Three Religiously-Charged Jokes and a True Story That Functions Like a Joke

For a bit of flavoring, I tell these three religiously-charged jokes a tad differently from where I stumbled on them (see here). They’re pretty good, I think.

  1. How do fundamentalists drive agnostics from a neighborhood? They burn question marks on their lawns.
  2. Why should the theist pity the atheist? The atheist has no one to call out to at orgasm.
  3. A religious student challenges an atheist professor: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” The professor, sighing: “Even if there was nothing, you still wouldn’t be satisfied.”

The third joke works pretty well in a Buddhist variant: “A student challenges a Zen master . . .”

Which reminds me of a true Buddhist story (true insofar as traditional stories go) that functions as a kind of joke: a student comes to Bodhidharma (the bringer of Ch’an Buddhism to China) and says, “I find myself tumultuous inside. Please pacify my mind.” Bodhidharma replies theatrically, “Go find this mind and bring it before me that I may pacify it!” The student retreats to meditate and think on the master’s response, then returns a week later and makes the following declaration to Bodhidharma:

When I look for my mind, I cannot find it.

“There,” Bodhidharma says, “it is pacified.”


About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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