Laughter Duty

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I threw the following tweet into the digital abyss the other day, and watched it flutter downward, ever downward, reminding me of one of those maple tree whirligig things.

Anyhow, this is what I said.

Those who cannot respond to examples of cultural madness with laughter are in the process of going mad themselves.

And here is my explanation of that sentiment, for an explanation is called for, I think.God John

There are two basic kinds of disaster movies. The first is when you are dealing with a row of volcanoes down the main thoroughfare of your city, and an underpaid director of the sewers, with an attractive assistant, is responsible for putting a cork in them all, lest we all perish. Or something along those lines.

The other kind of disaster movie is when the driving energy of the disaster is human all the way through, all too human. We call this kind of movie a farce.

All right. There is kind of a third sort, where an attempt at hybridization is made — where an omnicompetent villain assumes the role of the volcano row, or the giant asteroid, or the three tsunamis, or whatever.

Now the besetting sin of conservatives is that of believing they are in the third kind of disaster movie instead of being where they actually are, which is in the second kind.

I am reminded of the definition given to the word idiot by the lexicographer Ambrose Bierce.

“Idiot – A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot’s activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but “pervades and regulates the whole.” He has the last word in everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line.”

Conservatives tend to mind their own business, wanting to bring up their own kids, do their own thing. When it begins to dawn on them that High Folly is now running the show, the usual response is either anger or fear. With this as motivation, they launch into a life of activism. But both motivations are easily incorporated by the adversary, and used to their advantage. Anger and fear cede far too much authority to the foe — whenever we think we are up against Marx, but it turns out to be the Marx Brothers.

And so here it is. There is a certain kind of laughter that is the only effective serious response.

That said, let me answer one particular objection. In the particulars, I do not think that human damnation is funny. In a similar way, I do not think corruption of great republics funny. I don’t call it a laugh riot when that great poverty machine called socialism is unleashed on the people.

But educated people (with drivers’ licenses) defending socialism is funny. This is because, in another sense, human pride and self-importance are always funny. And it is that pride and self-importance that build the prison in which the tragedies occur. If you want to break open that prison, you have to be up for mocking the jailers. Cowering before the jailers leaves them alone, and showering them with angry abuse just makes their walls that much thicker.

“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: The Lord shall have them in derision” (Psalm 2:4).

From Elijah taunting the priests of Baal to Jesus roasting the Pharisees, and from Jesus roasting the Pharisees to Luther backhanding the papacy, we see the potency of righteous ridicule. Do not make the mistake of thinking that the “humorist” is a trifler in these deadly serious affairs of ours. He might be the only one taking the threat as seriously as it deserves, and it may be that he is the only one offering an effective counterpunch.

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Eric Snyder
Eric Snyder
5 years ago

I wanted to thank you for your continued clarity and conviction. As a pastor I am working hard at listening and learning as it relates to fighting for the truth. Humor, for me, has been very hard to find in the midst of the rapid degeneration. I also struggle with the role of mockery/ridicule and how do you relate to enemies of the truth? How do you fight back, what is okay and what is not okay, etc. I don’t know, wanted to share out loud with you regarding this as your one leader I trust in all of this.

izrik (Richard Sartor)

That screenshot is hilarious. What video is it from?

jigawatt
jigawatt
5 years ago

The Lord in Heaven laughs
He knows what is to come
While all the Chiefs of State plan their big attacks
Against His Anointed One

— Rich Mullins

B. Josiah Alldredge
B. Josiah Alldredge
5 years ago
Reply to  jigawatt

Wait, Rich Mullins did a version of Psalm 2?

jigawatt
jigawatt
5 years ago

“While the Nations Rage” on “Never Picture Perfect” (1989).

http://www.kidbrothers.net/lyrics/wtnr.html

Valerie (Kyriosity)
5 years ago

“The Emperor’s New Clothes” has come to mind a lot lately. Laughter broke that spell. It’s needed again now as he’s taken to hanging out in the girls’ room.

Mr. M
Mr. M
5 years ago

Kill the gays!

Arwenb
Arwenb
5 years ago
Reply to  Mr. M

Have you considered advocating the murder of people you don’t like on a post that actually is relevant to that topic?

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  Mr. M

? “Kill the gays” ????
We can’t do that.
It’s well past 1985 and we still haven’t even nuked the whales!????

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  Mr. M

Good attempt, but your delivery is really lacking. Hang out on Twitter a while, learn from the experts. (For instance, the folks who responded to people using “#LoveWins” with “#GravityWins”.)

Mr. M
Mr. M
5 years ago
Reply to  ashv

Sorry I’ll try again, this time I’ll sound more Christian – kill the sodomites!!

Arwenb
Arwenb
5 years ago
Reply to  Mr. M

Mmmmmeh.
Needs more fire and brimstone.

katie
katie
5 years ago
Reply to  Arwenb

But the double exclamation marks show solid effort.

Arwenb
Arwenb
5 years ago
Reply to  katie

True! I didn’t notice those!

Ilion
Ilion
5 years ago
Reply to  katie

But the double exclamation marks show solid effort.
Naaa, he’s still a piker. *Real* “solid effort” would have been something like “!!1!”

andrewlohr
andrewlohr
5 years ago
Reply to  Mr. M

“Nuke the gay Iranian whales”–’80s bumper sticker.

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  andrewlohr

Now that you mention it, I have not seen a “gay Iranian whale” in a long time. I wonder if “millers3888” is on to something? ?

John Stoos
John Stoos
5 years ago

Some weeks ago coming home from church, I was following a new Hyundai with a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker. I so wanted to stop and get out and ask them why they didn’t buy a car from North Korea. :-)

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
5 years ago

Do not make the mistake of thinking that the “humorist” is a trifler in these deadly serious affairs of ours. He might be the only one taking the threat as seriously as it deserves, and it may be that he is the only one offering an effective counterpunch.

Thanks, Doug. This really means a lot to me.

Eric Snyder
Eric Snyder
5 years ago

G.K. Chesterton seems to me to be a saint as it relates to humor and orthodoxy. His way of thinking and how he engaged enemies is what I want to do, but my it is hard!

David R
David R
5 years ago

“The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn” – Luther

Rob Steele
Rob Steele
5 years ago

Yes but it’s got to be funny. Mere snarling and snark is just ugly. The real thing requires wit and work and might best be left to professionals if there were such a thing. Of course it won’t be funny to its targets, they’ll just whip themselves and dance harder.

katie
katie
5 years ago
Reply to  Rob Steele

Agreed. Snark is so often embarrassingly unfunny.

Dave Light
Dave Light
5 years ago

As a grandparent of students in the Evangel Classical School with a Raggant mascot and a school motto of “Risus est Bellum” a hearty Amen.

Matt
Matt
5 years ago

What about those who don’t believe there is a disaster at all?

Ben
Ben
5 years ago

I agree with this assessment. It is very important to see past the ostentatious decorum and gravitas the political/media/academic/enforcement classes give themselves. Have you ever been to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or seen video of the guard posted there who does his goofy march routine? What happens if one person laughs out loud? He gets angrily shushed, or maybe even assaulted. What if ten random people in the audience just happen to laugh at the same time at a particularly goofy moment in the routine? It’s a little harder to shush them all. But what happens if everyone… Read more »

Mona
Mona
1 year ago

This seems even more relevant today than when it was written.