Category Archives: Humour

Arctic Intercept!

My friend Toby pointed me in the direction of this article, from the website UK Defence Journal:

“The Royal Air Force will reportedly be on high alert in the coming weeks in order to track cargo flights from the Arctic region.

“The move has been prompted by an incident around a year ago in which Typhoon aircraft escorted a Lapland registered aircraft (flying from the Arctic region) over the UK’s major cities, the pilot of the craft was said to be under the influence of alcohol and very “festive”, this is especially dangerous due to the sheer volume of cargo the aircraft was carrying. This is expected to happen again.

“An MoD spokesman had this to say:

‘ “Interception is part of what the QRA* force do. We have to identify and confirm who or what is flying through our airspace or approaching our airspace and since the craft appears at the same time each year, we have a fairly good idea who will be flying but we don’t take any chances.” ‘

“The Ministry of Defence used satellites with infra-red sensors to track the aircraft last time this happened, it is understood that the heat from an animals red nose was clearly visible and it was at this point RAF aircraft began escorting the bright red aircraft over every British city, town and village.

“More on this as it develops.”

Here’s the link to the original article.

 

 

 

In case you haven’t got it yet, it’s a joke. I won’t spoil it for you; go and read it again if you didn’t ‘get’ it.

 

 

 

Of course, it’s about Santa Claus. Father Christmas. Yep.

 

I do think it’s sad that at this time of year, so many religious people moan and protest about Santa and about the emphasis on him, rather than on the ‘Reason for the Season’: Jesus Christ. They trot out ‘Put the Christ back into Christmas’; ‘did you know that ‘Santa’ is an anagram of ‘Satan’ ‘, and other such tired phrases. What happened to the joy of celebrating that God gave us the ‘Gift’ of His Son, to show us how much He loves us? And then there’s the classic religious conundrum: How does a Christian family approach the unavoidable problem of the Santa story? Do we ‘lie’ to our kids and tell them he exists? Will they feel betrayed when they find out the ‘truth’? What about their friends who believe in Santa; do they tell them the ‘truth’ as well? Well, let me tell you our story first.

Y’see, I can really identify with that RAF story I led with, spoof though it is 🙂 Because I must confess that when my eldest son, David, was a toddler, at the beginning of 1991, we jokingly told him that Santa had been shot down over Iraq…  😉 As the story went, he had been clobbered by a heat-seeking surface-to-air missile homing on Rudolf’s nose…

But it wasn’t as bad as it sounds! David already knew it was a joke. You see, our view as a young family in those days with regard to the Santa stuff – and don’t forget I was really ‘religious’ back then – was that we never told our David and his brother Richard (born in 1987 and 1989 respectively) that Santa exists, but we however did tell them that other kids believed in him, so it was our secret that he was not real – and that they were not to tell their friends. In this way, the boys had a secret that they knew they had to keep, so we involved them in the Santa myth in a passive sort of way. The point that it was a secret meant that they kept it to themselves with great joy – the ‘we know something you don’t know’ principle! And so they already knew that Santa had not perished by enemy action; that was how they knew it was a joke – or at least David did. Rich was only 19 months old at that point…

For my daughter Ellie, though, born nine years after Richard, we had matured somewhat, and we decided to ‘let’ her believe in Santa right up to the point where she asked us if Santa was really ‘you two’. She was about ten years old when she rumbled us. And we ‘fessed up, of course. She wasnt fazed by it at all; she had really outgrown it by the time she worked it out. And she never suffered any psychological damage; the Santa myth was useful for her childhood.

How? Well, you see we ‘adults’ look at this question with the black-and-white ‘logic’ of, at least for some of us, ex-Evangelicals. We see it as being either lies or truth. But kids’ minds don’t work that way. Kids routinely enact fantasies that they know full well are untrue, but the fantasy thing is simply a game to them. It’s probably even more than that too; at that age they are developing the ability to think and develop ideas of their own, and fantasies are all part of the way that they test reality. For that reason, amongst others, I would say that a belief in Santa is actually healthy…even if as they grow up, they realise all the incongruencies and inconsistencies – how does Santa manage to deliver toys to over a billion kids in eight hours without waking up all the kids (even the good ones!) with a sonic boom – all this does is to help them differentiate between fantasy and reality; fact and fiction. Comic books and superheroes do the same thing. They know it’s not true, but it doesn’t matter; it’s fun – and that’s the main thing.

But also that knowledge and ability to distinguish fantasy and reality mean that we can still indulge, as adults, in fantasy, even just for a little escapism. I know full well that what Spiderman can do is impossible – but that doesn’t stop me enjoying a Spiderman film *precisely because* I know it’s all made up.

And then, to bring it full circle, I also think that an ease with fantasy actually helps us cope with the ‘fantastic’ – in the sense of it looks like fantasy – truth of our real Superhero, Jesus. He is the One of Whom all these other guys with ‘magical powers’ – Santa, Superman, the Hulk – are but a reflection. An ease with such earthly fantasy therefore makes it easier to grasp the real supernatural world, much of which we can indeed only access by imagination, and not entirely through empirical experience. I have previously written on this idea here, using the Star Wars universe as my model.

Of course, the decision of how to approach the Santa story is entirely up to parents. And, partly because of the reasons I have put forward here, amongst others (especially that it’s none of anyone else’s business), there are as many different outcomes to this as there are families. Each family needs to decide these things on an individual basis, based on their own views, beliefs, philosophies, personalities, relationships and needs, and without recourse to others’ opinions. Especially where those opinions involve guilt-tripping and condemnation. While, for some reason, this is the sort of subject on which feelings can run pretty high, yet people also need to respect each other’s stances on these often sensitive decisions.

For a most interesting piece on this subject, I’d also like to recommend a post by my friend Tim, author of the blog ‘Jesus Without Baggage‘, which served as a primary inspiration for this present piece, along with the discussion afterwards, in which I took part. You will no doubt recognise most of my ideas in this piece in that discussion.

Click the graphic below to go to the article, where Tim talks about five different ways that people approach the Santa story:

And while on that subject, here’s a tip for any fellow bloggers reading this: I have had some of the best inspirations, for my blog articles, from discussions resulting from others’ blog posts. This is mainly because it gets you to think about things that you might not normally think about, you form new opinions, and you see things from different angles, including the viewpoints of others. This is a great way to build wisdom and maturity! Try it!

Finally, back to old Rudolf:

 

 

 

I think that’s brilliant. Of course, there was an explanation for it. It’s just a bunch of guys setting up a Christmas display in a shopping mall in Hull, Yorkshire, UK. Here’s what it looked like when it was finished:

So you see he didn’t really kill them. It was all just a fantasy 😉


*QRA stands for ‘Quick Reaction Alert’; an originally Cold War term referring to interceptor fighters ready to scramble (launch) against an incoming threat – like a Soviet bomber or reconnaisance aircraft. There are pictures of QRA fighters intercepting Russian ‘Bear’ reconnaisance bombers on this page.

 

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El-Shaddai

This entry is part 15 of 20 in the series Fiona

Fiona and I always shared an irreverent sense of humour. And, despite having lost her, my sense of humour is still just as wacky 🙂 Our outlook on life has always been free and flippant! Because we were (and are) both completely secure in our relationship with Father, we felt free to make jokes about our faith, sometimes to the consternation of other churchy types who were nearby – although to be fair, we didn’t usually use that type of humour in the presence of those who would not understand, because it would have made them uncomfortable. I sometimes think that people are afraid of God, despite 1 John 4:18, which speaks about perfect love driving out fear… sadly, then, there are many Christians – and people from other faiths too – who declare that ‘God has a sense of humour’, but whose ensuing fake laughter usually belies that belief. Lolz.

But not Fiona and I. We were wacky all the way, in ways I won’t share here because, well, I suppose you had to be there…

Now, here’s another worship song from our youth – El Shaddai, sung by the legendary Christian artist Amy Grant. And, for us, this song has a wacky story behind it. We first saw this song in the Dales Bible Week songbook for the 1985 Dales Week, entitled ‘Enthroned on High‘. But we didn’t actually hear the song at that time.

The ‘foreign’ words in the song are just some of the Hebrew names for God, and because of the sense of humour Fiona and I shared, and in the way that we always made irreverent jokes about absolutely everything, we decided for definite that the song was put in that Dales songbook in order to enable people who didn’t ‘speak in tongues’ to sing something that sounded foreign enough to pass as ‘tongues’. Some won’t find that funny. We thought it was bloody hilarious. And this is the first time I have made that public knowledge 😉

And then we heard the song a couple of years later on a worship tape, if I recall correctly, and we loved it immediately.

I’ve put it in Fiona’s series on my blog, because it reminds me so much of the time we had together, the worship we shared, Fiona’s wacky sense of humour that complemented mine so well, and the great times we had singing it together, with me on piano and Fiona’s tremendous vocals. She was a lady of great talent and, over the months, I have sorely missed her pure, wonderful singing voice, and her gentle spirit coming through in her music.

And the song is indeed beautiful, and is well worth hearing. Released in 1982 on Amy Grant’s breakthrough album ‘Age to Age‘, this song was one of the numbers that made her famous. Here it is, with its lovely arrangement, great dynamics and excellent chord emphases along with Amy’s brilliant talent.

Enjoy!

El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
El-Elyon na Adonia,
Age to age You’re still the same,
By the power of the Name.
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
Erkhamkha na Adonai,
We will praise and lift You high,
El Shaddai.
 
Through Your love and through the ram,
You saved the son of Abraham;
Through the power of your hand,
Turned the sea into dry land
To the outcast on her knees,
You were the God Who really sees,
And by Your might,
You set Your children free
 
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
El-Elyon na Adonia,
Age to age You’re still the same,
By the power of the Name
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
Erkhamkha na Adonai,
We will praise and lift You high,
El Shaddai.
 
Through the years You made it clear,
That the time of Christ was near,
Though the people couldn’t see
What Messiah ought to be
Though Your word contained the plan,
They just could not understand
Your most awesome work was done
Through the frailty of Your Son
 
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
El-Elyon na Adonai,
Age to age You’re still the same,
By the power of the Name
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
Erkhamkha na Adonai,
I will praise You ’til I die,
El Shaddai
 
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
El-Elyon na Adonai,
Age to age You’re still the same,
By the power of the Name
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
Erkhamkha na Adonai,
I will praise You ’til I die
El Shaddai.

– Michael Card/John W. Thompson

I’ll also relate another humorous story about this song. Fiona and I were once in our Church in Leeds when there was a guest lady who’d come in to perform an expressive dance, and she did it to El Shaddai. And she did it really well; it was very moving and expressive and spiritual and all that. Right up to the point where she slipped and did a spectacular comedy-accident fall, through the drum kit if I remember correctly, to the accompaniment of crashing cymbals et al. She was ok, but boy was it funny, and Fiona’s irreverent sense of humour came to the fore and I’m convinced she only narrowly avoided serious internal injury due to her attempts to suppress her laughter. I know it sounds bad to laugh at that sort of thing, but the young dancer was fine, as was the drum kit, and it was even funnier because of all the knights in shining armour who gallantly leapt to the young lady’s rescue, almost causing a further accident in their haste to render assistance.

And to the lady’s complete credit, she got straight back up again and carried on with the dance, bless her 🙂

Anyway, there we go. A lovely song with lots of happy and funny memories for me. Fiona loved it 🙂

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Repent or Perish?

“Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

– Lk 13:1-5

There are many believers who interpret that passage as meaning that, yes, bad things happen all the time, but that in any case the ‘bigger issue’ is that everyone who does not repent will ‘perish’ (usually the conversation then goes on to ‘hell’ as the means by which that perishing will happpen) – which any intelligent reading of the passage will reveal is a non sequitur – the logic does not follow.

Or that unless God protects people, everyone is open to horrible things happening to them. This is simply a form of superstition; a causal relationship between ‘if you do this, then this will happen’. This concept simply relegates God to being a mindless ‘karma engine’, as opposed to a living Person capable of deciding for Himself!

Actually, taken in its context, there is far more to this passage than this simplistic and doctrinally-loaded interpretation. In an excellent piece that I link to below, the author explains the historical context, what Jesus probably meant, and also a lot of really uplifting, upbuilding stuff about encouragement and the like. Just the sort of thing that my blog is supposed to contain. Click the title graphic below to go to the article.

god_is_not_the_owner


So where’s the humour? It’s here. The featured image for this post is a scene from the classic Monty Python film ‘Life of Brian‘, where the legendary John Cleese plays the part of a Pharisee accusing a villager of blasphemy (He uttered the word ‘Jehovah’, apparently). See the entire clip here:

The idea of ‘REPENT!! or Perish!!’ is implied in the header picture, which is why I used it. Especially because modern-day Pharisees love to point out (often literally, with a finger!) the sins of others and command them to REPENT!! Lol.

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Twin Lightsabers!

After some of my more serious posts recently, I felt I just had to inject a bit of light relief into my blog posts.

The Bible says to “…take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Now, whether that refers to Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God, or the Bible (possibly not, as it didn’t exist when Ephesians was written! And I don’t do bibliolatry*) but in any case, having the Scripture memorised is indeed a powerful weapon in spiritual warfare; the enemy doesn’t like to hear an appropriate Scripture quoted at him!** So let’s call the Bible the word of God for now. And it’s the Sword of the Spirit. I like to think of it as my spiritual lightsaber***.

Now, as you may know, I am a huge Star Wars geek. Not just a fan, but a total geek. And in Star Wars lore, there is a lightsaber combat style known as Jar’Kai, which is the method of using two lightsabers together in combat.

Well-known (to Star Wars geeks anyway) practitioners of Jar’Kai are Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano, who wields two lightsabers of different lengths, and (usually) one of them in a forehand grip, one in a backhand grip:

ahsokalightsabers

ahsoka1

…and there’s also Sith apprentice/Nightsister Asajj Ventress:

ventress1

Here’s Ventress using her two lightsabers while fighting against the Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker:

anakinventressduel-kamino

Now, here’s the funny bit. At home, and also when I go to my church’s life group (our housegroup), I take two Bibles. In effect, I’m carrying two swords. Or, as I’d prefer to think, my twin lightsabersHere’s the Star Wars equivalent: effectively, I use my Bibles Jar’Kai style. I take my 1978 NIV and my King James Version. I find that sometimes, one version puts a passage in a better, more easily understandable light. An example of the King James carrying a better turn of phrase is in Matthew 18:3 (KJV), as explained in this article. And the other side of the coin is that the Bible I use most is the 1978 NIV, and quite often I use that translation to obtain the modern English meanings of the KJV archaic speech. I find the result to be most illuminating! Each translation has its own strengths and weaknesses. Each Bible covers points the other misses.

Similarly, the Jar’Kai lightsaber style allows the user to cover his/her weakpoints with one saber while attacking with the other, or to get better use out of each saber. Think like the effect of having two lightsabers is greater than the sum of the two sabers.

And, for me, so it is with my Bibles. Some have called me things like ‘Two-Gun Tex’. I’d prefer the Jar’Kai label but nobody knows about it except us geeks 😉 Here’s Anakin Skywalker again (played by Haydn Christensen) improvising Jar’Kai against Sith Lord Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus (played by the late legendary actor Christopher Lee) in Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones:

anakin_dual_wielding

There are more parallels, too. Use of the lightsaber relies very heavily on the Force, which is the Star Wars universe’s equivalent of God. Similarly, the Bible has to be used as inspired by the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit brings to life a passage of Scripture, then that is the point at which the Bible becomes the Word of God – living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb 4:12). Although as I have said above, Jesus is the Word of God, the Bible when activated by the Spirit is still a powerful weapon. And we don’t need to be ultra-precise about these things anyway; this is supposed to be a light-hearted piece.

kenobi_faces_grievous

The picture above shows Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) facing Separatist General Grievous with his four lightsabers****. Now that’s just cheating. Not even sure that counts as Jar’Kai….

And carrying four Bibles would mean you’d have a really heavy bag.

Anyway, yes, it might sound pretentious and maybe even super-spiritual to carry two Bibles to housegroup – but I really do find it useful and educational to do so.

And I know all this sounds completely nuts. But I find it funny, and maybe that’s just a quirky Aspergic sort of thing. But I thought I’d share it because it might get a few chuckles….something we could all do with now and again!


*Bibliolatry is where people are almost thinking of the Bible as God, and anything said against the Bible is seen as blasphemy. No, really. But of course those guilty of bibliolatry can’t see that they are doing it. Now that’s worth a chuckle or two, or would be if it didn’t cause so much misery!

**Please don’t be under the impression that I take my Bibles to housegroup in order to start Scripture-bombing fights with people. I don’t 😀

***If you don’t know what a lightsaber is, be advised that it’s a famous weapon from the Star Wars movie franchise. It’s like a laser beam formed into a sword and it can be used for both attack and defence. And it’s deadly in the right hands; deadly in a different way in the wrong hands (you’d end up chopping off bits of yourself and your friends 😉 ). Another parallel about the use/misuse of Scripture!

****In Star Wars Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

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Use the Force!

force doors 4

This is hopelessly true. At least, it is in my case. I always open automatic doors using the Force. Try it and see if you can get it to work too!

force door 3


For those who don’t know, in the Star Wars movies, some characters can ‘use the Force’ to move objects around without touching them – kind of like ‘telekinesis – and this ability can also be used to open doors without touching the handle. I couldn’t find a proper Star Wars YouTube clip to illustrate this, but this is what it would look like:

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