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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Liturgy of Badgers

OK. Liturgy of Badgers was a bad idea.

It looked like a good one. Songs sure as "Brock of Ages" and "It don't matter if you're Black and White" would have worked well.

And badgers as a race are a key part of our local wildlife. Loved by people who've never met them and people who never want to meet them alike.

Now the Beaker Folk were nervous as we introduced the badgers. It's fair to say we treat them with suspicion. But after a certain wariness we were prepared to let them snuffle around the worship focus.

And then Hnaef ran in. Late. With shaving soap still behind his ears. And his shaving kit in his hand.

Have I mentioned before that Hnaef is a bit posh, a bit retro, a bit steam punk?

A bit inclined to be the bloke who thinks a badger bristle shaving brush is just the thing?

Laid waste to the Moot House, they did. I mean - we've lost the Moot House countless times in accidental explosions but "trashed by badgers" is a new one.

The newly politically aware badgers were last seen heading for London, to protest against Trump. I'm not reckoning on his chances if they catch him.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Liturgy of Pretending it's Some Other Time

Tomorrow morning's Liturgy of Pretending it's Some Other Time will be a BCP matins with two small candles and a load of Buddhist meditation. Followed by a 24-hour screening of The Good Life in the "Room of Seeing" (ie the TV room).

We will be pulling out the internet connection and broadcasting a jamming signal to take out the phones. The vicar will be popping round on a bicycle and we'll be pulling all the curtains so we can't see what's going on in the outside world.

Just don't think about the outside world.

Anyone want to listen to the Goon Show?

Just the sorts of cars we're pretending we drive around in.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Beaker Conversations on Sexuality

OK. So we have finished our Beaker Conversations on Sexuality.

And we have concluded that we have been terribly discriminatory. We used to tell gay people that what they did was pretty vile. So we'd have to ask them nasty questions. Which, let's be honest, nobody liked.  Not us. Not the people doing vile things.

But in fact all sorts of non-gay people are also doing vile things. And we've overlooked that in the past. Well, this discrimination has to stop now.

So stop it, all of you. I don't know how you can live with yourselves. Seriously. Filth.

Time to get out the old "Ceremony of Blessing Things We'd Rather not Think About."

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Going by the Board

Wondered, hearing of Donald Trump's belief in water boarding, about whether he was just confused. Maybe he thought it's ouija boarding that's a good source of information.

But no. The Religious Right would never let him get away with using a ouija board. They would say it was morally wrong and and spiritually dangerous.

Water boarding, on the other hand...

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Liturgy of Remembrance for Gorden Kaye

Archdruid: Allo allo!

Officer Crabtree: Good moaning.

Capt Geering: Clop!

CONFESSION

Archdruid: Rene - is there anything you would like to confess to, after I caught you in the cupboard with Yvette?

Rene: You stupid woman! I was only looking for tea lights with which to illuminate the fake portrait of the Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies by Van Klump.

Yvette: Ohhhh Rrrrene!

Rene: Oh Yvette!

Howard from Last of the Summer Wine: Oh Marina!

Herr Flick of the Gestapo: Howard from Last of the Summer Wine, you appear to be in ze wrong sit com. And for zis you must be punished.

Helga: Oh Herr Flick! And I thought it was me you wanted.

Bertorelli: What a mistake-a to make-a!

READING

Michelle: Listen vairy cairfully. I will say zis only once.

The parable of the Inn keeper who hid two RAF officers under a bushel.

PASSING OF THE CHEESE

Solo: Jesu joy of man's desiring  (sung by Madame Edith)

KISS OF WAR

Helga: May I kiss you?

Herr Flick of the Gestapo: You may kiss me.

Archdruid: Who will kiss Mme Fanny?

LeClerc: It is I - LeClerc.

FAREWELL

The town is brightly lit. Clad in a white apron, Rene is drying a brandy glass.

Rene: And so it ees over. The girls are now old women. The diners 'ave gone away. The Gestapo are no more. Ze peace in Europe has remained for 70 years. French, Germans, English, Italians - we 'ave seen the folly of 'atred and said we will 'ave no more. And I can bid you "adieu".

A rally for Marie le Pen passes in the distance. A posh Englishman called Nigel strolls, drunk, into the town square and falls into the fountain. The sound of neo-Nazis can be heard afar. As the camera pans, the lights can be seen going out again.

Sad accordion music. Mimi drops a flower on a fallen apron.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Shameful London Air "Nobody's Fault"

The Mayor of London has issued a warning against breathing in the air in London.

In a tweet, he described the air of London as "shameful."
Sadiq Khan, who has been the Mayor of London since last May, was keen to stress that the "shameful" air in London, of which he has been the Mayor for 8 months, was absolutely nothing to do with him. And the answer to the "shameful" air is not that someone in some kind of political power in London - maybe somebody who has had a few months to do something about it - should do something about it. I don't know - maybe reduce the number of things that drive around London pumping pollution around.
Or else we could stop people having bodies. That might work.

If only we could identify the things that go around London emitting pollution.

If only we knew somebody who, through being elected to some kind of position of power in London, might be able to do something about it.

50th Birthday of Milton Keynes

Hymn: Happy Birthday, Milton Keynes

Archdruid: Behold on the North West horizon! Where the sun setteth in the summer!

All: A city arises!

Burton Dasset: Well, just a new town really...

Archdruid: O MK! MK!  Home of Homebase!

All: Abode of Argos!

Archdruid: Erm.... Villa of the IT arm of VW Audi?

All: Manor of Marshal amps!

Archdruid: May the traffic ever flow smoothly round thy grids.

All: And may thy tyres ever wear smooth on their left hand sides.

Archdruid: May thy sheep safely graze, from Astwick to Olney.

All: And may thy concrete cows ne'er stray from home.

Drayton Parslow: Come away from her, my brethren! Know ye not that she is an pagan city...

Burton: .... new town....

Drayton: That is aligned on the rising sun at midsummer? When tumbling down from Campbell Park the shadows call forth worship of the false sun god and the pagans stream to MK Central?  Where even the railway station is a ley site? Where the grid roads are laid out strictly in squares in accordance with geomantic principles?

Archdruid: Oh yeah? What about that bit at Denbigh where two V roads meet?

All: A disturbance in the Force!

Hymn: And did these Streets, In Ancient Times

Archdruid: Go unto Ikea and bring me back tea lights.

All: Righto.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Opening the Big Book of Attendance

The first Sunday service of the Post-Trump era and some interesting stats.

143,000 people at the service.

Total offering: £1.24.

A bigly number, 984, of people converted.

Nobody has services as good as us. Our services are the best.

I met John Stott once. Very intelligent man. Smartest man at All Souls. And he - I was just a young evangelical. But even then I was smart. Very smart. Nobody understand penal substitution as well as me. John Stott, he knew how good I was. I tell you, we can make English Christianity great again. Not John Stott. Me. He could only reach posh people. No energy.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Passing the Citizenship of Heaven Test

From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. mmediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. (Matt 4:17-23)
These days, if you want to become a British citizen you've got to pass a Britishness test. Bit worried about that myself. I mean, because I was born here and so were generations of Fitzroy-Russells before me, I've not had to take it. But what happens if it's like an MOT and at some point I get called in for a test?

I've been checking out some of the sample questions you might get. And there's some that I reckon aren't as clear cut as you might think.  Take the example:
"You must treat everyone equally, regardless of sex, race, age, religion, disability, class or sexual orientation."
To which the options are only true or false. Whereas if you happened to be a Bishop, the answer would be "not necessarily."

The question as to how many people there are on a Scottish jury is just the sort of thing most English people won't get. And let's face it, even for most Glaswegians, if they're in court, the last thing on their mind is going to be counting the members of the jury.  (It's 15). Though it's fair to say that most of us know that Henry VIII's daughter was Bloody Mary, not Scary Mary who is a well-known Anglican nun.

And how many know the rough number of years between Julius Caesar's second invasion (54BC, due to the odd Roman method of counting) and the Roman Conquest of the bottom half of these islands?

Now obviously these questions don't go too far. There's not a practical where you get to tutt at someone who is using their phone too loudly on a train. No rigorous exam where you go into the local Weatherspoons and have to work out, from pure instinct, whether people just pile up at the bar to be served or whether the local tradition is that you queue. But these are the kind of obstacles that are put in the way of becoming a subject of this, currently united, kingdom. They are an implicit message that if you want to be one of us, you've got to play by our rules. We would like you to be a person like us.

Jesus's calling of the disciples is sandwiched here between two occasions when he is proclaiming the kingdom. The first time, he's telling people to repent for the kingdom is near. And the second time he is preaching the good news of the kingdom.

In between he calls the first four disciples. This cannot be an accident. .The calling of the four must be something to do with the kingdom. Maybe it's telling us the sort of citizens the kingdom is looking for, and the sort of test they'll have to pass to get into it.

They're just ordinary blokes. Fishermen. It's hard work dragging fish out of the sea. It's tough. tedious and hard on the hands to mend nets. They're hard working blokes who burn their skins in the sun and run the risk of shipwreck and drowning. They're just blokes.

And the people that get added to them later - they're ordinary people. No real selection as to class and other attributes.  Some tax collectors, a Zealot, some prostitutes, Mary Magdalene who has seven demons cast out but appears to have a few quid. Some people surprisingly close to the court. But they're all just people. And they appear to have passed the same citizenship test. They simply followed Jesus.

When we follow Jesus when he calls us, we become citizens of heaven. We're part of the court of the King. We're still living in exile, and we have to follow the rules of the nations in which we live - as people do, who are living in foreign countries. But our choice is made. We're subjects of the king. Whenever we live as if we are God's people, we take a very small part of the kingdom and establish it where we live.

But we're aware that we're now in a sense of exiles. The things that were ours, we know we may have to leave behind. The things we own now belong to God, to use for his glory. And if we're citizens of God's kingdom we know that neither do we really belong here. When we realise the place we really belong - where God is king and there is eternal peace, love and justice - we will do what we can to make this place look like where we belong. And, when all's said and done, we'll be longing to go home.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Wherever You May Be

Beaker Folk will all be aware that under our Sydney Carter-Free Zone, singing of "Lord of the Dance" is forbidden in the Community grounds, the penalty being to be locked in the shed with the Woodwose.

The news that Michael Bloody Flatley is dancing at the inauguration of President Trump has changed this policy.  From now on we'll shove a couple of badgers in as well.


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Large Hadron Collider Goes Back To the Point of Creation

Great excitement mingled with terror at Cern, as they manage to recreate the conditions immediately at the creation of the Universe.

Anyone know what to do with a giant turtle of unspecified gender? Or, for that matter, the four elephants currently running round the LHD at sub-light-speeds?

Great A'Tuin and his/her friends from the Sky One programme.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

A Poem for the Inauguration of Donald Trump

Our friend Mrs Melissa Sparrow has kindly sent in a poem for this auspicious occasion.

'Twas in the year two thousand and sixteen
When an election happened nobody thought would be seen
For the world thought Donald Trump would be a failure 
For boasting about grabbing women's genitalia
A thing done by no previous president
Except in the Oval Office, with mutual consent.

A man of endless sentences unordered
He promised to ensure his nation was bordered
With a majestic wall from sea to sea
Such as was mightier e'en than that structure fabled in poetry
(I refer of course to the dooméd bridge of Tay
Of which the great McGonagall had so much to say).

And so in January two thousand and seventeen
Obama with his family quit the scene
Knowing his life would be filled with many lucrative lecture tours
And lending his name and Michelle's to many a good cause
For who can doubt that his future will be full of good deeds for people poor and needy
And will not plunge into a life that's seedy.

Then Trump strode forwards to dominate the stage
The orangest president of this or any age.
The leftist artists and Charlotte Church would not share the day
For this most unlikely leader of the US of A.
Instead they hunkered down with Guardian leaders earnest
And wondered when Americans ever learnest.

And so my friends, I must conclude my lay.
Perhaps most appropriately, in my regular way.

Death death death
Death death death
Death death death
Death death death.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Liturgy for Blue Monday

Hymn: Grey Day

Archdruid: All the Celebs are dead, and the skies are gray.

All: California dreamin' on such a winter's day.

Archdruid: I'd be scared of Trump, if I were in L.A.

All: Yeah, it's not much fun over there either.

Hymn: Rainy night in Georgia

Archdruid: And now, in a moment of silence, let us untangle our earphone cables.

All may untangle their cables. iPhone users may look smug until they realise they don't remember where they've left their buds.

All: Oh wow, how few are my assets. The credit companies gnash their teeth at me. The rain it raineth every day. And it's three months till the next bank holiday. Let us sit on the floor and sing sad songs.

Archdruid: I wouldn't in this weather. You'll add a case of the Farmer's to your woes.

Hymn: Blue Monday

Archdruid: Trump's in the White House. Britain's in the red. It's raining through the fog. But on this Bluest of Blue Mondays, let's remember one happy thing.

All: At least we don't use Southern Rail.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Ground Will Produce Thorns and Weeds for You

Mixed news on the Doily Shed.

Marston Moretaine was out on gardening detail today, and given the job of clearing the brambles that had grown over the shed over the last couple of years.  I mean, it was a proper state - blackberries miles up in the air.

So Marston's reckoning if he takes it on with his gloved hands and loppers, it's gonna hurt. But he don't want to use herbicides as he's heard how bad they are for the wildlife.

So yeah. Petrol. Brilliant.

On the bright side, that's a load of souvenir "Euro 96" Doilies that I've not been able to mark down for two decades. Finally I can make an insurance claim. I've checked the policy and the "gross stupidity" clause is definitely in there confirming we're in the clear.

Also the burnt-out brick has a certain charm.  I think I might claim it's the remains of a Beaker Temple, destroyed by the evil Celts. Should be worth a few extra pilgrims in years to come.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Situations Vacant: Parish of St Paradigm's

The parish of St Paradigm's is looking for a new priest.

We are a vibrant, diverse parish committed to inclusiveness. Over the last ten years, attendance has increased steadily, and we meet our parish share every year, with enough money left over to put some towards good causes.
Has it ever occurred to you the tower would be better at the other end?

Could you be our ideal priest? You will be committed to a state of constant change and reorganisation. You will realise that, whatever we are doing, it needs improvement. By changing all the committee structures, introducing a new form of leadership group and swapping the house groups around, you will make things slightly different to how they are now.

You will start slowly, by changing the way you face during communion. We won't  understand why, but we'll leave you to it. You will replace the music group (introduced 5 years ago) with an organist and choir because it's more respectful than the old happy-clappy ways of doing things. Probably the same organist that was sacked 5 years ago,

After two years or so you will realise that what we really need is a building project.  This will be the case whether there is anything needing changing or not. You will commit the church's energy into replacing the church kitchen with a new set of accessible toilets.  And replacing the accessible toilets with a meeting room. And replacing the current meeting room with a new kitchen.

When you leave after five years you will be convinced you have radically changed the parish. Just like our last vicar was.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Tonight We're Gonna Party Like It's 1983

Can't disclose too much yet. But we've got three Labour MPs applied for our vacancy for "Head of Tea Lights."

If you think your job prospects are better in a futile role in an imaginary religious community than being a moderate Labour MP.... you're probably right.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Praying for Parking Spaces

Went over to Kingston Tescos, as you do. Gin supplies getting dangerously low after Xmas.

The car park was really busy. Not a parking space to be seen. But I'd heard of people praying for parking spaces so thought I'd give it a go.

Sure enough - right up the front-  as near as you can get to the walkthrough to the little shops as you can get with a standard space.

If I'd not ridden over on my Pashley cycle it would have been really handy. Still, it seems the concept works.

Still I'm worried now. If my prayers brought those unneeded spaces, is there currently a Pentecostal in Michigan circling a Wal-Mart in their pickup, wondering why there's no spaces? Balance must be maintained.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Beaker Quire to Play at Trump Inauguration?

Well the Beaker Quire don't know what to do.

The invitation to perform at President Trump's inauguration came completely out of the blue. And I'm sure it was on merit, and not because the four million more accomplished bands in the Western hemisphere all said no.

But should they play? I pointed out they'd be playing for an irrational power-crazed demagogue and they said what's new?

But still. The current line up is acoustic bass, violin, guitar and pan pipes. If Trump thinks they're Mexicans he might build a wall round them

Monday, 9 January 2017

Corbyn Cake

Sure, Jeremy Corbyn's sudden claim that we're better out of the EU and managing immigration looks like a desperate attempt to stop Labour voters defecting to UKIP.

And his suggestion we could do that while maintaining access to the Single Market suggests he wants to have his fromage and eat it.

But it was the lack of a comma in the Guardian article scared me most.

"After comparing the prime minister’s refusal to offer MPs a vote on the final Brexit deal to the behaviour of Henry VIII in a Guardian interview, Corbyn will say: “Not since the second world war has Britain’s ruling elite so recklessly put the country in such an exposed position without a plan.”"

I have no idea when Henry VIII did this Guardian interview. But I'd like to know why they didn't question him on his attitude to women's rights.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Ubiquitous White Posh Boy Club

Can't believe how that happened.  We've just announced our panel for tomorrow's seminar: "Faith vs Science - is Genesis 1 a Pseudo-Scientific Treatise or, as is Bleedin' Obvious, a Piece of Poetic Theology?"

Well, we've got Charlii and I. Her degrees in theology and astrophysics should be pretty useful. And Hnaef's done Anglo-Saxon, so that's.... well, he's got a degree, that's what I'm saying. But I explicitly said that Hnaef completed the upper-middle-class-white-male quota. So how on earth did Nigel Farage and Benedict Cumberbatch get on the panel?

The Thoughts and Prayers Initiative

Once again there has been a mass shooting in the United States. And President-Elect Trump, like many before him, has offered up "thoughts and prayers."

Problem is, as so often before, the same people are dead and injured as they were before the thoughts and prayers were offered. Something clearly isn't working in the "Thoughts and Prayers" model. But what?

Clearly, given the number of powerful people using them, it's not likely that thoughts and prayers don't work. So our theory is, it's in the timing. Sending thoughts and prayers after the event must be too late. You need to get them in early.

This is why we're introducing the Proactive Thoughts and Prayers Initiative. Instead of using rapid-reaction thoughts and prayers we will be going through all the places in the States where an outrage could occur, and offering thoughts and prayers in advance.

Clearly this approach is speculative. But if this don't work the United States might have to consider gun control. And let's face it - that would be impractical and ridiculous.

Starmen

That's the trouble with us trying to act like Anglicans.  Hnaef told us it was Epiphany, and the Baptism of Jesus. How that ended up with Young Keith leading "The Baptism of the Magi" is beyond me.  Not even sure what gospel that is in.

To avoid confusion, at Filling up of Beakers we are celebrating the nativities of Stephen Hawking and David Bowie.  You might think it's a co-incidence that they were born on the same day precisely five years apart. And that we also celebrated those famous star-watchers, the Magi, this morning. But I prefer to call it a Space Oddity.

Talkin' 'bout Magi

Very cute that person who's done the Epiphany chalking round the Moot House door. I know it's all the rage among Anglicans.

You may have slightly missed the point, however. But if you scrub it off tonight we'll say no more.

And "moron" is spelt with just the one "R".

Saturday, 7 January 2017

With Added Myrrh

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.....the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD. (Isa 60:1-6)
The Three Magi

On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matt 2:9b-12)
"Caspar - the myrrh. What's with that?"

"Well it's an aromatic resin..."

"Yeah I know what it is. That's not what I meant."

"It's good for healing."

"Is it on the list?"

"What list?"

"What does the prophecy say? 'They shall bring gold and frankincense.'"

"And camels?"

"Yeah. Camels. We've got the camels. But no myrrh."

"It doesn't say 'no myrrh.'"

"Well....."

"So I can bring it."

"Is there a prophecy about it?"

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

"What's that got to do with it?"

"Could get pretty sore, a snake bite. Best put a bit of myrrh on it."

"Anything more specific?"

"He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth."

"You what?"

"That's what they do round here - they use it when they're  wrapping up their dead."

"Who's dead?"

"They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son."

"Whose son?"

"God's son."

"So we're going to see God's son, with gold of kingship and incense of deity - and you're bringing him a gift for his death. What sort of God dies?"

"This one does."

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Jill Saward

No jokes today.

May Jill Saward rest in peace and rise in glory. A woman of courage, tenacity, and great Christian charity.

God bless her family.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

O'Vienna's Syndrome Strikes Again

Yes, I know. But it couldn't be helped.

Burton Dasset attended the latest round of the Bedfordshire Craft Activities knock-out today. Won the "preserved meats" section with his German Bier Sausage (no sniggering at the back). So he's matched up in the next round with the winners of the Gents' Natural Goats-Wool Undergarments division.

He's a bit worried. But I've reassured him in the words of the Human League's wonderful single, "Open Your Heart."

When they put you to the test
You know your wurst is better than their vest.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Lament for the First Regular Day Back at Work After Christmas

Oh how many are our aches and pains.
Our eyelids are weary
And our eyes are bleary
And we're knackered, dearly
beloved.

And we are aware that
Others have worked through the YuleFest.
Firefighters,
Nurses,
Doctors,
Vicars,
Burglars,
Power station workers,
Shop assistants
And news readers.
Let's face it
They've all told us on Twitter.
And we "liked" them.
Well, except the shop workers.
Because even a shop worker on minimum wage
Is a vile tool of Sauron
Should they work when the right thinkers of Social Media think they shouldn't.
Eg any day with a sale in it.
And vicars.
Because obviously unlike nurses and power station workers
Vicars should have realised their job meant they don't get Xmas off.
They're supposed to be doing it for the love.

But though we respect their dedication
It's still our first day back
And we think that Limoncello we drank on New Year is still getting its revenge.
And all the things we left undone on the 23rd December, when we acted like the world had effectively come to an end because Xmas
Are still left undone tonight
Because all we've done is read emails.
(Who writes emails over Christmas?)
And so we think it might have been better if the world had come to an end.

Mind you, the Yanks have elected Trump.
So you never know. Could happen.

How long is it till Easter?

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Beaker Resolutions

Just so everyone knows where we stand after 19 hours of 2017.



Beaker PersonResolutionComment
Archdruid EileenCycling every dayIt's not midnight yet
Burton DassetStop annoying EileenBarely made it past the third "bong".
HnaefBe fantasticNo sleep and had to deal with 8 hours of children's vomit
CharliiDry JanuaryProsecco isn't really alcoholic is it?
Young KeithGo jogging every dayRan to the White Horse, but not back
Daphne Stop biting her nailsHave you met Hnaef?
Marston MoretaineMake it to "Pouring out of Beakers" every morningCouldn't stay up that late.
Drayton ParslowNot to mark man--made festivals. Only reflect those in the Bible.Trapped in a paradox.
Stacey BushesStop swearingSupports Watford