Friday, 5 October 2012

Ministry of Silly Liturgy

On the anniversary of the broadcast of the first episode of Monty Python (1969)


Archdruid: Hello and welcome to "Blackmail". The programme where I use little bits of gossip I've picked up from pastoral encounters to make myself a lot more money.

Phone Rings. Archdruid picks it up.

Archdruid: Hello Mr X....... No, I'm sure you didn't realise........ Yes, the train passengers did notice.... No, next to those points was a bad place.


Archdruid: Not at all, Mr X. We won't throw the first stone. No, we just want the money!

Film-clip of Methodist women in hats applauding.

Procession of the Gumbys.

Prof DP Gumby: My brain 'urts.

WG Gumby: I like standin' in water.

Revd Dr Sir JHC Gumbie: I like bangin' bricks together.

The Theology Shop Sketch

Worshipper: Good Morning.

Archdruid: Good morning, Sir. Welcome to the National Theology Emporium!

W: Ah thank you my good woman.

AE: What can I do for you, Sir?

W: Well, I was, uh, sitting in the Reading Room on School Lane just now, skimming through 'The Stripping of the Altars' by Eamonn Duffy, and I suddenly came over all epistemiological.

AE: Epistemiological, Sir?

W: Positively transcendental.

AE: Eh?

W: 'Ee I were all reflective-like!

AE: Ah, reflective!

W: In a hazel-nutshell. And I thought to myself, 'a little form criticism will do the trick', so, I curtailed my Duffying activites, sallied forth, and infiltrated your place of observance to negotiate the contemplation of some eternal verities!

AE: Come again?

W: I want to do some theology.

AE: Oh, I thought you were complaining about the bouzouki player!

W: Oh, heaven forbid: I am one who delights in all manifestations of the Terpsichorean muse!

AE: Sorry?

W: 'Ooo, Ah lahk a nice chorus, 'yer forced to!

AE: So he can go on playing, can he?

W Most certainly! Now then, some theology please, my good Archdruid.

AE: (lustily) Certainly, sir. What would you like?

W: Well, eh, how about a little Thomism.

AE: I'm, a-fraid we're fresh out of Thomists, sir.

W: Oh, never mind, how are you on Tillich?

AE: I'm afraid we never have that at the end of the week, sir, we get it fresh on Monday.

W: Tish tish. No matter. Well, stout yeodruid, four ounces of Eschatology, if you please.

AE: Ah! It's been on order, sir, for two thousand years. Dare say it will arrive in God's good time.

W: Not my lucky day, is it? Aah, Calvinism?

AE: Sorry, sir.

W: Prelapsarianism?

AE: Normally, sir, yes. Today the van broke down.

W Ah. Swedenborgianism?

AE: Sorry.

W: Bultmann?

AE: We keep that in the cellar, because it's so deep. I'd have to go down and get it...

W: Brueggemann?

AE: Too post-modern for round here. A very conservative area, Central Beds.

W: Liberal Ecumenism?

AE: It's a bit runny, sir.

W: I like a nice bit of runny theology.

AE: No, it's really very, very runny...

W: The runnier the better. I like my liberalism soft and shapeless.

AE: No, too late, sir. Cat's ate it.

W: Are you sure you're even a theologian?

AE: Oh yes, sir. Look - here's my theology licence.

W: That's not a theology licence. It's a TV licence with the word "Television" crossed out and "Theology" written in blue pencil. You're not a Theology Shop at all, are you?

AE: No. We're actually a cheese shop. Fancy some Caerphilly?

W: I'm afraid a crumbly Welsh cheesy comestible is hardly a suitable replacement for some inspired and systematic working-out of the mysteries of God and Creation, is it?

AE: Norwegian blue?

W: Is that a cheese?

AE: No, it's a parrot.

W: It's a dead parrot.

All: It has ceased to be.*

AE: Yes. It's an example of the Death of Parrot movement.

W: That's still not theology.

AE: Actually, since we tried that body transplant with a fish, it's been a bit more theological. We call it a Polly-Carp.

W: Now you're just being very silly. Stop it.

AE: Look, I never wanted to be an Archdruid. I wanted to be.... a Lumberjack!


Archdruid: And now for something completely different.

All: And also with you.

* (c) Not the Nine O'Clock News, about 1980.


  1. How about refuting heresies with varieties of soft fruit?
    "Pretend you're a Donatist. Creep up behind me with a peach..." "We've done peaches..." "Fresh AND tinned?" "How about a pointed stick?"

    Ah, my mis-spent youth... Actually, I once took part in a version of the Dead Parrot Sketch based in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers. That, you'll be relieved to hear, is another story...

  2. In the middle of this I thought that I was back in our all-age, family orientated, back to church Sunday, harvest celebration last week in our village school.

    The only thing that seems to differ is that the yoof worker (over 50 with no hair) running around with a wig representing a lost, black sheep, with dangley ears that would have done justice to an elephant.

    And, given the flexibility of Beaker Worship, I'm sure that you had one of them running around the moot house quietly singing the wandering sheep song and baaaing for all.

    1. Does the youth worker have dangly ears? Or was that part of the disguise?


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