Wednesday, 12 March 2014
So we'll just have a glass of sherry to pretend to be Anglicans, and give thanks that the upcoming generation of women priests - many of whom will be bishops one day - don't have such bad tastes in paisley clerical shirts as the first lot. Who deserve our thanks and congratulations regardless.
Tuesday, 11 March 2014
Maybe it's because you want to be rude, but don't want to hurt the other person. Or maybe it's because you're a bit worried that the other person might come back at you. Or you want to big up your own position without all that tiring "thinking through the argument" that you might have to do.
So, for those on the receiving end - ministers or ministees - here's the low-down.
|What is said||What is meant|
|I reckon you've got a gift for children's work.||Somebody's got to work with the children. Since the Sunday Club folded they've been driving us up the wall. And I reckon you're the most gullible. And - bonus! You're a young mother! So 30% of it is your job already!|
|That sermon raised many theological issues for me.||I thought Ministerial selectors claimed they worked under the guidance of the Holy Spirit?|
|This church is not meeting my spiritual needs||Neither could the other seventeen churches I've been a member of over the last twenty years. If only I could work out what the common element is.|
|What we need is a strong leader||One who agrees with me.|
|I'm doing fine, thanks.||I cried all last night because my life seems like a total waste. The children appear to be possessed by demons. My useless husband spends all evening playing "GTA5". My mother's not talking to me because my useless husband insulted her hat. And the leaking shower fitting has resulted in the entire house smelling of mould.|
|There was never any mention of removing the tea light stand in Father Bunwicke's Day.||Bunwicke hated that tea light stand with every fibre in his body. But we told him that Father Darlington had loved it in his time.|
|I'm doing fine, thanks.||I'm doing fine, thanks.|
|The lead guitarist seems very enthusiastic. All those instrumental breaks! He must have worked very hard at those. Is he in a band?||If he played acoustic I'd smack him over the head with it. But a solid-bodied electric may be an offensive weapon within the meaning of the act.|
|Does the worship leader write down all those introductions to the songs, giving us the theological insights that he has gained from them and the way he sees echoes in them of his personal walk of faith? Does he pray extensively about what he's going to say before the service, hoping that he will receive exactly the right words to say?||Or does he just have a natural talent for drivel and self-promotion?|
|I have always stood for maintaining ancient church traditions.||Jesus stood for the oppressed, the poor, the outcast and outsider. Which is why I am determined we will have the right coloured candles in Advent.|
|But, when we try to relate the faith of the First Century to the modern world, what do we find?||Let me tell you what I read in the Guardian on Saturday.|
|There will always be a place for you in the choir.||Nobody else could possibly fit your cassock. I mean, who else is that shape?|
|No, really. I've got a soft spot for the Churchwarden.||It's that boggy bit at the North side of the churchyard.|
|As Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians, the Lord loves a cheerful giver.||Look, at the Deanery Synod we missed the Parish Share by more than any other parish. It's embarrassing. Just 50p a month more per person, and we'll overtake Little Tremlett.|
|Some of the parents need to give their children a bit more supervision.||Last Sunday one of the little beggars managed to pole-vault over the rood screen using a churchwarden's wand.|
|People always focus on numbers. But there's so many other ways in which a church can grow.||We're pretty much where we were spiritually, as well. But thankfully it's much harder to measure.|
|Many of the older people quite like "Lord of the Rings".||I quite like "Lord of the Rings". But I'm not going to admit it. Not since the music group threatened tarring and feathering to anybody who asks them to pick it.|
|Have you ever considered that God may be calling you to a pastoral ministry?||Can you please stop singing? My ears are bleeding.|
|I'm only saying this in love.||Not only am I being extremely rude and uncharitable, but now you're going to feel bad at yourself for being angry with me.|
|I'm all in favour of women's ministry myself. But a female pastor would upset my friend.||A woman pastor? What do you think this is? Gomorrah?|
My heart is heavy within me
And my soul fails in its darkness
For the Twipper API is not happy
And my time line refreshest itself not.
I remember how I used to go onto Twitter
To hear the latest news
Unargued political certainties thrown out to the ether
Preaching only to the quire.
How happy we were in those days
When we could play our hash tag games
Laughing as we noticed somebody had already done our joke
And breathing satirical fire when someone redid ours.
We tweeted freely,
Retweeting our enemies as well.
For only the pagans retweet only their friends.
And subtweets we would never cast our eyes upon.
Even in the watches of the night
But we wasted our nights discussing Question Time.
We threw away hours on #strictly
And now our judgement is upon us.
Where now can we go?
Forelorn we roam the wilderness of Facebook; but the people we call friends are playing stupid games.
We turn to LinkedIn
But who cares what 75% of CIOs think about iOS 7.1?
And there's naff all on telly.
Not even Question Time.
I may even have to find out if my closest friends, those I love like a brother or a sister,
are still alive.
And so we will surf the Web in the valley of the shadow of death
All the days of our life.
Oh, hang on.
Monday, 10 March 2014
After last week, when used the music of Tom Waits in our devotions, this week we take the Lenten theme a bit further. Accordingly, this week's music for Pouring-Out of Beakers will be The Smiths. In the evening, to lighten the mood a little, we'll be using The Cure to accompany Filling-Up of Beakers.
This strategy will continue until the mood is thoroughly darkened. I'm hoping that by next week, everyone will be ready for the more cynical works of Elvis Costello.
Sunday, 9 March 2014
And that was nothing to when I pointed out that it was based on the accounts in the Gospels. The discovery that we have a holy book that includes such things has caused uproar. What, we were asked, did we think we were doing? Dolorez says that thinking about the Bible has caused her little ones, Mordant and Celery, to have sleepless nights. Personally I reckon it's more likely the sound of Dolorez singing "I will Survive" into the small hours that has given the little ones unsettled sleep, but still. I didn't want to upset her further.
And I remembered that, so as not to upset people who flick on during the boring bits, we've already made the decision to have no Funeral Service in the Beaker Common Prayer. I reckoned this was the way forward. And so we have produced the Not So Unpleasant Version of the Bible. Like the original Bible, but with all the nasty bits sanitised. So if you're fed up with bloodshed, slaughter and annihilation in your favourite inspired text, why not try the NSUV? For example:
In the NSUV, after a heated debate with his brother, Cain admits that his offering wasn't as good as Abel's. God tells them that, actually, he was just feeling a bit grumpy and off cereals, and they were both pretty good.
Noah trains as a lifeguard. In gratitude for him saving their lives in the Flood, the people of Mesopotamia mend their ways.
The people of Sodom and Gomorrah take Lot's guests down the pub for a pint. Neither fire nor brimstone are required.
The Levite is not such a coward as to push his concubine out into the street. The men of Gibeah consider that their behaviour hasn't been so great, and go home to their wives.
All sacrifices are of vegetables.
The Children of Israel book a holiday in the land of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar turns out to be a remarkably affable hotel-owner. The waiter is from Barcelona.
After Elijah wins the "who can call down fire" contest, he invites the Prophets of Baal to an inter-faith tea.
King Herod visits the town of Bethlehem dressed as Santa, with a sleigh full of toys.
After St Peter provides King Herod Agrippa with an anti-worming treatment. Herod is so grateful he agrees that he is just a man, after all.
Everybody goes to heaven at the end of Revelation.
So why not give the NSUV a chance? It's a new kind of Bible for a new kind of religion. Offence-free. Blood-free. Violence-free. Outrage-free. And, above all, salvation-free.