Let’s Laugh at Ourselves… There’s hope for us while we can

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There’s hope for us while we can

By Will Pratt –

Being a law-abiding sort of fellow, I wrote to International Headquarters on the eve of our retirement from Canada to ask permission in retirement to assemble a collection of humorous Salvation Army anecdotes.

I thought it wise to get the advice of the great and the good. Besides, I would need the cooperation of the Army’s newspaper editors worldwide inviting contributions from readers.

Back came the requested advice. I was invited to go ahead. But perhaps after each anecdote and incident, I would write a moral to the story.

Oh dear! I am a great believer in morals, having learned about them at my mother’s knee–sometimes across my mother’s knee! But a book of articles, each of which would at first convulse readers into helpless laughter and then urge them into more righteous conduct while they were still rolling on the floor, was not what I had intended and almost certainly beyond my skill.

From babyhood I had attended Army meetings. (Indeed, in my rebellious teen years, when I was told that heaven would be a place of no partings, I had wistfully observed that I had hoped it might be a place of no meetings!) Through the chaotic Primary Department and Sunday school I had traveled, braving YP band and singing company, corps cadets, youth groups; training college cadetship after escape from the wartime Royal Navy, corps officership, headquarters confinement, even membership of the famed International Staff Band.

What was the golden thread throughout it all–lightening the chores, lifting the spirits, warming the heart, enriching the comradeship, bonding like minds, deflating the pompous and keeping in their place the table-thumping dictators? ANSWER: good humor, wit, repartee, honest fun, mirth, glee. In short, the ability to laugh at ourselves. While we can do so, there’s hope for us.

For me, there’s no question that humor is one of God’s most wonderful gifts to faltering humanity. So my wish to collate a book showing God’s gracious gift at work in the Movement He brought into being was my reason for wanting to write it–with or without morals! (Truth to tell, if I had included all the many stories kindly sent me, some readers might have doubted my own moral standards or good taste; for an Army working on the front lines of every human need cannot help finding itself down on all fours in some very human situations indeed.)

The decision of Commissioner Peter Chang to take the USA Western Territory into the book publishing business is cause for rejoicing, especially since the Army’s output of books in the UK is but a shadow of what it was in the days of Carvosso Gauntlett, Catherine Baird and Frederick Coutts. Then IHQ was the main producer of literature for the Army world. It seems to be taking quite a time for both the UK Territory and IHQ to establish output responsibilities following the reorganization into separate entities.

Personally, I am most grateful for the encouragement and help given me by the Commissioner, Dr. Bob Docter and skilled New Frontier Managing Editor Sue Schumann.

Where better to publish a book of humor than in a baseball-crazy country with a solemn tradition at every seventh inning of spectators singing, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” ? No one ever explained to me why, since they were at the ball game, they needed to plead so earnestly to be taken back there. The only logical explanation I could think of was that the majority spent their time at the refreshment bar. I doubt if I ever saw more than a third of the two or three games I watched. The view was blocked by the constant procession of thirsty customers.

I refuse to be drawn into controversy about the alleged absurdities of English cricket, such an excellent and sensible game!

Happy reading!

Pulling a Pint BROOK cartoon
With the caption, “Pulling a Pint,” this cartoon was used on a Christmas card in Britain. Cartoon by courtesy of artist Dick Millington and Royle Publications Limited. Cartoonist BROOK in Britain’s Daily Express saw an opportunity for Salvation Army emergency aid when the Duchess of York was alleged to have a £1 million cash crisis following her divorce to Prince Andrew.
Pratt, Hope & Fleming John scanning
Will Pratt (then Western chief secretary) jokes with Bob Hope and Rhonda Fleming at the 1980 Centennial Celebration. New Frontier production specialist John Docter puts the final touches on one of the illustrations in A Funny Thing Happened on… THE WAY!

 


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