Humor, Pithiness, and Double Entendres

Audio of Vern Grimsley on Urantia Book humor.

Lessons on humor

(28:5.16) 5. The Joy of Existence. By nature these beings are reflectively attuned to the superaphic harmony supervisors above and to certain of the seraphim below, but it is difficult to explain just what the members of this interesting group really do. Their principal activities are directed toward promoting reactions of joy among the various orders of the angelic hosts and the lower will creatures. The Divine Counselors, to whom they are attached, seldom use them for specific joy finding. In a more general manner and in collaboration with the reversion directors, they function as joy clearinghouses, seeking to upstep the pleasure reactions of the realms while trying to improve the humor taste, to develop a superhumor among mortals and angels. They endeavor to demonstrate that there is inherent joy in freewill existence, independent of all extraneous influences; and they are right, although they meet with great difficulty in inculcating this truth in the minds of primitive men. The higher spirit personalities and the angels are more quickly responsive to these educational efforts.

(48:4.2) Celestial relaxation and superhuman humor are quite different from their human analogues, but we all actually indulge in a form of both; and they really accomplish for us, in our state, just about what ideal humor is able to do for you on Urantia. The Morontia Companions are skillful play sponsors, and they are most ably supported by the reversion directors.

(48:4.3) You would probably best understand the work of the reversion directors if they were likened to the higher types of humorists on Urantia, though that would be an exceedingly crude and somewhat unfortunate way in which to try to convey an idea of the function of these directors of change and relaxation, these ministers of the exalted humor of the morontia and spirit realms.

(48:4.4) In discussing spirit humor, first let me tell you what it is not. Spirit jest is never tinged with the accentuation of the misfortunes of the weak and erring. Neither is it ever blasphemous of the righteousness and glory of divinity. Our humor embraces three general levels of appreciation:

(48:4.5) 1. Reminiscent jests. Quips growing out of the memories of past episodes in one’s experience of combat, struggle, and sometimes fearfulness, and ofttimes foolish and childish anxiety. To us, this phase of humor derives from the deep-seated and abiding ability to draw upon the past for memory material with which pleasantly to flavor and otherwise lighten the heavy loads of the present.

(48:4.6) 2. Current humor. The senselessness of much that so often causes us serious concern, the joy at discovering the unimportance of much of our serious personal anxiety. We are most appreciative of this phase of humor when we are best able to discount the anxieties of the present in favor of the certainties of the future.

(48:4.7) 3. Prophetic joy. It will perhaps be difficult for mortals to envisage this phase of humor, but we do get a peculiar satisfaction out of the assurance “that all things work together for good”—for spirits and morontians as well as for mortals. This aspect of celestial humor grows out of our faith in the loving overcare of our superiors and in the divine stability of our Supreme Directors.

(48:4.13) Even mortal humor becomes most hearty when it depicts episodes affecting those just a little beneath one’s present developmental state, or when it portrays one’s supposed superiors falling victim to the experiences which are commonly associated with supposed inferiors. You of Urantia have allowed much that is at once vulgar and unkind to become confused with your humor, but on the whole, you are to be congratulated on a comparatively keen sense of humor. Some of your races have a rich vein of it and are greatly helped in their earthly careers thereby. Apparently you received much in the way of humor from your Adamic inheritance, much more than was secured of either music or art.

(48:4.14) All Satania, during times of play, those times when its inhabitants refreshingly resurrect the memories of a lower stage of existence, is edified by the pleasant humor of a corps of reversion directors from Urantia. The sense of celestial humor we have with us always, even when engaged in the most difficult of assignments. It helps to avoid an overdevelopment of the notion of one’s self-importance. But we do not give rein to it freely, as you might say, “have fun,” except when we are in recess from the serious assignments of our respective orders.

(48:4.15) When we are tempted to magnify our self-importance, if we stop to contemplate the infinity of the greatness and grandeur of our Makers, our own self-glorification becomes sublimely ridiculous, even verging on the humorous. One of the functions of humor is to help all of us take ourselves less seriously. Humor is the divine antidote for exaltation of ego.

(48:4.16) The need for the relaxation and diversion of humor is greatest in those orders of ascendant beings who are subjected to sustained stress in their upward struggles. The two extremes of life have little need for humorous diversions. Primitive men have no capacity therefor, and beings of Paradise perfection have no need thereof. The hosts of Havona are naturally a joyous and exhilarating assemblage of supremely happy personalities. On Paradise the quality of worship obviates the necessity for reversion activities. But among those who start their careers far below the goal of Paradise perfection, there is a large place for the ministry of the reversion directors.

(48:4.17) The higher the mortal species, the greater the stress and the greater the capacity for humor as well as the necessity for it. In the spirit world the opposite is true: The higher we ascend, the less the need for the diversions of reversion experiences. But proceeding down the scale of spirit life from Paradise to the seraphic hosts, there is an increasing need for the mission of mirth and the ministry of merriment. Those beings who most need the refreshment of periodic reversion to the intellectual status of previous experiences are the higher types of the human species, the morontians, angels, and the Material Sons, together with all similar types of personality.

(48:4.18) Humor should function as an automatic safety valve to prevent the building up of excessive pressures due to the monotony of sustained and serious self-contemplation in association with the intense struggle for developmental progress and noble achievement. Humor also functions to lessen the shock of the unexpected impact of fact or of truth, rigid unyielding fact and flexible ever-living truth. The mortal personality, never sure as to which will next be encountered, through humor swiftly grasps—sees the point and achieves insight—the unexpected nature of the situation be it fact or be it truth.

(48:4.19) While the humor of Urantia is exceedingly crude and most inartistic, it does serve a valuable purpose both as a health insurance and as a liberator of emotional pressure, thus preventing injurious nervous tension and overserious self-contemplation. Humor and play—relaxation—are never reactions of progressive exertion; always are they the echoes of a backward glance, a reminiscence of the past. Even on Urantia and as you now are, you always find it rejuvenating when for a short time you can suspend the exertions of the newer and higher intellectual efforts and revert to the more simple engagements of your ancestors.

(48:4.20) The principles of Urantian play life are philosophically sound and continue to apply on up through your ascending life, through the circuits of Havona to the eternal shores of Paradise. As ascendant beings you are in possession of personal memories of all former and lower existences, and without such identity memories of the past there would be no basis for the humor of the present, either mortal laughter or morontia mirth. It is this recalling of past experiences that provides the basis for present diversion and amusement. And so you will enjoy the celestial equivalents of your earthly humor all the way up through your long morontia, and then increasingly spiritual, careers. And that part of God (the Adjuster) which becomes an eternal part of the personality of an ascendant mortal contributes the overtones of divinity to the joyous expressions, even spiritual laughter, of the ascending creatures of time and space.

(63:4.2) The tribal life of the animal ancestors of these early men had foreshadowed the beginnings of numerous social conventions, and with the expanding emotions and augmented brain powers of these beings, there was an immediate development in social organization and a new division of clan labor. They were exceedingly imitative, but the play instinct was only slightly developed, and the sense of humor was almost entirely absent. Primitive man smiled occasionally, but he never indulged in hearty laughter. Humor was the legacy of the later Adamic race. These early human beings were not so sensitive to pain nor so reactive to unpleasant situations as were many of the later evolving mortals. Childbirth was not a painful or distressing ordeal to Fonta and her immediate progeny.

(69:0.1) EMOTIONALLY, man transcends his animal ancestors in his ability to appreciate humor, art, and religion. Socially, man exhibits his superiority in that he is a toolmaker, a communicator, and an institution builder.

(74:6.7) The Adamic children attended their own schools until they were sixteen, the younger being taught by the elder. The little folks changed activities every thirty minutes, the older every hour. And it was certainly a new sight on Urantia to observe these children of Adam and Eve at play, joyous and exhilarating activity just for the sheer fun of it. The play and humor of the present-day races are largely derived from the Adamic stock. The Adamites all had a great appreciation of music as well as a keen sense of humor.

(84:8.3) The violet race introduced a new and only imperfectly realized characteristic into the experience of humankind—the play instinct coupled with the sense of humor. It was there in measure in the Sangiks and Andonites, but the Adamic strain elevated this primitive propensity into the potential of pleasure, a new and glorified form of self-gratification. The basic type of self-gratification, aside from appeasing hunger, is sex gratification, and this form of sensual pleasure was enormously heightened by the blending of the Sangiks and the Andites.

(78:5.8) The migratory conquests of the Andites continued on down to their final dispersions, from 8000 to 6000 B.C. As they poured out of Mesopotamia, they continuously depleted the biologic reserves of their homelands while markedly strengthening the surrounding peoples. And to every nation to which they journeyed, they contributed humor, art, adventure, music, and manufacture. They were skillful domesticators of animals and expert agriculturists. For the time being, at least, their presence usually improved the religious beliefs and moral practices of the older races. And so the culture of Mesopotamia quietly spread out over Europe, India, China, northern Africa, and the Pacific Islands.

(80:5.7) The Cro-Magnoid blue man constituted the biologic foundation for the modern European races, but they have survived only as absorbed by the later and virile conquerors of their homelands. The blue strain contributed many sturdy traits and much physical vigor to the white races of Europe, but the humor and imagination of the blended European peoples were derived from the Andites. This Andite-blue union, resulting in the northern white races, produced an immediate lapse of Andite civilization, a retardation of a transient nature. Eventually, the latent superiority of these northern barbarians manifested itself and culminated in present-day European civilization.

(100:6.5) But true religion is a living love, a life of service. The religionist’s detachment from much that is purely temporal and trivial never leads to social isolation, and it should not destroy the sense of humor. Genuine religion takes nothing away from human existence, but it does add new meanings to all of life; it generates new types of enthusiasm, zeal, and courage. It may even engender the spirit of the crusader, which is more than dangerous if not controlled by spiritual insight and loyal devotion to the commonplace social obligations of human loyalties.

(143:7.3) Worship—contemplation of the spiritual—must alternate with service, contact with material reality. Work should alternate with play; religion should be balanced by humor. Profound philosophy should be relieved by rhythmic poetry. The strain of living—the time tension of personality—should be relaxed by the restfulness of worship. The feelings of insecurity arising from the fear of personality isolation in the universe should be antidoted by the faith contemplation of the Father and by the attempted realization of the Supreme.

Jesus and humor

(123:4.3) Jesus, in company with a neighbor boy and later his brother James, delighted to play in the far corner of the family carpenter shop, where they had great fun with the shavings and the blocks of wood. It was always difficult for Jesus to comprehend the harm of certain sorts of play which were forbidden on the Sabbath, but he never failed to conform to his parents’ wishes. He had a capacity for humor and play which was afforded little opportunity for expression in the environment of his day and generation, but up to the age of fourteen he was cheerful and lighthearted most of the time.

(125:5.8) And all the day through, those who listened marveled at these questions, and none was more astonished than Simon. For more than four hours this Nazareth youth plied these Jewish teachers with thought-provoking and heart-searching questions. He made few comments on the remarks of his elders. He conveyed his teaching by the questions he would ask. By the deft and subtle phrasing of a question he would at one and the same time challenge their teaching and suggest his own. In the manner of his asking a question there was an appealing combination of sagacity and humor which endeared him even to those who more or less resented his youthfulness. He was always eminently fair and considerate in the asking of these penetrating questions. On this eventful afternoon in the temple he exhibited that same reluctance to take unfair advantage of an opponent which characterized his entire subsequent public ministry. As a youth, and later on as a man, he seemed to be utterly free from all egoistic desire to win an argument merely to experience logical triumph over his fellows, being interested supremely in just one thing: to proclaim everlasting truth and thus effect a fuller revelation of the eternal God.

(129:4.4) The Son of Man experienced those wide ranges of human emotion which reach from superb joy to profound sorrow. He was a child of joy and a being of rare good humor; likewise was he a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” In a spiritual sense, he did live through the mortal life from the bottom to the top, from the beginning to the end. From a material point of view, he might appear to have escaped living through both social extremes of human existence, but intellectually he became wholly familiar with the entire and complete experience of humankind.

(139:6.4) In many respects Nathaniel was the odd genius of the twelve. He was the apostolic philosopher and dreamer, but he was a very practical sort of dreamer. He alternated between seasons of profound philosophy and periods of rare and droll humor; when in the proper mood, he was probably the best storyteller among the twelve. Jesus greatly enjoyed hearing Nathaniel discourse on things both serious and frivolous. Nathaniel progressively took Jesus and the kingdom more seriously, but never did he take himself seriously.

(139:6.6) Many times, when Jesus was away on the mountain with Peter, James, and John, and things were becoming tense and tangled among the apostles, when even Andrew was in doubt about what to say to his disconsolate brethren, Nathaniel would relieve the tension by a bit of philosophy or a flash of humor; good humor, too.

(172:2.5) In a way, all of Jesus’ followers sensed the impending crisis, but they were prevented from fully realizing its seriousness by the unusual cheerfulness and exceptional good humor of the Master.

(156:2.8) Jesus greatly enjoyed the keen sense of humor which these gentiles exhibited. It was the sense of humor displayed by Norana, the Syrian woman, as well as her great and persistent faith, that so touched the Master’s heart and appealed to his mercy. Jesus greatly regretted that his people—the Jews—were so lacking in humor. He once said to Thomas: “My people take themselves too seriously; they are just about devoid of an appreciation of humor. The burdensome religion of the Pharisees could never have had origin among a people with a sense of humor. They also lack consistency; they strain at gnats and swallow camels.”

(159:3.10) You shall not portray your teacher as a man of sorrows. Future generations shall know also the radiance of our joy, the buoyance of our good will, and the inspiration of our good humor. We proclaim a message of good news which is infectious in its transforming power. Our religion is throbbing with new life and new meanings. Those who accept this teaching are filled with joy and in their hearts are constrained to rejoice evermore. Increasing happiness is always the experience of all who are certain about God.

(164:4.9) But Josiah was neither dumb nor lacking in humor; so he replied to the officer of the court: “Whether this man is a sinner, I know not; but one thing I do know—that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” And since they could not entrap Josiah, they sought further to question him, asking: “Just how did he open your eyes? what did he actually do to you? what did he say to you? did he ask you to believe in him?”

(164:4.10) Josiah replied, somewhat impatiently: “I have told you exactly how it all happened, and if you did not believe my testimony, why would you hear it again? Would you by any chance also become his disciples?” When Josiah had thus spoken, the Sanhedrin broke up in confusion, almost violence, for the leaders rushed upon Josiah, angrily exclaiming: “You may talk about being this man’s disciple, but we are disciples of Moses, and we are the teachers of the laws of God. We know that God spoke through Moses, but as for this man Jesus, we know not whence he is.”

(164:4.11) Then Josiah, standing upon a stool, shouted abroad to all who could hear, saying: “Hearken, you who claim to be the teachers of all Israel, while I declare to you that herein is a great marvel since you confess that you know not whence this man is, and yet you know of a certainty, from the testimony which you have heard, that he opened my eyes. We all know that God does not perform such works for the ungodly; that God would do such a thing only at the request of a true worshiper—for one who is holy and righteous. You know that not since the beginning of the world have you ever heard of the opening of the eyes of one who was born blind. Look, then, all of you, upon me and realize what has been done this day in Jerusalem! I tell you, if this man were not from God, he could not do this.” And as the Sanhedrists departed in anger and confusion, they shouted to him: “You were altogether born in sin, and do you now presume to teach us? Maybe you were not really born blind, and even if your eyes were opened on the Sabbath day, this was done by the power of the prince of devils.” And they went at once to the synagogue to cast out Josiah.

(164:4.12) Josiah entered this trial with meager ideas about Jesus and the nature of his healing. Most of the daring testimony which he so cleverly and courageously bore before this supreme tribunal of all Israel developed in his mind as the trial proceeded along such unfair and unjust lines.

Examples of humor and literary creativity

63:7.3 Andon and Fonta, shortly after their arrival on Jerusem, received permission from the System Sovereign to return to the first mansion world to serve with the morontia personalities who welcome the pilgrims of time from Urantia to the heavenly spheres. And they have been assigned indefinitely to this service. They sought to send greetings to Urantia in connection with these revelations, but this request was wisely denied them.

(76:5.5) Adam lived for 530 years; he died of what might be termed old age.

(86:1.4) Primitive man alternated between two potent interests: the passion of getting something for nothing and the fear of getting nothing for something. And this gamble of existence was the main interest and the supreme fascination of the early savage mind.

(86:4.5) The primitive doctrine of survival after death was not necessarily a belief in immortality. Beings who could not count over twenty could hardly conceive of infinity and eternity; they rather thought of recurring incarnations.

(104:0.1) THE Trinity concept of revealed religion must not be confused with the triad beliefs of evolutionary religions. The ideas of triads arose from many suggestive relationships but chiefly because of the three joints of the fingers, because three legs were the fewest which could stabilize a stool, because three support points could keep up a tent; furthermore, primitive man, for a long time, could not count beyond three.

(42:9.4) But not all the suppositions of natural philosophy are valid; for example, the hypothetical ether, which represents an ingenious attempt of man to unify his ignorance of space phenomena.

(130:6.2,3) Sit down with me while I tell you of the service trails and happiness highways which lead from the sorrows of self to the joys of loving activities in the brotherhood of men and in the service of the God of heaven.”
By this time the young man very much desired to talk with Jesus, and he knelt at his feet imploring Jesus to help him, to show him the way of escape from his world of personal sorrow and defeat. Said Jesus: “My friend, arise! Stand up like a man!

(190:1.3) From the tomb David and Joseph went immediately to the home of Elijah Mark, where they held a conference with the ten apostles in the upper chamber. Only John Zebedee was disposed to believe, even faintly, that Jesus had risen from the dead. Peter had believed at first but, when he failed to find the Master, fell into grave doubting.

(190:2.2) The third appearance occurred about noon of this Sunday at Bethany. Shortly after noontide, Jesus’ oldest brother, James, was standing in the garden of Lazarus before the empty tomb of the resurrected brother of Martha and Mary, turning over in his mind the news brought to them about one hour previously by the messenger of David. James had always inclined to believe in his eldest brother’s mission on earth, but he had long since lost contact with Jesus’ work and had drifted into grave doubting regarding the later claims of the apostles that Jesus was the Messiah.

(168:0.4) Many friends from near-by hamlets and others from Jerusalem came over to comfort the sorrow-stricken sisters. Lazarus and his sisters were the children of a well-to-do and honorable Jew, one who had been the leading resident of the little village of Bethany. And notwithstanding that all three had long been ardent followers of Jesus, they were highly respected by all who knew them.

(195:7.7) The partially evolved mental mechanism of mortal man is not overendowed with consistency and wisdom. Man’s conceit often outruns his reason and eludes his logic.

(5:4.5) All religions teach the worship of Deity and some doctrine of human salvation. The Buddhist religion promises salvation from suffering, unending peace; the Jewish religion promises salvation from difficulties, prosperity predicated on righteousness; the Greek religion promised salvation from disharmony, ugliness, by the realization of beauty; Christianity promises salvation from sin, sanctity; Mohammedanism provides deliverance from the rigorous moral standards of Judaism and Christianity.

(80:5.6) When the tribal council of the Andite elders had adjudged an inferior captive to be unfit, he was, by elaborate ceremony, committed to the shaman priests, who escorted him to the river and administered the rites of initiation to the “happy hunting grounds”—lethal submergence.

(71:6.1) Present-day profit-motivated economics is doomed unless profit motives can be augmented by service motives. Ruthless competition based on narrow-minded self-interest is ultimately destructive of even those things which it seeks to maintain. Exclusive and self-serving profit motivation is incompatible with Christian ideals—much more incompatible with the teachings of Jesus.





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