I love April 1. At least one day a year Christians can show they have a God-given sense of humor too. Of course yesterday's contribution on Church Extreme was fake. Just like Joel News' April 1 edition. As expected I received a lot of response.
Carole from the States wrote: ”I absolutely howled at the Microsoft/Catholic Church article. Up until that point, I didn't realize it was a joke. Of course, I could see President Bush holding his arms up while our troops were in battle and prayer warriors going ahead of our troops taking the high ground for Christ! And I could certainly see those at the Pentagon ‘rolling their eyes’. But, what I couldn't figure out was how $100 million was squeezed out of Congress. You got me and I must admit, my day was not going well until I read the Microsoft article. I laughed so hard that I had to forgive everyone responsible for ruining my day. I'm sure that God even chuckled. Keep up the good work!”
Barbara would have preferred it not to be a hoax: “My husband was ready to join the Secret Spiritual Warfare team! What an incredible idea!”
The ‘it could be true’ factor is also a bit scary. Humor and reality are sometimes closer than we feel comfortable with. Phil from the UK: “For some reason I skipped straight to the Bush story, and was rolling my eyes in incredulity for the first two paragraphs before I became suspicious. The scary thing is, it *could* be true!?!”
Is this the new format?
Carl from Wales would like the ‘new format’ to be the standard: “I thought the 1st April edition was simply marvellous - oh that some of it were true! You should put at least one fake report in every issue - that would sort the men from the boys!”
Don from the States remarked that it put some things into perspective: "I will now have a much more well-rounded view of you! You deal with such serious subjects - I had no idea you had a killer sense of humor!"
As expected, there were also readers who were ‘not amused’. “Do you think this is holy behaviour, to distribute a spirit of lie?”, asks Nicolas from France. ”It is not funny to use the Lord's affairs for an April 1 joke,” writes Inge from the Netherlands. Another reader was so excited about this 'unbelievably great news', that he immediately forwarded it to his whole address book. When the truth dawned he was not really happy.
Perhaps this edition was a little revanche for the thousands of hoaxes we’ve received from friends and readers over the past seven years. And believe me: most of this stuff is forwarded by charismatics and people in the prayer movement. You would expect a greater gift of discernment in these segments of the Church, but the opposite is true. Perhaps praying too much can limit the ability to relativate?
A Pentecostal brother mailed me: "If this is an April 1 joke, you should do some self-intercession and self-exorcism." I replied: "Thanks for the suggestion. I followed your advice, and guess what - a demon of seriousness and lack of relativism came out." ;-) He could handle it and even apologized for his 'conservatism'.