When it comes to giving presents, the Scriptures are perfectly clear: the only person to receive gifts on that first Christmas morning was Jesus. That’s right, My Beloved Sinners, you won’t find any account of Joseph and Mary leaving out any little knick-knacks for the postman and Bethlehem refuse collectors. Nor did Jesus hand the wise men a few discount CDs in return for their gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In fact the Bible unambiguously shows the giving was strictly a one-way transaction, with the loot going only to the wisest and most righteous person in the room.
Consequently I’ve always maintained it’s entirely incompatible with Scripture for me to purchase presents for anyone. As Christ’s Vicar, and clearly the most mature Christian in any context or gathering, a plain reading of the Bible indisputably refudiates (thank you Sarah!) the notion that anyone other than myself should be receiving gifts.
Even so - as I’m sure little Chuck Colson tells anyone impertinent enough to remember Watergate - there are times when a true leader compromises the battle for the sake of winning the war. Which is why I take Consuella’s threats regarding what will happen should I ever dare practice what I preach in regard to Christmas giving. Not that I’m afraid, of course, but our regular exegetical studies in the Song of Solomon are too important to risk discovering she really isn’t bluffing when she threatens to “show me what a Lambeth boycott really is”. (And if I ever get my hands on the pagan who wrote Lysistrata so help me… ) Consequently I never fail to give the members of My Ministry Team generous and thoughtful gifts, and this year I was planning to get them something both contemporary and useful: the Apple iPhone Manhattan Declaration app.
As I use a Windows Mobile device (there’s something about having one’s cell phone routinely freeze and require resetting that truly helps maintain a Conservative attitude of dissatisfaction with life) I’m not that familiar with how these Apple things operate, but I know enough to recognize little Chuck Colson and his developers came up with something technologically wonderful in this. A kind of digital gaydar, the program demands user answer a serious of questions: give the wrong answer and your phone starts flashing while a siren screams “HOMO ALERT HOMO ALERT”. Connect the optional electrodes and transformer kit, and this is pleasantly accompanied by painful shocks to the physical extremity of one’s choice.
Yet just prior to my ordering these pragmatic presents my attention was belatedly drawn to a message from a faithful Facebook friend advising that this helpful piece of digital homophobia has been withdrawn by Apple. That’s right, Mr. Jobs has personally stopped his company from selling this compassionate hate-app, and Conservative Biblical Christians like myself are simply furious at this blatant violation of our right to the freedom of speech.
Mind you, freedom of speech isn’t something Apple should ever extend to those wanting to sell applications featuring images of people’s smelly bits. This is a matter of principle - the principle not being one of general freedom of speech, but the Conservative right to say whatever one wants, irrespective of how offensive and hateful it might be.
Not, of course, that I wasn’t prepared for some sort technical difficulty – as I already said, my regular exegetical studies in Song of Solomon with Consuella are too important to risk losing. And besides, I always thought there was something suspiciously fruity about Apple. So rather than a vicious & theologically doubtful present I’ll instead be sending Evangelical Eric the explosives and detonators he asked for (actually the request came from the Islamic tribesman he’s currently staying with – they sent me a lovely portion of one of the lad’s ears as a keepsake, which I’ve now hung on our Christmas tree as a truly unique decoration), and Bishop Quinine will be getting sea-monkeys again. Every year he always gets so excited by the picture in the advertisment, only to be disappointed when the little crustaceans finally hatch, but there’s something about his optimism that for me really sums up what Christmas is really all about.
I’m Father Christian and I teach the Bible.