To have fun in the face of evil and turmoil and ugliness is almost revolutionary.
Is your stole draped over your shoulders or tied around your neck? That’s a pseudo-serious question for all the pastor types in our Baptist world — and even for the laypeople. If you don’t know what a stole is, well …. I think we take ourselves too seriously. We need to laugh more, especially in church. Will Rogers is credited with the saying “If you can’t laugh at your religion then it’s not true religion.” That’s actually worth thinking about!
Our world is so full of terrible, sad and painful events. Just a quick look at the news is enough to make us all depressed if we paid just a little attention. Many of us who care about the world rage against this machine of evil, and commit ourselves to incredibly important movements — crazy things like the Kingdom of God. There are so many evils that we rightly need to confront: racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, human trafficking, payday lending, the list goes on and on and on. Every one of these evils deserves our attention and our seriousness.
In the long shadow of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday that we just observed last month, we should all recommit ourselves to the two fundamental aspects of the Beloved Community: justice and love. But as we confront the biting issues of our time as people of faith, we must refuse the inclination to become curmudgeons. We should declare a moratorium on surly Christianity! No one likes Debbie Downer Deacons (Google SNL Debbie Downer right now — you will laugh)!
And we really need to laugh. Maybe it’s just me that needs a good laugh, but I think we all need a good laugh break. I have more life experience than Scripture to stand on here, but there’s little that does more for my soul than a good laugh — to have fun. My kids are great teachers to me in the department of fun. Recently they all got a balloon for some reason or another. These were the simple balloons, not the fancy helium kind — just the kind that sinks straight to the floor. Nevertheless, my 4-year-old daughter might as well have won the $400 billion Powerball!
That thing is fun to her. “Daddy, you want to play the balloon game?” This is the made-up game where you hit the balloon back-and-forth and try to keep it from falling to the floor. You can play this game anywhere (and at any time). She asks me this question when I’m brushing my teeth in the morning and when I put down the mail in the evening. She is an expert at fun.
When I’m in good student form, I can learn a lot from her. Just this morning before breakfast, we played the balloon game in the middle of the living room — close enough to the hearth to be dangerous. Every time she hit the balloon she laughed out loud. Every time she laughed out loud the funnier the game was, and the more fun we had. By the time we were finished with our game — it took nearly three minutes — we were both ready for breakfast and ready for our day. The fun was on!
When you are in the middle of the living room early in the morning keeping a balloon from hitting the floor and you’re nearly 40, you just can’t be taking yourself too seriously. What a gift! She is truly a good teacher. This fun is so good and right it must come from God. It is innocent and good for the soul.
I think God wants us to have fun. To have fun in the face of evil and turmoil and ugliness is almost revolutionary. Fun is the nemesis of evil in some ways. When fear and terror and evil raise there ugly heads and demand our attention, demand our seriousness, demand our lives, what would it mean to just laugh back at them? Our capacity to find fun tells all this chaos that it cannot control us. It is almost a declaration of holy indifference to laugh and have fun in the face of such things — it’s nearly a mockery of their ineptitude. Fun can be powerful; it usually is.
Life is not always nice, or at least it hasn’t always been nice to me. I think that’s probably the case with most of us. Grief is one of the most profound common denominators of all humanity. But I think fun is equally profound, which is why I believe true fun comes from God. The truth be told, the friends and family that I love most are the ones I have the most fun with. And it is those friends and family that I turn to when I need to grieve and cry and mourn the most. There is a thin line between laughing and crying, and you usually share that with your closest companions.
Life can’t be fun all the time, we all know that, but I don’t want us to neglect the holy aspect of fun while we try our best to be good Christians. In fact, if you actually searched for SNL Debby Downer and watched any of those videos, the funniest and most fun parts of the skits are when the comedians started to laugh at themselves. Watching them have fun is what is so fun. It helps us have fun. In that way it is a good sort of contagion.
Fun needs to be a part of our Christian lives. I’m pretty sure it’s in the Bible — somewhere.