*** DEBUG END ***

Jumble Sales of the Apocalypse by Simon Jenkins

26 May 2017

Vicky Walker enjoys oddities collected affectionately from the world of religion

Jumble Sales of the Apocalypse

Simon Jenkins

SPCK £9.99


Church Times Bookshop £9 


THE book Jumble Sales of the Apocalypse is a witty and humorous walk through the ephemera of eternity. In this collection of his columns for Reform magazine, author and humorist Simon Jenkins explores the many ways in which mere humans try to understand the invisible God and the mystery of the Trinity.

It seems that the best and most time-tested way is to make him visible, or at least tangible. Through unexpected church names, the showbiz lifestyle of medieval relics, and antics of obscure saints, to the twisting language of dubiously motiv­ated prayers and the likeli­hood of an angel’s changing your car tyre, showing God as present among us in the everyday has been a fixation for Christians since Jesus was around.

Jenkins writes this series of short essays in a warm and knowing style, with clever nods to theology and tradition (”He seemed to know the Torah scroll back to front, which is just as well as you can’t read Hebrew any other way”). Affectionate jabs at how religion is practised hit their targets, but also reflect the well-intentioned muddling through that makes up much of Christianity, including his own.

The conflation of ancient doc­trine and dogma and modern practicality are a recipe for comedy; take the new home of a saint’s shin bone (”It’s exactly the right size for hand luggage on Ryanair”) or speculation on how much chocolate companies must hate Lent when their sales drop off a cliff for several weeks. He covers centuries of debate over clerical titles with the same tongue-in-cheek winking with which he discusses the Christian certainty that God finds parking places for his followers.

© simon jenkins 2017Ecclesiastical humour: a cartoon from Jumble Sales of the ApocalypseThis is a light and entertaining read with serious intent, and offers the comforting suggestion that it is OK to overlook or be amused by these mild heresies, as nothing that humans produce can come close to explaining God or faith. Each of these essays contains an informative and yet world-weary take on a different aspect of the kitsch, pom­posity, showmanship, and allegory that abound in Christianity. Like a metaphorical Tower of Babel, the book piles oddly-shaped bricks on each other, showing humanity’s on-going attempts to reach heaven through novelty Advent calendars, DIY Christingles, and holy emojis.

The end result displays a resigned affection for the bumbling, mach­ina­­tions, and odd traditions that make up religion, and a chuckling sigh of relief that we are all just doing our best to make sense of it.


Vicky Walker is the author of Do I Have to be Good All the Time? (River Publishing and Media, 2011).

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)