative or destructive humor.

We do not yet have a strong taxonomy of humor. At a humor conference twenty of the best humor scholars in the world got together in a room and guess what - we couldn't even come up with a definition of humor that would satisfy everyone.

The really frightening trend in some humor research these days is to assert that apes, mice, and maybe dogs understand humor. Humor, related to hope, has transcendental dimensions in humans that no mere natural simulacrum of an animal can reproduce.

The Chicken

MC, I was waiting for you to comment on this post. I thought maybe you'd have some high-brow insights on the humor at the site. But you know what you sometimes remind me of? C.S. Lewis mentioned a story that went around about a German who had written a huge book on the subject of humor, and whenever anybody said anything funny, he would quietly say, "Yes, there is that joke."

Do you actually _laugh_ at any of this stuff? :-)

I don't understand your last paragraph. Are you saying that the apparent research notwithstanding, apes and mice do _not_ understand humor, or are you saying that only real animals do and not simulacra of animals (computer programs, perhaps?)?

Do you actually _laugh_ at any of this stuff? :-)

Sure, but each joke is a type of unfolding of two partially overlapping contexts from an initial unified context with back and forth motion between the two emergent contexts (some humor theorists call this script-switching). The degree of separation of the contexts define the strength of the humor. For me, the unfolding in the contexts is not distant enough to provoke much of a response (the two contexts are not very semantically distant). For others, with slightly different context attribute weightings, the separation of the context might be larger and the joke funnier.

I am giving two papers in July at Boston University on humor: one on the neurodynamics of script-switching in the brain and the other on something really interesting called the shadow set. The set-up of a joke consists of two co-existing subsets: the "light set,' which is the context that one is processing while listening to the joke (what we are attending to) and the "shadow set," which forms at the same time one is processing the joke, but all of the elements have been filtered out of conscious processing so one are not aware of them.

The punchline causes the light and shadow sets to emerge as separate entities, but there is overlap between them, such that the punchline cannot be separated from either ( the punchline exists in both sets), so semantic processing has no choice but to alternate between the two contexts.

Contexts can be represented by object and attribute tables leading to a type of representation called a context lattice. At the point of humor, the concept lattice fractures into two sublattices: the light lattice and the shadow lattice. Originally, they co-exist in the same lattice, but as chain/antichain pairs (incompatible contexts), but the punchline creates a top element in the lattice that causes the formation of the light lattice and the shadow lattice as two sublattices that are only partially incompatible, being unified by the top element.

Sorry. I've been working on this most of the day after turning in my grades. You would probably love it because it involves prior probability measures on the matching of an object to its attribute. I gave a paper on a quasi-Bayesian analysis a few years ago. At the punchline, some of the probabilities are re-assessed and this allows the previously low probabilities of the shadow set to get large enough to be recognized as a context.

Ahem...what were you saying? Oh, yes, I have a lively sense of humor... :)

As for the ape, mouse, stuff...some people who study laughter are trying to make the point that apes and mice process humor and so are much closer to being human than previously thought. This is too close to Peter Singer territory for me.

The Chicken

I dunno. I'm probably misusing the terms, but I think the context of the lady and gentleman in Victorian garb feeding the swan is pretty distant from the context of awful meatloaf from the church potluck. That's what makes that one so hilarious for me. And obviously the swan is just supposed to have a long, graceful neck in the picture, but the man says, "I think you killed it" (presumably by feeding it the awful meatloaf), and when you look again, you can kind of see the swan as falling over dying rather than just reaching out gracefully. I laughed till I cried on that one.

Or today's that just went up. Context of sweet-looking 50's style photo of little girl scouts and a lady on her front porch, and the caption reads:

The girls of Linville Baptist were able to raise a record amount of funds for their trip to Bible Camp by smiling, asking politely, and letting Mrs. Faber know that they would "hate to see something bad happen to her favorite garden gnome."


Definitely a context clash.

Definitely a context clash.

The sociologist, Christie Davies, is a humor colleague and he often gives keynote addresses at humor conferences about ethnic humor. Talk about culture clash.

I once came up with a taxonomy of humor, but so have others and there is no generally accepted one, yet. Once one starts classifying humor, however, one begins to see the similarity between certain classes of jokes.

Interesting thing: this is obviously good girls vs. naughty girls contexts, but if one substitutes,"the nuns of St. Something-or-other," for the girls of Linville Baptist, and build their convent for going to bible camp, although the concept of the joke is still the same, it isn't nearly as funny. One has to believe that the girls really could take or destroy the gnome in order for the joke to work, but it is not so much the case with the nuns. The probability of it actually happening (the girls's threat being carried out) is high enough to trigger the context separations because initially it is very low, but after the threat it is much higher. We don't know how to assign the prior probabilities, yet, to nuns stealing/destroying vs. girls stealing/destroying . It is an open question in linguistics.

The Chicken

I really, really want to be a fly on the wall at this conference of humor scholars. I imagine there's lots of pressure to be funny when in the company of "humor colleagues", but maybe not ...

I imagine there's lots of pressure to be funny when in the company of "humor colleagues", but maybe not ...

I bet not. I bet they all have to be really serious about it.

Now that would be funny, a sea of glum faces at a humor conference. Then again, it's funny no matter what happens!

I imagine there's lots of pressure to be funny when in the company of "humor colleagues", but maybe not ...

Not during the presentations - we are all business. We do have a joke competition, however, on one of the nights of the conference. Ringers usually show up (professionals), so we academics rarely have a chance. Here is a link to some past conferences.

Humor can be VERY serious. Ignore the Patch Adams nonsense and Norman Cousins (The Anatomy of an Illness) recanted his proposition that laughter cured in a sequel, which few have read, to his first book. One of the possible signs that Terri Shiavo was not in a vegetative state was that she, apparently, had laughter that tracked with events. Unfortunately, she had those brainstem implants, which can cause gelastic seizures (random outbursts of non-mirthful laughter), which is why the neurologist probably dismissed her laughter, but such laughter would be random and there is ample video evidence that Shiavo's laughter was tracking and triggered by events in the room. There is a description by Fr. Pavone of just such an event. In fact, I know a neurosurgeon who was a co-author of the neuroanatomy review article on humor for Nature Neuroscience who used just such laughter to prove that a man, whom everyone thought was in a vegetative state, was really "there." He got the man treatment and he recovered. If I ever get up the gumption, I should lobby for this to be a diagnostic criteria for vegetative states.

There are courses in therapeutic humor in some medicals schools and nurses have written book on the same thing. Of course, they use our research, but we keep telling them that the science just isn't there, yet. Some of the health profession claim that laughter stimulates the immune system, but the man who did the research (I have talked to him) had only five people in his study. Hardly statistically significant.

Humor can be VERY serious.

It can be, but why would you want to?

The taxonomic system, based on a quick wiki search, that seems to best fit the bill is the benign violation theory. It covers overtly physical things like tickling and play fighting, to different levels of taunts and teasing, to various distortions and miscues of expectations (semantic, social, moral). It also explains the frequent occurrence of jokes that cross over into causing direct or indirect offense.

Also, a great musical comedy clip:

Thank you for this, Lydia. My kids are up really late tonight and they are checking out all the sites I visit. We checked out the links you provided and we all had a great laugh. Fantastic stuff, and very clean. Love it!

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