Saturday, 16 November 2019

Church School Application Form for Families That Don't Really Go to Church

St Boris's Church of England School - Application for Admission, Academic Year 2020-21


Child's Name_________________________

Address___________________________
___________________________
___________________________
Post Code _________

Name of Parent / Guardian_____________________________


Date of BirthDD/MM/YY

No, we meant the Child's date of birth not the parent'sDD/MM/YY


Name of Church (Clue: Look at the notice board)_____________________________

Name of Incumbent Priest (Clue: They're the one with a dog collar)_____________________________

Be honest - would they recognise you?YES/NO

How long has the family attended church?☐ Precisely 12 Months 

How would you describe your situation within the Church?☐ We go to the fete if it's not raining
☐ At the heart of Church Life
☐ The place would crumble without me
☐ Vicar
☐ 3rd pew on the left

What are your aspirations for your future in the Church?☐ Getting more sleep on a Sunday now we've got this form in
☐ Hope to be back for his/her wedding, unless we decide that the local old manor house is a better setting.

Name of child's great-granny who was the last person genuinely to attend worship regularly 
_____________________________

DECLARATION



I hereby certify that I am prepared for my child to undergo light-weight religious indoctrination in order to have a crack at a decent university. I may not believe in any creed or religion, but the local Independent schools are a bit pricy._____________________________


Want to support this blog? Want a good laugh? (or to shudder at death at any rate? Then here's two ways you can keep the Archdruid in doilies...
If you want someone to share the terrors of death while making you laugh, we have "A Hint of Death in the Morning Air" - 97 poems to make you wonder, laugh or shake your head sadly. At only £1 on Kindle. Or if you want to know what the people in the pews really think, and you prefer your words printed on paper, why not try "Writes of the Church"?  The letters to the Church magazine the vicar really didn't need.

Friday, 8 November 2019

How Boris Johnson Stole Christmas

Narrator's Voice

In those days, the decree went out from Alexander de Pfeffelus that all people should go to their ancestral town, there to register their vote as to who should be the next emperor.

And Class 3C had been practising their Nativity Play since the term started in September. Samantha Bryant was Mary. And Shahid Khan was to play Joseph. Although there had been letters of complaint from Mr Robinson, because he said Joseph should be a white, Christian child just like the original Joseph.

But when the time came for them to perform the Nativity Play - and all the children had been cast, from the leading characters through the prettier girls who were angels - even unto the kids that had to play sheep, and donkeys, and duck-billed platypuses - they went unto the school. But there was no room there.

Because it was an polling station.

And the people waxed glum, and there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.

But the Parent Teachers Association was full of those who still believed in the Big Society - because they had once believed in David, the Shiny-Faced King. And so they said, OK we shall do this in the community centre instead.

Then three wise men came from the East. But they were Nigel Farage, George Galloway, and Sajid Javid. So this was swiftly downgraded to no wise men coming from any direction at all.

And King Herod heard that a child had been been born. Now Herod was a man with many wives and mistresses, who had so many children that he was not sure who they all were. And he was a useless ruler, but he tried to make himself popular through giant but pointless building projects. And when he heard that the child was not Joseph's he worried for a while. But discovering that it was not one of his, instead he treated the child with all the care he would apply to one of his citizens in prison in Persia. i.e. none at all.

And so the child and his family would have escaped to a far away land. But because of the restrictions on freedom of movement, they only got as far as Dartford before they got stuck in a traffic jam.

This all happened in the time when Trumpus was the President of America. And nobody governed Syria.


Want to support this blog? Want a good laugh? (or to shudder at death at any rate? Then here's two ways you can keep the Archdruid in doilies...
If you want someone to share the terrors of death while making you laugh, we have "A Hint of Death in the Morning Air" - 97 poems to make you wonder, laugh or shake your head sadly. At only £1 on Kindle. Or if you want to know what the people in the pews really think, and you prefer your words printed on paper, why not try "Writes of the Church"?  The letters to the Church magazine the vicar really didn't need.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

All Souls Service

A reminder that our All Souls service is at 8pm. We will be remembering
all those that died this year using pebbles, tea lights and flowers.

What a freak series of accidents that was. We'll  remember all those that died in more normal ways as well.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Brexival Begins

And so we enter the dark days. The year dies screaming as the sun plunges below the horizon, earlier each evening. The tawny owl quivers, and dreams of the blood of voles.

And we reach the trickiest-pronounced day of the year. The day the Celts wrote as "Samhain". Except of course they didn't, as they have left no written record from the days when they celebrated the occasion. It's worth, however, noting how to pronounce the word. It's not how you would expect. Although written as "Samhain", it's pronounced "Halloween".

This year we've decided to go for an all-embracing feast that celebrates all things light shining in the darkness. The hope that cannot be extinguished. The life in the heart of the most deep-frozen crocus bulb. The pink bow tied around the neck of Fenrir Wolf. And we're combining the whole 3 months from Diwali to the end of January as the time of Brexival.

It's an interval between the Brexit that never was, and the Brexit that may never be. A time of Schrodinger's Brexit, when the benefits are all promised and yet not realised, and yet simultaneously non-existent. Time stands balanced between two years. The Sun descends towards the depths of the earth*. And we look forward in fear, and backwards with more fear. We ask ourselves, as the time of Brexival brings together Diwali, DieInADitchDay, Samhain, Guy Fawkes, All Saints, All Souls, Advent, Yule, Hanukkah, Xmas, New Year,  the death of Thomas Hardy, the birth of David Bowie and Burns Night: what on earth are we doing here? Why? And will it ever stop?

And we shudder at the knock on the door. Will it be a bunch of kids dressed as witches and goblins? Or a politician come to tell us how, if we go for their type of Brexit, we will be happy to be much poorer for no reason?

So we carve our punkies and stick them on the spikes on the main gate. Dress up as Nigel Farage and go around scaring kids. Or dress up as Boris Johnson and get chased around the place, like some post-modern Benny Hill, by angry husbands. And we light the fires against the dark. And know the light means something.

* May not apply in New Zealand


Want to support this blog? Want a good laugh? (or to shudder at death at any rate? Then here's two ways you can keep the Archdruid in doilies...
If you want someone to share the terrors of death while making you laugh, we have "A Hint of Death in the Morning Air" - 97 poems to make you wonder, laugh or shake your head sadly. At only £1 on Kindle. Or if you want to know what the people in the pews really think, and you prefer your words printed on paper, why not try "Writes of the Church"?  The letters to the Church magazine the vicar really didn't need.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Unlocking the Brexit Box

In many ways, Brexit being delayed to 31 January is both an opportunity and unnerving. Autumn is the time of year when I send the Beaker Folk out to clear out the ditches. And the thought of finding Boris Johnson in one is definitely unnerving.

On the bright side, the delay means I can release the Brexit Stockpile we've been building in the cellar as a provision against No-Deal. Good news for my brother, who lives down there with his guardian, Mrs Rochester. As it means he will get back his space for running around screaming.

And also good news, as we will now be able to serve up all the low-cost, high-energy, long-life food we've been storing down there.

So the menu for each meal, every day in November, will be baked beans and rice.

And in December, rice and baked beans.

Beaker Folk will be glad to hear that we're moving all services outside until Yule.


Want to support this blog? Want a good laugh? (or to shudder at death at any rate? Then here's two ways you can keep the Archdruid in doilies...
If you want someone to share the terrors of death while making you laugh, we have "A Hint of Death in the Morning Air" - 97 poems to make you wonder, laugh or shake your head sadly. At only £1 on Kindle. Or if you want to know what the people in the pews really think, and you prefer your words printed on paper, why not try "Writes of the Church"?  The letters to the Church magazine the vicar really didn't need.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

The Grateful Leper

And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:  And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.  And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?  There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole. (Luke 17:11-19 King James Version (KJV)
So let's start with the normal disclaimer. Leprosy, as the New International Version of the Bible always tells us in the footnotes, does not necessarily mean the disease - otherwise called Hansen's disease - that we call "leprosy". That is a disease that affects the nerves. The disease in the Bible seems more often to mean something that could have been impetigo or maybe eczema. And while impetigo is no fun - I remember being painted purple as a child,  to cure it - it's not got the horrors of untreated Hansen's disease. But it does link back to Lazarus and the rich man. When Lazarus was laying outside Dives's gates, with the dogs licking his sores - was that because he was a leper? That would be another reason why the rich man wouldn't want to go near him.

Because Biblical leprosy was bad enough. The rules in Leviticus were pretty clear. If you were a leper you couldn't be a normal member of society. You had to hang outside the town, dress scruffy, and shout "unclean" if anyone came near. You couldn't let your uncleanness affect anyone else. So you couldn't make a proper living. Couldn't be with your family. Couldn't go out for a pint or go to synagogue or go to the Temple. You were an outcast.

So these ten lepers see Jesus. And we're not told why there's only men. Jesus was always very happy to cure women - but maybe the women lepers were outside a different village or behind a hill or maybe, let's face it, there were fewer women "lepers" because women are more likely to wash properly, or less likely to be running through thorns while farming and picking up infections. Anyway. These are ten male lepers. And Jesus - they've heard of Jesus. Maybe he can remove their mark of Cain, they think? And Jesus says go - show yourselves to the priests. And off they go and they are cleansed.

Cleansed. They're not lepers anymore. They're OK to rejoin society. Once they've jumped through a few ceremonial hoops. The priest has to sacrifice a dove for them. Then... in the words of Leviticus...
The person to be cleansed must wash their clothes, shave off all their hair and bathe with water; then they will be ceremonially clean. After this they may come into the camp, but they must stay outside their tent for seven days. On the seventh day they must shave off all their hair; they must shave their head, their beard, their eyebrows and the rest of their hair. They must wash their clothes and bathe themselves with water, and they will be clean.
Then the priest has to sacrifice a lamb as a guilt offering for them. Because the illness is presumed to have been their fault. And how often do we still fall for that? It doesn't help that our medical system and our media use guilt as a means to try and educate us in our health. Since the belief of today is that if you eat the right things, drink the right things, do the right things and use a condom you'll live forever - any illness we may acquire can't help but be because we did it wrong.  But I know a lovely woman who was struck by cancer. And her words to me were "I must have been an evil git". And she cut her best friend off - not because her friend had done anything wrong - but because she was so embarrassed that she was ill.  But the good news for the former lepers is that now they are properly clean and ready to join society.

But they're out in the badlands of the Galilee-Samaria border country. And the temple in Jerusalem - the only place the Jewish lepers could offer their sacrifices - is up in Jerusalem. Now I don't know how well the Jews of the first century stuck to the rituals - when you consider they lived all over the known world and there was only one Temple. You couldn't just set off on a 1,000 mile pilgrimage if you were a Jew in south France and got healed from a boil, I imagine. But then ceremonial uncleanness is less of an issue when it's a major trek to get to the Temple anyway. But let's cut them some slack. Let's suppose they're busy getting together pigeons, lambs and a decent supply of shaving cream, and packing to get to Jerusalem.

But still. There's only one that comes back. And he is a Samaritan. From the race that Jesus's people think are unclean just by existing. The ones they won't eat in the same room as. But he comes back. And Jesus says - look, it's only the Samaritan that said thanks. He glorifies God, while the others are off and running.

Important message from Jesus - it's the despised one that is made totally right with God. Not that the others couldn't. They just didn't. It's often the surprising ones that get to know God. Not the good ones, the clever ones, the self-righteous or talented or well-connected ones. It's the ones that know they need God, who get to know God.

And so nine of the lepers are "cleansed". But the tenth - the Samaritan - is "made whole". Key difference in the Greek, reflected in different ways in our English Bibles. Nine are clean, one is whole. Or, to use the other translation - saved. Or, to use an English comparison. Nine are merely cured. The tenth - the Samaritan, the outcast, the enemy - the tenth, who has given glory to God and not just entered into a medical transaction - who has turned, and without knowing it, looked on the face of God -  he is truly healed*.


* With thanks to Wobbly Goose for the inspiration.


Want to support this blog? Want a good laugh? (or to shudder at death at any rate? Then here's two ways you can keep the Archdruid in doilies...
If you want someone to share the terrors of death while making you laugh, we have "A Hint of Death in the Morning Air" - 97 poems to make you wonder, laugh or shake your head sadly. At only £1 on Kindle. Or if you want to know what the people in the pews really think, and you prefer your words printed on paper, why not try "Writes of the Church"?  The letters to the Church magazine the vicar really didn't need.

Friday, 11 October 2019

In Memoriam : Juliette Kaplan ("Pearl" from Last of the Summer Wine)

(To "Summer Wine")

In golden days down Yorkshire ways
a woman, fond of odd berets
looks for her man - who often strays
in search of summer wine.

"Ah, hello pet. I've hardly met
this lady - whose name I forget.
We've barely got to fumbling yet
 nor drinking summer wine."

[bridge]

Now Howard's bike
doesn't roam -
he just stays home.
While all their friends
reached their ends,
taken by Time.

No steak and kidney pie to cook
No checking Howard's shifty look
No need to change his library book
There's just eternal wine.


Want to support this blog? Want a good laugh? (or to shudder at death at any rate? Then here's two ways you can keep the Archdruid in doilies...
If you want someone to share the terrors of death while making you laugh, we have "A Hint of Death in the Morning Air" - 97 poems to make you wonder, laugh or shake your head sadly. At only £1 on Kindle. Or if you want to know what the people in the pews really think, and you prefer your words printed on paper, why not try "Writes of the Church"?  The letters to the Church magazine the vicar really didn't need.

The Mathematics and Psychology of the Peace

The Telegraph tells us, in amongst its cheerleading for whatever Boris Johnson is making up next, that there is an optimal time for a handshake. Yep, scientists have done their stuff and if you're going to shake someone's hand, it should be no more than three seconds.

Well, no kidding. Any longer than that and you're starting to worry that you've been introduced to Donald Trump, or else Mr Shake Hands Man from the 80s Channel 4 series, Banzai.

But this is crucial information in a church setting. In those Anglican and other churches that have established the Sharing of the Peace, the duration of the handshakes within that Peace are critical to the stability and - for that matter - duration of the service.

Consider the simple, basic, if you will the Lidl of the Peace-sharings.  "Peace be with you." I reckon that, with a nod and slight smile in the general direction of the Peace-sharee, that will be 2 seconds. In a typical congregation, with say 3 seconds between each handshake, with a congregation of 30 people plus the minister (to make the sums easy since only weirdoes share the Peace with themselves), the Peace will take roughly 2 minutes 30 seconds.

But maybe somebody goes for the Tesco level Peace.  "The peace of the Lord be with you." That's about 4 seconds. 31 people, 30 handshakes each, 3 seconds between handshakes (including the getting back to your seat, so this may be an underestimate) - that's 3 minutes 30 seconds to share the Peace. Remembering that the Peace only moves at the speed of its most verbose sharer so you only need one person to do this. And given we now have people weighing in with 4-second handshakes, there's anxiety starting to be triggered.

Which gets worse if they go for more of your Marks and Spencer level peace. Something like, as recommended in this article, "The peace of the Lord be with you" / "And also with you". Including a suitable liturgical pause, that's maybe 8 seconds. With, presumably, an 8 second handshake. High levels of adrenaline are at this point surging through the bodies of many members of the congregation. Not least because they're all wondering which one says the first half, and which the second. It's like kissing on the cheek - you don't both want to go the same way and end up with an Accidental Snog of Peace.

And not only are stress levels high. Sticking with our assumption that everybody in an assembly of 31 shares the Peace with everyone else - and that's not unreasonable in my experience - we're now up to 5 and a half minutes to share the Peace.

If the same rules apply, and there's sixty people plus the minister in the congregation- well, now we have an 11 minute peace, stress at Bay of Pigs levels and several people hiding under the communion table.

And so, with people on edge, the more introverted out hiding in the church yard, the bloke who thinks you both have to say both bits still only halfway round the church, the organist glad she refused to move from her bench and the acolyte having brained with a candlestick the bloke with BO who wanted a hug, the minister turns to the people and says, "Lift up your hearts".


Starts the most reflective, sacred part of the proceedings off nicely, I reckon.


Want to support this blog? Want a good laugh? (or to shudder at death at any rate? Then here's two ways you can keep the Archdruid in doilies...
If you want someone to share the terrors of death while making you laugh, we have "A Hint of Death in the Morning Air" - 97 poems to make you wonder, laugh or shake your head sadly. At only £1 on Kindle. Or if you want to know what the people in the pews really think, and you prefer your words printed on paper, why not try "Writes of the Church"?  The letters to the Church magazine the vicar really didn't need.