Wow, that was some afternoon in the woods in Bozeat. Much paint! The Ecumenical Paintball Death-Game is always a special event, and this year we had a record turnout of teams. Although the Post-Modern Church never turned up. Apparently there was a craft beer event in Camden.
A minor disruption to the Church of England team , when a few defected to the Catholics early doors. In theory this should have given the Catholics a distinct advantage. But in fact they then spent the rest of the day in small groups, arguing about who was and wasn't in their team.
The Quakers, having come out for peace, naturally got annihilated. I've never seen so much paint fly as when they walked between the Russian Orthodox and the American Episcopalians, and suggested everyone should just respect each others' view.
While sorting themselves out from the early defections, the Anglicans had a bit of a row when somebody suggested a woman be the captain. In the end it was agreed she could be a sergeant in the Church of England "A" platoon, as long as nobody told the people in "B" platoon. It was pretty tricky all round for the C of E, as wherever they went, the Gafcon team followed them around, throwing rocks at them.
The URC were very strong. They sorted out the fundamentalist Baptists in no time. The Fundies were confident, disciplined, convinced of their victory. But throwing random texts at the opposition is no substitute for actually using weapons that work.
The Methodists were, frankly, pretty ineffective in the field. Trouble was, every time one of the other teams launched an attack, they formed a committee to discuss what their response should be. Meanwhile the Wesleyan Reform Church and the Independent Methodists, realising they were badly outnumbered, agreed to join together. Which mean they ended up with three teams, instead of two. The Baptists had them for breakfast, although their tactics - splitting into small, self-governing squads with a loose central organisation - left them vulnerable to being picked off by the Pentecostals. The other problem the Baptists had was that every time they chose a captain, somebody disagreed and they had to have another vote.
It's always nice to have visiting teams from abroad at these events. And we really enjoyed the company of the American Episcopalians. Others might think that skipping through the undergrowth, wearing rainbow-coloured chasubles or dressed as clowns, might have made them conspicuous in a contest normally marked by people in camouflage outfits. But the Episcopalians merely refused to accept that anything shot at them had any effect. And, to be fair to them. in those outfits the paint didn't even show.
By late afternoon, a fair number of the smaller groups had been picked off. The Methodists were still in the field, despite their organisational problems. But they were bound to succumb in the end. When the URC launched that decisive frontal attack on them late on, they'd barely agreed a terms of reference, made some tea, appointed a subcommittee and agreed to defer their decision to the next meeting before they were wiped out. The Emergent Church emerged from the trees right in the middle of it, saw the mayhem, and merged straight back into the woods.
Meanwhile in the internecine Catholic infighting, the Liberal, Progressive team got a battering from a bunch of Benedictines. Actually, this caused the only serious injury of the day, when the captain of the Liberal, Progressive team was hit over the head with a branch by a nunja. It's just concussion, not a skull fracture, but doctor says he has to keep taking the Tablet. Apparently, in his current state, it makes sense as well.
The URC and Church of England eventually closed together for what everybody expected to be the decisive battle. The Beaker Folk had remained unscathed, but since they were off at the far end of Dungay Woods hugging the trees, they weren't a threat to anyone. But then it was realised that another group, not aligned to any one Church organisation and somehow part of all, yet stronger than any.
Disciplined, well-equipped, merciless. Taking no prisoners. How could anyone withstand the attack of the Flower Arrangers? The URC and C of E scattered like orcs at the Gates of Mordor. The Episcopalians were woven into an artistic arrangement, representing "The Promise of Spring". The Flower Arrangers wipted the floor with the remnants of the Old Catholics, were awarded the trophy, and put a few lupins in it.
And it was only by early evening we discovered that this meant the Quakers got first dibs at the burgers. Which makes me think that it wasn't all about the pacifism after all. We lined up for the burgerless buns, and munched the in exhausted silence. Away in the darkling woods, we could hear the Armies of the Two Popes still slugging it out.Their battle will go on late into the night.