Spring 2011


 I have made fun of Lutherans for years - who wouldn't, if you lived in Minnesota ? But I have also sung with Lutherans, and that is one of the main joys of life, along with hot baths and fresh sweet corn. We make fun of Lutherans for their blandness, their excessive calm, their fear of giving offense, their lack of speed and also for their secret fondness for macaroni and cheese. But nobody sings like they do. If you ask an audience in New York City , a relatively Lutheranless place, to sing along on the chorus of 'Michael Row the Boat Ashore', they will look daggers at you as if you had asked them to strip to their underwear. But if you do this among Lutherans they'll smile and row that boat ashore and up on the beach! And down the road! Lutherans are bred from childhood to sing in four-part harmony. It's a talent that comes from sitting on the lap of someone singing alto or tenor or bass and hearing the harmonic intervals by putting your little head against that person's rib cage. It's natural for Lutherans to sing in harmony. We're too modest to be soloists, too worldly to sing in unison. When you're singing in the key of C and you slide into the A7th and D7th chords, all two hundred of you, it's an emotionally fulfilling moment. I once sang the bass line of Children of the Heavenly Father in a room with about three thousand Lutherans in it; and when we finished, we all had tears in our eyes, partly from the promise that God will not forsake us, partly from the proximity of all those lovely voices. By our joining in harmony, we somehow promise that we will not forsake each other. I do believe this: These Lutherans are the sort of people you could call up when you're in deep distress. If you're dying, they'll comfort you. If you're lonely, they'll talk to you. And if you're hungry, they'll give you tuna salad! The following list was compiled by a 20th century Lutheran who, observing other Lutherans, wrote down exactly what he saw or heard:

1. Lutherans believe in prayer, but would practically die if asked to pray out loud.

2. Lutherans like to sing, except when confronted with a new hymn or a hymn with more than four stanzas.

3. Lutherans believe their pastors will visit them in the hospital, even if they don't notify them that they are there.

4. Lutherans usually follow the official liturgy and will feel it is their way of suffering for their sins.

5. Lutherans believe in miracles and even expect miracles, especially during their stewardship visitation programs or when passing the plate.
6. Lutherans feel that applauding for their children's choirs would make the kids too proud and conceited.

7. Lutherans think that the Bible forbids them from crossing the aisle while passing the peace.

8. Lutherans drink coffee as if it were the Third Sacrament..

9. Some Lutherans still believe that an ELCA bride and an LC-MS groom make for a mixed marriage. (For those of you who are not Lutherans, ELCA is Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and LC-MS is Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, two different divisions of the same Protestant religion.. And when and where I grew up in Minnesota , intermarriage between the two was about as popular as Lutherans and Catholics marrying.)

10. Lutherans feel guilty for not staying to clean up after their own wedding reception in the Fellowship Hall.

11. Lutherans are willing to pay up to one dollar for a meal at church.

12. Lutherans think that Garrison Keillor stories are totally factual.

13. Lutherans still serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color of the season and think that peas in a tuna noodle casserole add a little too much color.

14. Lutherans believe that it is OK to poke fun at themselves and never take themselves too seriously.

And finally, you know you're a Lutheran when:

*It's 100 degrees, with 90% humidity, and you still have coffee after the service; *You hear something really funny during the sermon and smile as loudly as you can; *Donuts are a line item in the church budget, just like coffee; *The communion cabinet is open to all, but the coffee cabinet is locked up tight; *When you watch a 'Star Wars' movie and they say, 'May the Force be with you', you respond, 'and also with you'; *And lastly, it takes 15 minutes to say, 'Good-bye'. May you wake each day with His blessings, Sleep each night in His keeping, And always walk in His tender care.


















































January 2011

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979)'s Sense of Humor 

The great television evangelist was also very ecumenical.  He was pushing the Scottish Presbyterian Biblical scholar William Barclay (1907-78)'s Daily Study Bible before many Catholic leaders recognized Christian Unity.  He told the following humorous story on himself.   

        I was visiting Philadelphia to give a speech at Town Hall.  I left my hotel early enough to  walk a bit.  After strolling for a while, I realized I was lost.  I noticed a group of boys playing  in the street and approached them  "I'm a stranger in your city and I seem to have lost my  way.  Can you please tell me the way to Town Hall?"  One of the boys volunteered and  instructed me on how to get there.  Then the boy asked "What are you going to do there?"  I replied "I'm going to deliver a lecture."  The boy asked "On what?"  I replied "On how to get  to heaven."  The youngster exclaimed "To heaven?  You don't even know how to get to  Town Hall!"
















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2.  See the attached item on Harriet Beecher Stowe. 

preacher Henry Ward Beecher (also renowned for his wit)were among many Christians who led a health reform movement in the mid-l9th- century. Like Ellen White and
Methodism’s John Wesley, their focus was on prevention.

Mrs. Stowe, the mother of five children, wrote articles for magazines to supplement her husband’s meager pastor’s salary.

After her son, Charlie, became ill and died in 1849. she became keenly healthy lifestyles.

She wrote: “Like the principles of spiritual religion, the principles of physical religion are few and easy to
understand: an old medical apothegm personifies the hygienic forces as Doctor Air, Doctor Diet, Doctor Exercise, and Doctor Quiet. (JN would add Doctor Laughter to that list.)

“The return to the great primitive elements of health — clean water, clean air, and simple, fresh food,
with a regular system of exercise — has brought to many a jaded, weary, worn-down human being the elastic
spirits and the sound sleep of a little child.”

(JN will carry other insightful excerpts from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s sermon on “Bodily Religion” in a
forthcoming issue.)

Joyful Noiseletter, January, 2011, p. 5.


The wit and wisdom of Harriet Beecher Stowe

It may come as a surprise to many that Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) — famed for her book Uncle
Tom’s Cabin — campaigned just as
passionately and wittily for good
health, good nutrition, and good
ventilation in churches, seminaries,
and trains.

In 1866, this remarkable woman
contributed an article to The
Atlantic Monthly
by the intriguing
title, “Bodily Religion: a Sermon on
Good Health” “The fowl air generated by one congregation,” she wrote, “is locked up by the sexton for the use of the next assembly; and so gathers and gathers from week to week, and month to month, while devout persons are ready to tear their hair because they feel stupid and sleep in church.

“Revivals of religion, with ministers and the people who take most interest in them, often end in periods of bodily ill-health and depression (because) of people breathing poison from each other’s lungs.

“The proper ventilation of their churches and vestries would remove that spiritual deadness of which their prayers and hymns complain.

 “In contrast, a man hoeing his corn out on a breezy hillside is bright and alert, his mind works clearly, and he feels interested in religion.

“The want of suitable ventilation in schoolrooms, offices, courtrooms, churches, law schools, medical
schools, and theology schools is something simply appalling. Of itself it would answer the question why so many thousand glad, active children come to a middle life
without joy.”

Mrs. Stowe, her husband, Congregationalist Pastor Calvin Stowe, and her brother, Congregationalist
























Past Pages of  Christian Joy

March 2011

A Jesuit Praises Aquinas on Humor and Joy

Father John F. Kavanaugh S.J. in America, Feb. 21, 2011, p. 9 has some significant things to say in his article “Aquinas, Go With Me.”  He quotes 17 of Aquinas’ statements, which have helped Kavanaugh in his work in ethics.  Consider #14:  “It is against reason to be burdensome to others, showing no amusement and acting as a grouch.  Those without a sense of fun, who never say anything ridiculous and are cantankerous with those who do, these are vicious and are called grumpy and rude (Summa Theologica 2a-2ae clxviii, 4).”  Of course, #8 is the basis:  “Love is absolutely stronger than hate.” His translations are from Thomas Gilby’s Saint Thomas Aquinas:  Philosophical Texts.

Note that in the past, Jesuits and Dominicans have fought each other.  Isn’t it significant that they agree on the joy and love we need as Christians?

This item was taken from our website, with approval, and used in the July-August 2011 Joyful Newsletter, p. 1.


February 2011

1.  National Geographic has sent expeditions of medical scientists to four areas of the world; they wrote a book about the extraordinary longevity of people in these four areas.  Good humor good nutrition, daily exercise (including siestas) and faith are all described in their book. The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the Longest-lived People.