Perhaps I am drawn to conspiracy theories but it almost seems that the news media is working in an undercover and illicit plan to steal all our fun away. In this, they are aided and abetted by the government. Together they have already made common sense rare and seem hell bent to rob us of any fun we might have. All of it has to be spoiled by the introspective analysis of the racism, misogyny, sexism, and every other kind of ism that might be involved in the smile or the laughter. There can be only one real reason for all of this -- it helps to keep the populace submissive and fear prevents people from thinking. So our social media platforms and our news media and our government refuse to allow us to have any fun -- except the fun with all the sign-offs and approvals of the powers that be. In others, no fun at all. Fun seems to be viewed as a subversive force in a world suspicious of anything and everything.
We already did it to our kids. We robbed them of any play that was not burdened by some educational or socializing purpose that made the fun not so fun at all. We forced them to think about adult things during their carefree years of childhood. Now, before puberty even kicks in, they must decide on a gender, must admit that they are institutionally racist, must ally themselves with the forces of social justice, must take on the big world problems of climate, race, and inequity, and they must endure the mind-numbing cartoons that make sure no one is offended, excluded, has hurt feelings, or is not perfect just the way they are. Ugh. I long for the days when Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner went at it -- no matter how hard one of them was slammed, he seemed always to get up and go on (what a terrible lesson to learn, huh).
Now we are doing it to ourselves. According to the news, everything has become a life threatening problem. Prisoners to our feelings, we seem to have learned to revel in playing the role of victim, of assigning blame to others, of expecting others to fix what is wrong, and to insist upon every right we can possible imagine or manufacture before allowing anyone a measure of happiness. Fear is the constant drumbeat of the media and it has make us skeptical and suspicious of relationships, of those we know, of those we do not know, and of those we thought we adored as media stars, sports heroes, or politicians. All we seem to know and care about anymore is the unseemly dark side of everyone and everything.
Some of you are thinking that perhaps church has some responsibility to bear in all of this. I don't think so. In fact, I think that faith is a source of fun, a cause for joy, and a reason for feeling safe and content. As Christianity has been marginalized, at least the orthodox variety of Christianity, the faith has become the same, tired, and wearisome domain of pronoun picking, choice affirming, feelings respecting, preference honoring, fun stealing force that our culture has become. The gift of God was meant for joy but we took His gift and repackaged it into the same mess the world has. Fun begins with knowing that God made all things and still preserves them. Fun begins with the awareness of such love that suffering was not too great to save us and death not too terrible to endure to raise us. Fun begins with knowing that God is at work in history -- not as puppeteer but as the force of mercy bringing rescue and hope where there was only despair and death. Fun begins with the Holy Spirit transforming our hearts from the prison of fear and suspicion into places of trust and confidence that can sustain the joy He has planted in them. Fun begins with beginning each week in the presence of the Most High, bidden to come by His own mercy and then filled with grace upon grace as the Word unfolds with the voice of the Gospel and the Eucharist imparts a taste of a future greater than our imagination.
Terror is the fruit of sin. Fear is the currency of the demons. But joy is the gift of God -- the wonder and fun of creatures who have no right to expect anything good and who find the surprise of a Savior who has done all things well for our salvation. This same marvelous God picks us up when we fall, cleanses us from our shame, restores us as His own, feeds and nourishes with grace to satisfy every hunger and third. It is called fun. It is no coincidence that as Christianity has diminished as a presence and force in the world so has fun faded into a people who cannot laugh or look in awe or enjoy anything anymore.