14 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
~ Ps 14:1
I don’t normally interrupt these for breaking news, but Chile has been hit by an 8.2 magnitude quake. A tsunami has been triggered. Please keep them in your prayers.
A Different Perspective on April Fools’ Day
Right on cue, I got an email today from a daily Bible verse listserve, which had the above for today’s verse. Of course, today is April Fools’ Day in most western nations. The above verse, repeated in Psalm 53:1, is what leads some to jokingly refer to April Fools’ Day as “the Atheists’ holiday”.
Is that really all there is to it, though?
Less than a half hour before receiving that email, I had received another pointing to the God cannot be contained blog which posted today “April Fools’ Day: The Atheist’s Holiday?” Maybe that will help us all to check our arrogance at the door, and in particular the pointer to:
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
~ Mt 5:22
Pranks, Hoaxes and Spaghetti Trees
Of course, much of the purpose of the day is centered around pranks and getting people to fall for outright lies. Even companies and radio stations have perpetrated some hoaxes. In 1996, Taco Bell announced that it had purchased the Liberty Bell and was going to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell.
However, if I had to pick one that tops them all, it would have to be the 1957 BBC broadcast on the “Swiss Spaghetti Harvest”. It is as though they were coached by Orson Welles (“War of the Worlds” fame).
Funny? Sure. However, is that the standard by which we should judge things?
If nothing else, this should prompt you to ask yourself:
- Does this sort of thing work by making another feel less of his or herself?
- Does this sort of thing work by making you feel you are superior to another?
- How discerning are you? What do you swallow hook, line and sinker?
- What spirit is reflected in practical jokes and hoaxes?
I think it is important, and not just on 1 April, to meditate on these things. I have written before, and, as long as it is done, I’ll keep writing about how people blindly forward on in emails, gossip, etc., all sorts of things that they haven’t bothered to spend five minutes researching to see if they are or are not true.
“It takes too much time.” Well, then how important is it?
“It’s just a small thing.” Are we to be people of truth in the large things only?
“No one’s going to care.” Oh? Not even the atheist friend who already believes that you believe a fairy tale (aka, a lie)?
18 Like a crazy person shooting deadly flaming arrows
19 are those who deceive their neighbor and say, “Hey, I was only joking!”
Where Does April Fools’ Day Come From?
Most honest people will admit they do not really know where April Fools’ Day comes from. Every year, a certain blogger insists upon repeating the myth that the French started it because of a change in the calendar.
If you’ll recall yesterday, I posted about “When Is the Beginning of the New Year?” and included information about Pope Gregory changing the calendar. Remember, though, Pope Gregory did not start the change of the new year to 1 January, but rather he re-established it!
The origins of April Fools’ Day are shrouded in mystery, experts say.
The most popular theory is that France changed its calendar in the 1500s so that the New Year would begin in January to match the Roman calendar instead of beginning at the start of spring, in late March or early April.
However word of the change traveled slowly, and many people in rural areas continued to celebrate the New Year in the spring. These country dwellers became known as “April fools,” the story goes.
(Curator of the Museum of Hoaxes Alex) Boese, who has studied the holiday’s origin, disagrees with that interpretation.
“[The French] theory is completely wrong, because the day that the French celebrated the beginning of the year legally was Easter day, so it never really was associated with April first,” he said.
“Traditionally it was only a legal start to the year–people in France did actually celebrate [the New Year] on January first for as long as anybody could remember.”
Boese believes instead that April Fools’ Day simply grew out of age-old European spring festivals of renewal, in which pranks and camouflaging one’s identity are common.
~ National Geographic, “April Fools’ Day Mystery: How Did It Originate?“
It should be noted that pranks in various cultures predate the Gregorian reforms, and these dates usually occurred in the spring. In fact, the earliest reference to the day occurs in a Dutch poem published in 1561. Some believe the day originated in ancient Rome, where 25 March was Hilaria, a festival of masquerades and merry making.
Part of the problem in determining the origin of April Fools’ Day rests in the very nature of the day itself. How do you know the story about the day is actually true?
According to several sources, including the National Geographic article already cited, Joseph Boskin was a professor at Boston University. He was noted for his expertise on the Middle Ages among other things. He was asked to talk to an AP reporter, who asked him about the origins of April Fools’ Day. At first, he declined to give an opinion, but the reporter pressed on.
So, Boskin told the reporter about how on 1 April Emperor Constantine decided under pressure to appoint a jester as king for a day. It should be noted that court jesters are not the wimps usually portrayed in cartoons, but they were considered wise (sometimes too much so) men who told truth through humor. So, he appointed King Krugel, his jester, as king for a day. Kugel instantly decreed that that day should be celebrated as a day of absurdity from henceforth and forever.
The reporter published the story, and several newspapers ran with it. There was only one problem. Pushed into a corner by the reporter, Boskin, known for a sense of humor, made the story up.
BTW, it turns out kugel is a Jewish noodle pudding, and the pictures of it look like something I want to try. Since New York has a large Jewish segment, where kugel was not unknown, and since it was 1 April, Boskin thought the reporter would catch on. “Instead, he asked how to spell kugel.”
One Overlooked Item
Perhaps the best explanation I’ve seen about the origins is Persia. Media-Persia was one of the greatest world empires going before Alexander the Great. Buried deep in the Wikipedia article on ““, we read:
In Iran, jokes are played on the 13th day of the Persian new year (Nowruz), which falls on April 1 or April 2. This day, celebrated as far back as 536 BC, is called Sizdah Bedar and is the oldest prank-tradition in the world still alive today; this fact has led many to believe that April Fools’ Day has its origins in this tradition.
536 BC, BTW, would have been near the end of King Cyrus’ reign, to give an idea of the sequence of historical events in context.
Is it any surprise that this custom would have a totally pagan origin?
What Does God Think?
As usual, we need to consider how God feels about things. We are to develop the mind of Christ, therefore we must try to determine God’s heart on any given matter. In this case, the evidence is quite clear.
6 And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
~ Ex 34:6
Jesus also affirmed that what God speaks is truth.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
~ Jn 17:17
That should be convincing enough, one might think, but it seems that humans have a tendency to look for loopholes so much that God did not stop at just these verses.
16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Wow! At least three of these phrases refer to lying! Not only that, but pranks are definitely mischief and devised imaginations! Not the least of these is that pranks are designed to make someone look and/or feel stupid or foolish, which elevates the pride of those perpetrating the pranks.
Let’s just be honest about it all: There is no, I repeat no, redeeming virtue in April Fools’ Day! It is a day for lies and subjecting others to the opposite of encouraging one another and building each other up!
“But it’s just a bit of ‘fun’!” Fun for who? Fun for the fool?
Psychopaths think murder is fun. Sexual deviants think their particular deviancy is fun, even if it is forced upon another. Is “fun” what God lays down as the criteria for right and wrong?
Just as important, God is a God of truth and light. There is no shadow of turning within His presence (Jas 1:17).
We are supposed to become His children. Our actions, our thoughts and especially our motivations should be under examination during this time of year. That is God’s way of doing things in the spring, not the degrading of others to make them look foolish, which is Satan’s way of doing things. His way is the opposite of God’s way, which is the way of love.