Over the last few months I have been creating a collection of memes combining a passage from God’s Word and a famous movie line and putting them next to each other. Sometimes one just provided a humourous commentary on the other, but now and then the movie line helped flesh out some of the meaning of the bible passage.
Either way, even if it was just for a laugh, I enjoyed making them and thought I’d put all 70 of them up here for you to look through.
Tell me your favourites in the comments section, and if you like any in particular, feel free to save the image and post it on your social media, just using the hashtag #HollyWord. And if you want, you can also include the link to this page so that people can enjoy the others I have created: https://simoncamilleri.com/hollyword
It was the end of World War II and Hitler had just committed suicide. His soul flew off to the afterlife and Hitler found himself waiting in a queue to stand before the Judge with three other soldiers in the line in front of him.
The first soldier stepped forward and the Judge asked, â€œWhat was your greatest sacrificial act?â€
The soldier replied: â€œWell, I was flying over Germany and Iâ€™d run out of bombs, bullets and was low on petrol. I was about to land in a field when I saw a convoy of Nazi tanks and so I decided to sacrifice my life and fly my plane into the convoy, killing several Nazis including one commanding officer.â€
â€œWell done!â€ the Judge said, and with an angelic sound the gates of Heaven opened and the soldier walked in.
The second soldier was a German SS Officer and the Judge asked, â€œWhat was your greatest sacrificial act?â€
The SS Officer replied, â€œWell, once, I torched a whole village to the ground because the mayor refused to say â€˜Hail Hitlerâ€™.â€
The Judge shook his head and pulled a level, opening up a trap door underneath the Officer. He screamed and fell down to hellfire.
Then the third soldier stepped forward and the Judge asked, â€œWhat was your greatest sacrificial act?â€
The soldier replied: â€œI helped smuggle seven Jewish families out of the country and when I was discovered, I was shot in the town square.â€
â€œWell done!â€ the Judge said, and once again the gates of Heaven opened and the soldier walked in.
Hitler was next and he was terrified, not knowing what he was going to say to save him from Hell. Then he got an idea.
He stepped forward and the Judge asked, â€œWhat was your greatest sacrificial act?â€
He replied proudly, â€œI killed Hitler!â€
This is a silly joke, but it does express a few things about how many people perceive the final judgment. Or at least, it’s how some people think Christians perceive it.
I once had a non-Christian work colleague say to me, “Yeah, but you HAVE to do that because you think that will make God love you.” I was baffled as to how she got that perception of how I, or indeed any Christian, thinks about their realtionship with God.
The perception that Christianity teaches that “good people go the Heaven and bad people go to Hell” is one that is still out there, both in our secular society and indeed, I expect, amongst those who might think of themselves as Christians.
But that is not the gospel.
The Bad News part of the Good News
The first part of the gospel message of Jesus Christ teaches that no one is “good enough” to go heaven. Jesus himself said the words “No one is good, but God alone” (Luke 18:19) and other passages, like this one, make it even clearer:
…Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: â€œThere is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.â€
No one can stand before the Judge of the Universe and claim innocence. We are all guilty, no matter what selfless act of sacrifice we can claim to have done. The standard that God expects from us is not that we have one really impressive thing on our resume, or even that we have done more good things than bad things.
Jesus explains the standard to a Teacher of the Law in Mark 12:28-30, when he explained the two greatest commands of God: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.â€™Â The second is this: â€˜Love your neighbor as yourself.”
This is what it means to be a “good” person.
And so, the line “good people go to Heaven” is sort of true. The problem is that, no one fulfills this “goodness” other than Jesus and so no one deserves to go to Heaven but Jesus.
Now, the word “gospel” means “good news”, but the reality is that everyone stands guilty before God is not really good news. But it is the problem that Jesus came to solve. It is when we accept this bad news, that we see our need for a Saviour and hear the good news that he came to declare.
The Good News
The Good News is that God does not leave us to face the Judge and the Judgement without hope of forgiveness.
Jesus came to not only show us how to truly be “good”, but also to take the punishment of behalf of the “bad”.
Jesus came to call people to turn from their sin and to put their trust in him.
Jesus came to offer forgivess and freedom and eternal life and reconciliation.
And all those who would see their need and respond to his call, can stand before the Judge when they die and not pretend that they are good enough for Heaven. They can be honest about their deservedness for judgement because they know that that judgement had already been taken for them in Jesus’ death on the cross.
That is why the gospel is not “good people go to Heaven and bad people go to Hell”.
The gospel is “There are none good enough to go to Heaven. In fact, those who think their good enough end up in Hell. And bad people like you and I are offered Heaven as a free gift in Christ.”
Or to simplify it: “Good people go to Hell and bad people get to go to Heaven”.
In 2002, I started a theatre company called The Backyard Bard and for nearly the last two decades, I have been committing to memory and performing Scripture. This theatrical artform is called “Biblical Storytelling”, though it isn’t limited to Bible stories. I also love performing sections from the epistles, prophetic writings, and Biblical poetry.
Narrative texts however, give me the wonderful opportunity to play lots of different characters, which is always heaps of fun. The most fun character I love to portray is an angel, and if you’ve ever seen a storytelling performance by The Backyard Bard, you’ll have noticed that our angels always have Scottish accents. See below as an example:
Once I performed at a very prestigious private boy’s college for the school chapel assembly, and even in that formal setting, there was an angel in the story, and so the Scottish accent came out. I recall being introduced to one of the teachers on campus who was actually Scottish. The school staff member introducing me told them that I had performed the angel in a Scottish accent and wanted their reaction. Without a beat, this teacher cheekily shrugged and said in his thick accent, “Aye, I’ve always thought angels were Scottish.”
Many have asked, so what’s with the Scottish angels? I often answer jokingly, “Well, if you ever meet an angel that doesn’t sound Scottish, tell me and I’ll do their accent instead!” But there actally is some thought that went behind choosing that accent for the angels, so I thought I’d explain it here.
Choosing an accent
Firstly it’s worth pointing out, I love doing accents. My Pharisees and kings often have posh British accents, my shepherds sound Aussie occa, Pilate and the Roman guards sometimes sound Italian and with the occasional character I might play with a bit of a Yiddish accent. I even once told the story of Samson from Judges, giving him the voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger (check it out HERE).
Each of these accents plays into stereotypes and so I am careful when or if I use them. But sometimes those stereotypes can really help communicate some aspect of a character’s personality, like with the posh British accent reflecting affluence, status and a sense of arrogance, whereas the Aussie occa shepherds communicate their humble status and simple good nature.
The accent would of course, only be one in a smorgasbord of creative tools the actor has to create a distinct and engaging character. I’d also think about how I’d move my body, my hand gestures, my facial expressions and what simple props (either mimed or physically present) I might use. I generally would avoid costumes, because with Biblical Storytelling, you’d be switching between characters so quickly it would not be practical. In light of that, accents in particular, became a very useful device to make each character distinct and memorable.
What do angels sound like?
So when it came to a story that included an angel, I had to make a call – what should the angel sound like? Well, the most important thing I knew I wanted was for them to sound DIFFERENT. They were angels! They aren’t little cute cherubs with sweet sounding choir voices. They are awesome celestial warriors! Messengers from God that shone with the holiness and glory of God! In the bible, when people meet an angel they are either bowing down in worship, terrified for their life or wracked with guilt over their sin exposed by the presence of God’s holiness. That is why the very first words angels often say are “Do not be afraid!” Sometimes, like in Judges 6, the angel literally says â€œPeace! Do not be afraid.Â You are not going to die!â€
So I knew I needed the angels accent to not sound like any of the other accents I used for other characters. It needed to be powerful, arresting, terrifying, warrior-like and clearly “not from around here”. It needed to be… Scottish.
Why Scottish works
The first time I used the Scottish accent in a Biblical Storytelling was back in 2005 in the performance you can see in the video above (the full video can be viewed HERE). It was the Christmas story from Matthew’s gospel and the angel appears and begins bossing Joseph around.
Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.Â She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
Then a little later in the story he does it again!
Get up! Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.
Sure, you could also imagine that the angel spoke in a soft, comforting tone, but I wanted to shake people’s stereotype of what an angelic appearance was like. It was exciting! God was doing something! The brash boldness of the Scottish accent worked really well. It probably also helped that films like Braveheart and Rob Roy had culturally made the Scottish accent synonymous with being a warrior (at least in my mind) and this was the type of angel I wanted to portray.
I remember, in 2006, a year after I had introduced the Scottish angel, the movie The Nativity was released. I wasn’t overly impressed with the film, but the scene portraying the angel’s visitation was particularly disappointing.
The angel is relaxed and talks and looks just like anyone else she might meet on the street except for being dressed in white (and not as bright as lightning like in Matthew 28:3). And Mary’s reaction! So deadpan! One thing I learnt in Biblical Storytelling is that the performer is the “emotional guide” for the audience, helping them know when something is important or terrifying or news that will literally change the course of history!
Anyway, this film solidified for me that the choice of a bold and larger-than-life Scottish warrior that was one part William Wallace and one part Billy Connolly, was the right way to go.
Good news of great joy!
I mention Billy Connolly, not only because that’s the type of Scottish accent I try to go for, but also because he is a comedian. Inevitably (as you can see in the videos of my performances) the use of the Scottish accent will inevitably cause people to laugh. It’s just undeniably funny to hear a Scottish angel. Unless you’re that teacher I referred to at the start, it’s unexpected and disarming and people consistently respond to that surprise with a laugh.
Is that a bad thing? After all, the angel is a messenger from God Almighty! He should be feared, not laughed at. Isn’t inspiring laughter during a presentation of God’s Word disrespectful or ireverent or even blasphemous?
Well, as you can imagine, I don’t think so. And in my many years of portraying the Scottish angel, I haven’t found it to take away from the seriousness of the scene. That is partly because I take care to play the angel seriously. When he speaks with authority, I portray that. When he speaks tenderly, I change my tone. The Scottish accent is surprising but it is not silly. The laughs always come right at the beginning, but people quickly get used to the voice of the character and the initial comedy does not distract from the angel’s message or the point of the scene.
Also, often, bringing a smile to people’s faces is very appropriate at the arrival of the angels. Although the other characters may be terrified, we know their message is often one of hope and wonder. Or as the angel says in Luke 2:10 “Do not be afraid. I bring youÂ goodÂ newsÂ that will causeÂ greatÂ joyÂ for all the people!” I have often found, including humour and allowing laughter in a Biblical Storytelling performance lifts the mood right at the moment when the mood needs to be lifted. And when done intentionally, and not just for laughs, it can draw people into God’s Word far more than distracting them from it.
Anyway, I hope that answers your questions about why my angels are Scottish.
If you know of any angels that speak in a different accent and are feeling misrepresented, please do tell me.
I’m sure, on the day I actually meet an angel, they will speak with such a divine voice that I could not possibly try to immitate that now.
Or maybe… they’ll sound like Billy Connolly. I guess we’ll find out.
If you haven’t had enough of the Scottish angel, you can enjoy this Christmas play that I wrote and directed for my church’s carols event last year. It is a modernised adaptation of the first two chapters of Luke’s gospel and the angel pops in now and then.
The Lord’s Prayer is Jesus’ working example of how we should pray.
But many (including those who claim to follow him as Christ and Creator of the Universe) argue that Jesus was just a product of his times, and like problematic films like Aliens and The Goonies, much of the New Testament requires a disclaimer stating that Jesus’ teaching contains: “outdated attitudes, languages and cultural depictions which may cause offence today.”
Now, we could just cancel Jesus, doxx him on social media and force him to quit his job as Saviour of the world.
Or, we could just update Jesus’ prayer to something less offensive…
The Lord’s Prayer – Woke Edition
Our [god, free of all gendered imagery],
Hallowed be your name [not that you care about all that stuff].
Your [democratic socialist autonomous zone] come,
[Our collective] will be done,
On earth as it is in [whatever concept of the spiritual realm sits best with you].
Give us today our daily bread [with a gluten-free option and maybe an alternative for those that are cutting down their carbs. Also could we get some butter?].
And forgive us our [<no alternative found>]
As we forgive those who [offend] us [after destroying their career].
[Let us lead ourselves] away from temptation [unless it’s sexy or chocolatey or both].
And deliver us from [ignorance and low self-esteem, because no one and nothing is truly “evil” deep down, just misunderstood].
ADDITIONAL ENDING FOR WOKE ANGLICANS:
For Thine is the [democratic socialist autonomous zone]
The Power [to the People!]
And the Glory [of each one of us living out our own truth]
Now and for [the next few years until the zeitgeist changes once again].
[also Awomen and Athosewhodontidentifybyanygender]
If you want a slightly more serious reflection of what I think about The Lord’s Prayer, check out this article I wrote for The Gospel Coalition Australia: “Our Father Who Art in Parliament”.
PERSON 1 – Reads some article somewhere that toilet paper might run out if Coronavirus hits our shores.
PERSON 2 – Thinks person 1 is silly for believing that article but sees them buying all the toilet paper and doesn’t want to be left with none, so buys a bunch as well.
PERSON 3 – Hasn’t read any article but sees persons 1 & 2 buying toilet paper and concludes there must be a national shortage and so buys whatever toilet paper they can.
PERSON 4 – Just ran out of toilet paper at home and just wants to find a couple of rolls. Takes a photo of empty supermarket shelves and posts it to social media expressing how silly it is that people are freaking out.
PERSON 5 – Sees multiple photos of empty supermarket shelves on social media and completely freaks out. They go on Ebay and pay $100 for a roll of toilet paper thinking it might be the last there is.
PERSON 6 – Bought a bunch of toilet paper early and is selling it on Ebay. They wrote the article and sent it to person 1.
Betty BotterÂ is aÂ tongue-twisterÂ written byÂ Carolyn Wells.Â It was originally titled “The Butter Betty Bought.” By the middle of the 20th century, it had become part of theÂ Mother GooseÂ collection of nursery rhymes.
I used to be into tongue-twisters as a kid and my favourite was “Betty Botter”. The version I committed to memory was:
Betty Botter bought some butter.Â â€œButâ€, she said, â€œThis butterâ€™s bitter. If I put it in my batter, itâ€™ll make my batter bitter. But if I buy a better butter, itâ€™ll make my batter better.” So Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter and that made her batter better.
A nice tongue-twister, but not very exciting. She has a problem with some butter and she just goes out and buys a replacement.
Well, I thought I might be able to expand the Betty Botter story a little bit. Here is what I came up with…
Betty Botter’s Batter My expanded version of a classic tongue-twister
Betty Botter bought some butter,Â â€œButâ€, she said, â€œThis butterâ€™s bitter. If I put it in my batter, itâ€™ll make my batter bitter. But if I buy a better butter, itâ€™ll make my batter better…
But Bettyâ€™s brother Buddy Botter said, â€œWhy not try adding water?â€
So Betty Botter blended bitter butter with a bit of water that her brother Buddy brought her. But no matter how much water, the bitter batter wasnâ€™t better. All it was was a bit wetter.
â€œWet and bitter batter isnâ€™t better!â€ Betty barked, but before her brother said rebuttal, Bettyâ€™s mother butted in. â€œIâ€™m sure it could be a bit better. Why not add bit of feta? Saltâ€™ll balance out the bitter, and absorb a bit of water.â€
Then Bettyâ€™s father Mr Botter contributed to the banter.Â
â€œBack when I was but a boy, my best friend Billyâ€™sÂ neighbourâ€™s, barberâ€™s brother was a brilliant baker.Â He always bragged he blended better with the best electric beater.Â Your broken, busted baby beater is why your batter isnâ€™t better.â€
Though it sounds bonkers, Betty Botter couldn’t let this batter beat her.Â So Betty, bartered, begged and bought a brand new, bright blue, Breville beater! Then with the best electric beater she beat the batter mixed with feta, blending water Buddy brought her in with bits of bitter butter.
And in the end this beaten blend of wetter, bitter, feta batter, was just plain bad and Betty muttered â€œI shoulda bought a better butter.â€
Her brother Buddy smiled and bade her, â€œCome on Betty, don’t be bitter. Â Sure we botched a basic batter, but we’re blessed with something better…Â You see, what matters is not batters, but bonding with our fellow Botters.â€