Thursday, 23 March 2017

#Westminster

View from Westminster Bridge
Burton Dasset went to work in London today. Same as he always does. Queued up at Flitwick same as he always does. Stood up and was 10 minutes late, same as ever. Yes, I've basically ripped this off "Arnold Same" by Blur.

Burton Dasset isn't heroically standing up to some unfocused, random enemy of Civilisation. He is not a hero. He's not brave. But he is good at sums.

3 people died in London yesterday in a vicious murder. Killed by a narcissistic fantasist. Those three innocent people leave great holes in other people's lives. They were loved. It's an utter tragedy. Even the dead narcissistic fantasist loser leaves a hole in the lives of the people who loved him - yet whom he did not love enough to think they were more important than his own precious ego.

But.

On average, yesterday in the United Kingdom, 10 people will have died in car crashes. 2 people will have died in other murders. In terms of deaths caused in the UK yesterday, this fantasist was irrelevant. He was a legend in his own head only. Even the evil "state" that claimed responsibility had to wait until the British police identified him to say who he was. The only people he really benefited were Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage. He won't encourage any more people to join Islamic State. Because we've already exported most of our losers to them. And the vast, vast, vast majority of Muslims are nice people, And there are 10 million people who live and work round London. And 3 people are a great tragedy, but a very small percentage.

So Burton went into work. More police, to reassure the public. They're good people. But Burton wasn't particularly worried. London is a big town, and the chances of him dying were very small. He's not brave. But he is good at sums.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Most Useless Battle Ever

"In March 1889, an Imperial German naval force entered a village on Samoa, and in doing so destroyed some American property. Three American warships then entered the Apia harbor and prepared to engage the three German warships found there. Before any shots were fired, a typhoon wrecked both the American and German ships. A compulsory armistice was then called because of the lack of any warships."

From Wikipedia

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Lament for the Loss of Free Coffee in Waitrose

Our hearts are sorrowful within us
And our spirits fail.
For Waitrose want us to buy something
Before they give us a cup of coffee.

As I push my trolley round, I thirst like unto the hart
That thirsts for the spring of water
I'd make the "Deer pants" joke 
Only that works better with John Lewis.

My tears would overflow my cup
If I had but time to catch them.
But instead now I must gulp down my drink
For fear my frozen tarragon might melt before I get home.

I remember how I used to go up to Waitrose
In the days of my youth
When we thought they were a branch of Social Services
Specially for middle-class people.

But now my days are like my coffee.
Long, dark and bitter.

The War on Easter

Can all Beaker Folk please note that today is the first day of "Eggmas." It should have been the Spring Eggwinox same as normal, but St Joseph's Day was transferred because Sunday so Eggmas had to be moved as well.

Eggmas is the first day of the year when you are allowed to complain that the word "Easter" is not on Easter eggs. My favourite complainant from last year was this from Fr David Palmer, quoted by the Telegraph:

“Easter on the back? - Jolly decent of you. I brought 60 Creme eggs for the kids at my Church. Shan't next year.”

Crème eggs are on sale from 1 January. They have never been labelled as "Easter" eggs - or not that I remember. If the good Father knew his history he wouldn't get so over-egg-cited.

Still, the point is valid. After all, the Easter Egg's been in eggsistence ever since that first Third Monday in Lent when Judas demanded to know why Mary Magdalene was busy pouring molten chocolate into moulds so early.

My feeling is that last year's eggstravagant complaints were a clever marketing ploy by the Real Easter Egg Co to get their name in all the papers. But we've got the chance now once again to get Christianity associated with killjoy hysteria so let's go for it. Complain about the pagan eggs! Blame in on fear of Islamic eggstremism, rampant seggularism or Hen Livingstone.

But just remember. We may be called to be all things to albumen. But St Paul told us to be yolked together with unbelievers.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Church SWOT Analysis

So the consultants were really very keen I focussed on their SWOT analysis.

You know the idea?  You list out all the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of your organisation.  Helps you to understand what to look out for and what to improve.

I dunno though, I just reckon there's something wrong....

All the SWOT quadrants are "Threats".

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Equinox Eve

Excitement as we hear that among the list of candidates for the Bishop of Llandaff are possibly some Welsh people. Now, we have no strict opinion at the Beaker Folk as to whether people are born Welsh or whether Welshness is some kind of choice. But it's great to see them being so open-minded about people who are openly Welsh.

Meanwhile, we're all set up for the Spring Equinox. The Tightrope of Balance has one  again been tied up from Duck Henge to the Great Trilithon, and Hnaef is ready for the great walk over the duck pond.  It's been ten years since he got across without crashing to a watery (and feathery) landing - but maybe this year will be the year again.

The great expert on primaveral custom, Mr Vernon Equinox, will be with us tomorrow to tell us about how the increasing light is a symbol of hope, new life and growth.  And we're gonna have a massive Hot Cross Bun party. The sacred nature of Equinox is never far below the surface - like the shoots of the plants that even now are pushing through the ground - but let's not miss out on the chance to get some early Easter Eggs in.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Woman at the Well - What do Pretty Girls Do?

(John 4:5-42)

Two people out of place.

The respectable Jewish preacher - in a Samaritan town. Enemy territory. Where the Pax Romana holds but that doesn't mean that the locals have to welcome one of the other lot.

And the woman who comes down to the well to draw water in the heat of the day. A woman who has a fairly unconventional sexual history, apparently. We're not told whether she's buried the five husbands or whether that's a series of desertions and / or divorces. You're guessing she's not so young any more - memories of the Kirsty MacColl song "What do Pretty Girls Do" when you've lost your looks and the townsfolk don't think you're so glamorous and Mr Number 6 doesn't want to tie himself down with the woman who's seen off so many others. And "Everybody's happy when she isn't at the door She sends out invitations to everyone, they don't come. And the phone ain't ringing for her now."




So she's down the well at lunchtime, in the heat of a Samaritan day whereas conventional women would be going down at dusk or first thing in the morning. Maybe the Sychar townswomen's guild don't want to be seen hanging around with the woman whose life has apparently consisted of a series of attempts to find happiness through the frankly unreliable medium of a bunch of blokes.

And Jesus at no point tells her off for anything. This woman - half outcast, from a foreign, heretical race - he shouldn't be looking at her. He shouldn't be asking her to do him a favour - conceding her a position of advantage over him.

But Jesus can see a deep yearning in her. The well is deep - the countryside is dry and the water table's low. When she wants water she's got to work hard for it - reach down to find it where it can't be seen. There's an analogy - when she's wanted happiness, fulfilment in life - she's looked for it through all these men. And they're let downs. They either leave or die or won't commit. And she's lonely at the end of it all.

And Jesus isn't saying that human sexual love is bad. He's saying that it's not where she will find real fulfilment. That complete fulfilment comes from knowing God - being in relationship with Jesus - being filled with the living waters of the Holy Spirit. Not a still well in a parched landscape, but living waters. A spring - which flows and is cool and is constantly refreshed.

She knows that this young Jewish man is making an offer - telling her something deep about herself - hitting nails on the head. So she tries to turn the conversation to theology. Good thing about that kind of theology - "where do you reckon the Temple ought to be.... what do you think about the old Messiah then, eh?"

If you're going to try and turn the conversation to the Messiah as a way of getting out of an awkward discussion, it's best not to do that when you're having that discussion with the Messiah himself. I mean, what are the chances? But she finds out that is who she's talking to. The hope of Jew and Samaritan alike - the Messiah who comes to give true life. Life that is full now, and alive forever.

The woman knows who Jesus is, and she's turned around. Instead of the lonely reject, she's the one who brings the Good News to her town. The disciples have seen something new. They now know that God's love goes beyond race, and gender, and keeping the community rules on how women should behave. There's something more important than any of these - something more lasting than these. A deep-flowing, never-ending flow of God's blessing - which spreads through Jesus to the woman and out to her community. And the promise of the love of God, which flows forever.

Church Strapline Generator

Scared that you may have to come up with something snappy to describe your diocese, church or small group?  Worried by the Vision Statements of the 1990s - those vaguely worded yet interminable and ungrammatical statements of our aspirations?

Well worry no more.  You don't need to write Mission Statements for churches these days. Directional Values are pretty funky (I notice this example doesn't include "downwards" or what Southwell and Nottingham would no doubt call "deeper". Probably because encouraging people on a downwards journey isn't where the Church is at.)

But best of all, you can just come up with a church strapline - just three unrelated adjectives. Everyone knows exactly what you're about. Unless it's gibberish or sounds like smut. And we've provided you with a generator to produce a new one every 3 seconds!  Everyone's a winner.

My personal favourite so far is "Good News-ier - Fresher - Bluesier". But what's yours?





Church Strapline of the Week.....


(NB - having trouble rendering this on Android. Our technical team are working on it (ie Burton Dasset is frantically looking at Google). But request the PC / Desktop site and it's fine).

Consultancy Reports: Key Strategies

Well that was quite a week with the management consultants we brought in from LeDouche. Whole host of suggestions they've given us.

I'm going to be particularly keen to look at their "four towers" of ecclesiological synergism. These are:

A) SocMed Engagement - "Near-life Activism and the 24-hour Spiritual Marketplace."
B)  Build the Brand - "When people hear "Beaker Folk" they have to think "Accessible, Authentic, Spiritual Experience - when you want it.""
C) Organisational Realignment - "We need to redirect the Druids to instantiate existential purpose"
D) Merchandising.

I'm off with a dictionary and strong coffee to read the 200 pages of reports behind these headlines. I'm sure I'll find God in there somewhere.