Twitter Jokes, Hope, and the Resurrection

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Sammy Rhodes serves as RUF campus minister at the University of South Carolina, and he moonlights as one of the wittiest comedians on Twitter (@sammyrhodes). He recently talked humor with Alex Early on the Acts 29 Podcast (MP3).

In the following transcribed excerpt, Sammy explains why he turned to Twitter and the redemptive value of laughter in the Christian life:

The way this started for me, trying to be funny on Twitter, was a dark time in my family. Our youngest daughter had a condition called Dandy-Walker Syndrome, a relatively new diagnosis, a rare brain condition where her cerebellum didn’t quite develop like it should, creating swelling and excessive fluid of the brain. Nobody knew what would happen. She could die soon after she was born. She would probably need a shunt to drain excess fluid, and she could live, and you wouldn’t even notice the condition for her whole life.

It was in this dark time in our family when humor was needed. I think if you listen closely enough to laughter you will hear echoes of hope. We didn’t know what God was going to do. We knew he loved us. We knew we could trust him.

There’s a hopefulness in humor that we needed — I needed, and I think my wife, too. . . . But that’s when I really started to try to be funny on Twitter, because I almost needed to laugh a little bit in the name of the hope that comes from trusting in Jesus and belonging to him.

There’s that scene in Lord of the Rings, the last book, after the ring has been destroyed, and [Tolkien] says, “Gandalf laughed and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land.” That’s the image of laughter — it’s hopefulness.

God is on the throne. God has begun making all things new in the resurrection of Jesus, and that frees us up to laugh in hope, to laugh in the face of dark things and hard things, appropriately. . . .

There is a way of laughing to escape, but I think there is a way of using humor in dark times that is very healthy coping.

Laughter is a reminder to one another that it’s going to be okay, not because that’s a cliché thing to say, but because truly for us as believers we really do belong to Jesus. He really is raised from the dead. He really is taking us somewhere. And he really is using every hard, broken thing in our lives — even our own brokenness — to sanctify us and grow us and to bring good into our own lives and into the world.

Amen. This conversation with Sammy reminds me of a conversation over “jovial Calvinism” at the 2013 DG National Conference. I’ll post that tomorrow.

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