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DIVINE HUMOR E. GELLHORN* One Sunday I made a more direct approach to the deity. I had no right to attempt it since I know that the earth is only an infinitesimal speck in the universe and that the concerns ofthe human race can hardly be ofprimary interest to the creator of the world. Yet many of us believe (and others "know") that there was a time when HE appeared to man and seemed to guide human destiny. Be this as it may, I am a firm believer in the divinity ofman and would like to think that it is complemented by the humanity ofGOD. Is it not possible or even probable that not only man but also GOD has undergone anevolution, that HIS harshness inthe oldendayswas theexpression ofthe exuberance ofyouth and may no longer be characteristic ofHIS present emotional state? At any rate it seemed worthwhile to find out about it. An opportunity arose recently. I had planned to go to church one Sunday but catastrophic rains prevented me. Was not this a propitious moment to attempt to get in touch with the deity? I duly closed my eyes, hoping that by excluding terrestrial visual stimuli my auditory sensitivity would increase sufficiently to allow me to recognize and understand HIS voice. Then I lowered my head in a gesture of meditation and waited patiently. After a time I heard HIS voice asking me what I wanted. I told HIM about the cloudbursts and asked HIM whether HE did not want me to go to church. Then I said it is your church, LORD, is it not? What church are you going to? asked the LORD. I said the Unitarian. Well, HE replied, this is a borderline case. Maybe Unitarians will be discouraged but I am not. Our conversation seems to support my hypothesis. GOD—like man—undergoes a steady * Professor Emeritus of neurophysiology, University of Minnesota. Present address: 2 Fellowship Circle, Santa Barbara, California 9310J. "5 development. Although there is no evidence and little likelihood that man will become more divine with old age, my conversation with GOD showed me that HE has become morehuman. In all civilizations GOD appears to be endowed with human faculties, only on a much grander scale. The quality which I missed—and it is one ofthe finest human attributes— is humor: it requires maturity, wide experience, and the ability, even after a long life ofdedicated work, to take neither life nor oneselftoo seriously. Since this does not fit our idea ofthe LORD perhaps I did not hear HIM but confused my inner voice with that of the deity. Even this more modest message, however, is valuable. Is not humor and mellowness of old age a gift divine? there is no time there is no time for recreating what was lost for retroactive grace there are no words interpreting what senses find resolving the absurd there is no way to salvage time to fashion words to mimic Trudi: which mocks our words, and in its time finds ways. . . michael m. Stewart 116 E. Gellhorn · Divine Humor Perspectives in Biology and Medicine · Autumn 1969 ...


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pp. 115-116
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