I’m not serious enough for the academy. Nor am I funny enough to go into comedy. Too liberal for my conservative friends and too conservative for the liberal ones. A Christian and a feminist in a time and place when many think the two cannot coexist. It’s a strange space in which to dwell.
This is on my mind today because people have asked me recently why I write the way I do. Why a piece on a Monday bordering on (but never quite crossing into) the academic followed by a piece on a Friday in the style of a stream-of-consciousness journal entry? Why the polemical cozied up to the fluffy? Why the sarcasm tucked into the serious?
I don’t think about my “craft” or “art” that often. (Seems awfully pretentious to use those terms in relation to these little scribbles). I don’t consider the why or the ways. Rarely do I plan or outline. I sit down, I write. That’s it.
My version of thinking out loud, I suppose.
The juxtaposition of the deep and the wide, the theological and the absurd, the reflective and the shallow found here isn’t an attempt to be either clever or jarring. I don’t know how to write any other way because I don’t know how to think any other way. Yes, let’s talk Kierkegaard and textual criticism and politics and then in the next breath shout “irregardless!” in the affected Southie accent of Sully and Denise. (Thank you, Tina Fey). Let’s hopscotch from Jonah’s anger to the unabashed delight found in eating a fresh chocolate chip cookie. Let’s intensely study the role of women in church and society and then riff on that weird thing that one dude said.
Maybe it’s a little manic. I don’t know. I just can’t handle being serious all the time. I can’t. The bent of my nature is toward the gloom and the doom. A certain heaviness always weighs upon me. If I don’t tackle the sunlight and the laughter, I’m done for. I know that there are important issues. I know that things are happening. I know that responses must be weighed, measured and crafted. I understand the responsibility found in casting my words to the wind.
Yet I believe that silliness is a must. We need silly. We need fun. We need to laugh so hard that the sound ceases and the tears of happiness roll. Without the precious gift of humor, we’ll be swallowed up and washed away by tsunamis of fear and bitterness. And just what would be the point of that?
I wonder what might happen if we began to be known for our smiles instead of our frowns. Again, I know. We have responsibilities. We bear the Gospel message. We must stand for justice. There are bills to pay and kids to raise and relationships to tend. There are deadlines and housework and doctor visits. Hard, bad things happen and we suffer.
But what if, somehow, all of it was navigated with a smile, a chuckle and a gentle hand? What if we moved about on this earth as people who understand that joy – even happy – is a good thing? A necessary thing? As people who understand that faith and sour expressions are not meant to go together?
I do not mean denial or hiding. What we need to do is give ourselves permission to giggle. To unplug from all the deep, heavy stuff and sigh with laughter. The deep, heavy stuff will be there later. Just for a moment, set it down. Let it go. Throw your arms open and do a ridiculous little dance. Poke fun at the big, scary thing.
God knows we’ll be crushed if we don’t laugh. Wit and sarcasm are liberally sprinkled throughout the Bible. And have you seen some of the animals out there? Ridiculous.
Sometimes we just need a release. We can come back to the important things later. We need to pause and say, “This is so weird and I’m tickled over it.” Like a bright little buoy bouncing on choppy seas.
That’s why I write the way I do.