In the face of some people's naive enthusiasm about the benefits of humor, Victor Raskin (Is humor always good for you?, Oklahoma, 1997) has explored the question “Is humor always good for you?” Rod Martin (Psychological Bulletin 12: 504–519, 2001) has shown how some kinds of humor foster unhealthy attitudes. Avner Ziv (Humor research in education: Enthusiasm vs. data, 1995) has warned that some claims about humor's value in education are exaggerated. Elliott Oring (Engaging humor, University of Illinois Press, 2003: Ch. 4) has shown how humor can express ethnic hatred. All these caveats are useful in a culture where the prevailing attitude toward humor is positive. If we consider attitudes toward humor through most of history, however, they were mostly negative. In Western religion and philosophy, indeed, no other human trait has been associated with so many vices. This article helps explain the cultural shift from a generally negative to a generally positive evaluation of humor by examining the traditional moral objections to humor, and providing modern rebuttals to them. It then develops the idea that humor in which we transcend our personal perspectives can foster virtues such as openmindedness, patience, tolerance, graciousness, humility, perseverance, and courage.