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"WHY HUMOR?" "HUMOR AND JOY" SERIES: PART I

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"HUMOR AND JOY" SERIES: PART I

"WHY HUMOR?"

HUMOR, JOY, LAUGHTER AND HAPPINESS


“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine…” Prov. 17:22


JOY, HAPPINESS and HUMOR

… in RELIGION AND CHRISTIANITY?

It just may seem a bit ambitious to put those 5 concepts in the same heading. But we will see soon enough that there are connections (and overlapping meaning) when we look at these words. We will also get to the “humor”. For laughter really is “good for the soul”. First we will take a quick look at "religion" and how Christianity fits into that picture. 

There are many ways to approach religion in life—and that includes the Catholic religion. Christian faith of any kind is quite unique in that we are called to follow the Almighty Creator God Who made Himself manifest in human form. He did this through the birth of Jesus Christ, so that Jesus could “offer His life as a ransom for many”.[“Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many”. Mt 20:28] Jesus became the “Door” of the sheep gate and the “Way” of full salvation. [Jn 14:6] True Christianity declares that Jesus is the world's one, only and true Savior.

“Jesus said again, … ‘I am the gate for the sheep’”. [Jn 10:7] He died on the cross and conquered sin and death to become the portal [“the narrow door” Luke 13:24)] for us to enter into renewed fellowship with our Triune God, after that close fellowship was broken in the Garden of Eden. 

That fellowship and all its benefits and happiness—all the loving protection, provision and peace— had been compromised in Eden when Adam and Eve chose to believe the god of this world, the serpent, satan. Their original sin came after believing the devil, who took the form of a snake. They effectively put the devil’s deceptive word above God’s clear command, and chose to follow his advice instead of the Lord’s single, simple admonition and rule.

This action and choice put an end to their earthly paradise that God had so generously, beautifully, and lovingly created for them. To summarize bluntly: Intimate and joyous, daily fellowship with God and easy-going pleasure and HAPPINESS was lost, along with the Garden. Now it’s a struggle, filled with temptations… but God continues in his great, great mercy and love to find a way to connect each one of us to His new plan.

God the Father did conceive a new plan—to send Jesus, God the Son, into the world to pay the price for mankind’s fall and surrender to the god of this world. Jesus was sent so that He could save and deliver us—to open the door to a new choice that each one of us is free, now, to make.

Jesus made a way for us to live eternally in peace, love and freedom in God’s glorious Presence. No other faith/religion besides Christianity embraces the Savior Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death and resurrection from the dead—all for the sake of any and all of God’s much beloved children. He is the One, True God Alone, the perfect Way, Truth and Life, Incarnate.[Jn 14:6] He is the only one Who could have paid the full debt of all of our sins—as both God and man. No other religion can make that claim.

As a result of the horrific price Jesus paid, our God—Who IS Love—offers to live within us, act for us, shower His love towards us and through us, and promises never to leave us. Christians believe this, along with what various Christian denominations focus on a their own particular emphases and practices. And, actually—some of the humor that we repeat here pertains to some of those differences. Remember: even God has a sense of humor. (And I would suppose that He probably needs it more than we do. Just look what He has to see going on in this world… and put up with!)


RELIGION WALKED OUT

Religion is practiced and walked out in many different ways. Some live their faith as a smooth, flat stone skimming the surface of deep waters. Some focus on many religious practices that enable them to feel good about themselves and look pious to others. Some choose to dive deeper into the depths, seeking to know and love God more and more— realizing that this very real God is seeking earnestly after each of us with His great and passionate love. He is the “Pearl of great price” worth selling everything for.[Mt 13:46] And He’s worth plumbing the depths to find.

Wherever we fit into the picture, we take some time now to look at life through some rose-colored glasses. The God Who knows joy (and grief and loss and anger and patience, etc.) has that sense of humor that we just mentioned. Saints have said so, along with current followers of the Lord who seek to know Him… and find (gladly and surprisingly) this amusing quality in the magnificent and Almighty God. So, we take this opportunity to focus our attention on joy and humor—and happiness, too. Come along for the ride. It offers mostly light reading. Hope you enjoy it.


WHY HUMOR?

You may be thinking: “There doesn’t need to be a reason to enjoy a good laugh…" but there actually are some good ones!

Humor is more than just great fun. We could stop right there...

and launch into many humorous jokes and anecdotes. But let’s just add this: laughing can provide many health benefits. It’s also free. And it engages the body in calorie-burning and muscle-toning exercise without gym fees, special exercise outfits, uniforms, equipment or schedules. There is actually a science of laughter--legitimately researched!

So let’s name a few other positive side effects:

Provides stress relief (Lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone)… Produces better memory recall… Helps with immune system and the cardiovascular system… Jogs internal organs and the lymph system… Good for the respiratory system, opening up lungs… Puts into gear the natural relaxation mechanisms of the body… Tones abdominal muscles (vs. sit-ups? Easy choice!)… Boosts mood states… Breaks cycles of mental negativity…

The preceding statements are all true, with many legitimate, scientific studies to back them up… but… it was once reported that

“ONE MINUTE OF LAUGHTER GIVES YOU THE SAME BENEFIT AS 10 MINUTES ON A ROWING MACHINE”.

Sorry… urban legend… “The size of that particular research sample was… one person.”* But that same “one person” was Dr. William Fry of Stanford University, who found that laughing 200 times (not just one minute) will do the trick. Laughing for one minute CAN raise the heart rate in similar ways as exercising for several minutes. (I call that a pretty good trade-off.)

*http://www.laughteronlineuniversity.com/laughter-c...

All this means that laughter and humor is really good for the whole person... and for the soul. I believe that humor helps lighten the burdens of life…

Humor is a temporary solution if the problems are overwhelming, but it is far better than just a “band-aid”. It can sometimes turn “bad” feelings right side up—even if it is just for the duration of a laugh or smile. But it is that brief distraction… that momentary connection that just may be enough to rekindle hope. It is as if the pain/problems/ troubles/ pressures are temporarily interrupted and dissipated. This small disruption doesn’t mean that all the difficult stuff is “cured”, but the troubles have perhaps been shifted into a different perspective. Somehow, there is a subliminal message saying, “Life seems good again--or like it could be good again. Maybe there will be something else to laugh about tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…”

I am reminded of the T.V. show “Mash”, that has enjoyed decades of re-runs.

Somehow in the middle of serious anguish and even death, there was humor and a realistic acknowledgment of the pain. It meant something to the MASH staff to have each other—and know each other well—to be able to create many humorous conversations and situations/ practical jokes. That was helpful to them in their own distress. With their patients, it was a different story.

When dealing with others in their pain, general wisdom has found it better to have a high level of understanding and affirmation when others are currently embroiled in severe stress or pain issues. After acknowledging their hurt, and they first feel some level of caring, compassion or understanding, then humor can be used as an appropriate response. It’s usually successfully used after we can gauge the other’s comfort level.

We ourselves—when we are continually immersed in trouble as that Mash unit was—we may find ourselves, in the helplessness of the situation, turning more to humor, and feeling free to do so.


HUMOR AS A POSITVE WEAPON

We all have seen humor mis-used as a weapon to hurt—even by accident. But it can be a very positive weapon in life.

The “Mash” doctors usually did not fail to address the problems which continually knocked on the doors of their tents. They simply lived out a sense of the “ridiculous” in a more extreme way than big-city doctors stateside were doing-- or felt compelled to do. In the war zone setting, they continuously lived mostly quite powerless over a great many factors in their lives—including “reasonable office hours”. The daily radical encounters with pain, death, and misery that they experienced tugged hard at the extremities of humor.

It can be quite convincingly said that humor is a mighty weapon (albeit, temporary and limited) against fear, discouragement, doubt, depression, unfruitful anger, problems not readily solved, and even [non-clinical] ‘insanity’. In those very real wrestling matches, it can be a quite preferable and winning alternative. Deeper and more sustained answers then come a little more readily—with a little less stress. More substantial and necessary coping solutions, perspectives and patterns—along with the deepest, holiest, and truest character traits— co-exist quite comfortably with good humor. We have a long history of saints and outstanding historical figures who attest to this fact.


FINALLY! SOME HUMOR

For the next few blogs, we will be giving excerpts from some joke books that we had here in the store. We are arranging them under the headings of “church life”, “relationship humor” and “aging”. We hope you enjoy them.

DISCLAIMER/ WARNING/ Potentially Helpful Advice: Defense mechanisms may become necessary while reading. You are welcome to use this one as needed: Just keep repeating to yourself, if anything hits too close to home: “That, of course, was not meant for me. It was aimed at the other guy…” We, too, disavow any direct targeting of you or your life or friends or family or church. For you other braver souls, we say: Feel free to laugh at yourselves, too!

Here’s a few to start us off…

Most people don’t mind if a sermon goes over their heads, as long as it hits somebody else.”1


Beth, the parish secretary, was feeling pretty discouraged, claiming her heavy workload had led to the recent mistakes in the bulletin:

~Remember in your prayers the many people who are sick of our church.”

~On Tuesday evening there will be a potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.

~The pastor will be on vacation for the next two weeks. Massages can be given to the parish secretary.”2


The seminarian asked his philosophy teacher the difference between ignorance and apathy. ‘I don’t know,’ the teacher said snappily, ‘and I don’t care.’”3


A little girl walked to and from school daily. One day the weather report that morning was okay. But by afternoon the winds had whipped up, bringing thunder and lightning. The little girl’s mother was worried and got in her car and drove along the route to her child’s school. As she did, she saw her little girl walking along. At each flash of lightning, the child would stop, look up, and smile. The mother pulled up, opened the door, and asked, ’What are you doing, Honey? Why are you stopping and smiling every time there is lightning?’ The little girl said, ‘God is taking pictures of me… Don’t you think he wants me to smile?’”4


As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools.” 5


I don’t know how I got over the hill without getting to the top.”6


The married couple, both 70 years old, was celebrating their 50thanniversary.

That night, God appeared to them in prayer to congratulate them for their faithfulness and grant them each one wish. The wife wanted to travel around the world. Poof! The wife had tickets in her hand for a world cruise. Next, God asked the husband what he wanted. He said, ‘I wish I had a wife 30 years younger than me.’ Poof! The husband was 100.” 7


During his summer vacation, the high school teacher injured his back and had to wear a fiberglass cast under his shirt around his upper body. On the first day of school, he was having a hard time keeping the boys… quiet. So he opened a window until a breeze made his tie flap over his shoulder. Then he walked calmly over to his desk, picked up a big stapler, and stapled the tie to his chest. No boy in class was ever inattentive again.” 8


Well, we hope that short sampling whet your appetite for more. If so, join us for the next few blogs in our “Humor and Joy” series.


THE “HUMOR AND JOY” SERIES

You just finished reading:


“PART I: WHY HUMOR?”

(Potentially useful information, and several jokes near the end…)

Next in the series is:


“PART II: RELIGIOUSLY RIDICULOUS CHURCH JOKES”

(Self-explanatory)


“PART III: JOY or HAPPINESS? The JOURNEY, the FOCUS and the LOVE”

Here, we take a closer look at the differences in these related subjects. Each can have a very blessed place in our lives. Hope it gives both food for thought and some encouragement.

Next, we look further at the pursuit of joy—a life-giving aspect of our walk with and for the Lord. We’ll share some papal views and see where scriptures, humor and laughter fit in.


PART IV: “SEEKING JOY

Meanwhile, ENJOY HUMOR, SMILES and LAUGHTER”

Then we focus on a subject that has great humor potential:


“PART V: LAUGHING IN RELATIONSHIPS” (mostly jokes… Really!)

Finally, for our ending, (as in real life) we arrive at…


“PART VI: AGING…” Tread lightly, but Enjoy! (Yes, almost all jokes)

This series is based on one we did in the summer of 2015. It was a series called, “HUMOR”, and was written and posted at trinitychurchsupply.com/blog and writtenby Kathy Boh. We enlarged it in 2017, and now present our somewhat updated version this summer of 2019.


FOOTNOTES:

1.Oh, Brother , by Brother Loughlan Sofield, ST, p. 46

2.Ibid, p. 66

3.Ibid, p. 40

4.The Second Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 36

5.The Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 39

6.The Third Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 46

7.Ibid, p. 44

8.The Last Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 29


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