Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Exploring Our Values Through Poetry: A Program for High School Youth

Activity 3: UU Humor

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • UU jokes, at least as many as the number of participants you expect to attend
  • A bowl or other container

Preparation for Activity

  • Write UU jokes on slips of paper or print them off the Internet and cut them into slips. Select jokes that do not speak of other religions in a derogatory manner. Here are some UU web pages that feature jokes: Laughing at Ourselves: UU Jokes (a sermon by Rev. Cynthia A. Snavely); Unitarian Humour from the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto; and UU Humour.
  • Put the slips in a bowl or other container.

Description of Activity

Participants share UU humor and reflect upon the place of humor in religion.

Gather participants in a circle. Say,

Sometimes we all need time to defuse, to let go of the stress and seriousness of life and just be silly. Laughter is food for the soul, so it is feeding time!

Pass around the container holding the UU jokes and have each youth take one. After the container goes around the circle once, ask participants to read aloud the joke they selected, one at a time. When all participants have read their joke, or when you have just a few minutes before the end of the activity, ask the following questions:

  • Do you know other UU jokes?
  • Would you say these jokes play on stereotypes? Is there any truth to the stereotypes?
  • Does humor have a place in worship services or other aspects of religious life? Why? What is spiritual about humor?

Share this joke with the group:

Conversation overheard: Person A (Mainstream Protestant Denomination): I hear that you allow all sorts of weirdos in your church. Atheists, Buddhists, Pagans...

Person B (Unitarian Universalist): We allow Christians too-we're very open-minded!

Ask:

  • How is this joke different from the ones you shared earlier?
  • Why do you think some UUs object to jokes like this?
  • Is this just about differences in what people find funny or is there a deeper issue here?
  • Does this joke put down Christians?
  • When UUs tell a joke about UUs, is that different from hearing a non-UU tell a joke about UUs?
  • In the previous question, replace the words "UUs" and "non-UU" with "homosexuals" and "heterosexual"; is the answer to the question the same?
  • Can our UU Principles relate to the use of humor?