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Friday, 22 July 2016

Responding Graciously to Criticism Course

Thanks to all who filled in feedback forms for our "Responding Graciously to Criticism" course.

If that's how you felt we won't be running any more.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Objection to the Consecration of Female Bishops: A Liturgy

"Last month in Canterbury it became clear that such objections were, it seemed, not only being enabled but were becoming a part of the liturgy" - Women and the Church (WATCH) Press Release

Hymn: "Will you Come and Follow Me?"

Dean of the Cathedral:Does anyone have any formal objection to this woman being consecrated as a bishop in the Church of England?  Especially remembering she's not exactly the first and we've been through this rigmarole several times now.
Objector: I do.
Dean of the Cathedral: Oh deep joy. Go on then. Let's hear it.
Objector:Not in the Bible.
Archbishop: Not in the Bible? Listen, matey. My funny hat's not in the Bible. Having Archdeacons ain't in the Bible. Calling people "Father" is explicitly banned in the Bible. Cathedrals aren't in the Bible. Singing "I the Lord of Sea and Sky" at every ordination, consecration, licensing and every service in every Training Scheme since 2004 ain't in the Bible. This is the Church of England. If we only did the stuff in the Bible we'd sing a couple of psalms, give our money to the poor, and go home to do good works. Of course it's not in the Bible. 
Objector:Just saying. If I'd known you would get so touchy I wouldn't have brought it up.
Dean of the Cathedral: Does anyone have any sensible objection to this woman being consecrated in the Church of England? 
CongregationNo. Can we just crack on? This isn't rocket science. We've done it all before now.

Hymn: "I the Lord of Sea and Sky" 

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

"I Have a Dream" Sermon Accused of Plagiarism

Honestly. Try to set out a positive religious viewpoint in a sermon, and all the nit-pickers and nay-sayers are out nit-picking and nay-saying. If not nay-picking and nit-saying.

Some have said my sermon last night, "I have a Dream", was plagiarism. That I have stolen one of the greatest passages of religious sentiment in the English language and passed it of as my own. That if you lay my sermon alongside the original it is practically word for word.

Well, I will not be abashed or abowed. If people would rather criticise a few minor similarities than grasp the uplifting vision, that is up to them. I will stand by my words, whether they are mine or - purely accidentally and without any plagiarist intent - also someone else's. My defence is that my thoughts were noble and accidentally intertextual.

But these are my thoughts, this is my spirit, this is my story, this is my song. Here I stand, I can do no other. As I said, in the most criticised part of my sermon:

"If you see the wonder of a fairy tale
You can take the future even if you fail
I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see."

Holy Pokeballs

Just discovered our Thin Place is now a Pokestop. Really odd. Hyper kids and (mostly) adults go tearing down to the Holy Well, lift their phones and see.... a vision of St Bogwulf.

It's quite a shock all round. Pokeballs are completely useless on Angle saints.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Creation v Evolution Debate Cancelled Due to Pokemon

Apologies for the late cancellation of tonight's "Creation v Evolution" debate in the Fretting Room.

The speaker for Creation, Revd APW Twoflower, author of the best-seller "Darwin, Dawkins and the Devil", has unexpectedly evolved into a Charmander. He didn't see that coming.

Still, we expect Revd Twoflower to continue his evangelistic mission. As he said to Charlii on the phone, "Gotta Catch Them All."

Monday, 18 July 2016

That About Wraps it up for Postmodern Theology

Mieke Bal in her essay, "Postmodern Theology as Cultural Analysis", writes the following: "A postmodern theology, then, need not decide whether God exists or not, and which one God has privileges over which other Gods in a multiple society."

I checked Wiki and the good news is that Mieke Bal is still with us and apparently still flourishing. I had a panic that she might have been run over while deconstructing the semiotics of a zebra crossing.

A Distant God and a Domestic Religion

I was thinking about the Five Knolls, those Beaker burial mounds up above Dunstable, looking across the Vale of Aylesbury.

Today they're the sort of heritage site the Beaker Folk like - rustic, quiet, decayed and - of course - largely raided by the archaeologists of a previous generation.

And they're kind of eerie in the setting sun of a summer evening. Much as the Rollright Stones combine the domestic with the awe-ful. All the stories of the old days come back to you, and the faerie folk gather round,  near yet as insubstantial as moths.

But imagine what round barrows looked like when they were new. Not covered in gentle Bedfordshire turf and orchids. But shining brilliant white against the green of the Downs. If you were walking towards them from Tring way along the Icknield Way in the evening, they would have glowed pink like the statues of the Kim family. Must have been uncanny.

I was considering after last night's "Strictly non-threatening Seekers' Service." We held it in the Big Shed, in barn-dance style. There was country music played by 'Howling Hank Hnaef and the Sidewinders." There was Hnaef himself calling the moves. There was modelling clay and tea lights and AV of lovely starling formations and cutting out paper shapes.

To keep the atmosphere light and welcoming, there were a few things we missed out. You know, things that could have made things tricky. Like prayer. Or mentioning God, or sin or death or hope - because if anything kills a lightly religious atmosphere like hope does, I'd like to know what it is.

Still, everyone seemed to enjoy it. And the regulars said could we do that rather than our normal Beaker Occasions.

I sometimes think about that Creator Who underpins the universe, Who planned and watches the destruction of star systems - shredded by the mathematics laid out before the beginning of Time. I wonder about the One that calls from beyond the heavens. That holds multiple universes in one hand; yet a baby looks at you shining with God's image.

I think we'll have a labyrinth next Seekers' Barn Dance. People like labyrinths.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Situations Vacant: Celebrity Priest

The parish of Giggling St Nicholas with Rolling-in-the-Isles is looking for a new Celebrity Vicar.

Set in a picturesque location featuring a number of offshore bird sanctuaries and two rustic villages, where pink sandstone cottages tumble down to sandy bays, and occasionally tumble enigmatically straight off the cliffs, we are acutely aware that we aren't getting the kind of tourist trade we ought. So we've driven the old, boring priest to a nervous breakdown, and now we're looking for a more telly-friendly model to attract the emmets.

The Celebrity Priest will ideally be young and single. They could be torn by a terrible loneliness, and photogenic when filmed in a boat heading to the little Chapel of St Aggie's Isle  (Electoral Role zero). That'd work quite well.

Alternatively they could be one of those jolly ones that we could get on Pointless, who get famous by cracking jokes constantly in the pulpit then going on the stand up circuit. Though, again, a sense of deep sadness would help for the 12-part documentary which features wonderful shots of honeysuckle-covered walls and the sun setting over St Bogwulf Island, as the rooks cry amidst the immemorial oaks (the immemorial elms having all died in the 70s).

Duties will include school assembly visits, where the children will come up with unexpected wisdom and outrageous doubles-entendres. There is a weekly service at the nursing home overlooking the golden sands of St Bloke's Bay. The residents of Giggling Residential Home are spritely, loveable and inclined to tell the sorts of heart warming yet racy stories that should go down well in the 8pm slot.

We have a surgery where the doctor is brilliant, erratic, grumpy but wracked by some terrible heartbreak in the past. So ideally he and the vicar could have an on-off, bittersweet relationship where each occasionally declares they'll have to leave the parish but can't quite do it, and the parishioners have to tell them how much we love them both. Ideally at some point one of them will propose, so we get a cliffhanger to set up another series.

We have services at both our churches, but to be honest not many people go. Though that will give the vicar the chance to agonize over the decline of Western Christianity, while filmed against the beautiful stained-glass of the martyrdom of St Sebastian. Or else crack jokes about everyone having to sit closer together to keep warm.

Belief in God is optional. A good profile is not.

NB - bloggers need not apply. They're not really famous, and they're all pasty and white.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Liturgy of Recognition of a New Prime Minister

Archdruid: And so, in the circling circle of years, the cycle has circled and so we, like th'encircling circles of a circuitous circle...

All: Can you cut the poetry and pseudo-Celtic drivel? We want to start the barbecue.

Archdruid: And so, as Shiny-Face Dave was the future once, now he is the past. He retires to be an elder statesperson.

All: To speak from above politics, like Major.

Archdruid: Or to sulk cowering in a bunker, like Brown.

All: To loathe his successor and all her works, like Heath.

Archdruid: Or to loathed and reviled by all, like Blair.

All: History will be his judge.

Archdruid: And so, the moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.

All: PMs come and PMs go. But PM's never Gove.

Archdruid: And so...

All: Will you, in the name of Kirsty MacColl, stop saying "And so...?"

Archdruid: Let Dave be gone and Theresa rule.

All: For Winter is Coming.

Archdruid: Not that we're saying she's Jadis the Witch-Queen.

All: Though she'd get the part if she auditioned.

The ritual Wicker PM is taken out and burned.

Archdruid: Let us dance on the ashes of failure.

All: Bring in the Queen of the May!

The ritual New Wicker PM is installed and garlanded with mayflower.

Archdruid: OK. I'll give civilisation 5 years. Let's get the barbie started.

Hymn: Light up the Fire