I was thinking this morning about different types of laughter. Things that are silly because they're unexpected - a platypus might be an example, or the pairing of words in a surprising way. Then there is the laughter because we are not getting something very obvious - my laughing at myself because I'm being way too serious these days. It's not necessary, perhaps not even good for me, but I'm being sincere. This laughter isn't mean-spirited, it causes me to view myself as a child and lighten up.

There's another type of laughter that comes when true delight creates too much energy to contain inside our bodies. This laughter might be a kissing cousin to song, a physical release of joy, extraverted from our soul to the realm of sound waves. So after breakfast I sat down at the piano. Choosing songs that reminded me of the greatness of God's love, I let the truth of that goodness sink in and then rebound outward. Perhaps not technically laughter, but a life-giving practice in its own right.
3/3/2011 04:27:04 am

In the late 17th and early 18th century, there were two competing theories of laughter, Sue: Hobbesian laughter (we laugh at) and Shaftesburian laughter (we laugh with). Somewhere I read that the smile originated with wolf baring its teeth just before the kill--a Hobbesian approach. I'm definitely a Shaftesburian myself.

3/3/2011 10:17:49 am

I agree, Robin. If we can't laugh together at something, it's laughter in the wrong direction.
I wondered if the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes was connected to "Hobbesian" laughter, and came upon this delightful blog.


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