Remember our meditations on the spiritual fool Ken Feit who reminded us we can and should make fun of most things in life?
Well, humor is one more proof that we are all artists and it has a role to play in the Via Creativa and Via Transformativa. To make humor and to respond to it—i.e. to have a sense of humor—is proof of the creativity in us all yearning to be liberated. Never trust a prophet who lacks a sense of humor—such people are zealots, not prophets. A zealot is a false prophet and there are plenty of them running around.
In the Bible Jonah is a prophet who shared a sense of humor. But he is not alone and we don’t have to go back 3500 years to learn that prophets use humor all the time. And comedians are very often prophets for they wake us up in the most vulnerable way possible: By making us laugh.
Satire is an important contribution to political discourse and it unmasks our common humanity. A family member sent me the above humorous piece and it seemed fitting to launch on the eve of the Impeachment trial of a president who, among others things, does not laugh very much or make us laugh very much. Maybe this will help him as well as the rest of us.
“Hard times require fierce dancing” says Alice Walker. She is so right. Also, I propose, hard times require fierce laughing.
Thank you, comedians, for your sense of humor and sharing it. Surely comedy is one of the greatest of all our divine-like arts of creativity. What a noble vocation it is! Remember: If you can laugh you are an artist!
In the midst of serious work critiquing and resisting folly and injustice (often the same thing), we must keep ourselves oiled and wet by keeping our sense of humor alive and well. It’s always dangerous to take ourselves too seriously. And our projects.
Medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas endorses the virtue of eutrapelia or play this way: “To be playful is part of the virtue of modesty.”
Why? It is knowing our limits, recognizing we are all human and therefore limited and in need of play as well as work. We need balance in our lives.
Aquinas cautions that it is wrong to be a burden to others by hiding our enjoyment. He calls people who are “without mirth” sinful and “ungrateful boors.” He says: “Anyone who is without mirth is not only lacking in playful speech, but is also burdensome to others, since they are deaf to the mirth of others. Consequently they are said to be ungrateful boors.”
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, p. 438.
Banner Image: “Untitled” Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
Do you know people (including yourself) who are at times “without mirth” and therefore “ungrateful boors”? What can you do about it?
Do you agree Hard Times require Fierce Laughing?
Did you laugh out loud at the link that led to satire on the wall? How many times?
Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him. He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French). He gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way. The result is exciting!