Saturday, 23 June 2018

St John's Eve

The Beaker Fertility Folk are busy preparing for tonight's celebrations.

You may be aware that, on Midsummer Night, the Fertility Folk head out into the woods, there to indulge in their fertility frolics until the dawn, in the manner popularised by Dr Fitzpiers and Suke Damson in "The Woodlanders".

However, they've been at this kind of thing a long time now. And, in the words of the bard Fred Wedlock, these days it takes them all night to do what they used to do all night.

So instead of love potions it's Deep Heat, Ibuprofen, woolly pullies and thermos flasks of strong coffee. The smell of liniment will be strong on Aspley Heath tonight.



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Friday, 22 June 2018

A Message for all Soon-to-be Ordained

Every year at Petertide and, to a degree, at Michaelmas, the Church of England ordains its new deacons and priests.

And I would like to share a message with the soon-to-be-ordained. It's a message that draws from the deep wells of Christian tradition. It's a message that, I hope, will see them through those tricky early times - a mixture of hope, excitement and confusion - after ordination. It's also a message that I have passed on before. And it's this.

Stop bloody jumping in the air in photographs. You're not 18, you're not in the Telegraph and you've not just got three As at A Level.

Thank you for listening.


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Liturgy for the Day After Summer Solstice

Archdruid: Nights are drawing in.

All: Soon be Christmas.




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Thursday, 21 June 2018

When Badgers Collide

I'd really like to apologise for this afternoon's events.

It was like this. Unlike most of my idle shower of sheep, I was up quite literally with the dawn today to celebrate the Solstice Sunrise. Very much the zenith of the Beaker year. Except in a literal sense, as the zenith would be 1pm.

Still, I digress. After the sunrise we had a traditional Beaker solstice breakfast of crystallised honey. And then the elevenses of flying saucer sweets that we have every summer solstice.

I guess my blood sugar crashed this afternoon. As it was halfway through our seminar on "The Spirituality of Badgers" that I started screaming "The evil black and white monsters! They'll steal your souls! They'll steal your souls."

And I started to wonder why we ever even organised a seminar on "The Spirituality of Badgers".

It was only this evening, after three hours of fitful, nightmare-filled sleep, that I realised. That seminar was for a bunch of local councillors, on considerations in school religious provisions in a pluralist faith environment. Nothing to do with badgers at all.

I thought the badgers had looked a bit taken aback.



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Summer Solstice

Beaker Folk assemble, disshevelled, as befits the hour

Hymn: Here Comes the Sun

Archdruid: Behold the sun at its rising!

All: Resplendent in glory!

Charlii: Well, it's not really up yet.

Archdruid: Well it should be. Hnaef, what's the time by the Executive Assistant Archdruidical Sundial?

Hnaef: I don't know. The sun's not really up yet.

Archdruid: I suppose it's that bit of a hill. I knew we should have done this in Big Meadow, not Lower Field.

Ted: Needs draining, Archdruid.

Archdruid: Thank you, Ted.

All: Look! There it is!

Archdruid: Behold the Sun at its rising!

All: Resplendent in glory!

Charlii: No, that's the lights on Keith's Land Rover.

Archdruid: Are we facing in the right direction?

Hnaef: North-West isn't it?

Archdruid: North-East.

Hnaef: Oh look! Yes!

Archdruid: Behold the Sun at its rising!

All: Resplendent in glory!

Bernie: No, I've left the grill on...

Hymn: Ashes to ashes.

Elves, Pokémon and nymphs fill the glade. A hamadryad tries to chat up a a coy sycamore. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn wanders in late, and throws his pipes at Hern the Hunter. Old England stirs stage right, and dreams of empire.



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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Solstice Eve

Can all Beaker Folk note that the dawn is at twenty past 4 tomorrow morning.  I realise that this means most of you will be getting up about 9 and checking your Twitter timeline to see what it looked like.

But there's a primal earthiness, a moment when nature stands still, a certain hush as the sun rises mistily on a solstice morning.

So you will no doubt all be able to look forward to it in December. You'll just have to take my word for it for now.



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From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Immigrant

You ran from oppression
Crossed the baking sand
Found your own safety
In an alien land.

And Rachel's still weeping
Weeping for her children.

And you found a haven
In that far-off place
Shielded and welcomed
By a foreign race.

And Rachel's still weeping
Weeping for her children.

Fled here as a stranger
Ran in hope and fear
What kind of welcome
Shall this child find here?

And Rachel's still weeping
Weeping for her children.

Now torn from my mother
Caged in a free land
Immigrant Jesus, 
Come and take my hand. 

And Rachel's still weeping
Weeping for her children.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Vicky Beeching

Let's be clear. Bishops didn't "allegedly" warn Vicky Beeching that she couldn't be a priest if she wasn't celibate. This is the link - it's the Daily Mail. Appropriate warnings. Especially, don't stray below the line. We've lost too many good people that way. And don't look at the bods of young people who are surprisingly sexy. That's how they lure you into Brexit and casual racism. And be warned there's now so many ads on that site that your browser probably won't load. Still, one day a new editor is going to be there. And then the voice of the turtle will be heard in the land.

I digress. Vicky Beeching. She can't be a priest and openly non-celibate. Because she's gay. And the C of E won't allow that. It's not some secretive warning. It's the truth.

I once described to a friend of mine the situation within the C of E whereby you can be a priest, and gay, as long as you're celibate. And she asked the very reasonable question, "why don't they just lie?"

And the answer is, because this religion - the religion that tries to follow Jesus - is about truth. Jesus is the truth, we believe. So how could you live a lie?

So how, as a Church, could you live a lie that says that people can be priests as long as they don't let on that secretly they're having sex with their civil partners? How could you, as the church that believes in the Man who is Truth, expect people to live a lie to their very beings? How can you say to people - we recognise who you are. And you've very kindly agreed that, despite the fact you are who you are, you aren't going to act like who you are, because that will upset somebody. And we - a denomination that was founded at a time when people were being burnt for what they believe, or - if on the other side - castrated and disembowelled - above all else, we don't want to upset somebody?

I pray Vicky Beeching is one day a priest in the Church of England. Not because of her sexuality. But because - from what I've seen of her on many occasions - she'd make a bloody good priest. A priest who is strong on theology, and on caring. Who understands people who are oppressed. Who understands what it is to be silenced and silenced. Who, in short, represents the people that God loves most. And can also put her love of Christ into powerful words. What's not to like there?

I've no idea whether Vicky Beeching would get through an Anglican BAP. Like most things in the C of E it's too weird to understand. It might turn out she had unresolved issues with her teddy when she was a child, or was too talented and brilliant and the bishop might feel disheartened - both apparently the kind of reason you might be told "not now". But she should have the chance. Whether her chosen partner is male or female is irrelevant. She's made in the image of God. And she's brilliant.



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The Church of Unchanging Novelty

Philip Welsh in the Church Times laments the à la carte nature of church service leaflets and harks back to the good old table d'hôte of the Book of Common Prayer.

In some respects, of course, Philip is a little behind the times. With PowerPoint and a data projector, who needs service sheets? All the hours parish administrators apparently spend  wrangling with photocopiers and printers (or Banda sets for particularly traditional go-ahead liberals) can be transferred to the clergy, fighting to get the liturgy properly formatted as they copy 'n' paste from PDF to PowerPoint or, for those that like telling The Man to do one, Open Office.

But once you've got the text on the electronic page, what joyful wonders are available to you in the creative use of transitions! Responses can swoop in from stage left, just in time to be said. Glorias can shimmer in golden lettering before dancing off into the distance. The letters of the confession can catch holy fire, before they crumble into dust as the words of the absolution are intoned. You can unveil the liturgy word by word - or even letter by letter. The congregation need never know what they're going to say, literally until they say it. What an adventure. What an exercise of trust in the minister. I mean, God.

No two services need ever be similar, let alone identical. A few macros, and the diligent clergy can have entire sections converted into Swahili, Urdu or Creole - even as the congregation is halfway through a sentence. The Eucharist Preface can be crowd-sourced during the sermon. At least it gives the congregation something to think about.

If you're wondering why you might want to do this, can I refer you to the Revelation of John the Divine:

Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever,  the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they were created
    and have their being.”

So heavenly worship is that.

Forever.

Best get the novelty in now.

Anyone for tea lights?

Thursday, 14 June 2018

All the Runners Run, And all Receive the Prize

Shocked to read about the parents demanding results be overturned on the basis of phone-recorded evidence. To the point where even non-hippy-dippy-pinko-liberal schools are ceasing competitive sports day.

I've previously set the Little Pebbles Academy and Playschool up with complete VAR to ensure all results are scrupulously fair. But that wasn't enough. I still had parents whinging that little Salmonella had a spot on the day of the race, or young Ginseng in Year 2 was slow because little Pisco had looked at him strange.

So I'm glad to announce the Little Pebbles Virtual Reality Sports Day. For a mere 50 quid, you can ensure that your tiny Grimble-Gromble or Twoflower has left all competitors trailing in the dust. And through the magic of VR, and a bit of hacking by Young Keith, we can email you an mp4 of the triumph.

In many ways I feel like I am making both anti-competitive liberals happy at the same time. All have won. And, for a reasonable contribution, all will have prizes.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Beer and Schisms

Discussion on the Facebook page, "Our Town Ain't as Nice as it Used to Be", about that old favourite pub of indefinite location, the "Earl of Cheeseborough".

The "Cheesey", many years ago, was the scene of an ill-fated attempt by the local Council of Churches to hold an ecumenical Beer and Hymns one summer Tuesday.

Of course it was all terribly badly conceived. The pool team were playing away that week. So our attempt at "mission" was a bunch of Christians, sipping orange juices, and singing "Just as I am" at each other. Except the Anglicans on gin and the Catholics, on Guinness.

The landlord, Brevard Swinton-Channing was the only non-Christian in the place. Which was ironic as, through his family connections, he was the Patron of St Lymeswold's, the local C of E.

Still, we had some cheap entertainment when a Pentecostal pastor somehow managed to believe that absinthe and Lucozade was an isotonic sports drink. He ended up on the pool table, telling Akela from 2nd St Lymeswold's Cubs to come and have a go if she was hard enough.

Turned out she was.

The pool team wandered back from a victory at the Bridge Inn about closing time, intending to have a quick celebratory pint. Instead the place was surrounded by police while Akela was throwing darts at anyone who wanted to start anything. Brevard, normally a landlord who didn't suffer trouble lightly - he kept a chainsaw under the bar for if there were trouble - locked himself in the cellar.

Anyway. A police negotiator eventually calmed Akela down by reminding her she was opening up for the bowls club in the morning. They removed  the Pentecostal leader from the contraceptive machine she'd bashed over his head. And we agreed we'd probably not do it again until Christmas.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Father Giles Will be With You Soon

"Are you comfortable? Lovely. I'm sorry we can't do anything about the actual infection.  But I'll give you some morphine to stop you screaming.

"The good news is Father Giles with be with you soon. Yes. That Father Giles. The former leader of the Home Party. Aren't we lucky to have him?

"Yes, once his work in politics he was done, he went back to ministry. And chaplaincy was the natural place, what with the way the long-term illnesses have increased. We have to be so careful with infection since antibiotic resistance became a crisis. But then, of course, you know that don't you. That's why you're here.

"Yes. there are some fantastic new anti-bacterial medicines on the market. But the NHS can't afford them. They've all been developed abroad, since the great Medical Research Purge. Most researches were privately funded anyway, but after Brexit they all went to Germany. And the tariffs are hideous. Still, we showed them, walking out without a deal like that.

"And I'm sorry, but we can't amputate. Even if we did, we couldn't guarantee any drug to stop re-infection. And as it happens there's a huge queue for operations. Ever since we made immigration dependent upon the immigrants' needs rather than abilities, oddly enough we have no foreign doctors. Not even the old-fashioned Scottish ones, since English Independence. They're much happier getting jobs in Europe. Still, at least we can rename the country now it's just us. I think "Home-Land" sounds quite cheery, don't you?

"But the good news is there are lots and lots of nurses! Well we had to find something for everyone to do, with no private sector jobs except hedge funds, all the chain stores limited to 4 per region. and the housebuilding boom now complete. Mind you, not so many hedge funds now they've gone to Zurich to avoid the Robin Hood tax.

"Dinner? Oh, it's turnip soup and bread. Yes I know it was that yesterday. But what with the lack of farming subsidies and the rewilding, and setting aside those lovely new chases for the Vicars' Hunts. that's really all we can afford these days.

"Where do you - I should say - did you live?

"Oh, Fraserfield. That's a lovely new city. All those wonderful concrete houses, all looking exactly the same. Father Giles has a lovely vicarage just outside there I believe. He says the place has vastly improved. It all used to be boring fields and fells and lakes up here in Cumbria, and now it looks  just like Tooting. I think it's fair to say we're all racinated metropolitans now.

"The Internet? No, sorry. It doesn't work on Sundays. If we let you on there you might buy something and that would never do, would it?

"Looks like the morphine is kicking in. Just lie there quiet now. Father Giles will be with you soon."



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From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

A Difficult Discernment

"Penelope. You wanted to see me?"

Jack was older than she remembered him, of course. It had been four years. Four years in which their marriage - ten years, two children, three Newfoundlands and an orphaned squirrel - had seemed to withdraw like the tide from the shore. She looked at the man she had loved, and realised she felt something more like pity than hatred now.

"If it's about the child support, I'm up to date aren't I?"

"Oh yes. You're utterly reliable. Utterly predictable. As ever."

A frown moved across his face. He was not unintelligent. He had just never really understood her.

"Jack, I'm being considered to be a priest."

"Well, that's lovely. And how does that go? Do you have to be interviewed"

"Well, there's all sorts. Interviews. And meetings and reflections. And then a BAP."

"A what?"

"Don't ask. It's just terrible. But before I complete the process, they want to look into how we broke up."

"And you think your behaviour may cause... problems?"

"Yes. They seem to think that if one is to be a priest, then one must avoid the possibility of scandal. And it is true that I was unfaithful to you, and then left with Tony."

"Yes. Yes. All forgiven now on my part, of course. I can see the long hours and... "

"You've not changed."

"OK. And are the kids here?

"At my mother's."

"And Tony around?"

"No. He's away in London. Cup of tea?"

She poured.

"Tea pot? Not a bag in the cup these days?" he asked.

"A proper tea set. And a decent gin. You want to be in the Church of England, you fit in."

"Oh yes. Earl Grey. Nice."

They sipped their tea for a moment.

"You see the thing is, Jack, I need you to do something for me."

"Well, if I can. What is it?"

"I need you to die."

"I'm sorry?"

"Look it's very simple. I need to marry Tony. And if I'm a divorcee when I marry, then they will be checking. Finding out what went wrong. They're terrible."

"No-one expects the Anglican Inquisition?"

"Is that one of those Monty Python jokes?"

"Sorry. I was nervous. You said something about me needing to die."

"That's right. If I'm a widow when I marry Tony, it's just one of those things. He comforted me in my hour of need. That sort of thing. But I can't keep pretending he's not living here much longer. The DDO has spies all over the place."

"But I can't just die, Penelope. It doesn't work like that."

"I know. That's why I put the poison in your tea."

"You what? I don't believe you. How... why?"

"Look it's very simple, Jack. I want to be a vicar and tell everyone that God loves them and go around loving everybody and being in a servant ministry. And the only way I can do that is if I kill you. I'm sorry. You're only boring. That's not a sin. I suppose it is I that have the black heart. But you're an obstacle in my path to a mitre. So I've no choice. Goodbye, Jack."

He slumped in his chair. She swiftly texted. Five minutes later, in came Jeb, the church warden and part-time grave-digger.

"Terrible accident in his car, Miss Penny?"

"Yes please, Jeb. And make sure it goes on fire."

"Not a problem, Miss Penny. And, Miss Penny?"

"Yes Jeb?"

"You'll make a great vicar."

"Thank you Jeb."



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Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

St Boniface and Donar's Oak: an Apology

I note that today is St Boniface's Day. An Englishman who went to the Germans under the patronage of Charles Martel and converted many people in what is now the Netherlands and Germany.

Of course the only right thing to do with history is judge it in the light of modern views. Therefore I would like, on behalf of my late compatriot, to apologize to the late German former Pagans. The cutting down of Donar's Oak, knowing he had the protection of a mighty Frankish king, was an imperialist act. Basically he was saying that the biggest king had the best god.

It also flies in the face of our post-modern approach to inter-faith dialogue. What Boniface should have done, over mead and biscuits, was congratulate the Germans for their fine oak tree. Suggested that although live sacrifices aren't for everyone, they are in a very real sense a means of touching the divine. And asked if he could have some of the acorns, for this really cool meditation he was planning at Forest Kirk.

There's obviously not much, after all this time, we can do to make amends. But at our Filling up of Beakers this evening we'll be planting acorns in a ritual act of solidarity with those German converts. And in 50 years time, when the world has turned again, maybe one of my descendants will chop them down to build a new Moot House.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Our Town Ain't as Nice as it Used to Be

I have previously (somewhere to be found) floated the idea of a Facebook page for all the people that complain their towns aren't as nice as they used to be.

On this site, everyone could come together to agree that the market is useless, the parking is expensive, the Harrods has become a charity shop and what are they council doing about illegal fly tipping?

And the good news is, the council will never do anything about it. Because this town, although in a sense it is everywhere, doesn't really exist.

Beaker Folk everywhere, I present to you "Our Town Ain't as Nice as it Used to Be". I hope you enjoy it.



Want to support this blog?
Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Nativity of Thomas Hardy (1840)

1st Yokel: I see it's that Thomas Hardy's birthday again.

2nd Yokel: Funny. I thought that were last year.

1Y: Same every year. The seasons do circle round, 'tis true.

2Y: And is he having a party, Jan Coggan?

1Y: He's dead.

2Y: Probably not, then.

1Y: Dead and gone, as we all shall be.

2Y: Shall us to the Quiet Woman, the King's Arms or the Dree Mariners, to drink a pretty drop o' tipple to his memory?

1Y: Fie on thee for a pagan, Christian Cantle. 'Tis before 9 o' the morning, by Casterbridge clock.

2Y: 'Tis true.

1Y: 'Tis.

2Y: We'll just have to stay here in Wetherspoons.



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Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Service for National Fish and Chip Day

Hymn: Oh cod, our hope in ages past

Archdruid: Can we have kippers for breakfast

All: Moggy dear, Moggy dear.

Archdruid: What's that flapping in the back row of the quire?

Quire: Basses.

Archdruid: Well, they've had their chips.

Quire: They wanted to sing some "metal" hymns.

Archdruid: OK maybe they're rock salmon?

Hymn: There's a plaice, where the streets shine

Archdruid: My friend Syd ran a mission for fishers of the species Anguilla Anguilla

All: We can see what's coming....

Archdruid: It was an eeling ministry.

Tumbleweed blows across the Moot House

Hymn: Come and do the Conger

Reading: Jonah and the Whale

All: FISH!!!!!

Archdruid: Seriously?

All: It's what it says.

A tonsured person brings the Holy Ants Eggs to the Worship Focus (a fish bowl)

Archdruid: Is that a monkfish?

All: No. He's a fryer.

Hymn: Tell out, my sole

Archdruid: My pet fish is black and white and has only 7 scales.

All: No. Surely not.

Archdruid: It's a piano tuna.

Hymn: Hark what a sound, and too divine for herring

Dismissal

Archdruid: Go in plaice.

All: The Mackerel's ended.



Want to support this blog?
Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Feast of Covfefe Transferred

Since today is Corpus Christi and the Feast of the Visitation, we're going to have to transfer the First Anniversary of Covfefe to Sunday.

Monday, 28 May 2018

The Festival of Faculty Reversal

A modest proposal.

The good people of the Trim Valley are celebrating their Faculty Reversal Day this week. A day when they can quietly undo everything their last vicar encouraged them to do to improve things.

Now the Trim Valley has a very relaxed attitude to clerical censure. Not for them panicking that a Diocesan Registrar might write a sarcastic letter.  The Mothers ' Union may declare  that they are cancelling Pagan rites. But, without making it to the church Magazine,  even now a pin-pierced wax effigy of the Archdeacon is being cast into a barbecue.

But what about other more law-abiding churches, struggling under the yoke of an over-enthusiastic incumbent with plans to change the world? Because you know how it is. There will have been a number of well-meaning changes from the go-ahead vicar. All of which will have been approved by the PCC but grumbled about behind his back. With three people leaving to go to a different church with every change.

I would like to suggest that every parish, in every vacancy, gets one special day. The Festival of Faculty Reversal. It would start at a nominal "sunset" - 6pm. And for 24 hours the parish would have the chance to do everything it could to put absolutely everything back to where it came from. No faculties, no snotty letters from the Registrar, no annoyed Archdeacons.

The timetable might be like this:

17:50 -  A reflection on Ecc 3: There is a time for bold new innovations, and a time for reversing them. A time to move with the times, and a time to defy them. A time to make a more accessible, flexible worship space, and a time to put the pews back.

18:00 - The Shifting of the Nave Altar down into the Crypt (where people will claim in 12 months' time that "it's always been there.")

19:00 - The Invention of the old Pricket Stand. Accompanying replacement of battery-operated tea lights with proper candles.

20:00 - Midnight: The Return of the Pews from sheds, pubs, and back rooms in the surrounding area.

Midnight: A meditation on Psalm 134: "Ye who work by night in the House of the Lord."

01:00 - 03:00 - Combustion of the Common Worship Books (a more recent liturgy, replacing the traditional Combustion of the ASB)

03:00 - 06:00 - Introduction of a load of random moth-eaten vestments, later to be claimed "that was given by my aunty. She'd turn in her grave if priests stopped wearing that beige fiddleback."

06:00 - 08:00 - Removal of the Drum Kit. Carefully timed because what's the chances of the drummer being up?

08:00 - 08:15 Morning Prayer (BCP, missing out the first bit)

08:15 - 11:00 -  Re-installation of the Rood Screen

11:00 - 13:00 - Jumble Sale

13:00 - 16:00 - Removal of the Modern Stained Glass

16:00 - 17:00 - Addition of the photo of the departed incumbent to the others in the vestry. Everyone may say "we thought he was great."

17:00 - 18:00 - re-laying of the battered old carpet that was pulled up as a trip, fire and hygiene hazard.

18:00 - Evening Prayer. Meditation on Job: "The Lord Giveth, and the Lord Taketh Away".





Want to support this blog?
Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Trinity Sunday - Preaching Hints

I love Trinity Sunday. One of the best weeks of the Christian year. My chance to thoroughly lapse into tritheism for the day. Just chucking in the odd "one substance" to keep you out of Athanasian Jail. But for those struggling, here's a few hints and tips.
  1. Any analogy you use will almost certainly be heretical. Since 50% of the congregation won't be listening, 25% are effectively Arminian and the other 25% are only there because their nan was married there in 1924, this may not be as much of a problem as you think.  But please not the eggs. 
  2. Preach the text. It won't directly mention the Trinity so away you go.
  3. Do not confuse grammatical and real-life gender. If you don't know what I'm trying to say - consider that a female cat does not gain testicles as it crosses the Rhine from Offenburg to Strasbourg.
  4. Everyone's seen the St Patrick thing now.
  5. Don't speculate about what angels and Doctors of the Church could not understand.
  6. And certainly don't be sure about such things.
  7. God is love. This is both true and worth saying. Don't break the spell by explaining it. And don't start talking about the "DNA of the Church".
  8. Perichoresis does not mean what you think it does.
  9. Keep it simple
  10. The Athanasian Creed really is very long, isn't it? Personally I'm not convinced you have to get this exactly right to avoid Hell. But feel free to preach on that if you don't want a congregation next week. Unless you're a pastor in the Quivering Brethren.
  11. If you don't understand quantum mechanics, don't use it as an analogy. Just because you don't understand two things doesn't make them alike. If you do understand quantum mechanics, remember nobody else does.
  12. Feel free to use the Rublev "Hospitality of Abraham". But remember Fr Fred did last year. And every year since it was painted. And use a projector. If you try and use the real one, you'll get in trouble.
  13. Modalism isn't a capital offence any more. But maybe it should be.
  14. God is love. Did I mention that? 


Want to support this blog?
Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Liturgy for Queuing Behind the Person with the Giant Water Bottle at the Water Cooler

How long, O Lord?
How long must we wait in this queue
While this person who has the world's giantest drinking bottle
fills it with cold water?
After all the working day's only 8 hours long.
Or nine, if we're trying to impress the boss.

I mean, just how big is that bottle?
It is so wide that the seas in their boundlessness could not fill it.
If all the floodgates of heaven were opened
yet the bottle would only be filled slowly.
If the fountains of the deep were broken up
they would barely fill it to the "10am" line.

In vain we queue across the kitchen
Waiting for just one plastic cup of water.
The women from Merchandising pass out in the heat
and the men from IT sulk, and wish they had any communication skills
for then they could share with their friends how much their thirst bites
if they had any friends.

And now I am fifth in the queue.
And my tongue cleaveth to the roof of my mouth.
I pant like the hart that longeth for cooling streams
Even for the Wadi of Egypt or the Great River.
But behold what do I see?
You must be having a freaking giraffe.

For behold the bloke at the front
Now has pulled out a bottle the size of Nubia
The Queen of Sheba could sail on the surface of the water in that bottle.
The Leviathan could sport and play in its deeps.
If poured out, it could wash away the King of Egypt's armies.
You could drop a couple of Noah's Arks in it, and nobody would be any the wiser.

So I shall hie me to the chocolate machine
and pay a quid for a can of Tango.
The sugar sticketh to my teeth
and I don't like the taste of orange.
But at least I won't be crumpled on the floor of the office kitchen
Like Mandy from Accounts.

Selah


Want to support this blog?
Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Bonfire of the Details

In celebration of GDPR day, we'll be holding the Bonfire of the Details on Saturday at 4pm in the orchard.

There's a rumour we may accidentally lose a few invoices as well. Obviously that wouldn't be deliberate.

But. Could happen.

That Final-24-Hours Desperate GDPR email

We realise you've probably never heard of us.

And that's because we've just realised it's GDPR Day tomorrow. And we've got a load of emails we just found on a server. And it's SPAM TIME!

So please please please click that magic subscribe button. Or a kitten dies.

Not just an ugly kitten. A nice one.

And we'll be moderately horrible to a Shiba Inu. That's how we roll.

But stay with us and think of the fun we could have. The workshops you can get invited to. The exclusive cocktail parties in a skyscraper overlooking the Thames. The book offers.

Of course this is just the "general comms" button. In a moment you're gonna get another email just like this one, from the Marketing department. And another from the Education department.

And one from Envisioning. He sits in an office on his own. But he's building his own empire. And he's copied all our files. I know he has.

Then Brand Awareness. And Re-engineering.  They're all going to be rushing in with their own GDPR emails. I know. I've seen what's lined up on Mail Chimp.

But I got here first. So surely you'll want to stay in touch with me?

Only I get so lonely. It's just me in this office. I used to have a team. I loved having a team. But what with downsizing and outsourcing and decentralised cloud-based things, I'm on my own.

Yes, Envisioning is down the corridor. But he scares me a bit.

So please click on that button. Or the hamster gets it.

Did I mention the hamster? He's so fluffy and lovely and trusting.

And so innocently sitting on that shredder.

Go on. You know you want to stay in touch.

Yours in love

Bishop Bernie

You're not hovering over the "Spam" button are you?

Westworld: If you don't like it Should You Stop Watching It?

Yes.

There you go. Saved you reading hundreds of words.



Want to support this blog?
Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

A Good Wedding, and a Good Marriage

The BBC shouldn't publish items like this, should they?

"I’m 24 and I think marriage is pointless – and have done my whole life. It’s just an excuse to have a really expensive party."

Yeah, you see what you've done there - you've confused marriage with a wedding. A good marriage lasts 40 or 50 years and consists of growing together having made a commitment that fundamentally says you will continue to love one another - in the old, Christian sense of love - whether you're in love with one another or not, through thick and thin, through fallings out and making up and even if one half of the party decides watching 2 hours of  "Last of the Summer Wine" every evening is reasonable behaviour.

Whereas a good wedding is one that ends with the police being called after one new spouse's aunt has hit the other new spouse's father over the head with an empty Prosecco bottle because he won't dance to "Agadoo". A bridesmaid has broken her ankle hurdling over beer cases in the car park. The Ring-bearer has kicked the best man in the shins because he keeps calling him "Bilbo".  And the page boy has thrown up after eating his own weight in trifle and then spinning round in circles.

I don't quite see how the BBC allowed this article to be published. Because it's obvious the author doesn't know the difference between two very different things.



Want to support this blog?
Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

A Levelled Churchyard

If you can, imagine the scene as you pull into St Pancras Station, on the East Midlands tracks which run past - on the right - St Pancras Churchyard. The Churchyard that Hardy was partly responsible for flattening, and tidying up the gravestones of, as part of the work to create the station. Just a few gravestone are scattered around. Although these are the posh people's. Mary Wollestonecraft, for instance, has a monument here. Although in fact Mary herself isn't here. She's in Bournemouth. Her grandson moved her remains 60 years later.  But mostly, it's a flattened, mown-grass, tidy little patch.

The tidiness of Old St Pancras Churchyard

And now you've got that in your mind I'd like to introduce you, if I have not done so before, to the poem "The Levelled Churchyard" by Thomas Hardy.

"O passenger, pray list and catch
Our sighs and piteous groans,
Half stifled in this jumbled patch
Of wrenched memorial stones! 
"We late-lamented, resting here,
Are mixed to human jam,
And each to each exclaims in fear,
'I know not which I am!' 
"The wicked people have annexed
The verses on the good;
A roaring drunkard sports the text
Teetotal Tommy should! 
"Where we are huddled none can trace,
And if our names remain,
They pave some path or porch or place
Where we have never lain! 
"There's not a modest maiden elf
But dreads the final Trumpet,
Lest half of her should rise herself,
And half some local strumpet! 
"From restorations of Thy fane,
From smoothings of Thy sward,
From zealous Churchmen's pick and plane
Deliver us O Lord! Amen!" 
1882.
The levelled churchyard is tidy. It's well-kept. It's low maintenance. It's a place where the dead have been erased for convenience and easy management. It'safe. It's sanitised. It's dead.
Lots of gravestones arranged "tidily" in a circle round an ash tree
"The Hardy Tree"

The River Fleet used to flow through Old St Pancras churchyard. But it got smelly. And it used to flood when there were storms on Hampstead Heath. So they stuck it in a pipe. Nice and tidy.

The levelled churchyard for me is an analogy of where a church ends up, if its aim is the convenience and safety of its members. Nothing new, nothing unexpected, no unsafe gravestones toppling over, no trip hazards. But no unexpected wild flowers in a corner. No long grass where wildlife can hide. No change, no movement, no spirit, no adventure.

The young Church could have settled for a quiet, happy life. Jesus is alive. Isn't that great. Jesus goes back to heaven. Well, let's stay in the Upper Room, quietly praying. We're a disciple short. Let's get the committee structure right - and they elect Matthias. No need to do anything. Did Jesus say something about preaching the Gospel to the nations? Yeah. But that's a bit ambitious. Let's have another pray.

Then on the Day of Pentecost. 50 days after Passover. 50 days after Easter Sunday. They're quietly having their morning meeting. And fire falls from heaven and a rushing wind fills the room and they're blown out into the streets to praise God. And they're finding new languages to praise God - and as the commotion grows the people of the streets rush round and find that they're hearing God praised in their own languages.

And Peter stands up and tells them that this is because Jesus - who was dead - is alive. And these are the end times. Pentecost is the beginning of the end. And nothing is going to be the same again.

And the Church now will have all sorts of problems to deal with. Samaritans believing in Jesus. Gentiles being filled with the Holy Spirit. Persecution. Opposition. Martyrdom.

It ain't tidy. But it's where God is.

We can light our tea lights. Make a quiet space. Let people feel comfortable.

But the disciples had to come out of the Upper Room. Had to give up the safety of those closed doors. Had to share their experience of a Living Christ, fired into them by the Holy Spirit.

You know, all the images we use for the Holy Spirit involve movement. Water - flowing water, or springing up out of the ground. Rushing wind. Fire. You can listen to the still small voice of the Spirit - like Elijah did - but you'll still end up being pushed out to confront the world, to make plans, to go where the Spirit leads you.

Three English people - three different ways the Spirit worked.....

On this most royal of weekends, I was thinking about St Thomas Beckett. The King's side-kick, Chancellor of England, a great administrator. Henry II made him Archbishop of Canterbury, thinking that he'd have his own man keeping the Church in line. Instead Thomas seems to have had some kind of a conversion - saw the seriousness of his spiritual role - stood up for the Church and wouldn't let the King dip into the Church's money to fund his wars. Sure, Beckett had no diplomacy. He probably caused the crisis that led to his martyrdom. But when he took his faith seriously, he found a depth and meaning that went past the safety of being the King's man.

John Wesley - a good, safe Anglican. MA of Oxford University. But he couldn't rest in his family's clerical comfort. He looked for more. Found his heart "strangely warmed" by the story of salvation and turned the religious life of England upside down.

Christina Rossetti - quiet, posh, restrained, apparently a bit scared of the idea of marriage. And yet God gave her the ability to write for me the greatest, most theological of all Christmas carols, "In the Bleak Midwinter." Within a quiet, constrained life, then through terrible financial difficulties, yet through the Anglo Catholic tradition the Spirit gave her mind the restless power to produce so much beauty. The Spirit blows into all our ways.

As long as the Church is open to the Spirit we'll need new languages to tell out God's glory. New ways to know God's love. New excitement that Jesus is alive. It can be scary, messy, challenging. But it's the only reason why the Church exists - to be filled with the Spirit, and faithful to Christ.



Want to support this blog?
Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Quentin Letts Himself Down

I know of an Anglican priest who worked in a school as an RE teacher.  He taught children aged broadly 11-13. And he used to beat them up.

When they misbehaved. Not all the time. But children that age do misbehave. And if they know the teacher is actually incapable of controlling a class, and they might send him over the edge, they'll go for it.

He bashed someone's head on the desk while holding their hair. He pushed people's arms behind their back. And everybody knew about him. Everybody knew he was a danger to the children.

He taught there for about three years, before he had to leave.

After all, he was a teacher. And a priest. Highly respected, both those professions in those days. Who'd believe a snotty twelve-year-old with a patch of hair missing over a priest who was a teacher?

Which is why Quentin Letts really shouldn't have, should he?

Tried to be funny about child protection, I mean. In an article in the Mail.

Obviously, the headline is already wrong. Not all church volunteers are obliged to take an abuse prevention course. Certain are. Those who work with children and vulnerable adults. Clergy. Other people in a position of responsibility. Quentin Letts is apparently a "deputy churchwarden". I'm not sure if that's an official post in the C of E, But presumably it comes with the sort of responsibility where children and vulnerable adults may be involved. So safeguarding training seems reasonable.

Quentin Letts lives in Herefordshire, I presume. So I imagine he went to the Hereford Diocese training, which means his making the trainer anonymous is a bit pointless. He tells us that she is a former police officer - as if, in the eyes of the Mail, that could be a bad thing. (Where has the Mail sunk to?) He tells us that the training lasts 4 hours. Most diocesan websites say it's between 2.5 and 3 hours. You can be the judge of who's right there. Maybe the 4 hours included 90 minutes of Quentin Letts telling everyone what a waste of time it all is. I don't know. I wasn't there. Just guessing.

Incidentally, judging by the picture in the article, Quentin Letts attended his training in Wells Cathedral. That's a heck of a schlep from Herefordshire. Maybe that's why he was so grumpy.

Not a small church in Herefordshire
Apparently what was outrageous was that "Wendy" told them that they should be alert to the signs of abuse in their community. I'm not sure what is so wrong with that. Quentin Letts thinks that noticing a child turning up with signs of bruising, and considering it might be best to point this out to the authorities if it looks like a pattern of abuse, is akin to what the Stasi did.  Looking out for other people, protecting the vulnerable - isn't that the sort of healthy community self-protection that the Daily Mail would be in favour of? Each looking out for the other. And informing the police of any criminal behaviour might be going on. Best of good old Britain, I would say. Wouldn't the Mail?  Use it for any  other alleged or suspected crime  and see if it works - "I was running a  crack den and someone called the police. Is this 1984?"

Quentin is next outraged about the idea that an organisation that potentially has children visiting it, should adopt a safeguarding strategy. In fact, might even go so far as to pin up the "small print" on the church notice board.

Frankly, stuff the small print. Make the cover of the safeguarding strategy bright fluorescent green, with the title in 6" pink letters, and put that up on the notice board. It sends a simple message - we take the welfare of our children seriously, and if they are in this building they are protected and watched. You may be able by doing so to inform the parishioners of their responsibilities. You may even make a potential offender go away. They'll go somewhere else, sure. But hopefully that somewhere else is equally robust. I know which parish Quentin Letts has advertised as being not too bothered, however.

The centre of Quentin Letts's sheer wrongness, in my opinion, can be summed up in this statement:
"But others, in the politest way, started to bridle. The Austrian countess told me afterwards, rather perplexed: ‘I thought the English believed in minding their own business.’"
So listen. There are abusers in the Church, as there are in all walks of life. The Church, because it often has children associated with quires; uniformed organisations; as servers; in Sunday Club, is attractive to some abusers. So are other organisations that serve or involve children - sports clubs, schools, the Social Services. In the past all of these organisations, including the Church, have let children down. Some of this has been the misguided putting of the organisation above people. "You can't investigate that - it will give the Church a bad name." Well guess what. Not acting has given the Church a worse one.

But Quentin Letts cleverly links two ways to protect offenders into that little central whingette. The first is his (repeated) identification of one of his fellow delegates as an "Austrian Countess". The Austrians are by and large very nice people. But "Countess". Why is this important to Quentin? Because it suggests she is beyond reproach. A member of the aristocracy. And not one of those nasty British Lords who keep making the Government think about Brexit. A faded aristocracy from a republic. A well-meaning person who maintains noblesse oblige, or whatever that is in German. Why should such a genteel person be soiling her noble mind with such thoughts of vile behaviour? The sort of vile behaviour that could not imaginably happen, apparently, in the rolling acres of the rural backwaters of this green and pleasant land?

Well that's why assorted vicars and quire masters and other offenders have got away with it, isn't it? The "Father Knows Best" routine - also practised by evangelical church leaders in parts of the world. The vast vast majority of church leaders are of course innocent. But the ones who got away with it did it by assuming the mantle of holiness. "Old Fr Bernard? He could never do that. He's so nice and always talks to Nan about the War.  I couldn't believe it of him."

And then the classic old Mail "The English are the best" trope. "I thought the English believed in minding their own business."

Yes they often did. And that was the bloody problem, wasn't it? When Jimmy Savile's caravan was rocking with his latest teenage victim inside it - people minded their own business. When Rotherham schoolgirls were claiming rape, people minded their own business. When the NHS, the NSPCC and local churches noted signs of abuse in Victoria Climbié, they minded their own business.

 When "Wendy" tells them all that she believes no-one, as an ex-copper she's in about the right place. If someone comes to say they are being abused or suspect abuse, take it seriously. Report it. It's not your job to judge right or wrong. Not unless Quentin Letts is on the PCC with an Austrian countess, a centenarian, and Miss Marple. When someone tells you they definitely didn't do it, or when someone else tells you someone else isn't that kind of person - don't believe them. Again, it's not your job to believe them. It's not your job to investigate.

To summarise - using another paragraph from Quentin Letts:
"I know several PCC members in our diocese, including a churchwarden who is a pillar of the county, who intend to quit rather than succumb to any safeguarding course."
A "pillar of the county". Like Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris and Stuart Hall were pillars of the BBC. Like Bishop Peter Ball was a pillar of the church. Being a pillar of anything is irrelevant if you're innocent - which most pillars are. But if you're not, being a pillar of something is an opportunity. A chance to use your power against somebody who won't be be believed because they're that famously "loose" girl, that trouble-making boy, that child of a single mum, that person with special needs who could be making it up.

Why would you quit rather than succumb to a safeguarding course? Because you're too good? Because your pillarness of the county makes you immune to suspicion? Then your threat to quit is a symptom of the problem. Not a heroic reaction to oppression.

Full marks, really. Quentin Letts has written one of the worst, smuggest, most ignorant, wrongest columns I have ever read.

Oh, and never use the term "kiddy-fiddling". It makes the crime sound so much less important that "child sexual abuse", don't you think?

Oh and yes, Quentin Letts. You want an Archbishop to promote Christian values? I'd go right back to Jesus. He liked kids. And he wanted them protected. What do you want, exactly?



Want to support this blog?
Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Scare Your New Curate with "Writes of the Church"

As we near Petertide, you may be wondering what to buy as an ordination present for that soon-to-be-Curate or about-to-be-priest in your life.

You could buy them a wonderful serious book on their future ministry. But then they've had 2 or 3 years being serious. Or you could get them a Bible. But then who doesn't?

Alternatively, you could decide to get them a book to scare the wits out of them. In which case what you really want is "Writes of the Church" - a book to tell them what it's really all about.

If you don't like to support "The Man", can I recommend purchasing from The Bible Reading Fellowship shop. On the other hand, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that you can get a copy at a very competitive prize from Amazon at the moment.



You may think that this was a bit late, and you should have got them the book ready for their BAP. And you may well be right. But still. Better late than never!

Anyway, thanks for this. And it'll go back to an advert at the bottom of the posts again.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

A Traditional Wedding

The BBC, as is its way, has shared with us somebody's explanation of why she walked herself down the aisle at her wedding.  Which is an improvement, to be fair, on the Guardian. Which would have had an article from somebody who would have walked herself down the aisle, only the men she meets on Tinder are for some reason only interested in sex and not marriage and anyway marriage is such a patriarchal thing yah. 

So I'm wondering about the whole "traditional" marriage concept in the article, where women are walked down the aisle by their fathers to be given away - as a form of property - to their new owner.

Now, I'm not likely to be a blushing bride. Not at my age. And there's no chance of Young Keith's dad ever making an honest woman of me. Not if he ate those olives I sent him. And no chance of my dad walking me down the aisle. Not after that incident with the hay bailer. But still.  Traditional? 

So the original BCP (1549) has the following: 


Then shall the Minister say,
Who geveth this woman to be maried to this man?
And the minister receiving the woman at her father or frendes handes: shall cause the man to take the woman by the right hande, and so either to geve their trouth to other:

I have no idea what a trouth is. But it's good to know they both give the other one. But that's 1549. And already there the minister can receive the woman at her father or frendes handes. It doesn't have to be Dad. Even then. OK, so there's a good chance that Dad would be dead of plague, or burned for heresy, or something. So Dad's was more optional than you'd think. 

So go ahead. Walk yourself down the aisle. Take your dad, your mum, your springer spaniel, your pet Dalek or your favourite chair. It doesn't matter. The C of E has never said it has to be your dad giving you away, and since Common Worship the vicar doesn't even have to ask that question. "Traditional"? There's no such thing. Be yourself. But don't kid yourself you're radical. 


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Michael Gove - The Thinking Tory's Idiot

You can't beat Michael Gove's self-importance or lack of awareness.

He's told the Tories that it's no good harking back to the golden days of the 80s if they want to appeal to the young. Margaret Thatcher is no role model for those who want a gentler, kinder, less profit-centered kind of Tory.

I'm mapping back to when I was 20, in the 80s. The 80s are thirty or so years ago now. So the equivalent would have been Norman Fowler, lets say, telling us the Tories shouldn't hark back to Anthony Eden.

Even to say that is ridiculous, of course. The Tory grandees of the 50s were mediocrities and failures. Unfit even to buckle Thatcher's slingbacks.

And now the generational cycle of history turns. And Margaret Thatcher is in the distance past while Gove, as he poses in the mirror in the morning, imagines himself the new, kinder, consensual Tory.

You know what Margaret Thatcher did? She was tough with Europe, but believed in it.  She was a driver for the single market. She wasn't some chancing mediocrity become, against all possible logic, a cabinet minister, with the charisma of a breeze block. She was somebody who knew that cooperation and easy trade, with our nearest neighbours, was the  best bet for all concerned. She was,  unlike the current shower of flag -wavers and incompetents, pro-business.  Not in a "freedom to poison  your  workforce"  way, like Jacob Rees-Mogg. In a "let's make business easier" way.

 You  know what  young people want? They   want to enjoy all the benefits  of being part of the EU  that their grandparents did. Before a bunch of  people  whose touchstone in history  is a war almost nobody can remember,  took it away.

If Michael  Gove   wants to get down with the kids, he should  remember Maggie. Maggie knows best.


Want to support this blog?
Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Gammon and (Br)eggs(it)

It has been suggested that calling angry white older people "gammons" is racial abuse.

Now obviously you can have a serious political debate without insulting people and comparing them to tasty cuts of cured meat. In fact it's much better to. But if you are calling someone "gammon" it's not the world's worst slur. I mean. You could do something much rasher.

Much rasher. Never mind.

But maybe you are an older white person who has suffered as a result of being called "gammon"?  Are you worried that your pride in the superiority of the English boiled sweet or bicycle has caused others to discriminate against you?

Then you need our "gammon embitteredness test".

1. Has the Government deported you or anyone like you for being of pink complexion and having a raised blood pressure?

2. Do grumpy men who want to bring back National Service suffer a higher rate of stop and search?

3. If your name is Geoff, are you less likely to get a job interview than if your name is Shahid?

4. If you got a major job in local government, would trolls claim you were using your position to help fellow nominal Christians evade the law?

5. Did thinking that Alf Garnett was one of the 20th Century's leading intellectuals and not a fictional character ever prevent you from being considered for promotion? Well it should have. But I digress.

6. Are you working as a despatch operative in a warehouse in Peterborough despite having been a trained engineer in your native Spalding?

If the answers to questions 1 to 6 are "no", then stop crying. Snowflake.