“Humor plays close to the white hot fire of truth.” E. B. White

bill watterson wiki

“Our laughter contains the hope of redemption.” F.H. Buckley, The Morality of Laughter

Laughter. We began each class hour the same way.

DarwinawardWhen I was teaching in high school I would show the latest “Darwin Awards,” weekly “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoon strips, or “Weird News” items on an overhead at the beginning of classes. [Yes, I know overheads and acetate are tools of the past!]

bill larson far sideStudents coming into my high school classroom or office at Moody Bible Institute saw my door and adjacent walls plastered full of collected “funnies” cut from local newspapers.

Posters around the walls of my room included “Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk!” from none other than Curly of Three Stooges fame.

3 stoogesSelf-deprecating humor (making fun of ourselves) helped young people know that while I took very seriously what we studied, myself, not so much.

I believe:

Laughter finds a way for us to connect emotionally.

Laughter allows adversaries to consider friendship.

Laughter breaks down tensions, barriers to learning.

Laughter invites us to join in a shared experience.

Laughter binds propositional teaching to life.

But I also believe that laughter opens us to biblical truth.

frank and ernestComics like The Wizard of Id, Calvin and Hobbes, and Frank and Ernest did a good job of explaining human nature.  Of all the comics I have saved over the years those that communicate best are honest about our human nature.

Wiley Miller produced a Non Sequitur comic titled “The Essence of Human Nature.”  A man and a woman are standing by a sign that says, “Absolutely NO Machete Juggling.”  The man comments, “Suddenly I have an urge to juggle machetes.” [I have a signed copy of this comic from Mr. Miller]

machete juggling
hagar browneChris Browne’s Hagar the Horrible makes the case another way.  Hagar’s wife sees her husband leaving the house loaded down with weapons.

“Where are you going?” she asks.

“I’m meeting with Attila the Hun to discuss the possibility of a peace treaty.”

Frowning, her second question is, “Why do you need all those weapons?”

Hagar matter-of-factly explains, “It might not be possible.”

hagarIn discussions with his boy, Hagar insists, “Never turn your back on an enemy, my son!”  Reasoning with his father the child responds, “You should be more trusting Dad!  He’s not an enemy—he’s a ‘human being,’ just like you.”  Making his point Hagar rejoins, “THAT’S why you should never turn your back on him!”

bill watterson wikiPlaying close to the white hot fire of truth means we are honest about our human nature. We know that our laughter points toward our hope of redemption.

Yes, laughter lightens our mood but it also brings light to our way.

I still have the 3-inch binder full of overheads I used to jolt classes into jocularity.

Overheads are a thing of the past but laughter is ever present anytime I teach.

Mark August 2016 (2)Mark loves to laugh and make others laugh! This essay is being written toward Dr. Eckel’s upcoming book Up Against the Lockers: Teaching-Learning as Christian Practice.

Picture credits: Wikipedia

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  1. This is so true. Humor is so important to the hearts of people. It opens doors for better communication to almost everyone. Proverbs tells us that “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.”

    There are certainly many things that can make us feel bad, but those happy hearts make a big difference to all of us.

    Great reminder!

  2. I love this article, Dr. Eckel!

    I am reminded of humor in the Bible, namely a scene from the book of Job. Job’s friends have been doing what they are infamous for, and Job’s first line of response is: “No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you.” (Job 12:2)

    Or when Elijah is facing off with the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18 and says (v. 27), “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”

    True “LOL” moments in the Bible.

  3. The Bible says that laughter is a good medicine!!
    But i do notice that our best and most successful comedians are those tell the truth about our quotidian mistakes without political correctness! These jokes paint us for what we really are, shameful . Hence, laughter is a way of confronting our shame.
    Nowadays the war in freedom of speech seems to take away that powerful tool out ofour hands…

  4. I remember those overheads – great times in your Christian Life and World Studies classes…helped mold my theology and view of the world. Thanks again, Mark, for sharing your God-given insights and humor with those of us fortunate enough to know you. 😊

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