The Meenister’s Log
Jesus wept. We know that because the Bible tells us so. But did he laugh?
God thunders, often. We know that. But does God have a sense of humour?
God celebrated creation with a booming “That’s good!” But did the creation God called “good” include belly laughs and puns? Satire and irony? What about giggles and smiles?
Or were those very human behaviours part of the legacy of that fruit-peddling serpent in the Garden?
What a low opinion of humour Christians have tended to have over the years.
As early as the 11th century, the influential church leader John of Chrysostom insisted Jesus never laughed.
Through the centuries, artists overwhelmingly have followed the saint’s argument. How many paintings have you seen where the Son of God grins from ear to ear?
Can those who would be Christlike laugh and sin not?
The Second Council of Constance in 1418 had a definite opinion: literally “Hell, no!”
That medieval Christian council assigned to hell any minister or monk who spoke “jocular words such as provoke laughter.”
Well, actually, the council said, “Let him be anathema,” which is a firmly non-jocular way of saying the same thing.
Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (of all people!) was one who claimed he could not live without humour.
On one occasion, he wrote of a dream he had when he was young:
“Something marvelous has happened to me. I was caught up into the seventh heaven. There sat all the gods in assembly. As a special grace, there was accorded to me the privilege of making a wish. “Wilt thou,” said Mercury, “wilt thou have youth, or beauty, or power, or long life, or the most beautiful maiden, or any other glorious thing among the many we have here in the treasure chest? Then choose but one thing.
“For an instant, I was irresolute, then I addressed the gods as follows: “Highly esteemed contemporaries, I choose one thing, that I may always have the laugh on my side.” There was not a god that answered a word, but they all burst out laughing. Thereupon, I concluded that my wish was granted, and I found that the gods knew how to express themselves with good taste.”
And didn’t St.Paul write that we should be Fools for Christ” (Corinthians 1:18-27)
These early Christians wee known as the “Hilares” – the happy people – and of course our English word “hilarious” is derived from it.
All along people thought that Christians were a little bit strange. They believed odd things. They lived their lives in a different way. They didn’t worry about tomorrow. They didn’t worry about where money was going to come from. They shared all their things in common.
Those who were not believers said, “you’re crazy.”
But when Paul arrives he says, “Don’t worry about it. Be fools for Christ because the foolishness of God is much greater than the wisdom of humans.”
Lighten up, people of the faith; let’s recapture the spirit of the “Hilares”, through the power of the Spirit.