Canned Laughter

“Our laughter is canned…”  (by Dustin Kensrue Thrice ~ “All The World Is Mad”, track 1 on Beggars)

I would like to make it clear from the get-go that I do not know with certainty what the deacon meant when he wrote this line.  My postulation: it has something to do with the biblical truth that, by nature, man is a rebellious mocker of God.  It might be a bit of a stretch, but read on anyway…

Canned laughter is a twentieth-century invention that allegedly traces its roots all the way back to the time of William Shakespeare.  The “Laff Box” invented by Charley Douglass and more updated versions of laugh tracks have been in use on television comedies since the 1950s.  Even children’s cartoons like The Flintstones often employed laugh tracks, if you recall!  (If you care to know more about this interesting subject, read more by clicking one   of   these   links.)

Essentially, canned laughter is like reality television: It appears to be real, but it’s really all phony.  To put another way, it is a mockery.  In a spiritual sense, “our laughter is canned” represents our total depravity, expressed in our propensity to mock the things of God and, ultimately, God Himself.  Consider the opening verse from the first Psalm:

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers….”  (Psalm 1:1)

(Note: Other translations render “scoffers” as “mockers”.  Also, I am indebted to the late Pastor J. Hampton Keathley III for his detailed insights and study of Psalm 1.)

While this opening verse speaks specifically and primarily of the path the godly man does not take, we gather from the same verse a description of the opposite path the ungodly man does take: walking to standing to sitting.

  • It commences with walking (“walks…in the counsel of the wicked”).  The first step is a choice to make: follow the advice of ungodly people or follow the words that lead to eternal life in God’s Word.  Many choose the former: the path that leads to destruction.
  • It continues to standing (“stands in the way of sinners…”).  Walking progresses to standing around in the company of sinners.  You start to talk and think and act like them – all the while, your heart continues to become more and more calloused.
  • It culminates in sitting (“sits in the seat of scoffers…”).  Sadly, once you reach this level, your conscience is almost utterly non-operational (see I Timothy 4:2).  You have become so accustomed to worldliness that godliness becomes the object of your mockery.

You want to know what’s worst of all?  There are many who profess to follow Jesus who are walking, standing, and sitting in this manner today – and don’t even know it!  Even their most orthodox belief system is nothing but a mockery in the eyes of God!  Guess what?  Jesus died for the sins of the ungodly and the outwardly-holy-but-inwardly-wicked!

Be blessed: walk, stand, and sit with Jesus!

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April Fools!

The day is just a few hours old, and one way or another (maybe the hard way?), you will discover that today is April Fools’ Day!  One of my fondest April Fools’ moments happened back in junior high.  We had a prankster in our science class whom I will call “Bobby”, and I will call my science teacher “Mrs. Carter.”  April 1st of that year, Bobby was up to his tomfoolery during a class lecture.  Mrs. Carter was not having this and called him out, “Bobby, you’re going to detention!”  Hopeful he could avoid doing time, Bobby cleverly replied, “April Fools?”  To which Mrs. Carter definitively answered, “No, April 2nd!”

Some, like my former classmate above, take this unofficial holiday very seriously.  (And if you’re wondering, yes, even a Christian can have some fun on this day!)  I’ve never been much of a prankster myself, but I appreciate some of the well-done pranks I’ve seen during my lifetime (done in good taste, of course).  Still, I cannot help but look beyond the frivolity of the day and be reminded of two serious passages of Scripture:

  1. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Psalm 14:1)
  2. “For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools….” (Romans 1:21-22)

In the lyrics of “All The World Is Mad”, Dustin Kensrue acknowledges the same.  Here’s one of the verses:

But the blind lead the blind into bottomless pits,
Still, we smile and deny that we’re cursed;
But of all our iniquities,
Ignorance may be the worst!

Ignorance the worst of all iniquities?  How true!  All sin really stems from denying God’s existence and eminence.  Moreover, all sin is foolishness because it means we purport to know more than God, even to be greater than Him.

As a Christian, I often need to be humbled.  I have to be reminded that I was once a “fool” in the eyes God.  It was not until He opened my eyes and saved me by His grace.  And only then could I truly understand the glorious truths of Scripture and experience the joy of salvation!

Reader, if you have not yet come to grips with this, hear me out: You do not need anymore proof that God exists.  He has proven Himself to us in His world (“general revelation”) and in His Word (“special revelation”).  You either believe Him, or you don’t – everyone is without excuse! (cf. Romans 1:20)

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Here’s a real treat that I just discovered (surprised I never found this until now): Dustin performing an acoustic version of “All The World Is Mad”!