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Sunday, 29 March 2015


"Christianity didn’t begin until a century after the crucifixion; Jesus and all his apostles died Jews"

So a takedown by Brook Wilensky-Lanford of a life of Jesus.

I guess it depends what he thinks he means by "Christianity". The early Church was all Jewish, but it wasn't long before they agreed that Gentiles could be followers of Christ without circumcision or adopting Jewish food laws. Within the lifetime of Peter, for instance, members of 'The Way" were already being called Christians.

So as long as by Christianity he doesn't mean "a movement of people who followed the teaching of, and were accepting the name of, Christ" - then what he's saying isn't necessarily drivel.

I'll leave it to you to decide.

What do we want? Better Auras. When do we want them? All Time is Now

With gratitude to the Chairman for sharing this leaflet on a Spiritual Fayre in Chipping Sodbury.

The things that worry Chairman Bill are the random apostrophes. To which the person who made the flyer would no doubt say "don't come down heavy with your Judaeo-Christian-Enlightenment ideas of grammar. This is properly spiritual. And mindy-bodily."

No. There's other things that worry me.

The Chakra Dancing Demo's - what are they demonstrating against? And if it's poverty or Giles Coren or Iraq or something - are they sure that Chakra dancing is the most efficient way of getting from the war memorial to the town hall, or whatever the route is?

Native American and Dowsing - in what way do these go together? I thought dowsing was meant to be an olde English - or, at least, German Magickal - method for finding imaginary streams under people's gardens. Let's not lump People from the First Nations in with blokes called Hans with twigs of willow.

Manicures and Waxing - Now this is meant to be a mind, body and spirit show. And yes, manicures and waxing are used on parts of one's body. But I can't help worrying that people shouting in agony as they experience the worst pain they've known since childhood is not going to help the spiritual ambience. Gosh, I've had some terrible manicures. That's why we let Hnaef wear the nail varnish these days. And the waxing is going to be even worse.

"Holistic healing" I approve of. As long as people are encouraged to use prescribed drugs as well. And tell the doctor what they've been up to. And appreciate that, given the roots of the two words, "holistic healing" is a tautology. "Atomic healing" shouldn't really exist.

"Wheelchair friendly" worries me. Do wheelchairs, in the world of mind-body-spirit, have feelings? Should we be welcoming them? Isn't it more important we care for the people in the wheelchairs? After all, if the holistic healing isn't any good, they won't need the wheelchairs on the way out. It would be very wheelchair unfriendly. Suddenly these anthropomorphised wheelchairs would have no purpose.  They'd need some herbal tea's. Because, let's face it, the Indian Head isn't going to help them.

And how can you read angels? Is it like a "YMCA" thing? Do they spell out letters? Do the "mystic stalls" come and go at will, depending on the colour of the astral plane?

But most of all, I think the Chairman is right. It's the apostrophe's. I'll have three crystal's and a gross of scented tea light's.

Liturgy of the Clocks Going Forward

Archdruid: Peace be with you.

All: And with you.

Archdruid: Are you leaving already?

People leaving Dawn Service: Yes, we're from "Dancing in the dews of Dawn".

Archdruid: Sooner you than me. So who are you?

People arriving for Pouring out of Beakers: We're for "Pouring out of Beakers" at 9am.

Archdruid: And who are you with the Andean Pan Pipes?

Andean Pan Pipers: We're the Andean Pan Pipers for last night's Earth Hour. We're late because you made us hitch-hike from Paddington to "save the planet".

Archdruid: And a few quid, conveniently. So that leaves you over there - who are you?

8am BCP people: We're here for the 8am BCP communion.

Archdruid: But we're a post-modern, pre-watershed, post-Christendom worship community. We don't have an 8am BCP communion.

8am BCP people: Neither does the parish church. But at least you're open.

Archdruid: Ah well. If we're quick. 

ALMIGHTY God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid....

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Not a Proper King

He's not a proper king.

A proper king would be born in a palace, or at least a posh house. Not a stable.

A proper king wouldn't ride in through the front door, of a main street of a capital city, on a donkey. If you're a proper king, you have two choices. You either enter in majesty - on a horse, with slaves and trumpets and flunkeys and the whole apparatus of state behind you. Or you enter with an army, trashing the place, torching houses, slaughtering the enemy. What you don't do is this weird thing, where you ride in - vulnerable. Challenging the powers-that-be. The ones who hate you, whom you've refused to meet half way. Telling them to do their worst. And then letting them.

A proper king wouldn't be accompanied by prostitutes and tax-collectors. They're not the sort of people a real king hangs out with, in public. In private - that's another matter. Prostitutes - they're what you use to bribe courtiers. Or, in a lonely moment, to find some peace of your own. Or to trap and blackmail the enemy. Tax-collectors: can't live without them. Where does the money come from, if not extracting it from the common people? That's how the wheels of government are oiled.  But whores and extortioners - they're for shadows, for quiet liaisons out of the view of the common people. They're not to be treated like normal people. They're not for pouring oil on your feet at polite parties. Not somebody you'd invite to sit at the table, to be your friends, to laugh and share hopes and dreams with.

A proper king wouldn't be met with palms. Not when his throne was insecure. He'd need an army. He'd need people with swords and spears and flails and slings. Not palms. Palms tell - too early - of a victory won. Of somebody who's already a king. But where does this king's power come from? Not from legions. Not from rebel bands. Not from the will of the people - they're not taking arms for him. Where does he find his power, then., if it's not from the places all kings find power?

No purple, no armies, no horses, no slaves, no money. But somewhere, a way off, a crown is being formed.  A crown for a king. A crown for this king.

A crown of thorns.

Earth Hour Update

Good news for this evening's Earth Hour, from a heating perspective at any rate.

I've managed to find the old tyre-burning stove in the stables. We've dragged it into the Marquee and it's steaming up nicely already. Obviously, it's well vented. That oily, black, filthy smoke it kicks out - we have to make sure we get that straight out into the open air. Visibility's going downhill fast to the east of the Community at the minute, and the traffic has slowed on the M1, I'm told. But it's clear to me that burning tyres, being otherwise a waste product, is the environmentally-sound thing to do. And it kills any lurking mosquitos.

Earth Hour - the Ceremonial Llamas Arrive

We've had a few cock ups in our preparations for Earth Hour.

In the first place, the genius who thought up erecting a marquee for this evening's events, complete with solar powered lights. And no means of storage of the electricity generated by the solar panels. It's lovely and light out there now. It probably won't be so hot at 8.30. And I mean that quite literally. The heaters are solar powered as well.

The llamas are an interesting concept. Now we are a community dedicated to diversity, harmony, authenticity and integrity in our worship traditions. Right up to the point where we realise that, in terms of religious tradition, these four words together equal a blancmange of random spirituality. If the definition of entropy is tending towards the point where the whole universe is so randomly scattered that it looks uniform, we are the heat-death of liturgy.

So we so have a number of animals wandering the grounds of the community - a few guinea pigs, in case the Guinea Pig Worshippers of Stewartby ever want another inter-faith event (we're hoping to borrow an Anglican church in South London for that - we could do with some publicity). Alpacas, for authentic Chilean spirituality. Horses, to represent the wild horse-spirits of the Angles. Deer, to represent Herne the Hunter. And rabbits, to represent Eostre, the sylph-like Queen of the May.

Obviously, we're quite scared of the horses and roe deer. And, to be honest, the muntjacs. They can give you a nasty bite. So we just let them roam the place, being representations of the wild spirit of nature and terrifying passers-by.

But when I heard that Milton Earnest had decided to fly some llamas in for Earth Hour - as a representation of the threat of deforestation, apparently - I was livid. First up, are llamas victims or criminals in deforestation? Secondly, couldn't he just have done paint jobs on a few alpacas? And lastly - how could anyone who subscribes to the woolly and pointless ethics of Earth Hour ever justify the use of plane travel? How could they? Ever? I mean, air travel is the perfect representation of the damage we do to the earth, right there. Flying to places we really don't actually need to go, while exploding fossil fuels in the upper atmosphere - how could anyone who flies celebrate Earth Hour, actually mean it, and then ever look at themselves in the mirror again? I'm looking at you, Al Gore. And you, Mike Rutherford - flying from Manchester to London for Live 8, then being all vague and public school about your massive ecological hypocrisy and then flying back after playing a few bars of "Abacab".

But my dismay was as nothing compared to Milton's when the llamas turned up. Seems he'd have trouble with his Spanish translation on the web site. He didn't get "four lovely charming llamas from the frozen heights of Peru". No. He got four hundredweight of deep-frozen llama meat from Manuel's Authentic Peruvian Deli in Luton.

Still, it's cheered me up. What could be more suitable for an Earth Night celebration than a tasty Peruvian barbecue? Obviously we'll have to use the gas-fired barbecue sets. There's no way we could fit that much meat on the Beagle 2, which we unxpectedly inherited when we discovered the Open University had put our charcoal barbecue into space.

I just wish he'd put an order in for a couple of bears while he was at it. According to CS Lewis they're very tasty. And we'd only have had to go down to Paddington to collect them.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Knocking the Roofs Off Village Churches

I have kind of stolen this off somebody on Facebook. So credit to whoever it was.  (Whoever it was - I'll credit you on Facebook).

It was to do with village churches, where the congregation may no longer be able to support a regular church life anymore. And yet the pressure, on congregation and minister (normally, but not always, Anglican) is to keep the roof on. And the church members spend their energy, and their money, on keeping the roof on - against time, weather and lead thieves.

And if you're a passing believer, or even just a passing person who likes churches, you know how it is. You've driven or cycled across the countryside, and you see there's a worshipping community in a village, and you go to the church and find out what sort of worshipping community is. And it's a community that meets at 4.15 on the fourth Sunday of the month, between Candlemass and Harvest, and the Sunday next before Christmas. And spends a lot of the rest of their time raising money to keep the roof on.

Well, why keep the roof on? Who actually needs the roof on? If the community wants the building, but never worships there, then literally let them have the "wayside shrine" that is really what they want. Knock the roof down (and sell off the lead, obviously). Send someone round every five years, to check the walls are still safe. And, if they're not, knock those down as well. Otherwise, let the weather smooth the edges off and tumble the stones down

St Brian's, Chipping Norton, was much more picturesque after they let it fall down

People like to wander round desolate churches. There's a sense of plangent melancholy and times past that you can't get from a living building of worship. Grief, you could even have a tea light dispenser, with the funds going to the nearest viable church.

In many ways, a church with no roof is, to modern sensibilities, the equivalent of the Rollright Stones, Stanton Drew or Stonehenge - a picturesque symbol of former lives, which once held unimaginable rituals. Those who just like having the reminder can enjoy the outline of the church building - and you can still hold Harvest Festival or Christmas services in the ruins. Let's face it, the nearness to Nature might even enhance the experience.

And the local Christians can spend their time and money on a living expression of worship, in the size of community that will support a community of faith. Everyone's a winner.

That New-Look Top Gear

Fr Ted: So now, Fr Dougal - how was the milk float?

Fr D: Well, you know, Ted,  I wouldn't want to claim to be like that Einstein feller. But the milk float was great. Handled well, good visibility. The only slight problem was its tendency to explode if you went under two miles an hour.

Fr T: Next week we'll be hearing from Fr Clarke and Fr Beeching, our "Priests on a moderately-priced mobile altar." But here's what happened when Mrs Doyle and I test drove Bishop Len's car while he was being chased around the island by rabbits.


Mrs Doyle: So I've filled the car up with diesel.....

Fr T: Mrs Doyle, this is a petrol car....

Mrs Doyle: So will you have a cup of tea? It's nice and milky.


Fr T: So, Fr Jack, how was your test drive of a Volvo?

Fr J: I love my brick!

Fr T: And can you advise us on the correct manoeuvre if you are driving past a convent and some of the people who live there come out?

Fr J: Nuns! Reverse! Reverse! 

Fr T: I'd like to thank our guest star this week, Henry Sellers.  But unfortunately he had a sherry, shouted that he was bigger than the BBC, and then kicked Bishop Len up the.....


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Martyrdom of Jeremy Clarkson

Today we mark the martyrdom of Jeremy Clarkson.

A martyr in the truest sense of word.

A witness to the truth that useless fan boys (mostly) will defend to the death your right to abuse people of other races, and deck those who fail to get you dinner late at night - because you're a Bloke.

The relics of St Jeremy Clarkson can be seen on Gold, Dave and anywhere else the BBC can sell old editions of HIGNFY and Top Gear, as long as summer, winter,  springtime and harvest endure. As long as lads race across big cities in amusing forms of transport.

And the cult of the Bloke who is entitled to do what he likes because he's a bloody Bloke? Well, that's not going to go away. Jeremy will be on Sky within six months. The Victim becomes the Victor. The bully with talent will rise again. And again. And again. Just like Jonathan Ross.

We will be selling the Holy Perm of St Jeremy in the Beaker Bazaar. It smells and it's greasy. But some people will like it. And it's not half profitable.