Why Our Laughter Isn’t Funny
What do you laugh at? I don’t mean what makes you giggle, I mean what makes you out and out laugh, you know, till you fall over? After reviewing the classy line-up of this year’s Super Bowl ads, thanks to YouTube, I wonder if we even know what “funny” means anymore. Of course, all of these ads come from the non-Christian sector, but I wonder if the evangelical camp knows any more about humor than their secular cousins.
If one wants to get a decent idea of America’s current state of humor, a few minutes watching “America’s Funniest Whatevers” or listening to National Public Radio’s “Wait, wait, Don’t Tell Me” should give a good overview. It’s not that people aren’t trying to be funny – they’re trying harder than ever, I think – it’s that our idea of “funny” has become mixed with our idea of “serious” until the two are indistinguishable. Not only has it skewed our idea of “serious,” it has also invaded our idea of “sane.”
You see, the bulk of our humor is focused on the shocking, the stupid, the painful, the crass, the obscene, and the scandalous. None of these things produce real laughter, however. At best they produce waves of guilty giggles. At worst, they produce a smirk and a knowing wink.
I’m quite certain the Christian realm falls into the same category of humor as the rest of society. There are those within the evangelical ranks who try to conquer the rising tide. But, I don’t think more “Good Clean Jokes” are going to solve our problem. In fact, they may only make it worse. Lame humor isn’t all that much funnier than bad humor.
When it comes to humor, I think our issue isn’t in the kind of jokes we laugh at or tell. Our issue lies in the status of our hearts. Joyful hearts are indeed good medicine – guilty ones only promulgate disease. Should we expect the non-Christian world to produce anything close to real joy? Probably not. Should we expect something resembling joy from the Christian community? If so, where is it? Why have we too fallen under the curse of lost laughter, where we cannot laugh at ourselves but only at others?
I have to ask myself this question continuously, for I too live in the age of lost laughter where actual joy is only found on rare occasions. I too am prone to giggle at the list above rather than abhorring it. I too cannot laugh at myself with a regard where my human limitedness is forgotten in the light of Christ’s gloriousness. I too laugh at what should be serious and take seriously what should be laughed at. I too do not often bear witness to the joy which the Holy Spirit brings into the Christian life.
Have you cried recently? Have you cried at the fact of the disappearance of our joy? Have you cried at the things others parade as funny? But wait, have you then laughed? Have you laughed with joy to see the hope we have? Have you laughed at the absurdity of our own imperfections? Have you laughed in expectation of the soon-coming place where there won’t be anything that isn’t worth laughing for?
The One in whose presence is fullness of joy is coming soon. Why not prepare our hearts and practice for His arrival?
Posted on February 7, 2011, in Church, Culture, Heaven, Religion and tagged America, Christ, Christian, Christianity, church, contemporary, danger, evangelical, evangelicalism, faith, giggle, God, heart, hearts, Holy Spirit, human, humor, Jesus, jokes, laughter, life, National Public Radio, NPR, religion, secular, society, spirituality, Super Bowl, YouTube. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.