Nov. 9, 2017

What's So Funny...?

Been a while. How goes it? From my end, there’s news, but we’ll get to that. Went back through the mound of half-baked columns I’ve started since I last posted and sifted through fillings to see what was ripe enough to serve. Of course, it’s a topic worthy of dessert, (usually eat mine first; hey, life is short,) luscious laughter.        

There are a select few people in my life who can consistently slay me with a well-placed cheeky comment. Words that from anyone else might be questionable but from this comic cohort usually elicit laughter that refuses to be contained, (guilty of a rather gaudy guffaw, try as I may to squelch it, it’s no use.) These jokesters, (BK and AK head the list, there’s an Oxx in there too,) are observers of life who all recognize that God has a sense of humor. They were obviously given marching orders when issued their flesh-suits, make people laugh, it’s good medicine.

So why don’t we do more of it?

Anyone who pays a modicum of attention to the news has little to laugh about, more like do your damnedest to keep from crying. Several columns ago, made the observation that humor had been kidnapped. It’s more than just that, who stole our decency and concern, our understanding?  The inflammatory and divisive rhetoric from the people we depend on to lead our country is in the line-up as one of the culprits. Makes me wonder if they somehow mistakenly believe that peace between the citizens of our nation is a joke. Not funny guys.   

Would like to circulate this in a government memo, a little yeast leavens all the dough, if it’s rotten, you make bad bread. Hoping that biblical bit of culinary wisdom isn’t too hard for them to understand. We all need to write it in our recipe books, remind ourselves to clear out the stuff that spoils everything. It’s not hard to recognize, it doesn’t build, it tears down. It feeds hatred and division. It covers our world with a darkness that leaves us vulnerable to children being gunned down in, of all places, a church.

Speaking of church, went to one recently with BK down in North Carolina that took me by surprise. Well, not the church, the priest. It was a new place for us, we were running short on time and found a spot closer to his apartment than we usually venture. As far as first impressions go, blew that one entirely. Sitting near the alter, waiting to give the homily, was an older priest. Let’s not mince words here, the dude was ancient. Was convinced I saw him drifting off, either that or his pre-speaking contemplation included a deeply drooping head warm-up. My neck hurt looking at him. Figured the next fifteen minutes was going to be a hot mess. Couldn’t have been more wrong. His was the most clear-headed and spot on sermon I've heard in a very long time. And his priceless instruction came packed with, wait for it…drum-roll…a heaping helping of humor.

This patriarchal pastor had us in stiches, in between hitting us over the funny bone with poignant instruction. He was cracking wise about a Sermonetics, (think that’s what he called it,) class he took in seminary. Recounted a criticism session after a particular student's practice sermon. He explained it was basically a class that polished public speakers through the encouragement and criticism of peers; the primary function was to hone mechanics, had nothing to do with content. Until this occasion. The gist of the story was a fundamental difference of opinion about the young seminarian’s substance. The class squared off on sides and a battle of epic proportions ensued. Helpful criticism turned into denigration, defamation, and condemnation. The professor sat quietly taking it all in for a while, then called for an armistice. 

The argument was about who understood the greatest commandment, one side said it was love of God, the other love of neighbor. After forcing the truce, their prudent prof told them they were all clueless, that love had nothing to do with turning on another human being, so viciously, over an opinion. Check me if I’m delusional, but doesn’t that hit close to our unhappy home of the brave? Our country seems hell-bent on bludgeoning each other over our opinions. And, unfortunately, that ignorance isn’t limited to politics, it’s everywhere, our work places, our neighborhoods, even our own families. We’re no less clueless than the young, ill-tempered seminarians.

His profound directive concluded by recounting the famous wedding fave, the Corinthians instruction about Love. He said more than knowing what it is, it was vital to understand what it is not; it isn’t envious or boastful, it doesn’t dishonor others, it’s not easily angered and doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. As old as my new favorite priest is, his teacher must be long dead. Too bad, he has my vote. That’s some fruitful yeast.

Ah, the interlude for news, told you we’d get to it. Our long wait to sell the house and be reunited in our new digs in North Carolina has come to an end. A real end, it isn’t happening. The man who makes me laugh everyday will be back in my life fulltime, in PA. We’re not going anywhere. BK got a job back in PA, being separated was killing us; especially me, I’ve grown a custom to a certain quota of laughter and my rations were dangerously low. Especially considering the current state of our country.

That brings me to my conclusion, you have to admit, laughter is luscious. It makes everything sweet. Who can laugh their ass off with someone and still walk away mad? Not likely. We need to put it back on the menu. A steady diet of sour, bitter and angry words is starving us of light, leaving us vulnerable to a darkness that will overtake us. Our individual actions feed us as a whole, expose us to the same, what we give is what we will ultimately get. Time to put some nourishing food on the table. And maybe a little background dinner music, can I suggest, Elvis Costello’s, What’s So Funny Bout Peace, Love & Understanding?        

 

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