The Grail Code 
A little judicious levity

Longtime readers, or for that matter readers who just discovered the site this afternoon, must have noticed that I spend a lot of my time making fun of people. Your mother probably told you that making fun of people wasn’t nice. Your mother was right, but there are extenuating circumstances.

First of all, I never make fun of anyone who hasn’t already said something stupid. Your mother probably told you that “He started it” was no excuse. Your mother was right. It’s amazing how often your mother was right. You should have listened to her more.

But my main reason for making fun of people is this: it’s what popular psychologists (and, for all I know, dreadfully unpopular ones as well) call a “coping mechanism.”

You see, I’m deficient in charity. It’s the nature of the human species to be deficient in charity, but I think I’m more deficient than most.

Now, a deficiency in charity is a serious thing, and can lead to serious trouble.

Most of you will remember the big Danish cartoon flap a little more than a year ago. A Danish paper printed some cartoons whose message seemed to be that Islam as such promotes violence. The result was weeks of violence throughout the Islamic world. By one estimate, at least 159 people died because of those cartoons.

Over here, we all thought that was pretty darned ironic, didn’t we? But how about that guy who sculpted a naked Jesus out of chocolate? I hate him to pieces! He is flies in my soup! He should be killed to death!

Yes, it seems pretty clear that other people should lighten up about their religions, but insults to my own religion are hard to forgive.

When I realize how deficient I am in charity, I realize that I’m just as prone to fits of rage as any other religious fanatic. In fact, I think we can define a religious fanatic as someone who takes his religion seriously, but is deficient in charity.

Now, there are several different ways I could deal with my deficiency. One is to pray for more charity, which is always a good idea. Another, which supplements the first, is to work on increasing my charity, which might involve consciously trying to return good for evil and all that stuff. That’s hard.

So, while I earnestly work on the first two methods, I fall back on the third, which is making fun of people. It’s a lot better than starting a riot in the street. Besides, it’s hard to get a good riot started around here. People are so apathetic. You can stand right at the corner of Fifth and Smithfield and shout till you’re blue in the face, and people will just walk right past you or hand you pizza coupons.

But making fun of the offensive things people say is more than just an outlet for my hostilities. It changes the way I look at the people by subtle degrees. There was a time when I was really mad at Dan Brown—not for denying the Christian religion, which a lot of admirable Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and other writers do, but for foisting ridiculous dreck on the general public as if it were true history.

Now, though, I don’t see him as a threat. I’ve spent so much time driving trucks through the holes in his historical assumptions that I can only laugh at him, not shake my fist at him. It’s hard to be really amused and still hate the person who amuses you. I find myself actually looking forward to whatever Dan Brown comes up with next, because I know it’s going to be chock full of belly laughs. I begin to think happy thoughts about Dan Brown and all the good he’s done me. I feel something almost like charity coming on.

4 Responses to “A little judicious levity”

  1. The Grail Code» Blog Archive » Nothing like… Says:

    [...] After I posted the previous article, I began to think how there was a time, before the Web, when the author of an article in a printed publication might challenge his readers to identify the source of a phrase like “a little judicious levity,” offering some sort of prize for the first correct response. Then I thought about how there’s no point in doing something like that now, when any fool can just paste those words into a Web search engine and come up with the answer instantly. And then I decided to try the experiment and found that the first result I came up with was a page of “memorable quotes” from the fantasy Aeon Flux. [...]

  2. The Grail Code» Blog Archive » One year Says:

    [...] chocolate [...]

  3. Bubbi Says:

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