Education Week: Humor an uplifting aspect of Latter-day Saint life

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From left: Sister Carol F. McConkie, Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson and Sister Neill F. Marriott share a laugh during the March 2017 General Women’s Session of General Conference. (Mormon Newsroom)

An uplifting sense of humor is one of the most important traits a Mormon can have, according to a BYU Education Week presentation by religion professor Lawrence Flake.

Flake gave several examples of good humor, while also warning of the dangers of inappropriate and destructive jokes.

“The most important thing about a sense of humor is the sense part,” Flake said, quoting President Boyd K. Packer.

This idea of being able to laugh but knowing when to stop or what not to say was prevalent throughout the presentation.

Flake mainly focused on examples of good humor from the lives of church leaders.

Flake said church leaders illustrate is the importance of being able to laugh at yourself or a tough situation, lightening the mood.

Flake gave an example of President Howard W. Hunter and President Boyd K. Packer.  Once while President Hunter was giving a General Conference address, his legs became paralyzed, and he fell backwards into the flowers behind the podium.

President Hunter broke three ribs in the fall, but President Packer helped to lighten the mood as he rushed to help him up by saying, “You realize you’re going to have to pay for those flowers, don’t you?”

Flake also used Charles Schultz’ “Peanuts” as an example of good and healthy humor that often made fun of certain aspects of religion.

Humor should not delve into sacred or sexual topics, but instead remain pure and innocent, according to Flake.

Flake used children’s humor as an example. He said children’s humor stems not from a desire to make people laugh or build themselves up, but rather from their naivety and innocent intentions. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said we should be “guileless and quick to laugh,” according to Flake.

Flake said people should avoid “all light mindedness” in humor.

He used other scriptures to portray humor in a positive light, such as Proverbs 17:22, which says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”

Flake said a sense of humor is one of the numerous spiritual gifts that we can attain in this life, and quoted James E. Faust as saying that he included this in many blessings he gave to newborn babies.

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