Sunday, May 28, 2017

joking matters

St Clement of Alexandria talks to us today in A Year with the Church Fathers. He tells us about good joking and bad joking.

His point is that joking can be a very good thing. When we say "That guy has a serious drinking problem!" because he actually drinks alot of water, it's a good thing, showing his self control. When we use jokes to make others feel good about themselves and happier, then jokes are good things.

But if we make jokes that belittle people, even people who aren't present at the moment, then we've crossed a line into jokes that hurt. We need to avoid those. I know that if someone says bad things about someone who isn't present, even if they're joking, it makes me wonder what they say about me when I'm not around.

So a good rule of thumb is that good-natured self-deprecating humor is good. And jokes about subjects that aren't other people you know are good. "What do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start!" might not be a great joke, since it might make lawyers or people who have lawyers in their family feel bad (even if it's funny.) But "What do you call a Rastafarian proctologist? a Pokemon..." is a good joke, because it doesn't hurt anyone and it's just a play on words.

Basically, with jokes as with all of life, we should act in love. If your jokes are making other people happy, and you're loving them by telling your jokes, then you're in good shape. But if your words hurt, even if you're "just joking", you should probably find some new material.

God, thanks for giving us healthy humor to make our lives better... help us to use it well.