Saturday, August 9, 2014

Story of the day- What’s so funny?

     I was in the local coffee shop talking to some of the regulars not the brightest bulbs on the shelf or the sharpest knives in the drawer, but I thought they could handle my favorite joke so I said, “Hey what did the Buddhist monk say to the hot dog vendor?”

     They looked at me quizzically and bit, “What,” the three of them said in unison.

     “Make me one with everything, “ I said with a big laugh and they just stared at me. They didn't  get it.

     What?” one of them said.

     “Make me one with everything,” I said again tentatively hoping for a response because it was awkward.

     Trying to salvage the situation, I said, “And the monk gave the vendor $5.00 for a $2.00 hot dog and after a minute the monk said, ‘Excuse me, where’s my change?’ And the vendor said, ‘You, oh monk , should know more than anyone that change comes from within.” Again all I could hear was myself laughing.

     I thought to myself, Stage 1,2,or 3 according to Fowler’s model of faith development, surely, not a stage 4, 5, or 6. Stage 4s and 5s think this joke is hysterical, but below stage 3 they just don’t get it.

     Note to self: Be careful to ascertain level of faith development of audience before telling this joke in the future.


  1. That has happened to me a lot when I have tried to talk with people about spiritual things or anything abstract. It probably has to do with Piaget's idea of cognitive development and as you have pointed out Fowler's model of faith development. You can't talk to born agains or fundamentalists about interreligious or mystical ideas, they just don't get it. They think and understand at a more concrete level. It doesn't seem to be a matter of informing people or educating them, it seems to be more a matter of consciousness, maturity, functioning. If a person is not at a higher level of consciousness and awareness you can't force them. You could explain the joke over and over again and someone of a lower level of awareness and consciousness still wouldn't get it.

    Thanks for the story. I is very insightful. It probably indicates another reason why UUs can't prosthelytize. Faith development isn't just a matter of information, but a manner of being. It has to do with growth and development. It is an organic not a mechanical process.

    1. It makes you wonder whether the UUA and congregational leaders know who their audience is? If people have to be at stage 4, 5, or 6 to be attracted to and engage in a UU congregation what are the unique needs of people at this stage of faith development and how can they most effectively and efficiently addressed? I also wonder with the stage of faith development is different for cradle UUs as compared to converts?


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