Lent (Day 20) — halfway through — Ch. 6 “Laughing in Church”

Martin’s purpose in Ch. 6 is twofold.  First, he wants to suggest that too many church communities are deadly serious.  And when someone in power takes themselves too seriously, the result is often deadly.  And second, there is good humor and bad humor.  Humor meant to demean someone is hurtful and can do quite a bit of damage.  Martin tells a story about himself as a boy — he was watching some sitcom that had edgy humor.  In the context of the show, that edgy humor was a lot of fun, but when he turned one of the edgy humor on a classmate the next day, he could see that the joke (a funny insult) tossed at someone in real life is not funny, but hurtful.  And that misstep has stayed with him throughout his life.  Though he doesn’t spend all his life fretting about this mistake from his youth, I think this is a good kind of guilt — it stays with him, and helps to serve as a reminder to be gentler and more mindful.  Humor used as a weapon is especially hurtful, as ridicule demeans who we are and makes us doubt our inherent worth and dignity.  

So humor can be somewhat risky, but the risks of lack of humor are great too.  The most memorable line from the chapter is: “(W)hen bishops, priests, sisters, brothers…act as if they have the weight of the world on their shoulders, that no job is as difficult as theirs, and they alone are responsible for doing God’s work, then we’re in trouble.”  It is not that the work of the church, or the believer is not great, and seems overwhelming at times, but when the focus becomes us as guardians of God’s way — we’ve already lost focus on the way itself.  

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