Another day, another relic, another war.
Taylor University is well-known for its intentional community. Yet what is less well-known is the long history of pranking on Taylor’s campus.
Among students, these dorm vs. dorm escapades are called “prank wars,” and are usually spontaneous. Each dorm participates in prank wars to some extent, but some dorm cultures are more vocal about them than others.
In addition to regular pranks, Taylor students enjoy relic wars, which involve stealing relics from other dorms.
Relics come in a variety of forms – from stop signs to skeletons. Senior Laurel Burgess said that floor and hall relics are the personality of the floor.
But what happens when pranking takes the fun away, instead of adding to it?
Prank competitions can lead to dorm feuds and other things they shouldn’t lead to.
“I heard about that fountain with the hands kind of by the library getting turned to look like blood, and people looked like monks and were worshiping it or something,” Burgess said.
Discernment is key to successful pranking. Hank Voss, associate professor of Christian ministries, said that we as believers in Christ should never do something that is extremely hurtful to someone else, leaves someone embarrassed or disrupts the community.
However, Voss stated there is an incorrect idea that Jesus lacked a sense of humor.
“If we can recapture the humor of Jesus, it will make us healthier and happier,” he said. “A good prank on one of my kids, or on a good friend, can be something that just really displays a level of joy and knowledge that can be a lot of fun.”
Fun pranks are something that sophomore Ruby Harris knows all about. Affectionately called the “prank queen,” Harris has pulled small pranks on her friends.
But those aren’t the only pranks she’s done. She pulled her most complicated prank in spring 2021 on her sister before she graduated.
“The day before her birthday, we had some of her friends steal her car and stash it at the Maloney’s house,” Harris said. “We copied her car key while she was home for Spring Break. We got Jeff Wallace in on it to make her fill out all the missing car report stuff and all of that. She came back to our house for Easter Break, and her car was already at home.”
As daring as Harris is with her pranks, she said prank wars are fantastic only when everyone is on board. She stressed that the goal is to play with people – not to offend them, hurt them or make them look bad.
Harris also said prank wars sometimes flop because pranksters don’t know their audience.
“If you know how they (other people) would react to it – if you know that they’ll think it’s funny, or at least they can take it and not get mad at you – then it’s fine,” she said.
Harris praised floor and hall relics, stating that they are an easy “in” to starting some fun.
However, pranking – including relic wars – can only be safe and fun when students respect each other, she said.
“If we respect people as made in the image of God and as very important creations, then… you won’t hurt them,” Harris said.
So how can Christians grow in respecting other people, especially regarding prank wars?
Voss recommends two resources: The Humor of Christ by Elton Trueblood, which explores Jesus’s humor, and Happiness by Randy Alcorn, which shows how God’s intention is for us to be happy and joyful.
“The goal should always be to build unity and affection between the pranker, the receiver, and the community,” Voss said.
Let us continue to reflect the character of Christ day after day, relic after relic, and war after war.