Friday, 17 November 2017

Talents

Getting my thoughts together on the Parable of the Talents.

And the often-excellent Roots on the Web site is focusing on the ideas of risk-taking. What is it worth risking, what is the reward? The question we all ask ourselves all the time - albeit quite often with very poor analysis. Take voting "Yes" to Brexit. The risk - is - trashing the economy and upsetting all our natural allies, leaving ourselves friendless in a world that increasingly is dominated by big players like the US, China, India. The reward was sticking fingers up to all the career politicians running the country, and all the establishment businesses - thus seeing us run by a different bunch of career politicians, while the establishment businesses head abroad taking jobs and taxes with them. You can see why it was attractive.

But then we do it in other areas. We know that driving is more dangerous than staying at home. But think the reward of getting to work is greater than that of starving to death. Statistically, cycling everywhere is safer than driving everywhere. But we think about the danger of an "accident*" and get in the Prius.

And in Church?

There's always a safe option. Get those talents nice and safe. Stick to what we do. Maybe tweak what we do, better to accommodate those who already do what we do. Clean the monuments, buff up the woodwork. Keep everything tidy, ready for when the church is ready to be just visited as if it were a museum, looked after by a trust and never open on Sunday. Nice and safe. But it's the route to death.

The alternatives can be - alternative. Maybe you need to do what you do, but better? Though you might upset those who always liked it as it was. Not too challenging. Not too much change. Excellence is awful.

Or maybe the right thing to do would be completely to change. Get rid of the Latin Mass and replace it with Messy Church. Or vice-versa. Depends on the locale, dunnit? Chuck out, or bring in, the electric guitars. Introduce long, disturbing times of silence. May  not attract the crowds- but maybe some people will be closer to God than they were when it was all words, words, words.

Or have an art exhibition, a drop-in centre, a food bank, a place where people can just sit about. They may bring their problems. They may fail - some things do. But you're offering a place of connection. A hope. A use of your talents, whatever they may be.

Or maybe just throw it all up in the air and go and tell people what Jesus means to you. That, regardless of what smug positivists (who were debunked by the people who invented their stupid philosophy) may say, there's reality in God. That you can touch the divine if you take the time and set aside the space and just bloody look for something beyond the mundane. That if you get past everything reductionist, there's something that embraces the universe waiting for you.

They're high risk strategies. But I'd compare them to cycling. Statistically, cycling improves your life expectancy. Sure, if you take a chance, you run the risk of getting run over. But then what's the alternative? Sit there. Sit there safe. Don't do anything too much. And let yourself run gently down. Run gently down. Run gently down.

And die.



* act of stupidity by a motorist



Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Comfortable Ecumenical Service

Thanks to all the various groups that attended our non-offensive ecumenical service this afternoon. We were really keen, at the planning stage, that we should not include anything that could cause anyone to take offence or be uncomfortable. So we put together a really comprehensive service and then allowed people to say if they had any concerns.

The Lord's Prayer had to go, as we couldn't agree which version. The Nicene Creed because we divided into three groups - "Filioque", "Non-filioque" and "Compromise Nobody Likes." All the other creeds were rejected as not containing enough theology to be worth agreeing on.

"Onward Christian Soldiers", given we're just past Remembrance, had been kicked out by half of them because it was too militaristic, and by the other half to avoid offending any that didn't identify as Christians.

The actual legal form of "In Christ Alone" caused discussion because of the lines that preach substitutionary atonement:

"The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid"

So the alternative "the love of God was magnified" because how can you magnify something that is already infinite? Three weeks of mathematics went into that debate. While the alternative "the love of God was ratified" was rejected because nobody else could work out what it meant.

A confession was a no-go. Because one of the priests of Catholic persuasion wanted to pronounce an absolution and the Plymouth Brethren wanted to know why he thought God would let him have that right.

Then all responsive liturgy was rejected by non liturgical churches. Written prayers by the Methodists. Ex Tempore prayers by everyone else. And there was no way even the Sermon on the Mount would get past that vetting committee uncut.

So anyway. The service ended up being quite short. Just the Grace. Sure, the Christadelphians walked out over the Trinitarian formulation. But it didn't matter, as everyone else was heading out for coffee.



"Complaint about Remembrance of the Year" Competition Winners

And so we reach the end of that blessed time when good patriots have an excuse to do what only Labour politicians and student radicals do the rest of the year - complain other people are doing everything wrong.

Some of the complaints below were really made.

Some of them may have been.

And some of them, you can feel free to use next year.

You're welcome.

1. "I timed the Silence and it was only 1 minute 47."

2. "Her poppy leaf was at half past 10, not 11 o'clock."

3. "If the Queen could not get herself down to the Cenotaph she should be charged with treason."

4. "One of the Scouts clearly had a woggle askew."

5. "A baby cried all the way through. He should have more respect."

6. "There were Polish people there. What do they know about the War?"

7. I stood on the M1 at 11am trying to get the traffic to stop and would they?"

8. "Michael Foot didn't even bother to attend this year."

9. "I saw some people still wearing poppies on the day after Remembrance Sunday. Do they have no respect?"

10. "Marks and Spencer had Christmas advertising up. A tableau of the Somme would be far more appropriate."

11. "Despite in being Remembrance Sunday, the Vicar still insisted on preaching about a "Prince of Peace." What sort of traitor is she?

12. "Silence started 4 seconds early. They should have used my Atomic Clock."

13. "I wear my poppy from Michaelmas onwards. Why does everybody else have such a slack attitude?"

14. "I insist the BBC present nothing but poppy-based programming for the whole of November."

15. "Don't Beavers learn to drill these days? Those 6 year olds were terribly sloppy on parade.

16. "Not only did we not sing "Onward Christian Soldiers." We didn't even get "Don't Let's Be Beastly to the Germans."



Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Amazon Tolkien Leaked

Amazon to produce a "prequel" to The Lord of the Rings. Which presumably doesn't mean they'll be recording The Silmarillion, as the Creation would be so tricky for CGI - but more likely something just after The Hobbit. Which is another prequel to Lord of the Rings.


Bilbo: Bit of pipe weed, Gandalf?

Gandalf: Don't mind if I do. Your birthday tomorrow, isn't it?

Bilbo: Yeah. 98. No bigs.

Frodo: Uncle Bilbo - can you show us The Ring of Power again?

Bilbo: No, I've just wrapped it up. Drop of ale?

Frodo: OK.

Sam: Broccoli's got whitefly again, Mr Bilbo.

Bilbo: Blow some weed-smoke on it, Sam?

Sam: Right you are, Mr Bilbo.

Frodo: You heard from Saruman lately, Gandalf?

Gandalf: Yeah. We made up a four at bridge with Elrond and Galadriel.

Frodo: Nice.

Gandal: Yeah, but I really don't get on with the way Galadriel uses a weak 2 opening. Not the Stayman I grew up with.

Bilbo: Anything on the palantir?

Gandalf: Game of Thrones.

Frodo: Can we watch it?

Bilbo: No. You're too young.

Gandalf: Got to be more exciting that this though.



Greggs Hits the Offence Jackpot

You can't knock Greggs. It's practically impossible to go in to buy a lukewarm VAT-free cheese and bacon puff without luring yourself into buying a slightly-above-room-temperature sausage roll to go with it. It's a kind of universal law. Even if you walked in to Greggs to identify to police the bloke who just mugged you in Taunton Castle Green, you'd be hard-pushed not to walk out clutching a cheap and cheerful sausage roll to accompany you on the way to give evidence.

But they've really gone for it. Jesus as a sausage roll. I can only assume this is simultaneously offensive to three religions - Christians (for whom God can only adequately be represented in bread and wine); Muslims (as Jesus is one of the prophets of their religion) and Jews (as Greggs have, when all is said and done, managed to represent the most famous Jew that ever lived as a non-kosher pastry-based product).

I shall shrug and assume it was a terrible mistake by some 12-year-old marketeer who hadn't thought very much. But maybe keep a wary eye out. If they decide to crucify bunnies on Hot Cross Buns next spring, we'll know it's deliberate.



Monday, 13 November 2017

New Dress Code for Beaker School Children

The Daily Mail reports that boys will be allowed to wear tiaras at school. Reading the Church of England's actual report, it is clear that this is part of Church of England guidance on reducing bullying on the basis of real or alleged gender and sexual orientation.

I won't bother to tell you much about the Mail's article - you can read it if you really want. But it's using a scare headline, obviously. And then sets out bullying of minorities against the C of E's rules on marriage. As if it thinks the ban on gay people marrying each other somehow means beating up gay children is alright.

The actual C of E report is here - but in order not to be trashed by the Daily Mail, we have decided to create a new dress code for the Little Pebbles so they can avoid any kind of gender confusion.
Boys' Uniform 
Hobnailed boots, camouflage trousers, tops in the style of an appropriate masculine super hero (Superman, Spiderman, David Davis etc).  Caps in association with appropriate football teams.
Girls' Uniform 
Sparkly shoes - high heeled, as they may as well get used to them early. Outfits to be either Elsa or Anna from "Frozen". Tiaras.
Gay Children 
As for their identified gender, but with an appropriate triangle.
 Transgender Children / Those with indeterminate gender
To be taught in a special room on their own, so as not to confuse anybody else.
I hope this is clear. We will not tolerate bullying under any circumstances. So it is important we are rigidly clear in our definitions, so we know what bullying we are not tolerating at any given time.


Sunday, 12 November 2017

Atheist Convention Cancelled Due to Lack of Interest

Apparently the 2018 Global Atheist Conference has been cancelled.

Questions that spring to mind from the cancellation page:

Why did the Victorian Government think it was a good idea to invest in a clearly sectarian event that was on unsure financial foundations?

Given their not being sure about when people get refunds - is the Atheist Foundation of Australia a bit short of the readies?

What are all the atheists that have paid for their air fares gonna do in Melbourne for 4 days? (I say "all", I realise that there's a good chance that's "both").

Did the normal attendees' mums say they weren't allowed to go all the way to Australia?

Was the cancellation just an unfortunate event? Was it incompetence? Or was it an act of God?



The Faces of Wisdom

Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her. One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty, for she will be found sitting at the gate. To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding, and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care, because she goes about seeking those worthy of her, and she graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought. (Wisdom of Solomon 6.12-16)
Bit of a reflection on Wisdom, if you don't mind.

Wisdom is found in the Old Testament, and in the Apocrypha, as a person. A female character. The sort of woman that can keep people on the straight and narrow, by teaching them how to live. Wisdom popping up as a kind of divine personification is quite odd, as the Old Testament isn't always that keen on having entities that look a bit like gods. So you've got to presume that she's like a metaphor, to the Jews at least.

And for the most part, the way she tells us to live is: calmly, being rational, keeping your nose clean, being prudent but also generous. Guarding what you say. Worshipping God. Quietly. Like being a good Anglican really.

Jesus takes the idea of Wisdom further - the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes (Blessed are the...) are the same concept of what do you have to do to be blessed. But he kind of expands out from the calmness of it all - blessed are those that hunger and thirst after righteousness is a lot less moderate.

Now the Greeks had a concept called the Logos - the rational thought behind the Universe. And there was a Jew called Philo, who looked at the Greek Logos and described it as a first-born of Creation. St John in Chapter 1 of the Gospel equates Jesus with that Logos.

And St Paul equates Jesus with Wisdom: "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption - that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16).

So if you know true Wisdom, you know Jesus. And if you know Jesus you are in a relationship with the Logos - the One who is God, and is with God, and was with God in the beginning.

The Wisdom of Solomon tells us how to know Wisdom. Get up when it's quiet. Wisdom will be waiting at the gates - not in the noise and bustle of the town. You will meet need, and human connection, in the town. Or the Internet. Or the news on telly. But when you get pace and quiet you can hear God's Spirit whisper.

The Psalm says, "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep." Again sometimes you need to be away from the bustle to hear God's Wisdom.

Doesn't mean you should forsake the towns and the company of others forever. Or you can't love your neighbour. But sometimes to find Wisdom you have to get away. Clear your brain. Pray and be rested. Jesus, after all, did much the same.

And if you take the time and space, and meet with Wisdom, that logic that founded the Universe and keeps every star in motion and the heart of every child beating you find that's not just a disembodied principle. God's Wisdom is the Son of God - and you meet with him in prayer and in God's word.

So seek Wisdom. Not the world's, which tells you to pile up riches and stay forever young. But God's, which stays with you forever and is your friend, your companion and your Saviour.




Saturday, 11 November 2017

Funeral for a Dead Laptop

A laptop hath but a short time to live, and is full of whirrings. It booteth up, and is powered down, its hard drive grindeth like a mill, then it never continueth one day when thou needest it most.

In the midst of operating life we are in risk of viruses: of whom may we seek for succour, but of AVG, who poppest up annoying ads and is most displeased with our browser histories?

But if we are wise and take aforethought we shall have made backups, and the My Documents folder will live once again. Or if we kept everything on OneDrive then we need not fear laptop death. As long as we remember our password.

Or else we may end up faffing around with cables and unusual interface connectors, and trying to get data off the device that caused all the trouble in the first place.

And we shall always feel guilty we didn't recycle it properly. But we would have worried then that someone was finding out our innermost secrets.

Forasmuch as it hath pleased us to find a replacement for the laptop here departed: we therefore commit its pieces to the landfill; rare earth to earth, Windows to darkness,  bus to dust; in sure and certain hope of the new one being quicker; whose grubby casing  shall be replaced with a shiny new model. or maybe just a tablet. After all, who needs an actual keyboard these days? You just want to be able to get on Facebook when you're sitting on the couch.



Thursday, 9 November 2017

A Service Of Fulsome Apology

This morning's Apology will have a special intention for those that don't really understand what "fulsome" means.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Stacey Bushes Sacked

It is with regret that I have had to announce the resignation of Stacey Bushes as my Ecumenical Development Officer. I'll let her know as soon as she gets back from Walsingham.

While she was on holiday in Rome it appears that she obtained an audience with the Pope. Her claim that she received important information on his Catholicity is irrelevant. Apparently she offered that as long as we can use the "Beaker Rite" we would be happy to rejoin the Catholic Faith

With any other Pope the idea of a group of neo-hippies and semi-pagans led by a female Archdruid would be anathema. But, this being the imaginary Pope who lives in the heads of some traditionalist Catholics, he thought it was a great idea.

Except I don't. If I can't be a Cardinal I'm not interested.

And Stacey is still being resigned.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Aziz and Toby

Just so all Beaker Folk know - we're going to be doing some Business Process Re-engineering over the next few weeks.

I've been worried that the way we process - sorry, induct - new Beaker People is a bit ropy. Also that the processes for goods receiving in the Beaker Bazaar is a bit longwinded. Especially for those doilies that we produce in our very own doily shed.  So we need to find better ways to manage these important functions.

So we've brought in a couple of Business Analysts. To avoid confusion when you meet them.  Aziz is doing the "to-be" processes. And Toby is documenting the "as-is."



Church Definitions : Worship

Worship (n)

1. The act of expressing love to something, esp a deity
2. To ascribe worth to.
3. A period of singing during a church service (now moving into a time of...) between the bits that therefore aren't worship.
4. Not that the notices aren't worship. Oh no.
5. That's why we sometimes pray for the notices.
6. Can go on for hours sometimes, praying for the notices.
7. But it's quite boring so maybe it's not worship?
8. Try again... The parts of service that are interesting.
9. Except not the dismissal, though quite often that must be interesting as we're looking forward to it.
10. And you're going to have a cup of tea and then go into all the world (or mid Bedfordshire at least) and make disciples. Surely that must be worship?
11. Didn't George Herbert say something about sweeping floors? Can't see how that's worship. Cos it's not singing and it's not fun.
12. Unless you sing while you're sweeping the floor.
13. This is really tricky.
14. Frankly I wish I'd not started it.
15. And this isn't how dictionary definitions work.




By the creator of the Beaker Folk. "Writes of the Church" answers those all-important questions. How do you back the Sunday School Teacher when she's resigned? How do kids react if you run around with a pumpkin on your head? And what keeps you in church if you don't believe in God and you hate the worship?

Monday, 6 November 2017

Liturgy of the First Frosty Morning Service

Archdruid: Morning. Cold one.

Hnaef: Brrr yep.

Both may stamp their feet and/or rub their hands together. 

Archdruid: Just us two then?

Hnaef: Yep. The Faithful Few.

Archdruid: Shall we keep it short? Just pour out the Beakers and get some breakfast?

Hnaef: Sounds good to me.

Archdruid: OK. Let's crack on.

They pour out the beakers.

Archdruid: Is it meant to "thud" like that?

Hnaef: I said it was a cold one.

Archdruid: OK. May the sun be on your hat, and the frost around your ears. May be bike tyres be fully pumped, and your LED lights still have some charge. May the road be soft to meet you, should you fall off.

Hnaef: There and back again.

Both: Amen.


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Humanist Funeral Elephant

Just read the sad news about Meryl Flint dying, in the Trim Valley Notices. I don't mean he was crushed to death by a massive pile of leaflets. I mean, that's where I found out about it.

He was an old misanthropist who hated the congregation and only went to Church so he could complain about the services. I shall miss him. Shame no Church people are allowed at his funeral.

However it reminded of that time I was invited to a service that was to be led by a "Humanist Elephant." Naturally I assumed it was a humorous autocorrect for "Celebrant."

You know, that elephant led the most sensitive, touching humanist service I have ever been to. Albeit she crushed the pulpit when she  leaned on it to make a particularly important point.

Afterwards I asked why she'd decided to embrace humanism. She said as a calf, they'd been taught that if they behaved, and carried tourists round the zoo, they'd be buried in the Elephant Graveyard and go to Elephant Heaven, where buns run freely and there are no mice.

But bad elephants, she was told, went to Elephant Hell, where there are low ceilings and they're eternally stalked by ivory hunters. And she was so scarred by this terrible image that, ever since, she has vowed to reject the cruel Elephant God and embrace a logical worldview - based only on what she can see in this world.

See, that's the trouble with humanists.

They never forget.



Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Marston Goes on a Poppy Frenzy

Is it me or does the date for frenzies over people wearing poppies get earlier every year?

Marston Moretaine's just got back from Milton Keynes. I say got back. He appears to have been removed from the town by a combination of the police and the Royal British Legion.

He was apparently breaching the peace by harassing anyone not wearing what, in Marston's opinion, was  the right poppy.

Anybody wearing no poppy got accused of being a "traitor and probably a Libtard Remainer who probably wants to live in Belgium after Brexit. You should stay here and suffer like the rest of us."

Anybody wearing a white poppy was told they were a "traitor and pacifist, wanting to sell this country down the river to the Welsh." Marston has never been very good at geography or world history, hence his repeated claims that "Britain has never been a part of Europe."

Then he was running to up small children, pointing out them and screaming "What did you do in the War, Fritz?"

I mean, I don't know why he thinks he's hard done by, getting thrown out of Buckinghamshire like that. He says he was only expressing his freedom of speech. But that doesn't cover taking pictures of all the non-red-poppy-wearers with the intention of updating his Facebook photo album "Quislings and Enemies of the State."

Anyway. He was getting so ranty when he was back that I felt drastic measures were required. So I showed him my proposed "rainbow poppy." I was thinking that maybe next year we could sell them in aid of LGBTI+ veterans, charging merely a reasonable admin fee. But it certainly had the required effect. Marston passed out, overcome by pure self-righteousness.

I tell you what. It will be a relief when we reach November 12. That's when Marston puts his poppy back into that little china jug he keeps on the dresser for that specific reason.

Then next year on 16 October, he'll take it out again. He hasn't actually bought one since 1993.



Like to laugh about the church but need it in paper form? Then you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" by the creator of "The Beaker Folk".  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

The Wild Hunt - With Health and Safety

Fascinated by this Saturday's Samhain Wild Hunt with the Somerset Dragons at Glastonbury. With Halloween transferred to the nearest Saturday. Presumably in an ecumenical gesture to all the churches transferring All Saints to Sunday.

The Wild Hunt appears to be more of a tourist attraction than a neopagan ritual. With a Town Crier, for extra authenticity. It offers prizes for best Fancy Dress, apart from anything else. And it finishes at twilight - I presume they mean dusk, not dawn. Well you wouldn't want to go Wild Hunting in the dark. It'd be dangerous. And there might be ghosts. If it were actually Halloween.

The leader of the Glastonbury Wild Hunt seems to be the Welsh wizard/king/ruler of the underworld. A Welsh figure? In Somerset? As a Saxon said to me, "we won - get over it." And to hear the Wild Hunt - also Gabriel's Hounds in England (where Glastonbury is) means death in the community - not a jolly stroll round a town in the hope of selling extra dream catchers.

So I wonder. Retailing ancient wisdom and legends as modern day entertainment? Where will it all end?



Friday, 3 November 2017

Thought for the Day - With John Humphrys

"Hello, John. And Hello, John.

Now why didn't I think of this before? 2 minutes and 45 seconds when I don't have to interrupt the person I'm interviewing. Because it's me talking all the time, without any politician, footballer, or member of Christian Voice who we only brought in for balance.

Because, let's face it, we don't really need balance. You've got me. John Humphrys. Who needs a celebrity, a minister of the Crown, or indeed Giles Fraser? Or God himself. If God exists, and isn't just a projection of me.  I am sufficient. I am all in all. I am John Humphrys. And that is all you need.

I mean. At 600K a year - what's the point of having other people talking? Fundamentally it's me you're paying for. And that means, if I do Thought for the Day, you're really getting a few hundred quids' worth of solid Humphrys for nothing. You know it makes sense. In a very real sense.

And people sometimes ask me - in these troubled times, what do the stories of Abraham, Moses and Ghandi have to do with common people? And I say - nothing. Focus on what's more important. Nearly an extra 3 minutes of me, without even needing somebody else that I can interrupt.

This is BBC Radio Humphrys. And I think we can all learn something from this.

In a very real sense.

And now over to John Humphrys, who'll be interrupting Prue Leith about cakes."



Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The All Purpose Halloween / All Saints / All Souls Service

Yeah bit of a mash up. We don't really like to dwell on Christian feasts too much, when there's celebrity birthdays, and this is a perfect accelerated whizz through two plus an e'en at once.

Early trouble of course. When young Keith wandered through the meadow, dressed as a zombie with that dead, white and hair, a couple of Beaker Folk assumed it was Julian Assange and made a citizens' arrest. But after we sang a couple of sad songs about the sun dying, and cracked on in the usual Beaker manner.

All Saints (8-9) - we got the kids out the way after the Halloween slot. You know kids are fine with ghouls, ghosties and long-legged beasties. But saints are about self-denial, heroism and discipline. You don't want to worry them with that sort of stuff. They will get enough of that when they're older.

But then at 9 we switched to All Souls. Not really understanding Purgatory, and not wanting to risk anyone who might come back, we just swapped anecdotes about departed loved ones. The same as last year, as it turned out. And then floated cockle shells, each representing the loved ones, out onto the duck pond under the Ultra Violet Light.

Very moving. Quick change of mood now and we're out to light the Wicker Person and bake some potatoes.

Anyone know who won Bake Off?



Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

95 Theses for the Church Today

How annoying is that? Just wandered down to the Moot House to get ready for our Reformation 500 Anniversary Service, as we reflect on how jolly all that hanging, drawing and quartering must have been. And how, deep down, everybody was probably right. And what do I find stapled to the door but a list of what I supposes, in the circumstances, I must call "theses" in church meetings. Though I prefer "whinges".

THESES FOR THE MODERN CHURCH

  1. 3 readings plus a psalm seems a bit long.
  2. We've held pebbles to reflect on the wonders of the world too many times now. Can we have something more creative?
  3. There's too many meetings. Yet we daren't not turn up in case we miss something. Can you please fix this?
  4. Nobody really cares which week you light the pink Advent candle. Please stop fighting over it.
  5. Beryl crockery is great, and it should be brought back.
  6. We're all in favour of better, Fair Trade coffee. We just don't see why it should cost more.
  7. The person to talk to visitors on Sunday mornings should be chosen by lot, and not according to the whim of the most extraverted.
  8. Long silences in services are a bit disconcerting. We worry if the Worship Leader has lost a page or passed out.
  9. Failing to switch your Mobile off before a service is probably going to cost a fortnight in Purgatory. Actually taking the call while the service is ongoing is unforgivable.
  10. We don't believe those clearly Facebooking during the service are really "Live-sharing the Good News."
  11. Ministers found playing Candy Crush during the Anthem shall be forgiven as it's quite understandable.
  12. Why can't we just play Hillsong CDs? Would save money in the long run.
  13. Can someone please explain to us how to find the Church website?
  14. In church meetings, anybody extolling on the views and virtues of the previous Minister are entitled to respect.
  15. "Lord of the Dance" is never a good idea.
  16. We like praying for the list of the dead. We just don't know why we do it. Please don't try and explain as our logic  may collapse.
  17. Five minutes is perfectly long for a sermon.
  18. Anecdotes of how clever the Minister is are never impressive.
  19. Don't try to explain theology. You're never very good at it.
  20. Especially on Trinity Sunday. Just stick to the text.
  21. On the subject of which - where do all these "special Sundays" come from? Can't we just stick to the proper ones?
  22. This Reformation business - can you remind us which side we were on?
  23. And why didn't the Catholics turn up to the Ecumenical Service on Reformation Day? What they got against it?
  24. The modern version of the Lord's Prayer sows confusion and division within the Godly and should be eschewed.
  25. Ecumenical services are always a compromise. Why do we do them? (Admitting we don't actually turn up).
  26. The wearing of hipster beards by vicars is a bit much. They must not confuse themselves with the Rend Collective. Or worse, ZZ Top.
  27. You can buy a nice tea light as soon as the money in the wall safe rattles.
  28. Obviously it's just an advisory 20p per tea light.
  29. But that's pretty reasonable. It's 50p up at the cathedral and it's not like it's a bigger tea light.
  30. Please light the tea lights from the back.
  31. If someone has lit the tea lights at the front first please be aware there's a bucket of sand next to the statue of Our Lady.
  32. Yes, she does appear to be standing on a snake.
  33. Can you stop changing the subject and just buy a tea light? We don't keep the roof on by prayer alone, you know.
  34. Why can't we have "I Vow to Thee My Country?" It's such a nice tune.
  35. Buying fridge magnets at pilgrimage sites and cathedrals is helping with the Kingdom of God and should be worth a few salvation points, surely?
  36. Greenbelt has changed, hasn't it?
  37. The local church is not like a Super Church enough. This is clearly the Minister's fault. Unless it is a Super Church.
  38. It is for the peace of the souls of guitarists everywhere and at all times that Diminished chords be abolished.
  39. The Anglican dead will not be released from the Electoral Role as long as there is someone who feels it's a shame to take them off.
  40. If you must have Pet Services, at least hold it in a tent outside.
  41. The burial of pets is wholly uncovered by the rites of most churches. This must be addressed.
  42. Light Parties are all very well but why can't the kids come as witches and ghosts?
  43. Children in church are great as long as they act like adults.
  44. Liturfical Dance? Nein Tanzen.
  45. CDs may not be as "live" as organists. But then neither are some organists.
  46. It's getting increasingly necessary we build that toilet in the bell tower.
  47. On the subject of which, we need thicker cushions. We're gradually coming round to the idea of replacing the pews with bean bags.
  48. And again - leaping from behind a tomb stone shouting "boo" after Evensong in the winter is a really dangerous thing to do.
  49. Especially when it's the vicar doing it. The church will get the legacies in the end.
  50. Regarding legacies - please stop banging on about them in the Church Magazine. It's very unsettling.
  51. Other people's sexuality is not that exciting. It's more important to know whether they'll go on a rota.
  52. When the choir sings something by Goodall, please can the vicar stop saying "I can't believe it's not Rutter." Everybody has done that joke now. 
  53. Let's not change anything.
  54. Let's not even think about changing anything.
  55. When the Minister says "Is this a building for a living, growing changing church or a museum to be preserved during the life time of this congregation" - s/he may not like the answer.
  56. Taize in prayers is lovely. But keep the prayers short in that case.
  57. Saying "The Collect for the Day" to introduce the Collect is wrong.
  58. Services when Boxing Day falls on a Sunday are just cruel to everyone.
  59. Likewise late night services Easter Eve followed by dawn services Easter Day. Yes, you may feel very mystical but it's not a joyful mysticism. It's a grumpy one.
  60. The Flower Rota is an holy thing and not to be tampered with lightly.
  61. Nobody understands when we do that thing with purple veils before Easter. Can you explain it again?
  62. Someone really ought to do something about the 5,000 half-burnt Tea Lights in the Worship Cupboard. They keep falling out onto people's heads.
  63. It's all very well the Vicar banging on about a fairer nation, sacrificial giving and the poor being blessed. But we're still voting Tory. And just don't ask us about Brexit.
  64. Visiting the unchurched to bring them into the kingdom is a holy duty, reflecting the Great Commandment, and definitely the Minister's job.
  65. Men's Breakfasts are discriminatory to women and also too early in the morning. Can we have Church Brunch instead? Maybe with turkey bacon. It's got less fat.
  66.  It is appropriate to respond with a kind of out-of-place excitement when the congregation's a bit thin.
  67. We know that bats are protected species. But maybe if they're just accidentally hit by a candlestick as they fly past?
  68. Paisley clerical shirts are always wrong.
  69. The Font being by the door may be very symbolic but it's in the way. Any chance we could put it on wheels?
  70. Decent heating is its own kind of mission.
  71. We really want to open up the building during the day. As long as someone else covers it. And nothing gets pinched.
  72. Nobody can remember which is the Minister's day off. Including the Minister. 
  73. We remember when we used to have 100s in the Sunday School. We don't really know what happened there.
  74. There is always room for another English translation of the Bible.
  75. We didn't change. Society did. So it's Society's fault.
  76. We know compact fluorescent bulbs are environmentally friendly. But we keep walking into things now.
  77. Overhead Projectors sound a bit radical. Can't we stick to printed books like St Paul did?
  78. We reserve the right to shout out answers to rhetorical questions in sermons.
  79. We need better biscuits.
  80. Just because nobody turns up to a service every week is no reason to cancel it.
  81. If more people came to church it would be great. As long as they're like us.
  82. Singing "Happy Birthday to Jesus" on Christmas morning is a bit cheesy.
  83. We need special hats to give to people who don't want to exchange the Peace. Or just have a brisk, English handshake.
  84. Except those of us who think introversion is sin. We just want to hug everyone. We'll even tell people "it will never happen" if they're particularly reluctant and grumpy.
  85. Protestantism will never really catch on. Too much hard work, trying to be saved by faith.
  86. Why can't each Minister just have one church? We're sure we lose out from sharing.
  87. We like to give the new Minister three years to drain out their enthusiasm. Then they stop trying to change things. 
  88. We'd like to sing more new songs.
  89. But don't want to have to learn them.
  90. The Baptist ability to chuck out ministers always seem a bit rough to us. Though we would like the option, obviously.
  91. This thesis left intentionally blank.
  92. High F# is a note no congregation should have to sing.
  93. Who is Luther, anyway? Is he a hymn writer? We googled him but just got some film.
  94. Yes we know these theses are a bit inward-looking.
  95. We blame the Reformation.


Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

Sunday, 29 October 2017

The Ghost of Halloween Past

See also: 10 Things You didn't know about Halloween.

Early on I thought Jamie Doward in the Guardian had written least well-informed pieces on Halloween I've ever read. And it's a personal hobby of mine. So I've read some scorchers. But then he pulls it out of the bag late on by remembering that All Saints is actually a very old Christian festival.

Apparently Churches are putting a "Christian Spin" on Halloween. That would be the date named as "All Hallows' Eve", the day before the Christian festival of All Hallows' or All Saints' Day.

All Hallows has been celebrated since the 8th Century in Rome. Like Easter, anybody saying its dating comes from Celtic or Germanic traditions really has to deal with the problem of these feasts arising somewhere else completely. The 8th Century Romans were not Germans or Celts.

But in fact, the Beaker Folk have been celebrating Halloween since the 24th Century BC or earlier. The Beaker Folk of the farther stretches of Great Britain had a long old schlep to Stonehenge for Yule. So they would set off with their pig herds on 1st November, giving themselves a good 6 weeks.

The Harvest being over, and Beaker Britain and peaceable place, they knew they could leave the young uns and old folk at home while they went on their great adventure. But before they left, they held a journeying feast.

The old ones would remember their ancestors who made the journey before them. And in order to bring them to mind they would try to carve their images onto turnips or mangolds. This gave rise to the association, which the Celts stole, of Samhain with the dead. And also, centuries later, inspired Columbus to sail to the New World in search of a vegetable big enough to carve properly. Columbus's family had remarkably large heads, and somehow turnips weren't doing the job.

The Celts that followed rather foolishly thought that the seat of the human will was the head - when clearly, at least for many men, it is somewhat lower than that. But they took over the punkie-carving tradition. Indeed, with their superior ironworking technology they so dismayed the Beaker Folk - who had had to chip away at turnips with a bit of flint - that they just gave up and went off to live in Glastonbury. Where, generations later, their descendants met Joseph of Arimathea, who took the tradition back to the Early Church.

So Christian spin? I don't think so. Christians are merely reclaiming a tradition that the pagans reclaimed from them, that the Christians reclaimed from them, that the pagans claimed from them, that the Christians claimed from the Beaker Folk.

I hope that's clear? Happy Samhain, Halloween, All Saints', All Souls' and Eternal. See you to do this again for Christmas.



Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Heaven and Earth Will Pass Away

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.' (Matthew 24.30-35)
He is always near. Always at the very gates.

Has any period in time ever had such obsession with the End as our own?

Barely a week goes by without someone forecasting the end of the world. Harold Camping's end of the world made a lot of news, before he realised he was wrong. Jehovah's Witnesses on my doorstep have been known to lead with a series of world disasters - hurricanes, earthquakes, bombings - before asking me "what do you think it means?"

And I'll always say - "I reckon it means the world is going to end."

Because it is of course. It is of the very nature of this world that it is going to end. After 4 billion years of evolution, into a myriad of life forms, this world is going to end. The odds are, when the sun expands to swallow it up in 7 billion years - though the increase in solar radiation will cause CO2 levels to fall (ironically) to the point where plants can no longer photosynthesise in a couple of billion years.

Of course, the Universe will continue. For a while.

Eventually, it is reckoned by some, it will reach the point of heat death - where there is no energy difference left, no differentiation of matter - no imbalance of energy levels to create any kind of movement. We're talking 10 to the powers of 10s to the powers of 10s of years. So still time to put the kettle on.

I like to explain all this to the people on my doorstep. But they shuffle and say they've got to go and do some shopping or something.

The reason I go for the full doom option is this. Firstly, it's fun when you're less optimistic about the future than people who specifically want you to be pessimistic about the future. If they've come to tell you the world's going to end, and you get them down - you've won.

But more importantly, it's true. And it gives you a baseline. This is how it is. The best the universe can hope for, under its own steam, is a slow long decline into heat death. No human can or will be able to do anything about it. It's out of our control. All those people that say if we just fix x in the human body, we can achieve immortality - are lying. Even the universe is going to die.

Reassuring isn't it? You can go with the flow, frankly. You're not going to make a major difference to any of this.

But Jesus makes this amazing promise. The angels with trumpets, the gathering of souls, the coming on clouds - in one sense they're all myth. They're picture-stories. But they're pictures of a truth that is very real.

Beyond the world we can see there is an unseen world. Beyond the compromised truths we can understand - using science, theology, anything that we can throw at our problems - there is a real truth. Beyond the limitations of our lifespans and the finiteness even of our universe, there is an eternal world.

This world is hard, life is short and too many people are too brutal. The solutions to this world are complex, slow or even non-existent. And we all die. Yet we all see glimpses of the eternal in a moment of beauty, the laugh of a child, the holding-hands of two lovers, someone giving freely to someone in need. We know it is there. Jesus knows tall this - he lived through this place.

But in that eternal world, death is no more. Sickness has no place. The nations are healed and all those that recognise the source of all life, will receive that life forever. There are times when heaven comes near and kisses this world - when an innocent child is born in a stable in Bethlehem. When he rises in triumph from the death that could never hold him. But a time is coming when the world we see will be consumed in the world we long for, love, touch fleetingly and yet have never seen. When all the temporary things to which we cling are burnt up like a theatre curtain and we realise that we have a whole new reality to step into.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but Jesus's words will never pass away. His love for us is engraved on his hands. He will never let us go.

He is always near. Always at the very gates.

Best get ready. It could be soon.



Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler from the creator of the Beaker Folk.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

Winter Church Maintenance

As the clocks go back, few think to themselves that their church buildings need checking over before the winter storms begin. But just a few simple bits of maintenance can make such a difference to the building's condition as the cold rains fall.

Seal Your Walls and Roof 

If you have a limestone building, be aware that even simple rain water is actually a dilute solution of carbonic acid. There is a theory that the Rollright Stones were 24 feet tall when erected - and now look at them!


Used to be bigger than Stonehenge.

There is a simple answer. Spray the whole building with a polymer resin. I normally think it's best to drop it from a helicopter. Sure, if you're Church of England they will say you should have got a faculty. But by the time your church is sealed within 3 inches of plastic, it will be water proof, frost proof and - importantly - beyond any chance of reversing the process. It's good for another 800 years!

Lubricate the Congregation

The congregation tends to slow up in the darker months of the year. Bad news for the typical English congregation, with its heavy dependence on Liturgical Dance. But rubbing a tin of Linseed Oil into each worshipper will make them flexible beyond their years. Get some into their knees and you may even be able to find some use for those old hassocks again! As used by Reverend Richard Coles on the BBC's "Strictly".

Fleeces

All the best London pubs these days are handing out fleeces so their punters can continue al-fresco drinking all the way through the year. They'll stave off hypothermia in your worshippers, and bring a nice colourful look to the service. Strict Anglo Catholics will want to use fleeces in liturgical colours While those where the preacher goes on a bit might just want to shove one over their heads.

Tidy up the Churchyard

As the year goes on, the churchyard will fill up with leaves, bringing that melancholy Autumn feel. Why not buy a few tons of leaves online and dump them in as well? It means you won't see that embarrassing member of the congregation sleeping off his hangover in the churchyard. And you won't have to worry about maintaining the headstones.

Indoor Umbrellas

If you're too scared of the church hierarchy to seal the building with waterproof polymer, you're pretty much guaranteed to get water coming through the roof. You could send a volunteer up on the roof to sort it out, but you can feel fairly sure they're going to fall off. Especially if it's Gwendolyn, who says she'll do it because she went up there on Ascension Day 1931 and she doesn't see why she can't do it again.
Instead, hand out umbrellas to everyone as they come in. They'll stay nice and dry (as long as the water level doesn't rise too much) and all that rain falling around them will bring them much closer to nature than is normal.

Holy Well

If you have a Holy Well, you may find it freezes in cold weather. A few pints of anti freeze will keep you frost-free all winter! (Warning : Do not allow pilgrims to drink the water)

Clearing Paths

You may find you have wind-blown debris covering the paths around your church. Branches, dead cats, femur bones unearthed by badgers - all can form really dangerous trip hazards. Why not just put blue and white tape around the whole place, run your services by video from your front room and come back to church in the Spring?

The Boiler

At some point in the winter, the boiler will pack up. Let's face it, it will be the most inconvenient time time imaginable and everyone is gonna freeze. If you get it serviced about now, it will fail anyway. But you've got to try haven't you? I suggest prayer.
If things get too cold, try burning the pews. Even the most ardent preserver of Victorian pitch pine will lay in with a hatchet if the temperature in the church falls below freezing. But beware! If you've sealed the building with a plastic polymer the draft will be insufficient and you'll smoke yourselves out. Congregation members staggering out of church choking before the blessing is never a good worship experience.
Members of the Anglo Catholic wing of the church will probably just prefer to light a bigger thurible.



Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler, from the creator of the Beaker Folk.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

The Church of England's Tribes Redefined

Major excitement on Twitter at an article at Premier Christianity, "How Evangelicals Took Over the Church of England."

Most excitement over the definitions of the three major groups in the C of E:

"The Church of England’s three major groups

Anglo-Catholics
The name given to loyal members of the Church of England who look primarily to tradition as the source of authority. They tend to espouse a Roman Catholic view of doctrine. Most are against the ordination of women.
Liberals
The group within the Church of England who believe human reason and modern insights can alter previously held Christian beliefs. They do not believe the Bible is inerrant and prefer to emphasise progressive thinking over past traditions.
Evangelicals
Used to describe those who hold exclusively to the inspiration and authority of scripture in matters of doctrine. Evangelicals also believe firmly in personal conversion and are active in spreading the gospel."


So as you can see, there is a certain focus on the negative if you're Anglo Catholic and if you are an evangelical, it's all gravy. The article goes on to claim that evangelicals invented many of the things that Anglo Catholics actually did first.

Now, here at the Beaker Folk we believe in balance in all things.

So here we go...

The Church of England’s three major groups

Anglo-Catholics
The name given to loyal members of the Church of England who look primarily to Jesus , who instituted the Mass, as the head of the Church. They balance tradition, the Bible, and reason as their sources of authority. They tend to agree with Catholic views of doctrine. Many are in favour of the ordination of women. Some are active in spreading the Gospel. Anglo-Catholics pioneered modern Christian social activism in the inner cities.
Liberals
The group within the Church of England who believe human reason and modern insights are necessary tools to interpret the Biblical message. They know it is absurd to believe the Bible is inerrant in the way some fundamentalists think it is. They prefer to think how best to understand past traditions and the Scripture in the light of modern knowledge. Liberals are respectful of humans made in God's image. Some are active in spreading the Gospel. Justice is part of the Gospel.
Evangelicals
Used to describe those who hold more tightly to the inspiration and authority of scripture in matters of doctrine, based on a tradition that dates to the end of the Middle Ages, while adopting the outward trappings of modernity. Evangelicals also believe firmly in personal conversion. Some are active in spreading the gospel.



Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

Friday, 27 October 2017

Onward Mail Readers

The Daily Mail calls out the Oadby vicar who "bans Onward Christian Soldiers". Just like the last one did until he learned his lesson.

The Mail is dead good at trying to co-opt religion to its agenda of nationalism. But not so good when it's caring for the widow, orphan and the alien.

Maybe the vicar just needed new words?


Onward Mail Readers,
marching as to war
with the flag of Brexit
going on before.
Gove and Boris Johnson
lead against the foe
onwards 'gainst the Belgians
let this shambles go.

Onward Mail Readers....
marching as to war
with the flag of Brexit
going on before.

We must exit Europe
Free our sceptered isle
Even though our owner's
Safely in Bermuda
he's tucked up his stash
We don't care if Brexit
Makes the British nation crash.

Onward Mail Readers....

Like a fascist lynch mob
moves the Tribe of Mogg
Refugees and migrants
Better pray to God.
Saboteurs will never
'gainst the Mogg prevail
His rich arse is guarded
by the Daily Mail.

Onward Mail Readers....



Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

Name Him and Claim Him

It's a vexed one, isn't it? What to call a minister of religion, I mean?

I mean, there's enough trouble with priests in the Church of England's more Catholic fringes, and the Catholics themselves, being called "Father". After all, if there is one direct command we have from Jesus himself it is not to call other people Father. So that's odd. I knew an elderly vicar whose elderly mum used to call him "Father" all the time. And that's really weird.

Then if you call someone "Reverend Green" there will always be some clever-clogs saying "it should be the Reverend Green," or "Reverend Soylent Green" or "Reverend Soylent" or whatever. You can't get it right.

And now into the fray comes Cari Hamblin. I don't know who she is - apart from the wife of someone called Dr John N Hamblin. But she has given out a Twitter tip which has caused much delight:
I guess the first question is why anyone else shouldn't just call the past, preacher. Dr by their real names. Is it because they are more important than anyone else? I've never heard a doctor's husband referring to his wife as "Doctor" when out. Why would a Doctor of Theology, Philosophy or whatever be any more signified?

Then it worries me - if you're going to give their titles in public, where do you draw the line? I mean, you'd have to do it with extended family. But if you're not just going to slip up and accidentally call them "Bert" or whatever in public, it's best that you use their full courtesy title at all times, even when it's just the two of you drinking you cocoa.

And then - if a minister of religion were having an affair and the person with whom they were having an affair did that classic (apparently) mistake of shouting their name out during ecstasy. It's gonna be even more awkward explaining why you yelled out "Methodist Superintendent Derek!"

And where do you stop? Logically if you were married to a Reverend Doctor, you'd have to refer to them as "Reverend Doctor." If you were married to a monk (yeah I know, but come with me on this) you'd have to go round calling them "brother". And that could cause a lot of suspicion and unnecessary attention from the constabulary.

So I reckon you should give all people all their accreditations whenever you meet them or, if you're married to them, when out and about. We tested it with Young Keith and Charlii in Tesco in Kingston today.

But by the time Keith had got through "Hey, Reverend Doctor Deputy-Archdruid Charlii MA Bsc DipHe(Theology) FRSDru 50m Swimming Badge 5 Rose Hockey," he'd help up an entire checkout queue. And made Charlii wonder, once again, how come she had married so far below her league.

So we're going back to first names.  It's just a lot less likely to cause divorce.



Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Letting the Mail Know about Brexit Bias

[mailto:eileen.fitzroyrussell@gmail.com] 
Sent: 26 October 2017 19:21
To: 'university@dailymail.co.uk' <university@dailymail.co.uk>
Subject: Anti Brexit Bias at University

I went to Oxford University in the 1980s.

There was a definite anti-Brexit bias there.

People were taught to think critically. And people such as David Cameron, who was a PPE student, were taught about economics.

Anyone knowing anything about economics, or able to think critically, would be biased against Brexit. Who could have thought, 30 years before the Brexit vote, that Oxford was already biased against Brexit?

Yours etc

Archdruid Eileen Fitzroy-Russell MA





Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas

Religious Studies and Brexit

In response to Chris Pantson-Fire, the Under-whip for Bullying Higher Education's polite request, I've got the full annual Beaker Programme plan, and annotated it where appropriate to show the ways in which we will be reflecting on the Brexit process through it.  I'm pretty sure you can see there is no pro-Remain bias at all.

1. Druidism under Roman Rule - was Boudicca's Last Stand an attempt to re-take "control" from a Continental super-state? If so, how did it go?

2. The spread of Christianity - how did having frictionless borders contribute to the mission of St Paul and his companions?

3. The Ecumenical Councils - Was the removal of heresy a good enough reason for all the time spent in assorted "talking shops" around the Empire? Or did Nigellus Faragius have a point when he demanded the right for the British to follow Pelagius if that was what we chose?

4. The Breakdown of the Empire - Why are the years when Christian society fell apart across Europe and the Mediterranean called the "Dark Ages"? Was Andreas Plumbsom right that in recording the Sack of Rome, Augustine was being over-pessimistic and should have talked up the possibility of free trade with the Vandals?

5. The Cathars - what can we learn from the small group that pulled themselves away from the rest of the Church because they thought they were special?

6. "Cast your bread upon the waters" (Eccl 11:1) - is this any basis for a free trade policy?

7. The power of Religious Music - is "Land of Hope and Glory" a suitable anthem for a country where people will be sitting in the dark and eating turnips?

8. The parable of the Labourers - considering what would have happened to the grape crop if, when the landowner went out, all the labourers had gone back to Thrace.

9. The Prodigal Son - reflecting that there is always a chance, having made a hideous and costly mistake, to go back and try again.

10. "Render unto Caesar." Sure you could spend that money on the local Wise Woman, but hasn't your taxation gone on the clean water supply and sanitation that is keeping you well? After all, what have the Romans done for us?



Looking for  a Christmas present for the churchgoer in your life? Or are you in need of a book to make you laugh at and think about the church? Well you probably need "Writes of the Church  -  Gripes and Grumbles of People in the Pews" - a perfect stocking filler.  From Amazon, BRF and good Christian bookshops.
A queue of people at the vicarage door, holding letters. The vicar is hiding behind the curtains.
Writes of the Church - On sale now and perfect for Christmas