Friday, 14 September 2018

Brexit Survivalism

It's weird times. The Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership comments that Brexit has hit the Partnership's profitability. And the Government's Secretary of State for Sticking Pens in Your Own Eyes steps up to tell us that eroded profit margins in a company that imports most of its wares has nothing to do with the pound dropping because the Government is determined to turn us into a low-grade, draughty, Singapore. The party that used to be for business has turned into the party that cares more about defending the delusions of the racists and idiots who lied to a nation.

Having seen the Government's latest attempt to scare the European Union, through telling them how much a No-Deal Brexit would hurt the UK, we thought it was about time we dealt with the subject of Beaker Survivalism. After all, the original Beaker Folk managed to survive -  often into their thirties - without insulin and a ban on roaming charges, so why shouldn't we today?

Now living back to nature is something people have varying abilities at, so we're banding people. Please join the appropriate group according to your own limitations:

 "Good old boys (and girls)" will be studying how to do an appendectomy in the John Lewis Room.

 "Nature Lovers" will be learning how to gut a chicken, in the Farage Garage (the one with the dodgy door)

 "Veggie Experts" please gather in the Rainbow Room for "How to tell a Mushroom from a Toadstool". I'm glad to say Hnaef is back from hospital now after his dry-run the other day. I think "dry-run" is actually his euphemism for the symptoms after eating that Death Cap.

"Dominic Raab" level - please gather in the Daily Express Room for your guide on how to find  your bottoms  with two hands.

The special course on running a whelk stall  has been cancelled. David Davis was to have run this course, but he over-slept.



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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, 7 September 2018

The Latter-Day Freemanites

Made a mistake mentioning Glen Freeman, the #smilesontheline man, didn't I.

Next thing I know a bunch of Beaker Folk have set up the Latter-Day Freemanites, a society dedicated to spreading happiness by standing around grinning gormlessly at people. Even as I write I can see one, scaring the traffic in School Lane. They're planning to send missionaries to the darkest, most spiritually-empty places on earth. Flitwick, Dunstable, Nottingham. You know the kind of place.

As their worship centre, they've adopted a little lean-to shed next to the Quivering Brethren chapel. Which is going to be interesting on Sunday, as the Brethren walk quiveringly to church, being grinned at by the Grinning Brethren.

It's gonna be a long weekend.



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, 4 September 2018

Ban this man from the Tube

Picture the scene. A summer's morning in Harrogate, in God's own county. My companion and  I were off to York to visit the many wand shops for which the Shambles is now so famous. So, it being a nice day and planning to visit one or more of the fine drinking establishments with which that fair city is blessed, we took the train.

It was one of those trains which has some seats arranged around tables, while others, coach-like, face all in one direction. So naturally we, being inveterate southerners, sat where we could look happily at the seat back in front of us. We were safe from unwanted eye contact. In a happy place.

At the nearest table seats, a man was regaling two women with stories about the history of the line, the peculiarities of the signalling, and the fine details of the loop from Leeds to York via Selby. (I may have made some errors here - I do not claim to be an expert.) After a while we -  and everyone else in the carriage - became quiet as we realised an awful truth.

This man did not know these women.

It turns out that even in Yorkshire, where it is expected that complete strangers should say "hello" if they meet on long-distance footpaths, this was a bit much.  Immediately a Snapchat group was formed by the other people in the carriage, as we discussed the practicability and legality of tying him to the line at Knaresborough.

Which brings me to data consultant, Glen Freeman. Who should be banned from the London Underground.

Mr Freeman sees it as his role to get people to smile at each other on the Tube. Now firstly this is clearly against God's law. The Tube is not a place to smile. Not a place for making eye contact. It is a place to gaze hopelessly at the smiling face of Sadiq Khan as, resplendent in his yellow bikini, he advertises his total failure to improve the cycle network. A place never to be caught out without a convenient device to hold your attention away from other people. These days, normally a phone. But the lack of signal or wi-fi means that paper editions of the Metro and Standard still cling on. And some people still keep themselves really safe from unwanted attention by reading the Bible, Koran or other holy book of choice.

It is not a place to smile or be happy. You don't want to look up from Boris Johnson's latest piece explaining why the whole world is to blame for Brexit and not him, to see another gormless, self-entitled twerp grinning in your direction. This is your miserable time and you're allowed to own it. God didn't make Londoners to be happy.

I'd like us, if you will, to conduct a thought experiment. A man who has adopted Mr Freeman's philosophy of smiling at strangers is stood on the platform at Oxford Circus. It's around 10pm on a Thursday evening. And the first carriage as a train pulls up contains two South London gangs, earnestly comparing post codes. The second carriage holds a bunch of Hoxton Hipsters and another of Bermondsey Barristas, all wondering who's gonna start something and say something rude about the other group's favourite Bolivian Ocelot Coffee.

The third carriage contains a young woman. She has a bag of shopping, and the look of someone who has just broken up with her partner.

Which carriage is our man on the platform going to get in? Whom will he choose to smile at, and encourage to smile back?

And that is why Glen Freeman, and his dangerous ideas, must be banned from the Tube.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Where 2 or 3 Are Gathered

An unlikely trinity was invoked during the intercessions this morning as Norvik prayed for "Nigel Farage, Jacob Rees Mogg and Donald Trump", that they might continue "their good work."

Charlii butted in to suggest that people should offer their own prayers, immediately then commending to the Lord the work of Vince Cable and Chuka Umunna. While a seemingly delirious Chaznay prayed for Sadiq Khan to be forgiven for hovering over London in a bikini.

Before we knew it, the whole Beaker Folk were chipping in with prayers for their own particular political party or agenda, including the Palestinians, "all Zionists", the Revolutionary Communist Party and the cast of Eastenders. The intercessions fell apart into a giant fight.

From now on, prayers for the Government are strictly to be that both the Government and the Opposition be granted godly wisdom.  No more, no less, without written permission from me or Hnaef. I hope that's clear.

On the subject of the notices, Norvik's other unexpected contribution of the day, at 8pm we are having a beetle drive.  Not a rally.



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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, 24 August 2018

#notgb18

Once again the Beaker Folk have packed up the Moot House for the August bank holiday and headed to Not Greenbelt, the virtual arts festival run by Graham Hartland every year in aid of the Big Issue Foundation. You can support them here, and follow the fun on Twitter here.

This year we've got the excitement of "Post-modern Church Finance" by Norbert Dranesqueezer. In which he tells us the importance of making savings regardless of what they cost. The Spaniel Quartet will once again be performing their award-winning "Howling at the Moon" set. And Amos Starkadder will be speaking on "What Mark Driscoll lacks in manliness, charisma and Quivering."

 Gonna be a great weekend.



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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.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

The Pebble Martyrs

Much mention in the papers of the holidaymaker who removed pebbles from a beach and had to drive back to avoid a £1,000 fine.

Well, that's obviously an inconvenience for them. And I'm glad they didn't get fined. But we have to pause at this point, and remember those martyrs of the Beaker People who have been shamefully persecuted through the years for gathering the symbols of our faith.

There was Shapmir, who was gored by a bull while looking for four-leafed clovers. Never smiled again when he sat down. And Grewitt, the famous 19th Century Semi-Druid, who was frightened by a duck while gathering feverfew. Not to mention Grolbor. He was collecting teasels for an inspirational meditation on the cruelty, and yet beauty, of nature when he got one in his beard.

But the most relevant to the news item  is the sad case of Archdruid Aelfwine, In need of inspiration for a "Pre-Modern Evensong" she took her followers down to Bude Beach one afternoon and collected 16 bushels of the finest pebbles.

The Lord of the Manor in those days, Sir Trelawney Poldark, apprehended the worshippers as the dragged the stones up the beach, had them arrested by the Yokel Militia, and imprisoned them in a small cell near Morwenstow. In cramped, damp conditions, drinking water that dripped from the walls and eating only the stale bread that the local ducks had refused, the Beaker People realised conditions were actually better than living in Aelfwine's Moot House. It was years till they agreed to come out.



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, 14 August 2018

Tears of St Lawrence

Knew this was a mistake. The "Wonders of the natural world" bunch wanted to sit up and watch the shooting stars last night.

Lots of quoting of Psalm 8. Lots of "when that lonely speck of dust, having flown around the cos-moze for millennia, dies in beauty, we want to be there for it."

 Lots of running around the kitchen garden at 3 am under the influence of Pimms, shouting "Wheee! I'm a meteor!"

 They're all out on the front lawn now, , faces still eagerly pointed upwards, fast asleep in their deck chairs.

It's pretty unlucky for them really. Despite the rain we've had the last few days, the automated sprinkler system is still about to come on.

I should really switch it off.

I really should.



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, 7 August 2018

Boris Johnson is a Dangerous Idiot

I'll be honest. I was worried.

The thing about Boris Johnson is, he plays that likeable toff so well. So when he does a really good act of being simultaneously a racist, and yet that lovable racist who isn't really a racist, he's standing up for women's rights, I worry. And I think - have we been nice to him in the past because he's dead good about being the thinking person's Roderick Spode?

Nope. All good. Boris Johnson is a dangerous idiot. And an idiot's idea of what an intelligent idiot looks like. We're OK.

Boris Johnson  is a dangerous idiot. Carry on.


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.

The New Services Board

Bad news re the new services board.

We'd thought it would be good to have a services board. You know, like proper churches. All the regular acts of worship painted up. Weekday services on the left, Sundays on the right.

Got contentious though, didn't it. Because the people who work during the day, and mostly attend on Sundays, they wanted the weekdays on the right and the Sundays on the left.

Then some people said isn't it a bit occidocentric to assume all people read from left to right. So we got the mirror-writing suggestion.

And then someone said they thought the Sundays should be at the top and weekdays beneath. And somebody of a more fundamentalist nature asked whether we had begun marking special days and new moon festivals again.

And then someone said good point- where were the monthly services going?

And after a nine-hour Moot Meeting we finally reached a compromise.

So I'm pleased to say that the eight service boards have finally all been painted and screwed into place.

And I'm less pleased to announce that this has taken so long that we've actually already changed our pattern of services.

Still, as we take them back down, at least that means we can repaint them in different colours. When they went up, a lot of people complained about them all being blue. And I can't face another meeting.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

A Clerical Invention Looking for In-vestment

Life's not always easy for Young Keith. In his role of Assistant Deputy Executive Druid, he is always kept busy hoovering up glitter and cleaning up the Children's Area. While in his other role as Charlii's husband and father of their children, he is kept busy hoovering up glitter and mopping up milk vomit. And nobody ever asks him how he copes with both jobs, saving that particular question for Charlii. And then again, everyone still calls him Young Keith when he's now in his thirties.

So with such a busy life, he has realised he needs to get back to his hobby of creating unusual - indeed, some would say unnecessary - inventions for liturgical use. But he seems to be onto a winner here. In fact, we're hoping he might be able to get the Church Commisioners to provide some funding.

Keith is inventing a range of machines that will automatically put vestments onto Anglican clergy. It will, he says, be a godsend to those ministers that really don't want other vestry-dwellers fussing round them and adjusting their albs, balancing up their stoles, and generally making unwanted contact with them. A wardrobe-sized, humidity-controlled contraption that keeps the robes in perfect condition, the minister only has to stand on the right spot, and be beautifully accoutred in the correct liturgical colour for the day.

Obviously there's a lot of different formats of garment. And he's not rolling out the chasuble module until he's corrected the flaw that took the head off the department store dummy he used in testing. But he's managed to perfect the system for putting on the robes that are open at the front, and can automatically fasten up the  clasp for the wearer.

So as I say, I'm really happy for Keith. He's got a busy, stressful life. But he's developed a coping mechanism.


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, 27 July 2018

This is How Abusers Work

The papers report that the Prince of Wales supported Peter Ball when he was accused of abuse.

This is how abusers work. They don't just work on children and the vulnerable. They work on the strong and self-reliant. The Prince of Wales is no idiot. But he was groomed by Peter Ball. Every abuser has to pull the wool over the eyes of the strong as well.

So
If you think "I can't believe X would do that"
If you think "X isn't the sort. X is married with children."
If you think "X has admitted X was wrong in the past. I'm sure that will never happen again...."

You are putting yourself into the same position as Prince Charles when he couldn't believe what mean things people were saying about Peter Ball.

This is how abusers work. 

They groom the strong too.



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.

Rain Dance Postponed

Apologies. We had to cancel the Rain Dance this evening.

Those tin foil suits we made just looked a bit too... how can I say this.... attractive.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

A Pure Woman (John 20.1-18)

I was thinking about the subtitle Thomas Hardy gave to Tess of the d'Urbervilles.  "A Pure Woman". And how it upset the respectable Victorians - one publisher hav
"Noli me Tangere" - Correggio , Public Domain
ing already paid Hardy the advance for the novel then refused to publish it. Not just because of the sub-title. But it really underlined the way that Tess is a story of a woman who's constantly let down by men. OK, stabbing her lover to death in a Bournemouth boarding house was wrong. But she'd been pushed a long way, before she snapped.

Mary Magdalene has suffered a bit at the hands of men as well. Pope Gregory used as a helpful example of a repentant sinner - based solely on the way that she is mentioned in Luke 8, a chapter after a "sinful woman" that anointed Jesus with oil. And let's not worry about Dan Brown, eh? Or for that matter Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber. It doesn't help that so many women in the Bible are called Mary, as we try to work out whether Mary Mag was or was not (probably not) Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha.

What does the Bible tell us? That Mary was rich and independent enough to support Jesus. That Jesus had cast demons out of her. That when nearly all the brave male disciples had run away, Mary stood there at the cross, with Jesus's mother and with John, and watched her Lord die. She's not the supreme image of a repentant sinner - she's the embodiment of faith and love for Jesus. She's one who stuck with him - when all the others had fled. She is persistence and love and dedication personified.

And then very early on the first day of the week - Mary, among those who saw Jesus's last breath, who heard his last words - she's there again. Down at the tomb with a random selection of women and disciples. And she's the one who sees Jesus first.

She may have suffered at the hands of men through history. But not at Jesus' hands, as he gently says, "why are you crying?" And then, "Mary". And looking through her tears she sees her Messiah, her Saviour, restored to life but beautifully changed.  Though you wonder about the hurt of those words - "do not hold onto me" as he makes it clear to her that things aren't the same any more. This isn't just a restoration of the relationships he's had with his friends on earth. There's far more to do now than just hit the road again.

But Mary's going to be the first to take on the new job of what will now become the Church. She leaves the gardens, finds those useless, terrified disciples and becomes the first one to tell greatest news on earth to somebody else. "I have seen the Lord."

And so Mary Magdelene - among the last to see Jesus at his death. The first to see him alive. The first to tell out the Good News. The first apostle - sent to tell the message to the apostles. And the pattern of how the Church should always be. Faithful to Jesus, steadfast in despair, forever loving her Lord. And full of life, as it brings the Good News.


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, 18 July 2018

The Immigration Policy of Heaven

Intrigued by a tweet by a Fox News presenter, Carla D'Addesi:

"Heaven has a wall with strict immigration policies. Hell has open borders."

Now obviously this got me thinking about Heaven's immigration policies.

First thing to consider is that heavenly wall, of course. It's definitely there in Scripture. What Donald Trump might call a bigly, beautiful wall. Except that while Trump's wall still only exists in his imagination, the heavenly wall is studied with precious stones.

Of course the heavenly city has walls. A wall is what defines a first-century city. A wall is uncontroversial. Let's talk about the gates. Those bigly, beautiful gates. Made each of a single, huge, wonderful pearl.  Goodness knows where God found oysters that big. But then God's creativity has no end.

The gates have a flaw. Well, gems often do, don't they? These gates have the same problem that my old nan's gate used to have. They don't close. My nan's gate just used to warp in bad weather. But these just don't need to, as there is no night. And when there is no fear, who needs to shut the gate? Heaven is, apparently, like the houses of old London Town, where you could all leave the doors open and nobody would ever thieve. The gates are always open, so you can just wander in. In my Nan's street this was actually because nobody had anything of value. But here - it's because everything's free.

But there's obviously an immigration policy. Because St John tells us who's not in the city. Now it's not a racial exclusion policy. Because "The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it." That's right. Including Mexicans. But you can't get in if you're deceitful, or apparently if you're an adulterer. Hard words for some.

But Jesus also gives us an illustration of the entry processes. And first up, it feels a bit like those channels at the airport. One says "EU, EAA and Swiss Citizens" or some such  and the other, is for the others. Obviously after Brexit the signs will say "People who are like us" and "People who aren't". And one channel will be empty because British people will no longer be able to afford to fly. And the other will be empty because who would want to come to a bitter, self-hating, others-hating, impoverished place? But I'm sure the Executive lounge will still be busy. But I digress. That's Brexit Britain. Let's talk about the New Jerusalem.

So there's a fast-track into the kingdom of Heaven. A lovely passport for the natural born citizens. Maybe it's even blue. And those that get the fast-track are, we're told, tax-collectors, prostitutes, and children (who seem to get their own, native, representatives in the immigration process). Unprotected women, orphans, refugees get favourable treatment. Immigrants and refugees just wander in - after all, God used to be one. Maybe God still is.

And then - funny thing, a bit like some tax havens. You can be a citizen if you've large amounts invested in heavenly securities. Basically it's an exchange rate thing. Build up your treasure on earth and it's subject to a sudden depreciation. But if your treasure is invested in heaven they'll let you in. And if you've looked after  the Lord of Heaven on earth - whether he was hungry, thirsty or in prison - he'll let you in. But be careful. He may not have looked too kingly.

And I know what you're going to say. Just wander along with your "Salvation by Faith" visa and you'll be through the executive lounge before you know it.  But do you know how many questions St James will need you to answer before you get through that way? Forget St Peter and his keys. It's James and his clipboard you'll have to worry about.

The nasty tweet that inspired this has a nasty response. A cartoon of a line of well-ordered Americans waiting to be checked off by St Peter, while a Mexican goes over the wall. Well  apart from the hint that Trump's wall is gonna be no use if he ever finds someone to pay for it - that's what Jesus says happens as well. They'll (we'll?) all be queuing up neatly to be let in for being nice and white and respectable - and those who get  nothing in this world  will go over the wall, sneak through the gates - even clutch on the coat-tails of a scruffy Jewish prophet.

Oh yeah. The Jews. Did I mention how you've got to become a part of them to get in? It is the new Jerusalem, after all.

Me? I'll be praying to get in as one that escapes from fire. My claim to citizenship will be that I know the king and he's paid my fare for me. And I pray he nods me through on that basis. But here's my conclusion.  Hell has open borders, because someone broke the wall down one Friday night. But it's a free country, is Hell. You don't have to leave if you don't want to. And the gates of Heaven are wide open. The immigration policy is terribly lax. But you've got to be prepared to love your fellow-citizens. And God knows, they're a disreputable lot. Maybe some would rather stay in the other place.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Festival of Frogs

As the warm weather progresses we felt it right to acknowledge the spiritual significance of frogs.

Unfortunately the only parable we know about frogs is that story about the one in the well that can't see much sky. We did talk about liturgically dropping them down the Legendary Endless Well, but when we did a test-drop it went "splat" rather than "splash". Clearly not as bottomless as we thought. Or it really has been a dry summer.

Still, I would like us all to take away this thought.

A frog doesn't dream of lordship. Doesn't stress itself with ambition. Doesn't reach for the sky - even that patch it could see from the bottom of a well, if it hadn't died tragically when it landed.

No,  frogs swim about, free. Mate once a year, with reckless abandon, for about a week. Slink through the dewy grass of morn exulting in the sheer stuffness of things.

And then get tragically strimmed. Or torn to pieces by a cat. Or eaten by a dog. It ain't easy being green.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Diary of an Ex-Clergy of the Church of England

Monday: Check to see what the Church of England has been up to now. Probably ordaining eggs or marrying Pokemons. Read the Telegraph. An article on how useless the Archbishop of Canterbury is and how George Carey was better. Make a witty comment on Twitter about how useless the Church of England is.

Tuesday: Read in the Mail that you have to be a member of the Communist Party, a witch, or - worse - a Remainer to be allowed to be ordained in the Church of England these days. Write a witty comment on Facebook about how useless the Church of England is. Thank goodness I've resigned and don't have to think about this any more. 

Wednesday: I see on the BBC web page that a vicar has carried out a blessing service for two gay clergymen who have had a civil partnership. Disgusting. When I was a young priest, homosexuals were supposed to keep very quiet about it and go around calling each other names like Alice. I regret that the glory has departed. Although at least the gay clergymen were men.

Thursday: I write a blog post about how the Church of England has fallen. Some clergy these days did not go to even a minor public school. No wonder they do not understand how to be closet homosexuals properly.

Friday: A vicar in Lincolnshire has received a fine for speeding. This is what happens once you separate the clergy from the Establishment. Once upon a time you could be 4 times over the limit, give the traffic constable the appropriate handshake, and receive a merry "on your way, Sir!" without even troubling the scorer. This is not the Church of England I grew up in, and then left because it was not the Church I grew up in.

Saturday: A wedding car has broken down on the A509. In many ways a parable for the state of the Church of England. Serves them right. I don't suppose that the bride is a virgin. That is how standards have slipped.

Sunday: As I conduct Divine Worship I rejoice that I am now completely free of the Church of England. It was a wrench to leave but now it never crosses  my mind.

Friday, 13 July 2018

A Poem for Flying Ants Day

They fly so high
into the sky
little fly-
ing ants.

Nude ants
do their new dance
which works if you're from Harrogate
and I ripped off the joke from Keith Jarrett
who I always confuse with Keith Thomas
who wrote the "seminal"
Religion and the Decline of Magic.
But that's not really important now.
Because there's flying ants, which are tragic.
But Nude Ants is an album you can listen to more than twice.
Cool. Nice.

A million mites
take their flights
to seek the queen
they've never seen

And so one lucky get
will meet his Juliet
but when his ardour's done
his wings fall off. His life is gone.
Death death death death
Death death death death
Death death death death.

The others, bound
to fly around
then  sink to the ground
and if they fall in a pond, they/re drowned
and eaten by a fish.
Death death death death
Death death death death
Death death death death
Death death death death

Does God cry
when you die
little fly-
ing ant?
Is there a place
where this race
 receives grace
little ant?
Death death death death
Death death death death
Death death death death
Death death death death


Mellissa Sparrow (Mrs)



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, 11 July 2018

"If He Had Broken the Law then He Would Have Been Sinful"

Based on this theological reflection by Floridian pastor, Paula White.

Moses: Murdered an Egyptian.

King David: Ate the priest's bread.

Jesus: Claimed to be God (blasphemy)

St Stephen: Blasphemy

Early Christians: Refused to declare Caesar as Lord. (treason)

The American Revolutionaries (treason)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (conspiracy to murder)

Now I'm not saying you should just go out there and drive too fast. And we all like a lawful society  But crimes ain't always sins. That's all I'm saying.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

New Readings of Scripture

Based on Matt's Tweet: 


Then he said to another man, "Follow me." And the man said to him, "I will follow you. But maybe not till next Thursday?" And he said to him, "O ye of little faith...."




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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.

Trump-Baby Nigel

Nigel Farage downs a few and then complains about the Trump baby blimp. Warning : This is a link to the Daily Express.

After all, we've all seen the way that Donald Trump is always dignified in the way he treats his enemies, former friends and disabled journalists. And, of course, we know about his habit of stealing women's cats. [Hnaef - can you check if I've got this right?"] So we know what we've got here is the Right, which complaints about people being "politically correct" getting all touchy when it's applied to them.

The apotheosis of this attitude occurs in the comments below the line. Don't go there. I do this so you don't have to. But here is "Birdymum".

 "Your point needs to be made over at the
snowflake led Guardian"

That's right. A person getting upset about a balloon has referred to other people as snowflakes. I guess it's a case of snowflake, melt thyself.

This is what Nigel Farage said about free speech a couple of months ago:

And yet curiously when it's his mate being satirised, free speech isn't so free. It's almost like what Nigel Farage wants, is free speech that agrees with him. We treated Nigel Farage like a joke. He isn't a joke. He's a demagogue whose former party, and then Leave campaign, has used constant racist hints to get votes. He has pursued a vendetta against an organisation that he hates, to the harm of this country, and especially to the harm of the people he persuaded to follow him. And now seems to think he and his chums are entitled to protection from ridicule.

People with this attitude have more power than they used to have. And they have thin skins. Brexit in this country, Trump's election, were the result of the powerful but not quite in charge, persuading  the nervous, suspicious and resentful that it was that other elite that was doing them down. If you're in favour of free speech but only if you like the speech, if you're part of the elite yet define those parts of the "elite" that are the real elite - if you campaign against migrants while being married to people who've come from other countries - then you're a hypocrite. You're dangerous. And we need to ensure that the counter-message is more compelling, and more truthful, than that.

So for complaining about the Trump-baby, while demanding free speech, Farage is a snowflake. A 100%, 6-sided, perfectly symmetrical crystal that melts when daylight falls on it. He'll be back in  the game now, sensing the chance to apply his bile to the Government's attempted negotiating position. His old party's leader is meanwhile claiming that Tommy Robinson is a free-speech martyr not a dangerous twerp who could have caused a number of trials to collapse. These are dangerous times. At the risk of mixing my metaphors, at the tip of every iceberg there's a snowflake.

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World Cup / Wedding Clashes

One of those things that cause much consternation in the papers and in cyberspace, when people's weddings clash with football fixtures.

And it's a real shame that the football match this afternoon clashes with  Hamwise and Gadgmir's handfasting.

Still, you've got to make sacrifices.

So we've moved the ceremony to September.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Feast of Doubt and Uncertainty

Please can we not enter into our St Thomas's Day with quite such enthusiasm as last year.

Having people shouting "I find that hard to believe" all the way through the sermon was, frankly, a bit annoying.

But all the way through the Nicene Creed? We might as well be in the Church of England.

PROGRAMME FOR THE DAY

9 am : A Celebration of Dynamic Doubt

11 am : Conspiracy Theory Corner

12 noon : Lunch. Or is it really?

2 pm : The Don Cupitt hour

4 pm : "I Believe I Can Fly" : The Theology of Our Kelly

7 - 10 pm : England qualify for the Quarter Finals of the Men's Football World Cup

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Special order of service of Sympathy for Sergio Ramos

Hymn: Crying in the Rain

Archdruid: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
All: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Archdruid: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
All: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Archdruid: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
All: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Archdruid: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
All: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Archdruid: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
All: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha 

Archdruid: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
All: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha 

Archdruid: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
All: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha 

Archdruid: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
All: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha 

Archdruid: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
All: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Hymn: Who's Crying Now




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Raising A Lament

"Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me;your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished! (2 Samuel 1.25b-27)
He was an emotional type was David. Stupidly brave, of course. Also inclined to the lustful. Bear in mind this is the man who later in his career looked out of a window, saw Bathsheba in the bath and decided it was best to have sex with her and arrange the death of her husband.

Ironic that he looked out the window and saw Bathsheba having a bath. Outside the other window, meanwhile,  her sister Beersheba was having a beer. Would have been a lot less trouble.

Anyway - point is David wore his heart on his sleeve. Except that time when he danced before the Lord with all his might, in the nude. He didn't even have a sleeve that time. Please note to ordinands in the Church of England - this is even less appropriate than leaping in the air as a way to celebrate ordination.
But on this occasion David's king, Saul, has died in battle. Now Saul and David didn't always get on - what with Saul randomly either being David's friend or wanting to kill him in a fit of jealousy. And Saul's son - David's dearest friend - Jonathan has died as well.

And we see again at this point that King David is not English. I'd like you to imagine King David played by Sir Alec Guinness. "What's that? Saul and Jonathan dead?" King David (played by Sir Alec Guinness) looks slightly sad for a moment. "OK, Ginger. Let's push on. I'm king now. We need to get to get this all sorted before nightfall."

No. He stops and weeps. He raises a lament. He is not afraid to tell out the sadness - to tell it with honesty.

And contrast that attitude with the typical English to any kind of problem. Ask a typical English church person how they're doing. And let's assume there's some major or long-running disaster or problem in their lives. The stock response will be a happy "Yes, everything is fine." Or.... more popular in some parts - "Yes, everything is fine. You know...." accompanied by a martyr's smile and the look into the middle distance that says ".... but there is so much more.... But I'm strong."

So there's that typical response - doubled up when you belong to the sort of church where to be in any kind of trouble, to allow that Jesus has allowed your life to be anything less than perfect, is a kind of sin. But let's ignore that, and stick to the way we respond to our troubles in life in prayer.

The Bible is full of people in trouble, and records their responses to God. And they are honest to God. When Job has lost his family and his wealth and he's ill, he's not afraid to say that he is not happy -
“May the day of my birth perish, and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’That day—may it turn to darkness;     may God above not care about it;    may no light shine on it.May gloom and utter darkness claim it once more;    may a cloud settle over it;     may blackness overwhelm it.That night—may thick darkness seize it; may it not be included among the days of the year nor be entered in any of the months.
The prophet Jeremiah is never short of lament. When the apostle Paul speaks of his own nation the Jews and realises so many have not come to Jesus, he does not keep quiet:
I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit—  I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race,  the people of Israel. (Rom 9)
There are 150 psalms in the  Book of Psalms - more than 60 are psalms of lament. Some of those finish with the expectation that the Psalmist will be vindicated. A few have no happy ending at all. The words that characterise the Book of Psalms are "How Long, O Lord?" as much as "Hallelujah". The Spirit that inspires praise and happiness just as much inspires honest lament, fills sadness as much as joy.

In short - the Bible is a record of people being utterly honest with God, and prepared to be honest about their feelings with each other. Now, many of us are English. Let's not just pretend we can go being honest with each other. Not least as, many of us are English. And therefore won't want to deal with it. But it would be good, would it not, to be able when somebody says "how are you today", to say, "actually, I've had a rotten day. My spouse is acting like a horse's backside, I've a massive hangover and when I get home I'll have to use a cattle prod to get my kids to tidy up their rooms. By the way, nice sermon, vicar."

Well, if you can't say that at Church, at least you can say that to God. A lament is the most honest of prayers. It doesn't pretend that things are good. It doesn't mean that you've given up hope. It means you're saying to God, look - this is the way things are. And frankly it hurts. And I need you to do something about it. Even if you just sympathise, that's a start. Then, frankly God, if you're the one who made me, and let's be honest who has left me in this situation - do you think you could do something about it?

It's probably fair to say that some of those new reverends who were leaping in the pictures on the Church Times website last week - or last year - or ten years ago, before the leaping - are learning about that kind of prayer by now.

Among the last words of Jesus on the cross are the words of a lament, from Psalm 22: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  The reminder that God was able to be lowered to the point of lament. Of brokenness. Of being without help. The way through pain is not always a miraculous recovery. The way of Jesus is not easy. But God meets us at the depths of lament. 

Even in the typical Anglican Church, where the royal coat of arms was put up to remind everybody who was in charge. Even there, the symbol of Christian faith is a cross. A reminder that God is on the side of the weak. God is on the side of the conquered. God is on the side of the poor. God is on the side of everyone in need. In our weakness, that is when God is closest to us. Meets us at the point where we are lowest. Shares and carries our pain. And carries it to the heart of the Father.



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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.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

David and Jonathan : The Final Reckoning

Every since we agreed that we're going to be looking at 2 Samuel 1 tomorrow, the big row in the Beaker Folk has been what we can conclude about the relationship of David and Jonathan. In one corner we have the people who are convinced they were actual lovers. In the second corner, those who think they might have been if they weren't trapped in a patriarchal environment where David was instead forced to have dozens of wives and concubines.

And there's the third corner, for those people who just think they were good mates and David was in a bit of a "I really love you, mate" stage after having a few because his old mucker was gone.

Only one way to solve this, in our weird three-cornered environment.

Fight!!!



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Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Leadersmithing and Leadership

When I was rude the other week about the title of Eve Poole's book, Leadersmithing, she had a right to be a bit grumpy with me. I could understand that. She'd probably spent hours, late into the night, titlesmithing.

But she was actually very gracious. She sent me a copy of the book. And here's the thing. It's excellent. I'd recommend it to people. In fact I hereby am doing just that.
It's full of brilliant angles, new viewpoints, little tricks for giving yourself insights. Full of illustrations of the way things are or could be. It exudes respect for those that are lead, or coached, or influenced.

Now, as one who mostly uses blackmail and threats, it's not much use in my daily life of Archdruiding. But I'd say it's a great book for other church leaders - maybe more so even than for business leaders. Because in these straitened, Brexity times, the motivational power of "I pay your wages" is still good currency in business. Whereas in church leadership falling back on "this is God's will" just isn't working like it was. If people don't like your version of God's will, others are available.

And don't think, fluffy-bunny-baby-boomer vicar, that you get out of good leadership by playing the "I'm a facilitator/ more of a shoulder to cry on / just a supporter" card. You are chosen, and likely paid, to be a leader - even if what you're actually trying to say is that you have no vision or charisma.

Because leadership is about people, and people are - in their dreams, their motivations, their ambitions - spiritual - this book is also shot through with a thread of spirituality. The word "love" comes up, and is used, I think, in a way that is deeply aligned to the Christian concept of love.

All of which brings me onto Eamonn Duffy's "The Voices of Morebath": the story of a tiny Somerset village, from the Catholic days of Henry VIII to Elizabeth's time. So through Henry's reformation, the thoroughgoing Protestantism of Edward VI's reign, the short-lived reaction under Mary and the pendulum swing back to what only a Calvinist could think a via media.

The history is told through the chronicles of the priest, Sir Christopher Trychay. And through him we hear the arguments, responsibility and sheer faithfulness of that community. We see the colour of the pre-Reformation worship. And we see the rather denuded, much more secular nature of the community after the Reformation. Duffy is not a neutral observer.  But even making allowances for that, it's hard not to feel regret at the civic religion that is left by the end, when Sir Christopher is buried in the chancel - between where the old high altar was and where the communion table, by order of Her Majesty, was placed.

Through it all, even when paying the fees for an expedition in rebellion, Sir Christopher was faithful to God, his people and his calling. By turns encouraging, inspiring and nagging, there doesn't seem to be any tool in the box that he wouldn't use. A true leader. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.


Monday, 25 June 2018

Ordination Leaping : The Human Cost

Over the recent course of Petertide ordinations, many controversies have wracked the Social Media side of the Church of England. Some, for instance, have wondered how come Petertide ordinations take place on St John the Baptist's Day. Some wonder why it's called Petertide when the actual feast is Peter and Paul.

And some have regarded this blog's view on leaping ordinands as miserable, curmudgeonly and lacking in joy.

Well consider. Many of these clergy are not the youngest people. OK, they're likely going to be the youngest in their congregations. But it's all relative. It is only today, from doctors' surgeries around England, that the full list of injuries is coming in.

Revd Doreen Lambswool, new deacon of the Cheesemill Benefice, has been put down for a hip operation after landing awkwardly on a cobble.

Revd Broderick Bartholomew, of the Shallowgrave Benefice, copped an episcopal mitre to the ear and has balance problems.

Revd Chester Leicester, of Cirencester, is sporting an  eye patch in liturgical colours after an unfortunate dabbing accident.

Fr Chesney Welderson, of Upper Grateswell, has irritated his gout and gave his new-priestly blessings from his bath chair. Fr Chesney is very much of the old school.

Rambert Martyrson, an innocent worshipper at St Baldwin's Cathedral, Bloghampton, unfortunately wandered into the path of a leaping curate in the cathedral grounds and may never play the mouth organ again. To be fair, nobody really knows why he was playing the mouth organ at the time.

Revd Malfoy Plunckett slipped a disc doing a "Superman" impression and is horizontal for the next fortnight. Which is, coincidentally, how he spent every weekend on his training course. In bed by 4am and never at Morning Prayer, that was old Malfoy.

The Bishop of Bloghampton himself is suffering from a crumpled mitre after jumping in the air under the archway to the cathedral close.

In  other news, Revd Chas Smashley of South Bilgewater was determined not to indulge in all this frivolity. Unfortunately the wind changed during his official ordination photograph, and he is destined to go around, looking like Kenneth Williams detecting a bad smell, forever.



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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.

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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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.