Friday 31 March 2017

Dinner with Mike Pence and Ken Livingstone

Archdruid: Glad you could both make it. I fancy the mackerel pate for starters - what about you, Ken?

Livingstone: Hitler.

Archdruid: Sorry?

Livingstone: I mean, Herring. Nice bit of roll mop herring.

Archdruid: And for you, Mike?

Pence: A woman! Who let you in here?

Archdruid: Calm down. We've got Ken with us.

Livingstone: And Hitler.

Archdruid: What?

Livingstone: If Hitler were here, there'd be four of us. Five of us if we include his Zionist friend.

Archdruid: He's not here, Ken.

Livingstone: A lot of people do deny it.

Sommelier: To drink?

Archdruid: G&T and then a nice Douro white.

Pence: Water please. Not too carbonated. There's a woman here. And she may decide to be available later. So I need to be on my guard against her witchcraft.

Archdruid: And you, Ken?

Livingstone: Crystal....

Sommelier: Roederer Crystal?

Livingstone: No, Kristallnacht. That was nasty. Don't get me wrong. But Hitler wouldn't have had to do it if he'd got his agreement with the Zionists....

Archdruid: Ken, leave it.  [to sommerlier] He'll have the old crusted red.

Ken: I'm just nipping to the Berghof...

Archdruid: I presume you mean the loo. He's a bit obsessive, I'm afraid, Mike. Mike?

Pence: I'm just off to the men's room...

Archdruid: What, with Ken?

Pence: It's the Billy Graham Rule.  What will people say if I'm alone at the table with you?

Archdruid: What will they say if you follow Ken to the toilet?

Livingstone: I think Mike's got a bunker mentality.

Archdruid: It's gonna be a long night.

The Trump Samaritan

Inspired by this tweet from Andrew Brown....

So this man. Going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. Beautiful place, Jerusalem. Has the best Temple. Herod - great man. Very intelligent man. Yeah, Herod was great. And I told him - Herod, you gotta make that Temple the best. Bigly, beautiful Temple. Yuge. Believe me. I saw it on "Herod, that Fox" News. Not failing Luke's Gospel.

But Herod - he's gotta pay what he owes for the Pax Romana.

But the man fell among bad hombres. Real bad hombres. The worst. Pilate shoulda built a wall. Weak man, Pilate. No energy. Too busy washing his hands. Let the Edomites in. We need the Edomites back in Edom.

So the guy's lying there. And no way failing Obamacare gonna help him.

So a priest comes past. Great priest. Really good at sacrifices. The best sacrifices. But he's mean. Wants to stay clean. Would have to carry the man. So leaves him. Sad.

Then a Levite. You know what Levites do for a living? Nothing. Real lazy hombres. No energy. Goes past.

Then the Samaritan comes down. Not in Samaria. An illegal. Shoulda built another wall.  James and John - they wanted to blow up a Samaritan village. We're gonna bomb the **** out of Samaria.

And the Samaritan looks after the man. Puts him up in Trump Tavern. Asks the inn keeper to look after him till he comes back. And nobody can look after injured people as well as my inn keeper. I have the best wayside taverns.

Who was the man's neighbour?

Not the Samaritan. No more. We're sending him back to Samaria.

Wednesday 29 March 2017

New Directions in Self-Supporting Ministry: Cancelled

I'm afraid we're having to cancel our week-long course, "New Directions in Self-Supporting Ministry."

The retired self-supporting druids all got their forms back at the subsidised rates. But very poor take-up from the ones in employment. So there was no way the course could pay for itself.

I phoned up Fadrick, the guy who runs the La Tene Folk of Luton. He said he couldn't make it because he has "a young family, a day job, and a church to run."

I mean, it was only one a one-week course with 20 hours or so of prep.

Some people have no commitment.

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Liturgy of Article 50

Archdruid: Is this really happening?

All: We just thought it was a bit of a laugh....

Archdruid: I mean, yeah in theory I didn't like the EU either.

All: But we didn't think this would actually happen.

Archdruid: Was this really about sovereignty and free trade?

All: No. We just wanted to get rid of the foreigners.

Archdruid: WHAT?

All: We said - we just wanted to get rid of the red tape.

Archdruid: WHAT WAS THAT?

All: What?

Archdruid: That thing. It scuttled into the shadows. Smelt of burning and broken glass.

All: Oh, the spirit of Mosley? He's been hanging around...

Archdruid: What?

All: He just flits among the trees, biding his time...

Archdruid: And he doesn't bother you?

All: Snowflake.

Archdruid: We will now sing Psalm 23. For about 6 years. Or possibly slightly longer.

Monday 27 March 2017

The Scariest Services

OK it wasn't representative. It was self selecting. And it was Twitter.

But a highly accurate survey of how people felt about the scariness of different liturgical Sundays was conclusive. Quite a few worship leaders are angst- ridden at the thought of leading Mothering Sunday or Trinity Sunday services. And quite a few - but substantially fewer - are angst-ridden about Remembrance Sunday.

This would be especially noticeable, if it were statistically significant, when we remember that Twitter clergy are, for the most part, the most pinko progressives ever to cry liberal tears at the thought that someone, somewhere, might be being mildly disparaging about an endangered species of whelk. Yet they still think the subjects of "Mothering" and "Trinity" are more problematic than marking the casualties of wars many of them probably don't agree with.

How can this be? How did we allow it to get to this state?  Given two services which are meant to be about thanks and wonder-  why are people less worried about Remembrance, where they stagger up the pulpit steps weighed down with assorted colours of poppies they'll have to explain to Major Dumpling  (Retd) later?

Neither Mothering nor Trinity Sunday are in the Bible - so we could lose them. Trinity Sunday is always the week the vicar decides the trainee / lay preacher/  retired newby in town can have a bash. So what's the problem? Surely we should celebrate the Holy Trinity, naturally, in living worship all year - and not save it up for an annual Feast of Modalism.

Of course, it was only an advisory poll. But then so was the Brexit referendum.

The people have spoken. We must take rapid, unwise action.

Sunday 26 March 2017

New SI Unit Definition: Nanosecond

The time between a peaceful march starting, and someone on Twitter complaining the BBC are ignoring it.

Saturday 25 March 2017

Mothering Sunday - Urgent Update

We've gone through tomorrow's special "Not Offending Anybody on Mothering Sunday" service to ensure it can't cause offence or upset.

We took out anything that could offend or upset people who were adopted; people who wanted to be mothers but couldn't be; people who've lost their mothers; people who can't stand their mothers; mothers who can't stand their children; men; people who were raised by wolves and people who hate other people trying not to offend or upset people.

Which means the liturgy now consists of simply the line "I take it you forgot the clocks went forward?"

So let's take the day off. It's best all round. The potted primroses the Little Pebbles were going to give out are in the potting shed. For those of you who aren't offended by primroses.

Thursday 23 March 2017


View from Westminster Bridge
Burton Dasset went to work in London today. Same as he always does. Queued up at Flitwick same as he always does. Stood up and was 10 minutes late, same as ever. Yes, I've basically ripped this off "Arnold Same" by Blur.

Burton Dasset isn't heroically standing up to some unfocused, random enemy of Civilisation. He is not a hero. He's not brave. But he is good at sums.

3 people died in London yesterday in a vicious murder. Killed by a narcissistic fantasist. Those three innocent people leave great holes in other people's lives. They were loved. It's an utter tragedy. Even the dead narcissistic fantasist loser leaves a hole in the lives of the people who loved him - yet whom he did not love enough to think they were more important than his own precious ego.


On average, yesterday in the United Kingdom, 10 people will have died in car crashes. 2 people will have died in other murders. In terms of deaths caused in the UK yesterday, this fantasist was irrelevant. He was a legend in his own head only. Even the evil "state" that claimed responsibility had to wait until the British police identified him to say who he was. The only people he really benefited were Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage. He won't encourage any more people to join Islamic State. Because we've already exported most of our losers to them. And the vast, vast, vast majority of Muslims are nice people, And there are 10 million people who live and work round London. And 3 people are a great tragedy, but a very small percentage.

So Burton went into work. More police, to reassure the public. They're good people. But Burton wasn't particularly worried. London is a big town, and the chances of him dying were very small. He's not brave. But he is good at sums.

Wednesday 22 March 2017

The Most Useless Battle Ever

"In March 1889, an Imperial German naval force entered a village on Samoa, and in doing so destroyed some American property. Three American warships then entered the Apia harbor and prepared to engage the three German warships found there. Before any shots were fired, a typhoon wrecked both the American and German ships. A compulsory armistice was then called because of the lack of any warships."

From Wikipedia

Tuesday 21 March 2017

Lament for the Loss of Free Coffee in Waitrose

Our hearts are sorrowful within us
And our spirits fail.
For Waitrose want us to buy something
Before they give us a cup of coffee.

As I push my trolley round, I thirst like unto the hart
That thirsts for the spring of water
I'd make the "Deer pants" joke 
Only that works better with John Lewis.

My tears would overflow my cup
If I had but time to catch them.
But instead now I must gulp down my drink
For fear my frozen tarragon might melt before I get home.

I remember how I used to go up to Waitrose
In the days of my youth
When we thought they were a branch of Social Services
Specially for middle-class people.

But now my days are like my coffee.
Long, dark and bitter.

Monday 20 March 2017

Church SWOT Analysis

So the consultants were really very keen I focussed on their SWOT analysis.

You know the idea?  You list out all the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of your organisation.  Helps you to understand what to look out for and what to improve.

I dunno though, I just reckon there's something wrong....

All the SWOT quadrants are "Threats".

Sunday 19 March 2017

Equinox Eve

Excitement as we hear that among the list of candidates for the Bishop of Llandaff are possibly some Welsh people. Now, we have no strict opinion at the Beaker Folk as to whether people are born Welsh or whether Welshness is some kind of choice. But it's great to see them being so open-minded about people who are openly Welsh.

Meanwhile, we're all set up for the Spring Equinox. The Tightrope of Balance has one  again been tied up from Duck Henge to the Great Trilithon, and Hnaef is ready for the great walk over the duck pond.  It's been ten years since he got across without crashing to a watery (and feathery) landing - but maybe this year will be the year again.

The great expert on primaveral custom, Mr Vernon Equinox, will be with us tomorrow to tell us about how the increasing light is a symbol of hope, new life and growth.  And we're gonna have a massive Hot Cross Bun party. The sacred nature of Equinox is never far below the surface - like the shoots of the plants that even now are pushing through the ground - but let's not miss out on the chance to get some early Easter Eggs in.

Saturday 18 March 2017

The Woman at the Well - What do Pretty Girls Do?

(John 4:5-42)

Two people out of place.

The respectable Jewish preacher - in a Samaritan town. Enemy territory. Where the Pax Romana holds but that doesn't mean that the locals have to welcome one of the other lot.

And the woman who comes down to the well to draw water in the heat of the day. A woman who has a fairly unconventional sexual history, apparently. We're not told whether she's buried the five husbands or whether that's a series of desertions and / or divorces. You're guessing she's not so young any more - memories of the Kirsty MacColl song "What do Pretty Girls Do" when you've lost your looks and the townsfolk don't think you're so glamorous and Mr Number 6 doesn't want to tie himself down with the woman who's seen off so many others. And "Everybody's happy when she isn't at the door She sends out invitations to everyone, they don't come. And the phone ain't ringing for her now."

So she's down the well at lunchtime, in the heat of a Samaritan day whereas conventional women would be going down at dusk or first thing in the morning. Maybe the Sychar townswomen's guild don't want to be seen hanging around with the woman whose life has apparently consisted of a series of attempts to find happiness through the frankly unreliable medium of a bunch of blokes.

And Jesus at no point tells her off for anything. This woman - half outcast, from a foreign, heretical race - he shouldn't be looking at her. He shouldn't be asking her to do him a favour - conceding her a position of advantage over him.

But Jesus can see a deep yearning in her. The well is deep - the countryside is dry and the water table's low. When she wants water she's got to work hard for it - reach down to find it where it can't be seen. There's an analogy - when she's wanted happiness, fulfilment in life - she's looked for it through all these men. And they're let downs. They either leave or die or won't commit. And she's lonely at the end of it all.

And Jesus isn't saying that human sexual love is bad. He's saying that it's not where she will find real fulfilment. That complete fulfilment comes from knowing God - being in relationship with Jesus - being filled with the living waters of the Holy Spirit. Not a still well in a parched landscape, but living waters. A spring - which flows and is cool and is constantly refreshed.

She knows that this young Jewish man is making an offer - telling her something deep about herself - hitting nails on the head. So she tries to turn the conversation to theology. Good thing about that kind of theology - "where do you reckon the Temple ought to be.... what do you think about the old Messiah then, eh?"

If you're going to try and turn the conversation to the Messiah as a way of getting out of an awkward discussion, it's best not to do that when you're having that discussion with the Messiah himself. I mean, what are the chances? But she finds out that is who she's talking to. The hope of Jew and Samaritan alike - the Messiah who comes to give true life. Life that is full now, and alive forever.

The woman knows who Jesus is, and she's turned around. Instead of the lonely reject, she's the one who brings the Good News to her town. The disciples have seen something new. They now know that God's love goes beyond race, and gender, and keeping the community rules on how women should behave. There's something more important than any of these - something more lasting than these. A deep-flowing, never-ending flow of God's blessing - which spreads through Jesus to the woman and out to her community. And the promise of the love of God, which flows forever.

Church Strapline Generator

Scared that you may have to come up with something snappy to describe your diocese, church or small group?  Worried by the Vision Statements of the 1990s - those vaguely worded yet interminable and ungrammatical statements of our aspirations?

Well worry no more.  You don't need to write Mission Statements for churches these days. Directional Values are pretty funky (I notice this example doesn't include "downwards" or what Southwell and Nottingham would no doubt call "deeper". Probably because encouraging people on a downwards journey isn't where the Church is at.)

But best of all, you can just come up with a church strapline - just three unrelated adjectives. Everyone knows exactly what you're about. Unless it's gibberish or sounds like smut. And we've provided you with a generator to produce a new one every 3 seconds!  Everyone's a winner.

My personal favourite so far is "Good News-ier - Fresher - Bluesier". But what's yours?

Church Strapline of the Week.....

(NB - having trouble rendering this on Android. Our technical team are working on it (ie Burton Dasset is frantically looking at Google). But request the PC / Desktop site and it's fine).

Consultancy Reports: Key Strategies

Well that was quite a week with the management consultants we brought in from LeDouche. Whole host of suggestions they've given us.

I'm going to be particularly keen to look at their "four towers" of ecclesiological synergism. These are:

A) SocMed Engagement - "Near-life Activism and the 24-hour Spiritual Marketplace."
B)  Build the Brand - "When people hear "Beaker Folk" they have to think "Accessible, Authentic, Spiritual Experience - when you want it.""
C) Organisational Realignment - "We need to redirect the Druids to instantiate existential purpose"
D) Merchandising.

I'm off with a dictionary and strong coffee to read the 200 pages of reports behind these headlines. I'm sure I'll find God in there somewhere.

Thursday 16 March 2017

"Evil Vicar" Makes Smallbone Shrivel

Come on Beaker Folk.

Or at least those of you Twitter inclined.

The redoubtable tweeter and ordinand Fergus has set up a head to head between Rev's useless, post-modern Adam Smallbone and David Mitchell's brilliant Evil Vicar.

You know who should win. And it's not the Drip of the East End.

So get over there and vote. And don't forget..... WE'RE BACK.

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Lydia Smears Reveals What Led to Her Becoming a Guardian Columnist

The Commuters' Confession


Can you hear us?



We have erred and strayed in our ways
just as the 0738 strays from its timetable.

When people on cheap returns have tried to get through the barriers in rush hour,
when we've had a hard day,
we have wished we could push them over
and walk over their backs.

We have tweeted in the hardness of our hearts about those who talk noisily on phones.
Then taken calls ourselves.
It was important.

We have sat in the half-carriage next to first class
to get free WiFi.


We have put a third bike in the bike carriage
when the signs clearly say two only.
In fact, got five on one day
when it was busy and the inspector couldn't get down the train.

[Middle aged male cyclists]

We have worn inappropriate Lycra
knowing other people would have to gaze upon our unnecessarily accentuated and not improved bodies.


We have growled when people have been slow in sitting down
wondering why they appear to have packed their entire lives into their rucksacks
and why they need it all for a thirty minute train journey.

We have pretended to sleep when the ticket inspector comes through
not because we don't have tickets
but it's effort, innit?

We have put our  huge bags on the seats next to us
to ward off those who might sit next to us.

And we have shoved massive Luggages under the tables
then gnashed our teeth at those who ask us to move them.

And we have sat on the outside of an empty seat
in the hope they might just go away and sit on the parcel rack.
The big rack at the end of the carriage, obviously.
Not the overhead ones. That would be ridiculous.
Although maybe worth trying on a Thameslink.

We have complained inwardly in our hearts at those that crunch noisily.
Even as noisily as Moses breaking the tablets of the commandments.
And yet, after working late, we have eaten kebabs
Even such as whose fragrance reaches unto heaven.

But one thing we have not done.

One thing is anathema.

We have never stood right in front of the doors when getting on a train,
making it awkward for people to get off.
We'd never do that.
That is the behaviour of pagans, day-trippers and amateurs.
We thank God we are not like such as them.

Sunday 12 March 2017

"For God's Sake" - A Reader's Impression

Edna looked down the road, to where vast crowds of her parishioners hurried to the mosque. She welcomed Ragnar and Chardonnay into the vestry, with little Neveah holding the hand of her tiny brother.

"You see Rev", said Chardonnay, "we were thinking of a fairy princess wedding. But then we thought - maybe a christening instead?"

"Well," said Edna, given Ragnar is still married to the wife he left at home, we can't really consider a wedding..."

"So Norwegian weddings count?"

And visions passed through Edna's mind. The things she'd felt called for. A group of rosy-cheeked children and bearded basses singing the Fauré "Pie Jesu". The memory of incense in the chill of a Monday morning, gathered with a few faithful for Morning Prayer in an ancient building. Burying the elders of the village while the packed faithful sang "The Old Rugged Cross" and touched eternity. Not this round of Governors' meetings, at Church of England schools in name only. Not the endless begging for funds to replace the rusted tin roof and strip out the asbestos. Frankly, even the Lloyd-Webber "Pie Jesu" would be something,

And her colleague, Len, was retiring in Drizzleborough, next door. The bishop had already started mentioning "synergies" and "rationalisation." But those were never going to include closing a building. Some joker had listed this blistered shed as a "fine example of 1960s brutalism", and Drizzleborough had its lovely 13th century wool church - now isolated between the shattered warehouses by the canal and the roundabout on the town centre gyratory.

So this was it, she thought. The cultured obscurity of Williams's poetry, her own sense of the God's presence, all the things she dreamed - instead, snatching at divinity through a pile of paperwork and the wind howling through the cracks in the concrete.

In the dust swirling behind the young couple, George Herbert's spirit sighed, and banged his head against the crumbling wall.

"For God's Sake - Reimagining Priesthood and Prayer in a Changing World."

Friday 10 March 2017

Promotion of the Gospel

Good news for Sudan as it becomes the latest member of the Anglican Communion.

Not such good news for England, which has to play-off against Vanuatu to avoid relegation.  And we can confirm that, on this occasion, Andy Murray is Scottish.

Guardian Dating Over-Promises

I dunno. I just reckon this advert in the Guardian may be over-stating the case.

Someone's gonna be disappointed.

Male Bishops and Female Priests. And Vice Versa

Sadness, upset and a kind of grim sense of achievement from different quarters, as the Bishop of Burnley, Philip North, declines the role of Bishop of Sheffield.  This, for those unacquainted with the ways of the C of E, would have been a kind of promotion. A "diocesan" bishop, such as Sheffield, is in charge of their whole patch - whereas a "suffragan", such as Blackburn, is either a kind of assistant to the diocesan across the diocese, or else has one particular part of the diocese to look after under the diocesan's overall oversight.

Don't want to delve into the specifics of the case. Though I'd suggest you might want to read Jules Middleton's piece. But for the sake of a Venn diagram - let's come up with two hypothetical bishops. Bishop A is a male bishop who does not believe that women can be priests. Whereas Bishop B is a female bishop.

There are then issues as to who regards whom as really being the thing they are said to be. Some priests will regard Bishop B as not a proper bishop (because she is a woman).  Bishop A will regard some priests as not proper priests (because they are women).  The Venn diagram will look something like this:

A few things come out of this diagram. The first is that, somewhere, there is hypothetically a woman priest who doesn't think women can be bishops.  This may or may not be an empty set.

The second thing is that clearly the Church of England is a fractious old bunch. If you've got people going round the place believing that other people can't actually be the things they're said to be, there's always going to be a certain amount of muttering and not looking people in the eye and getting a bit embarrassed when people unexpectedly meet up. In fact if you factored in the whole "plastic chairs" phenomenon it would be even worse.

Then there's the fact that women bishops are now ordaining men as priests - which means that the "Priests that Bishop A doesn't think are real priests" set now includes an increasing number of men.

And finally there's the group of priests in the outer set, whom Bishop A thinks are real priests (because they are men ordained by other men) and who think Bishop B is a real bishop. This means they can, at least in principle, get on with most people.

In other words, the priests who have it easiest in the Church of England are middle-aged men of a liberal persuasion. But then, isn't that true everywhere? Despite all the fighting and sadness, turns out the C of E is just like society after all.

Wednesday 8 March 2017

The Church of England's Prayer for Today

Head aching as I read the C of E's special prayer for International Women's Day.

As propagated using the following tweet:

God our Creator,
you have built up your Church through the love and devotion of women everywhere:
inspire us to follow their great example that we may with them share in the vision of
your glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
Your exam questions:

1. Who are "we" that are praying - men, or everybody that prays that isn't one of the women who have built up your church?

2. If you are one of the women who has built up the Church (which is an ongoing process) - are you not allowed to pray this
a. because you've built up the Church, or
b. because you're a woman?

3. By encouraging people to build a gender equal world, is the C of E Twitter feed critiquing those of its bishops that don't want to build a gender equal world because they think  women can't be priests / bishops / leaders of any kind except of other women?

4. Is the C of E Twitter feed encouraging us to pray for those bishops to have their minds changed? If so shouldn't the Collect be more explicit?

5. Since the current C of E set up explicitly protects patriarchy - while simultaneously pretending it is only implicitly protecting patriarchy - isn't this tweet meaningless?

6. Am I over-thinking this?

Revised Classical Myths: Actaeon

Actaeon was a hunter. He was changed into a deer, and hunted to death, by the goddess Diana.

Although some say he startled her when bathing, it is now thought that he actually asked her "ironically" when International Men's Day is.

Tuesday 7 March 2017

How to Deal with a Male Archdruid

Utter confusion among the Wicker Folk of Walthamstow as they wonder how to deal with a male archdruid.

I can understand their alarm. After all, half of them don't think a man can be an archdruid. Indeed, I'm not really sure they can myself. That's why we've had to provide the Archdruid of Barnet, to offer Other Archdruidical Administration. Not saying that Stanwick of Walthamstow isn't a real archdruid.  But just in case anybody thinks, quite reasonably, that he isn't, Archdruid Elspeth is right on hand to sort things out.

I'm glad to have been part of this great leap forward in Beaker equality.

Sunday 5 March 2017

And Just After we put up Arnold's Memorial Plaque, Ironically They Closed the Church

Graph of plummeting congregation vs Putting up Memorial Plaques

The Mythological First Man and his Transgender Clone

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.”’
But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. (Genesis 2.15-17,3.1-7)
And so the first man, and his transgender clone, dropped the whole world in it by taking instructions from a talking snake with legs.

I'm not a massive fan of the whole Original Sin / Penal Substitution construct for how to deal with human fallen-ness and redemption.  Not saying it's wrong.  Just saying it's only one model among many. Again, it's only part of the model but I thoroughly enjoyed Francis Spufford's "Human Propensity to 'Foul' Things Up" (I've made it SFW there) in the book, "Unapologetic." This idea that, despite all good intentions, we can still just get it wrong - isn't that just us? Isn't that what we see the whole time?

You know how it works. Somebody thinks that maybe America ain't what it was in the world. Which may be true. The blue collar workers don't have the old job security. Which is true. Something must be done.  Could well be true. And the next thing you know, President Trump is awake at 3am tweeting conspiracy theories. You can see at each step how you got from A to B to C - but the precise point where you turned off and ended up at Φ probably eludes you.

Or some people gather on Sundays in an ancient church in Bedfordshire to worship God. The rector wants to make children more welcome; Kevin wants the rules to be obeyed. The next thing you know they're in the Mail and talking to the diocese. How does that happen?

There's nothing wrong with the fruit in the garden.  It's good fruit. And there's nothing wrong with the fruit of knowledge. It looks lovely. And there's nothing wrong with eating fruit. But just that one fruit is the one they can't touch. It's not hard, is it?  Everything else - fine. That one fruit. But the disobedience creeps in.

First there's the fake legalism - "Did God say you can't eat any of the fruit?" Relativizes the rule. Because this is fruit - and you can eat it. And that's fruit.... why can't you eat it?  Because God said?

Then there's the outright deceit "You won't die if you eat it." And the temptation - it looks so lovely. It's a shiny lovely fruit. And the snake is making a promise - if you eat this, you'll be as clever as God.  And that's what God doesn't want. He wants you to be safe - docile - tamed. He wants you under his thumb. He doesn't want you knowing what he knows - how can he be God if you're just as god like?  And that's the snake's hookline - you can be gods.

So they go for it. And all this time later, we've got global warming and "Let it Shine".

Now I don't believe in a literal Adam and Eve.  I mean, there was clearly a first homo sapiens sapiens but the pair in the garden, the snake, the whole thing - it's a fable. It's saying this is how it is - you give us a job to do, we'll get it wrong. Give us something beautiful and we'll foul it up. It's an accurate deactivation of us.

But there's a symmetry of disobedience and obedience, in the story of God and humans.

Eve is born from a man. She disobeys and then so does the man. The world is cursed.

Then a woman obeys. She is told she will carry God's son and says OK. The child is born. And then he obeys. In the desert he is offered choices - an easy life, with compromises and  bowing down to the Evil one - or a life where God is supreme and his law is what matters.

He chooses God's way, even if it's harder. Even if it leads to a cross.

And our human ability to mess it all up isn't taken away. But it's made possible for our nature to be picked up, cleansed, refined, carried up into God by the obedience of that second Son of God, overturning the disobedience of the first.

To think of ourselves, to be selfish, to want the easy way - that's our temptations every day. We're not strong, we're not clever, we're not holy. We face our own struggles, temptations and deserts.  But we follow the One who chose the right way. And he'll lift us up in the end.

Saturday 4 March 2017

The Curse of the Female Vicar

It's very exciting that "Kevin", who posted on my original post about the Maulden Church Plastic Chairs Scandal, appears in fact to be the complainant in the piece. And I may have gained a scoop in his revelation that it was the Archdeacon of Bedford who suggested he complain to the diocese.

But I just want to focus on the Mail's reporting of the matter. And then focus down on one word.

You may, if you feel strong, scroll down to the readers' comments. Some of which are quite rational and charitable. Others of which will be recycled and end up as letters in " Writes of the Church."

But I was interested in the first word in the headline: "female". "Female vicar faces the SACK after one worshipper complains about her putting a children's plastic table and chairs inside her 12th century church".

What modifiers might have relevance in this headline? "Atheist", perhaps. "Kevin-loathing", maybe. "...with shares in the plastic furniture industry" would be pertinent. But "female"? Is Lynda Klimas's gender relevant because it makes her more considerate of children? Or less careful of the feelings of Kevins? Or less respectful of the due processes of the Church of England and workings of English Heritage and the Victorian Society?

We're not told. It just shouts there, in the headline, like it makes any difference. It's  an odd world.

Thursday 2 March 2017

Beds but no Table or Chairs on Sunday

The suspicion of Husborne Crawley folk that people from Maulden are complete "moonrakers" is apparently confirmed.

Yes, a parishioner has complained that the tiny table and chairs the vicar has put in for the kids is in breach of ecclesiastical law.

Now I'm no student of ecclesiastical law. But I can't see any evidence that the vicar has bolted the kids' table to a reredos of great historical importance. The chairs aren't screwed onto a credence table. They're just sitting around, freeform and dumb, like, allegedly,  certain parishioners of Maulden parish.

As far as I'm aware the vicar hasn't used the kids' table as an altar. She hasn't sacrificed a rabbit to one of the chairs under the misapprehension that it's an old Bedfordshire god. She's just given the kids - whether one or many - somewhere to sit and crayon while the service is going on.

Reverend Lynda Klimas is not allowed to comment on the grievance until the matter is settled. Which is just as well. Because the words "anyone with any critical faculties would never have allowed this half-witted complaint to get any further than the edges of their own skull" would be terribly uncharitable.

Oh, and "Beds on Sunday": you mean "lifelong prohibition" in your headline, not "lifelong probation". And clearly no, she doesn't.

And if you're "Beds on Sunday" - what you doing publishing posts on Thursday? Trade descriptions...
Vicar could face "lifelong probation" (Beds on Sunday)

Bus Lane Bonanza

The BBC writes on the astonishing news that cameras monitoring bus lanes are generating income from fines for car drivers. I haven't read the Mail's take on the story as it's probably frothing at the mouth.In an attempt to stir up a little light controversy the BBC offer us this quotation:
Motoring organisation, the RAC, said the cameras had become a "cash bonanza" for local authorities.
Well, good. Every little helps in these cash-strapped times. And, given it's Lent, we should remember that bus lane cameras are a charge on selfishness, impatience and stupidity. And that is an income stream that never dries up, but flows even as the waters from Mount Hermon.

Wednesday 1 March 2017

Lent Begins

Can Beaker Folk please stop contacting the office about the "broken" heating.

The radiators are off because it's now March, when the weather warms up.

The hot water is off because it's now Lent, festival of shivering and no luxuries.

If anyone wants to discuss it I'll be down after I've checked the smart meter.