Brian Doyle, a practicing Catholic, can’t help smiling at the beliefs of other faiths – “did Joseph Smith really see galaxies in his hat?” – but he suggests a little irreverence can go a long way:
For all that religion has been a bloody enterprise through history, and for all that religious people seem often the most almighty easy people to offend, and for all that there are many people in my faith tradition who think I am an idiot to grin over the most colorful of our traditions, I think we should grin over the more colorful parts of our faith traditions. For one thing, they are often funny—imagine the wine steward’s mixed feelings at Cana after the miracle, for example—and for another, it seems to me that real honest genuine spirituality is marked most clearly by humility and humor. The Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Meher Baba, Flannery O’Connor, Sister Helen Prejean, Pope Francis—all liable to laughter, and not one of them huffy about his or her status and importance. Whereas all the famous slimy murderers of history—Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, bin Laden—what a humorless bunch, prim and grim and obsessed with being feared. Can you imagine any one of them laughing, except over some new form of murder? Think about it—could laughter be the truest sign of holiness?