Saturday 30 April 2016

Seven Christian Products You're Glad Don't Exist  tells us about seven Christian products that exist but shouldn't. Although I notice that they miss off the "Pope on a rope" that legend has it was sold at Walsingham.

But what other Christian products are just waiting to be created, so you can wish they weren't?

LED Cruet: - To spread salt and light.

Creationist Cheese: It's got large holes in it.

Evangelical Sat Nav: First it gets you lost, then it shows you the way. Then it loudly broadcasts to all passers-by that you're now on the right path.

Shoes with built-in torch: To be a light unto your feet.

Complementarian Oven: Does a DNA analysis of your hand and only allows women to operate the controls.

Churchwarden Monopoly: You never get to "Go" and you're constantly making general repairs and appealing to the Community Chest.

Anglican Bicycle: However you try to steer it, it just wobbles down the middle of the road.

This Anglican bike is well over to the left. But not going anywhere.

With thanks to Annie Porterhouse for the Tweet that led to this

The Spirit and God's Peace

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. 
I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid." (John 14:23-29)
The Beaker Religion is nothing if it is not about feelings. Feeling good. Feeling slightly sorrowful, but somehow determined and resolute. Feeling happy. Feeling like our hearts have been slightly warmed - but not so much that we would do something daft like get on a horse and ride around England preaching the Gospel to hostile crowds.

And so we do the things that make us feel good. Lighting tea lights. Contemplating pebbles. Playing Enya songs while looking at videos of dolphins. Dancing around the sun dial in the warmth of the afternoon sun. Good things. Spiritual things. Uplifting things.

And we do this because we have told ourselves that religion is, when all is said and done, about our own feelings. We help people because we feel good. We sing songs to cheer up. If the sermon has not entertained us, or lifted us up, or made the pastor sound good, or made us feel just a bit sad - but with a good but at the end - then what was the point? We don't go to Church to feel sinful, or properly challenged, or - if it comes down to it - to meet with God. We want to get the good bits that meeting God should be like if God is as loving as we like to think, but without the bad bits. You know that bit in Dream of Gerontius where the old guy gets a vision of the Lord, and he realises what the bad things in him are. So he goes off singing to Purgatory knowing he can be cleaned eventually? That bit?  That strikes us as a bit much. Why go through all that when you could light a candle and feel a bit beatific?

But I suspect the reason we think like that is because we have a view of the Trinity that is maybe more post-modern than the Gospel writers might recognise. That the Father is the source of Godhead - yes. Got that. Dunno what it means, but then our best bet in that case is not to think too hard. That way heresy lies. But just accept it - nice and Nicene.

But then we differ. To a Beaker person, the Spirit is available across the whole world, to all people. For does not the Spirit blow where s/he will? So the Spirit is the bringer that nice feeling we get - which is a nice, ecumenical, evangelism-light way of recognising our common gooey religious feelings with people of all religions and nuns. I mean none. Whereas the Son - you have to accept the Son, don't you? That's a conversiony thing. That's the way it works. The Father is a given - the Spirit is free to all - the Son is the one we accept.

Whereas I suspect that's not the view from this passage. The order seems to go - if we love Jesus, we will do what he says - and then we will received the Spirit. Implying that Jesus is already there - the given. And when he is offered to all, we can accept or reject. But if we accept him - and therefore follow what he says - then we receive the Spirit.

The way I see it is that the Word - the Logos - is the logic behind Creation. The Word - Christ - holds all things together. The world is created through him, takes its shape from him. So we are already offered with this Christ - because he holds us all together. He brings us into being, gives our lives his meaning. His glory is written in all things, from the fine structure of the hydrogen spectrum to the most massive supernova, in cell biology and the force of gravity and human love.

And if his love is not already written clearly enough into the structure of things, he then writes himself into history - coming as a man, healing the sick, eating with his friends, dying on a cross, rising to life.

And he says that if we love him, that is when we will receive the Spirit. He tells us that the Spirit he gives will bring us peace.

But if this is so, then all the doing stuff to make ourselves feel nice is pointless. Love Jesus - show it by keeping his commandments - receive the Spirit - be left with Jesus's peace. It's not the sort of peace we look for as in peace and quiet, or a nice comfy feeling - although these are both good at the right times. It's far beyond that.

It means that chasing after pleasure is actually a waste of time - although pleasure itself has nothing wrong with it, should it come along. That the source of pleasure is the real thing we should be looking for.

And when we love him, the Spirit is what marks us as God's children. Who makes us more like Jesus. Who brings peace into our lives - the true peace that comes from being in tune with God's heart.

St Paul tells us  how close that relationship then draws us into the Trinity. When describing how the Spirit meets us.... " our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words." (Rom 8:26)

And so the Holy Spirit is the one who brings us into the heart of God. The one bringing us the words to pray, the words to praise God. The one who takes the words of Scripture and writes them on our hearts instead of just on the page. The Spirit is the promise that Jesus leaves with us - the one who keeps us close to God, until Jesus comes.

Beltane Instructions

Could all Beaker Folk make themselves aware of the following instructions this May Eve. Please do not refer to the "Wicker Man". It is a "Wicker Person." After the time a Wicker Person fell over, we have a new range of fireproof hi vis jackets available in the Beaker Bazaar. Please ensure you buy one, at the very reasonable price of £10 each or 6 for £50. The Wicker Person, being built out of split pallet wood, still contains a number of nails. Try to avoid catching your fireproof hi vis on them. This renders the guarantee void. The Wicker Person will be ignited at midnight precisely. The Official Lighter will be chosen at 11.30 by raffle. The Bucket-of-Water-Bearer this year will be Hnaef. In the light of last year's experience the Person who Puts out the Bucket-of-Water-Bearer will be Daphne. In other news, tomorrow marks the opening of the Flying Spaghetti Monster season. Anybody who obtains a licence is allowed to shoot up to three FSMs. Anybody who puts a colander on their head and claims to be a "Pastafarian" is a dork.

Quiet Day for Extroverts

Last week's "Quiet Day for Extroverts" has been reported to the Hague as a breach of the Geneva Convention.

We never did find all the Extroverts.

Every now and then one is picked up in the village, banging on people's windows and asking how they are, what they do, what they're watching on TV and is that shotgun loaded?

Friday 29 April 2016

If Saints' Names Were Rendered Appropriately

Saint Catherine of Sienna
Saint James the Great

Saint Agur

Saint Gangalphus of Burgundy

Saint James the Less

Saint Sabus the Goth

Saint Isidore of Seville 

Saint Brendan the Bold

Saint Hugh Green (aka Ferdinand Brown)

St George

Saint Judith of Prussia

Saint Anthony Mary Claret 

St Abban the Hermit

* Note - not all these jokes will work on all computers. I have no idea how this will work with a screenreader - apologies if it doesn't.

New Kids on the Blog

Nothing to do with us, but you may enjoy Exciting Weariness, who seem to have adopted our idea of having exciting "alternative" saints - albeit without the Beaker Folk's cutting-edge liturgies.

All good stuff though - so they're going on the "tea light list".

Thursday 28 April 2016

The Ed Balls Day Massacre

Yeah, bit of a riot, this frosty Ed Balls Day.

Since 4,000 BC the Beaker Folk have celebrated Ed Balls Day with a sunrise Pouring-Out of Beakers.

On a cold morning, the mist shimmering off the spring waters, poured out to symbolise the blessing of Ed Balls on the land, is very moving. Especially when we reinforce it with some dry ice.

But this merry Ed Balls Day, disaster struck. People forgot the words. Which isn't very impressive, when you think the entire Liturgy consists of the name of the man whose day it is. And them someone asked if Ed Balls was the one who can't eat bacon sandwiches, or the one who wears those over-tight shorts.

Hey ho, I suppose that's politics.

But then Hnaef took it upon himself to educate everybody on what Ed Balls is all about. And you have to hand it to Hnaef. Only the English Upper Class can be so effortlessly multi-culti liberal, while simultaneously taking their own natural superiority for granted.

So Hnaef tried to teach the Beaker Folk the ancient Ed Balls Day anthem they sing at King's College. In the original Syriac, of course. And the Beaker Folk's attempt at singing in 7.5 part harmony was so hideous that it woke Grendel, the Community cat.

Grendel hates being woken by Beaker Folk yowling. He always assumes it's some feminine feline feeling fruity, then gets all annoyed and frustrated. And takes out his existential rage on the first living thing he sees.

Which happened to be Ed Balls, who to celebrate his special day was skipping around the Upper Paddock with Herne the Hunter and an assortment of squirrels.

There was something so essentially English pastoral about that whole scene, as Grendel wreaked mighty havoc with Ed Balls and chased him off towards the motorway. That was some nasty slashes Ed sustained. Thank goodness he wasn't wearing his shorts.

Still, now we've got to eat our Ed Balls Buns, then look forward to opening the Ed Balls presents before we watch Yvette Cooper's speech then take the baubles off the Ed Balls Tree.

That's the thing about Ed Balls Day. You spend so long preparing for it, it's got so commercial - and then it's all over so quickly. We've lost the real meaning.

Wednesday 27 April 2016

If Acts of Confession Were Like Apologies

Burton Dasset: I'm sorry I neglected the family. But it was really important to ensure the project's quality standards were maintained. And that meeting on the right font for business communication  went on till 9pm.

Stacey Bushes: I'm sorry I said I'd like to burn your shed down. But it's an ugly shed.

Marston Moretaine: I'm sorry if I offended you. Albeit some might say your skin is a bit thin. But I'm prepared to accept I should have taken more consideration for your being so precious.

Young Keith: I'm sorry I stole your hat for a joke in 2008. And for the 8 years I've denied responsibility. It wasn't a very good hat. Here, have it back if you're gonna be unreasonable about it.

Hnaef: I'm sorry I broke your leg in that "Beaker 5-a-side" tournament. And yes, I was wearing steel toed boots. But have you never heard of shin pads?

Charlie: I'm sorry if I smashed your dinner in your face. But it's been a hard week. And you've not really been much support. Whoever you are.

Archdruid: You are all provisionally forgiven. But whatever caveats you've applied may also apply to this forgiveness.

(For advice on real apologies, see Sorrywatch)

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Liturgy of Mockery of Bernard Ingham

Archdruid: He said he'd formed his view of events from the media reports. Presumably including the Sun's reports, whose evil lies he thereby backed up.

All: He was wrong.

Archdruid: He said people should shut up about Hillsborough.

All: He was wrong.

Archdruid: He called the Liverpool fans "tanked up yobs".

All: He was wrong.

Archdruid: He advised Liverpool fans who had lost relatives, to let it drop rather than pursue justice.

All: He was wrong.

Archdruid: So he helped cover up those responsible.

All: He was wrong.

Archdruid: And now, in his later years.....

All: He knows he's wrong. Even if he denies it to himself, he knows he's wrong. He knows everyone knows that he was wrong.

Archdruid: And though this does not bring back one child, one husband, one friend or parent who should have come from a game of football...

All: ....we wish him many more years of life. So he can reflect on just how wrong he was.

Archdruid: And we will never, never, never call him "Sir".

Monday 25 April 2016

The Spirituality of Swindon

Today's "The Spirituality of Swindon" was a surprise success for those of us who don't believe it has any. The scale model of Solsbury Hill was more impressive than expected, after the millimeter/feet confusion in the measurements.

When we finally could climb to the top we found that the "city lights" we could see included Milton Keynes, which we expected, but also Peterborough, London and Nantes.

Other surprises were that we found Spinal Tap wanting royalties for their joke, and that the gravitational pull of the new mountain is the real reason the North Pole is now moving in our direction.

Sunday 24 April 2016

Myths of Genesis - the Revenge

Our follow-up retreat, "Myths of Genesis - the Revenge" maybe focussed too much in its advertising on lovely pictures of the moon, sun and stars. This resulted in the attendance being mostly comprised of astrologers.

I would say that was bound to happen, but you've probably already predicted I would do that.

Saturday 23 April 2016

Faith and Science - Opposed or Aligned?

Our Discussion Day today. "Faith and Science - Opposed or Aligned?" was a great success. The atheists proved they knew nothing about the philosophy of religion. And the believers proved they knew enough about science to put laxative in the atheists' tea.

None of the atheists came back for the afternoon for some reason, so the session "Myths of Genesis" only upset the creationists.

"Brainwashed Fools Feed Poor"

Nicely done, The Onion.

The Death of the Celebrity

The BBC runs an interesting argument on why there are so many famous deaths this year already. Concluding that it's gonna be like this from now on - the number of famous people increased sharply with the advent of television, while the population - the boomers - increased sharply post-war, thus giving us what might be called an optimal environment for a famous-death occasion.

I wonder however for how long this scenario will be maintained. The great upsurge of record-boying that gave us so many baby-boomer pop stars was when I was in my teens. I note that by the BBC's reckoning, Billy Idol is a baby-boomer. Which makes me wonder if we can sue him for calling his former band Generation X. But when that great pantheon of singers has taken its final bow and toppled off the stage, what then? Their place - on a multiplicity of channels - has been taken to a large degree by lesser folk. People who just want to be on TV. People who are happy to be filmed 24 hours a day eating baked beans and playing "Who's that fart?" In other words, "reality TV stars."

The only way the TV companies can fill up the schedules is by screenings of less important, cheaper people. They all get to say they are " X from Made in Chelsea", but they're just endless recycling on a theme - muscle-bound blerk from Newcastle / dyed-blonde woman / man with hair that looks like a brunette iced-gem / woman who has a habit of showing off parts of her body you'd really rather she didn't. And as they become more identikit (or, as Peter Cook used to so foppishly say, identiquite), people just ain't as famous as they used to be.

A club in the Midlands that Burton visited on one of his drip-mat collecting expeditions had a board advertising three leading comedians. One was from TOWIE, one wasn't, and one was apparently actually famous as a comedian who got to the semi finals of Britain's Got Talent. This isn't exactly a show with Victoria Wood, Linda Smith and Rik Mayall. And that's my point. We have reached peak celebrity. The genuinely famous are increasingly dying out and being replaced by people who are legends in their own lunchtimes.

What this means is that we shall soon reach the point where there are more dead genuinely famous people - "stars" and "superstars" than there are living ones. We will have a talent deficit to the next world. What sort of place to live will that be? One where we have to resort to watching re-runs of Last of the Summer Wine, Only Fools and Horses and Minder. We will be living in UK Gold, in other words.

So dry your tears for Prince, and Victoria Wood. The next will be along in a minute. This is how it's gonna be, ice-caps permitting, for the next 20 years. Can someone please keep an eye on Peter Sallis? He's the only one beating the odds.

Thursday 21 April 2016

The Satire of Inappropriate Outrage

Much upset in SocMed land about the news that the Queen is to be given Framlingham Castle as a birthday present.

For instance... (and follow the responses)
I am a big reader of the Suffolk Gazette. I have linked to them before and I have them in my sidebar. Of course, the whole point of the Suffolk Gazette is carried in their strap line - "YOU COULDN'T MAKE IT UP". The Suffolk Gazette has as much resemblance to life in Suffolk as this blog is an everyday tale of country folk in a small Bedfordshire village.

There's ways to slant the chances of spotting spoofs (or lies), of course. For example:
  1. If the news story has anonymous spokespeople, or a farmer called "Maurice Piper"
  2. If it features in Snopes with the word "False" against it.
  3. If the source page doesn't exist, or has a cookies message that seems oddly interested in beer.
  4. If it is so outrageously stereotypical about the people you are asked to be angry about, that it is clearly not true. NB this does not normally apply to stories about Donal Trump, which are all true.
  5. If it appears on a known fake website.#
  6. If, like the David Cameron "pig" story, there is only unlikely and inconsistent evidence from somebody who might have a reason to put the story in the media.
  7. If you really want it to be true.
In the instant-reaction echo chamber that is modern Social Media these things will only take five minutes to check out. Honest. I know I'm a trained scientist - but the rest of you could catch up, honest. (And we do get things wrong around here.) But it saves a lot of frenzy. Although that frenzy has no doubt done the Suffolk Gazette Beer Fund a lot of good.

But - the trouble is - sometimes we like the frenzy more than the truth. I once received a chain email from someone complaining about a play that (a) was blasphemous and (b) was doing the rounds of the UK. I replied pointing out that the play (a) was not as bad as it was being painted and (b) hadn't been shown in the UK for years, with no plans to re-stage it.

The person who sent me the email replied that, even if what I said was true, he was glad he'd warned everybody.

And took me off his mailing list.

Internet horror. Because sometimes the truth is just too truthful.

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Victoria Wood

Well what can I say? No funny/touching liturgies, because we reserve those for people who have died at the upper end of the Bible's threescore and ten/fourscore range.

I'm bloody bloody gutted. Most celebrities we wave goodbye to with a moderate feeling of regret. But Victoria Wood? I've not felt so bad about a celebrity dying since Kirsty MacColl.

Victoria Wood was a genius. Funny. Easy to relate to. Utterly at ease in performance. Capable of balancing Northern, domestic humour with an amazing universality. If it weren't for Victoria Wood, then Peter Kay and Johnny Vegas would currently be doing whatever cheerful Northern people do when they can't get a job in comedy. Whippet-racing or something. I don't know. That's not the point. The point is that Victoria Wood was bloody brilliant and now she's not with us. And it's too soon.

Not many things do we have, to get through this vale of tears. Faith, if we're blessed. Ambition, if we don't understand the concepts of eternity and human fallibility. Love of friends and family. Beauty. And humour. Victoria Wood brought beauty and humour. Brilliant humour.

God bless you, Victoria Wood. I hope you finally catch up with your friend, Kimberly. And no, I haven't seen her.

Tuesday 19 April 2016

A Spong For Europe

I hear that Eurovision are starting a new theological competition. Basically, they're after the continent's most radical liberal theologian.

They're calling it... Oh yeah, gave that away in the title, didn't I?

Cherries from Heaven

People complaining about the new coin-operated tea light dispenser in the Moot House. I don't see why.

After all, it's only standardising our previous request for a "minimum donation" of a quid. The tea lights are guaranteed untouched by human hands. Apart from Burton, who loads it every evening.

And if you get three cherries, you win a free tea light.

Moses Invents a Sophisticated Drink

And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.

And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

Which Moses thought was a punishment. But the children of Israel were post-modern consumerists, and thought that mineral water with gold flakes was a "sophisticated and refreshing hydration solution." And agreed that, although it was able to bring a lift to any refreshment occasion, it was best to drink with white fish or chicken.

Monday 18 April 2016

Liturgy of Holding Hands, Skipping in a Circle

Background music: "Bored of the Prance" (Carter)

All Beaker Folk stand in a circle facing inwards around the sundial.

Beaker Folk join hands.

All skip three paces left.

Raise hands.

All skip three paces right.

Lower hands.

All turn round to face outwards.

Join hands.

All skip three paces right.

Raise hands.

All skip three paces left.

Lower hands.

All turn to face inwards.

Continue until someone pulls a muscle, or someone asks what this has to do with worship. Sometimes it can last hours.

Sunday 17 April 2016

Annual Report of the Mission Committee

This year has once again been a whirlwind of activity for the Mission Committee. Which means we have not actually been able to meet.

Charles works nights Monday to Wednesday, Dorice goes to see her mum from Friday afternoons to Saturdays, Sunday is a day of rest and Thursday is Arfur's darts night. So we actually don't have any chance to meet at all. We're hoping in five or six years, when a couple of us have retired, it might all get a bit easier.

So we tried recreating the Mission Committee as a "virtual group" online. We set up a Facebook group, and looked forward to the dynamic evangelistic ideas that would arise.

It was only after five months of radio silence that we realised that, since Dorice thinks Facebook is a CIA plot to steal your recipes for ginger cake, and Arfur does not have a computer, this was not going to work.

Catching ten minutes after the Sunday Tea Light Extravaganza, we did conclude that we had limited our ambitions by just using the word "Mission". After all, as the church in the West has gradually come to reason, it's not like anyone every actually gave the Church a "Mission" as such. And so, in order to broaden our terms of reference, we are now the Mission, Outreach and Bingo Committee. This has certainly given us more potential scope for activity. However, since Charles thinks that Bingo is the work of the Dark One, the actual scope is very little wider than it was before. And, since we collectively have no free evenings (see above), we can't actually hold any Bingo sessions even if we all agreed it would not be the road to perdition. Charles thinks this is a narrow escape.

Next year, our ambition is to organise a major outreach to the people of Husborne Crawley, involving a large Big Top, sky divers, the German electronic music group Kraftwerk and an internationally-famous speaker. We know we're aiming high. But if we don't shoot for the stars, where will we get? There is an evening in August when we reckon we're all free, and we could probably get it planned. As long as Arfur's shifts don't change.

The Mission, Outreach and Bingo Committee

The Heroine, Waiting Weakly and Meekly for the Hero

Now here's a bit of scriptural brilliance to conjure with, as Nathan Alberson tells us all why the Bible says you can't have female action heroes.

Except, it appears, Deborah.

And, if you don't mind a bit of Apocrypha, Judith.

I would argue that, for her bravery as a young girl - effectively abducted by a weak, idiot, king who wants the prettiest queen - Esther is a model - just not a fightin' one.

Shiprah and Puah risked their lives to save the Hebrew people - as did Rahab in her own way.

And then, of course, there's my favourite of all. Jael.

That's one in the eye for Sisera
You can argue till you're blue in the mouth that the Bible says that women can't be as aggressive, sneaky and downright violent as men, in the cause of right. But the funny thing is, the Bible itself will say you're wrong.

So Princess Leia, Rey, Katniss Everdeen - you can keep it up. You're doing a great job.

The Chilcot Enquiry - How it Actually Started

"O John Chilcot," Brown said, "the task we have hired you to perform is this. We want you to tell us...." he paused, "The Answer."

"The Answer? to what?"

"Iraq!" urged Brown.

"Saddam!" said Mandelson.

"Everything!" they said in chorus.

Chilcot paused for a moment's reflection.

"Tricky," he said finally.

"But can you do it?"

Again, a significant pause. "Yes," said Chilcot, "I can do it."

"There is an answer?" said Brown, with breathless excitement.

"Yes," said Chilcot. "Iraq, Saddam, and Everything. There is an answer. But, I'll have to think about it."

Mandelson glanced impatiently at his watch. “How long?” he said.

Saturday 16 April 2016

Shepherd and Sheep

"My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one." (John 10:27-30)
There's a starkly beautiful song on Blur's album, Magic Whip, called Pyongyang. In which Damon Albarn sings hauntingly about the former palace in which the founder and perpetual president of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung, rests with his son, King Jong-il.
Kid the mausoleum has fallen
And the perfect avenues
Will seem empty without you
And the pink light that bathed the great leaders is fading
Cared for by specialist Russian embalmers, in glass boxes, housed in that building that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to convert from a home for the living to a home for the dead - the two dictators aspire to a creepy form of immortality.

Why do they do this? Why preserve the mortal remains of dead leaders? Why call someone a "perpetual president" when he is absolutely no use whatsoever, and the official doctrine of the state is that there is no God - and therefore no persistence after death? The answer is of course that it is a state cult - a kind of religion, to fill the gap where any belief in God, any kind of hope might be found. The irony being that the modernist philosophy of Communism - with its belief in progress bringing liberation - has become reduced here to a backward-looking personality cult. And looking backwards to two people who were monsters.

You don't have to go as far as Korea to see a dead man in a box, of course. The founder member of Living in a Box was Jeremy Bentham, the utilitarian philosopher. Jezza sits in a glass box in University College Library. He wanted his body preserved in this way so that his friends could gather round him to celebrate the founder of what he called "the greatest happiness system of morals." As you might imagine, what actually happens is that the tourists come to gawp at him. And the students of Kings College have been known to steal his head and hold it to ransom occasionally.
Living in a Box

I share these macabre stories to reflect that dependency on human aptitudes eventually fall from desperate solemnity to farce. The Russians are prepared to spend about $200,000 per annum to keep Lenin looking - well, "good" is probably stretching it. But they probably figure it's worth it for the tourism.

 The prophets of Israel used to sound out against bad "shepherds" - leaders of the nations that - literally - fleeced their flocks. And the Kim family of Korea and Lenin, while glorifying themselves and claiming they were acting for their people, certainly did that. The latest round of accusations against David Cameron and other politicians are based on the belief - or at least the claim - that they were acting for themselves, when they should have been acting for the country.

And then we come to a passage of scripture where we see a different model. There's Jesus in John 10. Jesus the Shepherd. The one that leads, and looks after the sheep. A really strong claim because God is frequently referred to as a shepherd. Psalm 23 being the most famous. And God is compared to the shepherds of Israel that extorted from the people of Israel and Judah - that exploited and regarded the people as akin to slaves. God, we're told, is not like that. God is a shepherd that cares for the sheep.

 The thing I'd like to throw into the mix here is where Jesus says "I and the Father are one". If the Father and Son are one - then Jesus can call himself the Good Shepherd - the one who calls to his sheep. But in  Rev 7 - we discover a remarkable thing about the shepherd. And that is that he can also be described as a lamb. Specifically, a sacrificial lamb - one who was slain to give life to others. Both shepherd and sheep.

Still with me? This is a roller-coaster of mixed metaphor, I know. No Biblical literalism can act as our guide at this point. So Jesus is both shepherd - God. And sheep - i.e. one of us. He will protect and love us forever. There's an amazingly beautiful picture of love and closeness - we know his voice, and he knows us. But the relationship is even closer than that. He's actually one of us.

It's maybe been heavy going picture language, here. But I hope the picture makes sense. The God who is our ruler, our creator, our guide and our protector - our shepherd - is also our companion, our brother and sister, our sacrifice. God does not hide above us, but walks among us. God does not just look down on us, but becomes one of us.

And we as Christians look forwards - to the day when we hear the voice of our shepherd, and know it as fresh as those disciples did in Galilee and Judea. When we gather round the Lamb, with our palm branches, to bow down and worship. When we forget the false prophets, the failed futures and empty promises of the world in which we live, and know our Shepherd as we are known.

Terry Wogan "Next on List for German Satire Prosecution"

The complaint this week from the Swedish producer of the Eurovision Song Contest has uncovered another chapter in the ongoing story of the prosecution of German comedian Jan Böhmermann.

It has now been revealed that, prior to his greatly lamented death, Sir Terry Wogan was the subject of an extradition order from the German government.

"Section 103 of the penal code provides for the prosecution of anyone offending the leader or organs of another state," said a representative of the Belgian Social Democratic, Waffles and Hating Flanders Party, "and as Wogan had satirised the Eurovision Song Contest - an Executive Arm of the European Union and a department of the Swedish and Latvian Tourist Boards - we demanded his prosecution."

It is understood that the reason Terry Wogan avoided extradition was due to an administrative error. Because he spent his time mocking the songs, costumes and traditions of other European countries, the German prosecutors had assumed he was English.

Thursday 14 April 2016

Of Myth and Mystery

It's always seemed to me that the Doctrine of the Trinity gives Christians amazing flexibility. And, if Beaker Folk like anything, it's a bit of flexibility.

See, it's claimed that we are a monotheist religion. And yes, in a way we are. But our God is a God of diversity in unity. We have what some, in these jargon-laden days, might call "flex".

As a Christian, would I totally reject the Norse religions, for example? Would I relegate them to a category called "myth"? Well, no. And for two reasons.

The first is that you can't relegate anything to myth. Because myth is one of the most powerful things we have. Myth is what we make to explain the most important things we hold. Myth is a form of language we use when history and science are inadequate to the job.

Myth is when UKIP harks back to a 1950s Britain where everyone was happy and English - even the Scottish. Myth is when Donald Trump tells the people of the U.S. that, just by electing him, everything will be alright. Myth was Tony Blair telling us that things could only get better.

But then myth is saying that a basic British value is decency - and then trying to live up to it. Saying to ourselves that Britain has accepted all sorts of races and religions over the years and just got on with things - so we shall do so now. That's a foundation myth.

Myth says that a witch turned a king to stone at Little Rollright in the Cotswolds. A load of drivel unless you think that little story is maybe a story about human limitations and the way that ambition may be powerful, but you can't control everything, no matter how talented or aspirational you are.

"Coulda been a contender"
And if you're in that pagan place, then you'll know that there's more in heaven and earth than we can contain in our philosophies.

Myth says that God created the world in 6 days. And most Christians don't really believe that in a historic sense. Some of us have degrees in science, for goodness sake. But the Big Bang theory (invented by a priest) doesn't tell us if there's a point. Physics tells us that the universe is orderly - myth tells us that's because it was created in a rational way. And yes I've picked the word deliberately.

And the second reason is because I don't believe any religion is a write-off. I'm a Trinitarian, and the Son of God is called the Word  - the Logos in Greek. That Logos is the log-ic behind the universe. He is the one who bears the universe into being - the one who's writing the rules of who we are.
And if the Logos defines us like that then everyone, regardless of their background or religion of choice or upbringing, is constantly afloat, if you will, in the sea of logic that is the Logos.
And then the creation myth says that God breathes the Spirit into humanity. So of course the truth of God will pour out into all our beliefs and religions. If we're a bit nerdy, maybe we can respond only to the beauty of Science. If we're not, then maybe we just have a general feeling that it's not too bad - that everything will be OK.. And if we belong to a polytheistic religion then we will know that God is fantastically diverse and eternally creative and revealed through story and myth and wonder. And if we are a member of monotheistic faith then we will know that God is rational, and all-powerful and eternal.

And if we are Trinitarians then we will have a myth that God pours the Spirit out on the creation, at the beginning and forever. And we will look on the face of God and see - not just an endless loving parent and creator, but a vulnerable and broken human being holding out two shattered hands and calling to us. And if we don't get too hung up on church doctrine - we're not stuck being too pure an evangelical, catholic or liberal - we'll see that there's more God beyond the boundaries we're given than our boundary-putter-uppers always let on or imagine.

Myth? It's all myth. It's just that some of it is also historical.

Wednesday 13 April 2016

A Guide to Church Committee English

You know how it is. The Church Committee has been looking to involve the "Young People" in its decision-making. The annual church meeting has come round. Bargaining has taken place, and despite unimaginable amounts of chicanery, gerrymandering and unexpected rule chang
An ecumenical matter
es, you somehow got your application - with proposer, seconder and two witnesses each - posted into the special post box, in the Dark Wood, past the rabid wolves, during the seven minutes for which applications were open. And, despite vote rigging, ballot box stuffing and double-voting, you got elected.

Or maybe it is one of those churches where they think, the more the merrier. And all new applicants, and the entire incumbent committee, are always elected en masse. Including several who send "apologies" to every meeting because their official residence is in the churchyard.

But either way there you are. A mere stripling of 57, at your first Church Committee meeting. And some people are going to use some terminology or phrases you won't understand. Well, worry not.

Here's the Beaker Guide to Church Committee English.

What they say
What they mean
Old Pastor Greengage would never have allowed it. Pastor Greengage refused to allow us to sweep the floor as he regarded brooms as a dangerous modern innovation.
You will modernise the Gothic font over my dead body. I have misinterpreted a discussion about the Christmas advertising leaflet, as being one about church architecture.
A lot of people are unhappy about this. I am unhappy about this
When we get into these kind of complex debates, with many points of view, it's important we remember that the Church has given to some the burden of leadership.I'm the vicar. I've got the funny shirt. I have a hotline from God. Obey me, minions!
I feel this kind of decision needs to be taken to the church as a whole. I reckon I'm going to lose this vote if we hold it here.
I think we could argue that it is de minimis. No way will the Diocesan Registrar will say "yes" if we ask to remove it.
We need to consult the Mission and Outreach Committee...... ...which never meets so this idea will be as good as dead.
We shouldn't rush into radical change. You've proposed this every meeting for 8 years. And we've kicked it into the long grass every time. I see no reason not to let it fester for another 2 months.
I feel God is telling us.... My argument is, to be honest, pretty shaky.
That would be an ecumenical matter. If we twelve Methodists can't agree, there's no way we'll get a consensus at "Churches Together." The Minister's idea for a Town Mission is as dead as Tony Blair's career as a peace-maker.
I'm aware I may sound a little pedantic.... I am unaware I am about to sound unutterably pompous.
Its not that I am opposed to modern language services per se. You can stick  your Common Worship where the sun don't shine, "Trendy Vicar-Boy".
We need a radical approach to mission and fund-raising. It's time for another jumble sale. We've still got all the stuff from the last ones.
Do we have any nominations for the person to organise the Harvest Supper? Elsie has been organising the Supper since 1972. If she doesn't get asked, we won't dare drink the tea on Sunday.
There have been complaints about the poor behaviour of the children. The children are being children. But if we get action, with any luck there won't be any around on Sundays any more.
I'm a bit worried about the groups that are hiring the Church Hall. The Pilates is probably OK, the yoga is dodgy but why do no goats ever leave the Church Hall on Thursdays, despite the number that keep being taken in?
I am all in favour of ecumenical activity, as long as people respect our tradition. If the Churches Together service is here, we can have a nice Evensong. If it's anywhere else, I'm not going.
Could we review the way we welcome visitors to the church? Following them around in case they steal the pews is not encouraging people to return.
What we need is a Vision Statement. Because the 3 hours we spent brainstorming the Mission Statement revolutionised the way we "do church", didn't it?
We need a new mission approach to men. We've tried beer evenings, and curry evenings, and skittles evenings. And they've been really popular. But they still don't come to church.
I could be persuaded. You can argue until you're blue in the face. But this disagreement will only end when one of us dies.
Our church needs to be prophetic. I read an idea in a book somewhere, The church was nothing like us. But they were amazing. Grew 300% in six weeks. I blame our pastor.
People will be upset if they are asked to give more. They're perfectly sanguine about the roof falling in on a minister-less church.
We need more people to come to church. Stating the obvious is a lot easier than doing things, isn't it?
We can't keep revisiting the decisions of previous meetings. The sun will be a red giant before people stop bringing this back for review.
How can we attract more young people? Why aren't young people more like normal people?
We should look at more modern worship. A bit of AOR chorus-singing from the 80s, "Lord of the Dance", something from Iona - that's how to reach the Millennials.
Any other business? We may as well get the meeting over. As I know, the minute I leave, you'll all transact the really important business without agenda or minutes.

Nicer in Comic Sans?

Father Ted Characters from Wikimedia. By Source, Fair use,

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Passing on the God Gene

You know, I know the science is borderline, that genetics is complex and that there's free will involved and the whole area says nothing about the existence of God. But I do like the whole concept of a "God gene".

By enabling humans to perceive meaning in adversity, and a sense of optimism, it's posited that the " God gene" gives religious believers a slight evolutionary advantage.

So don't waste your time arguing with Darwinian atheists. Just rejoice. We have better genes.

Monday 11 April 2016

Treasure Stored in Heaven, or Offshore

The Church of England is no longer the Tory Party at prayer.

Or, at least, the clergy ain't. For, as evidenced on the Twitters, there are many left-leaning vicars, but few are those that choose the right-hand path.

And yet not so their congregations. Not only are they more likely to be Tory than Labour - but the more regular their attendance, the more conservative they are.

Which makes me wonder. After a week castigating all Tories on Social Media on Social Media, do left-leaning vicars preach left-leaning sermons? And if they do, do their right-leaning congregations get all umpty with them?

Or do they just go along with it, knowing that if they reveal their true colours the vicar will accuse them of being a brood of vipers? Nod when being told David Cameron is stripping the country's assets, and then go home to check their pension funds?

And when the vicar encourages them to ensure they gift-aid their freewill offerings, do the parishioners nod their heads quietly and go "She's just like us really. Understands the benefits of tax minimization"? I wonder.

Still, we are encouraged by a very shrewd financial advisor to transfer our assets to heaven. Very wise. You can't get much more offshore than that.

Sunday 10 April 2016

The Oldest Members of the Church

The installation of a toilet at a Cambridge church has been delayed after a number of Anglo-Saxon skeletons were discovered.

Although archaeologists have completed their investigations and work has continued, the matter won't be closed until the Electoral Roll Officer has determined how many of the former parishioners are still on the list. Said a local, "we reckon that one of the skeletons is Fr Aldoue. People on the PCC still hark back to how good things were in his day."

Saturday 9 April 2016

Restoration Man (John 21)

Judas and Peter. The two big failures over the time of Holy Week.

I suppose you could add Pilate to that. The Roman governor going against what he knew was right, bowing to the threat of the Jerusalem mob, and letting them decide who should and shouldn't be crucified. But we don't follow his story as it works out. Unlike Judas and Peter. We follow their different trajectories through the horror and what lays beyond.

Judas realises the magnitude of what he's done - sold his Saviour for the equivalent of three month's wages. That's not a wage big enough to equate to selling the saviour of the world. He throws the money down and runs off to kill himself. I don't believe he had to do it. But I guess he thought he was so far beyond forgiveness there was nothing else to do - literally couldn't live with himself.

Peter isn't a betrayer. He's a deserter. Surely, most of the male disciples were. They all leg it into the undergrowth in the garden of Gethsemane. And even at the cross, we're told, Jesus was accompanied only by his mother, the women, and St John.

Peter's desertion though is compounded by his position and his own declarations. Didn't he claim that, though everyone else deserted Jesus, he wouldn't? And - crueller irony - didn't Jesus give him his second name - Peter - the Rock?

Easy to forget that - Peter's very name is accusing him. Unlike us, the French have retained the association of the personal name with the object. At the great standing stone alignments at Carnac in Brittany, I wondered why it was that the guidebook kept referring to all these "Pierres" around  the place. And some of them apparently had arrived 6,000 years ago. Big, massive lumps - the tallest as high as the  largest stones at Stonehenge. In French, "Pierre". In Latin, " petros" - "Peter the Rock-man." The one to build a church on. Tough, tall, durable. When you stand tall, the fall will be greater.
"Oi! Pierre!" 
By Snjeschok - eigene Aufnahme von Snjeschok mit Ricoh Caplio G4, CC BY-SA 3.0

Jesus has appeared to his disciples in the Upper Room twice since the Resurrection. Once to say peace to them. Once to prove himself to Thomas. And now, by the Sea, with the sizzle of fish and the smell of baked bread, to prove he ain't just a ghost. He's bringing back to mind those great things that happened - what must seem like an eternity ago, after all they've been through. The bread and fish with the, 5,000. That first remarkable haul of fish, when this all started. And also the quiet moments aside, when he would have been closest to his nearest friends - as when they escaped on a boat and crossed the sea, for some peace, and quiet fellowship.

Peter's got unfinished business. He has let his Lord down. Up to now, they've all been in the reunited group. But now Jesus is taking him away, somewhere quiet.

It must be, in a very major way, like being hauled off to the headmaster's study or the boss's office.

What is Peter expecting? A right dressing down for cowardice? Being replaced as leader by John? He seems to worry about John's place compared to his own.

"Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?"

A natural and reasonable question. After that desertion - has Simon just been in it for the fame and free fish and wine? And so he answers. Yes of course.

A second time - "do you love me?"

Well, it's been a long couple of weeks. And it would have been easy to say something glib once. Yes, of course Lord.

A third time he's asked the question. And Simon Peter is so hurt. Because it's like Jesus doesn't believe in him. And he replies again - you know all things. You know I love you.

This isn't just an assertion of Peter's heart. It's also a declaration of Jesus's divinity. Because who knows all things? And the number three is important. It's the reversal of Peter's three denials of Jesus when he sneaked into the courtyard of the high priest's house. Three times they asked if he was with Jesus - three times he said "no". Now three times Jesus asks if he loves him, and Peter says "yes".

Peter has discovered what Judas never did - the forgiving love of Jesus. The desertion, the denial is all forgotten. As Peter says he loves Jesus three times, three times Jesus gives him the instruction to look after Jesus's sheep. He's not only being forgiven - he's being totally restored.

There is no distance too far from God, no sin too awful, no crime too great, for God to forgive through Jesus. No blackness too dark that Jesus won't walk with us in it. No hole so deep that Jesus hasn't climbed down to be there. As ever, the words of Paul in Romans 8 say it better than I could.
For I am persuaded , that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present , nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Of course God wants to forgive us. God made every part of us. Made the stars that died, that produced the heavy elements that make up every part of us. Made every fingernail, every hair on our head, suffered with every scar, rejoiced in our growth when we were young, holds our hearts in God's hands every moment that the beat, breathes life into us and then receives that life back.

If Jesus forgives Peter like that - forgives us like that - then we have a real dilemma, of course. Because we have a God who thinks anything can be forgiven, then we have to think the same way. When people behave in ways we don't think right - or just plain wrongly - we still have to forgive them. Some of us seem to think we are unforgivable. Others seem to think that we are entitled to forgiveness way beyond what other people have received. But if Jesus forgives Peter like that, it would appear I've no right to judge Burton Dasset for being an idiot, for instance. Because that would make me a better judge than Jesus.

But our God who restored Peter, sees us as we all are. Really good at getting things wrong and yet, in his eyes and through the Cross and Resurrection, completely able to to forgiven. By the one who forgives even the one who deserted him - and went beyond forgiveness to restoration. The one who forgives all our wrongs, and one day will restore all things.

Friday 8 April 2016

Tax Free Saving

Shocked today to discover that a bank on the High Street is offering a tax-evading product in an offshore location.

I'm not quite sure where Isa is, but I'm guessing it's one of the smaller Caribbean isles. As long as they keep the profits away from George Osborne, I'm in.

Thursday 7 April 2016

And the First Shall be Last

In an otherwise enjoyable rant on personality cult in the evangelical church, a couple of things struck me that I disagreed with.

The first is that there being 41,000 Christian denominations seems to me a good thing. We should have more. Diversity and difference are worth celebrating. Yes, let's be charitable. But we tried having just one denomination, and it proved impracticable. The arrangement only lasted 1,000 years or so.

And the second is this paragraph:
Drive by many Evangelical churches these days and what do you see on the church sign? Almost every sign will have the pastor’s name prominently displayed. Why is this important? Why is it necessary to advertise the name of the pastor? If the church is one body worshiping the one Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, why call attention to the identity of the pastor? Why don’t churches put the names of the poorest church members on their signs as James suggests in James 2:1-4.

 If churches put the names of their poorest members on their notice boards, as Bruce Gerencser suggests, then they'd embarrass them. They'd be tipping off the neighborhood loan sharks as to where a good new customer might be found.

Also, one good reason for putting the pastor's name on the notice board is because they're often the point of contact. If you're looking for someone to conduct your wedding, Maybelline at the nursing home is almost certainly not licensed to conduct it. She may not know all the church group leaders, or have their contact numbers. If you phone her up at 4am because little Johnny's gone into hospital with his appendix, she may not be able to get up there to support him. She may not appreciate dozens of phone calls a day from people wanting to arrange funerals, Bible salespeople and people who think her sermon on John 1 was binitarian.

And then what happens if another poor person joins? Do you have to have a poor-off to see who has the most poverty? Do you put them both up? What if Maybelline's rich brother dies and leaves her his mansion in Berkshire? Do you ceremonially spray over her name, and then tell everyone to bring their bank statements to church so you can appoint the new poorest person?

In any case, I presume Mr Gerencser is of the American persuasion. As if he were English, he'd know that the answer in some parts of the Church of England to the question "Why don't you put the poorest person in the Church on the notice board?" Would be - "we have."

Wednesday 6 April 2016

Minutes of Last Year's AGM

Please find below the minutes of last year's AGM. Burton says he's sorry it has taken 365 days to issue them, and he's just grateful it's a Leap Year so you all have time to read the minutes before this year's AGM.

1. The Archdruid started the meeting with a prayer for discernment, harmony and ears to discern vision. Though she didn't hold out much hope for vision.

A point of order from Scaldmir, that eyes are used for vision, not ears - and that we use our minds, not our sensory organs, for discernment - was withdrawn as Scaldmir discovered a mug embedded in his skull.

2. Minutes of last meeting (2014)

Nobody had the faintest recollection of the last meeting. Some people claimed they definitely weren't there - even though they had signed the attendance sheet and were in the official "Annual Moot Meeting 2014" photograph. And had given DNA samples. Eventually it was agreed we might as well sign the minutes off, as they may well be accurate. At least, they reflected a view of reality we could just about cope with.

3. Matters arising from last meeting

Hnaef moved that we didn't bother with this, as if any matters had arisen they would be irrelevant by now whether they'd happened or not. However, Eileen insisted we should go through the list, as follows:

a. Mission Committee to really definitely meet at some mutually convenient point in 2014: Didn't happen.

b. Archdruid to ensure more interesting sermons: Didn't happen.

c. Stewardship Secretary to explain why a 19% uplift in giving was needed: Didn't happen for his own safety.

4. Finance

The Treasurer told us we don't give enough, but spend too much. It was pointed out he'd said this every year since 2003. He said it was true this time.

5. Fabric Committee

Although denim is never out of fashion, a nice twill is making a comeback. If you're going to London, avoid tweed. And Islington, obviously.

6. Mission Committee

Had failed to meet in the last twelve months due to tricky diaries, being busy and general despondency. Promised to try harder this year, maybe by scheduling a meeting to answer the question "What do we mean by mission?"

7. All Age Worship

Driyl moved that All Age Worship might be more worshipful if the children were somewhere else, preferably sound proofed. Passed

8. Archdruid's Report

Eileen passed out copies of the report, which said "I hate you all, you needy gets."

Hnaef asked whether she had just issued last year's by mistake. Eileen said no, she had definitely changed the date on the document, like she did every year.

9. Any Other Business

Since AOB had to be notified in writing, in the Frisk language, a minimum of 375 days before the meeting, there was none.

10. The Archdruid concluded the meeting with an ancient Scythian curse of dismissal.

Tuesday 5 April 2016

To Judge the Living Dead

Slip of the tongue while doing the reading the other week. Young Griswold managed to refer to the Lord returning to judge the "living dead." Which seems more appropriate given the general upset over the cliff-hanger ending to the latest series of the Walking Dead.

"Cliff-hanger" being an interesting term. You will, being educated folk, know that it goes back to the Thomas Hardy novel A Pair of Blue Eyes, where one or other of the dreary hero/protagonists - the smug, yet repressed journalist - is left hanging from a sheer cliff, staring at the blank eye of a fossilized shellfish. This being a Victorian serial novel, the readership were left to wait for the next episode to discover that Elfride has rescued her bold knight by making a rope out of her (numerous) undergarments.

Bringing these two concepts together, we realise that the last judgement - where will be judged the living, dead and - in an alternative universe - living dead, is the ultimate cliff hanger. We cling to the edge like a Hardyan hero caught in an offshore breeze. The sight of deaths before ours impresses itself on our eyes. We wonder - faced with our own death. Do we fall to the rocks below, having depended upon our own strength? Or are we saved by the One who is safe on the rock - is on fact the Rock itself?

Worship in the Middle English Tradition

You know how it is. Exciting new traditions can get a bit same-y.

Over the last ten years, ever since we reopened the Beaker Folk as a Continental-style cafe-bar, we've had Worship in the Beaker Style; Cafe Church; Worship in the Taize Style; Messy Church; Worship in the Gregorian Chant Style; Worship in the Celtic Manor; Worship Provencal; Worship  by Numbers; Mossy Church.

And after a while they've all gotten a bit same old. A bit tired. And it's forced us look back at ourselves, to wonder if the real problem is in us, not the worship mode.

And we don't really like looking at ourselves. So we needed something really new to inspire us. And when I say "new" I do of course mean "antiqued."

I am proud to announce that today's the first day of Worship in the High Mediaeval English Style. Hnaef has kindly translated the Book of Common Prayer into Middle English. And we're using Wycliffe's Bible and readings from Piers Plowman.

So we're going to be worshipping in the manner of English worship, if the Reformation had happened 200 years earlier than it did. How authentic can you get? I'm very excited.

Now we just have one thing left to resolve. Which accent should we read it in? Some reckon Brummie would be most like the way the people in Post-13th Century Reformation England would spoken. But I still reckon a Welsh accent sounds more spiritual.

Monday 4 April 2016

Tiniest Miracle

For the Annunciation

Tiniest miracle
Just one speck
Filled with the glory of God.

Holiest of women
One so young
Trusting the goodness of God.

Frailest of bodies
Can this girl
Carry the Holy One of God?

Tiniest miracle
As the Earth
Becomes the cradle of God.

Sunday 3 April 2016

Doubting Thomas Sunday

On this Doubting Thomas Sunday, the Beaker Folk will reflect on the benefits of the 3-year lectionary cycle. Which means the rest of the time, they have to hear my thoughts from 3 years ago - or even brand new ones.

There is an irony that because he is in this slot every year, Thomas is responsible for the resurrection of more sermons than any other disciple.

At 9.30, the Beaker Folk are off to skip round the garden while singing "Teach me to Dance." We all hate the idea, but it's still better than me preaching a sermon that everyone else can quote back at me word perfect.

Friday 1 April 2016

Shortened Liturgy for Introverts

Archdruid: Peace be with you



Archdruid: Share the peace? No? OK. Everyone want to go for a...... Oh, OK. Everyone has gone for a walk.
Perfect church for an introvert

A Liturgy for April Fools' Day

Leader: Peace be with you.

All: And also with you.

Leader: Oh no! Look out! A lion!

All: Where? Where? Oh, you...


Oh my soul, how many are the scams
What multitude of fake stories in the press
The Internet is full of lies
And the Twitters are full of untruths.

And yet, my soul, remember that this is no different to any other day
That falsehoods about politicians are passed on as fact
That satirical articles are passed on without context
That people have even prayed for Archdruid Eileen's soul
Thinking we are a real community.
You can't trust anyone.

And so shall I sit on the floor in dust
Refusing to believe anything anyone tells me
I shall keep my ears clean
And listen to no-one.

Reading: 1 Corinthians 4:10

Psalm: The whole of number 119

Leader: And now as a special treat we're giving Zac Goldsmith 3 hours to come up with any reason - however tenuous - that we should trust him with London's transport policy. Mr Goldsmith has kindly come all the way in a massive car....

All: Yeah, pull the other one.... Oh - Zac Goldsmith! Run!

The congregation discovers that all exits are locked.

Leader: April Fools! See you in 3 hours! (Escapes through secret trapdoor)