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“Weird, Crude, Funny, and Nude” has been out for a month now, and I’ve had a number of people asking if certain things are in the book. Generally, I can say “Yes, Ezekiel 23:20 is in the book. And what a glorious passage it is.” But there are some parts of the Bible that didn’t make it in, they may be weird, crude, funny, or nude, but for one reason or another, I didn’t write about them. But so they don’t feel left out, I’ll talk about them here and tell you why they didn’t make the cut.
Song of Songs
This is probably the part of the Bible that people ask me about the most that I haven’t included in the book. Obviously, Song of Songs is the go-to nudity book for any immature person (i.e. me). Nowhere in the Bible are there more references to boobs than in this book. It has more references to boobs in this one book than in the entire New Testament combined! Not only that but it’s full of euphemisms. When the woman says “Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits” (Song of Songs 4:16) she’s not actually inviting her man to do a produce inspection, unless it’s a “produce inspection” if you know what I mean.
Or there is this great verse which needs no explanation at all: “I said, “I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit.” May your breasts be like clusters of grapes on the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples,” (Song of Songs 7:8).
So why didn’t I write about this most giggle-worthy of books? Because while sex can be funny, it’s not funny in and of itself. I find sex jokes are generally pretty lazy (the previous two paragraphs being no exception) and if I wrote about Song of Songs I’d really just be writing a chapter on sex and there are enough Christian books for teens about sex. It’s about 90% of the Christian youth book market.
In Genesis 19:5 it says “They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.’” As a kid I thought this was funny, mainly because it says “sex”. But since I’m a grown up I now know the context: there are two men visiting Lot, and the men of Lot’s town come to his house demanding that they be allowed to gang-rape his visitors. Gang-rape is clearly not funny and I don’t want to make jokes about it.
But I do enjoy the end of the story where the visiting men turn out to be angels and strike the would-be rapists blind. That’s pretty good.
Isaiah’s Nude Preaching
Isaiah 20:1-4 says “In the year that the supreme commander, sent by Sargon king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and attacked and captured it— at that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot.
Then the Lord said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared—to Egypt’s shame.
Basically, it seems that Isaiah spent three years preaching in the nude. Considering Christians have spent years wondering what kind of dress is appropriate for church or daily life, I don’t know why this passage is so rarely referenced. If Isaiah did this today there could be some excellent church sign puns to advertise the guest preacher: “This Sunday we’ve got willy good preaching”, “Our preacher is all about turning the other cheeks” or “Sermon guaranteed to be a bummer.”
So why didn’t I include a chapter on Isaiah’s pantsless preaching? To be honest I just forgot that passage was in there. If I had remembered there is a high chance it would have a gotten a look-in. Perhaps if I do a new edition one day, I’ll add it in, just so all my mega-fans can buy a whole new book just for that one new chapter. That’s how cynical marketing works right?
1 Corinthians 1:14-16: “I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius,15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.”
I considered writing about this because Paul can’t remember everyone he baptised, then I realised that Paul’s forgetfulness only really rates a small laugh through the nose. That’s definitely too low on the laugh meter for my standards.
Paul’s Poop Reference
In Philippians 3:8 Paul writes: “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ”
Many Bible people say that the word that Paul uses for rubbish is actually closer to poop, and is in fact a vulgar term for poop, which I will not write here because I’m too polite. Let’s just say is a level 2 swear. With level 1 being the least bad and level 6 being the worst.
As great as it is that Paul says a dung swear, I don’t know how much more humour there is in this passage. Once we’ve giggled over the fact that Paul said “poo” I couldn’t figure out what else to do to fill a whole chapter. So I considered that idea garbage.
Beautiful Out of Context Verses
There was a small temptation to write about a bunch of out-of-context Bible verses. There are definitely some good ones like “Then David slept with his fathers” (1 Kings 2:10)*, “May there be leftovers” (Psalm 17:4) or “Aaron waved the breasts and the right thigh before the Lord” (Leviticus 9:21). These are of course funny, and you could spend a while writing about the exegetical possibilities, but only really if you ignore their context. As soon as you put them in context they lose any hilarity, and to make those kinds of jokes felt like it could be bordering on mockery. Plus the whole point of the book was to put the strange parts of the Bible in their context so the chapters would have been pretty short if all I had to do was include more of the Bible for things to become clear.
Still, I continue to hold on to “May there be leftovers” as one of my regular prayers. It is important to pray the psalms and I endeavour to pray this one often in the hopes that God may bless me indeed. Name it and claim it, folks.
So there are some of the weird, crude, funny, and nude bits that didn’t make it into my book. Do you have any suggestions for what I should have included?
*Thanks Dan for pointing this one out to me.
The other night Chris Pratt won the MTV Generation award. I don’t know what that is but I assume it’s got something to do with being good at stuff. Probably for a generation.
When Pratt received his award his excellent acceptance speech included nine tips for life (you can watch them in the video if you want. You should, they’re good). These included such gems as “Don’t be a turd”, a lesson on how to poop at parties, and tips on feeding medicine to a dog. That tip was “When giving a dog medicine, put the medicine in a little piece of hamburger and they won’t even know they’re eating medicine.”
Taking a bit of his own advice, Chris also slipped a bit of spirit-medicine in on his listeners.
Tip six was “God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you. Believe that. I do.”
Tip eight: “Learn to pray. It’s easy and it’s so good for your soul.”
And tip nine, the corker, “Nobody is perfect. People are going to tell you you’re perfect just the way you are—you’re not! You are imperfect. You always will be. But, there is a powerful force that designed you that way. And if you’re willing to accept that, you will have grace. And grace is a gift. And like the freedom we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for with someone else’s blood. Do not forget it. Do not take it for granted.”
Now I’m sure there will be angry reformed people on the internet who have just recovered from being angry about Bishop Curry and are now gearing up to tell us why Chris Pratt is promoting moralistic therapeutic deism and mixing his patriotism with his theology, but I’ll leave those debates to those people.
I think there is one very important thing that Chris Pratt does in his speech that anyone who is communicating with young people can apply. And here it is:
He talks about poop.
This is what he said:
“If you have to poop at a party, or you’re embarrassed because you’re going to stink up the bathroom, just do what I do: lock the door, sit down, get all the pee out first. And then, when all the pee’s done, poop, flush. Boom. You minimize the amount of time the poop is touching the air, because if you poop first it takes you longer to pee then you’re peeing on top of it and the poop particles create a cloud that goes out and then everyone at the party will know that you pooped. Just trust me! It’s science.”
Why is that so important? Let me tell you.
1. You can’t take yourself too seriously when talking about poop
Young people are not interested in listening to people who talk down to them. Talking about poop proves to everyone that Pratt poops like the rest of us. And that he’s anxious, just like the rest of us, about other people smelling his poop. (Or most of the rest of us, those people who don’t care, who just bomb and run, are monsters.) Telling poop stories instantly puts you on the same level as your listeners.
2. Truth and comedy are not opposites
Chris Pratt had something to say, he wanted to encourage his listeners to love others (“Don’t be a turd”) and put their faith in a gracious God. But to get there he needed us to welcome the message. Making jokes helps your listeners to relax. When those jokes are self-deprecating and not mean-spirited, it’s a kind of generosity that invites your listeners to trust you.
3. Have fun
When speaking to teenagers you don’t actually have to talk about poop, but having fun is important. Young people are, more often than not, wired to have fun. If you’re having fun, and they’re having fun, everyone will be more willing to hear you when you tell them the most fun fact: that God loves them.
So if you’re talking to teenagers, feel free to make fun of yourself, talk about poop, and let people know that God loves them. You’ve learnt it from the school of Pratt.
Thanks to Em and a guy on Facebook who inspired me to write this post.
There is a lot of terrible stuff happening in the world today. A lot of division and aggression, violence and terror. We would all do well to take some time out and consider some simple things that we can be happy about. Here are just five things that you can rejoice in.
Your superior opinions
What makes you better than everyone else is that you actually have things figured out. There are a lot of wrong people in the world, and all of them are not you. Sometimes people will try and tell you their wrong opinion on the internet. This is a good place to tell them why they are wrong. Sometimes people will try and tell you their wrong opinions in real life, you should say nothing, and then go write about it on the internet why they are wrong.
Your time and place of birth
Believe it or not, you have been born in the best place in the best time. If you hadn’t had the foresight to be born when you were, where you were, you would be living in a time and place where everyone believes even more wrong things than they do now. Your superior opinion would be wasted. Imagine being born in Mexico in 2000 BC? Who would even comprehend your nuanced understanding of science, gender theory, climate, medicine, art, censorship, politics, religion, technology, online gaming strategy, etc? You would be stuck with a bunch of luddites who seem to only be concerned with farming and ancient Aztec religious ideas that only conspiracy theorists on the internet care about these days. Good job on choosing to be alive in the 21st Century, the correct century.
You are justified
It’s true that sometimes you do make mistakes, but that’s ok. These aren’t wrong, they’re just choices. And when you do something that in hindsight is wrong, it wasn’t you that was wrong it was your upbringing or other people’s incompetence. Either way, you can be happy that whatever you do, whatever the outcome, you were right to do it.
Your sins are the least worst of all the sins
Even though, as we have established, you are justified in everything you do, you have the humility to admit that it’s possible that you might sometimes sin. But you can be pleased that even though you do from time to time fall short of the ideal, at least your sins are understandable and not really hurting anyone. There are plenty of people destroying the world with their lifestyle choices, blatant disregard for others, their pride and arrogance, but you, on the other hand, sometimes commit well-meaning boo-boos that when considered carefully don’t actually cause any damage to anyone.
The Sun is Shining
Sunshine is pretty good. Well done you for appreciating the little things in life even while you are comprehending even the greatest of challenges. While everyone else is busy thinking wrong thoughts and sinning, you’re just thankful that the sun is out. While you’re at it give yourself a pat on the back of noticing the birds, the trees, and the joy of afternoon naps. You are truly balanced.
Take some time out today to do some self-care and congratulate yourself for your excellence. You deserve it.
As you probably know, because I’ve been talking about it non-stop, I’ve just published my book Weird, Crude, Funny, and Nude: The Bible Exposed. Doing this has shown me that there are actually many gaps in the publishing world where there are books crying out to be written. All they need is someone to sit down and type them out. Some of these are so good they’ll write themselves, they’re sure to be bestsellers.
Gardening Through Praise: Harness the power of praise to grow your plants
A study by Ikea has shown that if you bully a plant it doesn’t grow very well. Studies by the author of this book will show that the most powerful fertilizer is actually praise and worship. This book will include thirty chapters full of tips on how to achieve horticultural success through making a joyful song to God. It will cover key topics like “Hillsong or Bethel – Which is better for bulb flowers?”, “Reading the imprecatory psalms to deciduous plants”, “Turnip the Sound – best youth worship albums for vegetable growing”, and “A Guide to Using Good Good Father to repel pests.”
The Genealogy Love Story Series
There are a lot of Christian romance books out there. If you haven’t got into them, you really should. They’re amazing. But what every writer wants these days is a good series that will keep you coming back. Luckily, the Bible has romance series’ hidden in the most unlikely of places, the genealogies. Each genealogy contains generation after generation of fathers and their sons (with a few women thrown in here and there). Every generation is a love story just waiting to be written. For instance in 1 Chronicles 1:41 we read of Dishon who had four sons, Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran and Keran. Who was Dishon’s wife? My bet is that she was a slave girl who had been stolen from her family at a young age. After seeing her at the marketplace while she was buying spices for her evil masters she is rescued in a daring raid by Dishon who has amazing abs. After her rescue they fall in love, get married and have children, only to have Dishon’s wife die at a young age of a mysterious illness where she coughs a bit while still looking as pretty as the day Dishon first laid eyes her. What a love story! Just think, there are hundreds of stories just like this waiting to be told straight from the verses of Genesis, 1 Chronicles, Matthew, and Luke. Whoever writes this series is going to be rich!
Using Social Media for Spiritual Warfare
We all know the spiritual power that can be unlocked by typing “Amen” on a photo of a sick kid on Facebook, but this is only the beginning of the power social media holds to bring down Satan’s strongholds. This book will teach readers how to build a hedge of protection using likes and the prayer emoji, how to rebuke demons using only offended comments and angry reacts, how to harness the power of the retweet for the most effective prayers, and how to use inspirational Instagram quotes to sow and reap financial freedom. Prepare for breakthrough with this book.
The Prayer of Samson
Sampson, the great hero of the faith, only prays once in the entire story of his life, and it is this prayer: “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” (Judges 16:28)
Taking a leaf out of the book of that early millennium bestseller “The Prayer of Jabez”, “The Prayer of Samson” will teach you how to pray this prayer and literally kill your enemies for the wrong they have done to you – get revenge on that kid who bullied you in year seven, destroy the person who cut you off in traffic, tear down and kill everyone inside the headquarters of the internet service provider who overcharged you in July and September last year. The prayer of Samson will change your life and end many others.
The Definitive Guide to Everything Not in the Bible
I saw someone on the internet arguing that they aren’t vaccinating their kids because vaccines aren’t in the Bible. Someone else responded with a few other things that also aren’t in the Bible, like tomatoes and the internet. While I think they were joking, the point is valid. There are a lot of things that aren’t in the Bible and therefore need to be deemed as evil. This book would be a handy alphabetised encyclopaedia of all those things so that we might be able to tell what is and isn’t evil. Here are just some things that are on that list and therefore evil:
– Hot Chips
– Getting stuck in traffic
– The United States of America
– The printing press
– Plastic surgery
– The Bible
While the book would be quite long it is important to know what is and isn’t in the Bible so that we all might know what we can safely interact with as Christians.
So there you have it, folks, five books that need to be written write now. If you would like to write one, I will let you, you just owe me 10% of your royalties for the idea. What Christian books do you think need to be written?
I joined about a billion other people the other night and watched Meghan and Harry get married. I’m not generally that interested in watching weddings of people I don’t know, but I knew that Em would be, so I decided to just enjoy it. It turns out it wasn’t too hard, I really got into the first three seasons of Suits so it felt kinda exciting seeing all my old friends at a wedding cheering Meghan on.
I’m sure I could provide a mediocre recap of the wedding, but plenty of people have already done that. I’m writing this on Friday, the wedding was almost a week ago, I’m way behind the times. Let’s just say, it was good.
But I’ll tell you what I really enjoyed – Bishop Michael Curry’s preaching. Partly because I, like so many people, loved the American style preaching in an Anglican chapel. (I think the Queen also secretly enjoyed it, despite what her face seemed to say.) But it wasn’t just the contrast of the moment, I also loved that he spent 13 minutes telling us about the power of love, and encouraging people, some of the most powerful and influential people in the world, to harness the power of God’s love to change the world.
Plus this all happened in the context of a black minister preaching at the wedding of a woman of mixed-race to a member of the British royal family. That in itself is something to celebrate, beyond you know, just love.
I’ll tell you what I was doing during the sermon though, I was sitting there, along with probably almost every other conservative Christian, listening for the Gospel sermon bingo. I was first waiting for him to talk about Jesus. Then I was waiting for him to say “Jesus died on the cross for our sins.” And after that, I would have been waiting for him to say “Jesus rose bodily from the dead.” And then finally, for a “BINGO!” he would say “Repent and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour so that you might be saved!” (Then for extra points he might lead an altar call.)
But well, he didn’t get a BINGO did he? He said, quoting from that song about the
Bomb Balm in Gilead, “Jesus… he died to save us all.” Which is pretty good, but I knew all us evangelicals (in the non-American politics sense of the word) would be thinking “How? How did his death save us? Explain it! Explain!” And he never did. I knew as soon as the sermon ended there would be tweets and status updates saying “Bishop Curry didn’t say enough”, “He didn’t say the full gospel”, “Squandered opportunity!”, and then the blog posts would start, and off we’d go.
And sure enough there they were. I’ve been seeing them all week. People disappointed that the Bishop didn’t spell out the gospel. And others telling us that the Bishop isn’t as good as we might think he is. But why? What do we have to achieve by complaining? What I heard was a man preaching passionately about how the love of Jesus can change the world. Maybe he didn’t say it how I would have, but then I wasn’t asked to preach was I?
Now I’m not very good at spiritual equations, but in my estimation, this has to be a net gain for the glory of Jesus. How many people watched that and thought “I like the idea of a loving God, I might look more into this love.” And how many people heard the words about Jesus that “He gave up his life, he sacrificed his life, for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the wellbeing of the world… for us.” and wondered how could one man’s death be for the wellbeing of the entire world? I suspect there were a few who thought that and a few of them who will act on their curiosity. Maybe not a large percentage of the total viewership, but probably more people than I will ever preach to in my life.
I guess what I’m saying is, we shouldn’t waste time complaining publically about something that got a good response from all over the world and just be thankful for what Bishop Curry said, for the way he said it, and get on with the job of love, because that’s what our real job is. You know, loving God and loving others, because of the love we’ve seen in Jesus.*
* When he died for our sins at the cross, and then rose bodily from the dead, who wants to become a Christian?
The night of the wedding Bishop Curry did an event with Soul Survivor and spent more time talking about the love of Jesus. It was also pretty good. Enjoy!
Every week I say something like “I have to write a blog post! What should I blog about?” And every week Em replies “Blog about how much you love me.” Which I always ignore, because I obviously don’t love her that much.
Except this week, this week I’m taking her up on her suggestion.
The problem is, as has often been pointed out to me, I have no emotions. This isn’t quite true, I do have some emotions, but if being neutral is a zero then my emotional range is between minus two and positive two. Except when I saw Bruce Springsteen in concert, then I reckon I made it to a three. Oh, and when I got married.
The point is, I’m not very emotional, and even if I were, how can one quantify something like emotions. “How much do I love my wife? Hard to say, somewhere between thirty litres and 80 decibels”.
But then I remember that everyone’s favourite Christian hip-hop turned grunge band from the 90s, dc Talk, taught us all that love is a verb. So perhaps the measure of love isn’t in feelings at all but in action. I think that’s true. Bruno Mars certainly thought so a few years ago when he sang to some woman that he’d catch a grenade for her and put his head on a blade for her. This is all well and good but no one to my knowledge has ever thrown a grenade at Em, and I’m not that good at catching anyway (dolphins have better hand/eye coordination than me, and they don’t have hands). I hope I do love Emily enough to at least valiantly attempt to catch a grenade, but hopefully, I never get that opportunity. And my love for Em would be pretty useless if I did nothing till it was time to risk my life for her. So I have to love her in smaller ways like making her coffee in the morning, not watching our TV shows without her and remembering her name (I’ve only gotten her name wrong once in the last month, winner!). Love is probably somewhat quantifiable in actions, but I’m not sure a blog post about all the things I do for Em would seem to fit with the spirit of talking about how much I love her. It might look more like all the reasons that I think I’m an excellent husband. (But while we’re on that topic can I mention that I haven’t spelt her name wrong since I applied for our marriage certificate, I am a pretty great husband!)
Probably what Em really wants is for me to write a gushing post about all the things I love about her. I certainly could do that. There are many things I love about her. (Right then she just burped loudly and said “Is this helpful for your blog post?”) I love that she has emotions, that she has taught me to really enjoy eating eggs, that she’s smart, that she’ll watch Marvel movies with me, that’s she’s generous, and that she has smaller hands than me (but larger hands than a dolphin). If I made a long list of all the things I love about Em then I might have a good measure of what is loveable about her, but it’d probably be incomplete. I’m not very good at making lists.
Because I love her
But here’s the thing I keep coming back to, and I’ve written about this before, I can’t love Em just because of the things she does, or because of what she is like. There is a lot to enjoy and admire about her (did I mention she is very funny? No? I love that about her too). However, my best love isn’t based on those things. My best love is free and tethered only to grace. I love her because I love her. The best love I have received is like that. I am loved because I am loved, by my family and friends, and most of all by God. I often don’t live up to the love that I have been given, but when things are going well, that’s how I can love my wife.
That doesn’t really answer the question of how much I love my wife. But I do and I will because I have been and I will be.
Also, my wife burps well. What a woman!