“In the Protestant West today,” writes Benjamin Myers of Faith and Theology, “smiling has become a moral imperative.” The smile implies a well-ordered and spiritually stable inner-life, whereas a sad demeanor denotes moral failure. Myers suggests that is that it is a malfunction precisely of Protestant theology that makes our societal sentiment more like that of the disciples who asked Jesus “who sinned that this man was born blind?” than like the God who blesses those who morn, vindicates the afflicted, and collects our tears in a jar.
You can read Myers’ twelve very insightful theses on smiling and sadness, here.
And I’d love to hear what you think: Does our society unduly denigrate sadness? Do you feel pressure to “put on a happy face,” especially in church? What are some steps we can take toward re-culturing smiling and sadness?