Comedy, Tragedy, and Hope

The past three hours I have searched of the internet for something funny to share with you. Maybe a little bit of laughter could lighten the load caused by the news on the television each night lately.

Videos of Charlie Chaplin popped up first. I looked at parts of those and they were good, but nothing seemed to make me laugh. Then there was Buster Keaton. I was sure his deadpan face and antics would put a smile on my face. It was entertaining but didn’t seem as funny as the last time I saw it.

Compilations of funny clips of comedians and others were too long to share.

I looked back at old clips of David Letterman throwing stuff off of five story buildings. The randomness of odd things exploding on the pavement after a long fall could be very funny back in the day. I remember that watermelons hitting the concrete looked a lot like fireworks in the sky.

One of our two family cats is comical at times. It can be hilarious when she contorts herself to get comfortable, even for a dog guy. But, today she is still wandering around outside and probably won’t be napping for awhile.

Then I remembered Bob Nelson. I laughed so hard once that I fell on the floor when he did a bit on Jacques Cousteau. I couldn’t find a clip of that, but the video above made me laugh.

I’m sure that many people are trying to find a way to block out the fact that bombs are being dropped on people in the Ukraine.  I don’t blame them.  Its not good to have to think of war so much.  The people in the Ukraine don’t have that luxury.

Maybe you have heard of the story that I just read this morning.  It is about a King who wanted another man’s vineyard so badly that he couldn’t eat.  The king tried to buy it from the man, but it was the man’s inheritance and he wouldn’t part with it.  The King’s evil wife questioned her husband’s behavior and saw to it that the owner of the vineyard was deviously killed so that her husband could have it.

If you want to know the “end” of the evil king and his evil wife, you can find it prophesied in 1 Kings 21.

Justice will be served to all who perform such atrocities.  It is a theme repeated many times in the Bible. All will reap what they have sown. Thank God these words are balanced by the grace of God throughout the scriptures for those who turn from their ungodly ways.

There are times when laughter doesn’t come easy.  This is one of those times.  Despite this truth, hope is always easy to find.  First Peter is one place to find it:

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. (1:13)”

Please pray for the Ukrainian and Russian people who are trapped in a seemingly hopeless situation.

Chris Reimers

Bob Nelson used to use profanity in his comedy until he was told by Red Skelton that he was using poison to try to make people laugh.  Bob Nelson doesn’t use bad words in his comedy these days.  He is a Christian man now who has recently been through difficult times.  Still, he talks about how God has helped him.

This bit was requested by a Wings reader and I am happy to post it here:



14 Responses to Comedy, Tragedy, and Hope

  1. Tom says:

    Thanks for the comedy, Chris. I needed a laugh break from the ongoing tragedy in Eastern Europe.

  2. I had never heard of Bob Nelson, but I DID laugh at his suggestion for a baldness test and so on. It was original too. – I also thought the other video, about the cancer, was good, and quite encouraging.

    Surely it is precisely in dark and negative times we need – in addition to an assurance of serious help in life – some diversion, and humour is among the best. It is not heartless to get away from the tragedy for a moment, it gives you more strength.

    I remember that Alfred Hitchcock’s daughter (I think it was) said in an interview that her father deliberately put in some moments of something “ordinary” in his otherwise scary, exciting films, to give the audience periods of relief, because he knew that people cannot bear to be held in frightened suspense the whole time. – It is not even healthy for you, just as long periods of depression are not healthy for you, they take a toll on you. It certainly weakens your immune system, for one thing. Actually I’ve read that laughter has a direct, positive effect on your body, your metabolism and so on. “A good laugh prolongs life”, as the saying has it, and it’s literally true! Gives us stamina, helps our fighting spirit on, just when we need it in order to stand up to the bad times we cannot avoid coming back to.

    • Chris says:

      I’m glad you liked the videos, Marianne. I didn’t know that Bob Nelson had cancer until very recently. He isn’t famous but he has been on all the popular shows like the Tonight Show, etc. I saw him on a Christian comedy show called “Bananas” and his skits were very funny. A few of them are on YouTube if you are interested. I’m pretty sure he never had any problem finding work and I’d bet he made a good living at his craft.

      I’ve found all that you have mentioned about the benefits of humor to be true. I grew up in a home where there was a lot of laughter. I think it is a reason why my parents lived so long. None of us became brain surgeons but none of us spent time in prison either. Is there a connection? I don’t know but I’m sure it was better for us than hearing constant arguing or worse.

      When I was a kid my mom had a subscription to Reader’s Digest. Each issue had several short parts containing humorous things. One of those short sections was called “Laughter is the best medicine.” I couldn’t wait to see what fun the latest issue brought. It is popular enough that several compilations of years of “the best medicine” now fill several books.

      I remember Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. It has a pretty hideous storyline, but the tension is broken up by several normalish people living their simple everyday lives. The “ordinariness” does exactly what Hitchcock’s daughter and you have described. It gives relief.

      It seems to me that it is harder to find a good comedian these days, but I am always watching for one that doesn’t need to use foul language to make people laugh. Thankfully, there are things in ordinary life that still make us laugh. Some of those things may not make us laugh when they first happen but after some time has passed we can see humor in them.

      I seem to be spending a good deal of time looking for glasses that are sitting on my head lately. The other day I asked Kim to pass me a tool and she couldn’t find it. After looking for a few minutes we found that it was under my left arm (held next to my body).

      I appreciate your thoughtful comment, Marianne. Laughter is good medicine. I hope you have a good long laugh at something today.

  3. May I attempt another comment, Chris? It reverts to the serious situation in central Europe now:

    Regarding the Ukraine, some hymns are not far away. I am thinking of hymns with text about how we can hold on to the kingdom of God, winning through in a veritable fight against dark powers. They take on added meaning when we see the staunch way the Ukrainians are fighting a quite elemental fight now.

    “Onward Christian Soldiers” is perhaps one example. But since I am a Lutheran, Martin Luther’s most well-known hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” springs to mind. Luther wrote the melody himself (he has written several hymns) and the start of the text is a paraphrase on Psalm 46. He composed it around 1527.

    I admit I prefer the standard way it is sung in most Lutheran churches in modern times, to the way it apparently was originally. (There has been a lot of ‘revision’ of church music. At one time it was, for example, usual to sing very slowly; then some sensible people decided “Speed it up! Not so syrupy!”)

    I like this version very much:

    (First and last verse. It is recorded in Wartburg, I see, which figures importantly in Luther’s life-history as well.)
    Also good:

    (In English, all four verses.)
    and

    A good friend I have in Bergen (on the west coast) is active in the local Lutheran church there, and she said that they have decided to override the original plan (decided long before the present war) of what to spend the collection for the next two Sundays on: it is to go to the Ukraine, by means of an experienced, Norwegian church organisation which manages a lot of humanitarian aid in emergencies in many countries.

    The original text of the hymn by Luther is naturally in German, but it is found in several languages. German and English are found in the Wikipedia article (which is quite informative):
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Mighty_Fortress_Is_Our_God
    We have it in Norwegian too:
    https://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vår_Gud_han_er_så_fast_en_borg

    Since the text of a song has to fit the tune, translations are understandably often not exact. In this case, I like the meaning of the last part of the last verse better in the original German over the English, so here is a translation of the German which is closer:

    “They may take the body,
    property, honour, child and wife:
    let it just go,
    they have no gain from it,
    the Kingdom [of God] remains with us.”

    • Chris says:

      I am so glad you made another attempt, Marianne.

      As humor can give us some reprieve from the evils around us, music can help to strengthen us for the battle. Such wonderful memories came back to me as I listened to the three versions of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” I like it that the first two renditions were sung by young people, those who will help shape the future. Hopefully, they will always remember the words of that great hymn by Martin Luther.

      Raised in one of the American Lutheran Churches (The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod), I am also very familiar with that hymn. I did not know many of the facts written in the link that you shared. Thank you for that.

      May God bless your friend’s church for sending collections to the people of Ukraine. Each day it seems there is a greater need for kindness like that.

      Wow. The German translation of that verse is powerful. It is much more specific than the end of the verse I have in my service book and hymnal from my youth which I am looking at right now.

      What a majestic hymn that could be of great help to the people of Ukraine!

      Thank you for sharing, Marianne.

  4. Aha, in the first video I now see a bit of tiny text at the start, under the “Ein feste Burg …”, showing I was wrong about the place: it is the castle church in Wittenberg. Even better! Wittenberg was where Luther was professor of theology and a hotbed of the reformation.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wittenberg
    In the right-hand column one can click into “Schlosskirche”:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Saints%27_Church,_Wittenberg

    And I should have looked more closely at who the Wartburg Choir is: Despite their name they are apparently American; Wartburg College is in Iowa! This video is quite good:
    https://www.wartburg.edu/choir-in-germany
    I see their very first concert on their German tour was in Wittenberg. But their video shows something from a concert in the castle at Wartburg also.

    Wartburg is a fortress in Thüringen, south-west of Berlin. (Wittenberg is closer to Berlin, in Sachsen-Anhalt.) Wartburg too is one of the places contributing to the reformation also: Luther translated the Bible into German while he was at Wartburg:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wartburg
    (In the video about the Wartburg Choir that Luther translated the New Testament from Hebrew and Latin, though. The NEW Testament is in Greek, though, but of course the standard translation in the Catholic Church was in Latin, cf
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulgate)
      

    • Chris says:

      Sorry for my American slang but this is pretty cool, Marianne. Growing up I learned all about Martin Luther and how he nailed the Ninety-five Theses on the door at Wittenberg in 1517. At least that is what many historians think and I have no reason to think otherwise as some do. I had never seen the inside of this church before. I also had no idea where these places were in Germany.

      I’m looking forward to watching the hour-long documentary about the Wartburg choir and Germany.

      I went to an LCMS Lutheran College in Portland, Oregon where Kim and I met. She happened to be in the choir that also did yearly touring. They were very good as I remember but didn’t have the numbers that Wartburg choir has in this video. There is a great emphasis on music in most American Lutheran churches and the Lutheran colleges all have choirs. This choir is particularly talented. I had heard of Wartburg but didn’t know what it looked like (at the start of the documentary) and I had no idea they had toured Germany. As far as I know, the Concordia in Oregon never got that far.

      I am familiar with much of the history of the Reformation but I had never seen pictures of these important historic places. Thank you for sharing these links.

      I’m very thankful that Luther did his part in getting the Bible and its truths into the hands of the common man. Today, we can go to Bible Gateway on the internet and get just about any version of the Bible we want, and one can do subject searches there, too. It’s not too shabby that it is all free of charge to boot.

      I know you are aware that just trying to get the Bible or it’s true teaching to folks during the few centuries before Luther came at great cost to many. I think it is quite miraculous that Luther died of poor health at a decent age instead of by more sinister means.

      It is a shame that the truths that Luther and the reformers worked so hard to share have come under fire by certain Lutheran churches in America. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has gotten quite liberal in its theology to the point where simple Biblical principles, like marriage, have been redefined.

      There are still many solid, Bible believing Lutheran Churches in America. Although I am looking forward to watching the video because I want so much to see the places I have heard of, I am aware of the connection between the ELCA and Wartburg College.

      This link may help you understand concerns I have:

      https://www.wartburg.edu/alliance/

      The list of resources at the bottom are places that I could never support. I’ve done other posts on the subject so I will leave it at that.

      I know Luther was flawed just like the rest of us but the impact of many of his accomplishments have had a huge effect on so many. One of those was my mom who loved his sermons. She had volumes of his sermons that inspired her to be the choir director that she was.

      Thank you again, Marianne, for sharing. I always appreciate your comments.

  5. SLIMJIM says:

    Wow can’t imagine facing cancer; but praise God He is saved! And bearing witness to Jesus!

  6. SLIMJIM says:

    Answering your question on my blog: I’m having a good weekend Chris! Doing sermon prep right now; Im blessed!

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