Culture At Large

Mindy Kaling, imago dei and the fun-ness of God

Caryn Rivadeneira

I couldn’t believe my ears. Did she really say the “fun-ness of God”? A quick rewind of the interview I was transcribing for another writing assignment proved I had heard incorrectly. “Abundance of God,” she’d said. Not fun-ness.


I mean, God’s abundance is a plenty wonderful thing to discuss. But his fun-ness! That’s something we never talk about. And probably should.

Especially in conversations about the imago dei - the way we are made in God’s very image. I mean, unless you believe that fun is sin, a sign of fallenness, then we need to believe that we reflect God in our fun-ness. Right? So I wondered why we don’t mention God’s fun-ness much, but then I let the question go.

Until a couple days later, when a friend sent me a link to an interview with actor-comedienne-writer Mindy Kaling, who most would recognize as Kelly Kapoor from "The Office." In fact, the article says that "Kaling has been so defined by Kelly Kapoor, the shallow, gossipy customer-service rep she plays … that she dedicates a chapter in her new book to listing the differences between her and the character.”

And yet, while Kaling defends herself as being not as shallow or gossipy as the character she plays, she’s not ashamed to admit to some guilty pleasures.

“If you like lipstick or watch 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians' while you do the elliptical machine,” Kaling says, “and you're willing to admit to any of that, there are people who think you’re letting down women or something."

And this somehow brought me right back to the fun-ness of God. Because, she’s right. Dead-on. At least in my world.

I don’t know if men wrestle with this, but for women - of the Jesus-loving, gift-living, world-changing stripe - there is real danger in letting our frivolity, our fun-ness show.

As such, I spend a lot of time feeling guilty over the frivolous things I take pleasure in. I struggle with keeping up appearances (if not with the Kardashians), of being serious and thoughtful and concerned and all the things I am, while still wanting to thrown a little sparkly lip balm on before occasionally flipping through the latest issue of People.

But I know that someone seeing me enjoy such frivolity is to risk having the rest of me brushed off. That I may want to gussy upor chat about celebrities detracts from my deeper longing to love others well and to talk about righting the wrongs of the world.

Which is a shame. Because I think both our deep and our frivolous pleasures can flash our imago dei.

What? Our shiny lips mirror God?

Stay with me. Because here’s what I actually heard correctly in that interview I was transcribing. While the woman didn’t actually say the “fun-ness of God,” any time we do talk about God’s abundance, it has to include the silly and the seemingly frivolous. Because if we do grasp “how wide and long and high and deep,” we have to be aware of the crazy ways it pours out.

Yes, we reflect His love for us in the ways we fight injustice, feed the hungry, love our neighbors. And yet, we can do each of those things with a heart that so overflows with love - abundance! - that there’s still room for touches of fun. For frivolity.

It’s hard to believe this because so much of our ideas of fun run so close (if they don’t cross over) to the sinful. My reading of People comes dangerously close to gossip. My wearing of lip gloss or mascara or that touch of pressed powder can cross over to vanity. Another's idea of fun is meanness. Or unhealthy competition. Or recklessness.

And yet, who can ignore the goodness to fun-ness? Even the frivolous sort. The Muppets variety. And all good things, we’re told in James, come from God. And our enjoyment of them, our living them, reflects Him: the God who’s abundance and fun-ness are inexplicably tied.

After all, He’s the one who sparkled up this universe, the God whose squirrels play even as they prepare, and the God who may not watch "Keeping Up With the Kardashians,"but who keeps up with them nevertheless.

(Cover image courtesy of Crown Archetype.)

Topics: Culture At Large, Arts & Leisure, Entertainment, Books, Theology & The Church, Faith, Theology