I’ve made the pilgrimage to Portland twice and walked her streets and seen her sights. It’s a beautiful city with unique culture and architecture all its own. After spending six entire days of mingling with Portlanders, studying their ways, and watching half of Season One of Portlandia on Netflix, I feel uniquely qualified to make the following generalizations about all Portlanders.
- Have an intimate knowledge of beer and micro-brewing. Half of all Portlanders own a micro-brewery.
- Have a second job as a barista and can explain just why Stumptown Coffee is superior to Starbuck in every way.
- Can walk into a Salvation Army thrift shop and leave with a look suitable for television.
- Possess a perfectly timed ironic sense of humor that they use without making the slightest bit of effort.
It was this last trait that had me rattled after agreeing to appear on the Home Brewed Christianity Culture Podcast. I am not particularly funny by nature. I’m a haggard middle-aged dad who stopped having the energy to be witty somewhere the 72nd pinewood derby. The hosts of the podcast, however, are darned funny. Jordan Green is a proud Portlander by birth which makes him naturally funny. The Burnside Writers Collective, a website he oversaw, was never funnier than it was under his reign. He collected a stable of humorists that went on to get signed by the big publishing houses. Christin Piatt, not a native Portlander, informed me in no uncertain terms that it’s an objective fact that he’s “damned hilarious.” This proved true by the end of the podcast.
So I had no chance to keep up with the banter and played straight-man to the duo for about a half hour. We riffed on the Relevant article I wrote on Evangelicalism’s struggle to produce humorists and some of the reactions I received to the article.
Something that surprised me about the conversation was that by the end of it we built a short list of the spiritual benefits of humor. I’m not going to spill the beans on the content of the podcast, other than to say point out that Jordan talked about how, back in the days of European feudalism, it was the role of the court jester to tell truth in a way that snuck past the king’s defenses. The court jester was a prophet. This of course is alien to those of us who grew up reading the fiery oracles of Isaiah and the rest of the crew.
Of course, Jonah would have gotten his fanny handed to him if he walked into Ninevah wearing tights and a “cap ‘n bells” on his head.
I’ll let you know when the podcast airs.