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Rev. Susan Sparks
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A trial lawyer, turned standup comedian and Baptist minister, Rev. Susan Sparks is America’s only female comedian with a pulpit. After ten years as a lawyer moonlighting as a standup, she left her practice and spent two years on a solo trip around the world, including working with Mother Teresa’s mission in Calcutta, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and driving the Alaska Highway. Upon returning home, she entered Union Theological Seminary in New York City where she earned a Master of Divinity and wrote an honors thesis on humor and religion.

Currently, the Senior Pastor of the historic Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City (and the first woman in its 165 year history), Susan has been featured in O (The Oprah Magazine), The New York Times, on CBS The Early Show, ABC and CNN, and in numerous comedy clubs, including Carolines in New York City. Her book, Laugh Your Way to Grace: Reclaiming the Spiritual Power of Humor, was named one of the best spirituality books of 2010 and has sold close to 15,000 copies.

Entries by Rev. Susan Sparks

Mini Me Jesus

(7) Comments | Posted February 19, 2014 | 3:27 PM

I grew up with the whitest Jesus you have ever seen. A Vitamin D deficient, sickly looking Jesus; a sort of Don Knotts meets Gary Busey kind of Jesus. And he was always pictured in the same way: standing in a field, holding a tiny lamb (also pasty white). Not...

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Generosity Is the New Currency

(1) Comments | Posted December 17, 2013 | 12:03 PM

This is a terrifying blog -- especially for educated people -- as a liberal arts major is about to offer a message on economics.

But first, I will talk about something with which I am a little more familiar: shopping. We are in the middle of the holiday season...

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The Power of Prayer... at the Kmart

(37) Comments | Posted July 24, 2013 | 3:47 PM

When I want to remind myself of the power of prayer, I go to the Astor Place Kmart in the East Village of Manhattan. Sure, I could read Kierkegaard or Augustine, but I prefer the Kmart. Specifically I favor an area in the far...

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Running Toward the Blast: An Ordained Comedian's Perspective on Terrorists and Hecklers

(2) Comments | Posted April 22, 2013 | 12:54 PM

Readers, do me a favor. Fold your arms and don the surliest expression you can manage. Done? Good. Now you know what my last standup comedy audience looked like.

Mercifully, times like these don't happen often. However, when they do, it's excruciating. When faced with a surly crowd, I always...

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Leveling Up Religion

(4) Comments | Posted February 20, 2013 | 9:23 AM

Many probably think I'm on a slippery slope to hell. I drink beer, I dance, and God help me, I'm a Baptist minister. However, it's not the Stella Artois or tango lessons that are greasing my downward slide. The real shocker? My belief that online gaming may revive organized religion.

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What Are You Getting Baby Jesus for the Holidays?

(0) Comments | Posted December 11, 2011 | 7:20 AM

Stampedes. Fist fights. Pepper Spray.

Is it a political coup? An Occupy Wall Street riot? The running of the bulls in Pamplona?

No ... it's Christmas shopping 2011.

One would think after 2 million years of evolution that human beings would have transcended such nonsense. Sadly our fight...

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Female Jet Pilot? Sure. Preacher? No.

(368) Comments | Posted August 12, 2011 | 7:00 AM

One third of the U.S. Supreme Court justices are women, more than 50 female astronauts have traveled into space and 41 women have won the Nobel Peace Prize. But place a woman in a pulpit and blood pressure and eyebrows immediately begin to rise -- rise, that is, within the...

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A Blessing of the Motorcycles

(129) Comments | Posted May 21, 2011 | 8:15 AM

It's spring. The air is soft. The trees are in bloom. And God's creation is filled with the chirping of sleepy Vespas and the roaring of Harley Davidsons waking up from their winter hibernation.

This seasonal ritual is honored every year in one of the most unexpected of places:...

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World Peace ... One Joke at a Time

(12) Comments | Posted April 20, 2011 | 10:28 AM

A Rabbi, a Muslim, and a Baptist preacher walk into a room. (Rim shot!) Yes, it is the setup for a joke, but not like you expect. Comedian/Rabbi Bob Alper, Muslim comic Azhar Usman, and myself, an ex-lawyer, turned Baptist minister and standup comedian are taking the stage for the...

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Unplug and Recharge: Taking a Silence Siesta

(4) Comments | Posted March 5, 2011 | 10:44 AM

Unplug iPod
Music stops abruptly
Cricket song instead

-- Dr. Sun Wolf

Perhaps you've heard the fable about the two frogs. One accidentally hopped in a pot of boiling water. When he felt the heat, he immediately jumped out. The other frog hopped into a pot of...

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If a Microbe Can Do It...: Finding Happiness Even Amid Toxicity

(17) Comments | Posted December 12, 2010 | 8:59 AM

Bacteria are not the first things I usually turn to for inspiration. But recently, I became a bacteria believer.

Last week, scientists announced that they had trained a microbe of bacteria to eat and grow on a diet of arsenic. Why is this significant? Life forms, at least...

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Finding My Way as an Ordained Comedian

(88) Comments | Posted November 20, 2010 | 5:52 PM

I grew up with a God who wasn't very funny. Then again, neither were Jesus nor the disciples or the prophets.

From an early age, I knew God to be a stern combination of Walter Cronkite and Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter. Jesus had the same Cronkite-Eastwood personality, just...

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