Monday, February 11, 2013

Thoughts of Humor

[This collection of thoughts of attempted humor first appeared in a series of random thoughts on Facebook. They are collected here and will be edited and expanded throughout 2013.]

1. I was recently asked if my memory was failing me. Please be assured that my memory serves me well. It has perfected the art of selective recollection and is now mastering creative recall. 

2. My hearing is improving with age. It is amazing how the absence of needless noise and unsolicited interruptions calms the soul. And the side benefit is that people now believe me when I pretend not to hear them. JDJ
3. I mistakenly thought that the goal of healthy parenting was to launch your children into self-sustaining, self-directing adulthood. That kind of thinking led to having grandchildren who live hundreds of miles away. It is too late for me, but if you are still a young parent I advise you to try “enmeshment” as a model for your family. Your children don’t need to know there is a world beyond your control. Be the centripetal force of their universe. If you have already launched your children well, and they have chosen to live near you, count your blessings every time you get to hug your grandchildren. JDJ

4. This series of thoughts began as a conscious attempt to review my life as a minister. I wanted to force myself to review the things I have learned and taught during the last forty years so I committed to myself to write a thought every day in 2013, or at least until I ran out of thoughts. I got an early start in 2012 anticipating some days without clear thoughts or sufficient time. In one sense, in the words of the noted developmental psychologist Erikson, I wanted to ensure I faced the end of my ministry with integrity and not despair by convincing myself I had learned and I had contributed to the lives of others. Be warned, such efforts can be very despairing. To borrow from Solomon, vanity of vanities, all is vanity and in the making of comments on Facebook there is no end. JDJ

5. If you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything. I’m trying, but it is so hard. JDJ #111 

6. I do not have poor short-term memory; I have a more effective automated system for discarding insignificant information. JDJ #147

7. In communication, words are critical, making correct spelling important. Spellcheck must then be seen as a gift from God. Pentecostals are notorious for their creativity in the use of words. Alliteration is our forte; spelling is our nemesis. For example, the altar area is extremely important for us. It is the focal point of our worship, the place where we most expect to encounter God. We go there often. Yet, we have a proclivity for misspelling this short word. You will often see Pentecostals spell it as “a-l-t-e-r.” My friend and noted Pentecostal scholar, Dr. Harold Hunter, has observed this and suggested that there is a theological undercurrent to this common error. We believe lives are “a-l-t-e-r-e-d” in the “a-l-t-a-r.” Another word we use often but frequently misspell is “anoint.” We have a tendency to add an extra “n” and spell it as “a-n-n-o-i-n-t.” I suspect this is our subliminal theology at work again. When we use “anoint” we almost always connect that concept with the promise of a “double portion.” Hence, we double up on the first “n.” We also value creativity as seen in our frequent creation of new words. And if you have not noticed, we are inclined toward hyperbole. This is true when counting attendance or converts; it shows up in every discourse (hyperbole intended). Finally, we have a tendency to hyperbolize technical terms. For example, consider our use of “heresy.” It matters not that the rest of the Christian world reserves the word for those false teachings that deviate from the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. For us a “heresy” is any religious concept with which we disagree. A “damnable heresy” is then any teaching with which we disagree strongly, not necessarily one which results in eternal damnation. Besides, it lets us use a “damn” in a sanctified form. ;) JDJ # 389

8. When one of my daughters was a teenager she looked at me and matter-of-factly stated, “Dad, you were born old.” She was not angry; she was just stating what had become for her an obvious truth, one I was hard pressed to counter. I was then a middle-aged man trying to provide orthodontic braces not to mention a house to live in, food to eat and clothes to wear. It did not matter that I knew what Erickson said about mid-life being a period of generativity or that I had read how the Achilles heel of men was their drive to find identity in what they do; they are what they produce. I do not deny I had twinges of envy for women who got to define their identity by their relationships; they are what they do more immediately for the persons they care about. At least that was what the sages of our time were publishing. When I was a teenager I commented to my mother about a couple of older relatives who seemed sad all the time. Mom’s response surprised me. She said I should have known them when they were young; they were always the life of the party. Right then and there I developed my theory of reverse development. This theory postulates we all have a certain amount of happiness and frivolity in life. Most people use most of theirs when they are young saving few reserves for old age. I decided to reverse the norm; I would be reserved in my youth and grow giddy in my old age. Watch out world I am about to get old and I am a prankster at heart. JDJ # 392

No comments: