In which there is oodles of mirth, but not so much wisdom…or grace

by Craig on December 29, 2011


Thousand year old steps of pride written by a French monk…

one step leads to the next…
and the next to the next…
descending into darkness…
and in the end…

a pride that prevents grace.

Bernard of Clairvaux calls the third step of the 12, “Foolish Mirth”.

It’s my second day considering this step, my first day was here, and the series began here.

“Foolish Mirth”

It makes for a good book title. No?

And it sounds like a tiny little division of “happy”…
office on the 3rd floor…
with a laugh-y face on the door…
because, after all, “mirth” is the kind of happy that laughs.

But that isn’t what Bernard meant with his thousand year old words.


He means trying to find worth and enjoyment in maneuvers that only lead to trouble.

I’ve got trouble right now…
and “Foolish Mirth” cries out…
“Name names! Point fingers! Start a war!”

There would be some “mirth” in retribution…
in trying to hurt back as some people have hurt me.
But it’s “mirth” out of place…
the far, far less noble path to an end.

And if I’m a Christian, isn’t the “end” to be made more like our Lord and God. If the easier road makes me more like Jesus, then there’s nothing wrong with taking that road. If the easier road is one our Lord would not have chosen, then I shouldn’t step on its pavement.

“Foolish Mirth” chooses the flashy over the mundane…
fixates on the fleeting without regarding the eternal….
seeks ways to forsake the narrow way…
focuses on “feeling better” rather than living inspired.

Our Lord had oodles of “mirth” but zero of the foolish kind.

If the right path is fringed with heartache…
and the wrong one framed with kittens and ice cream…


I have to accept the heartache…
and advance toward the will of God.

I want to defend my name right now.
I want to take the offensive – in my defense.
I want the kittens and ice cream of revenge.

“Foolish mirth” is doing what makes me feel better, even though it’s wrong, even though it’s prideful, even if it be futile, and wasteful, and every bit not like our Lord. The kittens and ice cream will make me feel better…for a while. But do I want to feel better, or be better?

“Foolish mirth”…

chock full of mirth…

but seriously lacking in wisdom and love…

and the next step of Bernard’s 12 steps of pride…



{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Sylvia December 29, 2011 at 9:41 am

Good stuff. Again. Making a great series here, worth keeping, remembering, pondering… taking as warning! That “foolish mirth” wouldn’t even make one feel better very long, would it? It’s the kind of thing that would just demand refeeding like a hungry monster.
God bless you and the rest of this very useful study.


Craig December 29, 2011 at 11:32 am

no, I guess in the end “foolish mirth” is a distraction. I’ve known for the longest time that sometimes the enemy doesn’t want to stop us – he just wants to distract us – and then we don’t do what we need to – and at least in this time, and this space, he gains victory. And we really do need to deprive him of as many victories as we can. Don’t we? and you’re right Sylvia – it’s a hungry monster. Thank you, God bless you.


Victoria December 29, 2011 at 11:23 am

I’m taking notes. :)


Craig December 29, 2011 at 11:33 am

me too – because the big question is will I remember tomorrow what I write today? We always forget…

God bless you Victoria.


Felecia December 29, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I’m loving this. Gleefully … really!
~ Felecia


Craig December 29, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I’m sure if Bernard of Clairvaux were here he’d ask you to hold down that glee – really. He had the humility thing down – somehow – and this is just a guess from reading him – and reading about him – I’m not sure he was really into “mirth” in general. So we will have no mirth from you today! God bless you ツ


Martha Orlando December 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm

“Foolish mirth” – the opposite of selfless love and tireless forgiveness.
In reading this today, Craig, I heard Jesus asking His Father, if it is possible, to remove the cup from Him; “yet, not my will, but yours be done . . .”
I’d like kitties and ice cream, too.
You are sure helping me to see this so clearly!
God bless you, my friend!


Craig December 30, 2011 at 7:33 am

Martha, it is kind of the opposite – the love and forgiveness thing applies to what I’m going through – but it’s bigger – it’s doing things to kill time instead of using time, it’s filling our lives with silly stuff instead of important stuff. Too much kittens and ice cream – not enough narrow road – you know? Anyway, thank you Martha, thank you a lot. God bless and keep you my friend.


Debbie December 30, 2011 at 12:52 am

“But do I want to feel better, or be better?” Oh those feelings and emotions, which can be good, but also can get me in trouble. Thank you so much, Craig, for showing us the path that doesn’t necessarily have kittens and ice-cream, but it has His peace. God bless you. I have this feeling I’m going to need these more than I know right now.


Craig December 30, 2011 at 7:35 am

oh yes, those feelings and emotions…

People are always looking for the kittens and ice cream – and You and I are people – but there is something beyond – something better – and we just need to keep reaching for it.

Thank you Debbie, God bless you!


Layla Payton December 30, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Mirth. Now there is a word we don’t use very often, yet what an incredible word picture it draws! Kittens and ice cream are two of my greatest weaknesses (literally and figuratively). I can see this same battle in my own life, yet directed more towards doctors and nurses. Feeling like I’ve been kicked to the curb, or whispered about behind closed doors. Forgotten. It’s easy to find new ways to sulk and call names…so easy. I loved what you said about not even stepping on the pavement/easy ground. I know you are going one way with this post, but it hit me in a slightly different way, personally. Just throwing out some thoughts about how easily this could spill out from other areas. I want retribution from cruel treatment, yet I know my Savior wouldn’t strike back. He would love forward, leading those who have hurt His child directly into Compassion’s path. And He expects me to do the same…because I am His child.


Craig December 31, 2011 at 6:59 am

Layla, my friend – I so get this. Invisible diseases are maybe the worst kind. Yours is invisible – mine is too. People look at you and don’t see the struggle – and obviously some doctors too. And you are so right, Jesus never struck back, he defended others fiercely, but never defended himself. He could have – chose not to. And he does expect us to do the same – and we should – and I am – and I will. Thank you Layla – God bless you my friend.


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