The Joyful Noiseletter

February 1, 2011

Elton Trueblood encouraged his students to practice the spiritual gift of introduction. It’s simply introducing people to one another who would benefit from knowing each other. (I’ve avoided using this for matchmaking.) In that spirit, let me introduce Cal Samra.

I first met Cal Samra through his book The Joyful Christ: The Healing Power of Humor. It’s a remarkable book, especially considering Cal wrote it only three years after he was so depressed that, with a fresh rope and a long day looking for suitable trees, he spent a couple hours trying to figure out how to hang himself from a tall cactus. The book contains a wide range of stories and witness to humor in the Church over many centuries. And it invites readers to share in that joy. His chapter describing how few pictures there are of Jesus as a joyful person set me searching for such images myself.

Near when the book appeared, Cal and his wife Rose founded the Fellowship of Merry Christians and began publishing The Joyful Noiseletter, a fun and funny monthly newsletter full of stories, cartoons, quotes, bloopers, book excerpts, and more. They describe it as “a voice laughing in the wilderness” that seeks “to recapture the spirit of joy, humor, unity and healing power of the early Christians.” In that spirit they have a fine catalog of books (including The Joyful Christ) and pictures, they encourage Holy Humor Sunday the week after Easter, and they have recently been inviting churches to host groups called Health & Humor Hangouts (“aka 3-H clubs”). I’m an avid fan and urge you to get acquainted with Cal, Rose, and the fun community that’s gathered at www.JoyfulNoiseletter.com (or call them at 1-800-877-2757).

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  1. Thanks for this introduction to Cal. I already relate to him in more than one way, just from your summary of him, and as soon as I finish writing this thank-you note to you, I am heading to his website.

    • hmacy says:

      Thanks, Marti. I would love to told even more about Cal, but needed to watch the length of the post. I’ve had a chance on several occasions to talk with Cal on the phone and found him warm, practical, and as joyful and fun as he invites us all to be.

Living in Fun

"Walking Cheerfully" is place to think out loud about how to use and enjoy humor in positive, life-giving ways. We’ll explore how following Christ in all of life can shape, not scuttle, laughter and creative play. What might it mean to laugh with others as you would have them laugh with you?

Probably the other most common posts will be "Finds in Fun." I first learned the phrase “being in fun” from Tom Mullen’s Laughing Out Loud and Other Religious Experiences. He points to the playfulness of children, who are readier to laugh and to see the silly than most adults. Living each day “in fun” often makes us laugh as we slog through a nearly endless supply of things odd, silly, klutzy, and preposterous. The stories here are mostly from my own ordinary, “in fun” days.

Fun Nooks and Crannies

There’s “Humor in the Bible,” and these posts explore where it is, how to find it, and what to do with it. It’s one way of thinking about how to read the Bible well.

Since a lot of us spend big chunks of time at work, the “Humor at Work” posts will suggest ways to stay sane and happy, to get along with cow-orkers, and to use humor to do good work.

I’m a book-pusher at heart, and some of my best friends push books, too. I even know some folks who read. So “Fun Books” posts will tell about books that are funny and help us think about humor.

Sometimes I’ll brag on some of the friends I’ve been given or share some photos I’ve enjoyed taking. Maybe you’ll laugh, maybe not, but they’ve brought joy in my journey.

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