Jesus Laughed (And Why That Matters for Storytelling)

Sketch of Jesus laughing. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl

I recently saw a framed sketch of Jesus Christ laughing.

Jesus's head is thrown back slightly, his mouth half-open and his eyes half-closed. There are little wrinkles by his eyes and his right hand is lightly touching his chest. Whatever Jesus is laughing about, well, it must be pretty funny.

I couldn't stop looking at laughing Jesus.

That's because in all my 30-something years of life, I've never seen a work of art depicting Jesus enjoying himself, much less laughing. And I don't think I've ever heard a Bible story about Jesus having a sense of humor. All the visual and written stories about Jesus depict him as a fairly serious guy. His usual speeches start something like "follow me" or "be not afraid," not "...and then this rabbi walks into a bar." But the Bible says Jesus was as much human as he was God, which means he must have laughed sometimes.

I wonder what inspired this artist to think outside the box and tell a different visual story about Jesus.

Seeing that sketch got me to thinking: How can I emulate - how can we emulate - that artist and create fresh stories about international development? I often think about this, but seeing laughing Jesus has made me ruminate on this subject even more. What stories are we missing because we're used to looking at an issue in a certain light? How can we think outside the box? Feel free to share your ideas or examples of "outside-the-box" stories. And stay tuned for more in a future blog post.

Storytelling: "Simple Tools" by Catholic Relief Services

Editing Factoid: "Gandhi" by Richard Attenborough