15 March 2009

On Sanctified Humor

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. This week's excerpt is not by Spurgeon himself but is part of an introductory note (written by Spurgeon's wife or assistant) to the chapter on humor in Spurgeon's Autobiography.
     Spurgeon's humor would make an interesting study. It's fairly well known that Spurgeon suffered frequently from a deep melancholy. Ill health in his later years exacerbated his bouts of depression. And yet his keen sense of humor was never far below the surface.
     Here Susannah Spurgeon (or possibly Joseph Harrald) comments on the distinctive style of humor Spurgeon was known for:

is fun was always pure, with an emphasis; and he showed how it was possible for the highest spirituality to find a fitting exemplification in the brightest and cheeriest character. Some of his most intimate friends have often said that there was not the slightest incongruity, after one of his brilliant witticisms which had set the whole company laughing, in hearing him say, 'Let us pray,' for both the merriment and the devotion were sanctified.

OK. I'm convicted by that. I'll be the first to confess to my deep shame that my forays into the realm of fun' 'n' satire haven't always been so sanctified that "let us pray" would be a fitting follow-up to my punch line. That would certainly be a safe guideline and a simple test by which to gauge the appropriateness of what we say and write, right?

Phil's signature

NOTE: The Spurgeon portrait accompanying this week's Dose o' Spurgeon was provided by Robert Bucknell, of Bucknell Arts in Reno. It's a new portrait of Spurgeon in oil on canvas, and it is the best painting of Spurgeon I've seen, next to those that were done in Spurgeon's own lifetime. See the Bucknell Arts website for information on how to order a print for yourself or for your pastor.


candy said...

I just checked out Bucknell's art page and he lives in Carson City close to where we live in Reno. I emailed him, wondering if we perhaps attend the same church. Very nice painting.

Ian Hall said...

Some of the jokes that certain pastors tell do call for prayer - prayer that God would forgive their sin and wash out their filthy mouths.

~Mark said...

That is a tremendous lens through which to decipher the quality of the humor one has just used (or in fact, laughed at in company, on television, etc;), if you can immediately say "now let us pray".

I think this will be a useful tool for me to put to work as I put the eye to what entertains me in the coming days!

Sir Brass said...

Ian, and forgive us too for laughing at them even when we knew they were offensive, and were offended ourselves.

They wouldn't tell dirty jokes if those jokes didn't get a good laugh response out of the people, among whom it is not unreasonable to figure that more than a few are believers as well.

Leberwurst said...

It is a shame that so much (most) humor is either at someone else's expense or is an amplification of another's misfortune... sarcasm is another form that hurts... if we were to make sure our humor did not belittle another(or elevate ourselves) maybe we too could add "let us pray"

I have also heard that Spurgeon said " I am going to enjoy a cigar for the Glory of God" have you heard that Phil?

Might just go to show he wasn't violating conscience when he joked around or enjoyed the fruits of the earth.

EgeiroKatheudo said...

Leberwurst: Spurgeon was indeed known to have a cigar or two as found HERE

Sir Brass said...

Burning the weed to the glory of God, indeed :).

I kind of sympathize with Old George, though, even though I can go months on end without smoking my pipe if I need to. But it truly is a wonderful treat to fill my one's favorite pipe with one's favorite tobacco and relax :).

Johnny said...

Phil, I was wondering if you would mind commenting more on Spurgeon's depression. How would you evaluate his depression in comparison to what our culture says about depression and with what nouthetic counseling says about depression? Thanks for your thoughts!

Anonymous said...

I don't think I've ever prayed after telling a joke. Spurgeon was the real deal!