Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Anne Wetherspoons is Disapproving

The leader of the Disapproving Beaker Folk, Anne Wetherspoons, has been to see me - socially disapproving, of course - to have a bit of a disapprove.

Anne doesn't approve of the same-gender dancing we saw at the Strictly Liturgical Dancing event yesterday. She doesn't like us calling it same-gender instead of us calling it same-sex. She also doesn't want us calling it same-sex dancing, as she doesn't really like us using the word "sex".

She basically thinks that this kind of dancing is immoral, lascivious, prone to sin and a moral danger to the young. 

And I'm not saying she's wrong. 

But it's still only Morris Dancing. 

Morris dancing. Good old Morris.


Thursday, 15 October 2020

50 Reasons Why the Church of England is Declining

Church with no roof
This church is always open
I  always say there's no such thing as church decline. Only negative growth. That
way it just sounds like a natural variation, rather than a freefall. And the Church of England does it as well. Redefines things to sound better, I mean. Not decline. Though yes, also decline. So they go with"Statistics for Mission". Or, to put it another way, "Statistics for how badly mission is going." And of course, with the Church of England, the term gives everyone the chance to start to argue about what they mean by "mission". In a very real sense.

And so, with the turning of the years, the Church of England Statistics for Mission are in and David Keen at Opinionated Vicar has the annual job of  telling us how bad they are. But why?

I mean, not the right answers. Which answers can you give that reassure yourself that it's all somebody else's fault?

Here's the Beaker List of Reasons why the Church of England is Declining. Normally I'd knock up a bit of Javascript or do a Bingo Card. But I can't be bothered. So instead... feel free to choose your own. Then find someone else on Twitter who thinks it's another one. And let Armageddon commence.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Towards a Beaker Future

I've heard there's a lot of rumours around the place about the new initiative "Towards a Beaker Future". Well, there's no conspiracy. We just noticed that, taking a leaf from the Dom Cummings "Move fast and break stuff forever because we're rich and entitled and it won't hurt us" agenda, the good old C of E has been having a bash and why not us? Because let's face it there's nothing like a good pandemic to let you reorganise anything you like - including Public Health provision apparently - and if it doesn't work we can blame the virus

So the "Towards a Beaker Future" initiative will be changing everything, in lots of ways, all at once, and for no apparent reason. I'm not saying nothing will be worse. Or indeed better. But it will be different. Unless the normal human tendency to put everything back where it was cuts in and we come up with lots of radical-sounding stuff and nothing really changes.


Anyway. Enough of the blurb. Here's what you were all waiting for... the Powerpoint slide.

Lots of meaningless shapes, icons and pictures with words like "envision" and "governance". The bottom up group is led by the leadership. You know the kind of thing


Good old C of E ©The Church Mouse


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The Complete A to Z of Modern Heresies

Much excitement as the Bishop of Reading manages a short sermon on the Care of Creation which has been accused of heresy - either pantheism (the belief that the divine is the universe) or panentheism (the belief that the divine is the universe, and a bit more besides). For myself, I think she just went for a striking image and missed. I'd always blame poor communication over heresy. Just look at the Charge of the Light Brigade. That wasn't heresy caused that. But in these strange times, what other heresies can we expect among the plagues and the strange men who claim to be able to cure the plague with their own cleverness? Here's the modern A to Z of heresy.

AntandecianismBeing prepared to forgive what you would otherwise think was unforgivable, because the person is famous.
AryanismThinking God's image is more white than black.
BorisismLike Antinomianism, but only for one bloke and his mates.
CollieridianismObsession with posting pictures of your dog on Facebook
DoggietismLike Collieridianism, but with other, lesser breeds
MacedoineianismGiving posh French-sounding names to normal English food like mixed veg or fruit salad
ManicheesismThe belief that having the best selection of cheeses on your cheeseboard marks out your spiritual superiority
MonarchianismReading the Royalty columns of the Daily Express and hating Meghan Markle 
MonotellyismNot having a TV in every room, and expecting all the family to gather round for Coronation Street
Pantenetheism*Idolatory of a worship leader with good hair
PassivaggresivismWell, you would say I'm a heretic. (see also: Whataboutism)
PastypassurianismObsession with eating at Greggs, with resultant suffering
PricillaismBelieving heaven can be achieved if you watch enough feel-good films
PantenetheismIdolatory of a worship leader with good hair
PantheismIdolatory of celebrity chefs
Hemi-Demi-Semi-PelagianismAdmitting the possibility of a very slight active involvement of the human will in salvation, but only if you're a really good musician.
WhataboutismI heard your sermon last week and you didn't really understand the historical context of Nehemiah so why are you picking on my heresy?
ZoomoastrianismBelief that online worship isn't "real" worship as real worship has to be embodied (by people with fully-functioning bodies) in a real building.

* with thanks to Rachel, who inspired this thread with "Pantenetheism" beyond which all other heresies are as merely human imaginings.



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Friday, 9 October 2020

St Kirsty's Eve

In honour of St Kirsty we are dancing the Mambo de la Luna this evening. There's no moon just yet but Mars is burning red overhead, so it'll do while we kick around waiting for moonrise.

Unfortunately, we will be unable to find "a bar that stays open all night", in accordance with the sacred lyrics of "Until the Night". Boris Johnson said they all had to close five minutes ago. This is also bad news for anyone planning to see in Christmas with the Boys of the NYPD Choir. Even if the NYPD Choir existed. Which it doesn't.

So we mark the 61st anniversary of St Kirst's birth. And wonder what vitriol she would have poured on ageing lotharios and fading lovers in these titanic days. We will never know. We do know what pretty girls do. They grow older just like everbody else. Though not this one.

 Somewhere Terry is doing his Marlon Brando act. Another useless bloke is claiming he's Elvis, and tomorrow a Big Boy on a Saturday Night will be feeling a bit rubbish cos the pubs are chucking out early.

 God bless you, Kirsty. Somewhere there's sun on the water.


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Nativity of John Lennon

A reminder to all Beaker Folk on this the anniversary of the birth of John Lennon.

Anyone heard singing or whistling "Imagine" will be subject to an on-the-spot fine of £200.

This will be doubled for each subsequent event, until the number of digits in the fine are more even than the sands on the seashore. 

Happy birthday, John. I hope you discovered that there wasn't only sky above us.  But I'm still not forgiving you for that terrible song.


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Thursday, 8 October 2020

End of Season Sale

It's been, if nothing else, a good summer for sitting in the garden. So Young Keith was really pleased to snap up some last minute bargains we can use next summer for what I am sure will be another socially-distanced worship season. And we've been looking forward to receiving our bulk buy of cut price rattan garden furniture.

Shame he can't check the descriptions.

Anyone want to buy a lorry load of rotten garden furniture?


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Tuesday, 6 October 2020

The Miraculous Healing of Trump

On the third day after he had gone into hospital (or, as Dr Conley put it, after 72 hours), after he had miraculously recovered from the illness that had laid him low, Trump appeared to his believers in a motorcade. And he declared to them, "Behold for I have conquered the flu! You need not fear, little ones. Apart from the few that are unfortunately no longer with us. And they have passed beyond fear."

And the well-meaning people that did not believe in Trump asked themselves, "What can we say? Or what are we to think? We didn't wish death upon him. But we do kind of wish he'd been ill a bit longer. Not ill ill. Just - you know - enough to set an example to his followers." Then they felt bad about their thoughts and went off to think hard about their true feelings for a few weeks.

And the wise said to them, "if 200,000 dying has not convinced them, will one old man staying in hospital longer cause them to repent?"

 And those that hated Trump said to themselves, "The drugs are messing with his brain. Behold he labours to breathe. Was not Herod eaten by worms? He'll be back in before you know it."

 And his believers said to themselves , "What miracles have been wrought among us? For he was as dead to us - we thought he was a loser. And yet he has won bigly! He was like unto us - except with the best medical treatment in the world. Truly it is a miracle." And they cast of their masks. But some died, as the plague still spread among the 'Mericans.

And so the people of 'Merica were troubled among themselves. But Trump took in a deep breath, and felt the pain in his ribs, and hoped it came off. Not the mask, the risk.



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Sunday, 4 October 2020

"Fearlessly, But With Common Sense"

The Prime Minister has announced that the British public should react to the ongoing Covid epidemic by behaving "fearlessly, but with common sense". An expression that ranks alongside a classic line from another comedy adulterer, in Last of the Summer Wine. Where Howard and Marina are discussing the state of their affair. Howard wants to tell the whole world about it - apart from Pearl, his wife. Marina wants him to throw caution to the wind. Howard agrees that he would love to throw caution to the wind. But carefully.
And in this mood of cautious heroism, so it is that the authors of the New Tory Bible have new paraphrases to introduce. 

Joshua 1:9 - "Act fearlessly, but with common sense."

Acts 4:31 - "They were all filled with the Spirit and spoke fearlessly, but with common sense."

2 For 3:12 - "Therefore since we have such great hope, we speak fearlessly but with common sense."

Prov 28:1 - "The foolish flee with no cause. But the wise are fearless, but with common sense."

 So the Beaker Band, already a bit shaken after Laurence Fox materialised to them in the night and told them how downtrodden he is, have had to rewrite today's children's song - "Be bold, with common sense, for the Lord your God is with you."



 Now the thing is, Johnson kind of has a point. For many people, fear of this virus is not quite the right word. Caution is. Common sense, I believe, is not the right words ever to use. As someone cleverer than me may once have said, the trouble is that common sense isn't all that common, and it's not always sense. There are people alive in this country who grew up at a time when measles parties were regarded as common sense. In the virology and epidemiology of a new virus, common sense is most useful for accepting that when the science changes - as it does - we need to accept it. At the moment, scientific evidence is swaying from contact as a form of transfer to the belief that it's predominantly aerosol and droplet transmission. Well, as St Paul nearly said, let us not give up washing our hands. Because common sense tells us that the science can change again.

But let's carefully consider what we mean when we say a shop, workplace or place of worship is "Covid secure". We don't mean it's 100% safe. We mean the risk is mitigated. And that's fine - we mitigate risk when we put a lightning conductor on the tower, or say you can't go in a building on your own, or wear a seat belt while driving to church, or look both ways when crossing the road. Mitigating risk is what we do instinctively all the time. But we're not very good at understanding the residual risks after those mitigations. And that's why some people are, despite it all, not fearless about this virus. Whereas others are completely so. Each in the belief that it's the others that are wrong.

The problem with fearlessness is that it can look a lot like recklessness. Fear is a handy thing when confronted with a lightning storm when you're outside in flat countryside. It's a natural reaction to a deadly disease. Whereas if you're so fearless you shake hands with people in Covid wards, or meet hundreds of people that are neither distancing nor mask-wearing during a pandemic, that's generally a bad idea. That kind of fearlessness is also uncharitable, as you are also putting other people at harm.
 
So let us be neither fearful nor reckless, lacking in sense nor under the impression that common sense is all it takes. As St Matt of Lucas said, let us bake in tents. But do not bake in a tent. It all makes sense. Keep calm and carry on, now.



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