The Far Side of Religion

Religion and Senses of Humour - Stephen E. Gregg

Timothy Stanley
The University of Newcastle
View Website


Gary Larson's complete collection of published cartoons was reproduced in a 2003 two volume set modeled after early modern printed illuminated scriptures. It echoed other commemorations of the history of printed materials, such as the 2016 republication of Martin Luther's 1534 illuminated German Bible. While diverse in scope, religious themes persistently featured throughout Larson's cartoons poking fun at the absurdities of theodicy, sectarianism, polemics, and ecclesiastical authority. The proposed essay will provide a comprehensive evaluation of Larson's sense of humour in the mode of the history of the book advocated by Jonathan Z. Smith in his 2009 essay "Religion and the Bible." What emerges is a sophisticated account of Larson's engagement with religious ideas and iconography in a historical context of printed publication practices. The editorial context demonstrates Larson's awareness of the audiences he both entertained and offended. In sum, the collection can be understood as a precursor to the contemporary debate about the persistent and new visibilities of religion as well as the way humour can diffuse controversial topics in our increasingly divided societies.

Notify A Colleague


Stanley, Timothy. The Far Side of Religion. Religion and Senses of Humour. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Nov 2026. ISBN 9781000000000. Date accessed: 24 Jun 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.43235. Nov 2026

Dublin Core Metadata