Sunday 30 April 2017

Annual Moot Meeting - Agenda

1.  Opening devotions and prayers that this won't go on too long

2. Minutes of the last meeting.  All will approve them as nobody can remember the last meeting.

3. Explanations as to why nobody has done anything about the matters arising from the last meeting. Legitimate excuses include:
a) Forgot
b) Definitely going to do it this year
c) Died
d) Going to do it next week, for sure.
e) Made up claims to have done something.

4. Treasurer's Report:
a)Why we are in such a poor financial state.
b) Open discussion: Why we can't do anything about it.
c) Tutting about the price of heating these days.

5. Archdruid's Report. Including why everybody I get frustrated with all year, is in fact invaluable.

6. Property Report

7. Mission Report
a) Annual explanation why the Mission Committee hasn't met
b) Vague assurances to meet this year,

8. Membership Report (we're all a year older)

9. Another Other Business: Free-form grandstanding about hobby horses, saved up for 12 months

10.  Closing devotions and thanksgiving this only happens once a year

Apologies for Absence will be derived by trying to remember all the people who aren't here.

Friday 28 April 2017

Lament for the Fall of the Garden Bridge

Fallen! Fallen is the Bridge that Never Was!
The partners of Ove Arup weep into their trebles.

The council tax payers of London weep
for their hard-earned money has been poured into the Thames.

They have cast their bread on the waters.
Will it ever return to them?

The Temple of Joanna is no more than drawings on a wall.
A glint in the poneytail of a bald, 50 year old hipster.

Looks perfectly nice without a garden

The parakeets have nowhere to rest
and the urban foxes no place to find a home.

It would have been an oasis on a river
Pointlessly spanning the Thames.

When a cycle bridge might at least have reduced the traffic
and done wonders for the Lycra industry.

Two projects Boris Johnson put his name to
Three follies he tried to foist on the public.

An airport in the sea, a bridge with no sense
And Brexit, which devours the money of those that vote for it.

He's not funny.
He's a privileged idiot.

Service for Ed Balls Day

Archdruid: Ed Balls.

All: And Ed Balls to you to.

Hymn (to the tune of "Go West" or "Give Thanks with a Grapefruit Tart")

Ed Balls, E-d Balls
Ed Balls, E-d Balls.
Ed Balls, Ed Balls
Ed Balls, Ed Balls. (Repeat)

Reading: Vanity of vanities


May we, who are every day afflicted with cares on every side
Pay more attention to what we are saying than what others say about us.
Keep us from accidentally typing dodgy Google search terms into our Social Media postings
And deliver us from screenshots.
Lest we be like Ed Balls, reduced from a heavyweight politician
To being that podgy bloke on the telly.

Liturgical Dance

Archdruid: Ed Balls to you

All: And Ed Balls to you too.

Wednesday 26 April 2017

A Collect for Asparagus

Kelvin Holdsworth has already done most of the jokes about Worcester Cathedral's service of blessing asparagus.

So instead I shall just offer up this Collect.

NB before the reading of the prayer, the sparrow grass should be asperged with an aspergillum. This joke actually works better in French, but still.

Oh God, who has taught us that all people are but grass, and who sees every sparrow that falls,
May we, whose wee turns sulfurous when we eat the blessed asparagus, remember there is a place where everything smells like that, all the time, and forever. And so be encouraged ever to stay on the narrow path, between the raised beds, that leads to your garden of delights.  Amen.

Monday 24 April 2017

A Cheeky Chancel

Reflecting on the news from last month that a parishioner had accused the vicar of Maulden Church of installing surreptitious children's furniture.  And pondering the concept of a "cheeky" beer or - as is most often quoted - Nando's. Where someone has fitted in a sneaky food or alcohol-based treat that they shouldn't.

What terms should we give to those church improvement features that the minister has slipped into the building without the powers that be knowing? Here are some suggestions.
A Dodgy Doge

A brazen building project
A cheeky underfloor heating system
A clandestine clerestory
A covert communion table
A crafty carpet
An insolent installation of a toilet in the bell tower
Some mischievous misericords
A naughty nave
A quick quire-sacking
A saucy ailse
A secret monstrance
A shadowy pew-removal
A sneaky transept
A subversive east-facing altar
A surreptitious children's corner
An unannounced altar rail
An undercover undercroft
An unexpected Asparagusfest
An unverified coffee bar
A well-publicised modernism

Sunday 23 April 2017

Defending a Traditional Marriage Stance

GafCon plan to put in a flying bishop in the United Kingdom to defend a "Traditional Marriage Stance."

I have no idea what a traditional marriage stance is. Presumably it's the pose traditionally-married blokes, in socks, shirt and pants, take at the end of the bed, while their traditionally-married wives reassure themselves that the measure of our lives is three score and ten. Or maybe four score if we have the strength.

Some More Things You Don't Want to Hear in a Sermon


"Which takes me back to the days when I worked in that doily factory."

"God loves a cheerful giver. Which brings me onto the subject of the state of the organ."

"And if God is the vodka, and Jesus is the tonic, then the Holy Spirit is in a very real sense the ice."

"So go and talk to someone you don't know very well....."

"I think it would help if I translated from the original Aramaic."

"Six points in closing."

"So what three things have we learnt about resisting impure thoughts? Randolph - come and tell us what will help you,"

"Turns out the Rapture was last night. I'm as surprised as you are."

"When understanding this very tricky point in theology I always think it's best to consider the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics."

"This illustration probably is easier to understand if you have watched all the episodes of "Terry and June." Especially that classic half hour where Terry wants to be an author."

"And then on the Tuesday we went to the ruins at Akrotiri."

"Of all the quotations I love from Karl Barth, maybe this one...."

"I don't normally talk about my operation but I do feel that, when preaching on Deuteronomy 23:1, it may have some relevance."

St George's Day is Every Day

So I was all set to celebrate the St George's Day service today. Got the dragon costume for Burton Dasset to wear. And set Charlii up with the lance with which Burton was terribly hurt last year. I love tradition. And the Beaker version of the story, in which St Georgina tells the hapless princess that she's a victim of patriarchy, sitting around waiting to be rescued, and should kill the dragon herself, is always a triumph.

But then a vicar on Twitter told me it was tomorrow.

So instead of holding it today we're going to hold it on the Sunday nearest the 23rd April, like we always do.

Which is today.

Now I just wish I could remember which book of the Bible the story of St George is in.

Does the Church of England still think it's Shakespeare's birthday? Or does that get transferred too?

Saturday 22 April 2017

The Folding Pastoral Cycle

Brilliant new bike I've bought for when in London.

It folds up, and it's really handy for cycling from declining congregations to thriving churches where everybody smiles and all the leaders wear chinos.

That's right.

It's a Brompton.
By Jim.Henderson - Own work, Public Domain,

Friday 21 April 2017

The Welcome Notice


Delighted to have you drop in! Please try and shove a couple of quid in the money chest. All major currencies are accepted although , f you must donate sterling, can you also drop a few Euro cents in. We're hedging against an SNP-LibDem-UKIP coalition.
Please note there are no valuables left in the church. The last vicar made off with all the silver.


Please do not play tunes on the fine 19th century harmonium. You'll only upset Elsie. 50 years she's been playing hear on Sundays and we're yet to recognise a hymn.


If you want to pay for postcards - yes we know they're dog eared. If you'd hung around this damp  building for years so would you be. Have you seen the vicar? Sorry state

Guest Book

There's a guest book on the postcard stand. Feel free to leave us a note. But out of courtesy, and to help us with our fundraising and communications, could you follow a few guidelines.

Keep your handwriting neat. Some people's writing looks like a spider has fallen in an ink blot and staggered across the book. And that does occasionally happen. The biro's unreliable and we've some big spiders.

In the column that says "Address" please put your address. Not some comments about your feelings on entering the building. "Peaceful" may well be a place in the United States for all I know. But without a Zip code it's just a feeling. And we're not really interested in your feelings.

If you are from Abroad please enter your full name and address. This is definitely because we want to keep you in touch. I cannot stress enough that we don't have a team of international jewel thieves, specialising in houses whose owners are away. Definitely not.


Don't be disturbed if you hear scratching from the bats living in the roof space. They will almost certainly not  fly down en masse and cling on your face, biting and scratching in a blood frenzy. Honestly, it's been weeks. You might want  to use an umbrella. That's to avoid droppings. And very rarely to keep the bats at bay while feral badgers invade the church and chew your shoes.  Note that bats are protected species. So should you succeed in killing one, can you stick it in the chute marked "solid fuel". Costs a fortune heating this place.


If you sit in any of the pews, don't be surprised if the ghost of a former parishioner appears to tell you it's their pew. If you've accidentally sat in Norm Lyvington's seat, please note the box on the pillar, bearing the message "break glass for exorcist." If you're lucky you'll be able to get help before you find yourself unaccountably complaining about the repeal of the Corn Laws.

Green Men and Gargoyles

You will find a number of fascinating grotesques and other images around the place. If you see one with a spectacularly ugly face and wide-open mouth, that's Major Dumpling. Just beat him away with one of the bat umbrellas.

Monday 17 April 2017

Last Rites of Spring (this year)

A lovely map from i100 of the ways different languages say the word that means "Easter".

You will notice that all the countries around the Mediterranean - the place where Easter was first celebrated, use a word that approximates to "Pascha" - coming from "Passover".

You may also be aware that the earliest celebrations of the feast were in the Mediterranean world, and no later than the 2nd century.

You will note that as the English used the word "Lent" from Anglo-Saxon - which was a month name meaning "Opening up"  - so they used the word "Easter" - which was also a month name.

There is only one logical conclusion.

The early Church adopted a pagan festival from Germany. They then completely removed all clues that it was pagan by attaching it to a fictitious story about a man being executed - and unexpectedly rising from the dead. They further removed its pagan clues by changing its name from that of a pagan goddess to that of a Jewish festival that fell at the same time.

They then further covered things up by decreeing that nobody was to mention Eostre's hare / rabbit for 1,000 years. They kept the eggs, though. Because once they'd kept quiet about the rabbit they knew nobody would guess where the eggs came from.

And that is how a totally pagan feast, with a totally pagan timing, became the central feast of the Christian faith. Christians. eh? They'll believe anything.

Sunday 16 April 2017

The Venerable Bede Discovers Eostre

Bede: So, these wild Anglo-Saxon months! Blood month; First Yule; Second Yule; Holy Month! But what does "Eostre-month" mean?

First Angle: Erm.... it's named after something...

Bede: Sounds like "East". Is it named after the East?

Second Angle: Maybe. But - if we say it's just named after the East, that's pretty dull, ennit?

Bede: True. Hardly an exciting mythological explanation. Just because it's the time of the year when the sun rises in the due East....  Can you give me something a bit more mystical and pagan?

First Angle: Some kind of goddess?

Bede: Like it. Like it.  What's she like?

Second Angle: Ooo! I know! She's fond of rabbits!

First Angle: Or maybe of lagomorphs in general?

Bede: I don't want to be splitting hares...

First Angle: Even today, in the 8th Century AD, that is not a new joke, Ven.

Bede: Fair do's. So she's the goddess of the dawn. And of rabbits.

Second Angle: Rabbits that lay eggs.

Bede: WHAT!!!!!

First Angle: Well, she is a goddess. Surely rabbits can lay eggs?

Bede: No idea. How do rabbits produce other rabbits?

Second Angle: Has anyone invented that joke about...

First Angle: Yes.  Like rabbits. Brilliant. .We all know it.

Second Angle; OK. Well, she's got egg-laying rabbits, and Austria will be named after her.

First Angle: And the hormone oestrogen

Second Angle; And Estragon, in "Waiting for Godot". 

First Angle: And the supermarket, "Asda".

Bede: You're just making this up, aren't you?

First Angle: Well, you started it...

Saturday 15 April 2017

The Grim Inevitability of Death

Sad news from Italy, where the oldest human being on the planet, Emma Morano, has died. 117 years of age. Whenever the oldest person dies - which is, after all, quite frequently, what with them being old - we hear about their advice on how to live a long life. "Her doctor for 27 years, said Morano rarely ate vegetables or fruit. “When I first met her she ate three eggs a day, two raw in the morning and then an omelette at noon, and chicken at dinner.”"

Well no wonder she died, with that kind of diet.

There's a grim inevitability about death. You read the accounts of the patriarchs in the book of Genesis: you know, the ones that lived for five or six hundred years, long enough to beget the next in line and other sons and daughters - and then it always says "and then he died." Drives it in. Even the mythical heroes of the past, who lived great long lives, are dead.

There's a scene early in the sit com series, Red Dwarf. Dave Lister has been awoken from suspended animation - all the other crew having died in a radiation leak on their space ship. And the computer, Holly, is trying to persuade Lister that everyone else has died, but Lister can't get it: 

Lister: Where is everybody, Hol?
Holly: They're dead, Dave.
Lister: Who is?
Holly: Everybody, Dave.
Lister: What, Captain Hollister?
Holly: Everybody's dead, Dave.
Lister: What, Todhunter?
Holly: Everybody's dead, Dave.
Lister: What, Selby?
Holly: They're all dead. Everybody's dead, Dave.
Lister: Peterson isn't, is he?
Holly: Everybody is dead, Dave.
Lister: Not Chen?
Holly: Gordon Bennett! Yes, Chen, everybody, everybody's dead, Dave!
Lister: Rimmer?
Holly: He's dead, Dave, everybody is dead, everybody is dead, Dave.
Lister: Wait. Are you trying to tell me everybody's dead?

Thing about death - we know it's utterly natural. An inevitable result of the way our bodies work. The result of the way the universe works. Everything dies. It's how it is. And yet - it's always a shock. The discovery that a loved one has terminal cancer. The news that people have died in a terrorist attack. Even the death of an old, old woman like Emma Morano - we know deep down that, however much this may be how the world works, it's not right. Someone who laughed, danced, cried, hugged us, loved us - they are no more. And there's a hole where love should be. And it's not bloody right.

Early on a Sunday morning, a grieving woman called Mary goes down to a tomb. Her teacher, her leader is dead. And it's not bloody right. But even so she's going to do what needs to be done - to dress his body with herbs and then leave him until the flesh is gone from his body. The Jews didn't flinch from death - they would return after a few years, take the bones and put them into an ossuary - a bone box - where they would take up less space.

These days they're always getting dug up in Israel and Palestine in archaeological digs, ossuaries. Every year or two somebody will dig an ossuary up and find it's got the name "Jesus" on it and get over-excited in the press for a day or two. But it doesn't mean anything. Being called "Jesus" in 1st Century Judea and Galilee was like being called Harley or Kylie today. They all were. Well, a lot of the men at any rate. Not Kylie. Jesus.

But that's the precise point here - the Bible makes the claim that when Mary went down to the grave, there was no body there. The rock - put in place to make sure nobody could steal the body - is out of the way. The guards - well, they've run away to make up stories to cover their respective backsides. Ideally a story that doesn't involve the awful, shocking news that the one they were supposed to be keeping neatly stacked away, had decided to go for a walk in the dew of that first morning of the week. Because death is shocking, but this life is even more so.

Mary's not stupid. She knows that people don't just go rising from the dead. Not a normal activity. Especially not from a bloody, hideous, thorough death like being flayed with a Roman whip and then nailed to a cross and left there till everybody knows you're dead, then stabbed in the side with a javelin just to make sure. Nobody who's been through that is going to be running around the garden in the cool of the day. So this bloke hanging around must be the gardener, mustn't he? The one person he can't be is Jesus.

And he says just her name, "Mary", and she knows who he is. Despite the fact that it's impossible; despite the hideous cold finality of death. This is her Lord. And he's calling her.

And the world changes.

It's not that death becomes less ghastly. It's an outrage - a hideous outbreak into the way we believe things should be - and we know it. It's not that disasters are less terrible. Not that injustices are less unfair. The 96 of Hillsborough, the refugees car-bombed in Syria, the trafficked innocents drowned in the Mediterranean - they are all dead, and their deaths call out to heaven. And we can't undo them by wishing.

But it offers hope through the valley of the shadow of death. It says that when an evil empire and a cabal of powerful men got together - when the Devil himself thought he had won - that their vision was too weak. The bounds of their vision were those of death. They did not see that justice would outlast injustice, that love could be stronger than death. 

In his death, Jesus Christ - the Son of God - descends with us into the depths of our human experience. His pointless, evil, cruel death is just one more in the litany of evil that starts with the death of Abel and goes all the way up to the Copts that were murdered at their Palm Sunday service last week. There's no distance down that we might encounter, that Christ has not descended with us. He's gone there all the way with us.

And as he rises from the tomb, he drags us back up from Hell with him. His arms - shattered on the cross - are still strong to lift us. His back - torn by the whip - is able to carry us. And all things are changed. Death is still death, but it's not final. Evil is still evil, but love wins in the end. And we wait, and hope.

Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed. 

One Tiny Resurrection at a Time

28 years ago, 95 Liverpool fans were killed - another died later - at an FA Cup Semi-Final at Hillsborough. The Sun newspaper at the time blamed what it described as drunken Liverpool fans. It claimed some Liverpool fans had urinated on, or stolen from, the dying. Years later, after endless campaigning and fighting, it is agreed that the Sun had lied - apparently, in part, to cover up for the incompetence of the police operation. The Sun Editor - a man of so apparently little principle that he changed the football team he supports after they were relegated - was Kelvin MacKenzie.

This Friday, the Sun published an opinion piece in which the Everton footballer Ross Barkley was insulted. Barkley had, apparently without provocation, been attacked in a night club. The Sun's opinion piece said that Barkley was stupid and compared him to a gorilla.  It also said that Barkley earned a similar wage packet to drug dealers in Liverpool (Everton, for those that do not know, are the third most famous football team in the city of Liverpool). The columnist who wrote this piece of filth has been referred to the police amid claims that the "gorilla" slur was racially motivated. That columnist? Kelvin MacKenzie. The Sun has suspended him as a columnist. One wonders why the editor did not read the piece before it went out.

In this vale of tears that is our world, I find it hard to believe that 96 innocent Liverpool fans died, while the one who lied about and abused their friends and fellow-fans is still able to find work as some kind of journalist. I find it hard to believe that as the anniversary of Hillsborough came round, MacKenzie could decide it was time to slime the city of Liverpool again. I imagine he does not care, and will not care about the upset he has caused. On this world, in this time, he will never truly pay for the hurt and damage, the lies and abuse. He is rich, and comfortable, and arrogant.

Holy Saturday is a strange day. That first Holy Saturday would not have been like the others. The disciples and their friends had no idea that they would see Jesus again. He had died - like so many others - at the hands of the Romans. It had been an outrage, an injustice. If Kelvin MacKenzie had been on the books at the Jerusalem Herald, he would no doubt have said that Jesus was a thug, a troublemaker, a delinquent with a known track record of turning over tables and chasing money-changers with whips. The disciples saw no hope, no future, no resurrection. They weren't waiting, as we do, knowing that it all changes on Sunday.

One day, it will all be different again. The day when the dead rise like their Lord, the injustices are overturned, wrongs are all righted and every tear is wiped from the eyes of those who mourn. One day, that first Resurrection will blaze back into this world to bring about every resurrection.  In the mean time, let's fight injustices one at time. Counter each lie with truth. Each act of hatred with love. From now to the Great Day may be a long time. But we will get there - one tiny resurrection at a time.

Friday 14 April 2017

On Golgotha

In pain we lose touch with the world.

Searing pain - flesh torn apart; head ripped with thorns; wrists and feet pierced with iron spikes. The pain should drag you away from this world, as your life - first borne by that woman who weeps - pours into the Judean dust.

Darkness. But the darkness of death or of the skies that mourn? Or are they the same, in the faintness of this hour?

Rejection. The crowds that laughed and then grew bored. But your friends - gone too. And the Father? Where is he as you hang in the darkness? Can you see him? Do you hear him in this dark place, as you did by the sea?

Your compassion. Yes, my teacher and friend - I will take her as my mother. Care for the one who cared for you. Watch over her through her Passion. When you are gone she will still have a son.

It is finished.

Thursday 13 April 2017

I Believe in the Resurrection

Peter Ould does some analysis and Ian Paul does some commentary on the BBC's shock-horror "3/4 Christians believe in the Resurrection" story.

I must admit I was surprised anyone was surprised at that figure. And astounded by Peter Ould's calculation that among active churchgoers the figure is actually over 90%.

I mean, did the authors of "Myth of God Incarnate" write all that drivel for nothing? Did John AT Robinson write a book that was utterly incomprehensible to normal human beings, so that people could go on believing  the Creeds?

Why did the "Jesus Seminar" put such weight on a document that may never have existed, and go to such trouble to make up ground rules that suited their intent, if people just read the Gospel like it's truth?

Why did liberal scholars suffer their sinecures and college dinners for so long, if their conclusions that none of the Bible can be trusted and their jobs are pointless, are ignored from Brompton Road to Watford Gap, and even in the savage areas beyond?

Well, the only liberals that can take comfort from this poll are the ones in the Church that claims many of the "active" Christians and nearly all of the "inactive" ones. The Church of England.

Monday 10 April 2017

Re-accommodating to the Modern World

Bit of a disturbance at today's "Fig Monday" service. People thought we were offering free figs and we had hordes of fig-lovers turned up.

Four more than we had seats, as it turned out. Hnaef, Keith, Charlii and I emerged to discover that our druiducal seating had been appropriated by random proles.

So, in accordance with the old saying that  "the last will be first", we asked that the people in our chairs move. No response.

So I started hitting them with my cricket bat. Well, you get over-excited don't you?

I'm pleased to say we had enough chairs in the end. And I'm really grateful to the Beaker Folk we had to re-accommodate to make this possible

I hope they wake up soon.

Radical New Theory About Judas

A theologian has received condemnation after publishing a radical new  theory about Judas Iscariot.

Margot Bogblotter is under fire after the publication of her new book, "Judas was Pretty Rotten and May Have Gone to Hell". In it, Professor Bogblotter suggests that Judas has consistently been misunderstood, and was actually "bad to the bone."

"It was amazing," said Prof Bogblotter, "we have been taught all this time that Judas was basically a nice bloke who was trying to help Jesus achieve his full potential, but got things a bit wrong. But then I made an incredible discovery."

She made the discovery in a group of little-known  first-century manuscripts called "The Gospels." These hold the amazing revelations that:
- Judas only wanted to save the money Mary spent on perfume, so he could steal it.
- He was regarded as a bit of a rogue by  the Early Church.
- He colluded with the Chief Priests and Pharisees to betray his rabbi.
- Jesus said Judas was "doomed to destruction" and it would be better if he had not been born.

"This could really turn our understanding of the "Under-achieving Apostle" on its head," said Prof Bogblotter. "We are on the cusp of a new understanding of Judas as a self-serving, greedy get."

In response, a random 70-year-old clergy told us that the traditional view of Judas should not be rejected too quickly: "He's just had a bad press."

So - sinner? Or really heinous worst sinner ever?

The jury is out

Sunday 9 April 2017

The Myth of the Easter Rabbit

Shocking piece debunking the whole concept of the goddess Eostre (invented by Bede) and the Easter Bunny. Not because it debunks the whole thing. But because it fails to mention that the story actually goes back to the ancient Beaker religion.

Not an ancient Saxon goddess

In the ancient Beaker religion, the rabbit was a sacred beast. Its ability to run into holes and back was seen as a symbol of new life. The earless breed of Beaker Bunny, in particular, was a living parable - a rabbit and yet, at the same time, scarily like a groundhog.

In the autumn, as the sun's warmth retreated and the nights grew longer, so the Beaker Bunnies went into their warrens. The Beaker folk believed that they were accompanying the rabbit goddess Polly - the goddess of waitresses and implausible excuses, leporine equivalent to the Graeco-Roman Persephone  - on her journey to the underworld to see her husband, the frankly implausible Big Bunny.

Once winter was over, the sun came out in spring, and the bunnies rejoined the upper world and started breeding like the proverbial, then believers knew that life was come back to the world. They believed that, in a sense, the rabbits were not just rejoicing in that new life, but in fact encapsulated and brought into being the life. As a result, they did not kill the rabbits and make tasty stews, but instead brought them offerings of dandelion flowers (representing the sun), dandelion clocks (the moon) and dandelion leaves (representing lunch).

Needless to say, it was a fertility religion.

That is not a Donkey

Just had to cancel "Messy Palm Sunday due to the horror.

It was a lovely small-scale recreation of the procession into Jerusalem. The Earless Beaker Bunny played the donkey. She walked along the processional route, happily eating the "palms" (bits of rocket and endive).

Then arrived at the disciples.

The carved-out-of-carrot disciples.

We rescued Simon Peter and Andrew. But it was bad news for Philip and both Jameses.

Kids are mortified. Apart from young Celestine. She's feeding Judas to Bugsy, toes first. I worry about whom she takes after.

Saturday 8 April 2017

Stuff App'ens

Impressed by this tale of the people who complained about a garage control app.  So the app makers locked them out of their own garage.

Especially when I consider the bad reviews the Beaker Dating App, "Spiritual Buddies" has been getting from people who claim they are terribly unsuited. Especially the two Calvinists who totally failed to hit it off, despite the app claiming they were bound to be compatible.

So I've made a few tweaks From now on, anyone giving "Spiritual Buddies" fewer than 4 stars gets a taupe chakra.

You'd be amazed how quickly the ratings go up.

Friday 7 April 2017

When Justice is Stupid, not Blind

"You are a heinous criminal. You have assaulted your wife and I am sending you to prison for.....

Oh - you're a cricketer? And your wife is intelligent?


Western Action in the Middle East

CountryWestern actionEffect
IraqAttack the GovernmentChaos
IraqPull outISIS
LibyaSupport the rebelsChaos
SyriaEncourage revolt but stay outChaos
SyriaBomb ISISGovernment gets stronger
SyriaAttack the GovernmentTerror

Wednesday 5 April 2017

Liturgy for Discovering that Barry Manilow is Gay

Archdruid: I have news of grave report

All: Trump's confused the nuclear codes with a Sudoku?

Archdruid: No. Barry Manilow is gay.

All may go to the foot of their stairs.

All:  OK. What's for dinner?

Liturgy of Pebbles

Each Beaker Person receives a pebble as they enter the Moot House.

Archdruid: Today we're going to use these pebbles as a focus.

All: Ooh! Wonder what they're gonna be this time?

Archdruid: Symbols of the world, as surrogate out-of-season hazelnuts?

All: Done that

Archdruid: To be lifted in response every time someone says the word "love"?

All: Our arms are still sore from last time.

Archdruid: The Divine within us?

All: That was last week.

Archdruid:  The weight of our sins?

All: But you told us "sin" was an outdated concept.

Archdruid: "Failings" then?

All: Did that last month. We dropped them all in The Holy Well.

Archdruid: Oh yeah. Caused all that flooding.  OK... Symbols of prayer, to be dropped in a bowl of water?

All: There's one in the Prayer Corner, ready with its pile of pebbles.

Archdruid: Reminders of Peter, called the Rock?

All: Did that last summer.

Archdruid: Components of a very small cairn?

All: Good idea! We could build it next to the other 43 cairns.

Archdruid: Our hopes and dreams?

All: Over in the grove. Each pebble attached to its very own hope or dream.

Archdruid: The surface on which to draw a spiritual image?

All: Loads of 'em - piled up on the Spiritual  Things Table.

Archdruid: Something to write a new name on?

All: A bit Book of Revelation.

Archdruid: OK. Shall we give the pebbles a miss?

All: We thought you'd never ask.

Tuesday 4 April 2017

Getting Over-Eggcited

Only a few days after we announced it was Eggmas - the season of whinging that eggs don't have the word "Easter" on them.

And really, it's like we can't think normally any more. Everything is scanned with an eye to taking offence. There are people on SocMed so constantly offended that their blood pressure must be under terrible danger. Every BBC article investigated for left/right wing bias or Islamophilia. Every ludicrous pronouncement by a has-been / barely-was politician treated as if it is Government policy.

And so the Church of England, resplendent in cultural irrelevance, is quoted complaining that the Cadbury-sponsored National Trust Egg Hunt has airbrushed Easter.

I don't know how best to put this.

Cadbury is part of an international company. It is no longer owned by Quakers. It owes nothing to the Church of England.

The National Trust is dedicated to the preservation of old buildings that people used to have a purpose for. In that respect it has a certain similarity to the Church of England. But it's not preserving them for religious reasons.

So the C of E makes itself look stupid. The chap from the Meaningful Easter Egg company gets free publicity. But nobody is saved. No minds are changed.

And the C of E, like an institutionalised Arthur Scargill, shakes its fist at society and wonders why nobody listens to it any more. It's like George Herbert had never left us.

Simply put - you want people to have "Easter" on eggs, then thrill so many people with the joy of the Easter story that the season means something. You'll get the word on the eggs then.

But you won't make lots of kids into Christians just by printing "Easter" on shiny wrapping. After all, half of them think it's when Father Christmas was eaten by the Easter Bunny. Win the story, then you can have your own packaging.

Monday 3 April 2017

Donkey Risk Assessment

  1. Is it a real donkey? Mules, horses, ponies and ostriches need their own risk assessments. In the case of ostriches, consider especially the danger of people skidding on yolks.
  2. Does someone have a brush and spade? 
  3. If so - how strong is their stomach?
  4. Is the donkey on a rain-affected surface? Be aware that rain-impacted pavements are more splay-prone than grass.
  5. If the donkey will enter the church - is the floor (a) Wood (b) Tile or stone (c) Carpet?
  6. If (c) - do you have the dry foam ordered already?
  7. Don't forget - the end that doesn't do the biting is the end that does the kicking. And vice versa.
  8. If it slobbers and wags its tail, it's probably a labrador retriever.
  9. If the vicar thinks s/he is going to ride on the donkey consider (a) how big is the vicar? (b) do they have a Messiah complex? If they're humble - why do they want to ride on the donkey anyway? If they say they're so humble they can ride it - DO NOT let them ride the donkey.
  10. Just how sharp are those palms? Cut up newspapers are fine. Flowering Yukka can take your eye out. 
  11. Check the hooves. Ensure you have not used both cross-ply and radial, or the donkey may lose traction on corners.

Sunday 2 April 2017

Billy Graham Rules OK

There has been something of a furore over the revelation that Mike Pence follows the "Billy Graham" rule - that he will not eat or be alone with a woman to whom he is not related. And the article I have linked to from Natalie Collins, although well-written, can obviously be ignored becase it is written by a woman. And although it might be useful for the edification of women, this is irrelevant to us men.

Therefore I would like to share my own thoughts on this troubled area, with the hope it will be of use in the instruction of men - as after all, we need to take what might best be described as "evasive action".

First of all, let me make it clear that there is no blame to attach to women here, beyond that which originally attached to Eve. She it was, after all, that tempted Adam. And so although we have to recognise the danger they cause, they are merely acting according to their own weak nature. Which, although redeemed and renewed by God, still is not yet perfect. So although they are not to blame, it is all none the less their fault.

People may say that I should not speak of what I do not know, Brothers in Christ (it might be best for the Sisters in Christ to go off and do some knitting or light Bible study at this point). But, as the first commenter on Natalie Collins' article makes clear, I know far more than women what goes on in my mind, body and spirit when trying to resist the incidental seductions of the weaker sense.

Indeed, I remember the last time I had dinner with a woman who was not my wife. Back when I was still a travelling insurance salesman, I had to have dinner with my manager.

Well, needless to say it was a nightmare, Dear Brothers. For did she not insist on eating with her mouth? What more insidious temptation could I face? On three occasions I was so intent on her body - which she was using to sit at the table and eat - that I stabbed myself in the face with a fork.

All through our meal together, she insisted on talking to me. And it was notable that she steered the conversation onto just those subjects: insurance, salesmanship, personal development - most likely to inflame my desires. I had of course refused to countenance any wine with the meal - sticking strictly to water with no more than one cube of ice, for we are not to revel in luxury like the Babylonians. And it was just as well, for such was her encouragement of carnal desires through her discussion of these matters that I could in fact not speak, but just sat there with my mouth agape.

With the tempting words, "I'd better get off now - we've a hard day tomorrow. People in Newark don't buy life insurance easily, because life's already so cheap" - she was gone to her hotel room. And I have always reflected that it was only my iron self-control - and the fact that my knees were no longer working due to my state of semi-paralysis - that I did not take her up on that blatant offer.

Needless to say, after that dinner meeting I had to resign, Dear Brothers. But as you have seen, I am a man of the world.  I  therefore take Natalie Collins' point that the normal ways of obtaining leadership posts - 1 to 1 training, occasional meals with the boss - are not available to women. So now I offer you this guide to how you can instruct your womenfolk in the ways of obtaining leadership in the Church. If your wife or daughter feels called to - appropriate and limited - authority, as it may be a children's teacher or an instructor of other women - let them follow these simple suggestions.

1. If a rising church leader is single, maybe they could marry them?  (NB I am referring to unmarried daughers here and not people's wives.)

2. If that option is not available, why not make friends with the pastor's wife? They will already be in a position of leadership over other women, and very likely prepared to delegate to the appropriate godly women.

3. The great thing about making friends with the pastor's wife is that your wife or daughter can safely go to dinner, or have coffee, with them without inflaming terrible and potentially scandalous desires. Except in that dreadful case in the Wolverhampton Funambulist Baptists, which we try not to think

4. Ensure your wife or daughter avoids being too attractive, lest they attract unwanted attention from a lonely pastor. Clearly they should avoid make up (the women, that is. The pastors go without saying). But maybe a light application of dirt to their faces will deter the really eager ministers.

5. Whatever else they do, ensure your wives and daughters stay away from Evangelical Church Leaders.  Apparently Billy Graham does not think they can be trusted.

Saturday 1 April 2017

Writes of the Church: The Book

In the beginning was this blog.  And then one day there was a "Letters to the Church Magazine" post.  It had various sources of inspiration.  Mostly the fellow-parishioners of a friend.

And then I spent a while in the Trim Valley and it became the "Writes of the Church".

And now "Writes of the Church" is going to be a book. With more than a hundred of their finest (nearly all new, and a few others improved) letters to the magazine. Some brilliant cartoons by Dave Walker. And it's coming out in September - ready to be that ideal present for the vicar, churchwarden or obsessive bloke who wants to save £74.22 in your life. And it won't even cost £74.22!

A queue of people with letters at the vicar's door, while the vicar hides behind the curtains

The War on Easter

Can all Beaker Folk please note that today is the first day of "Eggmas." It should have been the Spring Eggwinox same as normal, but St Joseph's Day was transferred because Sunday so Eggmas had to be moved as well.

Eggmas is the first day of the year when you are allowed to complain that the word "Easter" is not on Easter eggs. My favourite complainant from last year was this from Fr David Palmer, quoted by the Telegraph:
“Easter on the back? - Jolly decent of you. I brought 60 Creme eggs for the kids at my Church. Shan't next year.”

Crème eggs are on sale from 1 January. They have never been labelled as "Easter" eggs - or not that I remember. If the good Father knew his history he wouldn't get so over-egg-cited.

Still, the point is valid. After all, the Easter Egg's been in eggsistence ever since that first Third Monday in Lent when Judas demanded to know why Mary Magdalene was busy pouring molten chocolate into moulds so early.

My feeling is that last year's eggstravagant complaints were a clever marketing ploy by the Real Easter Egg Co to get their name in all the papers. But we've got the chance now once again to get Christianity associated with killjoy hysteria so let's go for it. Complain about the pagan eggs! Blame it on fear of Islamic eggstremism, rampant seggularism or Hen Livingstone.

But just remember. We may be called to be all things to albumen. But St Paul told us not to be yolked together with unbelievers.