Galatians 5, Laughter and an Austrian-Jewish Comedian

September 30, 2013 — Leave a comment

Recently my wife and I purchased the entire series of ‘Hogan’s Heroes’. It was one of those gradual purchases where you buy one and then after having watched it, you look at each other and say “hmm. I see why my Grandfather used to laugh at this so much…That was cool, we should get the rest”…

One evening while watching them, I came across this rather cool phrase and pondered the depths of its significance.

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My first thoughts about this statement went along these lines: the words remind us to look at where pride may have snuck into our view of ourselves. This introspective challenge includes how well we think we have grasped knowledge of a particular issue or fact. Secondly, the words remind us of how liberating it is to realise, that as individuals we don’t have to have all the answers.

We are allowed to lighten up and laugh at ourselves from time to time, because not having all the answers is partly what it means to be vulnerable and therefore be able to participate fully in community (Brene Brown’s – Gifts of Imperfection). For instance: we don’t stand alone but before a great cloud of witnesses. Among other examples,  we could also say that we “stand on the shoulders of intellectual giants” as we participate, for example, in the cycle of the trivium (classical education).

In my current understanding, true, raw laughter requires honesty. An acknowledgement grounded on some form of reminder or newly discovered knowledge. You know the kind – the elusive “ah-Haaa-lol-I should have known that” moment.

Worth noting here is this: responsible self-care is not selfish care (David Brenner, 1998). For example I would illustrate self-care as talking about your problems with a trusted husband/wife/parent/s and/or caring professional. The very people who will help you pull through by giving you strategies and support in order for you to manage those problems. People who are prepared to joyfully work with you, and who are NOT inwardly energized by your problem/s or negative situation. This is also opposed to dwelling on the worst and ingesting whatever self prescribed numbing agent there is.

In its Christian form as taught by scripture it is a reasoned goodness: I.e.: telling yourself the truth or seeking the truth, outside what you may feel at the time. This is a form of self-care, with the added benefit that being able to do for yourself will enable you to do for others. This is the actuality of ‘kindness, goodness, self-control, gentleness, peace, patience, and love’ (Gal.5:22). Which as shown is not only something enacted in how we treat others but also how we treat ourselves.

In a similar way I believe this is what Paul’s admonition to the Galatian Church teaches us:

‘let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another…if anyone is caught in transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you to be tempted…Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he or she is something when they are nothing, each one deceives themselves….Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will they also reap…Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Gal.5:26;6:1 & 7,14 ESV)

When we have our broken understanding met with a redeemed correction that is fuelled by joy, kindness and gentleness, one absent of arrogance and indifference, the event bears witness to the fruits of the Spirit. Especially when that proper alignment comes from a person gracious enough to stand with us, even though they may well be more advanced than us. There can be no stronger example here than that of God’s revelation that is Jesus the Christ; God-with-us (see also James 1:2-5).

It’s a curious thing that one of Banner’s most repeated lines in Hogan’s Heroes is “jolly jokers”. This is something he says jovially (might I even say lovingly?) and often in response to the quips of the sojourners from barracks 2 as he passes by them . In defending his role on the series Banner is quoted to have said:

Schultz is not a Nazi. I see Schultz as the representative of some kind of goodness in any generation.“(Shultz was played by Jewish actor, John Banner – who incidentally  fled Austria from the Nazis in 1938).

If you are familiar with the series, I am certain you will capture the humanity, contrasts and warmth within those words, and if so their significance for theological reflection as well.

There is a lot more that could be said, but “I think I can say almost positively that I believe” I got to the gist of it.

Some interesting trivia on the H.H series:

1. A few of the actors have Jewish heritage  2. Bing Crosby productions owned the rights, (so Bing was the boss) 3. Robert Clary, the gent who played the French character ”LeBeau”, spent time in a concentration camp 4. if you watch closely enough you’ll see where a lot of the ideas for M*A*S*H come from. Given Gene Reynolds’ involvement in H.H and then in M*A*S*H, it makes for some interesting comparisons.

Sources (not otherwise linked):

Brenner, D. 1998 Care of Souls, Baker Books,  Baker publishing house Grand Rapids MI.
Brown, B. 2010 The Gifts of Imperfection

©RL.2013

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