Australian media outlets are reporting the visually stirring image of a Christian bloke shoving a lemon meringue pie in the face of the QANTAS CEO, Alan Joyce, whilst he was speaking at a leadership event right here in Perth (don’t let people tell ya nothing exciting ever happens here in little old Perth).
Here’s the headline and pic in The Australian:
Ostensibly the reason for the pie in the face is Joyce’s public commitment to SSM and his support of a very public campaign by several major companies to promote the issue. The fact that Joyce himself is gay probably heightens the tension of the matter somewhat.
How did Joyce come out of the whole pie-in-your-face debacle? Quite well. Media outlets reported how he pretty much brushed it off, laughed about it, got on with talking about leadership and cracked a few jokes at the pie’s expense. What else would you expect from a bloke with the ability to lead a large and complex organisation? A meltdown?
And pie-man? Well for a start, his face looks more crusty than the pie shell. And the joy of the Lord seems particularly absent. The photo makes him look the kind of bloke who, when the church business meeting is just about over and everyone is gagging to go home, raises an obscure and long-winded matter that never goes anywhere and never gets resolved.
The whole of Australia got to know that this bloke is a Christian, who was aligned with the conservative National Party politically and who, most importantly, is willing to pie for Jesus. I guess he didn’t stop to think about the sophisticated media narrative that would have him with more egg on his face than Joyce had pie.
My, admittedly, fertile imagination can envisage pie-man’s wife, Mavis, desperately searching the kitchen for the lemon meringue pie she had baked for the 20th anniversary of her KYB group meeting at their house.
Or else she was complicit in the act and sent him off that morning with a “There you go dear, and I put extra lemon juice in it to make sure his eyes really sting.”
But I digress.
It was a stupid stunt. But that isn’t stopping Christians on social media either approving of it or excusing it, as if somehow there is something sober-minded and godly about the act. I pushed back on a few of those comments and pointed out how it doesn’t advance the cause of the gospel at all.
But, when I sat back and thought about it, I decided to turn to the Bible to see if I’d missed something about shoving lemon meringue pies in the faces of our opponents (assuming that the bloke whose job it is to ensure I get to safely fly in an aluminium-can-with-wings to a Christian conference in Sydney next week actually is my opponent). And lo and behold, there was pie all over the Scriptures. I just hadn’t seen it before. So we have:
So David triumphed over the Philistine with a lemon meringue pie; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. (1 Samuel 17:50)
Therefore go and shove pie in the faces of all nations, baptizing them in it, the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 28:19)
Throw pie in their face: In season and out of season. Shove, twist and walk away, with great patience and careful instuction. (2 Timothy 4:2)
They triumphed over him shoving a pie in their faces, and by the word of their recipe; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from pie. (Rev 12:11)
And of course the biggie in Revelation 3:
Behold, I stand at the door and am knocking; if any one hear my voice and open the door, I will shove a lemon meringue pie in his face.
The problem with the pie in the face is just how demeaning it is, and that’s not the way of Jesus. The problem with the pie in the face is that it’s crass stupidity and that does not look like sober-mindedness. The problem with the pie in the face is that it then gets used to demonstrate that Christians are defined by their objections to everything all of the time.
Now of course it’s a one-off, but it’s a one-off in a long line of one-offs. Yes, it’s tempting to reduce ourselves to the stunts of the radical protestors who do this sort of thing at door-stops and press conferences, but really? Every time something like this happens I pie, er sigh, a little, and wonder why we allow ourselves to stoop to the same level of cheap discourse of any other protest movement that tries to shut people up or embarrass them.
Perhaps the average person will have forgotten about it by tomorrow, given the nature of the media spin cycle, but the leadership group Joyce was speaking to won’t, and they’re the ones that matter when it comes to decisions in our public square. All it will confirm to them is it’s just another example of grumpy Christians stomping a foot for not getting their own way.
The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. And they’re not caramel, lemon or apple either.