Friday, June 20, 2008


I was wondering about laughter this morning.  Why do we make those funny sounds?  Is it always because we hear something funny?  It turns out that laughter is a very basic way of communicating.  We start laughing way before we are able to speak words.  Some research indicates that only about 10-20% of laughter happens because of hearing jokes.  The other 80-90% of the time laughter is woven into normal conversations as some kind of verbal spice.  Apparently we don't have as much control over laughter that we do over speech: One scientist who has researched laughing says:  "We don't choose to laugh in the same way that we choose to speak.  If you've ever had an inopportune laughing fit -- in a lecture, during a high school play, or at a funeral, for instance -- you know that laughter can't always be tamed."  Laughter can be very contagious.  Here's an interesting episode: "In 1962, in the African country that is now Tanzania, three school girls began to laugh uncontrollably. Within a few months, about 2/3 of the school's students had the symptoms, and the school closed. The contagion spread, and eventually affected about a thousand people in Tanzania and neighboring Uganda. There were no long-lasting effects, but it shows how responsive people can be to seeing another person laugh."  Some folks think laughter has a healing quality and actually practice laughter therapy.  However in centuries past causing laughter by tickling was actually used as a form of torture.  I think laughter is a way we connect with each other and a way to release our emotions.  It's hard to imagine a world where laughter was removed.  It seems that tension would just take over our experience and we'd remain isolated from one another.
Genesis 21:6 And Sarah said, "God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me."
Job 8:21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughing,  And your lips with rejoicing.
Psalm 126:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
         And our tongue with singing.
         Then they said among the nations,
         "The LORD has done great things for them."
Rob Smith

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