David’s Daring Dowry

February 25, 2011

Saul wanted to kill David, though even for a king it’s hard to knock off a war hero. Still he tried, throwing spears at him, dispatching hit squads, sending him off to war so the Philistines would do the dirty work, and marrying him to his daughters. Saul promised him his oldest daughter, Merab, but when David didn’t get killed in battle, Saul gave her to someone else. Daughter Michal later fell in love with David and, after some roundabout negotiations, Saul offered a deal on the princess’ dowry. You can read all about it in 1 Samuel 18:20-29 and see if you think it’s as funny as I do.

Just a word of summary and background. Saul was willing to give his daughter to David, not for cash, but in exchange for 100 Philistine foreskins. I think Saul and I would agree that war is one thing, but swiping a guy’s foreskin is quite another. After all, it’s not like picking pockets. It’s up close and personal. He’ll notice and probably won’t volunteer. Verse 27 tells us that David and his men doubled the deal, collecting 200 foreskins. David brought them to Saul and, as The Jerusalem Bible properly translates, “counted them out before the king.” One, two, three…


H-P Repents

February 12, 2011

Recently a Facebook friend posted a prayer of contrition that moved me so much that I saved it and sent it to our office printer. By the time I would get to the printer to pick it up, the copy of my prayer was gone. Repeatedly. Why anyone would swipe a prayer of contrition puzzled me, especially considering these colleagues of mine, who I thought were living decent lives. Several copies later I finally snagged one of my own.

In the process, the H-P printer itself soon displayed its own prayer of contrition, for good reason, we all thought:

“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you through my obstinate refusal to print your servants’ papers and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of power and the pains of dismantling, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life.”

We hope it will lead to transformed behavior. And my thanks to brilliant work-study students, Joyce, who captured the confession, and Daniel, who noted that we have here a “prayer of reprintance.”

[Look for upcoming posts on how to see humor in the Bible, on goat-hair ruses, and on David’s daring dowry.]


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).


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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