Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jesus Laughed

If we are not careful we read too much into the slim pickings of the gospels concerning Jesus' humanity. A few decades ago Hugh Montefiore, an eminent theologian, got into some trouble by suggesting that there was nothing in the gospels to say Jesus wasn't gay. Montefiore was right but it was a step too far (and I'm about to find out if it still is). Maybe if a good Jewish boy hadn't found a wife by age 30... I'll stop. You can't argue from silence.

Thing is, speaking about Jesus' humanity, we often fall back on those slim pickings. He was hungry. He was rude. He got tired and angry. Look how normal he was, we say.

I wish the shortest verse in the Bible was 'Jesus laughed' not 'Jesus wept.' Again you can't argue that because the Bible knows nothing of Jesus splitting his sides (oops) he never did. But the gospels appear to be a humourless place. Planks and logs - possibly amusing. You can get a camel through the eye of a needle given an industrial strength liquidizer but Jesus wouldn't have known that.

There is, as a piece in last Saturday's Guardian pointed out, a tradition of telling jokes at Easter services - the long, dark nights of no-fun Lent are over. But there are many people for whom, faith is no laughing matter and to whom jokes have to be pitched carefully. I'll never get the hang of that, as you know.

For Lent I was challenged by my colleagues to give up the knee-jerk put-down; the sarcastic and belittling response that comes so naturally to me. I failed about six times (I may have missed some) but I spent the whole of Lent trying. Trouble is, unlike the chocolate denyer who can stuff themselves on three chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday afternoon, I feel somewhat bound to keep going. I did consider visiting all my colleague's houses and indulging in drive-by contempt whilst they snoozed after Sunday lunch. Somehow that seemed churlish.

So Jesus, if you're listening, I intend to carry on assuming you laughed as well as cried. Let me know if that's wrong. I'll strap the humour back on again now and recommit to using it in assertion of my humanity. I'll tinge it with occasional outbreaks of mercy but don't hold your breath.

1 comment:

Doug Chaplin said...

Reading Job, I'd have to say Jesus' Dad has a really good line in sarcastic put-downs, so perhaps there's hope for you.