Where “Snot Boy,” “Dogma” and the Dalai Lama meet

The platypus, a baboon’s behind, and The Housewives Tarot prove that the universe has a wild sense of humour

copper woman GUEST COLUMN: AMY LEASK — As an undergrad, I took an English seminar on women and nature, which included a number of traditional stories from Canada’s “First Nations” communities. Eyebrows went up when we were assigned a piece entitled “Snot Boy”, and as we read about the first man on Earth being created from mucus, we guiltily stifled our giggles.

It was an incredible relief when our professor pointed out that even the most sacred of stories could still be told with humour. Life, after all, could be incredibly strange and funny, and it wasn’t a sin to acknowledge that fact — even in sacred writings.

The lesson definitely stuck, and it’s coloured my view of mythology, folklore, and spirituality in general. Time and time again, the universe demonstrates that it has an incredible sense of humour. Take a look at the platypus, or a baboon’s behind, or even humans in the midst of puberty.

Recent studies have indicated that other animals (like dogs) are capable of their own form of laughter. Most of us have had days saturated with irony, after which we’ve uttered the words: “Someone up there is laughing at me.”

Existence seems to be a wacky pendulum, swinging between comedy and tragedy, and it seems only fitting that our views of the unknown, unseen, immaterial aspects of life should reflect this.

housewives tarot

Case in point: The Housewives Tarot. Yes, it features the same major and minor suits as other tarot decks, with similar strategies for interpretation. However, in lieu of lonely farmers in fields of wheat, or people falling from flaming towers, or young men hanging upside down from trees, this modern version features tongue-in-cheek images of fifties’ housewives.

Spiritual guidance is found in jell-o moulds, automatic washing machines, and kitschy, retro martini glasses. The humans that pose on the cards range from Howdy Doody to Betty Crocker to Ward Cleaver, revelling in their own goofiness as they provide insight into the reader’s fortune. It’s simple, it’s silly, and because it’s so incredibly human, it works.

Further examples can be found in Kevin Smith’s film Dogma, where God is played by a Canadian pop singer (Alanis Morissette). In Smith’s estimation, the almighty wears plaid flannel boxer shorts paired with a ballet tutu, likes doing handstands, and answers deep, metaphysical questions by tweaking people’s noses. The Metatron, unphased by all of this, simply comments “I told you she was funny.” Despite a healthy dose of potty jokes and expletives, the film is decidedly pro-faith.

When it comes down to distinguishing the sacred from the profane, there’s an incredible temptation to lump humour in with the latter, a dismissal which is really unfortunate. The old adage about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar holds weight here, as even serious matters like matters of the soul become accessible when served with a smile.

dogma

Moreover, religion and spirituality are incredible tools for human bonding, and if sociologists are to be believed, the laughs we share serve a similar function. Getting in touch with higher truths shouldn’t be seen as being diminished by a few chuckles along the way.

Perhaps we all need to take a lesson from the Dalai Lama, who is known for his commitment to peace, his openness and honesty, but also for his disarming habit of cracking jokes.

A few years ago, while delivering a speech on disarmament (in a sports stadium), he mused “We are living things, like trees and grass.” True to form, he paused, looked down at the Astroturf, smiled and remarked “I don’t know if this grass is true grass.” Praise be to those whose recognize that sometimes the way into the soul is through the funny bone.

amyAmy is a freelance writer and educator. Her most recent writing for Soul’s Code includes, A Book That Changed my Life: The Translator, and God is in the Details: Mysticism for the Cosmically Clueless.  If you like what you experienced here, you can find more Amy at http://amysanomalies1.blogspot.com/ and  http://www.amyleask.com

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One Response to “Where “Snot Boy,” “Dogma” and the Dalai Lama meet”

  1. Hi Amy, I love your sense of humor and spark! I read the link about Copper Woman and Snot Boy :) What a cool story! I love the underlying message that we should be comfortable with our bodily functions…and basically our “human-ness”. Quite a different message from the Native religions than from the mainstream ones! A healthy message that we can all learn from.