Monday, March 31, 2008

Saint Shecky's Day Eve

As we once again arrive on the eve of the holiest day of the Comedist calendar, it may be worth reminding ourselves of the nature of the new religion.

While teaching a course in the philosophy of religion at the Naval Academy years ago, I came upon two stunning revelations.

First, one of the standard Judeo-Christian arguments for the existence of God has a critical flaw. The argument tries to conclude that God must exist because He/She/Them/It is all-perfect, that is, God has every possible perfection to the greatest possible extent. While there is textual support for the claims of God being all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving, one virtue was completely absent from Divine Scripture. Their God was not all-funny. There are no good punchlines anywhere in the standard Scriptures, no zingers, one liners, classic come-backs, not even a knock-knock joke. Theirs could not be the all-perfect divinity they advertised.

Second, I realized that the key to advancement in the religion industry was "get in early." These days if you want to get anywhere in the spirituality field, you need to be Mother Theresa or Pat Robertson and who has the energy to serve the poor in India or build a tv network where you can call for the assassination of world leaders these days? But look at the ones who got in early. Abraham? Took a knife to his schmeckle at age 40 because he heard voices. "Where was God with the ram that day?" ask a whole lot of 8 day old Jewish boys. Yup, if you want to be upwardly mobile in today's faith-based market, you need to get in early.

So from these twin epiphanies I realized that I needed to start my own theological community. It was at that point that I reflected back upon a recent experience. I was teaching ethics at night for a local community college and was trying to draw the distinction between ethical precepts and social mores. A student raised his hand and asked, "Steve, what are mores?" I, of course, replied, "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a more."

Reflecting back, I came to realize that it could not have been a random humorous occurrence, set ups that perfect don't just happen. Think of all the possible combinations of words. To have those exact words, phrased as a question, with a captive audience,, that had to be the result of comic design. I was in the presence of the Divine Comedian.

Not long after, while working on my dissertation, I was out for a walk to clear my head. As I ambled along, a couple walked past me and looked at me with a strange, puzzled sort of expression. The guy said to me, "Didn't we just see you with a dog?" Taken aback, I said, "No. You must have me confused with someone else." As they walked away, I realized the correct answer was, "Excuse me. That was my wife." I had lost a Divine set up.

The realization of that loss put the spirit in me. I knew my job on Earth was to make the world a funnier place, to put the love of the Cosmic Comic in people's hearts.

And so, here on Saint Shecky's Day Eve, I ask you, brothers and sisters, to testify to the power of the Big Funny. What are the best set ups you've ever gotten and were you holy enough to come through with the punchline?