I have been asked to comment on a perceived lack of humor on Christian blogs compared to Atheist blogs. Here’s the gist of it (paraphrased from The Exterminator):
There’s a tendency… to take ourselves [atheists] too seriously, but a little humor goes a long way. It’s rare to see a comment thread in the Atheosphere that doesn’t contain at least a few wisecracks… I’m talking about casual banter, puns and wordplay, self-denigrating humor, mock insults flying back and forth, political and social satire, and even funny anecdotes. Yet, the Christians who visit our blogs are rarely comical.
Are the kinds of theists who are attracted to blogging usually humorless?
If you read No More Hornets, you’ll find his assessment is pretty accurate. The theists who generally post on his blog are about as sharp as a primitive bludgeon. Not exactly our shimmering, crown jewels of intelligence and wit. I haven’t read every single comment on every post, but I also suspect that many of them are also fundamentalists looking to cash a convert or two. This is based on the ideas expressed both in their comments and on their personal bogs.
Now, before I take a stab at whether or not Christian bloggers are actually humorless, let’s first examine the supposed mindset of Christian bloggers and the atheists’ definition of humor. Since Ex generalized, I will also generalize while acknowledging individual exceptions exist. I’ll present my assertions from what I assume is their perspective, (i.e. this may not represent my perspective on life and faith).
The Christians that comment on his blog are looking to “prove” to the atheists that their beliefs are nonsensical. They’re not interested in listening to the atheists. They’re just looking to get into an argument and win to get some magical tally on Jesus’ Blackboard of Holy-Scores.
Reason 1: Arguments aren’t very funny.
Now, it would seem that some humor would lighten up a conversation and increase the atheists’ chances of listening (and increase their chances of getting converted). On the surface one would think that humor would help their cause. But take a look the kind of humor Ex lists as atheopreciated (appreciated by atheists). Much (not all) of it either belittles oneself or others. I would love to say that the Christians don’t participate in such humor because of Jesus’ mandate to love their neighbor. However, my guess is that the real reason Christians don’t participate in such humor is because belittling people in a humorous way doesn’t help win souls (although, apparently belittling them for their moral, political and (un-)religious views without the use of humor is ok). They’re obligated more out of a sense of guilt.
Reason 2: Making fun of people is a sin, and sinning isn’t funny.
While this would explain why comments aren’t funny, it still doesn’t account for his assertion that their own blogs aren’t funny either. Ex speaks a lot of poking fun and lively banner. While poking fun is a sin, why doesn’t the playful banter happen? I frequent many Christian blogs, and a few atheist ones. For reasons that I don’t understand, the community of bloggers seems to be closer on atheist blogs. Perhaps it’s a function of a Christianity-saturated culture. Christian blogs so inundate the marketplace, that it’s difficult to cultivate a core of followers and develop personal relationships. Whereas atheist blogs are fewer and farther between, therefore once they find each other, it’s easier to get to know each other personally. They also probably feel embattled and the constant communal defense cultivates closer interpersonal ties. Whatever the reason, the atheists seem to know each other way better than the Christians. Perhaps that familiarity makes it easier to poke fun and joke with each other.
Reason 3: The Christian community doesn’t know how to joke with each other.
With generalizations, there are always exceptions which need to be acknowledged. Ex was courteous enough to say that I didn’t display the same level of dim-whittedness as some who traffic his site. To further show that there are exceptions to generalizations (funny Christians), I would check out Scotteriology. Not every post is funny, but there’s some pretty funny stuff posted and in the comments. The Worst Preacher Ever tournament is my personal favorite.
I’ll concede that there seems to be less of Ex’s type of humor on Christian blogs. I’ll also admit that I was hesitant to join in with the humor that his blog readers seem to appreciate. I’m not much of one for humor that belittles others, even if done in jest. Counter-intuitively, I yielded to Ex’s prodding and joined the melee. Whereas I normally find that denigrating humor erodes good communication, the opposite seems to be true on atheist blogs.