This may not be a secret — but I love laughing.
As far as I am concerned, a sense of humor transforms life from something that has to be gotten through grudgingly, just because you happened to be born and have no other choice, into an opportunity for joy, if only for a moment here and there.
That’s gotta be good for your heart.
But so often, when I laugh a little about something serious, I get a dirty look.
Real humor (as opposed to the current insult-, obscenity-, self-obsessed variety on TV) has always seemed to me to be one of the greatest blessings a person can possess. It keeps you from taking yourself too seriously, which can be a very uncomfortable personality trait. Why,a true sense of the absurd might even lower your blood pressure.
And I have noticed that very often when women rate their men for their good points, “he makes me laugh” often comes in first or second. Having a true sense of humor (seeing the foolishness of a situation, not a person), can turn the world from gray to gold.
There are books of funny tombstones (”Hey, wait a minute!” or “I told you I was sick!”), humorous saints, and, at risk of displeasing humorless Christians, I will even dare to mention that more than one book has been written about Jesus’s sense of humor and joy. Often mentioned in this respect is his comment that the chances of rich people getting into heaven are about as easy as a camel going through the eye of a needle. What I think He meant was not wholesale condemnation of the rich but the sheer difficulty of ignoring all the distractions that being rich can create. ( I speak from observation.) Like many good public speakers (and many ministers who came after), He used an amusing idea to get the point across..
His comparison of Himself with the ultra-serious John the Baptist is interesting: “John came neither eating nor drinking ... the Son of Man came eating and drinking. and they say, ‘Look, a drunkard and a glutton.’ “ Jesus was neither, but there was as much prejudice in those days against religious people being light-hearted as there is these days. Especially, oddly enough, among other religious people.
I'm not the only one who thinks this! A famous minister of the 1900s, George Buttrick, once said that Jesus is “crowned in believers' hearts, among tears and confession and great laughter.” He meant, I think, that the promise of Christianity includes overwhelming, loving joy. Not just a sour preachy distaste for anyone who might not accept my idea of God.
I don’t mean to get too serious here, but surely the hope that accompanies faith just naturally points to a humorous outlook on daily life. (For Christians, surely, but also for true Jews and Muslims as well.) As in, “Well, things might not be working out well now, but all will be well in God’s time. Meanwhile, find the joy.” I never could understand uptight believers, at least in the United States. (First century Rome, not to mention current-day Afghanistan or Iraq, might be a different story.)
Lighthearted religious behavior is not unheard of in the church. For instance, when I was in seminary, at Gettysburg, the statue of Martin Luther underwent a serious transformation every Reformation Day. You woke up in the morning to find him dressed as the Pope, or a cardinal, or a beggar, or basketball player or any sort of character that promised a laugh, or even, just a teensy-tiny little sensation of shock. (Religious people can be human too, you know.)
Luther would have understood — he was a bit of a joker himself, when he wasn’t running around reforming things. And his wife Katherine was too. One night, the story goes, he had a lot of serious conversation with friends, not a joke in the lot, this time. The next morning Katherine came downstairs dressed in deep mourning. Luther looked at her with concern. “Who died?” he asked. “Why, according to what you all were saying last night,” she said, “I thought God had died.” (Hey, wives know how to get the point across, don’t they?)
As you know, my whole family was riddled with ministers, and I think we had more laughs than anyone else in town when we got together. And apparently some other religious people have a sense of humor too. I read recently that, at St. Catherine’s in Sinai, there is a tourist site that claims to be the original location of Moses’ burning bush. There right next to the current bush is — a fire extinguisher.
Just being human makes life amusing enough — the trick is being able to locate the humor. It’s not always laugh-out-loud, but it’s the human foible and the paradox that make it funny. In his book “Between Heaven and Mirth,” Father James Martin tells about an Ash Wednesday service in which, as he traced the cross on a woman’s forehead in ashes, saying “You are dust, and to dust you shall return,” she said, “Watch my hair.”
And here’s a child’s version of the Old Testament story of Lot’s Wife, innocently mashed up with the story of the Exodus: “Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt during the day, and a ball of fire at night.”
Come on, now, the artless combination of knowledge and innocence is surefire every time.
Laugh a little.
Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears on alternate Sundays in the Times-News
This may not be a secret — but I love laughing.
- Maude McDaniel - Living
July gotcha down? Maybe these will help
•In a hospital's Intensive Care Unit, patients always died in the same bed on Sunday morning, at about 11:00 a.m., regardless of their medical condition. This puzzled the doctors and some even thought it had something to do with the super natural. No one could solve the mystery as to why the deaths occurred around 11 a.m. Sunday, so a worldwide team of experts was assembled to investigate the cause of the incidents. The next Sunday morning, a few minutes before 11 a.m. all of the doctors and nurses nervously waited outside the ward to see for themselves what the terrible phenomenon was all about. Some were holding wooden crosses, prayer books, and other holy objects to ward off the evil spirits. Just when the clock struck 11, Pookie Johnson, the part-time Sunday sweeper, entered the ward and unplugged the life support system so he could use the vacuum cleaner.
Hiccup cure you may find hard to swallow
Let’s give a cheer for one of the things in the human experience that the scientific researchers haven’t fully figured out yet: how to cure hiccups! Somehow it kind of restores your faith in the world, doesn’t it?
But don’t think they haven’t tried.
She learned to laugh with relatives’ help
Sometimes there are people in our lives whom we have never credited with all the influence they had on us when we were growing up.And now it is too late to thank them personally. I am about 50 years past due on this one (or two) but maybe somehow, somewhere they will get a hint of it — and — smile. Fondly, I think..
Signs of aging and what comes with it
It’s been awhile since I last informed you of new signs of old age, and meanwhile none of us have gotten any younger. (I’m working on it, I’m working on it.) I find one of the best things I can do to stay young is to read the obituaries. It reminds you that you are still alive and there are times in one’s life when that can be a serious concern. Of course, the trick is to avoid reading the obituaries for people you know, first checking the pictures for familiar faces. But for the folks you never met, they are remarkably invigorating, especially if they were older than you are. It gives you a goal in life — and we all need goals, right?
Torn between failing in two different fields
Which do I like better, singing or writing?
That's a tough question to answer.
Singing's got it all over writing as far as when I started (at about 5 in the church choir) but writing is certainly a close second. I have somewhere a collection of poems that I wrote from about eight on and I have the feeling that they are lost for a reason! As I remember, they were pretty awful, not at all the kind of effort an aspiring writer would be proud to quote 75 years later!
Bad habits are hard to eliminate — but try
Somebody mentioned smoking on these pages recently, so I thought I'd put in my own two cents on the subject. I started smoking in college, during exam week. The problem was that I was too busy during the rest of the year ever to stop and study for my courses — at least that is what I told myself — because I worked almost every night on the college newspaper. So when exam time kicked in, I threw some all-nighters for study. And the best way to stay awake all night (especially if you don't regularly smoke) is to, well, smoke.
Trivial questions you don’t have to answer
Every so often in this life, my mind, all on its own, generates questions that have no real answers. So I have decided to pass them on to you. I’m tired of them. If you come up with any answers, let me know. Remember when TV jealously guarded the time zone before 9 p.m. for wholesome shows that children could watch. My gosh, how many years ago was that? It seems like another world nowadays, when you can see murders, torture and rape, or those implied, every hour on the hour, somewhere on your public screen. It might be comforting then, to remember that most children nowadays are glued to their little machines with whole different worlds on them, that they can access all day long. Except that in these different worlds they also can view murders, torture and rape on demand.
Rusty writes about the nature of doghood
I am a dog.
Therefore I bark.
I don’t understand why it is so hard for humans to understand this.
I mean, there are certain things that come with the territory, right?
Free-range reminiscing and occasional nostalgia
When I was in grade school, (many more years ago than when either of you were in grade school) my daily winter (fall, spring) routine included walking to school across a railroad track.
Beatles return us to what might have been
Here’s a a free gift from Goldy (to your left), and it should get us going with a good laugh, that both my readers will approve of. Then, after that (fair warning) I am going to turn a little sour.
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