Thursday, January 10, 2019

IN PRAISE OF HUMOR



From a piece by Andrew Sullivan from New York Magazine, dated December 7, 2018, entitled "America's New Religions":

"For many, especially the young, discovering a new meaning in the midst of the fallen world is thrilling. And social-justice ideology does everything a religion should. It offers an account of the whole: that human life and society and any kind of truth must be seen entirely as a function of social power structures, in which various groups have spent all of human existence oppressing other groups. And it provides a set of practices to resist and reverse this interlocking web of oppression — from regulating the workplace and policing the classroom to checking your own sin and even seeking to control language itself. I think of non-PC gaffes as the equivalent of old swear words. Like the puritans who were agape when someone said “goddamn,” the new faithful are scandalized when someone says something “problematic.” Another commonality of the zealot then and now: humorlessness."

****

"Knowing who we are, it would be really ridiculous
if we kept humour out of our loving.
We are all clowns though we don't always find it easy 
to laugh at our own clowning.

Lord, I love you more than anything...in general;
but in this brief particular minute I love this English cigarette
more...maybe even this Gauloise.

Lord, I give you my life, my whole life...
but not this small portion of my life, these three minutes...
when I'm not particularly keen on going to work. 

Lord, for you I would win over this city, 
France, the universe.
I would wear myself to a frazzle
working for your kingdom...
but I can't bear listening to this person 
telling me her petty irritations
for the hundredth time.

Yes, we are the heroes of this slapstick comic opera
and normally the audience that we are playing to
is ourselves.
But this is not the end of the story. 

When we have discovered this priceless comedian,
when we have left with a great roar of laughter
as we have told the funny story that is our life,
we may be tempted to throw ourselves
without more ado
into our careers as a clown, a career for which, after all,
it appears that we have considerable talent.

We would be tempted to think that this was not 
a matter of grave importance and that alongside
the high quality people, the strong and the saints
there would be room for a few clowns and fools
and that this would hardly upset God.
Admittedly this role is not a very exalted one
but nor is it a very demanding one
and this is in its favor.

It is at this point that we ought to recall
that God has not created us for human loving
but for that eternal awesome love
with which he loves everything
that he has ever created.

We should also accept his love
not as a large-hearted magnificent partner
but as the idiot beneficiary of it that we are,
devoid both of charm and basic loyalty. 

And in this adventure of Mercy
we are asked to give whatever we can
until we have nothing left.
We are even asked to laugh
when the gift that we make is defective
whether because of failure, filth or impurity. 

But we are asked also to be full of wonder
with tears of thanksgiving and joy
before this inexhaustible treasure
that flows into us from God's heart.

It is at this intersection 
of laughter and joy
that we find a peace 
beyond all confusion.

--Madeleine Delbrêl (1904-1964),  French Catholic author, poet, social activist and mystic,
from The Joy of Believing


LET'S NOT BE SO PRICKLY! 

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