Humor and Humility

Richard Foster has one small disagreement with earlier monastic teachings on humor. Benedict and Bernard were not fans of humor. Benedict said the tenth sign of humility is that one is not given to ready laughter.

Try imagining me not ready to laugh.

I would not make a very good monk.

Foster’s response: “… I’d like to submit a minority report on behalf of good-hearted laughter. Humor, offered in love, can help build community life. Frankly, an occupational hazard of religious folk is to become stuffy bores. And humor helps to undercut this danger by stoutly refusing to allow us to take ourselves too seriously. It is a grace when we can laugh at our gaffes and foibles. Humor helps us welcome the unexpected and the unpredictable, to relish the ridiculous and absurd. We don’t need to create a huge chasm between prayer and playfulness” (Learning Humility, p. 51)

So, on this point, Benedict and Bernard can just sit with their dour looks and watch me laugh.

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