It has become something of a Rycroft tradition that on Al’s birthdays I make him a spoof children’s book, usually at the expense of his latest theological ponderings – and, in particular, any chance to mock my husband’s idolatry of the pastor and writer John Piper (for whom he has more than a healthy admiration) is welcome.
First there was ‘That’s not my preacher’, a spoof of the classic ‘That’s not my…’ touchy-feely books. The book featured four well-known Christian leaders, each with a touchy-feely texture to match the description: “…his theology is too woolly”, “…his thinking is too fuzzy”, “…his delivery is too smooth”, ending with (of course) a picture of the great JP himself, and the line “THAT’S my preacher! His insights are so sparkling.” Picture (you’ll have to imagine) of JP with gold sparkly tie.
Then there was “Mr Tumble goes to church” – a chance to combine Joel’s love of all things Tumble with Al’s cynical wit. My favourite page is the one inspired by Joel himself – the one where the speaker at the church turns out to be Nicky Tumble (for those of you unacquainted with the Alpha course, the real man’s name is Nicky Gumbel).
The latest production is “Mister Johnpiper”. It is a spoof of Quentin Blake’s masterpiece “Mister Magnolia”. If you are unacquainted with this particular classic, let me fill you in.
Mister Magnolia has many enviable things in life – two sisters who play the flute, a large purple dinosaur, green parakeets – but, for reasons of poverty, forgetfulness or eccentricity (we are not told), Mister Magnolia has only one boot. As the story unfolds, and we are informed of more and more things in Mister Magnolia’s life for which he should be grateful (the ability to juggle fruit, for example), the sad fact remains: Mister Magnolia is left with an unfulfilled longing for the second boot. Imagine his delight, therefore, when, at the climax of the tale, he discovers that an anonymous benefactor has given him – what else – a new boot! Sure, it doesn’t match the old one – it is not the same colour and the toe is markedly more pointed – but it will keep Mister Magnolia’s foot warm and heart content nonetheless.
My spoof ran thus: “Mister Johnpiper has only one view…”. For those of you familiar with the thrust of JP’s ministry, you will know that this view is: “God’s ultimate goal is to glorify Himself”. And for those of you who may be familiar with the original rhyme, here’s my reworked version:Mister Johnpiper has only one view. He has an old website, writes blog posts anew – And a Twitter account, where he tweets right on cue. But Mister Johnpiper has only one view. Just look at the way people stand in a queue To listen to him as he preaches to you And if he works hard, he’ll take time off in lieu – But Mister Johnpiper has only one view. He reads many books, and has written a few, Some are quite good – to give credit where due. But Mr Johnpiper has only one view. In his church are some people who sit in a pew He preaches a sermon, over which one might chew – His jacket and shirt are an interesting hue But Mr Johnpiper – poor Mr Johnpiper! – Mr Johnpiper has only one view…Hey – Wait a minute… Now then… Keep going… What’s this? Look! It’s a view! It’s a view! Whoopee for Mr Johnpiper’s new view!
(And I’ll leave you to guess what that new view could have been…)