September 24 2021

Are hundreds of Australians dying from the vaccine?

Have you heard from some people on social media that there are hundreds of deaths from the covid vaccines in Australia?

To set the facts out right from the start… It’s not true. There have been only nine.

But, here is where this misinformation comes from.

Misreading the TGA

Often, people point to the DAEN (Database of Adverse Event Notifications) report released weekly by Australia’s TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration). In the report, it states how many number of cases there were “where death was a reported outcome”. For the latest report that number is 556.

Understandably, people read that and at first presume that means that there were 556 deaths from the covid vaccine.

This then gets passed on and circulated without question and eventually it even ends up on official politcal party websites (such as THIS from Clive Palmer and the United Australia Party), further giving seeming credibility to the idea.

If you have been mislead by this claim going around, I understand. We trust claims when they sound official and espcially when they are supposedly backed up by the country’s offical reporting agency.

But this is not what the report is saying.

The fact is, whenever someone died within a timeframe that is close to their vaccination, their death gets reported to the TGA. Hundreds of these reports come in, but each one gets carefully assessed to see if the vaccine contributed in any way to the death. After they make their assessment, they publish both sets of data. The number or initial reports and the number of actual cases where the death was caused by the vaccine.

Happy Birthday!

A Birthday Cake Illustration

Think of it like this. If you were asked to find every single death that occured in the week following after the deceased person had eaten birthday cake, you might find hundreds of such cases. Let’s say you found 556.

Then, they investigate each case and discover that out of the 556, 2 were poisoned by the cake, 3 had an allergic reaction to one of the cakes ingredience and a further 4 choked on it. The other 556 were just people who died, because humans are mortal, with no connection to the birthday cake. So 556 reports of death and 9 confirmed deaths by birthday cake.

Now imagine you released both those numbers to the public and people took the chart that reported the 535 cases of death that occured after eating birthday cake and made the claim that the official “Birthday Cake Death Toll” was 556! This would be reporting the death number in your report correctly, but interpreting what it means completely wrong.

It would be especially incorrect if people didn’t even mention how you had also published the actual confirmed death toll from birthday cake as 9.

This is exactly what is happening with the TGA’s report on covid vaccine deaths.

This is how the TGA themselves explain it

If you think I am misinterpreting the data, this is it from the TGA themselves:

“Large scale vaccination means that coincidentally some people will experience a new illness or die within a few days or weeks of vaccination. The TGA reviews all deaths reported in people who have been vaccinated. As the number of vaccinated people has increased, so has reporting of fatal events with a coincidental association with vaccination. This does not indicate a link between vaccination and the fatalities reported. Review of individual reports and patterns of reporting does not suggest the vaccines played a role in these deaths.

Since the beginning of the vaccine rollout to 19 September 2021, approximately 24.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given. So far, the TGA has found that 9 reports of deaths were linked to immunisation from 556 reports received and reviewed.

The overwhelming majority of deaths reported to the TGA following vaccination occurred in people aged 65 years and older. The deaths linked to immunisation occurred after the first dose of Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) – 8 were TTS cases and one was a case of immune thrombocytopenia (ITP).”

Catch that? 556 reports. 9 deaths from the vaccine.

The misinformation that there have been hundreds of deaths caused by the vaccine is all the more persuasive to people because it uses a misreading of a true and official TGA report. But it is so important that we understand what these reports are actually showing and how to read them.

The TGA is also very aware that people have misinterpret and misued the data they provide:

“We are aware of false claims that have been circulating based on misinterpretation of information published in the DAEN. Reports are entered into the database without being assessed to determine if they are caused by the vaccine. We encourage people to report suspected side effects, even if there is only a small chance that the vaccine caused them. For this reason, publication of a report in the DAEN does not mean that the vaccine caused the adverse event, but simply reflects the observations of the person who reported the event. 

In some states and territories, the reporting of specific events, such as death, that occur closely following a vaccination is mandatory for health professionals. For this reason, the number of adverse events and deaths reported in the DAEN is not an indication of the safety of the vaccines. Expert review and investigation are needed to determine which events were caused by the vaccine. The outcomes of our analysis of adverse event reports are communicated in this report each week.”

And just in case you think I took the TGA out of context, you can read the above quotes HERE.

You have a 1 in 1.6 million chance of getting struck by lightening in Australia

Staggeringly Safe

The big message we can actually interpret from the TGA report is just how ridiculously safe the vaccines actually are. Think of it. 9 deaths in around 26,130,313 doses of vaccine so far in Australia! That’s a 1 in 3 miliion, or 0.00003% chance of dying from the vaccine based on Australian statistics. Don’t believe anyone who tries to exaggerate the risk or tell you the lie that “more people die from the vaccines than from covid”.

You’ve literally got about twice as much chance of being struck by lightning in Australia.

Staggeringly Transparent

The other thing this report shows is how much our health system is actually committed to transparency. Despite all the claims of cover-ups and conspiracy and data being swept under the carpet, if that were the case, then they are doing a terrible job at hiding the information. On the TGA website, they list every single reported side effect and death of every medicine in Australia. It’s crazy transparency.

But with that exhaustive amount of data, it is understandble that the interpretation can easily be lost in translation by those who are afraid of the vaccines and will gravitate to anything that might confirm their fears (not to mention others who are deliberately trying to undermine vaccines).

PLEASE, if you have been fooled by this misinformation, do not receive any judgment from this article. Just treat it as a learning experience and look twice next time. Always check the source of the information you are being given and have a healthy level of skepticism in our institutions, but not an unhealthy level.

If you know people who might find this article helpful, please share this information and if you see people suggesting there have been hundreds of deaths from the vaccines in Australia, please lovingly and patiently help them see what the TGA report actually says.

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September 18 2021

Four ways the Old Testament points to the Gospel

Living in light of the New Testament, it is sometimes difficult to understand what God was doing in the Old Testament. How was He preparing the world for the coming of the gospel? Should we be able to “see” Jesus in every page from Genesis to Malachi? Is the New Testament just a big 180 from God’s plan, or does the Old Testament naturally lead to the New?

As I have reflected on this, I have observed that there are four 4 key ways the Old Testament points to the gospel of the New Testament:


1. By SHOWING it.

God does not change and so, although the good news about Jesus has not yet been revealed, the principles of the gospel are there in the Old Testament. People are still saved only by grace through faith, not by works. So the Old Testament can show us God and His character, and his gospel message of mercy in the face of judgement.

(1 Timothy 3:15, Galatians 3:1-9)


2. By FORESHADOWING it.

The Old Testament is filled with characters, rituals and events that are revealed to being “types” or “shadows” of the reality that is to come in Christ. Think of the kingship of David, the sacrificial system and the redemption of the Israelites from slavery through the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. This foreshadowing can be more cryptic, but the New Testament illuminates for us where to see them.

(Colossians 2:16-17, Hebrews 10:1-14)


3. By PROMISING it.

God promises, through the prophets, the coming of the Messiah and the good news. This is much less cryptic or subtle. In fact, at times God directly tells us exactly what He plans to do. He tells us He will give us a New Covenant. He tells us He will send the Messiah. He tells us He will establish the Kingdom of God that will last forever. The exact shape of what the coming of the Messiah would look like was only fully understood when Jesus arrived, but he arrived to a Jewish community that had expectations based on what God had promised. Scattered through the Old Testament the prophesies promising the gospel are there and they are many.

(2 Corinthians 1:20, Luke 24:25-27)


4. By NEEDING it.

The Old Testament also expresses the dilemma or the “bad news” that the good news would come to solve. It displays the problem of sin, the reality of judgement, the brokenness of life, the hardness of our hearts, the inability of humans to fulfil the law, the distance of God and the need for reconciliation. The Old Testament at times simply leaves us with a vacuum that creates the longing and the thirst for something better, even if it doesn’t always tell us what that better will be. The Old Testament shows us our need and the New Testament reveals Christ as the satisfaction of that need.

(John 6:32-40, Romans 3:9-26)

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September 17 2021

Free Christmas Ministry Ideas

Are you hunting for some creative, gospel-focused, tried and tested, free ideas and resources that your church can use this Christmas?

Well, here are three that I have developed and used myself, and that you can use for free as well!


“When Santa Learned the Gospel” Carols Pack

I published my first children’s book called “When Santa Learned the Gospel” back in 2017. It’s a quirky Christmas book that shares the gospel in a unique and very engaging way, by looking at it through the eyes of Santa and his “naughty and nice” philosophy. Literally tens of thousands of people across the globe have used this little book as a way to start gospel conversations at Christmas, and churches especially have used it as a gift for visitors to their carols services.

Now the book isn’t free, but I also spend a year and thousands of dollars to develop a whole series of free resources that compliment the message of the book. These are all part of the “Carols Pack” and they include things like an original song, a theatrical script, a high-quality animated version of the story of the book, and a whole bunch more.

Watch the videos below or click on the button to find out more about the “Carols Pack”.


“A Zoom Christmas Story” Online Play in 4 Acts

Last year (2020), like many in the world, my church couldn’t hold an in-person carols event, and so I directed an online event which featured all the elements of an entertaining and evangelistic carols night. You can watch the entire event HERE.

One of the features of this event was a play that I wrote and directed, called “A Zoom Christmas Story”. It basically tells the first few chapters of Luke’s gospel as if it was a Zoom meeting. As you can imagine there is lots of opportunity for humour, but there is also a really strong gospel message. The benefit of a “Zoom” production is you can actually have your performers reading off the script during the performance, which means it is much easier to put together with non-professional actors. It still requires some rehearsal (especially for knowing when to click on and click off) and it requires some editing after it has been recorded on Zoom, but if you are in lockdown, then this may be a great option for you.

Watch the show on the video below, or click the button to download the script.


“Nazareth” a Hamilton Parody

I wrote a parody of the opening number from Hamilton which tells the Christmas story and message. I had lots of fun writing, filming and editing it and the video went a little bit “viral” which was fun and weird to witness. So, you can use the video to share or play at your church, but if you have a group of good singers/rappers, you might even want to perform your own version of it. I’d love to see that!

Watch the video below, or click the button to download the lyrics.


Giving a Christmas Gospel Talk – a conversation with Andy May

For years I have worked alongside pastor Andy May to put on the Christmas Carols Event at Bundoora Presbyterian Church. We have tried lots of different ideas over the years. But everything has been to serve the aim of communicating the gospel.

Watch the video below as I sit down with Andy and ask him how he thinks about giving a gospel talk at these events.


I hope something in this collection of free resources is useful to you, and if you do use any of it, I would love to hear about it, even I would even more love to see it if it gets recorded or livestreamed. Please put a comment or contact me privately below:

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September 13 2021

Eli-Who? The mysterious man in The Book of Job

This is a segment from my new Discussion Guide, “Sitting With Job”.

To learn more, go to: www.Job.TheBackyardBard.com


Elihu’s place in the book

In The Book of Job, Elihu is a mysterious character in many ways. Young, passionate and with a name that means “My God is He”, Elihu speaks up for the first time in Job chapter 32, though he tells us that he has been a silent observer to the debate for a while (Job 32:4, 11).

He seems to come out of nowhere and once he is finished his epic speech, he disappears into thin air. Also, he is not mentioned at the end of the book at all. When God gives His assessment of both Job and his three friends, He doesn’t even acknowledge Elihu’s existence (Job 42:7-9). Consequently, we don’t find out if God thinks Elihu has “spoken the truth” or “folly” (Job 42:8). Is Elihu aligned with God, with Job’s friends, with Satan, or with some other position? Frustratingly, the text never really tells us.

Elihu’s purpose in the book

This mysterious nature to Elihu suggests that he has a special role in this point in the story. The epic and lengthy nature of Elihu’s speech presents itself as the great conclusion to the story – the answer to Job’s request to speak with God. Or at least, the only answer Job will get.

Elihu rejects the notion that God Himself would turn up to address Job personally (Job 32:12-14, 34:21-23, 35:9-15, 37:19-24). Elihu’s picture of God is mighty, righteous, just and holy, but He is also completely inaccessible. Like how the clouds are so high above us (Job 35:5) and how you can’t look directly at the sun (Job 37:21), Elihu is confident that Job’s request for a one on one audience with God is arrogant and in vain.

Job’s final defence in Chapter 31 was like his affidavit of innocence. Within this courtroom-like scene, Elihu presents himself, in the absence of God, as the impartial judge to answer Job’s claims (Job 32:17-22). Elihu states he will teach them wisdom (Job 33:31-33) and speak on God’s behalf (Job 36:2). And judge he does! He judges Job’s friends for not being able to prove Job wrong (Job 32:12) and he judges Job for not speaking rightly about himself or God (Job 33:12).

The question remains, is Elihu right? Is Elihu’s role to just be another incorrect voice of folly in this great debate, or does he actually speak words of truth on God’s behalf? As we listen to Elihu’s speech, we will find both are actually the case. Elihu says many true things about God, but he wrongly dismisses Job’s claims of blamelessness and wrongly assesses God’s purpose behind Job’s suffering (Job 33:19-30, 34:34:11, 36:6-12).

Ultimately it seems Elihu’s role in The Book of Job, with both his correct and false words of judgement, is to prepare Job (and us) for the coming words of the true Judge. By the end of Elihu’s six chapter speech, Job is left with absolutely no hope of meeting with God face to face. As Elihu states in his conclusion, “The Almighty is beyond our reach” (Job 37:23). It is at that point in the story, with all hope gone, that God turns up.

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August 31 2021

Hitler Stands Before the Judge

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, “What was your greatest sacrificial act?” 

The soldier replied: “Well, I was flying over Germany and I’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.”

“Well done!” 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, “What was your greatest sacrificial act?” 

The SS Officer replied, “Well, once, I torched a whole village to the ground because the mayor refused to say ‘Hail Hitler’.” 

The Judge shook his head and pulled a level, opening up a trap door underneath the Officer. He screamed and fell down to hellfire.

Hitler gulped.

Then the third soldier stepped forward and the Judge asked, “What was your greatest sacrificial act?” 

The soldier replied: “I helped smuggle seven Jewish families out of the country and when I was discovered, I was shot in the town square.”

“Well done!” 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, “What was your greatest sacrificial act?” 

He replied proudly, “I killed Hitler!”


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: “There 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.”

Romans 3:9-12

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.’ The second is this: ‘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”.

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August 25 2021

Misgendering Shirley the Unicorn

I’ve been hearing a few Chicken Littles have gotten all flustered about a new character on The Wiggles.

Meet Shirley Shawn the Unicorn.

It is being reported that this is The Wiggles first non-binary and that her pronouns are “They/Them”.

Some conservative commentators like Lyle Sheldon have gotten their hetero-normative nickers in a knot and written some very stern words about the development.

In a recent Eternity News article, he wrote:

Shirley Shawn the unicorn might seem like a harmless, colourful, larger than life character but dubbing him/her (or should I use the politically correct pronoun “they”) non-binary, the Wiggles are now helping the rainbow political movement’s project to indoctrinate everyone from toddler to tertiary level into contested genderfluid ideology.”

And: “They preach that just because a baby was born with a penis or a vagina, it doesn’t make him or her a boy or a girl.”

Now, my first question is, why on earth do we NEED a mythical creature like a unicorn who only says the word “Scrumptious” to be either a woman or a man? I mean, they don’t exist! Maybe they reproduce asexually through their horn! Do we really need to wonder whether Shirley has a penis or a vagina?

But more important than the genitalia of a unicorn, the most important question I’ve got is…

where on earth do we get the idea that she is non-binary??

And yes, I said “she”.

And apparently, The Wiggles say “she” as well.

Here are the first couple of verses of her theme song:

“Oh, Shirley Shawn the Unicorn

In the sun she trots

Everybody loves her,

from grown-ups to tiny tots

Oh, Shirley learnt to talk

from a Danish duchess

Her favourite word indeed was the word

Scrumptious!”

That seems to put an end to it. This is the only official statement I could find from The Wiggles themselves and it seems pretty conclusive. Shirley is a she.

Now sure, there is a News.com article that says Shirley is non-binary and even the fan-created “Wigglepedia” website claims:

Shirley Shawn’s pronouns were revealed to be they/them, making them the first non-binary wiggles character.”

But I can’t find any evidence of where this was “revealed”. I mean, anywhere!

Of course, LGBT websites such as this Pink News article are also reporting the introduction of a gender-diverse character, but I wonder if they actually fact-checked it?

After a bit of digging, I found another interesting claim in a Ladbible article that The Wiggles founder, Anthony Field, said: “I got a beautiful email from someone who said they came out because of Shirley Shawn the Unicorn; they said that we gave them acceptance and helped them accept themselves.”

But again, there is no source for the quote and I can’t find it anywhere else (other than in an Advance Australia article, which just linked back to the Ladbible article).

So, maybe it’s all bs? Maybe people see a unicorn holding a rainbow umbrella and make an assumption about her gender identity.

Maybe people just like to rage without double-checking the facts?

Maybe exciting lies spread quicker than boring truths?

And, whether or not they are supportive or enraged, it is quite possible that all those who are claiming that Shirley is the first non-binary Wiggle character, may be actually committing the cardinal sin of misgendering her.


UPDATE!!

A friend pointed me to this comment on the Wiggles Facebook Page!

I have emailed The Wiggles directly and asked for them to officially clarify.

Stay tuned!


UPDATE #2

Eternity News pointed me to a Wiggles Media Release.

If this is correct, then it seems that it is definitive…

The question may be now… did they misgender Shirley in her theme song?


UPDATE #3

I heard back from The Wiggles. They have confirmed that Shirley is indeed non-binary and that they have updated their song after being “educated” on the matter.

One wonders what “being educated” means? Did Shirley tell them herself (a bit tricky when all she can say is “Scrumptious”? Did the psychologist who apparently consulted with them about their new show “educate” them about the importance of including gender diverse characters? Or was it a condition of their new contract with their US distributors?

In any case, here is their new updated song for Shirley the non-binary Unicorn. Personally, I think it’s nowhere near as catchy as their original.

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July 5 2021

A New Testament Tongue-Twister

Paul the apostle opposes apostasy

posting epistles appealing to pastors. 

The pastor approves the apostle’s epistles

then preaches appropriate plain application. 

The people apply the apostle’s epistles

by paying attention to pastoral preaching.

So the preachers and pastors and people all partner

in the pastoral purpose of the apostle’s epistles.

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May 25 2021

Equal and Complementary – an illustration

This picture represents Complementarianism for me.

The husband and the wife in perfect unity and balance, creating something together that is beautiful and harmonious and uplifting.

They are both completely equal partners and yet they have two distinct roles.

His leadership role is not being used to crush or dominate or to have his way or to push her down. Quite the opposite. His role is to serve and to bear the weight and to place himself underneath as the strong foundation so that she can soar.

For him to do that, her role is to respect the responsibility he has, submit to his self-sacrificial leadership and trust in him to uphold her.

He is not an ogre.

She is not a doormat.

They are both equal and complementary.

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April 25 2021

Lest We Forget

Lest we forget
Is a warning
It’s an acknowledgement
That it’s easy to forget
Easy to take things for granted
Easy to let history repeat itself
Easy to lose the peace and freedom we currently enjoy
Easy for them to grow old and for age to weary them
And so we must each year
Work hard at peace
Work hard at freedom
Work hard at remembering
Lest we forget

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April 24 2021

Why Are My Angels Scottish?

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 “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die!”

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. 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.

Matthew 1:21

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.

Matthew 2:13

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 you good news that will cause great joy 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.

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