How Long May I Laugh?

How Long May I Laugh? May 23, 2018

Was curious and sad to see that Warren Throckmorton is no longer blogging at Patheos. You can read what he says here. He has moved all his content to a new cyber home if you want to bookmark his page.

And Adam Ford has sold the Babylon Bee and moved to something called the Christian Daily Reporter. Here is the manifesto, or call for sanity in an a world ever more narrowly constrained by social media.

I have found this complaint, though not the facts to back it up, often on my lips.* I feel oppressed by facebook. It feels to me like my posts start to take off in the morning, when I first hit share, but then by the afternoon have been duly restored to their proper place by all the algorithms. I don’t actually know how it works. But before sometimes they would spin out all day, whether shared or unshared.

And I wonder more and more about the freedom to be wrong. I have so many thoughts and feelings that I know are not approved of by Facebook and Google. In spite of all the reminders to be woke, to keep the laws of social justice, I am never able to wholeheartedly answer the call, to live my life in accordance with the wisdom of the moment.

Also, I was, cough, fairly outspoken about my total dislike of the Michael Curry sermon. I stepped on some toes, though not very many, in my contrarian obstinate refusal to join the wide world consideration that this 13 minute ‘sermon’ was the embodiment of awesome. Look how he showed those stuffy English what’s what, everyone said.

Incidentally, why is that Americans are often found frothing with excitement over ‘the Royals’ but still want to stick it to the English? I don’t get it. Do the English really need to be pulled out of their supposedly terrible narrow lives and shown the light of day by self-expressive shouty Americans? I know a few English people and there is nothing remotely stuffy about them. They are individually much funnier than if all the Americans in the world were gathered into a single improvised comic moment.**

Seriously, I appreciate, adore even, the embarrassed restraint of the English soul. I think Americans could do with whole mountains of self-restraint, with truckloads of self-editing. Barring that, a vague desultory reticence to exalt every single emotion that bubbles up bidden or unbidden, would be most welcome.

And really, it was a terrible sermon. As I said on our podcasting fisk, part of the problem is the rhetorical brilliancy of Michael Curry. He is a studied speaker. He smoothly appeals to the emotions over the mind. He is well paced and thrilling in his delivery. And all that makes the content go down like a sugar pill. But the content was not the gospel. And I don’t care what denomination you are, if you have the word “christian” anywhere appended in your doctrinal anything, you have a duty to preach the gospel.

The gospel is not Love God and your Neighbor. That’s the Law. The gospel is that you should keep the law but can’t, that God came and did it for you, perfectly, that he died in your place, that he rose on the third day, that he ascended into heaven and will come back to judge both the living and the dead. That if you repent and turn to him he will work out in you the slow painful business of loving God and loving your neighbor. Also, the “while you’re at it love yourself” bit is such a toxic little gem. That’s not the most pressing issue of the age. Lack of self love is not the problem.

But over-earnest, pinched-mouth lack of humor is certainly something that concerns me. And the Zuckerberg Facebookization of western culture is nothing if not unbearably humorless. I bet he shudders over every meme, every joke, instead of chuckling.

As I keep saying, if I don’t laugh, I will cry. But how long will I be allowed to laugh?

*Out of the heart, as you may have heard, the mouth speaks.
**Just to be completely and unverifiably hyperbolic.

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