My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In the e-book Laughter Was God’s Idea: Stories About Healing Humor by Chaplin Jack Hanson (published by Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, Inc.), Hanson draws on his years of experience as a Hospital Chaplin and minister to demonstrate how humor, and laughter in particular, can have a huge impact on the health and well being of people. He also gives examples of how laughter is a gift from God supported by scripture and scholarly studies.
Chaplin Hanson has thoroughly researched the idea of laughter as it relates to both religion and medicine. At times the book felt like a research paper or a study on the subject and was a little difficult to get through. Clergy, or people in the medical field, could find the information very valuable, but the average reader with more of passing interest in the subject may get weighed down in the detail.
The book is filled with antidotes Chaplin Hanson collected over the years. The later part of the book is primarily stories of his experiences in the hospital and as a guest Chaplin. Many of them come from articles he wrote for the hospital’s monthly newsletter and seem to appear in the book just as they did in the newsletter. While I appreciate the fact that he’s sharing words of wisdom from field, it was a little distracting to read references to times or locations that could have been easily edited to be more timeless. The antidotes are amusing, very family friendly and support the points being made.
My biggest criticism is a bit of a pet peeve. Chaplin Hanson switches between formal and informal writing styles, specifically when it comes to quoting people. Nearly everyone quoted in the book speaks so formally they sound more like they’re from 1813 than 2013. I find it difficult to believe that none of these individuals use contractions or any kind of slang. There were times when the language was so formal that it was distracting from the content. I know that this is something I have a problem with, other readers may not think its a big deal. Personally, I think it makes the book feel like it doesn’t know whether it’s supposed to a more formal guide-book for the Clergy or an uplifting collection of stories for the lay person.
Overall I enjoyed Laughter Was God’s Idea: Stories about Healing. Chaplin Hanson makes a strong case for the importance of laughter for our health and that God has a sense of humor and wants people to laugh too. His passion for caring not only for patients, but for their families and the doctors and nurses around them is more than obvious, it’s admirable. It’s clear that he’s changed lives and that this book is his way of passing on all that he’s learned.
I highly recommend this book to those who are involved in Pastoral Care, Hospital Chaplaincy and those in the medical field.