Getting Big Laughs with The Pledge of Allegiance

A memory:

I’m making the eight or so classmates of mine who can hear me suffer from having to hold their laughter in. We’re all standing beside our desks saying the Pledge of Allegiance, same as we did every morning. On this morning, though, something in my sixth-grade brain snapped at the idea of repeating the same thing I’d been saying every school morning of my life.

So while everyone else was saying the normal words of the pledge, I said the words in parenthesis:

I pledge allegiance (I’m so tired of saying)

To the flag (These dumb words)

of the United States of America (that we say every day of our lives)

And to the Republic (Why can’t they let us)

For which it stands (Say anything else)

One nation (One time)

Under God (For God’s sake)

Indivisible (Just once)

With liberty and justice for all. (So that I can not pass out and die).

In the course of delivering my blasphemous improvisation I looked around, and saw the kids near me struggling not to explode with laughter. A couple of the girls near me were watching me with tears rolling down their beet-red faces.

And I thought: Whoa. It’s good—it’s very good—to be funny.

My mother had disappeared. Living with my (long absent and now returned) dad and the woman I now supposed to call mom was horrible.

But I was funny. And funny got me loving attention. And getting loving attention was, for me, like a cold jug of Gatorade to a man dying of thirst.

You better believe the next day I had a Pledge of Allegiance routine that was even funnier. I sat down and wrote that one.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://www.maranathachapel.org Tim Arnold

    Pain obviously produces comedy. Even beyond the slapstick shenanigans of the Three Stooges, some of humankind's most brilliant comedians suffered horrid childhoods, relationships, and lives in general. What I've come to see, is that those who have suffered or are suffering, (myself included) are desperately looking for ways to generate joy. What is more joyful than making someone laugh until they piss themselves. However, I'm still trying to figure out if my sick irreverence is a gift from God, or just an inherited knack that embarrasses Him (yeah, I think of God as a dad).

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Great points, Tim! I'm sure your irreverence is a gift from God. I can't imagine there are many things for which God yearns more than he must a few "irreverent" believers.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    There's something special about the spontaneous humor that stems from "just snapping." Fantastic.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Thank you, Skerrib. And of course you're right about the humor. I actually find the key to sort of always thinking funny is always remaining in "snapped" mode. That's where the funny is.

  • http://www.PreciseEdit.com preciseedit

    Thanks for sharing. We used to change the pledge up every now and then in elementary. It does get a little monotonous after saying it everyday.

    I always liked our state pledge. It was short and straight to the point.

    "I salute the flag of the state of New Mexico, the Zia symbol of perfect friendship among united cultures."

    Not to mention that our classrooms in New Mexico were always indicative of "friendship among united cultures." It was always nice to pledge to the state flag every morning while standing next to my friend from Germany and my friend from Cochiti Pueblo, I being Hispanic. That made pledging worth it!

    Learn more about the Zia symbol and our state flag:
    http://www.sos.state.nm.us/KidsCorner/StateSymbol

  • http://www.cornerstone4sq.tv Kory

    I always liked the Texas pledge. I pledge allegiance to the State of Texas, by which it stand by itself in a field of others that wished they were Texas. We are united, proud and if you don't like it, then we can open a can of you know what, on you. Don't mess with Texas, don't tread on me. God Bless Texas, home of the real brave. Amen and pass the ammunition!

    I then follow this up with a quick singing of "The Aggie Fight Song".

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Precise: What a nice thought/image. Thanks for sharing it.

    Kory: Too funny!


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