From Faith to Fun: The Secularisation of Humour

By Russell Heddendorf

An study of how secular humour challenges traditional religious thinking and how the Western culture of ‘fun’ debases the transcendent qualities of humour.

ISBN: 9780718891862


Abraham and Sarah were presented with a paradox when God told them they would have a son in their old age. Paradox in the Old Testament plays an important part in the dialogue between God and the Jews.

In the New Testament, paradox is prominent in Jesus’ teaching and helps to explain the Christian understanding of salvation.

Today paradox arises when religious meaning of traditional culture conflicts with secular meaning of modern culture. Heddendorf argues that a subversive quality in humour gradually replaces traditional values with new cultural meanings. The resulting humour becomes a substitute for faith.

As this secular humour becomes functional for society, it finds its way into many areas of the culture. This process of secularization in humour moves from faith to fun and, finally, to fun as faith. The result of this secularization could be
called a ‘fun culture’. Redemption of this culture, Heddendorf asserts, should be a continuing concern of the church.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 214

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Russell Heddendorf is on the faculty of the Oxford Graduate School in Dayton, Tennessee, and is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. He has founded the Association of Christians Teaching Sociology, and he has also served as president of the American Scientific Affiliation. Heddendorf has published a variety of materials describing the interface of sociology and Christianity.



1. Enter Isaac!
2. The Power of Paradox
3. The Technique of Humor
4. And God Laughed
5. Jewish Joy
6. The Therapeutic Trend
7. The Fun Factor
8. Secular Fun
9. Sacred Fun
10. From Fun to Faith
11. Conclusion



Endorsements and Reviews

In this fascinating study, Russell Heddendorf probes the deeper meaning of our post-Christian culture’s obsession with ‘fun’. He argues that as we trivialize our amusements, we lose touch with the profoundest vocation of humor: its ability to loosen the grip of the immanent, and to point us toward a transcendent reality.
Wilfred M. McClay, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Whatever one may think about the current direction of religion and culture, this book offers a rich, thoughtful, and rewarding investigation.
Robert Wuthnow, author of America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity