Laughter is missing in much of the Christian community, even though the biblical witness has encouraging words about laughter.
Upon hearing that his aged wife would bear a son, Abram fell to the ground with laughter (Genesis 17:17).
“God has given me laughter. Everyone who hears about it will laugh with me,” said Sarah after the birth of Isaac, according to the Common English Bible’s rendering of Genesis 21:6.
“Our mouths were suddenly filled with laughter,” records Psalm 126:2.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 notes that there is a “time to laugh.”
Jesus spoke of laughter in the Sermon of the Plain (Luke 6:21).
As good as laughter is for the soul, we laugh too little.
Exceptions do thankfully exist. Retired Alabama preacher Joe Whitt left my children and me with rich laughter before a memorial service when he recalled stories about his adventures, one of which was with my father-in-law in Las Vegas at a Southern Baptist Convention meeting.
That experience made me noodle on the need for more good humor.
Given the nature of EthicsDaily.com—and my own personal stiffness—humor is a stretch, however.
How does one mix in lightheartedness when buildings are collapsing and civilians are dying in Gaza, Ebola is threatening the fragile health of West Africans or civilian aircraft are blasted out of the sky over Ukraine?
Plus humor is risky, especially in a culture of political correctness where speck-hunters search for every opportunity to be offended.
Perhaps one the reasons for the success of the TV show “Duck Dynasty” is that a Christian family actually pokes fun at itself and digs at the oddities of the conservative culture in which the family dwells.
Poking fun at oneself is far different from making fun at the expense of others.
In keeping with that thought, let me draw attention to one of my favorite framed items that I glance at on a regular basis in my office. It was a gift some years ago from the staff.
They titled it “Robertisms (Or: How to Speak BCE).”
Example One: “If the horse is dead, dismount.”
Example Two: “That dog don’t hunt.”
Example Three: “What’s the next wrinkle?”
Example Four: “Let’s apply some stress to the situation.”
Example Five: “We need to leaven that lump.”
Maybe you’ll get as much of a chuckle out of this list of worn-out clichés as I still do.
They certainly highlight my own redundancy, shorthand, wacky framing when it comes to organizational planning and strategizing about social change.
In a world of hurt, a little humor might heal some hurt. Taking ourselves less seriously provides some protection from the self-righteousness that always gets us into trouble.
Wish we could laugh more. Laugh at ourselves.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1 and friend him on Facebook.
Robert M. Parham (1953 – 2017) was the founder and executive director of Baptist Center for Ethics from 1991 to 2017. He served as executive editor of EthicsDaily.com, BCE’s website, from its launch in 2002 until 2017.