So this lawyer walks into a church...
December 3rd, 2010
05:21 PM ET

So this lawyer walks into a church...

It took a two-year journey around the world for Susan Sparks to identify her life's mission - finding the funny in religion.

Fifteen years ago, pastor Susan Sparks didn't even go to church. She was an attorney for Citibank, drafting contracts and defending litigation claims. After hours, she exercised her natural talent for making people laugh, performing stand-up in small comedy clubs around Manhattan.

But when she went to bed at night, Sparks felt an absence of purpose: "My parents taught me to leave things better than I found them," she remembers. "I used to lie there and think, What did I leave better today?" So she quit her job, packed a bag, and set off to find her true calling.

"I was raised in a very conservative - and alienating - Baptist tradition down South, and that was all I knew," Sparks says. "I wanted to sink into new religions."

Read the full post here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Marbruk


    December 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
    • Marbrukin


      December 8, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  2. Marbruk


    December 8, 2010 at 12:38 pm |
    • Marbruk


      December 8, 2010 at 12:38 pm |
    • Marbruk

      taskmaster awaits

      December 8, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
    • Boss Guy

      What the hell do you think you are doing?

      December 8, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
  3. Jennifer Sims

    I just ordered a copy of Susan Sparks' book from SkyLight Paths Publishing. I can't wait to read it!

    December 7, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
  4. JohnQuest

    GGinBham, You know what I find odd, most non believers know more about religious beliefs than believers, they tend to know more about religious text, dogma and practices. Is it possible that knowledge is the reason why they are non believers? Most non believers I know are not bitter or angry, quite the opposite in fact, we spend very little time contemplating religion, our lives are filled with working, feeding our families, going to school and the like, we don't have time to think about non existent, fantastical, otherworldly ghostly things.

    December 6, 2010 at 9:37 am |
  5. GGinBham

    I feel sorry for atheists. They usually seem so bitter. I'm guessing that most of them have had negative experiences with haters who profess to be Christians. Here's hoping they see the light.. if not before they die, then afterward.

    December 5, 2010 at 9:25 pm |
    • Frogist

      @GGinBham: I believe what you have stated is a myth. Believers often think that non-believers are bitter because they speak of how empty religion can be. But that position is not a bitter or sad one, but a liberating one. The position of a non-believer is one of joy of not being beholden to dangerous myths that don't match morality or hamper friendship and experience. Maybe you only think we are bitter because it is safer and easier for you to believe that. It justifies the believer's fear of stepping away from the anxieties and anger of religious restraint to one of enlightenment and calm that most non-believers have in their hearts. It justifies the believer's insistence that they are right and we are wrong. I hope you see the light too. It is bright and clear which means you can see with your own eyes, as much as it is warm and comforting to know you don't have to blindly follow as well.

      December 6, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  6. David Johnson


    You said: "And those of us who know the Lord, and have seen and witnessed His work in our lives, we are not bothered by the empty chatter of naysayers like yourself."

    If you had faith in a can of green beans, you could find effects on your life.

    Faith begets delusion.

    Throughout history, there have been hundreds if not thousands of gods. These gods were loved and feared and prayed to. The believers animated these gods by their faith. When the believers stopped believing, the ancient gods died from neglect.

    If belief was withdrawn from the present day gods, they to would fall silent.

    Odin or Ra or Isis would spring to life, if people once again believed in them. They would start to effect people lives.

    If you were born in Iran to Muslim parents, you would be a follower of Islam. What religion you embrace, is largely a matter of what your parents believe and where you were born(raised).

    Children are not born Christian or Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu or a follower of Judaism. They are born atheist. God doesn't implant a Christian chip into babies. There have been tribes in the Rain Forests that worship trees. They had no idea who the baby Jesus was. Parents put the silly into their children. God doesn't witness to anyone.

    You said: "GOd said HE'll make fools those who are wise in their own eyes, but to hose humble of heart, hHe will give wisdom."

    Do you think it wise to believe in talking snakes and burning bushes? People changed to pillars of salt, or who lived hundreds of years? Men living in the stomaches of fish for days and then being spit out unharmed? Trees that bear fruit of knowledge and eternal life? Global floods that required 2 of every animal be gathered? Towers that god was afraid would reach all the way to heaven? Flat earth? Zombie messiahs...etc., etc, etc.

    Is that the wisdom you are talking about? LOL!

    You said: "God works on one to one basis. He said, YOU SAHLL SEEK ME AND FIND ME WHEN YOU SHALL SEEK FOR ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART"."

    So, if a person seeks god and doesn't find Him, then that means they haven't sought Him with all their hearts?

    It could not be that they did not find Him, because He does not exist?

    Yep, god has really made me feel foolish...


    December 5, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
    • Hope

      Go ahead and rant, if it makes you feel better! ....I'll hate to see your end!
      I think you're not worth wasting my time!!

      December 5, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Yes, -David is an unrepentent sinner. Yes, his 'soul' is apparently no worth saving. Your comment: "I'll hate to see your end."

      Me too. It will horrible to watch him suffer, but you can tell him while he is being scolded by 'warrior christ' at the end times..."Hey, David.. I told ya' so, but you didn't listen.

      O.K... I guess it is time to move on to more worthy potential converts...yes...?

      Go.. and save the souls -Hope...! 😯

      December 7, 2010 at 3:13 am |
    • Hope

      "peace 2all",
      keep your washed out sarcasm to yourself. Looks to me YOU yourself have a distorted perception of who God is, and of His character. Does it feel good to be part of the mockers, and yet imagine yourself to be the follower of Christ? READ REV. 3 what He says to Laodiceans, they did the same thing..... If you are willing to hear, the message to them will make you see where you are. Don't take it lightly, friend... the whole problem of today's washed out "Christianity" is in that that it has lost the fear of God, and made up one in their own image! Examine where you stand, if indeed you care at all!
      Then you may find real PEACE!

      December 7, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
    • Yeah


      All images of "God" are made up.

      December 7, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Ugh... thanks -Hope, I will keep your...ugh... advice in mind.


      December 8, 2010 at 3:49 am |
  7. Hope

    Oh, brother! What else will the washed out American Christianity come up with? The salt that has lost its flavor... making up God of their own imaginations! There will be many surprises for those who are at ease, and thinking nothing of dragging the Name of Jesus Christ down to their own level, where they wallow mingled with the ungodly world, numbing their consciences to the point where they have lost all discernment..... It is happening just as it is written in the Word, about the great falling away before the comming of the Lord... They will still cling to the name of Jesus, but will reject the Spirit of truth...And this is what we are witnessing before our own eyes!

    December 5, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Every generation, for the last 2000 years, believed that they "saw the signs" of Jesus's return.

      Google "Millerite" if you want if you want a real hoot.

      If you truly believe Jesus is on a red eye, headed for earth, then you should get a sandwich sign. Stand in the village square and proclaim: "It is the end of the world!" or maybe: "Jesus is almost here!"

      The return of Jesus is no more likely than Santa's bringing toys on Christmas.

      Stop being silly!


      December 5, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
    • Hope

      Well, we'll see, friend , time will tell all things. You have lack of understanding, your posts show that. There can be myriads of opinions but there is only one truth. And those of us who know the Lord, and have seen and witnessed His work in our lives, we are not bothered by the empty chatter of naysayers like yourself. So, think what you want, believe your own fairytale, but know this: a man with experience and proof of what he knows, is never at the mercy of the one who hasn't any of his own! But lest you say, "then prove it that God exists!" No, it is not given to US to prove it to the sceptics and unbelievers of this world. God works on one to one basis. He said, YOU SAHLL SEEK ME AND FIND ME WHEN YOU SHALL SEEK FOR ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART". So, when/if you humble yourself enough to fit in this category , then your eyes will be open, and you will understand and see what we , who know the LORD are talking about. If you don't , you will live your life, and die in your blindness and your sins. But you will not have any excuses, because when you were told the truth you shut your heart to it. Because it is given to every human being to know the witness of God, by the testimony of their own conscience, till they silenced it's voice, but the pride that's in their hearts. That's the place I believe you're at now , friend!
      DOn't be tohasty to glloat over your reason and "superiority". You really have no clue, nor do you know anything the way you thik you know! GOd said HE'll make fools those who are wise in their own eyes, but to hose humble of heart, hHe will give wisdom. But it is given to you to have choice which path you will take!
      Have a good day!

      December 5, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
  8. prophet

    All those who speak against God are Forgiven but they are not our friends. God is awaiting all those who want to know Him and accept His Help.

    In The Name of Adonai

    December 4, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
    • Reality

      If there is a god, he/she/it started the Big Bang and also granted the gifts of Free Will and Future to all the thinking beings in the Universe. This being the case, god is not able to alter life and requests/prayers will not be answered.

      Statistically, your request might come true but it is simply the result of the variabiliy/randomness of Nature.

      So put down your rosaries and prayer beads and stop worshiping/revering cows and bowing to Mecca five times a day. Instead work hard at your job, take care of aging parents, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to charities and the poor and continue to follow the commandments of your religion or any good rules of living as gracious and good human beings. And lets all hope there indeed is a place called Heaven!!!

      December 4, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said: "All those who speak against God are Forgiven but they are not our friends.

      I have enough friends. I spend over an hour preparing Happy Holiday cards, as it is.

      You said: "God is awaiting all those who want to know Him and accept His Help."

      During the last 24 hour time period, God allowed the following to happen:

      According to UNICEF, 22,000 children died due to poverty. And they “died quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Where was their help?
      Almost 5,500 people died due to AIDS. Where was their help?
      1500 people lives were taken by cancer. Where was their help?
      About 2600 people died of cardiovascular disease. Where was their help?

      We should all remember, that while something happens good in our lives, something bad is happening elsewhere. It almost seems like the events have nothing to do with a god. *sigh*

      So where was god's help for the following just in the last 10 years:
      2004 Indian Ocean tsunami (approx. 230,000 killed)
      2005 Hurricane Katrina (approx. 1,836 killed)
      2005 Kashmir earthquake (approx. 79,000)
      2008 Cyclone Nargis, Myanmar (at least 146,000 killed)
      2008 Sichuan earthquake (approx. 87,400)

      Other Smaller Disasters:
      2003 Bam earthquake, Iran (30,000)
      2001 Gujarat earthquake, India, Pakistan (20,000)
      2006 Bantul earthquake, Indonesia (5,800)
      2001 Floods and landslides, Brazil (5,100)
      2007 Cyclone Sidr, Bangladesh, India (4,200)
      2004 Floods, Haiti, Dominican Republic (3,350)

      So god has allowed to suffer and die/failed to help ~ 613,000 humans in the last decade. These were men, women, children and babies.

      Shades of the Old Testament, we don't want to talk about it, god. LOL

      What about the 6 million of God's Chosen People that He allowed to suffer and die under the Nazis? – Let's not go there.

      Adonai does not care or does not exist. I'm gonna check the "doesn't exist" box, myself.


      December 5, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
    • Reality

      Another view:

      In his book, Church: The Human Story of God, Father Edward Schillebeeckx, the famous contemporary theologian says,

      "Christians (et al) must give up a perverse, unhealthy and inhuman doctrine of predestination without in so doing making God the great scapegoat of history."

      "Nothing is determined in advance: in nature there is chance and determinism; in the world of human activity there is possibility of free choices.

      "Therefore the historical future is not known even to God; otherwise we and our history would be merely a puppet show in which God holds the strings. For God, too, history is an adventure, an open history for and of men and women."

      Bottom line: One of God's (if one exists) greatest gifts to us is that of the Future.

      Schillebeeckx was responding to the Dutch citizens who were blaming God for the North Sea storms that destroyed a significant number of levees resulting in a significant loss of life and severe storm damage. Sound familiar??

      December 5, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  9. prophet

    Dear 'reality',

    many are praying for you but you need to repent as you are speaking against God and that is a not only disrespectful but a sin and unlawful, you have now been told The Truth.

    December 4, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
    • Yeah


      Perhaps you mean well, but you might as well wish upon a star as pray - you will get the same results.

      Non-believers don't speak against "God" - if anything, they speak against your mistaken beliefs in a being which you (and others) have dreamed up, a being to which you have assigned all sorts of attributes and characteristics and feelings with no proof.

      December 4, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  10. Frogist

    Laughter and spirituality? That's the absolute opposite of my experience with religion. Seems like religion was always about some sad or boring occasion. Church was a dull affair where you always had to be quiet and behave in as non-individual manner as possible. The best part was the singing and even that could be morose. From an early age religion was associated with anything but laughter and joy or fun.

    December 4, 2010 at 9:57 am |
    • Peace2All


      Yeah, me too, with the years of mind-numbing christian rhetoric. (*yes, my parents had the idea that it would be best to send me to a christian school for 5 years.)

      ***Frogist says to herself...."Hmmm. o.k.., so now I now I understand a bit more about Peace–'losing his marbles' a long time ago". 🙂

      However, much like the 'creationism exhibits,' that we are sooooo going on a road-trip to, I think, as I said above in my post, IF.... I ever were to go and set foot in any kind of Christian Church again, this one seems like it would be tolerable.

      I love... Comedy...! And the idea that I would be listening to someone, a 'baptist' preacher no less, talk about God/bible/jc and do it with humor, where ..."it is o.k....to laugh" so we don't, get thrown out on our ears.... That's o.k. with me...yes...?

      Anyways, didn't know you were suffering from the same 'syndrome' of religious programming as me. I certainly 'empathize' with ya'...!


      December 4, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
    • Peter F

      And that, my friend, is one of the big problems with how the church presents itself. An inaccessible, pointless church is no good.

      December 4, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Peter F

      You said: "And that, my friend, is one of the big problems with how the church presents itself. An inaccessible, pointless church is no good."

      The word "inaccessible" triggered an observation I made the other day. This Baptist church down the street has handicapped parking, and a wheelchair ramp. I suppose the members may only need these once, before the healing service. But, somehow I doubt it. I haven't noticed any wheelchairs stacked up as a testimonial to the effectiveness of prayer.

      Is this the church's attempt to be more accessible? LOL

      Love and Prayers!

      December 5, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Peace2All: Whoa! 5 yrs... that's rough, man. I might have got you beat tho. I had 7 yrs in a christian girls' school. But that was mainly about the fact that it had a rep for excellent education and facilities. It's not like it was a Catholic school with nuns and rulers. The humor we associated with religion was about goofing off in the back row during assembly and singing the typos in our hymn books. Boy, were we rebels! LOL!
      I totally understand what you're saying about if you went to church again, it would be a place that had a more lighthearted att!tude. One of the problems with the religious fundies is that they take themselves so seriously. You would think the least bit of fun (that doesn't include burning someone at the stake) would be a wound to their mortal soul. True, we make fun of them here, which of course they don't like. But I doubt they would be ok with humorous ribbing even by their own kind. As Peter F said, it's a problem that churches are so inaccessible. Except I get the feeling that any inkling of accessibility would be met with a condemnation of secularism.
      BTW I love Eddie Izzard. He often does bits about religion and history and they're hilarious!

      December 6, 2010 at 10:40 am |
    • Peace2All


      Wow...! 7 years...? Yep, you got me beat. But, I did however, have the instructors with paddles and rulers, and sh!t...yikes... OUCH...! Yeah, you got that right, I got hit a 'whole lotta' times.

      Oh, me likey Eddie Izzard to. In fact here's one of my many favorite quotes by him:

      “But then the Roman Empire fell like this- "Oh sh-it". And we went into
      what the historians called the Stupid Fu-cker period. Where everyone
      was going -"er, I dunno. Is that a Roman road? Can we eat it?" Then
      there was the dark Ages. " I can't even see you! Where are you?"

      -Eddie Izzard

      Anyways, talk to ya Frogist. Oh, ... let me know how that 'road trip' planning is going...? 🙂


      December 7, 2010 at 1:23 am |
    • salmos8318

      @Frogist et al
      I take it from your words that you're quite dissatisfied with religion in general. I don't disagree with you that there's tons of rubbish being taught out there... not all those who claim to be Christians live up to the model. It is prophetic that towards the time of the end people would be gathering teachers (or pastors, or preachers, etc.) to "tickle their ears", or, in other words, to entertain them than on learning God's commands and the like. However, the Scriptures also note that towards the time of the end true knowledge would become abundant. Dan 12:4,9,10

      I encourage you to be among the latter and not fully give up on religion.

      December 7, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  11. David Johnson

    Sparks said: "It was like God dropped a sign: 'Laughter and spirituality go together!'"

    Yes! Well said. I often laugh when I think about the fundies!


    December 4, 2010 at 8:12 am |
  12. Iqbal khan


    December 3, 2010 at 9:48 pm |
    • Reality

      Saving Muslims to include the lady in the video is quite easy!!!

      The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

      ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

      Are you ready?

      Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

      "1. Belief in Allah"

      aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.

      "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

      Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

      "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

      A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

      "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

      Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

      Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

      Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

      "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)
      Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.
      Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

      December 4, 2010 at 12:03 am |
  13. Reality

    If you want "fun and funny" watch Julia Sweeney's monologue "Letting Go of God".

    (Ex-Catholic, now atheist) Julia Sweeney's monologue "Letting Go Of God" will be the final but funny nail in the coffin of religious belief/faith and is and will continue to be more effective than any money-generating book or religin blog.

    Buy the DVD or watch it on Showtime. Check your cable listings.
    from http://www.amazon.com
    "Letting Go of God ~ Julia Sweeney (DVD – 2008)

    Five Star Rating

    December 3, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  14. Peace2All

    In the article, Susan Sparks says: '"Laughter and spirituality go together!'"

    That combination sounds reaaaaaaallllly good to me...! Comedy and God... who da' thought...? 🙂

    If... I was going to visit a Christian church, this one would be at or near the top of my list.


    December 3, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
    • Bob

      And then God said "Slaughter all of them and take the virgins for yourselves."

      December 3, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said: "And then God said "Slaughter all of them and take the virgins for yourselves."

      Ever wonder how they determined who was or wasn't a virgin? I mean, I bet a woman with 6 kids would be claiming miracle births and perpetual virginity...

      Line up here ladies! Zeke the elder ...

      Ewwwwwwwww! This from an all powerful creator of all things? LOL


      December 5, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.