When I was growing up in the USA an ice cream truck used to come around the suburban neighborhoods and the man selling ice cream was the ‘Good Humor Man’. I was never quite sure why he was called the Good Humor Man. I guess it was simply the name brand of the ice cream he sold. Anyway, around he came with his van playing a merry tune and all the children would run out from playtime clutching pennies and nickels and dimes to buy ice cream from the Good Humor Man.
From time to time on this blog I sprinkle if some humor–my satirical pieces, a few lighter moments from everyday life, some wry observations and maybe from time to time some belly laughs. Why is that? There are a couple of reasons:
First of all, I take my responsibility on this blog seriously. In other words, I’m writing for my audience, and I usually ask myself before I write a post whether I am going to write something that I would actually like to read myself. If not, dump it. I also therefore try to write in a style that is both informative and entertaining, and a few laughs help to keep it entertaining.
But there is more to it than that. I find that often when I am being most serious I am being most serious about myself, and that surely can’t be a good thing. We have to be able to laugh at life. Most of all, we have to be able to laugh at ourselves. What is most worrying is when religious people can’t laugh at themselves and see the lighter side of their religion too. You know what C.S.Lewis said, “You can usually tell the pillars of the church because their faces look like stone.”
The other day I was counseling someone about a personal problem. It was all very serious, but not that serious. I mean, not life or death stuff. This gal was getting all worked up and in a lather about her problem and finally I said, “You know, in the cosmic perspective this is not such a big deal. Are you maybe taking yourself too seriously? Maybe you should see how dead serious you are and have a laugh.”
God be praised. She paused for a moment and then burst out laughing. “You’re right father. I’m taking myself far too seriously!” It’s when a person gets that serious, self righteous and lofty look that I start getting creeped out. Whoa! Here’s a person heading down the path of self righteousness big time. Too bad! They’re heading for the ‘down’ escalator and they don’t even know it.
Now I know that life and death and heaven and hell are a serious business and I realize that the church is being attacked, and I know that there is an awful lot of wickedness out there (and in my heart too) and I accept that the devil is working overtime, but there’s also an awful lot of po-faced, super serious Catholic anger out there and that’s not nice to see.
So that’s why I weave in some humor: to pop our balloons, to poke fun–especially at those who think they’re taking the faith seriously, when all they’re doing is taking themselves seriously. I use humor because ‘humor’ and ‘human’ and ‘humility’ and ‘humus’ (which means earth) all come from the same root. That means humor goes down deep. It brings us down to earth. It levels us, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s the litmus test for real spirituality. If a person can’t joke–especially about themselves–there are some big time problems.
So call me the good humor man if you like. I’m going to tool around playing the merry music of humor and hope all the children come running. Did you know that on average adults laugh 17 times a day and children laugh 200? They’re the ones who will get into the kingdom remember? Ask for the joy of your youth to be restored, for unless you become like a little child you cannot enter the kingdom.