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Taking ourselves too seriously

I once asked a bishop how he coped with all the negative letters he received, and with all the hope deferred of seeing a diocese not coming alive under his leadership. He smiled ruefully, “When it’s really bad I read Thomas Hardy! But mostly I read PG Wodehouse and laugh!”

Not quite the answer I expected! But I think it’s a wise one. In an age when we love to be offended, it’s better that we take to heart GK Chesterton’s two remarks: first, the devil is the only serious creature in the whole of God’s creation because he wants to cart people into hell with him for ever; and second, angels fly because “they take themselves so lightly.”

We would do well not to be so preciously uptight about everything which we find upsets us or offends us or we disagree with. At one point Medieval theology wondered whether the ability to laugh was that which constituted being made in the image of God.

So watch Laurel and Hardy on repeat; read PG Wodehouse’s “Uncle Fred in the Springtime”;

and revel in the certain knowledge that one day God’s realm shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. And laugh. It all comes good in the end.

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