Category Archives: Humour

El-Shaddai

This entry is part 15 of 15 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 4:8, 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.
ย 
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
ย 
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.
ย 
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
ย 
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
ย 
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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, there we go. A lovely song with lots of happy and funny memories for me. Fiona loved it ๐Ÿ™‚

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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, โ€œDo 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 themโ€”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.โ€

– 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.ย In effect, I’m carrying two swords. Or, as I’d prefer to think, my twin lightsabers!ย Here’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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 ๐Ÿ˜€

***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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). 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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The ‘White Christmas’ Game

Bah, humbug! It’s that time of year again!

The time of year where the shops are full of Christmas displays, some of them works of absolute genius, some of them not quite so good. The time of year where we get bombarded with so much commercialism, adverts and just general Christmas tripe; by the time it’s all over, many people are sick of it! ๐Ÿ™‚ But still, the kids love it and despite all the trappings of the commercial Christmas, still somehow the magic of it has not quite disappeared, at least not for the young. And it’s always great to remember the greatest Gift of all, the Gift of Jesus. So, bring it on!

When I was about 14 years old, I had got so tired of hearing non-stop Christmas music in the stores that my cynical mind decided to make a game of it all. To me, at the time, the song that epitomised the whole Christmas selling-things-at-you environment was the song ‘White Christmas’, which was first performed by the legendary Bing Crosby on Christmas Day, 1941.

So I decided to make a game of it.

I decided to see how close I could get to Christmas Day without hearing the song ‘White Christmas’ in a commercial environment. For me, that would mean hearing it in pubs, shops, malls, Christmas fayres or on TV/radio adverts of any kind. Basically, anywhere where the song was being played in order to try and make people feel ‘Christmassy’ and therefore buy more stuff. Maybe it’s because I am a tight-assed Yorkshireman who keeps a solid fist wrapped around his dosh; I don’t know. And my family play it too.

But that’s the game: how close can you get to Christmas Day without hearing White Christmas?

Last year for me it was a paltry 2nd December; I was well gutted. I think the closest I have ever come to ‘winning’ was 23rd December, and that was in 1994. Bah, humbug, indeed!

You can make up your own rules as to what counts as a proper ‘hearing’ of the song. For example, what arrangement counts as having ‘heard’ the song? Does it have to be the Bing Crosby version, or would it still count if you heard the Michael Bolton version? What about if you just decide you want to listen to it on your iPod? What if someone learns that you are playing the game and just hums it at you ‘for a laugh’? And what about the starting time for the game; what if you hear in in mid-July?

For me, I count any hearing of any version, in a commercial environment (including TV/radio ads), after 5th November – what we in the UK call ‘Bonfire Night’. For me, that’s the point at which I personally consider it fair game for the shops to put up their Christmas stuff (rather than late August as some idiots do) – so that’s when my White Christmas game begins!

Of course, it will probably be impossible for someone working in a pub or shop to play this game. All Christmas CDs have this song on them in one iteration or other. Sorry about that!

Don’t get me wrong, the song – in the original Bing arrangement – is absolutely gorgeous, full of incredible chord sequences and lovely dynamics. I love it to bits. I also understand that this year they are re-publishing the original Bing version to try to get it to the Christmas Number One slot.

But still the game is just a bit of fun; in my family, we always confess to each other when/if we hear the song, and cheer on those who haven’t heard it yet. It’s interesting in that for me, I find it quite funny to see my reaction each time I hear the song for the first time each Christmas season. You know, when it’s ‘Game Over’. Sometimes I just grin wryly, sometimes I think, ‘Oh if only that queue had moves a little quicker!’ But whatever, my first thought is usually like ‘Ah well, that’s it for another year! Never mind….’

So then, are you in? Get to it! Good luck!

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