"Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God."
-- Karl Barth
Two things I know about the world:
1) Everything matters.
2) This can be a real problem.
It wasn’t always this way for me. I was taught, via hymns like “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”, that only one thing mattered: God. Everything else was to “grow dim”.
But, like Flannery O’Connor, and probably you, I now see that it’s precisely because of God that everything takes on meaning. Everything is interesting. Everything matters. Nothing grows dim. It’s all fascinating. I’m serious. Snails and snorkeling and quarks and quarter-notes; Shakespeare and shrubbery; neural paths, base paths, mud, Mongolia, and melody; linguistics, light, and Liechtenstein; gravity, garbage; corpuscles, Cassiopeia, and Captain Crunch.
And this is a problem, because, like Oscar Wilde noted about a rival worldview to Christianity, Marxism, it "takes up too many spare evenings.” So much to be serious about! To be angry at! So much injustice! So much suffering! So little time! Do something! Panic!
This is a real problem if you are prone to taking yourself too seriously, like, say -- oh, let me think -- me.
And hey, maybe I've had it right, this serious-taking, right? Two reasons to be duly burdened, for starters: There’s suffering everywhere. And I’m a moral failure. That's quite enough, but there's more where those two came from, like mortality, nuclear proliferation, the Dolphins' draft strategy, etc.
And then we’re supposed to be like Jesus, right? And wasn’t Jesus the “man of sorrows”?
But this is where I’ve been changing my thinking. Forgive me for being late to the party. I’m now thinking that Jesus was the Man of Sorrows because he had to carry everyone’s burden in a very specific way. This is not something I am asked to do. He did it.
And I’m also noticing -- I knew this, but never knew it -- that Jesus loved to party. In fact, his favorite topic was, in a way, the ultimate party. To the Jews, hungry ancient-types that they were, the Kingdom of God would ultimately be about food and drink and laughter and storytelling and reunion, and yet more food and drink. With, like, actual alcohol.
We have no record of Jesus ever turning down a party.
My mom used to tell me to lighten up. She was first of a long line. I’m intense. I can’t help it. God made me intense, dangit. But I’m trying to be intense about lightening up.
Our motley church group here is a party waiting to happen. (We were musing about logos and marketing mottos: "Our church is your church's party.") Seriously: We all love subversion, and man, there’s something subversive about joy.
Oh, yes, everything matters. Everything's interesting. And, when you get right down to it, you know what?
Everything is pretty dang funny.