WASHINGTON -- Three priests -- a Dominican, a Franciscan and a Jesuit -- walk into a bar.
According to the Rev. James Martin, it's not only the opening to a good joke, but quite possibly the saving grace of religion.
Martin's new book, "Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life," says religious people would be a lot happier -- and holier -- if they lightened up and took themselves a little less seriously.
"Joy, as a number of spiritual writers have said, is the surest sign of the Holy Spirit," the Jesuit priest said at a recent gig at Georgetown University.
But, he continued, "there are certain Roman Catholics who seem to think that being religious means being deadly serious all the time."
Martin, culture editor of the Jesuit magazine America and the unofficial chaplain to Comedy Central's "Colbert Report," is, well, wickedly funny.