Curtis Dahlgren
Sometimes you just have to laugh
By Curtis Dahlgren
April 26, 2024

Republished from July 26, 2019

"Laughter is better than complaining" – rewriting a paraphrase of "Anger is better than laughter," which in the King James Version is "Sorrow is better than laughter"

SOMETHING LOST IN THE TRANSLATION? The English words anger and sorrow meant the same thing in pre-KJV times. The root word for anguish, angst, and angina was the root now used for "anger." Rage wasn't involved until the 1300s.

Some say that "Sorrow is better than laughter" is one of their favorite scriptures. While it's true that sorrow and trials can do some good things for us sometimes, the God of the children of Israel is a comforting God, a laughing God (Psalm 2 and others).

I'm getting to the age where you go to bed earlier every night and wake up at bar time. And stay up. This morning I woke up laughing at 1 A.M. and stayed up to write this column.

Had a bad dream about road rage before waking up earlier, so I asked God if He couldn't give me better dreams. I went back to bed and dreamed about a couple I know. The Mrs. was talking about her aunt, someone who never believed in going to the doctor (too expensive). When she turned 90, she began to have pains here and there.

She ran into a doctor at the supermarket one day and started telling him about her symptoms. He smiles and says, "Aw honey, your pains are going to go away." Her niece says:

"That was 2010 and it's 2019 now and she's still dead." That was the actual punch line I woke up to.

Now where was I? Oh right, I was going to say that the God of Israel laughs, and that if you google "Jewish comedians," you will find over 300 of them. I've never heard a comedian give credit for a one-liner from a dream, but I would bet it's happened.

Speaking of laughter, English only has one word for "love" and one for "laughter." Hebrew has at least three words for the latter. When Job and David said, "My enemies laugh me to scorn," which was prophetic, that was a different word than the one used when Sarah said:

"You've made me laugh and all who hear I'm pregnant will laugh with me."

That was a playful laugh, a merry laugh, but when the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote, "Sorrow [or anger] is better than laughter," that could mean either a scornful laugh OR a laughter for pleasure, for the fun of it," depending on the context. Flippant laughter might be an example of the latter, but the writer at the time was being cynical.

When Luke wrote "Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall LAUGH," the Greek word meant laughing for JOY. So if you never laugh, you must not have much joy in your life. Live, love, laugh, and learn and you'll live longer. My mother came from a family of 13 Greenbergs. They denied having any Jewish blood, but their laughter at family reunions, I think, betrayed them. BTW, they produced 56 first cousins, and grandma lived to be 90. Laugh and the world laughs with you, and someday your pain will go away.

P.S. I'm only 1/32 Jewish at most, but if I can be serious for a moment, one at least, I must point out that cynical preacher in Ecclesiastes "sought to find acceptable words." and when he came to the "conclusion of the matter," he said, "Keep the Big Ten commandments [paraphrased]." He finally found love, peace, and joy.

He made the Lord his "shield," which in Hebrew referred to "the scaly skin of a crocodile." That's the trouble with the modern secular "progressives" – thin skin! They are constantly "offended" and angry, and they're trying to project their anger on the rest of us (claiming we hate). I think they are trying to divide this country.

We are almost as divided as the country was in 1860. The hot-headed Rebels seceded as soon as Lincoln got elected. They couldn't believe it! In the same frame of mind, the left-wingers still can't believe Donald Trump won, and they started a coup even before the election! He's trying to make America united again like Lincoln, but Abe said he often felt like a tightrope walker over Niagara Falls with midgets on each end shaking the cable (think cable TV for the President now).

PPS: It's 5:18 in the morning now, and my century-old "God's Minute" had some very pithy passages today:

"May we count no man too hardened to uplift, count no woman too fallen to reclaim. May forgiveness open the door of genuine social restoration [a new lease on life] and may we choose that task which most taxes our highest powers, best serves the world's deepest needs. May we thus become not mere creatures, but Thy co-workers."

My other morning book, "Today With God" says almost the same thing today:

"He hath made me a polished arrow in His quiver. May we be fit instruments in Thy hand, in your service."

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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