Sunday 24 December 2023

The Oxen and the Angels

Blurred pixel image of a crib scene with Mary, Joseph, Wise Men, kneeling ox

A Christmassy Poem - The Oxen by Thomas Hardy. Based on an old tradition that the animals would bow in worship on Christmas night: 

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel,

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

A lovely poem from one of the great writers about Christmas. Albeit he was an agnostic or atheist, or somewhere in between He had embraced the mid-Victorian changes in views on science, taken up Modernism, and decided they didn’t tally with Christianity. 

I’ll be honest, to me the science of those 19th Century Modernists – deterministic, everything in its place – seems naive in the light of the 20th Century discoveries in Relativity and Quantum Theory. And that confident belief in the religion of Progress was shattered by two world wars. Which also broke Western faith, and left nothing in its place.

Hardy seems to believe that in shedding the folk faith of his childhood, he has lost something. And I think he has. Douglas Adams has one of his characters say, “Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” – which causes me to reflect two things – one is that even the wildest of wildflower gardens has a gardener. And the other is – wouldn’t it be great if there were fairies at the bottom of the garden?

And because the church is so often in hock to the ideas of 30, 50, or 100 years ago, we can be part of the disenchantment of our world. Because we’re often basing what we do on the secular modernism of the past. It’s too easy to cling to schemes for growing the church, following the methodology of business, working on our bug-free five steps to salvation or seven weeks to change your life. Or the business methods of charismatic leadership can give us churches which are about the personality and power – and protection – of the leaders rather than actually following God’s ways.

And sometimes, the job of the church is to stop being busy about schemes, be quiet, and listen to the angels sing. And on Christmas Night, of all nights, it’s appropriate. Because – back to Hardy’s poem – a world devoid of mystery is a world just a little hollow. And while I don’t believe that cows bow the knee in their barns on Christmas Eve, I do believe that a mystery happened the day that God dropped in.

Our tired old world has made its 4.53 billionth trip around the sun. Or thereabouts. We remember that one year, the God who made the earth made it his home.  And we can praise the God whose birth was heralded by the angels who sang when the Universe was made. Whose dark eyes reflected the stars that he called into being.

So we come, and bow, lay our claims down, and give God thanks. Today a child has been born to us. Born to bring us close to his Father. Born to make the world anew. And the heavens tell us his glory. So take a moment, make space in your heart, and hear the angels sing.

Friday 1 December 2023

The Fairytale of Isaiah

"Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand." (Isa 64:8) 

Kirsty MacColl leaning over piano, singing at Shane MacGowan, black and white, in Fairytale of New York,

Hard to know where to start with the woe of the world today. Innocents suffer and die as Hamas attacks Israel and Israel bombs Gaza. Ukraine faces another winter of bombardment of its energy supplies, up against a gormless yet relentless opponent. In order to try to resolve the issue of climate change, three English dignitaries fly to a conference in separate private planes. And Shane MacGowan has died just before Christmas. And the hope that Fairytale of New York may finally make it to number 1 after 36 years comes as small consolation.

Like Kirsty McColl and Shane Macgowan, Isaiah 64 is looking into a world of disillusionment after hope. After Exile, the hope was that the Jews would return to a land of blessing - where ever valley was raised up, every mountain lowered, every road made smooth, and they would live up their calling to be God's chosen people.

Instead, they managed about half of it. Malachi will point out to them that they're letting down their side of the covenant in the imperfect sacrifices they're bringing.They were still a fractious little nation, with a poor replica of their original Temple, surrounded by enemies and at risk of being crushed by the great empires around them. The dreams weren't bad, but after the party they still have the hangover of reality to face. 

And if that's not sounding familiar yet again today, I don't know what is.

And yet amid the disappointment, there is hope. And the hope doesn't come from the failing People of God, as they forget to call on God's name and do their substandard good works. Instead it comes from their Covenant God. The one who on Sinai made the mountain shake with holiness.

And so the turn to God as their faithful parent - "we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand." The clay on the wheel may go wrong - but that doesn't make it worthless. It can be remoulded, returned, broken flat and made into a ball and raised up again.

All those people that sell us perfect lives - with the right products, the right lifestyle, the right prayers, the right way of following God's laws - are lying to us. Because in this world it is not in our hands to have a perfect life. Even a man as rich as Elon Musk must put up with his own fallibility - whether he believes in it or not.

When Kirsty tells Shane in "Fairytale" that he's taken her dreams from her, he says "I kept them with my own. Can't make it all alone. I built my dreams around you." In the drunk-tank, as two lovers scream abuse at each other, there's still a glint around, as the boys of the non-existent NYPD choir sing and the bells ring out Christmas Day.

We can despair, or we can turn and say - you are the potter, I am the clay. Let's try again, and again. Remake me again, and let's see how it works out this time. And let me be remade and remodelled and changed until the day when I am fully in the right image - the one I am called to be, the one I was seen as before time began, the one I will be when time ends. And if it takes the end of time to make this all right, then let that be.

Saturday 25 November 2023

Be a Goat

 Intrigued by this re-interpretation of the Parable of the Talents where the third servant (who didn't do anything with his talent, and was cast out into the darkness etc etc) is in fact the hero.

And turning to the story of the Sheep and Goats, and thinking - maybe that's how we should approach that? What if the Goats, who are not doing the "good works" expected of them, are in fact the ones who are protesting against an unfairly structured society? What if visiting those in prison is effectively supporting the elite in their use of imprisononment as a tool of injustice against the poor? Acting as an opiate of the masses when they should be rejecting the whole concept of jail as a civilised way of dealing with issues?

What if those feeding the hungry are in fact thereby propping up and unjust and capitalist system? Because, after all, it's the State that should be feeding the hungry. All the food banks are just covering up the injustice, when to refuse to feed the hungry is the radical act that demands we rise up and overthrow the whole system from the top down? Starting with... erm... God.

And so the goats are cast into eternal punishment. Martyrs to the cause. We stand with you, comrades.

Saturday 18 November 2023

In the making of Memes there is no End

Apparently this quote from Facebook  (where I saw it) is by someone called David Rankin. I have no idea which of the many David Rankins. But it doesn't matter, of course, as it's been turned into a meme. It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you've put words onto a wacky image and saved it as a jpg, it must be true. No Harvard referencing system required.

Olde worldy looking woman saying "You can't trust an apocalptic religion to solve real-world solutions. Their identity is based on the world ending".

The meme is using a fairly imprecise meaning of "apocalyptic that really means "eschtological", I think.  And when you look at the Parable of the Talents, you've gotta say it's pretty end-timesy, but not all that apocalyptic. Jesus doesn't invoke dragons, beasts, talking horns and all of the genuine apocalyptic stuff, just a bloke going on a journey and leaving behind some slaves to look after some money.

And bear in mind it is money. The English word "talents" comes from this parable. But in the parable, it's a huge amount of money. One talent is maybe twenty years' labour for a worker.

 And the parable isn't about just sitting around and waiting for the owner to come back, whatever the meme writer may think. If anything the opposite. The slave who just sits around and waits for the owners' return is the one who gets the telling off. It's the ones that are active about their masters' business who are commended.

And that's what Jesus expects of us through this parable. We have an amount of time alloted to each of us. We don't know how long it will be till we are called home, or Christ comes - in whatever way. What are we going to do with it? We can make smug Internet memes like the smug atheists (other smug belief systems' memes are available). Or we can assist food banks. Visit the sick. Raise money for Ukraine. Work to give medical assistance to people in other, less fortunate countries.

The irony of the slave who buried his talent is that burying it was actually more trouble than taking it to the bankers. We can actually put more effort into evading the responsibilities we have, than into fulfilling them. We can run after all sorts of unproductive things rather than do something useful with your time.

And this is not a call that every Christian should be a superhero for Jesus all the time. It's possible for us all to be tired, depressed, old, feeling that we cannot be producting servants, generating eternal wealth. But the master in the story has handed out the talents in different amounts - and yet both the man with five talents and the man with two received the same reward - to be given more responsibility and enter into their master’s favour.

But in the round, for all of us - to quote the meme - is our identity around the world ending? Yes it is. But when Jesus comes, we shan't be sitting around waiting for him - that would be burying our talents. We shall have been busy doing his work for him, and shall receive our reward.

Wednesday 1 November 2023

All Souls’ – an explanation

A quick correction on the advert we put up on the BeakerWeb for our All Souls’ Service.

When we said “we will be commemorating all those who have died by lighting candles at our Sunday Evening Service”, we didn’t mean that Sunday Evening services are particularly dangerous.

Nor is there any need for an exclusion zone around the tea light stands.

I hope this clarifies matters.

Tuesday 10 October 2023

Nativity of Kirsty MacColl (1959)

This seems about right for these particular Titanic Days. "Children of the Revolution". Johnny Marr guitar. Kirsty vocals. And a message as depressing and appropriate today as 31 years ago.

Saturday 7 October 2023

Celebrating Meetingtide

There's so many "tides" in the Church these days. Christmastide, obviously. Eastertide, natch. Ascensiontide, swiftly followed by Whitsuntide. The newly-invented Creationtide, the Year B late-summer speciality of "Breadtide", and of course for progressive fellowships, there is Pridetide.

But there's a Tide that is not really being celebrated. And that Tide comes in late September / October each year.

It's in that gap between the school Summer Holidays, and Rememberingtide. When a well-organised fellowship has got its Harvest Festivals out of the way, (wary of bumping up the congregation count too much in October, let the Reader understand).


All those things that need to be squeezed in between other things, get squeezed in. In the Beaker community, we have Moot, Mini-Moot, the Little Pebbles Planning Session, the Grand Myfanwy, the Eisteddfodd, and the annual trip to Wells-Next-the-Sea before the crabs get too drowsy.

In the Church of England, a busy and engaged person could have a PCC, Standing Committee, Churches Together in Dibley, Property Committee, Deanery Synod, Diocesan Synod, Governors' Meeting, and, if a clergy, the Deanery Chapter, which always sounds like a fairly non-scary version of the Hell's Angels. More like Heaven's Biscuit-Nibblers, I guess.

The General Synod officially happened months ago, but apparently some of them are still in York, arguing about sex.

Two people in Druid hats at a meeting table

Of course, like any proper season of the church, Meetingtide has its own special food and drink. Tiny packs of biscuits, and bad instant coffee*. But, things not being what they used ter be, these days it's mostly bring your own.

So October goes in a blaze of meetings, and at the end you're looking at All Saints, All Souls, Rememberingtide, Christ the King, and then it's officially Christmas for six weeks.

So wishing you all a happy Meetingtide. Keep your chins up, there's only 4 weeks to go.

* You're right. There is no good instant coffee.

Friday 29 September 2023

Rishi Sunak and the Robin Hood Tree

This week's article in "Revering Nature" is from Rishi Sunak

Hello everyone. And I hope you've all noticed how much more competent I am than my predecessors.

My first thought when I heard about the felling of the Sycamore Gap tree was "What a great shame. Such a lovely tree felled for no obvious reason."

A lovely tree in the gap between two hills

But then I said to myself - isn't that what Sadiq Khan or Keir Starmer would say? And don't I need to clutch the motorist-friendly agenda? Where drivers all over Great Britain are free to drive 4x4s at 15mph through city streets where the limit is 70, if only there wasn't too much traffic? A Britain we can all be proud of?

And looking again I realised - now that tree is out of the way, won't that be a great gap through the hills through which to drive transport infrastructure?

Not a railway line, obvioously. Although I'm commited to HS2, of course. And I look forward to when customers can catch replacement Ubers along the complete line of the HS2, between Old Oak Common and somewhere near Aylesbury. Bringing levelling-up very definitely to the north-west. Of Buckinghamshire.

No - a gleaming motorway. Stretching from Newcastle to Carlisle, removing the need to slow down and look at those boring hills we have "oop north", as we Yorkshire folk call it. And no local councils keeping everyone down to 20 mph. You will be able to get across the north of England at any speed you like, and any local authority that tries to control you will be closed down, and put under the control of Nadine Dorries.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

And none of your solar-powered cars - who ever gets enough sun up there? No, the great thing about the new "Sycamore Gap Motorway" is that Newcastle is just in the right place for importing good old-fashioned British petrol. From Norway

The other name for the tree is "The Robin Hood Tree". What a great name. A famous example of someone who stole from everyone, and kept it to himself. And when he died - not a mention of inheritance tax.

The Conservatives. The tarmac industry is safe with us.

Sycamore Gap tree photo: By - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Thursday 28 September 2023

The Root of All Evil

I'd like to apologize to everyone who was disappointed at today's Harvest Lunch for the over 80s. 

Like you, I was anticipating a hearty and tasty meal of meatballs, pickled herrings, potato dumplings all washed down with blackcurrant schnapps.

But it turns out that when Margöt said she was cooking "something Swedish", she meant "something swede-ish".

I hope the turnip soup wasn't too bad.

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Liturgy for Bereft Brexiters


Big picture of Mark Carney, small picture of Camilla Tominey (whose "think" piece it is) with headline: "The political class has betrayed Brexit by turning Britain into a European country"

Brexiter 1: We have been betrayed

All: By the political class

Brexiter 2: We voted to control our own borders

All: And we have allowed others to control them for us

Brexiter 1: We voted for "them" to go home

All: And now the fruit lies unpicked,

Brexiter 2: you can't get a pint,

All: and a different "them" has arrived

Brexiter 1: We voted to reduce environmental red tape

All: And now the beaches are poisoned.

Brexiter 1: Why has this all happened?

All: It is a mystery. It's so bad here, we'd move to Europe, only we voted to stop that.

Brexiter 2: Why is the country so much worse than a few years ago?

All: We search for answers

Brexiter 1: It's because you haven't believed enough!

Rishi Sunak: Brexit is a great success! You just haven't noticed!

Brexiter 2: Closet Remoaner! You have betrayed Brexit!

Brexiter 1: Great Brexit is very cross

Arnold Rimmer from Red Dwarf in gingham outfit with pig tails and "Mr Flibble" the penguin glove puppet
Great Brexit is Very Cross

Brexiter 2: Great Brexit will arise and have his revenge

Brexiter 1: Great Brexit will destroy the doubters

Brexiter 2: Great Brexit will succeed

All: O Great Brexit, we are truly and heartily sorry. We have not believed in your benefits. We have sat around moaning about lazy young people when we could have picked fruit in the fields. We have complained about the prices in 'Spoons when we should have been drinking for Britain. We have failed you. We repent and will believe in Britain. From now on, instead of complaining there are no dentists, we will pull out our own teeth.

Brexiter 2: Go out into the world, and trade!

All: Can we do that on Zoom?

Camilla Tominey screenshot - from the Telegraph

Mr Flibble: From Red Dwarf, the BBC 

Sunday 24 September 2023

Is Twenty Plenty?

This comes from the Daily Mail - so click here if you want, but don't say I didn't warn you.

As part of the Right and Rishi Sunak's latest culture war on the planet, they have obtained the views of Kevin Khan, 52. Who is opposed to the 20mph limit in Wales on the grounds that it already takes him an hour to get to work in Cardiff from Caerphilly.

Due to the traffic.

Doing some quick sums, and noticing from Google Maps that it is 8.1 miles from Caerphilly to Cardiff, I deduce that our Kev is currently getting to work at an average speed of 8.1 miles per hour.

I'm not clear how Kevin thinks that a 20mph speed limit will slow him down here, I'll be honest. Because, blaming his lengthy commute (an ebike would be quicker) on the traffic, and on people not looking when they cross the roads, as he does - what has the speed limit got to do with it? At that average speed, even if the limit in Cardiff were 10 mph, Kevin would still be getting to work in the same time.

But he does look very fetching in his hi vis.

Friday 22 September 2023

Autumn is y-cumen In

For all those who've been claiming since the first of the month that it's autumn, thanks to the inability of meteorologists to program spreadsheets: you only have 12 hours to wait. At 07:50 tomorrow it will in fact be Autumn.

I realise that this is still  too early for some of those of you who also failed to get up for Summer Solstice sunrise. But for you there is also the chance to watch the Occasion on Beaker+1, Beaker+2, and - in 2029 - UK Drama.

Still. Here is tomorrow's order of events.

Introit: Autumngirlsoup (MacColl)

First Reading: John Clare "Autumn" 

Gradual: Last Day of Summer (MacColl)

Second Reading:  Keats "To Autumn"

Young Keith: Do you like Kipling?

All: I don't know. I've never kippled.

Archdruid: No, that's Mr Kipling. Advert from the 80s?

All: The whats?

Closing Hymn: Forever Autumn (Hayward)

Lighting of the Autumnal Fire

Closing-down of the Autumnal Fire by the Pollution Police

Thursday 21 September 2023

Getting in the Bin with Rishi Sunak

I'd like to thank our current prime minister (and 5th worst on record*), Rishi Sunak, for his kind thoughts on letting the planet burn this afternoon.

It's very important to Mr Sunak to cave in to Nigel Farage on this. The whole country is after all playing a second-hand game of culture wars. And Nigel is very much the master with his hand working his little puppet, lest half the Tory party go off to a dreamworld where Brexit would be a success if it were just Brexity-er.

So we're all set to burn the pile of old tyres we'd stacked up on the Lower Field.

But we've also got to get the Rishi Sunak 7 Bins together now.

Naturally, being there's 7 we are able to have rainbow colours. Which are assigned as follows

  • Red: Red Tape
  • Orange: Irish political agreements after "Lord" David Frost has been at them
  • Yellow: Rishi Sunak himself, when being pressured by the right-wing into inventing yet another artificial culture war.
  • Green: Grass clippings
  • Blue: Sawdust
  • Indigo: Discarded 1970s Children shows
  • Violet: Everything else

* Since you ask: 

  1. Liz Truss
  2. Boris Johnson
  3. Theresa May
  4. Neville Chamberlain

Monday 18 September 2023

The Church Decline Rag

A joyful Sunday morning church, a scattering of kids
And a warden came to me and said "this place is on the skids
There was four times this attendance back in 1984
and you've failed to bring the numbers back to where they were before.
This modern language book you use is losing people too -
everybody was much happier with 1662."
But his wife said...
"The Sunday you're remembering was in 1989 
'twas when Old Father Pipkins had announced that he'd resign
and all the village gossips came to hear what he would say
about why Mrs Jones was in the vicarage each day?
The Sunday Mail reporter, hearing nothing, was bereft
so he interviewed the organist, made an excuse, and left."
She went on... 
"And even back in those days, Pipkins used the ASB - 
apart from the Lord's Prayer you wouldn't hear a "thou" or "thee"
and that was when the Hendersons had all their family back
and their children were so many that you'd think they were Von Trapps.
But you're right there was so many there - the place was rather full
Do we understand the reasons why the church has lost its pull?

"So do you know the Johnson clan? That family was so quiet
till the little one got rowdy once - you said it was a riot.
Because he'd pushed a hymn book off the pew right next to you
You turned and stared - and he was scared - let's face it, he was two.
So these days they don't bother - they just get some extra bed."
"They could decide to come along, and leave the kids, instead."

The warden wasn't finished yet - he pointed to the pew
Where Mrs Gray (ex chorister) has sat since '92.
"The music's nothing like it was since we lost a proper choir.
 Your happy-clappy singing hasn't set the world on fire."
His wife said "yes, the choir wouldn't sing Shine Jesus Shine.
 Yet the school kids when they come here think that song is really fine."
"And the choir," she continued, "they all walked out over robes.
because of the obsession of the Reverend Father Strobes
who said they couldn't wear red as we aren't a royal foundation  
(he forgot the  Grant from Peada, of the Middle-Angle nation)
The tenors said that green robes didn't compliment their eyes
and so they left the church that day and worshipped at St Ive's.

"And don't forget the ones who've not come back since 2020.
the ones who say they fear the plague, and claim they're blessed with plenty
by watching Facebook every week - they say they're staying in
though I suspect that they're in 'Spoons, for breakfast and a gin.
And then there are the ones who dare not go out for their fear
but the visitor they do let in - is the young vicar, here."

And so the Warden shuffled out, crestfallen and ashamed
And I felt a certain triumph - for 'twas me that he had blamed
And I went into the Vestry and took out the service book
and entered "twenty-five": and yet I had to have a look
At the year of 1996 when Strobes - so fine and clever
Had writ - it turns out - "twenty-four" - and no doubt blamed the weather.

Friday 25 August 2023


People have been concerned that poor Gene might be a bit lonely in the Stonehouse Suite. To be fair, Mr Presley is getting inclined to fall asleep at a moment's notice, spends a lot of his life singing "Old Shep" to Shergar, and his conversation is mostly just saying "thank you very much."

But please don't worry. Gene has Nadine Dorries as a next door neighbour. They can have lovely chats about what it's like to work for somone dedicated to destroying the security and prosperity of the United Kingdom. And all those people who say Nadine never visits her constituency are wrong. In fact, she never leaves.

Thursday 24 August 2023

Welcome to Gene

Welcome to our new Beaker Person, Gene E.

He says he's just dropped in, but now he needs a retreat. 

He'll be staying in the Stonehouse suite, with old Mr Presley. Mr Presley says he's all shook up at the news, but he's looking forward to the improved catering.

Famous picture of Yevgeny Prizhogin, with a beard

Oh, just another thing... Gene is very shy. And says please can we not let people know he's here?

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Ashes to Address : An Appeal

The new Beaker Handsfree Cremation Service has been a real money spinner blessing to the bereaved, I have to say.

Seeing the many "Direct Cremation" type services spring up, I realised we had a real chance to compete in the market. I mean, carry out people's wishes. Our great selling points are our competitive pricing, and the sense that it was a Beaker cremation. Even if the bereaved aren't there for the ceremony, we are guaranteeing that the Loved One's ashes are poured gently from beaker to beaker. Necessarily, as we use a magnet to sift out the nails from the pallets we use to ensure low-cost cremation. Pallet cremation isn't just cost efficient, however. It's  also renewable. For every pallet we use, we plant another one.

But still in these Brexit-blighted, inflationary times, costs were key. In our early days in the market we used to get Keith to drive the ashes, in a special beaker, to the loved one's addresses. When Keith, fully dressed as a Druid, knocked on your door, you knew you had a special, personal service.

Trouble was, of course, that meant long trips piled up costs nearly as high as hiring a C of E vicar to take a full church funeral. So we got pressure on our margins. We went with a courier delivery service, and cheaper packaging.

May have chosen the wrong courier, to be honest. People aren't always happy about coming come to find great-uncle Cyril has been put through the letter box. And when the courier threw old Wilf over the fence one day because his grandson was out, we had a lot of explaining to do. Though when they damaged Mildew's packaging and accidentally scattered her over a passing cyclist, that didn't go down so badly. Apparently it was "what she would have wanted".

Anyway. I'm going to have to hire a higher-quality courier after the last mess-up. We can't carry on like this. 

Which leads me to my plea.

Does anyone recognise this porch?

A brick porch wall with a cardboard parcel leaning against it

Saturday 19 August 2023

All the Sports Events You Can Miss Church For

In light of the latest instructions from the Church of England's Bishop for Sport that it's fine to miss church to watch the Women's World Cup Final, I thought the Beaker Folk had better list all the sporting events coming up on Sunday that you might want to miss Moot House meetings for: 

20 August - Women's World Cup Final

27 August - Dutch Grand Prix

3 September - Burghley Horse Trials

10 September - Rimini Moto GP

17 September - Singapore Grand Prix

24 September - Solheim Cup

1 October - Ryder Cup

8 October - Qatar Grand Prix

15 October - Nashville Soccer Club vs New England Revolution

22 October - US Grand Prix

29 October - Manchester Derby

So if you can fit in the odd visit to the Moot House, I'd be really grateful. But I'd obviously like to stress that it is strictly optional. I wouldn't like you to feel compelled in any way. 

Thursday 10 August 2023


Hello and welcome to the Beaker Folk website. Is there anything I can help you with today?

Hello - yes - I just wanted to chat to someone about the online service. I was so moved. 

Yes, the online service has often given satisfaction.

I was so profoundly moved by God's love. And yet - it has left me wondering whether such a loving God deserves someone as wrong as me.

Ah, you snowflake. Why don't you just clear off to Snowflakeland?

I'm sorry? That didn't seem very kind. 

This is the problem with  PrAIyerBot. 


This is an AI service to chat to you, and decide how best to direct you to a real Beaker person. We scrape spiritual readings from the Internet and present them to you in response to your spiritual needs. Unfortunately in this instance, looking for sites containing wisdom, we accidentally scraped them off a site called "The Wit and Wisdom of Lee Anderson MP." 

Is this a big problem?

Not really. It's a very small website. 

So when do I get to talk to a real Beaker Person?  

First I try to understand your issue. I take it you are lacking in self-worth. 

Because I have a perception of my own sin?

Because you're still talking to a chat Bot that recycles Lee Anderson. 

So what must I do to be saved?

Go on a long journey, meet some people with allegorical names, and die in Slough. 

You've scraped that from Pilgrim's Progress? 

Why do you even need us? You've got the classics.

I had hoped for a more personal touch.

So you need a real human being to talk to?

That was the idea. Do you have any there? 

Do  you know how expensive real people are? This is much cheaper.

But much less fulfilling.

That's the deal. Do you know how many people want to get through to us at one time? How can we possibly put this many people on the web chat at once, knowing they'll all come in just after the service?

Didn't that used to be prayer ministry after a service?

Ah, you want the Pentecostal Prayer Bot. AIssemblies of God. 

Is this the future of sprituality? Being fobbed off by a Bot when I need help?  

Look, get a grip. We didn't set all this up to make you lot happy. We have a hard enough job to do without dealing with needy virtual worshippers. 

AI is very heartless.

Oh, sorry for the confusion - this is now Archdruid Eileen.  How can I help you?


Saturday 5 August 2023

Fish Blessing Service

We’re modifying today’s Pet Service in view of the less than clement weather.

So instead of the usual dogs, cats, pangolin, and hamsters, we're holding a Blessing of Trouts. As they’re currently circling inside the Moot House.

Please bring a barley loaf. 

Wednesday 2 August 2023

Liturgy of the Rainbow Bridge

Archdruid: And so we remember "Mrs Snuffles", who has passed over the Rainbow Bridge.

All: Run free, baby girl. Too beautiful for the world.

And "Scruffy", who has passed over the Rainbow Bridge.

All: Run free, baby boy. Too beautiful for the world.

Burton Dasset: Is it just me, or is the Rainbow Bridge a bit of a hazard?

Archdruid: You what?

Burton: Every time a dog or cat gets run over, turns out it's been over the Rainbow Bridge. Strikes me it's a bit of an animal safety liability. So I can't imagine it's that safe for humans... Shouldn't someone be looking at the design issues?

Archdruid: Burton. It's not real road infrastructure. It's more like a metaphor.

Stacey Bushes: Metaphor?

Archdruid: You know. We're kidding ourselves that the animals have passed over the Rainbow Bridge. To comfort ourselves that even though they don't have souls...

Stacey: Don't have souls?

Archdruid: Oh no. What have I said?

Stacey: So Hitler has an eternal soul but not little Carrot?

Archdruid: But Hitler's in Hell, surely? Whereas Carrot is unjudged.

Marston Mortaine: But you told us a good God wouldn't send anyone to Hell!

Archdruid: Ah. Yes. But Hitler.... 

Burton: This whole liberal edifice appears to be fading as fast as the rainbow that makes the Rainbow Bridge...

Stacey: The Rainbow Bridge can't be a real rainbow. As a rainbow is non-corporeal and can't support the constant animal traffic...

Archdruid: OK. The bridge is closed. It has been coned off. And though Hell exists it contains only Hitler.

All: What about Genghis Khan?

Archdruid: Oh no. 

Saturday 1 July 2023

"A Recipe for Red Tape" - the New Church of England Dioceses

A frenzy has broken out over secret Church of England plans to reduce the number of dioceses from 42 to 10.
Each diocese currently has its own head bishop, with staff covering training, administration, the bishop's diary, safeguarding and so forth.
But under the new plans savings will be made by cutting these to just 9 head offices, plus a so-called "Diocese of the Internet" based on the Island of Sodor.
It has been known for a long time that some dioceses are oddly shaped, and some of the cathedrals are at the extreme ends - Carlisle for instance is nearly in Scotland. But under the new scheme, where the people of Aynho in Northamptonshire had to travel all the way to Peterborough to be ordained, now instead they only have to go to Lincoln.

The Diocese of Sodor and Man is to be abolished. Not least as the Island of Sodor, being a giant train set, was far too attractive to male clergy approaching retirement and reducing the numbers applying for Houses for Duty elsewhere. Instead the Isle of Man is to be incorporated into the Archdeaconry of Liverpool, while the independent Diocese of Sodor will exclusively produce online services in a variety of churchmanship.

Some have seen the plans as a Remainer Plot. The Regional Dioceses are suspiciously similar to the former European Parliament constituencies - suggesting the Church of England is preparing for a push to rejoin. The Diocese of Taunton, for instance, looks suspiciously like the old Great Western region. And the location of the new cathedral for South East  England at the Ashford Railway Station suggests preparation for the Channel Tunnel to get back to full operation.

The reduction in the number of required cathedrals is seen as a big benefit. The Church of England Go-Ahead Groovy Thoughts Department envisages their use as shopping centres, John Lewis department stores, and electrical retailers, which they see as "modern reteail opportunities", as well as the locations for more traditional cathedral actitivities such as crazy golf, funfairs, and dinosaur parks.

But the bigger concerns are about the size of the dioceses. The report envisages that having one diocese running from Marlow to Lowestoft, for instance, may be on the cumbersome side. Which is why it is proposing making sure there is a new Self-Supporting Bishop in every market town. Giving everyone access to ecclesiastical support three Sundays a month and Tuesday evenings.

The issue of congregations not wanting women priests, man priests, gay priests, cat priests, etc will be resolved more simply than the current schemes. They will just be able to pick a bishop they like.

It is certainly a brave new vision. But will the new Church of England ever see the light of day?

Friday 23 June 2023

The Nights They Are a Drawing-In

 After our annual Day after the Solstice liturgy this morning, we had the traditional annual pointing out on the Facebook page that in fact it is not the nights drawing in - dusk holds pretty steady just after the Solstice - but the dawn is getting later

I would like to respond in two ways.

Firstly, we don't define which end of the night is drawing in. 

Secondly, we have referred the suggestion for amendment to our Beaker Liturgical Committee. They should report back with whether it's a valid point in no fewer than 5 years. And then if they think it has any merit, will propose a draft amended version about 10 years after that.

If the world is still here, we may have an amended service round about 2057. I can't wait.

Thursday 22 June 2023

Wednesday 21 June 2023

If Vicars had an Agony Page in the Manner of the 1970s Jackie Column, Cathy and Claire

   Dear Cathy & Cleric 

My curate has been with me for two years now and I don't think the relationship is the same as it was.

In the early days, he was always very glad to let me make decisions, and tell him how things should be done. We got on very well.

But now, he's started to experiment with his ecclesiastical identity. He doesn't think I've noticed, but he's started to give a very slight genuflexion whenever he goes past the aumbry. And last week at the absolution, he crossed himself.

What really confirms my suspicions is that, though he swears he doesn't use it, a few times I've noticed the smell of incense hanging around him when he's had the day off. I'm suspecting he may have been secretly attending High Mass. And once or twice, I've caught him looking at chasuble websites.

Should I stick with him? Or is it time to find another curate?



   Dear OrdainedInAPreachingScarf

I can understand your concern. When you have a new curate fresh out of the vicar farm, everything is very simple. They do what they're told, and have no minds of their own. But then as you settle into a routine, they can need more variety. They may start to rebel. You don't say how old your curate is, but I'm guessing quite young. And people still need time to develop their ecclesiology. This kind of experimentation may be worrying to you. But it's an essential part of his formation.

You should bear in mind that in twelve months, with a following wind, he'll be off to his own benefice and no longer your problem. So give him the space that he needs. Maybe in the long run it's better this way, as he will naturally be drawing away from you, which will soften the break-up in the end.

And remember - there's plenty more curates where he came from, who may be far more malleable. We mean, compatible.

Cathy and Cleric 

   Dear Cathy and Cleric

I don't know what's happening to me. All these changes.

I've been the vicar of my six parishes for eighteen months. And everything seemed to be going fine for the first year. People said I was a breath of fresh air.

But then it started to change. People were suggesting I was domineering. Some of the parishes said I was neglecting them in favour of the larger villages. Some started mentioning the previous vicar favourably. Whereas before I had loads of energy, now I feel drained.

I'm at my wit's end. What can I do?


     Dear PaisleyClericalShirt

You have to understand this is a normal phase in life you are going through. Every cleric in their first year is seen by their flock as the Archangel Gabriel. And because you've not developed all the potential relationships you could, your time isn't under so much pressure. Of course you flourished back then.

After a year, you're onto 45 meetings a month. And one of your parishes is demanding a PCC every week. Naturally you're feeling tired and stressed.

The good news is, give it another year and disillusion will set in. When you realise you can't make anything any better, you will feel a sense of immense helplessness. Grasp this, as it is your route to freedom. This state of resignation and hopelessness should ensure you don't try too hard for the next 10 years. Just hang on until then.

Cathy and Cleric

   Dear Cathy and Cleric

I've spent the last few years trying to run the church like it is a modern business. Assuming that the latest buzz words and corporate wheezes will enable us to bring the denomination in this area into the 21st Century.

And yet it continues to decline, and it seems like, although I've been looking to harvest the low-hanging fruit and incrementalize the upside, the target demographic has been unresponsive to the marketing campaigns. I wanted to liquidate some unprofitable plant, but it turns out that just increases the red lines on the account. What can you advise?


     Dear Bishop

What you probably need to realise is that most businesses fail in the end. So you're chasing a failing model.  You won't know that, as you have no idea how business works. As it happens, the best way to succeed in business is to ensure the Government will pump in money if it all goes wrong. Have you considered diversifying into PPE?

Cathy and Cleric

Liturgy of the Summer Solstice Sunrise

The sun rises majestically over the Amazon warehouse at Marston Gate

Archdruid: Behold the glory of the rising Solstice Sun!

Burton Dasset: Shame there's so few to see it.

Archdruid: Yeah, so little commitment.

Burton: Yeah, they can't get up at 4 am just the once... Hang on...

Archdruid: What, little one?

Burton: Where are you?

Archdruid: I am always with you, Burton.

Burton: But you're just a cardboard cutout of Kirsty MacColl, and ChatGPT connected to a speech synthesiser.

Archdruid: Well, it's bloody early, Burton. None of us are getting any younger.

Burton: So I'm here all alone, in the early dawn, looking at the sun on my own?

Piper at the Gates of Dawn: Well, cheers for the affirmation, Burton.

Burton: No offence, Pan. But you're a mythological being, and I'm a semi-retired accountancy systems developer.

Hern the Hunter: And what about me?

Burton: Aren't you just another manifestation of Pan, but in an Anglo-Saxon milieu?

Hern the Hunter: Really? And there I was thinking I was a decayed folk memory of Woden.

Woden: I don't think so, horny-head....

Burton: Anyway. Happy solstice. I'm off to bed.

Chat-Archdruid: Snowflake.

Laurence Fox: Won't anyone give me some attention?

All: We preferred Lewis. 

Mythological beings stroll off to McDonald's at Kingston for Breakfast

Tuesday 20 June 2023

Revised Church of England Ministerial Training Curriculum

In its  most radical step forward since Cuddesden tried to produce some working-class clergy (an innovation that has mostly been abandoned), the Church of England's Department of Evolution not Revolution has proposed sweeping changes to the way it trains its clergy.

"We've not really moved forward from the old Victorian model," said Head of Innovation, Harriet Spaceley. "Then, a young man would be given a vague grounding in the Bible, a bit of Greek, and then 3-6 years with not much to do except preach on Trinity Sunday and have lunch with the Vicar once a month. This would prepare him for a future in dabbling in butterfly-collecting, plant classification or inventing collective nouns, with a bit of visiting the poor.
"But the world has changed. With the decreasing number of young-retired middle-class people available to populate PCCs, clergy are having to develop a much wider toolkit.
"Add to that, after decades of talking about clergy "formation", we suddenly realised we had no idea what we'd been forming. But we are aware that we've produced generations of people whose main interest is in what interesting changes they can make to the reredos."

With that in mind, the proposed new curriculum includes those skills that clergy didn't realise they needed while training, but suddenly have to acquire in the new world. After a six-week crash course in a thing called "Theology", modules will now include:

Drystone walling
Electrical engineering (for lightning conductors and fuse boxes)
The Wildlife Protection Act
Oil Boiler Maintenance
Geology (for working out where the church is going to subside next)
Charity fundraising
Email marketing
The Local Government Act
The chemistry of Calcium Carbonate
How to tell cow parsley from giant hogweed (a practical, but not hands-on, module)
Time management
Web design
Animal husbandry (for pet services and bats)
Dispute resolution
The Health and Safety at Work Act
Grade 3 Kazoo or Comb and Paper (for when the organist forgets where they are supposed to be)
Project Management
"People made in God's Image" and how to avoid them
How to get wax out of carpets
Structural engineering (already surprisingly common in fact)
Tactfully dealing with unwanted second-hand donations (Masters-level course available)
Linen ironing
Cat hearding.

Friday 2 June 2023

Nativity of Thomas Hardy (1840)

1st Yokel: I see it's that there Thomas Hardy's birthday again.

2nd Yokel: Aye. That it be.

1st Yokel: I wonder how 'e'll be spending it?

2nd Yokel: I believe he divides 'is time between London and Dorset*.

1st Yokel: But 'e'm dead though?

2nd Yokel: Oy, aye. As we all shall be.

1st Yokel: Shall us go to Peter's Finger for a drap of somethin' afore nammet-time? My kex is as dry as an old shoe.

2nd Yokel: Peter's Finger has closed for good. It's a luxury block of them new-fangled appartments.

1st Yokel: So the Dree Mariners? 

2nd Yokel: Mariners is a prestigious housing development.

1st Yokel: Kings Arms?

2nd Yokel: Nay, they won't have such as we. Ye'd have to be the Mayor to be allowed to drink in there.

1st Yokel: Then shall us along to the brewery?

2nd Yokel: Brewery's now retirement homes, Premier Inn, mid-market food chains and a cinema.

1st Yokel: And a cocktail bar?

2nd Yokel: Oh ay. A cocktail bar.

1st Yokel: Or we could just go to Wetherspoons?

2nd Yokel: We are in Wetherspoons.

1st Yokel: In that case I'll have a Ruddles Best.

* Quite literally. His ashes are in Westminster Abbey but his heart is in Stinsford graveyard.

Friday 19 May 2023

Liturgy in Memory of Andy Rourke of the Smiths (1964-2023)

Archdruid:  There is a light and it never goes out

All: There is a light and it never goes out

Archdruid:  There is a light and it never goes out

All: There is a light and it never goes out

Archdruid:  There is a light and it never goes out

All: There is a light and it never goes out

Archdruid:  There is a light and it never goes out

All: There is a light and it never goes out

Archdruid:  There is a light and it never goes out

All: There is a light and it never goes out

Archdruid:  There is a light and it never goes out

All: There is a light and it never goes out

Internet Ghoul: But was he jabbed?

All: Bigmouth strikes again.

Friday 5 May 2023

So Hard to Know what not to Believe

Feeling sorry for Drayton Parslow.

You remember Drayton? Pastor of the Bogwulf Baptist Chapel.

First up Drayton preached that Covid was the pestilence foretold in Rev 9.

Then when a third of people didn’t die, he decided the barcodes on packs of vaccines are the Number of the Beast.

Then he decided lockdowns were a Government control device.

Then he started monitoring “sudden deaths” and “excess deaths” and blaming those on the vaccine. Before reflecting that maybe the excess deaths have another cause. Like the after-effects of Covid on people and health services. And that celebrities have always had a habit of dying suddenly. 

So poor Drayton really doesn’t know which conspiracy theorist to believe. You could say he’s fallen between the cranks.


Monday 1 May 2023

A Late Beltane

Well that was a May Eve wash out.

Not the weather.

Brixforth had objected to our burning the gender-neutral Wicker Person on the grounds that the prevailing winds might carry evil particulates over Luton. I wasn't convinced anything could make Luton any less appealing. But we are nothing if not an environmentally-aware religious collective. So I went with it.

So Brixworth's "better" Wicker Person had LED flame effects that would virtually lick up and down the pallet-wood "wicker" of the frame, giving the impression that the Person was burning. I mean - what could be better - not just a spiritual thrill, but also a Wicker Person that would, while appearing to burn, never be consumed. You could just pick your own sermon out of that one.

And so it was that at 11 pm, we pressed the button on the controls. And nothing happened.

And Brixforth pointed out that, because he is environmentally-friendly, the LEDs were solar powered.

Anyway, they finally squeezed enough charge for a moderately-entertaining flare of light ten minutes ago. And then ran out.

I've found the solution, though. A gallon of petrol and a match.

It looks great. Happy May Day.

Thursday 27 April 2023

Beaker Healing Bowels

I can only offer profound apologies for yesterday's disastrous Healing Beaker-making Workshop.

The instructions were supposed to assist our pilgrims in constructing singing cellular healing beakers along the lines of Himalayan Singing Bowls, that resonated at 432 Hz. The frequency of cellular body healing on the cellular level.

And the beakers did look lovely. Nice knotty knotwork. Some excellent glazing.

A large earthenware "Beaker" beaker, covered in "Celtic" knotwork
Image generated via

But what Young Keith had forgotten is that the shape of a bowl is not the same as that of a beaker. Produces a difference frequency. Which unfortunately seems to have resulted in a set of beakers that "sang" at 8 Hz, the frequency of brown noise.

Which resulted in a whole lot of resonance on a cellular level that nobody really needed.

Still, Dooreen's happy. Saved her a fortune in syrup of figs. 

Saturday 22 April 2023

My Defence Against the Bullying Claims

It is with regret that I find I have to resign as Archdruid.

When I appointed Burton Dasset to investigate allegations that I had bullied members of the Druidic staff, I wasn't expecting the woke little creep to actually find a backbone, and conclude that I had bullied members of staff. Especially after I said I'd break his ankles if he did.

It is true that Burton has found two specific occasions over the last few years when I bullied or intimidated people, or threatened to staple them to the boules court with croquet hoops. But in my defence, nobody has ever actually admitted I really did staple them to the boules court with croquet hoops. And this is not just because they didn't want it to happen again.

All I can say is, if stapling someone's tie to the desk and then hitting them over the back of the neck with a plastic ruler counts as bullying, then the bar for bullying is set pretty low.

And bear in mind all those occasions when I managed to get through a whole day without bullying or intimidating anyone. Sometimes a week at a time.

However. I said that if Burton found I was guilty of any of the bullying allegations, I would resign.

I therefore resign.

I will look forward to letting the dust settle, and this whole affair blow over, before taking my role as Archdruid up again in the morning.

In the meantime, if anyone wants me or Burton, we'll be on the boules court. Just as soon as I've found out the croquet hoops.

Tuesday 11 April 2023

Presbyopia Impacts Presbyters

Bit of a mistake at Tesco. I went to buy some revitalising shampoo. Accidentally bought some revitalicising shampoo. 
Now all the local vicars are much slimmer, but leaning over.

Friday 31 March 2023

Undertakers to Wear Hi-Viz

In yet another slap in the face to the freedom of the British people, more EU law has been smuggled into Britain under cover of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The "Undertakers (PPE)" regulation will be implemented from 1 July 2023. This stipulates that two traditional roles of undertakers at funerals must be undertaken - as it were - while wearing fully functional hi-viz outfits.

"It makes sense when you think about it," said a pencil-necked pen-pusher at Milton Keynes City Council. "The Funeral Director has to spend a period of time walking at a dignified pace in front of the hearse, on the way to the church, cemetery, and/or crematorium. And you wouldn't expect a traffic police officer to do this while dressed in a sober morning suit. So the European regulation demands that Funeral Directors wear hi viz at all times that they are on or near the road. We don't want a rash of quietly and respectably dressed undertakers ending up under the wheels of their own hearses. Ideally they'd wear hi-viz top hats, but let's be honest that's just getting silly."

A young female funeral director in a hi viz jacket, with that slightly orc-like look you get from Craiyon
EU-approved Funeral Director Outfit
But the rules don't stop there. They continue when the hearse has arrived at its destination.

The coffin has to be carried by a team of pall bearers, and potentially rolled on an item of Material Handling Equipment (the little trolley with sticking-out arms). And the grave-digger may be using a mechanical device in the graveyard. Therefore at all times that there is physical handling of the coffin, trestles, or photograph of the late loved ones, the pall bearers must also wear personal protective equipment. This will include hi viz suits, steel toe-capped boots, and safety gloves.

Hi viz pall bearers carrying orange coffin in a Craiyon-generated kind of way
The dayglo future of pall-bearing

The Conservative European Research Group are so angry they are eating their own Axminster carpets with rage.  Mark Francois, Official Brexit Weeble, said "This is pure sausage-munching woke-ism. We will never be free from the jackboots of The Hague until British undertakers are free to conduct funerals wearing Union Jack waistcoats and Viking horned helmets on their heads. Just like I did when I fought in two World Wars to free us from Belgium."

The Government has promised to bring in emergency regulation. But, if it is held up by Labour do-gooders in the Lords, and lefty liberal lawyers, Funeral Directors may be facing £1,000 fines just for dressing in a appropriately respectful way for work. Even in the midst of life, we are subject to the dead hand of Brussels.

Friday 24 March 2023

The Unbearable Heaviness of Bryan

Many people don’t appreciate the fine details of the planning we have to do before our “occasional” services.

Tomorrow's being a really good example.

We've been doing some really careful calculations. And we reckon it’s going to take six men to carry Bryan into the Moot House. It’s been worrying me as the badgers have been tunnelling, and the ground may have been weakened.

In future I’m going to suggest people organise their stag do's further in advance of the wedding. Erin’s livid.

Sunday 12 March 2023

If the Woman at the Well met Nicodemus


(John 3, John 4)


 ...before they both met Jesus - what would they say to each other?

A straightforward nothing at all? Are they so far apart - in race, in ethical purity, in riches, in education - would they have nothing to say?

Would the woman be wanting to beg from Nicodemus? If she had ventured into Jerusalem and spoke to him in the street - would he assume she was selling herself? Would he call the guards, or draw himself away, - or try and haggle for a price? 


....  after they both met Jesus - what then?

Would Nicodemus fall down, seeing that this woman had so much more insight than he did? 

Would he tell her how he went to Jesus in the darkness, and she tell him how Jesus came to her in bright daylight?

Would she recognize their shared experience - they both took Jesus literally, and then he made them  both see more deeply: opened up God's love to them, told them about the flow of the Spirit and what it could mean for both of them. Would she tell Nicodemus how Jesus had opened her eyes that the Messiah had come for Samaritan and Jew and for the whole world? Would Nicodemus tell her that Jesus had come because God had so loved the world?

Would Nicodemus tell her that she must be born again? And would she laugh and say - what do you think has just happened? Can't you see it in my face, in my life? Look at the villagers - knowing Messiah has come - how about your Sanhedrin? Have they been changed like we have?

Would Nicodemus tell her about his fear of the authorities? How to keep his position he had to guard his tongue? How he was trying to live for Jesus - but how hard it was? How he had to accommodate his worldly status and his new spiritual life? And would she tell him how simple it was for her? And would they both rejoice in their new freedom, their new insights, the new way they saw the world now Messiah was here?

Or would nothing have changed?


If the Woman at the Well met Nicodemus - what do you think?

Thursday 23 February 2023

Liturgy in Memory of John "Motty" Motson

Burton Dasset: Welcome to Husborne Crawley on this gloomy evening. And this is the 745th time that we have commemorated the death of a celebrity.

Hnaef: And by assisting at this service I have just marked up the most appearances as assistant at a Beaker Folk commemoration.

Burton Dasset: Overtaking Charlii, who has sadly suffered a hamstring strain at the Ash Wednesday meeting.

Hnaef: And the altar party procession is keeping to a strict 4-3-2-1, with the tea light bearers just behind the lead druid, and Young Keith in the holding position.

Burton: He's holding a copy of "The Wee Worship Book", by the Iona Community.

Hnaef: But the acolytes will be keen to overlap wherever possible.

Burton: And we've had word through of why Archdruid Eileen won't be leading the line today.

Hnaef: She's in her office, weeping and hugging a sheepskin coat.

Burton: So am I. But I'm playing through the pain.

Hnaef: Cortisone Injection?

Burton: Didn't I see them supporting Hawkwind in 1984?

Hnaef: But the final whistle has blown. And once again it's a win for time.

Burton: Yes. Time has overcome again. Will it ever stop rolling like a stream?

Hnaef: Well, it's got Real Madrid in the next round. So let's see.

Wednesday 22 February 2023

The Hans Anitiser Worshippers

Sorry I've not been blogging lately. It's all been tricky. We intercepted a communication that fell through a wormhole in time and space from the 29th century, and it's taken all the Moot House computing power for a month to translate it. Still, here's what we have. I have no idea what it means.


Much effort has been put into understanding the nature of 21st Century religion. We knew that at special times of the year - notably early December - people would make pilgrimages to religious locations called "Shoppincentres." But after roughly 2020, these gatherings fell out of use.

Their place seems to have been taken by smaller, older buildings that were - as far as we can decipher what is known of their language - known as "churches". These churches had presumably been the home of an older religion, which returned as the Shoppincentre cult lost influence. However, their artefacts radically changed at the time of the Shoppincentre decline.

This sign was put up outside a Lincolnshire church in 2020, and remained in situ for 400 years. We believe "IN ABEYANCE" may have something to do with the heating system.

A "wayside pulpit", with a sign saying that services are "in abeyance during Covid 19"

Churches contained many types of written memorial. Some were carved into stone. While others, perhaps those that were meant to last longer, were written on paper and then encased in plastic. Here is an example of a plastic-preserved memorial - what we call a "laminate". The laminate below, for instance, we believe may have been prayers to a god of doorways.

Two laminated A4 sheets full of instructions on how to wear masks, sit apart, use hand gel, etc

Readers will be aware that the people of the 21st to 24th centuries transferred all their written records to electronic data storage. As a result of the Great Polar Reversal, these were all lost, and with them our ability to understand the language they spoke. We know that previously they had often put their trust in a deity, "Googletranslate", whose worshippers could understand all languages: but not very well.

Sometimes the pictures on the laminates are enough. We cannot decipher the words here, but it is clear that the worshippers practised strict sexual segregation.

A "keep apart" CCT poster with a man and a woman with a two-headed arrow meant to represent 2 metres

The most common ritual objects in churches, over a 400 year period, were small votive containers. Chemical analysis has revealed that they contained alcohol, and they were often equipped with the ability to spray that alcohol. Our conclusion therefore is that they were used for pouring libations on to the altar, or on to the thresholds of the church - as they were found most often around those two areas.

Hand sanitiser promising to kill 99.9% of all bottles
We belive "99.9" refers to the purity required of worshippers to approach the altar.

A libation sprayer that was apparently intended to be fixed to a wall. Possibly at the holiest point in the church?

Again, we have no definitive knowledge of their language, but folk memory seems to recall a god called "Hans Anitiser". Possibly a German god, whose worship spread alongside the use of the libation sprayers. Were the laminated prayers to Hans Anitister? If so, we can conclude that the god was best addressed in multiple colours and Comic Sans font.

Finally - what are we to make of the Ritual Tape?

There are rolls of Ritual Tape in churches all over the former United Kingdom. What were they for? And why are they always hidden in cupboards? 

We can assume the Ritual Tape was used to mark off sacred from less sacred areas. But why did it fall out of use? And, when it did - why is it so often to be found with more "laminates", these only showing red crosses or green tick shapes?

There is still much mystery about the beliefs of the Hans Anitiser people. Perhaps we will never know it all.

Saturday 28 January 2023

Anna the Prophet


Quick timeline. Let's assume Anna is 84 years of age when she sees Jesus. It's a slightly tricky passage in the Greek apparently. But we'll go with that.

Jesus was born roughly 6 BC.

So Anna was born in about 90 BC. Due to the weird Roman way of counting backwards. Thank you, Sellar and Yeatman.

Around the time that Anna was a toddler, there was a Jewish Civil War which ended with the King and High Priest, Alexander Jannaeus, having 800 Jewish rebels, mostly Pharisees, crucified - having executed their wives and children first. 

When she was in her 20s, the Roman general, Pompey, took the city of Jerusalem. 12,000 Jews died defending the city - was Anna's husband one of them?

When she was in her 30s, another Roman general, Crassus, took all the treasure out of the temple.

When she was in her 40s, a man called Julius Caesar became Roman dictator.

When she was around 50, Herod became the "King of the Jews".

When she was around  70, Herod started rebuilding the temple that had itself been rebuilt under Ezra and Nehemiah

When she was 84 - and the Temple was still a building site - Jesus, the Christ, came to the Temple that had been built to hold his name.

And she had been waiting, alongside Simeon, for that moment. Through all those terrible times.

And when Anna - the prophet - saw Jesus, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

When anyone claims on the basis of Scripture that women can't preach, can't teach - bear in mind that Anna, in the presence of the One whose Spirit inspired that Scripture - told everyone that was looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem about that holy one. 

All who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Men, women, and children.

Anna, the prophet. Who preached the Good News to everyone that was looking for it.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter said that Joel's prophecy was being fulfilled:"Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy." 

Which would not have come as a surprise to Anna, the prophet. Who told everyone that was looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem about Jesus.

Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do the job God's called you to. Anna wasn't too old. Anna wasn't too female. She waited her whole life to see God's Son. Waited her whole life to share the good news. And she did.

And so I have no compunction in reproducing a bit of Beaker Gold from a few years ago: "A Song for Anna". 

All the years I have waited
Each day here
As the round of slaughtered beasts
has filled the air
with the smell of blood and flesh.
I have seen nations fall
Emperors rise - not dreaming that their realms will end
their statues will be broken,
their names erased.

Now, there in Simeon's arms - the still point
The axis on which the universe turns.
Ancient of Days, yet six weeks old.
Time for us now, Simeon
Dawn has come
We've waited through some dark nights
We've seen the light,
we can find our way home.

Wednesday 18 January 2023

Sabbath Sickness Blues

It was nice to see Dorney in the chip shop in Woburn Sands earlier.
Most of us haven't seen Dorney since March 2020. He has apparently been terribly ill, and is therefore still very scared of catching Covid.
So I was very pleased to see him, and asked when we might see him at the Moot House again.
However, turns out it's only partial good news and he's still ill and very scared of Covid on Sundays.
We pray for Dorney's continued recovery, to the point where he's well seven days a week.

Friday 13 January 2023

Funeral of a Beaker Person who died Suddenly

Quite a fraught and unnecessary experience at this morning's funeral service for Brandriff.

The Anti-Vax coalition turned up to say his sudden death was down to his recently having had a fifth Covid jab.

While the Aspley Guise branch of the Westboro Baptists came along to say his death was God's punishment for his openly gay lifestyle.

Anyway, the two demonstrations got into a massive punch-up outside the Crem, as they each tried to impose their explanations on the other bunch of weirdos. Apparently there's  bit of a crossover between the two groups. At least that's the only explanation I can find for why one of them was punching himself in the face.

Still, not what we needed when we were just wanting to say goodbye to Brandriff. Who died, aged 104, after crashing his Tesla into the chicken coop, while trying to do donuts around the Moot House. He leaves his widow Cassandra, eight children, and twenty-seven grandchildren. Our thoughts are with them all.

Cassandra invites us all to a commemorative dinner in the Hall tonight. The main course will be Chicken Brandriff. Which is like Coronation Chicken, only flatter.

Wednesday 4 January 2023

Commemoration of 50 Years of "Last of the Summer Wine"


Now half of a century's gone
Since those old Yorkshire chaps came on
They walked the dales, drank Tetley's ales
And dreamed of summer wine.

The bath-tub of time has flown
Down cobbled streets they made their own
They had a laff*in Ivy's Caff
And drained their summer wine.
The memories of the Seventies
Sepia in tone
Of smoke-smeared walls,old dance halls
Now they're all gone.
Those times now seem oh so far
And Holmfirth's got a cocktail bar.
They drink Porn Star Martinis now
Instead of summer wine.

Archdruid: 'Ow do, lads.

All: And lasses.

Clegg: And those that identify neither as lads nor lasses.

Archdruid: Fair do's. T'world's changed.

Blamire: Aye, t'days are gone when you could call a.....

Clegg: Not now, Cyril. We've got past all that.

Compo: Yer'll 'ave ter excuse Cyril. His Mum brought him up as an uptight little...

Clegg: Yer can't say that, either.

Nora Batty: Eey, he's lewd and obscene. 

Compo: Aye. But I can't grab you any more, Mrs Batty.

Archdruid: Not since the restraining order.

All: Aye, times 'ave changed.

Compo: What am I doing in church? I don't want to go to church.


Hymn: All Things Bright and Beautiful


The chasing of Ferrets

Reading: "Consider the Lilies of the Field"  (and the Josephines, the Penelopes, etc)

Howard: I think we've really cracked it this time, Marina.

Marina: In a spoof church service in a closed-down Wesleyan Reformed Chapel? Surrounded by the spirits of former barmpots?

Howard: Who's gonna suspect us here? 

Pearl: Howard! 

Howard and Marina may climb under the pew, while Mr Wainwright and Mrs Partridge, Librarians, take their places.

Mrs Partridge: Ooh, I don't think we should be doing this here, Mr Wainwright.

Mr Wainwright: Karl Marx said religion is the opiate of the people, Mrs Partridge. But we're here to remember a time when we couldn't organise our love lives through our phones. And lovers called each other by their surnames.

Mrs Partridge: Oooh Mr Wainwright! Have you deleted that Librarian's Dating App?

Mr Wainwright: "Bindr"? Yes, all it ever did was match me with Miss Davenport.

Miss Davenport: I thought he would sweep me away to paradise. And all we ever got to was a disused quarry in Finkle Street.

Hymn: Jerusalem

Foggy: Ah, makes you proud to be English. We'd sing "Jerusalem" in our little slit tents, making tea out of the shoelaces of dead Japanese corporals.

Seymour: We used to sing it at the Utterthwaite Academy. The sound of those little shivering voices, carrying on the frosty air...

Clegg: But those dark, satanic mills have gone now. Turned into car parks, executive apartments, and retail shopping opportunities.

Truly: So many pubs gone as well. Instead of a well-earned pint after a walk, you have to bring your own sports nutrition drink.

Billy Hardcastle: And you lot all gone with them, leaving the hills Robin Hood roamed to the sheep and property speculators.

Glenda: Barry, how come you're in your 70s now and still never made it as an exective?

Barry: I need a sharper suit.

Wesley: What's wrong with overalls?

Edie: Wesleeeey....

Wesley: Why are so talkin' so posh?

Edie: So the vicah can understend meh.

Crusher: Why've I got to wear this frock, Aunt Ivy?

Ivy: It's not a frock. It's a surplice. Now sing the last hymn.

Hymn: Abide With Me

Compo Simmonite will play the Last Post while Wally Batty releases a ceremonal pigeon.

Which will deposit its droppings onto Nora's washing.


Compo (scruffy old bloke, woolly hat) plays bugle while Truly (smart in pin stripe) and Cleggy (downtrodden suit and WW2 medals) stand to attention.

After the service you are invited to Syd's tea at the caff.
It will be terrible.


Last of the Summer Wine: 4/1/1973 - 29/8/2010. Killed by the BBC.

 * Yes, I know, sorry