God Likes a Good Joke Just As Much As The Next Guy
A while back, I wrote a typically brilliant but largely ignored piece about God's sense of humor.
It was initiated in my mind by a bit that the now-disgraced comedian Bill Cosby used to do in his act. He talked about praying to God for healthy children, not wanting to put the Lord on the spot with too much specificity. And it was in his vagueness that God pulled all sorts of pranks, using his children as his tools.
When we think of God's gifts, we think of our children, grandchildren, dogs, cats, sunsets, sunrises, music, art, literature, The Grand Canyon and the like. Creations, natural and manmade-but-God-inspired, which elicit expressions of awe and appreciation.
He invented sex, which most would agree is very enjoyable, but it's also necessary to continue to regenerate the human race.
He invented breathing, something I like to do most days. Although breathing is fun, at least for me, God didn't invent it for fun. He invented it as part of His magnificent creation of the human body, and a critical task for deriving energy from the environment around us, to allow us to walk and talk and breakdance.
There are other necessary functions of our bodies that I won't get into in detail, but that some people find 'fun' (guys, think writing your name in the snow), but are also necessary for the proper functioning of what author Maggie Letvin used to call "The Beautiful Machine."
We don't often think of laughter as one of these bodily functions. Unless someone waxes poetic about 'the laughter of little children at play,' we don't look upon it with awe, although there is, by definition, amusement. But like all those other gifts, and everything else, God created laughter.
After all, if you have ever laughed so hard you couldn't catch your breath, you know that laughing can be great exercise. Who says you have to run on a treadmill and be miserable?
The biological benefits of humor are just the tip of the iceberg. Sociological and psychological benefits abound. But spiritual benefits?
Potential Offense alert: It's my duty to warn you that I may suggest some times when God was being funny. If you tend to view God as a serious, stolid, touchy, glowering creator, you may be flummoxed by His comedy stylings. Some people, when they are confused, respond angrily and take offense. I hope you don't.
Examples of God's sense of humor abound in the natural world. As an example, I present the duck-billed platypus:
I'll leave aside the name, which probably came from Adam, the first guy, who had the overwhelming task of naming animals, and understandably got a little silly when he named this. But look at him. It looks like a beaver in disguise! Like he was taunting a duck or doing some sort of dare.
I first learned of this amusing little creature on the seminal TV show of my youth, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. I believe he even had a puppet of one. And Mr. Rogers was also an ordained minister, so you can see God's sense of humor corroborated by a man of the cloth.
In fact, God's humor is shown over and over in the animal kingdom, however, I just learned that my use of the platypus as an example was hardly original. (See Google screenshot below. So much for being clever.)
Beyond the animal kingdom, God's levity is all around us.
Some natural wonders are obviously God's joke on us. Or some of us. Witness the Eternal Flame Falls. The flame is a result of humans, but the natural gas that is emitted from the rocks underneath is likely (heh heh!) God's fart joke. (remember, I warned you!)
If you have at least one sibling, you have absolutely experienced or perpetrated the dreaded 'I'm not touching you!' routine that parents bring on themselves (ho ho!) when they issue orders like, 'Tommy, stop touching your brother!'
God inspired this in the collective unconscious of humanity, most likely via the two pedestal stone monoliths that back up inches from one another without, you know, touching.
God laughs and laughs at people who decide to vacation at this lake, sight unseen. When they arrive, they find that the lake is (hee hee) actually lots of little lakes! Riot!
Imagine being whomever it was who discovered Ole Faithful, the geyser out in Yellowstone National Park. I don't think they were standing right over it, but they were close enough to get, hmm, startled a bit.
I am thinking that God nudges Abraham and says, 'Abe, watch this!' and Abraham stops doing whatever he was doing and pays attention.
There were 3 leaders of the expedition, Washburn, Langford, and Doane. The three men saw a hole in the ground emitting some sort of steam or smoke. Curious they approached and zeroed in on the hole in the ground.
And the Lord said, 'Here we GO!'
The resulting blast of steam didn't hit any of the 3 men, but the shock knocked them backward off their feet. This caused the ever-pious son of a pastor, Washburn, to exclaim, 'FIDDLESTICKS!!!'
The cavalry major, Langford, screamed, 'AAAAGGh, that hurt!'
Barkeeper Doane also screamed, but whatever he said was drowned out by the whining of the other two. It was probably more off-color than the first two.
Moses looked at Mother Teresa and rolled his eyes. Mother Teresa shook her head and resumed drawing pictures in the sky.
Sometimes God's sense of humor is in creating something so difficult to explain that people drive themselves nuts trying to do just that.
According to the website Scientific News, the number one, top scientific mystery of the 21st century is:
"The Meaning of Quantum Entanglement"
(The article is here if you care to delve. Personally, when I see terms like 'wormhole' or
'quantum' all I can think of is Star Trek, and to be honest, I don't care for Star Trek. There, I said it. I feel better. Lighter, ya know?
Anyway, scroll the list till you get to #1. Or don't. Apologies in advance...)
Unlike the other instances listed above, science is not a 'gag' per se. The thing God enjoys about this is watching His children try to figure things like this out.
He has gifted some of us (not me, by the way) with the talent and the curiosity to not only ask questions like these but also to reason out the answers. Or progress toward the answers and then to have those findings picked up and advanced further by some other scientist.
God loves to see His children utilizing their gifts. For science, for basketball, for piano, macrame, 1970s NBA Basketball trivia, shot putting or even hatchet throwing. There is an endless array of talents out there, and they are there to be used.
There is an even bigger array of gifts that God gives us 'just because.' Just because they will make us happy, enrich our lives, improve our quality of life. Laughter is one of those gifts.
The human organism could survive without giggling, cackling, guffawing, cracking up or rolling on the floor. But it is fun.
As a non-scientist, that's all it is. Fun. And God invented it. For us. For fun.
God is not taunting us. He could, certainly, given that we can never match His power, His knowledge, or His glory. No, He plays with us the way a parent plays 'Got Your Nose...' with a toddler. Or Peek-a-boo. Or hide-and-seek.
We are His children. He is our Father. He loves and cares for us. He helps us grow and develop. He gives us chores and other deliverables periodically. He gives us the resources we need to get the job done.
All of this is serious business, but that isn't all there is to God, our heavenly father. He loves to laugh with us and enjoy the journey we are taking with Him. It's not all fun. But some of it is pretty cool!
Thanks for reading. God bless you!
"Okay, who's the wiseguy who dropped the biggest rock in the world in the middle of the Australian outback?"
Jim Donaher is a writer, blogger, and author of the soon to be published, "Call Him, He's Home: Learning Prayer to Start and Grow Your Relationship with God" Click the title to read an excerpt.