colbert, dolan, martin, faith and humor

by Fordham student Tim Luecke

I’m a huge fan of Stephen Colbert. My evenings usually end watching Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, and The Colbert Report. It took me awhile to understand Colbert’s humor. Was he a Democrat or a Republican? A liberal or a conservative? Of course, his brilliance is grounded in his ability to carefully formulate a fanatical conservative, Republican persona while revealing the absurdity of embracing these same values. And, he’s a Catholic. A very funny Catholic, who can find humor in his faith while remaining proudly faithful.

Recently I became a fan of James Martin, SJ. The reason for my admiration was his book Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of Spiritual Life. I have read other books since, and follow Martin on Twitter. As a contributing editor for America magazine, his tweets are timely, thoughtful and inspirational. He has that much needed balance between intelligence, humor and well grounded spirituality so needed these days.

While I have read much about the humor of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, I must admit that my feelings have been biased with his seeming need to be front and center on the political front in the US.

On Friday, Stephen Colbert and Cardinal Dolan were onstage together at Fordham University in front of a cheering crowd of 3,000. James Martin, SJ was the organizer and moderator for the evening. According to an article in the New York Times,

The evening was billed as an opportunity to hear two Catholic celebrities discuss how joy and humor infuse their spiritual lives. They both delivered, with surprises and zingers that began the moment the two walked onstage. Mr. Colbert went to shake Cardinal Dolan’s hand, but the cardinal took Mr. Colbert’s hand and kissed it — a disarming role reversal for a big prelate with a big job and a big ring.

Cardinal Dolan was introduced as a man who might one day be elected pope, to which he said, “If I am elected pope, which is probably the greatest gag all evening, I’ll be Stephen III.”

Sadly, I can’t find any videos online of the event. Apparently it wasn’t broadcasted or recorded to allow for more freedom of questions and responses. To bad. In these days of incredibly stupid, anti-religious videos inciting hatred and violence around the world, we need examples of faith that balance commitment with light hearted joy. We need a few chuckles.

I’ll be tuning in to The Colbert Report tonight. Hopefully Stephen will have some thoughts. 🙂