Laughter
An extract from H. A. Williams’ book Tensions, Necessary Conflicts in Life and Love

God, we believe, accepts us, accepts all men, unconditionally, warts and all. Laughter is the purest form of our response to God’s acceptance of us. For when I laugh at myself I accept myself and when I laugh at other people in genuine mirth I accept them. Self acceptance in laughter is the very opposite of self accusation or pride. For in laughter I accept myself not because I’m some sort of super-person, but precisely because I’m not. There is nothing funny about a super-person. There is everything funny about a man who thinks he is. In laughing at my own claims to importance or regard I receive myself in a sort of loving forgiveness which is an echo of God’s forgiveness of me. In much conventional contrition there is a selfishness and pride which are scarcely hidden. In our desperate self concern we blame ourselves for not being the super persons we think we really are. But in laughter we set light to ourselves. That is why laughter is the purest form of our response to God. Whether or not the great saints were capable of levitation, I have not the evidence to decide. What I do know is that a characteristic of the great saints is their power of levity. For to set light to yourself is true humility. Pride cannot rise to levity. As G.K. Chesterton said, pride is the downward drag of all things into an easy solemnity. It would seem that a heavy seriousness is as natural to man as falling. ‘It was by the force of gravity that Satan fell.’ Laughter, on the other hand, is a sign of grace.

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