Saturday, May 16, 2009

Laughter, Language and Culture shock

Last night I preached at the anniversary celebration of a church in Lima. The Pastor asked me to preach on the family. I opened with a funny story about a wedding in which the Pastor accidentally reads John 4:17-18, "You've had five husbands and the man you are currently with is not your husband." I got no laugh from the congregation. In fact, I got no response at all. I told them that it was a joke and that it failed miserably. Usually, people laugh at that. This crowd just stared at me. Then, I told them the joke, "Why did the chicken cross the road? ... To get to the other side." They burst into uproarious laughter.

You can know the language, but that's not the same thing as understanding the culture. The concept of what is funny is cultural. In Costa Rica, the people do not find fart jokes funny. When we go to the movies, the Peruvians laugh at things that Americans don't think is funny. One thing we have noticed is that they like slapstick humor--people falling down, etc. So, for my next sermon, I'm going to have to fall off the pulpit and get hit in the face with a pie. This falls under the category of doing whatever it takes to preach the Gospel.


Ruth Chowdhury said...

Oh my goodness, that cracks me up! You'll have to let us know how it goes when you fall down & get a pie in the face. That'll be really funny. :) Love you guys!

Sarah said...

Haha, I love it. So true.