Monday 28 November 2016

See That Girl - a Tale of God's Love

There's plenty of stuff in the Bible where God, the loving husband, threatens the wayward Israel with all sorts of sanctions - or else offers her unconditional love.

But what if you turned it round? That's a patriarchal world where it's the woman going astray and the sensible bloke - who is, let's remember, entitled to multiple wives and / or porcupines* according to the results of the latest battle - is the one to lay down the law. But in Kirsty MacColl's world, it's a bit different.

In the Freeworld, baby, it's the bloke who is the gormless twerp being lured off by another offer, while the sensible woman is steadfastly loving while wondering what the hell is going on. The woman tempting Idiot Boy away is, apparently, quite good with words - "she keeps telling you lies, she's just a full-time flirt." Inclined to wander - "she only comes around when she's got nothing to do."

But the love the Lover gives is as steady as anything you see in Song of Songs from the Bloke. She holds our her hands all day long to her faithless lover, and calls him back from the edge of idiocy...
Now I won’t tell you again, it’s up to you
But you’d better make up your mind what you’re gonna do
Don’t you know I want you still
I’m so afraid I always will
And I’ll be loving you till you see that girl
I’ll keep on loving you till you see that girl
I’ll still be loving you till you see that girl.

* Concubines. Sorry. Not porcupines. Never get them confused.

Unspoken Liturgy for a Cougher on Public Transport

Cougher: Cough!

Thinker 1: Ooh. That was quite a cough.

Cougher: Cough!

Thinker 2: Another cough? Maybe it wasn't just a one-off.

Cougher: Cough!

T3: Nah, that's not just a tickle is it?

Cougher: Cough!

T4: Someone has decided to drag themself 60 miles into the office.

All: [ironically] So brave! So dedicated!

Cougher: Cough!

T5: You know, I'm starting to worry that might be TB.

Cougher: Cough!

T6: Maybe I should move away. If only people weren't standing all the way down the aisle...

Cougher: Cough!

All: [Pleading] O Fear of Israel, who dragged thy people out of the desert into the promised land, get us safely to the end of this journey without compromising our immune systems.

Cougher: Cough! Cough! Cough!

T7: Ooer. Reckon he lost half a lung there.

Cougher: Cough!

T8: His boss must be a bastard...

Cougher: Cough!

T9: His boss must be a bastard who is always going down with coughs s/he* catches off his staff.

Cougher: Cough!

All: Have a drink of water!


All: Door's open! Let's get out!

Cougher: Cough!

All: And also with you.

* Almost certainly he....

Sunday 27 November 2016

A Memory of Advent, 1984

I've probably blogged on this before. But don't care.

It was the Brasenose College Advent Carol service, 1984. A weird, Oxford affair. Hymns included the sublime "Adam Lay Y-Bounden" and the frankly odd "Teach me, my God and King." Readers of this blog will know that I'm not a big fan of George Herbert.

In the midst of the collection, somebody with classic 80s big hair tried to balance a service sheet, hymn book, candle, offering bag, and money to put in the offertory. Too much for anyone. Her hair went up in smoke and she ran out screaming.

I forget who that was. But I remember who ran out after her, to comfort her. It was Debbie Hughes - later Peatman. In the world of church, it's often easy to think that the smooth running of the institution, the performance of the liturgy, the need to show that everything is lovely on the surface is all that matters. When actually it's always the people.

Our Bible Clerk knew that people are more important than anything else. She was right. She is missed. I will remember her every year on Advent Sunday. How could you not? God bless you, Debbie. And all those - especially your family - who miss you.

Saturday 26 November 2016

Getting Your Political Bearings

Labour will not win the next election as UKIP-lite, says Diane Abbott. 

And she's right. Labour will lose the next election as a dodgy coalition of left-wingers. Not the same thing at all.

But I'm in awe of her use of language as she warns that a rightward trend could lead to a downward spiral. Maybe not so in awe of her geometry though.

The Hygge Conspiracy Conspiracy

Britain has been overrun by a host of articles telling us we have hygge wrong.

I have no idea what hygge is. In the early days of the hygge supremacy, this did not matter. Like a lot of things: Scandi-noir; Donald Trump; the X-factor; I presumed it was something that affected other people and I did not have to worry too much.

Turns out I was wrong. Like mindfulness, tea lights and pumpkin spice latte, it turns out that we have fallen for something that makes us less political and simultaneously more smug.

The Guardian, being  the Guardian, has to go one step further. You typically get an article telling you that you have misunderstood what hygge is. This is, apparently, because it is untranslatable. Then they tell you what it means - rather clever, since this means they are translating an untranslatable word.

Then they tell you it's not as hygge-like as you thought.

I tell you, there's more articles about not understanding hygge than there are pieces by Polly Toynbee entitled "Listen to me, Everybody. I'm Very Clever." Which is dangerously unbalancing the newspaper - which was already suffering from a  surge of articles on how best to get into dating when you're an aging divorcΓ© who gets Tinder confused with LinkedIn.

Anyway, I'm off out to buy some Xmas jumpers, scented candles and mulling spices. I feel this vague need to get away from the hard, cold world into a warm, comfy, safe place. If only there were a word for it.

Friday 25 November 2016

A Form of Prayer for Black Friday

MOST powerful and glorious Lord God, at whose command the trolleys roll, and pushed by the shoppers of wrath, and who stillest the rage thereof. We thy creatures, but miserable sinners, do in this our great distress cry unto thee for help: Save, Lord, or else we perish. We confess, when we have been online, and seen all things quiet about us, we have forgot thee our God, and refused to hearken to the still voice of thy word, and to obey thy commandments: But now we see, how terrible art a shopper in House of Fraser in search of 40% off a fluffy jumper; the great shopping beserker to be feared above all: And therefore we implore you, whose power is greater even than Marks and Spencers's Buying department, and whose creativity is greater even than a John Lewis Marketing executive; save us from Shop and Awe, keep us from buying total crap in a sales frenzy, deliver us from the sharp elbows of the middle classes, and in Thy great mercy bring us safely to the place beyond the cash tills, with our credit card abalances intact. Amen.

Thursday 24 November 2016

Lament for a Dark Autumn Morning

The sun shivers behind the steel  clouds.
A chill wind breathes winter into the heart.
The dead swirl round our feet, their last pretense at life mocking their summer exuberance.
And the year dies: dies with regret and fear of the future.
The world turns to dark.
And we try to think of light: of flaming fires,
Christmas bling proclaiming an ersatz joy
a hope in which nobody hopes, any more.
Somewhere in the shadows the hope still lives.
A light, so small, in darkness it looked into once and now knows it defeats, and defeats, and defeats until the end - and the darkness will never overcome it.
Sometimes to see one clear light, in an electric-powered, blue-phone-glow, sodium-yellow-lit world,
you have to look into the darkness.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Intervening for the Common Corbyn

It was one of the worst slogans in British history.

I mean, what does that mean? Who can believe that?  It's just a random selection of words isn't it?

But now - with the Beaker Corbyn Slogan Generator - you can write your own Labour slogan.  Nearly as meaningful as the one Jezza said.

And if you don't like it - "Refresh" and you can have another one.

Monday 21 November 2016

Liturgy for Another Load of Floods

Archdruid: Nice weather for ducks.

Ducks: Bit wet, actually.

Archdruid: Sarcastic, feathery freaks.

Ducks: Insults don't bother us. Water off a....

Archdruid: Yeah, OK. Can we get onto the psalm now?

Ducks: Knock yourself out.

Archdruid: Into the depths I fall.

All: The waters rise up on every side.

Archdruid: Lucky I've got a Chelsea Tractor.

All: Yes. They're perfect for the school run, aren't they?

Archdruid: Bit wet in the south west, mind.

All: Yeah. But they're used to it.

Archdruid: Very level, Somerset.

All: Can we nip off early?

Archdruid: Yeah. Good idea.

Sunday 20 November 2016

Dedication of The Moot House: St Harambe's

We've counted and recounted, done some mild fiddling, and the results are in as to the new dedication of the Moot House.

It's now going to be St Harambe's Moot House.

Some would say this means we have sold out the new Moot House to the ethos of post-modern progressive emotionalism, where virtue signalling and emotional incontinence are more important than matters of truth, common sense or rational discussion.

So yeah. It fits us really well.

Screw-Up Sunday

Some amusement this morning when little Episcopa managed to confuse the name of the day when the Beaker Fold traditionally boil up the Yuletide Plum Pudding. "Stir-up Sunday."

Although to be fair, "Screw-up Sunday" didn't seem such a bad description. The plainchant was wrecked by Denniz's drum solo. The Little Sisters of the Holy Herring, our enclosed order of discalced penguins, refused to process because it was so cold. And the attempt by Frangipanne to sing a top "A" as part of the descant to "Majesty, Worship His Majesty" resulted in her straining a tonsil.

To make matters worse, we couldn't get into the Moot House to start the service on time because Hnaef, inspired by the idea that the Church was called out to God's people rather than being called together to worship, had changed all the locks.

So maybe Episcopa is right. Screw-up Sunday it is.

Saturday 19 November 2016


Luke 23:33-43 (CEV)
When the soldiers came to the place called “The Skull,” they nailed Jesus to a cross. They also nailed the two criminals to crosses, one on each side of Jesus. Jesus said, “Father, forgive these people! They don’t know what they’re doing.” While the crowd stood there watching Jesus, the soldiers gambled for his clothes. The leaders insulted him by saying, “He saved others. Now he should save himself, if he really is God’s chosen Messiah!”
The soldiers made fun of Jesus and brought him some wine. They said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” Above him was a sign that said, “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals hanging there also insulted Jesus by saying, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and save us!” But the other criminal told the first one off, “Don’t you fear God? Aren’t you getting the same punishment as this man? We got what was coming to us, but he didn’t do anything wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into power!”
Jesus replied, “I promise that today you will be with me in paradise.”
Couple of recent news stories. One is Donald Trump's election.  A man who came to power promising to break down the Establishment elite, celebrated by sitting on golden thrones with his family. Those that don't like Trump thought maybe that was a bit tactless to his supporters - some of whom are working class families going through genuinely hard times.  But I've not noticed that any of those who supported him are complaining. Maybe that's the point of their support. Maybe they believe that they're electing someone who will enable them to live the American dream.

Meanwhile in Britain, the Queen's house is getting a facelift. £390 million pounds over ten years, apparently.  Well, you know how you get behind with the maintenance. And they're very busy people. Probably been years since Philip went up a ladder with some paint. People are up in arms about how it's being paid for - people are comparing the money to be spent on Buck House with savings that local authorities are being expected to make.

There's another kind of "throne" worth thinking about - give a bit of contrast maybe. Today (Saturday) is - apparently - World Toilet Day.  And Toilet Twinning are taking the opportunity to raise as much money as possible. I'm presuming they are being deliberately funny in referring to this campaign as a "Big Push".

But it's no joke. Lack of a toilet is something that puts the women and children of these communities at risk. In communities that are already poor, often devastated by war. They are the most vulnerable. The ones with least. The ones with nobody to protect them.

On which side is the King of Kings? The one that the disciples thought would lead a rebellion? The one who the crowds thought was going to throw the Romans out of Judea? The King who John and James had come up to - said when you come into your kingdom, let us sit on thrones on either side.

He's taken as a member of a conquered race. He's been arrested on fake charges. He's been convicted by a man who can sit in judgement on him. He's whipped, dragged through the crowds on a party day in Jerusalem, nailed up naked as an example to any others who would challenge the Establishment. Left to die - a rebel on his left, and another on the right.

Whose side is Jesus on? The men on thrones and the ones who cling to power? The ones who are invested in unbalanced power and injustice? The ones who think a world where they are getting on OK but turn a blind eye to the terror and poverty of others?

To put it another way - who is on Jesus's side? Not the soldiers, the crowds, the leaders, the establishment. Just a group of weeping women, and a dying rebel hanging nailed and naked and exposed to the world. Who sees one last hope of seeing a real Kingdom of God and goes for it.

It's obvious which side Jesus is on, isn't it?

To close, best to quote God's priorities from someone quite close to Jesus: his Mother.
His mercy is from age to age, on those who fear him.
He puts forth his arm in strength and scatters the proud-hearted.
He casts the mighty from their thrones and raises the lowly.
He fills the starving with good things, sends the rich away empty.

That night, there's a rebel and thief in Paradise, and a cross of shame has become a throne fit for a king. All the oppressors of the earth have been warned that their rule is temporary. Their thrones will fall. The Evil One has seen his power broken. And the real King is starting his reign.

Friday 18 November 2016

Ecclesial Interaction in a Transformative Virtual Age

It was really kind of Dambruk to give us her presentation yesterday on Mobile Church in a Virtual Paradigm. The very real challenge of engaging attention in a hyper-connected environment.

If anyone knows what she said can they let me know? I got a bit distracted and ended up faffing about on Facebook.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Gafcon Mark 6

Livid not to have been mentioned in dispatches by the Gafcon "Name and Shane" - sorry- "Shame" list. I suppose the Beaker Folk not being members of the Anglican "Communion" might be part of the reason there.

In the midst of culture wars it's easy for those of us not of the Forlorn Hope to wring our hands and say "why can't we all just be friends?" Indeed, that's the basis of the Beaker tradition. But sometimes you've got to come off the fence, no matter how comfortable it is up there. So.

The people who put together the GafCon list have a commendable love of scripture. They believe they are acting in the love of God. And they are, in my opinion, wrong.

We don't have to believe morality is fixed. We worked out that slavery - assumed by Jesus, used as analogy by Paul - is wrong. We accepted that when someone can't pay their debts to us the answer is for them to be declared bankrupt - forgiven, if you like - not to do seven years' free work for us and then run the risk we'll stick a nail through their ear. Some of us -  against both Old and New Testament teaching - eat black pudding. We reckoned that you can apply reason to tradition, and both to Scripture, without falling outside the bounds of God's Kingdom.

And we have seen the terrible injustices that have resulted from the application of laws without love. But we have seen how the love of Jesus overcame the laws of the world. So some of us, if we have to choose between love and law, we'll go for love.

And some of us have seen that love is expressed just as much between people of the same sex as between those of different ones. And figured that maybe where people of the same sex want to express their lifelong love of each other - and to have that love expressly commited to the eternal love of God in a religious service of commitment - they should be allowed to do so.

Incidentally, our favourite lesbian transgender vicar - when not writing a brilliant response-  has gone so far as to declare the vile things that happen in her bed. And published it for all to see. She eats biscuits, apparently.

Well, what can I say? Crumbs.

Monday 14 November 2016

Liturgy of the Super Moon

Hymn: "Whole of the Moon"

Archdruid: And so it comes, by Daily Express foretold..


Archdruid: Bringing havoc to life on earth, as told by prophet bards.


Archdruid: Let us process outside and bow down in amazement at the....


Procession to the Orchard

Archdruid: Is that it?


Archdruid: It's just the bloody moon, innit?


Archdruid: And it's veiled, romantically behind cloud....

All: If you could see it unveiled, as big as a dustbin lid and as bright as a 1,000 candlepower torch on a lamping expedition it would be...

Archdruid: SUPERMOON?

All: How did you guess?

Hymn: Under the Moon of Love (Tavener)

Sunday 13 November 2016

Selection of New Deputy Druids

There have been some questions asked about my selection of new deputy druids.

I don't really see what the problem is. Sure, some people don't like my new druidic appointments:  Pestilence, Famine, Death and War. And they do have some unusually coloured horses. But it's hardly the end of the world, is it?

Service of Cultural Appropriation

Complaints from the Welsh regulars in the Beaker Folk that our "Worship in the Celtic Style" is cultural appropriation.

I have given them short shrift. Celtic Worship has got absolutely nothing to do with any traditional worship of the Welsh, Irish, Scots, Bretons or indeed the small Brethonic enclave that survived in the Chilterns during the Angle invasion. If anyone wants to complain about us appropriating their culture on this one, it's probably the people that run Irish Pubs. And we haven't heard a word from them.

Saturday 12 November 2016

Toxic Masculinity in West Texas

Pondering, in the light of the American election, the subtext of that Country and Western classic, El Paso.

The song is a paeon of (or is that to? - Hnaef, please check) toxic masculinity. The singer / narrator (originally Marty Robbins) falls in love with a Mexican girl. We are not told whether the love is returned - maybe not, as in short order the wicked Faleena  is sharing drinks with a random wild young cowboy. The narrator guns the guy down and then he realises he has to run for it.

While lurking in New Mexico he realises he can't live with her, can't live without her. Turns his (stolen) horse round, goes back, is shot and dies in Faleena's arms. He clearly had no right to Faleena. She gave no evidence - until he died in her arms - of having any interest in him. Apparently she was more interested in twirling. A waste of two young lives, and guilt on the head of someone whose wickedness appears to have manifested in having an innocent drink. And twirling.

In Trump's America, of course, things would be different. Faleena would be the other side of a giant wall - presumably working in Rosie's now Mexican-based cantina, to earn enough money to pay for the bricks her brother is being forced to lay along the route of the Rio Grande. Marty Robbins would be out earning an honest crust instead of pestering Mexican maidens who aren't actually all that interested, and think that wild young cowboys are more interesting than whingeing, short-tempered C&W singers.

You can't say Trump won't make some things better.

The New Moot House Rises

Amazing how quickly you can create a new place of worship in these days. I am pleased to declare the new Moot House open.

To be honest, we had had just about enough of sharing St Bogwulf's Chapel with Drayton's "Funambulist Baptists." You try quietly finishing a period of meditation on a hazelnut while a bunch of fundies shout "Pagan Heretics" at you.

So the new Moot House is a giant Native American tipi, made of fireproof chrome-coated woven polymer mesh suspended on steel scaffolding poles. I can't wait for our next "Festival of Cultural Appropriation".

Friday 11 November 2016

20 Reasons Why Hillary Won Really

  1. She got more of the popular vote.
  2. She's not Trump.
  3. All the people I know are really upset about it.
  4. Obama is so cool. Sure, he ignored the people in the Rust Belt. But they're not cool. Priorities.
  5. Miley Cyrus is really unhappy.
  6. There's people protesting against the Trump victory so it must have been wrong.
  7.  California may become independent.
  8. How come redneck votes are worth the same amount each as Tom Hanks's vote? That doesn't seem right.
  9. The John Lewis ad shows even foxes and badgers can get on. A direct coded message Trump.
  10. The media was rigged against her.
  11. She won with white,  middle class mums.
  12. If we weighted votes for cleverness, Hillary won by a landslide. Except in Alabama. Wasteland.
  13. Oh good grief. Sarah Palin. Please, no. Imagine her and Boris Johnson having to negotiate  trade deal. Leamington Spa would end up at war with Alaska.
  14. If you're really entitled, you can just assume you won anyway.
  15. Virtual Reality might be the answer here.
  16. The Canadian immigration website crashed. Albeit it's hosted by  a Sinclair Spectrum running Windows Server 2003, powered by a John Lewis badger in a big wheel.
  17. Oh gosh. Imagine if it crashed because all the Canadians wanted to move to America now?
  18. The Dow Jones has crashed in sympathy.
  19. No wait - it hasn't. Wall Street must know that Hillary and Obama, Miley and Tom Hanks are secretly still in charge.
  20. Even if I knew the world were to end tomorrow, I'd still have a pumpkin spice skinny flat white today.

Monday 7 November 2016

Introverts' Service Foiled

The Introverts' Service completely ruined today.

We were going to play the game where you have to throw a ball to someone in a circle. And then they have to say something about themselves that is great.

Except somebody snuck into Bogwulf Chapel and wrapped it in tin foil. Which was a problem as the service before the one for Introverts was one for people seeking a place free of tin foil. What were the chances?

So they called the police and the place us cordoned off. I tell you, it's lucky none of the introverts turned up anyway. Apparently they'd gone for thirty individual walks in the woods instead.

Saturday 5 November 2016

Late Night Prayer Foiled

Apologies for the cancellation of this evening's "Late Night Prayer".

A meditative, relaxing service with Enya CDs and general nice gooey feelings. Totally ruined when we came into Bogwulf Chapel to discover that someone had wrapped tin foil around all the tea lights.

I have no idea what it means. But it means nobody wanted to wait that long for the service to start. So we just skipped straight to Liturgical Cocoa Time.

Friday 4 November 2016

Emoji Liturgy

Approach: πŸ˜¬ πŸ’–πŸ˜Ÿ πŸ˜ πŸ˜‡ πŸ˜‰ 😊

Confession: πŸ˜’πŸ˜’πŸ˜’πŸ’”πŸ’”πŸ’”

Absolution: πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

Time of worship: πŸ˜‡ πŸ˜‡ πŸŽˆπŸ˜‡  πŸ˜ πŸ˜ πŸŽˆπŸ˜

Sermon: πŸ€¦πŸ€¦πŸ—ΏπŸ€¦πŸ€¦πŸ—ΏπŸ€¦πŸ€¦

Time of Spiritual Warfare: πŸ’ͺ🏾 πŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺ🏾 πŸ’ͺ

Time of prayer for blessing: πŸ™ŒπŸ½πŸ™‹πŸΎπŸ’₯

Intercession: πŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎ

Children come in from Little Pebbles: πŸ‘¨‍πŸ‘¨‍πŸ‘§‍πŸ‘¦πŸ¬πŸ¬

Offering (with reminder of state of the roof) ⛈⛈⛈⛈⛈

Communion nobody really wants to think about: πŸ€‘🀑🀑

Dismissal:  πŸš— πŸš• πŸš™ 

Coffee time:🍡 ☕️🍡 ☕️🍡 ☕️ 

Cheeky One after Church🍷 🍸 🍹 :  πŸΊ 🍻 

Emojis from Getemoji

EU Make me Feel (Mighty Real)

The decision by High Court judges that the United Kingdom is a Parliamentary democracy has upset many who claim to be proud to be British.

The referendum on Brexit only asked one question: should we leave or remain in the EU. There weren't  a whole load of subsidiary questions: what kind of trade deal? How should  we approach migration? What about the millions of Britons abroad? What do we do about Europol?

If asked I reckon most Britons who voted to leave wanted the same trade arrangements  as today, with free movement to Europe for British subjects - why should we queue at customs? - but tight restrictions for Europeans coming to our blessed shores. Some probably would have added to that with expulsions - but only for Europeans, not for Brits who have retired to Malaga. Tim Martin of Weatherspoons apparently wanted the old agreements for buying in foreign alcohol. Ah Mr Martin - we have lost control. Europe is now not something we will get a vote in - it is a trading partner  and competitor. And it is much bigger than us. Brexit means Brexit.

Which of course it doesn't. Assuming the Supreme Court doesn't decide that we actually live in an elected dictatorship or ochlocracy, the Government will have to come back to Parliament showing its working out, and then MPs will get to vote. I really hope that happens. Because if it doesn't it means Brexit means whatever the Barclay Brothers (residents of Monaco), and a tax exiled Viscount decide between their newspapers. And we fought long and hard for our democracy and an independent judiciary. I wouldn't like to think we were being controlled by people in other countries - would you?

Thursday 3 November 2016

Richard Hooker Day

We're glad to remember today that Anglican divine and fine batsman, Richard Hooker. The founder of the Church Times Cricket Cup.

Though some say it's because of his theology that the Church of England has been on the back foot ever since.

Wednesday 2 November 2016

The Beaker "Woman of the Year" Shortlist

I'm pleased to announce this year's Beaker "Woman of the Year" shortlist.

1. Grayson Perry
2.  Dipsy from the Telly Tubbies
3. Pierre and Marie Curie (posthumous)
4. Bear Grylls
5. Jamie Oliver
6. Archdruid Eileen
7. Donald Trump  (as nobody has more respect for women)
8. David Mitchell (as his wife is intelligent and therefore a bit scary yet still attractive. Burton Dasset says).
9. Prince Philip
10. Julian Assange.

We're expecting a close vote. But I reckon it could be me for the thirteenth year running.