Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it." (EB White)
I had a rather surreal conversation with a friend the other day about whether God had a sense of humour. I didn’t really come to a firm conclusion, but I tried to think through what humour actually was and think that it must be something like:
1. An awareness of incongruity
2. A foundation of optimism
I feel that things don't fit and surprise us because as finite beings we are always engaging with a world much greater than we can ever comprehend fully. Even our own bodies and minds surprise us and amuse us (especially if you are a dad, or slowly becoming your dad, at Christmas).
Good humour is attractive in someone because it shows a combination of both humility (on account of their finitude) and cheerfulness (on account of their optimism). Sadly, often as people we are either humble and afraid, or happy and arrogant.
I was prompted to post on this when reading TF Torrance describing the importance of Karl Barth's sense of humour:
"He was able to laugh at himself, and therefore to criticise himself, and hence to direct even ruthless critique at others in such a way that he could appreciate their intention and respect their persons and their sincerity. In this respect he stood out in marked contrast to the seriousness with which nineteenth century man took himself [...]
The Christian church has no right to despair of 'this weary world' or to be afraid it will crumble away into nothing. Christ is risen! [...] In him we can lift up our heads and laugh in the face of disaster and death… The Christian is the only one with a genuine message of hope and is the one true optimist." (pp.12-13, 23, TF Torrance, Karl Barth: Biblical and Evangelical Theologian)
PPS For what it’s worth I tentatively think that while God is full of joy and he tells countless jokes in his creation/redemption, he doesn’t actually have a sense of humour for himself because it is a creaturely characteristic. As the infinite creator the only thing that doesn’t fit in his world is sin, so God laughs at sin (Psalm 2:4 etc) but at nothing else I’m aware of. Although I don’t think that is because he finds sin humourous in the truest sense of the word (which I admit is beyond my grasp!). However theoretically, perhaps as the initiator within the Trinity the Father can surprise the Son, so the Son laughs at jokes told by his Father. But I am far beyond my knowledge. Does anyone know of anything in the Bible to give more of a clue?