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April 13, 2012

Benjamin McNutt: 'Thank God, it will soon be dark'

“Only hire funny people…You have to have the ability to laugh, or you’ll never last.” I was interviewing a young director of a nonprofit when she told me this was the advice a seasoned leader gave her for persevering in her work. Normally such two-cent wisdom tends to show up in cliché Hallmark cards or tipsy wedding toasts: “Remember to laugh.” Oh dear.

But the severity of her work -- she helps women escape sex-trafficking -- and the many set-backs it entails speak to a deeper connection between perseverance and humor. Her ability to persevere shows that another mark of resilient people -- a virtue difficult to spot on the surface -- is humor, at least the self-deprecating kind.

It seems the Medieval monks knew this intuitively. Thanks to the savvy folks at Brain Pickings, we have an historical record of some light-hearted gripes the monastic scribes left in the margins of their manuscripts. If monks are a benchmark for holiness, then I suppose it's saintly to complain, because I can’t imagine a more tedious, painstaking job than that of the Medieval scribe: 


To the chagrin of the old five-point Calvinists, the “perseverance of the saints” takes on a new meaning -- a lame joke they wouldn’t find funny.

Benjamin McNutt is the editor of Call & Response. You can follow him on Twitter @benjaminmcnutt.

1 Comment

Writing Laughter...

Makes you wonder what Jesus scribbled in the sand in John 8?

Perhaps it was funny? Light-hearted?

For certain, it helped give 'air' to some otherwise humorless folk.

I appreciate this post - both for the laughter, as well as for the look into the margins.

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