Has the LDS Church Lost Its Sense of Humor?

At a recent local Sacrament Meeting, our Ward Bishop gave an unusual talk.  He encouraged us to be better members.  And how do we become better members?  I can only remember 3 of his 7 suggestions.

The first was to come to Church 5 or 10 minutes early.  Really?  Time spent in church has now been expanded from 3 hours to 3 hour and 10 minutes.  Not an entirely pleasant thought for a “backslider” like me.

The second was for the Sacrament handlers to wear white shirts and ties.  Got to have that conformity.

The third suggestion was to exclude humor from Sacrament Meeting talks.  Oh brother, am I in trouble.  Its hard enough to stay awake with what little humor we used to have; what will it be like without any humor at all?  A snooze-inducing marathon?

Something similar happened in Mormon humorist Robert Kirby’s Ward:

I’ve learned to cope [with too much conformity] by finding my own place.  When last week’s high council  speaker said, “There is no place for light-mindedness in Sacrament meeting,” I said, “Cool, that’s me out,” and I left.

I didn’t leave my Sacrament Meeting, I like my bishop, even though his suggestions seemed inane.  Besides, the meeting was almost over.

In a recent tongue-in-cheek Q&A session at bycommonconsent.com, the posters speculated on what Joseph Smith Jr. would say if he came to a modern-day Sacrament Meeting?  The number 1 answer:  “You guys are taking things WAY too seriously.”  Amen, brothers.

I know God has a sense of humor.  I know He does.  If He exists, He must have of a sense of humor.  After all, He must routinely survey His creations.  This godly act alone ought to be good for a few laughs.  Maybe He even occasionally listens to some unintentionally funny Sacrament Meeting talks.  I sure He snickers.  And how about all those crazy Fast and Testimony Meeting stories?  Those must induce some real godly belly laughs.  And can you imagine spending eternity without levity?

This emphasis on solemnity must be a subset of the Church’s current obsession with:  “Keeping the Sabbath Day holy.”  Whatever the hell that means.  I feel lost in a miasmal mist of ecclesiastical over-regulation, something that political conservatives ought to understand.

Michael Austin in his book Re-reading Job (the biblical character not the Apple/Pixar man) concludes “[We] do not have the foggiest idea what God is thinking – so [we need] to stop pretending [that we do].”

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2 Responses to Has the LDS Church Lost Its Sense of Humor?

  1. dor says:

    Decades ago, I went with a friend on a visit to his parents’ home. Above the fireplace was a large print of a laughing Jesus. It was a thing of beauty!
    Power starts to cross over to abusive power when it takes itself too seriously. Growth, and I believe Spirit, comes when we can see our flaws, treat them seriously but with gentleness. Too much solemnity may lead to shame and a fear of searching out those flaws set in. When we are no longer able to inventory our souls (and institutions) being right becomes more important than being just.
    Jesus shined a light on the power system of his day, stressing strength through humilty. How do we nourish humility if not by the ability to laugh at ourselves?

    • rogerdhansen says:

      One of my favorite writers is humorist (and theologian) Robert Kirby who writes a column about Mormonism once a week for the SL Trib. His columns are not only filled with humor, but also with sound ideas (and criticisms). He not only makes fun of the inanities of organized religion and members who take themselves too seriously, but also loves to skewer himself. He is very good at mixing humor with acerbic observations and opinions. I rarely disagree with his ideas and his humor is first rate.

      Ironically we come from totally different backgrounds. Kirby’s father was in the military and the family moved frequently. He was a cop before becoming a writer. But we both have a strong resistance to authority.

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