The April Fool That Wasn’t Funny

I was bored.  Sitting in a cafe waiting for my wife to finish speaking at a conference (now I know how it feels!) and this idea just came into my head.  So I wrote it down and posted it.  I’m sorry!   It was a joke.  It was satire.   It was meant to be a moment of light hearted relief in the midst of a dreary Inverness world!  But I get the feeling that I could write down the contents of the back of a cornflakes packet and it would start a fight!   I am of course referring to Letter from Nicola Sturgeon Calling for a National Day of Prayer

It was an April fool – the best of which have to be plausible enough to be believed and implausible enough to cause those of us who are not taken in – to laugh. Like this classic.

So what was the problem?  And what do the reactions teach us about our society today.

Firstly some people took it seriously.  They thought it was for real.  In fact so many that I quickly added the ps about the chocolate teapot….just to give people a bigger hint that it was not real…but still they came…some rejoicing and some weeping with rage!  I guess in this age of post-truth, alternative facts where a reality TV star is leader of the Free world, an Islington Marxist is leader of the Labour party and an Italian clown could become leader of Italy, its getting harder to distinguish fact from fiction!

There was a lot of anger and bitterness – some from people who despise Sturgeon and I suspect would burn her as a witch!

Some atheists took their opportunity to gloat and mock.   Par for the course.  My favourites though were those who took it literally and started moaning –  Tweet of the day?  “Hmm what a waste of time, money just to please a minority of the middle aged”.  I think Twitter must be perfect for atheist fundamentalists because they sure know how to cram a lot of ignorance, prejudice and irrationality into 140 characters!

The pedants got stuck into the grammar and speling….

Some Christians were delighted at this apparent about turn from our First Minister. And others laughed at them for being naive.  ‘That would never happen in our day and age. Not in contemporary society’.   Actually it could and has.  The declaration part was lifted from President Obama’s call to prayer in the US.  It’s not beyond the realms of possibility, which is what I guess a good April fool should be.

oh dear Do we really want an April Fool on prayer, sackcloth and ashes, repentance, and seeking the mercy of God on the sad state of our nation” 

Actually we do.  It was satire.   And it is a sad inditement on our modern society in Scotland today that such a call to prayer is in reality very implausible. Just as only those who were ignorant of how spaghetti is made could be taken in by the BBC Panorama report, so only those who are unaware of what is happening in Scottish society today would be taken in by my wee spoof letter.    In previous generations and in many other countries today, a call to prayer for the nation would be normal and something that would be tolerated even by those who did not believe.  The fact that very few, if any, of our current politicians would even consider such an idea, is indicative of how fallen we are as a nation, and how much we are in trouble.  As my friend John Ross posted:

April fool or not, such a letter would mark one of the greatest political U-turns in history. All the roadsigns erected by Holyrood currently indicate the substitution of government for God. But God specialises in U-turns: he calls them conversions. Pray on!

As it happened I was writing a piece The Lucky Number that gets you to Heaven – Revelation 15 when this thought struck me –

I suspect we do not realize nor believe how vital and event determining our prayers are. You live in a democracy and have a vote. Your vote is important. But if you are a Christian, you have prayer, and your prayers are way more significant and vital than your vote.

And here is where the real fools are. Us. Those of us who are Christians and who know that God hears and answers prayer. What is the use of bemoaning the fact that our politicians won’t call the nation to prayer, if we, who profess to be the Lord’s people, don’t pray ourselves?  That is no laughing matter.  Repentance and prayer must begin with us.


  1. Sorry, profoundly not funny. The general profit of your site is why I’m not coming off your posts. Never mind, I used to say to my students that the only thing that would get me to believe in a pre-millennial interpretation of Revelation was that if it would be to give [scarcely] enough time to go around apologizing to folk!

    1. Derek,
      Satire isn’t meant to be funny as much as it’s meant to cut through pretence. Here are a few honoured examples of the genre that in their day produced much good:
      1. Daniel Defoe The shortest way with Dissenters
      2. John Witherspoon Ecclesiastical Characteristics
      3. Robert Riccaltoun Politick Disputant

  2. I think we as Christians should make St Andrews day a designated day of prayer within our own walls, to help things on their way! And well done you David for having a sense of humour. Let’s show the nation what can be achieved when we come together to pray.

  3. Prayer.

    We can be professing, confessing believers, but without prayer we are little more than unbelievers, atheists, fatalists, self-reliant, self-dependent, self-effort, believers in a non interventionist God, who is remote, distant.. May I even say it reveals a lack of belief in our Triune God.

    As Mike Reeves says in his wonderful, gem of a booklet, “Enjoying your prayer life.” “Prayer is the antithesis of self-dependence. It is our “no” to independence and our “no” to personal ambition. It is the exercise of faith -that you need God and are a needy receiver.”

    “In fact, as you grow as a Christian, you should feel not more self-suffciient but ever more needy.”

    “John Calvin said that we pray, as it were, throgh Jesus mouth, The Father has always longed to herethe prayers of his dear Son – and we praye in his name. The Son gives us his name to pray in so that we pray AS him.”

    Reeves again. “The Spirit makes us Christ-like as we pray….Another thing th Spirit does is to transform us to be like Christ. He helps us to be dependent and prayerful, and by bringing us into the Father-Son relationship he brings us to share God’s life and purpose. Our desires start echoing God’s, his passions become ours, and so we begin to share his love and compassion for his people and his world. Consequently, we become intercessors and priests, like our great high priest Jesus who is constantly interceding.
    The Spirit works to make us like Christ in that respect….He wants them (disciples) (Mt. 9:36-38) to join in with him, to be co-workers and participants in the divine, compassionate, outgoing, missional liife he shares with his Father in the Spirit.”

    And in the chapter “The Spirit brings us together in fellowship with God” Reeves continues:
    “There is one more point to make about the Spirit:he is the Spirit of fellowship.
    He stirs up the love the Father and the Son have for each other and he brings together as family for the Father,…prayer is embracing the Christian reality:that we are need, that we are the children of God’

    “Prayer (the chief exercise of faith- Calvin) is execising belief that the Almighty is my willing and kind Father, and that, accepting me in the Son, he wants to hear me and bless me. It is understandingthat each person of the Trinity is for us in our weakness (including weakness in prayer). Our great high priest is filled with brotherly love and affection for us. Having been tempted himself, he doesn’t despise us for being tempted but has compassion and wants to help. The Son gives us the rightyto come boldly in his name as accepted children. The our Father and the Son give us their Spirit precisely to help us enjoy what it is to be children, that is to enjoy the loving, outgoing life of this God.”

    Reeves writes in the hope that “these truths encourage you.”

    They do, and always do, encourage me.

  4. The best April Fools aren’t ha-ha funny, but challenge people’s long held and probably foolish assumptions. Which I think yours did.

    Years ago, when in charge of Plymouth Cathedral (before I came to faith and left the RC church in case anyone is wondering) I informed people that the navy wished to place a navigation light on top of the steeple. Given that the navy do use it as a nav point sometimes it was a pretty good one. The next week I told them the truth, they weren’t doing any such thing. Some people were amused, others mortified as they thought so much of their ‘reflected rise in esteem’ that they had told the world and his neighbour, and were now going to have to eat humble pie and tell them the truth.

  5. Whatever next. We instantly knew this must be April Fool. Are the boys off to football ? Sorry dr didn’t phone back . NHS is surely slipping. Worrying.

    Sent from my iPad


  6. Derek Foster,

    Thank you for revealing my deep ignorance – here’s me thinking that David was amillennialist, although he’s not stated his position throughout the series, unless I’ve missed it. I can’t see that his Revelation 15 post points to any time scale for Christ’s return, the when.

    To me, the Revelation 15 post, is sermon.

    More disconcerting is your revealed attitude as a teacher.

    And David’s main point has centred on pray, by linking it with the April fool post.

    Tongue in cheek, perhaps you can’t make Revelation 22:17 your prayer, for fear that it may be premillennial.

    I look forward to being corrected for my ignorance is great.

  7. David,

    Whoever couldn’t tell you were joking with that post on of all days the 1st of April then they are stupid and you cant help them!

    Thanks for the link. I had a laugh – but most of all a laugh at the responses.

  8. Hi David , Had “Fools Day” fallen on any other day but Saturday the children I work with would have alerted me with their usual pranks ( and yes , I would have been taken in) but to receive notification of our First Ministers “request” first thing in the morning fired me up to the point of hopes of revival . Was I disappointed that it was a joke ? Not a bit of it ,! Did I feel foolish ? No, but had a good laugh at my own stupidity . Could it happen again ? I would honestly be disappointed if it didn’t . Thank you David for all that you are by grace and by nature .

  9. As a humanist I find the current political toxifying of society abhorrent.

    “All the roadsigns erected by Holyrood currently indicate the substitution of government for God. ”

    Indeed very, very worrying.

  10. Andrew Brown,

    Yours is a profound, succinct, comment. I’d suggest it reveals a longing, and abhorrence rooted in God, born of him: it is a Godly abhorrence, Andrew.

    The toxicity is not how it’s meant to be, is it? So what’s the solution for humanity?

  11. David

    I’ve just returned from working at a refugee camp in Serbia so I’m catching up with all my emails etc.
    I loved this one for April fool if only it was true I laughed out loud and shared with my wife as we work together here in the Glasgow office. Listened also to the egg debate as well.
    David may the lord bless you for being a mouth piece for the silent majority of ministers (Christians)



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