The Value of Humor
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. ~ The Urantia Book, (48:4.13)
Super-Humor Among Celestial Beings
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 education efforts. ~ The Urantia Book, (28:5.16)
The Reversion Directors are the promoters of relaxation and humor—reversion to past memories. They are of great service in the practical operation of the ascending scheme of mortal progression, especially during the earlier phases of morontia transition and spirit experience. Their story belongs to the narrative of the mortal career in the local universe. ~ The Urantia Book, (30:3.7)
The play builders. Enormous edifices are utilized during the seasons of rest, what mortals would call recreation and, in a certain sense, play. Provision is made for a suitable setting for the reversion directors, the humorists of the morontia worlds, those transition spheres whereon takes place the training of ascendant beings but recently removed from the evolutionary planets. Even the higher spirits engage in a certain form of reminiscent humor during their periods of spiritual recharging. ~ The Urantia Book, (44:3.4)
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 (between spirit and material) 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. ~ The Urantia Book, (48:4.2)
But the reversion directors of the realms are not concerned exclusively with depicting the high humor of the various orders of intelligent beings; they are also occupied with the leadership of diversion, spiritual recreation and morontia entertainment. And in this connection they have the hearty co-operation of the celestial artisans. ~ The Urantia Book, (48:4.8)
Angels Appreciate Human Humor
Angels do not have material bodies, but they are definite and discrete beings; they are of spirit nature and origin. Though invisible to mortals, they perceive you as you are in the flesh without the aid of transformers or translators; they intellectually understand the mode of mortal life, and they share all of man's nonsensuous emotions and sentiments. They appreciate and greatly enjoy your efforts in music, art, and real humor. They are fully cognizant of your moral struggles and spiritual difficulties. They love human beings, and only good can result from your efforts to understand and love them. ~ The Urantia Book, (38:2.1)
The angels of diversion. These are the seraphim who foster the values of play, humor, and rest. They ever seek to uplift man's recreational diversions and thus to promote the more profitable utilization of human leisure. The present corps is the third of that order to minister on Urantia. ~ The Urantia Book, (114:6.15)
Primitive Man and Humor - Not So Much...
They (primitive men) 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. ~ The Urantia Book, (63:4.2)
These leaders contributed much to bringing about intertribal marriages. They fostered courtship and marriage after due deliberation and full opportunity to become acquainted. The purely military war dances were refined and made to serve valuable social ends. Many competitive games were introduced, but these ancient folk were a serious people; little humor graced these early tribes. ~ The Urantia Book, (66:5.29)
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. ~ The Urantia Book, (69:0.1)
Luck was looked upon as the whimsical and temperamental reaction of the spirit world; later on, as the humor of the gods. ~ The Urantia Book, (86:2.6)
The savage visualizes the good spirits as going about their business, requiring little from human beings. It is the bad ghosts and spirits who must be kept in good humor. Accordingly, primitive peoples paid more attention to their malevolent ghosts than to their benign spirits. ~ The Urantia Book, (87:5.3)
Humor is a Legacy of Adam and Eve
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. ~ The Urantia Book, (74:6.7)
The entire purpose of the western school system of the Garden was socialization. The forenoon periods of recess were devoted to practical horticulture and agriculture, the afternoon periods to competitive play. The evenings were employed in social intercourse and the cultivation of personal friendships. Religious and sexual training were regarded as the province of the home, the duty of parents.
The teaching in these schools included instruction regarding: The cultivation of play, humor, and competitive substitutes for physical fighting. ~ The Urantia Book, (74:7.2)
Midway Creatures and Humor
Both orders are nonmaterial beings (Midway Creatures - midway between man and angel) as regards nutrition and energy intake, but they partake of many human traits and are able to enjoy and follow your humor as well as your worship. When attached to mortals, they enter into the spirit of human work, rest, and play. ~ The Urantia Book, (77:8.3)
The Andites' Contribution To Humor
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. ~ The Urantia Book, (78:5.8)
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. ~ The Urantia Book, (80:5.7)
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 Urantia Book, (84:8.2)
Religion and Humor
Genuine religion renders the religionist socially fragrant and creates insights into human fellowship. But the formalization of religious groups many times destroys the very values for the promotion of which the group was organized. Human friendship and divine religion are mutually helpful and significantly illuminating if the growth in each is equalized and harmonized. Religion puts new meaning into all group associations—families, schools, and clubs. It imparts new values to play and exalts all true humor. ~ The Urantia Book, (99:4.1)
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. ~ The Urantia Book, (100:6.5)
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. ~ The Urantia Book, (143:7.3)
Jesus Enjoyed Humor and Good Times
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. ~ The Urantia Book, (123:4.3)
At the end of this eleventh year Jesus was a vigorous, well-developed, moderately humorous, and fairly lighthearted youth, but from this year on he was more and more given to peculiar seasons of profound meditation and serious contemplation. He was much given to thinking about how he was to carry out his obligations to his family and at the same time be obedient to the call of his mission to the world; already he had conceived that his ministry was not to be limited to the betterment of the Jewish people. ~ The Urantia Book, (124:3.10)
The other apostles held Jesus in reverence because of some special and outstanding trait of his replete personality, but Thomas revered his Master because of his superbly balanced character. Increasingly Thomas admired and honored one who was so lovingly merciful yet so inflexibly just and fair; so firm but never obstinate; so calm but never indifferent; so helpful and so sympathetic but never meddlesome or dictatorial; so strong but at the same time so gentle; so positive but never rough or rude; so tender but never vacillating; so pure and innocent but at the same time so virile, aggressive, and forceful; so truly courageous but never rash or foolhardy; such a lover of nature but so free from all tendency to revere nature; so humorous and so playful, but so free from levity and frivolity. It was this matchless symmetry of personality that so charmed Thomas. He probably enjoyed the highest intellectual understanding and personality appreciation of Jesus of any of the twelve. ~ The Urantia Book, (139:8.7)
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. ~ The Urantia Book, (125:5.8)
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. ~ The Urantia Book, (129:4.4)
The Apostle Nathanial was Good at Humor
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.
Many times, when Jesus was away on the mountain with Peter, James, and John, and things were ecoming 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. ~ The Urantia Book, (139:6.4)
Jesus found himself surrounded in the synagogue by a great throng of his enemies and a sprinkling of his own followers, and in reply to their rude questions and sinister banterings he half humorously remarked: "Yes, I am Joseph's son; I am the carpenter, and I am not surprised that you remind me of the proverb, `Physician heal yourself,' and that you challenge me to do in Nazareth what you have heard I did at Capernaum; but I call you to witness that even the Scriptures declare that `a prophet is not without honor save in his own country and among his own people.'" ~ The Urantia Book, (150:9.1)
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. ~ The Urantia Book, (156:2.8)
It is not strange that you have a record of Peter's catching a fish with a shekel in its mouth. In those days there were current many stories about finding treasures in the mouths of fishes; such tales of near miracles were commonplace. So, as Peter left them to go toward the boat, Jesus remarked, half-humorously: "Strange that the sons of the king must pay tribute; usually it is the stranger who is taxed for the upkeep of the court, but it behooves us to afford no stumbling block for the authorities. Go hence! maybe you will catch the fish with the shekel in its mouth." Jesus having thus spoken, and Peter so soon appearing with the temple tax, it is not surprising that the episode became later expanded into a miracle as recorded by the writer of Matthew's Gospel ~ The Urantia Book, (156:5.4)
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. ~ The Urantia Book, (159:3.10)
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. ~ The Urantia Book, (172:2.5)
Josiah, Healed of His Blindness, Delivers a Zinger
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." ~ The Urantia Book, (164:4.9)