God is in the punch line

Mike Kerrigan

G.K. Chesterton

(Editor's note: Dan Martin of Ft. Myers, FL, passed on the following article by Mike Kerrigan, an attorney in Charlotte, NC, that recently appeared in The Wall Street Journal. Excerpted.)

The English writer G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) closed out his book“Orthodoxy,” his 1908 masterpiece of Christian apologetics, with a radical thought. He proposed that the one thing too great for God to have shown us when he walked on the earth was his mirth.

This suggests that the idea of a blissfulness we can’t even imagine was important to Chesterton. The mere possibility it’s true, that one thing our mortal minds can’t begin to fathom about God’s nature is his joyousness, offers me consolation beyond measure.

It comforts me because it means that laughter ‒ one manifestation ofearthly joy I love to experience ‒ is far from mundane. It can be sanctifying. In its edifying echo can be heard something important about the Divine, unreachable by reason alone, if only we listen. Rollicking mysticism that effortlessly makes your sides hurt: What’s not to like about that?

This hopeful insight makes me think differently about cheery laughter. Does humor reflect something about God’s loving creativity, conceiving of something good out of nothing? Or His perfect patience in playing the long game with us, His imperfect creations, which surely requires a sense of humor?

Chesterton (a Catholic convert) loved paradoxes, so it shouldn’t surprise us that the best and wisest jokes often come from children. That's the greatest thing about the search for meaning that mirth invites. Maybe you find it; maybe you don't, but both paths lead to joy.

(Chesterton, an Anglican, inspired C.S. Lewis' conversion to Christianity. Chesterton later became a Catholic convert.)

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