Laughter: the Hiccup of a Fool?

Laughter has gotten a bad rap in the past. Charles Baudelaire in his The Essence of Laughter (1855) said, “Laughter is satanic, and, therefore, profoundly human. It is born of Man’s conception of his own superiority… It is at once a sign of infinite grandeur and of infinite wretchedness.” Also John Ray, in his English Proverbs (1670), claimed that “laughter is the hiccup of a fool.” In contrast, I like what George Macdonald had to say in Sir Gibbie(1879): “It is the heart that is not yet sure of its God that is afraid to laugh in His presence.” Chuck Swindoll had this to say in his article The Winsome Witness. (Winsome = win some?), “If you ask me, I think it is often just as sacred to laugh as it is to pray . . . or preach . . . or witness. But then – laughter is a witness in many ways. We have been misled by a twisted, unbalanced mind if we have come to think of laughter and fun as being carnal or even questionable.” Swindoll reminds us that there are caveats to his viewpoint, such as using humor that is off color or that demeans others or blasphemes our God. Such misuse of humor is just another example of how the evil one can take what is good and abuse it. Hey, did you hear the one about the young minister who was going door to door in the neighborhood asking for donations for the new children’s home that his church was building? “I’d appreciate any donation you can give” he said to the tired mom who answered the door. The mother eagerly replied, “I’ll give you two boys, two girls, or one of each.”  What a great opening illustration to talk about the daunting weariness that often accompanies parenting. Good pastors will then go on to apply Scripture to help parents face this great and responsible task. C. H. Spurgeon once explained to his students how he used humor in the pulpit to get a point across. He said that if you try to force open a live oyster or clam you may well not succeed. “What you need to do is tickle the edge of the shell and when it opens, stick the knife in.”  Check out this free e-book by a long-time pastor Leslie B. Flynn, entitled Serve Him with Mirth at  Next week I want like to look at the humor of Jesus.

One thought on “Laughter: the Hiccup of a Fool?

  1. Beverly

    Enjoyed reading this writIng in humor which I totally agree with. God has to love, invented it, how else would we get through some of our most challenging times if it weren’t for a few laughs and prayer !

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