Monday, 13 January 2020

The Preacher in the Mask

Well done to Charlii, whose suggestion - that we steal a TV show concept and apply it to a preaching contest, in the hope of making ourselves vaguely relevant - worked out really well. And congratulations to all our contestants, who were such good sports. Although obviously I'm not such a needy has-been as to want to do anything so humiliating myself. So all the people that guessed me - even though I was quite clearly sitting there, not wearing a mask - you were wrong.

A yew tree in Husborne Crawley church yard
Brilliant costume, just one minor problem with "The Oak"

So the final reveals were as follows:

The China Doll - preaching on "Gods, humans and the world - seeing the divine in all creation"" -  Hnaef

The Oak Tree - preaching on "Elven Runes and the Book of Ezekiel" - Young Keith

The Wolf - preaching on "You're all doomed, you miserable sinners" - Drayton Parslow

The Tiger - preaching on "Why Elijah got it wrong about fertility cults" - Stacey Bushes

The Rocking Horse - with "The Parable of the Gold Coins" - Burton Dasset

But the ultimate winner:

The Unicorn - "Jesus is a Snowflake, Vote Republican" - Franklin Graham


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, 11 January 2020

Celebrating Brexit Day

I note that some are calling for church bells throughout the land to ring out to celebrate Brexit Day this month.

Here at the Beaker Folk, we wanted to mark the event. But we don't have any bells. Instead we've got some local supporters of Brexit to come along and give an appropriate Brexit nine-gun salute.

In other words, they're all going to shoot themselves in the foot. Then they can tell us all what a good idea it is, and that hopping around screaming is so much better than walking.



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, 4 January 2020

47th Anniversary of the First of the Last of the Summer Wine

Compo, Blamire and Clegg drinking pints while standing round a pig sty.
Hymn:

A half-century's nearly gone
since these old chaps first walked upon
the Yorkshire dales, and supped their ales,
and dreamt of summer wine.

Archdruid: Where now are the old lads of olden times?

All: Those who walked the hills with ironic meanderings, and chased women in a manner that would no longer be regarded as amusing?

Norman Clegg: #NotAllOldMen

Archdruid: The Three Wise Men of the West Riding

All: And Electrical Entwistle, who was a Wise Man from the East.*

Archdruid: We remember that they remembered old times.

All: And now they are in their turn but memories.

Archdruid: And the women who chided their childish husbands are but dust.

All: And Howard's and Marina's bicycles but rust.

Archdruid: So now, in a gloomy winter's day

All: When Alan JW Bell would have scattered fake snow around the place for sure.

Archdruid: We remember all those that have passed down the Holm Valley.

All: Or rest in Upper Thong, Dukenfield or scattered abroad. 

Archdruid: By pushing Hnaef downhill in a bath tub.

Hnaef: Oh no! Not again.....

The Liturgical Bath Tub containing Hnaef (dressed in comedy safety gear) is pushed downhill, crashing into the brook

Archdruid: Well then. 'Appen I'll get a bit of sausage for me tea.

Hymn:

The last wine of Summer's gone
the golden age of BBC 1
Old blokes and women all passed on
to sip eternal wine.


*Hull

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.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Things to Say to Get People on Your Side

New year, new you. And as church leaders are easing back into their jobs after 3 days off since the Sunday After, the first church committee meetings of the year loom on the horizon.

And you may be thinking this is the year that people accept you're the one that's right about everything. But you may also be aware that nobody agrees with you. And whether you're the pastor, or the wannabe power behind the throne, that's not good news when you're definitely right about starting or stopping whatever it is. So here's the Beaker list of things to put in front of your opinions to make it clear to meanest intelligence or heretic that you're definitely right.

And, to help out during meetings - there's a handy bingo card as well.


 "A lot of people are saying..."

 "When I wrote to the archdeacon about this, she didn't disagree with me... "

 "I feel God is saying - and I'm sure we wouldn't want to ignore God..."

 "I ran a poll among the congregation. Though they'd like their names kept anonymous. And will lie if you ask them because they don't like to go against the vicar."

 "Revd Howlett - so lovely and wise, and there were 300 in the choir alone in his day - thought..."

 "We could do that but a lot of people would leave."

 "The mood in the village..."

"At my last parish we always..."

 "I met someone last week who said they'd definitely come if we..."

 "This service/carpet/tea shop has been part of the fabric of the church since 1892... "

"If we're going to vote on this I think we should ask the whole congregation."

 "It worked for Holy Trinity Brompton."

 "We've never done it before. And when we did it didn't work."

 "All the people on Twitter said... "

 "My aunt Thelma would be most upset at this. No, she's buried out by the south wall..."

 "In this book about a massively successful church what they did was..."

 "...you wouldn't know them; they go to a different church."

 "I'm the bloody vicar, so obey, minions." (not always recommended)

"At Spring Harvest..."

Write an anonymous letter. That always works.




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.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Drayton Parslow's New Year Message

Hello! Hello! Is this thing working? I know it is important to keep up to date with modern technology, and that we communicate with a new generation with such cutting-edge techniques as Blogs, Myspace and Google Plus. On the other hand, never forget God's warnings to those who went
whoring with their own inventions - surely a prophecy of certain dating apps on mobile phones?

 But nevertheless I am willing, as was Tyndale with the printing press, to make use of new technology to spread God's word. In association with other of the more godly preachers of this land, I developed a dating app for the faithful - "Believr". It matched up different people - of the opposite sexes, of course - on the basis of their agreement on 96 key principles on which the Godly may differ. Adult baptism, for instance, the Rapture, prelapsarianism, the consumption of low-alcohol beer, whether to use wholemeal or white bread at the Lord's Supper, the ideal number of hymns, how large a hat women should wear, the correct hemline height for skirts, and a selection of images of beards with the option to identify them as either "hipster" or prophetic.

We may have been a little too granular in our selection criteria. After a massive 32 downloads from across the world, there were no matches at all. And half of the young ladies that signed up seem to wear clothes that are unsuitable for any Baptist chapel that I know of. 

It has been quite a year for Husborne Crawley and the Bogwulf Funambulist Baptists. I think, when I consider the continuing raging heresy of the so-called Archdruid, that we have certainly won the argument. People were broadly in favour of our promises of eternal life, lots of rousing hymns and 2-hour sermons. However, we have to balance this against the way our congregation numbers have halved. And that some people, hearing about our Camp Revival meetings, assumed it was something to do with the B52s tour and started attending worship dressed up as Ru Paul. In other news, we need to raise some money for the tin roof, which is rusted.

Speaking of which, thank you to those who've asked me about my struggles with O'Vienna Syndrome, where you inadvertently use lyrics from 1980s songs in your everyday speech. It has often been the case that in the morning I awake, my arms and legs and body ache. But when the going gets tough, I depend on the power of love and even when I feel I'm better off dead, and so unstable - I remember that this church is like a city on a rock. And we built this city. I am no longer a small-town boy.

But I digress. If our numbers become any smaller we will need to resort to a schism. We will therefore take our arguments to the streets - to be exact by standing in Dunstable town centre, shouting at people that they are Satan's spawn, foul loathsome creatures, who should clear off to the Anglicans. Oddly, despite our encouragement, they never join us.

Wishing all God's elect a peaceful, godly new year and a terrible, gnawing vengeance for the rest of you. We are another year nearer the end, albeit we did have those six false alarms during the last twelve months. I hope those of our fellowship who sold all they had and gave to the poor, are somehow able to rebuild their lives and careers.

Yours in utter confidence for what lies ahead

Revd Drayton Parslow



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, 30 December 2019

Archdruid's Sermon on the Death of Neil Innes

We remember that Neil Innes sang "How Sweet to be an Idiot".

We didn't realise British politics would adopt it as a motto.

You're the Urban Spaceman baby.
 Here comes the twist.
We need more intelligent, funny people in the world : not fewer.
(Sorry that didn't rhyme).

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Rachel Weeping for Her Children

“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.” (Matt 2:18 / Jer 31:15)
It's not all sweetness and light at Christmas.

When we look at the feast days after Christmas Day we remember :
  • Boxing Day - St Stephen, the first Christian martyr
  • 27th - St John the Apostle, who was exiled for his faith
  • 28th - Holy Innocents, who we remember in this reading.
  • 29th - Thomas Beckett, murdered for standing up to a king
Which isn't the list of happiness you might expect at the most wonderful time of the year. The Christmas story is barely five minutes in and we get this break-up of the manger scene. No wonder nativity plays like to stop with Mary, Joseph, shepherds, sheep, wise people and perhaps the odd Pokemon gathered round the manger in worship. This turns into a darker story. A story of murder and escape.

Fra Bartolomeo,- Rest on the flight into Egypt
Matthew's quoting from Jeremiah, and Jeremiah is looking at the exile to Babylon. He imagines Rachel - the mother of Benjamin and Joseph - weeping as her descendants are rounded up to be sent away from their homes. The tomb of Rachel is said to be just north of Bethlehem - sealed off from Bethlehem, which is now a Palestinian town, by a wall. The state of Israel says this is for protection, the Palestinian authorities say it is an apartheid wall. And so the world turns. There is a Christmas poem that Thomas Hardy wrote in 1924, while the Great War was still fresh in people's minds and bodies:
'Peace upon earth!' was said. We sing it,
And pay a million priests to bring it.
After two thousand years of mass
We've got as far as poison-gas.

Millions of Rachels mourning their children in that first world war. In the 2nd world war - once again it was the Jewish people that suffered terrible state-sponsored murder, persecution and displacement.

And today the mothers of Syria, the Rohingya people, minority Christians, members of other religions, and many atheists throughout the world suffer. As the carol puts it (and got there before Hardy)


Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;

It's easy to focus on the Holy Innocents and say - why didn't the angel warn their parents like Joseph was warned? But the murder of innocents continues every day that this world endures. Every day innocent people are harmed by the evil actions of others. And so the world rolls on, awaiting something better.

Jesus may have slipped away from danger, like Moses before him, on this occasion. But the forces of this world caught up with him in the end. 30 or so years later, having told everybody to love one another and forgive one another, he was killed by the State like his former neighbours those little Bethlehem boys. God knows what it means to be a refugee, the victim of injustice, a murder victim.

Methodists at this time of year are preparing for their Covenant service, with its amazing words:
I am no longer my own, but Yours.
Put me to what You will;
rank me with whom You will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for You or laid aside for You;
exalted for You, or brought low for you;
let me be full; let me be empty;
let me have all things; let me have nothing... 
It's not a prayer of passive acceptance, it's a wilful entry into the life of God. A renewal of the expectation that we share our life with the God who suffered on the earth.

If we enter into that life, we have to accept that we are lifting the cross. But we also enter into the life of the God who rose from the dead and who will come again. In the belief that though there are a billion pains in this life, yet it will all be made new. Through the One who came as a child, fled as a refugee, died as a criminal - but will return as a judge and bring justice for those he suffered with.
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendours fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.
One day, all injustice will be overturned. One day, all the exiles will return. One day, Rachel's tears will be dried.


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, 23 December 2019

Nativity Re-imagined

Now the sun has safely set after the Solstice, it was good to put Yule behind us and get onto Christmas. At least, so I thought until I saw the Little Pebbles' "Nativity Re-imagined."

I mean, yes. Obviously setting the manger scene in a lock-up garage in a Kentish Town back street made perfect sense. Joseph was an Amazon warehouse operative rather than a carpenter, and the donkey was replaced by a 20-year-old Fiat Panda. All completely conventional.

The shepherds being converted into a group of playwrights, who were on Primrose Hill abiding, seemed a bit jarring. If the Gospel is good news for the poor, then a bunch of kids doing Alan Bennett impressions isn't necessarily what we're aiming for.

But the Wise People. OK, having seven Magi and not of them all male is fair enough. But when they hear Herod is coming for the child. I just think that tooling-up and putting armour on a Ford Transit like a Cockney A-Team seemed a bit incongruous. Herod dying in a hail of bullets while Mary and Joseph are told they're safe where they are. Not true to the spirit of the piece? There is literally no shoot-out in the original.

But then... Herod being rebuilt by the evil Roman Legion into a cyborg king? And the angel having to take him out with a bazooka? Where does an angel get a bazooka in 1st century Palestine? Many critics commented that this was straining the narrative.

Still, by the end, the robo-Herod is lying dead - again - in the remains of the stable while Mary, Joseph, Magi and Pokemon sing that traditional Christmas anthem, "Stay Another Day". So all in all, the spirit of the season has been kept intact. Well done to all the children and leaders, and I've made a mental note to move Kylie on to more adult-focused ministry in the new year.


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 Pagan Origins of Christmas Customs

The great thing about pagan origins is that there's always more to "discover". And at this most wonderful time of the year, it's always good to find some more.
In the week before Christmas, all British people take a bull terrier to Wetherspoons

Christmas Hyacinths

The British like to buy bowls of hyacinth bulbs in August, which they gently try to coax into flower at Christmas. When they eventually do bloom in January, the people of the household cry out: "What's that terrible smell? For goodness' sake get them in the garden" and then throw the bowls outside.

Hermes

Although the Norse and Saxon peoples believed that Odin was the great gift-giver, the Beaker Folk adopted the Greek belief in the god Hermes. Unfortunately due to a misunderstanding, they believed that the messenger god was in fact the god of throwing parcels over fences. To this day, British children look in dustbins, on garage roofs, in trees and behind gates to find out where Hermes has left this year's presents.

Elf on the Shelf

One of Hermes' assistants is believed to be a very lazy elf. Instead of being out hiding presents like Hermes' other elves, he sits on the shelf and makes everybody hate him.

Blair

Blair is a strange creature of mixed fortune. While said to bring success to those that adopt him, he curses those those that reject him with eternal failure - which they blame him for. Like a European equivalent of the squonk, he leaves a trail of tears behind him as he flies around the world on his jet.

Breaking the Transport System

At the time of year when British people like to go and visit relatives, they prepare by digging up all the railway lines and flooding the roads. It is believed this is an ancient memory of when the  fens were underwater and the East Anglians clung to trees on the few scraps of land and shouted to their relatives that they'd see them in the summer when things were less hectic.

The Corbyn

Another gift-giving creature, those that believe in him say he travels the world sitting on the floor of his magical train, promising wonderful gifts that never materialise and then blaming the lack of gifts on  Blair. He may have the same mythical origins as Hermes.

Fairytale  of New York

A traditional Celtic ballad which is believed to pre-date Shane MacGowan's teeth. It is discovered each year that a song about two unpleasant losers shouting insults at each other is simultaneously not very nice, and the most Christmassy thing possible. Some people make instrumental versions of the song, to keep the Christmassy feel  but without the nastiness. That this is not a crime carrying a long prison sentence is a constant source of wonder.

Klopp

In many houses in the Liverpool area, Klopp is seen as a wise man from the East who performs miracles, brings many gifts and is generally wonderful. Unless Liverpool blow up in the second half of the season.

Killing the Poinsettia

It is said that the Poinsettia gets its colour from the blood of Captain Cook when he was killed on Hawaii. In revenge, British people kill a Poinsettia every year, and then act like it was unintentional.

The Unbelieving Vicar

Each Christmas, a member of clergy in England is elected to deny the Virgin Birth. The Daily Mail, which spends the rest of the year openly advocating punishing the poor and foreigners, will suddenly become all Christian and get a bit upset about it. Sometimes the vicar will then adopt the Daily Mail's attitudes to Europe, and start voting Conservative, confusing everyone.

Black Eye Friday

This is celebrated on the last Friday before Christmas. Many British people go into their towns, drink too much, and then end up fighting. Nobody can see why this is different to any other Friday.

The Banning of Christmas

A tradition that has now spread to the United States, where loud-mouthed, red-faced people say they are not allowed to say "Merry Christmas" anymore, thus proving themselves wrong. 

Father Boris

On Boris Night, little children spill bottles of wine on sofas and pray that it doesn't turn out that the Boris is their father. Like the Corbyn, he makes lots of promises of gifts. Except he keeps them all to himself.

The Invention of the Pagan Origins of Christmas

This ritual, often celebrated by the mysterious "Guardian", consists of making up "facts" about the pagan origins of Christmas, based on falsehoods, wishful thinking, and Internet lore. The Guardian itself is an interesting character. It is said that the Guardian was once an inhabitant of northern climes (Manchester) but moved south to Islington for better tapas.


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.