The Theology of Canadian Humor

Canadians are funny.

No, this is not some sort of half-friendly wisecrack about our neighbors to the north. My exposure to the entertainment world (think of such humorists as Dan Akroyd and Mike Myers), as well as personal encounters with a number of Canadians, confirms that there’s something going on here.

Some years ago I asked a very funny Canadian about this phenomenon. His opinion was that Canadians have a sense of humor because they don’t take themselves too seriously. This remark has stuck with me, not least because I’m learning to admire this trait in people, and I find it to be quite helpful when set in the right worldview.

There’s no question that God has wired me to be intense, and I’m sure my intensity often comes through in our blog posts. Some of us are so progress-oriented* that we view brushing our teeth as a deeply strategic activity (and all the dentists cheer). However, with hyper-focus on the future comes myopia regarding the present and the past and an inability to enjoy the life Jesus gives us moment-by-moment.

It seems to me that Jesus’ instructions not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:25, 34) help us not to take ourselves as seriously as we otherwise might. Perhaps seriousness about God’s sovereignty and care liberates us to laugh at ourselves and enjoy His blessings. That won’t make us stand-up comedians, but it might make life a little more fun.

Further, as Randy Alcorn points out in his excellent new book, Happiness, people who have the happiness of Christ have truly good news to share with those who don’t believe. Rather than asking people to buy into a set of truths that apparently haven’t had an impact on our attitudes, if we’re happy in Jesus, we call people to an eternal life that is attractive in the here and now. That’s what a broken world is looking for.

Have you noticed how your attitude impacts those around you, particularly non-Christians? Take a moment and leave us a comment!

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* Thanks to my friend Pastor Tim Sprankle of Leesburg Grace Brethren Church for pointing out to me that Americans might more properly be called “progress-oriented” than “future-oriented.”

6 Responses

  1. Dustin says:

    Great post brother. I need that reminder often, because I can become driven and forget that God is the one building His church (not me!). I don’t take enough time to reflect on the privilege it is to serve as His ambassador and to be a part of His mission in the world. Thanks for this helpful nudge in the right direction!

  2. Beth Farner says:

    Because I was an English major, my understanding of the need to not ignore the present was brought home to me after watching the play Our Town! Now I find though, that I can tend to get mired in the past– mistakes or missed opportunities in particular.

  3. Kelly Reichert says:

    As a homeschooler, I can officially say that I can take myself way too seriously. The tendency to blame myself for every minor failing, either in the kids’ academics or character, is great. We homeschool moms can be definitely progress oriented, and very future focused….many times to our detriment. We started the whole journey in order to enjoy our children and come alongside in the education process, and end up totally stressed about all we are supposedly failing…We can miss the joy. And we can miss the MOMENTS. If we all learn to laugh at ourselves a little (a lot) more, it would be a beautiful thing!!!!

    • Beau Stanley says:

      Kelly, thanks for your comment. Wow, yes, very easy to take ourselves too seriously. I think proper theology should insulate us against this, but sometimes we lose sight of the sovereignty of God!

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