In song, of course.
Minutes after I posted my review of Joe’s book, I saw this video pop up on Twitter. I love it. Too cute.
The title says it all. This book is a tiny book of tiny stories—a book that can be read in a matter of minutes. Despite its size, however, this book packs a punch. Written through the collaboration of 60 contributors, culled from a contributor pool of 8,569, the stories and artwork in the book are meant to impress you and leave you wanting more. Some of them are quite simply hilarious. Others get you thinking beyond the words on the page. And others make you ask “what was that about?” All in a good way, all in good artistic fun.
The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1 is the first book in a new three-book series from actor Joseph Gordon Levitt’s (INCEPTION, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES) open collaborative production company hitRECord. According to the press release, the pocket-sized book is the product of a collaboration that began in the spring of 2010 when artists and writers submitted their writings and illustrations and were encouraged to edit and remix others’ contributions for the book. Think of the open source software movement and apply it to the arts and you’ve got the picture.
This is a great little book and, had I known about it sooner, it would have made a great stocking stuffer for many of my book-loving friends. It is a unique and wonderful effort from hitRECord and one that I’m looking forward to seeing more of. Volume 2 should be released in the next year or so.
Note: I received this book from IT Books in exchange for my honest opinion.
Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life by James Martin, S.J. (HarperOne, 272 pages, 2011)
How many times have you walked into a church and seen a smiling saint? How many times have you heard that Jesus used a little humor to get his point across? I bet the answer to those questions is “rarely” or maybe even “never.” I’ve long said that I think God has a sense of humor. The response from those around me is usually: “how could you say that?” or “Isn’t that a sin?” or, my favorite, “doesn’t that make you a bad Christian?” I think not. After all, doesn’t Philippians 4:4 remind us to “Rejoice in the Lord always?”
Between Heaven and Mirth, the fantastic new book by James Martin, S.J., reminds us that just as joy is a part of our everyday life it should also become a part of our spiritual life. Through page after page of jokes and anecdotes, Fr. Martin shows us how joy, humor, and laughter are some of God’s greatest gifts. Even after 13 years of hanging out with Jesuits, the included Jesuit jokes never do get old. But, Fr. Martin’s book is not just about jokes.
In Between Heaven and Mirth, offers stories of real saints who had a terrific sense of humor. I couldn’t help but laugh at the self-deprecating humor of Pope John XXIII or Saint Teresa of Avila’s brand of humor. Most importantly, Martin reminds us that Jesus was not the always serious boring fellow that some folks make him out to be. Jesus lived in joy and brought joy to the people he encountered. He was even a funny guy—using the humor of the day in his parables and responses. Much of Jesus’ subtle humor is lost on us in the 21st century, but 1st century followers of Jesus would have understood the humor and probably had a good laugh. Martin makes sure we understand the humor now and, I can assure you, knowing what it meant then sure makes it funny now (it puts the parable of the talents in a whole new light).
My favorite chapter of the book is Chapter 4: Happiness attracts. Martin quotes Isaiah 52:4, “The LORD delights in you”, to remind us that God not only loves us, but He delights in us too. God likes us. That means something. It means that God doesn’t only love us because He’s our creator and father; it also means that God wants to be with us and takes pleasure in us. Martin tells us that parents delight in their children and that the delight can turn into playfulness. So, too, can God be playful in order to show us how much he likes us and, more often than not, to help us not take ourselves so seriously. In those random funny moments in life, it is God who is right there.
Perhaps, the clearest personal example of this that I have is something that happened ten years ago while I was a freshman in college. It was the Spring semester after a very difficult Fall semester where my family experienced a tragic loss. I was working harder than ever academically and had started to live in a bubble that went from school to work to dorm to homework and back again. I wasn’t hanging out with my friends, watching television, or doing anything where I could truly say I was enjoying myself. On this particular Spring day, I was supposed to have my Biology final exam. It was a class that I was struggling in and that I studied the most for, but nothing seemed to help me regain the grade I had in the Fall. I remember that day clearly. I woke up at 11:30 am and realized that I was going to be late for my exam at 11:45 am. I quickly dressed up, chugged some orange juice and took a cookie on my way out. I was living clear across the campus and, only 3 months after a knee surgery, I found myself eating and running and panicking all the way to the building where the exam was going to take place. In my rush, I passed the Mission Church, uttered a super quick prayer, and ran up the stairs to the second floor. I opened the door of the classroom and not a single face looked familiar. I closed the door and looked at the exam schedule posted outside and saw that BIOLOGY 1 was scheduled for 1:45 pm not 11:45 am. I was upset with myself as I walked down the stairs and made my way out of the building. I started to make my way back to my dorm building and as I passed the Mission Church again, the bells rang for the Noontime mass. I laughed loud and I laughed hard. I’m pretty sure everyone that passed me thought I was crazy. An inexplicable joy rushed over me that day and I took pleasure in the bells of the Church. I know it was God’s sense of humor at work—the nudge I needed to start enjoying life and friendship a little more and, no doubt, the nudge I needed to remember that I wasn’t alone through anything.
Fr. Martin’s book is an excellent companion for our spiritual journey. Our lives can be filled with humor and still be spiritual and God can show us His love and friendship in life’s funny moments. This book can be laugh-out-loud funny at times, but can lead one to greater reflection too. It’s a keeper!
mental_floss: The Book – The Greatest Lists in the History of Listory Edited by Ethan Trix, Will Pearson, and Mangesh Hattikudur (HarperCollins Publishers, 320 pages, 2011)
Did you know that the term “tween” was coined by J.R.R. Tolkien or that Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 was originally called Catch-11? Why are Bellinis called Bellinis? What was the original purpose of Play-Doh?
True to the magazine’s quirky and engaging style, the folks at mental_floss have released a compilation of some of their best lists from the past ten years. You can find the answers to the questions above and to so many more in mental_floss: The Book – The Greatest Lists in the History of Listory. The best thing about this book is that you’ll feel a little bit smarter after each list. Not only do the writers make the lists interesting, but they also dig deep to find facts that will make you laugh and surprise you time and time again.
This book will not disappoint as there is a list for every major interest. Even the most casual readers will find some nuggets of wisdom in this fun compilation. Trust me, this book will give you a legs up the next time you’re playing trivia at a party. If you’re a nerd (a term coined by Dr. Seuss! Check out page 192), like me, you’ll also love the random tidbits of information at the bottom of each page. For example, do you know what a grawlix is? Sure you do…you just didn’t know what to call it! It’s the string of typographical symbols used in comic strips to indicate profanity (also on page 192). See? Now, isn’t that a nice random bit of information to bring up at your next intellectual gathering? I think so!
mental_floss: The Book – The Greatest Lists in the History of Listory is a great book to have in your home. It doesn’t require you to sit down and read it from front to back like a novel. Instead, you can flip through the pages and pick a random list or look one up and feed your brain. I recommend you do!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from HarperCollins in exchange for my honest opinion.
Wow, it’s been quite a while since I wrote up my weekly random thoughts. It’s not that I’ve been without any random thoughts…my schedule has just been packed and crazy! So, without further ado, here goes:
(1) I’ve been silent about Weinergate, but I’m not without my opinion. In short, don’t tweet pictures of your body parts. Stay on the safe side.
(3) There’s a new satirical Catholic blog and it is fantastic. It’s called the Catholic Onion. Give them a looksie even if you’re not Catholic! So far, the content is hilarious. If it doesn’t make you laugh or smile then…yeah…I don’t know what to tell you.
(4) In other Catholic news, Fr. John Corapi (now former “Fr. Corapi”) announced he’s leaving the priesthood. I’d link to the announcement, but it’s creepy. Frankly, I’ve never been fond of Fr. Corapi. I know that he brought many to the Church, but I’ve always found him to be self-aggrandizing and arrogant. He became somewhat of a cult personality and never seemed, to me, to try and stop it and only fostered it with more books and more media. Yes, he may have done loads of good for lots of people. I won’t undervalue how he helped so many, but his recent announcement only displayed his arrogance in a grander light. It’s quite sad really. Prayers for all involved. I think Jimmy Akin has contributed a fine opinion blog entry on this. As a public relations professional, I believe this could have been handled differently. On the question of his guilt or innocence, I’ll remain neutral.
(5) New country records are coming out in the next few months: Dolly Parton and Kristen Chenoweth. I wish you could see the smile on my face. =) Check out Kristen’s new single “I Want Somebody (Bitch About)” on YouTube. I love Dolly and Kristen!
(6) In the world of Catholic music: Matt Maher’s new album is set to drop in September. Also, check back during the week for a review of Chris Bray’s new album: Let Hope Arise. A Michael James Mette review is forthcoming. Got more news for me? Let me know!
(7) The new Harry Potter trailer is up and it gave me chills. Excited to see the movie, sad to see it end. Here’s the trailer:
(8) Not gonna lie, I’m excited about the new Muppets movie due out on Thanksgiving Day!
(9) Congrats to Ryan Vogelsong for finding a home with the San Francisco Giants and making us proud!
(10) I’m socially liberal. What that means to me, might not mean the same thing to you. What socially conservative means to you, might not mean the same thing to me. Get to know me and I will get to know you.
(12) My best friend was married on June 10th! You might not care, but I do. It was like watching my sister walking down the aisle. Wait, I’m an only child…it WAS my sister walking down the aisle. I couldn’t have been prouder or happier. She married a nice dude too. Me like. Much love to LC & EC! I officiated as a county deputy wedding commissioner (for those concerned: it is allowed by the Church as long as one is not ordained…I checked). I’d post a pic, but I’d face the consequences later. Instead, here’s a pic of the gorgeous wedding location:
A reflection is forthcoming!
Joking with the Dalai Lama:
If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook then you’ve already seen me share these, but there’s no harm in sharing them again! As you know, I’m a big fan of the BBC/PBS series Downton Abbey. Season 1 was absolutely fantastic and I’m eager for season 2 to get underway. In the meantime, some funny folks over at BBC Comic Relief have created some delightfully funny spoofs. Check them out below.
Yesterday I posted a very nice take on the Nativity in the digital age. Here’s another great take on the Nativity 2.0. This one is brought to you by the folks over at Igniter Media:
Seriously, you need to watch the YouTube video below. What would a 21st century Nativity story look like? Well, everyone would certainly be a little more connected…
How social media, web and mobile tell the story of the Nativity:
Who knew a star (not the Hollywood kind) could have a Twitter account?!