When I say I'm a writer people look fairly interested. Then they say, "Oh, what sort of thing do you write?" And I miserably mutter, "Well, it's sort of religious humour," and their eyes glaze and they say, "Oh, how interesting." But like the girls I talked to in kitchens at parties when I was seventeen and a half, they just want to escape. I don't blame them. Some Christians seem to specialise in presenting God as humourless and out of touch with reality.
Even among those few dear souls who do actually part with money in exchange for my wretched outpourings there are sundry brethren who find humour inappropriate. They accuse me of flippancy, would you believe? That's why it was lovely to get a letter from a lady called Margaret telling the following story.
Margaret's husband David, who has M.S., got very edgy and bad-tempered during a course of steroids. One despairing Sunday Margaret had a good weep in the garden shed, then wondered back into the house and happened to pick up a copy of New Daylight, a daily bible-note periodical I write bits for. In this edition I'd bemoaned Jesus' strange oversight in omitting "Blessed are the irritable for they shall be given claret" from the beatitudes. Remembering that claret is her husband's favouite tipple (hallelujah - we are one with you, brother David) Margaret hurried to the mini-supermarket and queued for the only remaining bottle of claret on the shelf. When she gave it to David and explained why she'd bought it they had a good laugh together, and, as Margaret herself put it, "All the tension was released" And that was before they drank the claret. Wonderful!
Don't kid yourself. The Jesus who made his comeback by cooking breakfast for his friends instead of organizing a sky-filling Spielburg spectacular is still in touch with the real world