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from Luke’s Journal 2019 | Laughter | Vol. 24 No.2
This is no joke. This is my last editorial for Luke’s Journal.
After 14 years of guiding the development and direction of ‘our’ journal, my instincts, holy and maybe otherwise, are that this time of service to the fellowship needs to end. In 2005, Bill Hague tapped John Foley and myself on the shoulder and asked us to consider forming an editorial team. We owed a considerable debt to Rod Stephenson and David Clarke for establishing the journal as a way of sharing and thinking within CMDFA around integrating work and faith. We found our role both a challenge and a lot of fun. Of course, there were awkward moments when we felt the need to whip up a last-minute article but the journal grew. At one point we managed an output of four editions per year.
Eventually John stepped aside and a younger team, including Catherine Hollier and Winnie Chen, have worked with me to keep the journal alive. We published the 50th edition, canvasing the theme of hope in 2017. The ‘young ones’ have an enthusiastic vision for translating the journal into a digital/ online entity. My blessing goes with them on this journey. I also pray that the spirit will continue to prompt Christian doctors and dentists to ‘find their writer within’.
Why is now the time to let go?
Here are some of my thoughts:
The journal is likely to be overinfluenced by my ongoing leadership. It belongs to CMDFA and not to me, and what I know of the humility of Christ is that my barnacles may begin to prevent others seeing Jesus clearly.
I did miss the wave of technology that offers to reposition the journal for the future.
Maybe I’ve discovered why the word ‘abbreviation’ is such a long word.
I do have a calling to other aspects of service. I am considering the option of writing more seriously. I have taken on the role of Chair of HealthServe Australia, which will prevent my becoming restless. HealthServe was birthed from CMDFA and retains close linkages.
From time to time, people have asked me how we have chosen the theme for any particular edition. It is usually a mixture of inspiration, timing, relevance and taking on blind spots. Laughter is the Best Medicine fits this description well. In an age of evidence-based medicine, a growing body of research looks positive for this timeless proverb. In an interesting twist, laughter is predominantly a right brain activity and naturally is subversive to the left-brain dominance of EBM. In my own contribution, I draw attention to the negative role of humour in the Church and theology through history.
While humour offers our post-modern generation relief from past inflexibility and tradition, it can leave people without faith in an empty flippancy about significance. My sense is that GK Chesterton was correct to muse that ‘the gigantic secret of God is mirth’. This edition opens up the blind side of humour, to help us be better practitioners, understand our times better and enjoy our spiritual likes in an unexpected way.
As far as I know, there are no unpleasant side-effects to laughter being the best medicine. So, thank you to CMDFA for honouring me with your trust and support in editing your journal, Luke’s Journal.
Thank you to those who have accepted the call to write and special thanks to Ivan Smith who has consistently accepted the challenge to present the Journal in a creative and professional style. Without the shared sacrifice of my family, the job would have been much harder. The love of family and the love of God are the sustaining grace to see this role through. May blessings like these continue to sustain the place of Luke’s Journal in our lives.
Dr Paul Mercer
Dr Paul Mercer is a GP principal at Manly in Queensland. He is the editor of Luke’s Journal and among other things is part of the “Theology on Tap” team in Brisbane and has been a member of the CMDFA ethics working group.
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