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Sunday, 1 May 2016

Feeling Sorry for Labour Party Members

Diane Abbott tells us it's a smear to say that Labour has an anti-semitism problem.

When it turns out that a Labour MP - and one who saw off the appalling Galloway - tweeted an image suggesting Israel be transported to the Mid-West of America, that wasn't a smear.

When a leading Labour politician, out of a clear blue sky, decided to say that Hitler was a Zionist on the basis of a controversial "historian", that wasn't a smear.

When another member of the Labour party called him out for it, and some set up a petition calling for that other member to be expelled - that wasn't a smear.

The decent, non-discriminatory members of the Labour Party - who make up the vast majority - who joined because that was the way they believed they could build a decent country - must be crying into their tea or flat beer according to choice. Because they personally don't have an anti-semitism problem.

And the leadership, if it's capable, should get a grip. Ordering an investigation is what you do when you don't want to know the answers for a little while. Just ask Lord Chilcott.

If the Labour Party has an anti-semitism problem, it needs to get rid of it quickly. Because we need a strong opposition, a decent alternative, somebody we can vote for when we want to get rid of the current shower. If Labour has a problem, we all do.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Seven Christian Products You're Glad Don't Exist  tells us about seven Christian products that exist but shouldn't. Although I notice that they miss off the "Pope on a rope" that legend has it was sold at Walsingham.

But what other Christian products are just waiting to be created, so you can wish they weren't?

LED Cruet: - To spread salt and light.

Creationist Cheese: It's got large holes in it.

Evangelical Sat Nav: First it gets you lost, then it shows you the way. Then it loudly broadcasts to all passers-by that you're now on the right path.

Shoes with built-in torch: To be a light unto your feet.

Complementarian Oven: Does a DNA analysis of your hand and only allows women to operate the controls.

Churchwarden Monopoly: You never get to "Go" and you're constantly making general repairs and appealing to the Community Chest.

Anglican Bicycle: However you try to steer it, it just wobbles down the middle of the road.

This Anglican bike is well over to the left. But not going anywhere.

With thanks to Annie Porterhouse for the Tweet that led to this

The Spirit and God's Peace

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. 
I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid." (John 14:23-29)
The Beaker Religion is nothing if it is not about feelings. Feeling good. Feeling slightly sorrowful, but somehow determined and resolute. Feeling happy. Feeling like our hearts have been slightly warmed - but not so much that we would do something daft like get on a horse and ride around England preaching the Gospel to hostile crowds.

And so we do the things that make us feel good. Lighting tea lights. Contemplating pebbles. Playing Enya songs while looking at videos of dolphins. Dancing around the sun dial in the warmth of the afternoon sun. Good things. Spiritual things. Uplifting things.

And we do this because we have told ourselves that religion is, when all is said and done, about our own feelings. We help people because we feel good. We sing songs to cheer up. If the sermon has not entertained us, or lifted us up, or made the pastor sound good, or made us feel just a bit sad - but with a good but at the end - then what was the point? We don't go to Church to feel sinful, or properly challenged, or - if it comes down to it - to meet with God. We want to get the good bits that meeting God should be like if God is as loving as we like to think, but without the bad bits. You know that bit in Dream of Gerontius where the old guy gets a vision of the Lord, and he realises what the bad things in him are. So he goes off singing to Purgatory knowing he can be cleaned eventually? That bit?  That strikes us as a bit much. Why go through all that when you could light a candle and feel a bit beatific?

But I suspect the reason we think like that is because we have a view of the Trinity that is maybe more post-modern than the Gospel writers might recognise. That the Father is the source of Godhead - yes. Got that. Dunno what it means, but then our best bet in that case is not to think too hard. That way heresy lies. But just accept it - nice and Nicene.

But then we differ. To a Beaker person, the Spirit is available across the whole world, to all people. For does not the Spirit blow where s/he will? So the Spirit is the bringer that nice feeling we get - which is a nice, ecumenical, evangelism-light way of recognising our common gooey religious feelings with people of all religions and nuns. I mean none. Whereas the Son - you have to accept the Son, don't you? That's a conversiony thing. That's the way it works. The Father is a given - the Spirit is free to all - the Son is the one we accept.

Whereas I suspect that's not the view from this passage. The order seems to go - if we love Jesus, we will do what he says - and then we will received the Spirit. Implying that Jesus is already there - the given. And when he is offered to all, we can accept or reject. But if we accept him - and therefore follow what he says - then we receive the Spirit.

The way I see it is that the Word - the Logos - is the logic behind Creation. The Word - Christ - holds all things together. The world is created through him, takes its shape from him. So we are already offered with this Christ - because he holds us all together. He brings us into being, gives our lives his meaning. His glory is written in all things, from the fine structure of the hydrogen spectrum to the most massive supernova, in cell biology and the force of gravity and human love.

And if his love is not already written clearly enough into the structure of things, he then writes himself into history - coming as a man, healing the sick, eating with his friends, dying on a cross, rising to life.

And he says that if we love him, that is when we will receive the Spirit. He tells us that the Spirit he gives will bring us peace.

But if this is so, then all the doing stuff to make ourselves feel nice is pointless. Love Jesus - show it by keeping his commandments - receive the Spirit - be left with Jesus's peace. It's not the sort of peace we look for as in peace and quiet, or a nice comfy feeling - although these are both good at the right times. It's far beyond that.

It means that chasing after pleasure is actually a waste of time - although pleasure itself has nothing wrong with it, should it come along. That the source of pleasure is the real thing we should be looking for.

And when we love him, the Spirit is what marks us as God's children. Who makes us more like Jesus. Who brings peace into our lives - the true peace that comes from being in tune with God's heart.

St Paul tells us  how close that relationship then draws us into the Trinity. When describing how the Spirit meets us.... " our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words." (Rom 8:26)

And so the Holy Spirit is the one who brings us into the heart of God. The one bringing us the words to pray, the words to praise God. The one who takes the words of Scripture and writes them on our hearts instead of just on the page. The Spirit is the promise that Jesus leaves with us - the one who keeps us close to God, until Jesus comes.

Beltane Instructions

Could all Beaker Folk make themselves aware of the following instructions this May Eve. Please do not refer to the "Wicker Man". It is a "Wicker Person." After the time a Wicker Person fell over, we have a new range of fireproof hi vis jackets available in the Beaker Bazaar. Please ensure you buy one, at the very reasonable price of £10 each or 6 for £50. The Wicker Person, being built out of split pallet wood, still contains a number of nails. Try to avoid catching your fireproof hi vis on them. This renders the guarantee void. The Wicker Person will be ignited at midnight precisely. The Official Lighter will be chosen at 11.30 by raffle. The Bucket-of-Water-Bearer this year will be Hnaef. In the light of last year's experience the Person who Puts out the Bucket-of-Water-Bearer will be Daphne. In other news, tomorrow marks the opening of the Flying Spaghetti Monster season. Anybody who obtains a licence is allowed to shoot up to three FSMs. Anybody who puts a colander on their head and claims to be a "Pastafarian" is a dork.

Quiet Day for Extroverts

Last week's "Quiet Day for Extroverts" has been reported to the Hague as a breach of the Geneva Convention.

We never did find all the Extroverts.

Every now and then one is picked up in the village, banging on people's windows and asking how they are, what they do, what they're watching on TV and is that shotgun loaded?

Friday, 29 April 2016

If Saints' Names Were Rendered Appropriately

Saint Catherine of Sienna
Saint James the Great

Saint Agur

Saint Gangalphus of Burgundy

Saint James the Less

Saint Sabus the Goth

Saint Isidore of Seville 

Saint Brendan the Bold

Saint Hugh Green (aka Ferdinand Brown)

St George

Saint Judith of Prussia

Saint Anthony Mary Claret 

St Abban the Hermit

* Note - not all these jokes will work on all computers. I have no idea how this will work with a screenreader - apologies if it doesn't.

New Kids on the Blog

Nothing to do with us, but you may enjoy Exciting Weariness, who seem to have adopted our idea of having exciting "alternative" saints - albeit without the Beaker Folk's cutting-edge liturgies.

All good stuff though - so they're going on the "tea light list".

Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Ed Balls Day Massacre

Yeah, bit of a riot, this frosty Ed Balls Day.

Since 4,000 BC the Beaker Folk have celebrated Ed Balls Day with a sunrise Pouring-Out of Beakers.

On a cold morning, the mist shimmering off the spring waters, poured out to symbolise the blessing of Ed Balls on the land, is very moving. Especially when we reinforce it with some dry ice.

But this merry Ed Balls Day, disaster struck. People forgot the words. Which isn't very impressive, when you think the entire Liturgy consists of the name of the man whose day it is. And them someone asked if Ed Balls was the one who can't eat bacon sandwiches, or the one who wears those over-tight shorts.

Hey ho, I suppose that's politics.

But then Hnaef took it upon himself to educate everybody on what Ed Balls is all about. And you have to hand it to Hnaef. Only the English Upper Class can be so effortlessly multi-culti liberal, while simultaneously taking their own natural superiority for granted.

So Hnaef tried to teach the Beaker Folk the ancient Ed Balls Day anthem they sing at King's College. In the original Syriac, of course. And the Beaker Folk's attempt at singing in 7.5 part harmony was so hideous that it woke Grendel, the Community cat.

Grendel hates being woken by Beaker Folk yowling. He always assumes it's some feminine feline feeling fruity, then gets all annoyed and frustrated. And takes out his existential rage on the first living thing he sees.

Which happened to be Ed Balls, who to celebrate his special day was skipping around the Upper Paddock with Herne the Hunter and an assortment of squirrels.

There was something so essentially English pastoral about that whole scene, as Grendel wreaked mighty havoc with Ed Balls and chased him off towards the motorway. That was some nasty slashes Ed sustained. Thank goodness he wasn't wearing his shorts.

Still, now we've got to eat our Ed Balls Buns, then look forward to opening the Ed Balls presents before we watch Yvette Cooper's speech then take the baubles off the Ed Balls Tree.

That's the thing about Ed Balls Day. You spend so long preparing for it, it's got so commercial - and then it's all over so quickly. We've lost the real meaning.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

If Acts of Confession Were Like Apologies

Burton Dasset: I'm sorry I neglected the family. But it was really important to ensure the project's quality standards were maintained. And that meeting on the right font for business communication  went on till 9pm.

Stacey Bushes: I'm sorry I said I'd like to burn your shed down. But it's an ugly shed.

Marston Moretaine: I'm sorry if I offended you. Albeit some might say your skin is a bit thin. But I'm prepared to accept I should have taken more consideration for your being so precious.

Young Keith: I'm sorry I stole your hat for a joke in 2008. And for the 8 years I've denied responsibility. It wasn't a very good hat. Here, have it back if you're gonna be unreasonable about it.

Hnaef: I'm sorry I broke your leg in that "Beaker 5-a-side" tournament. And yes, I was wearing steel toed boots. But have you never heard of shin pads?

Charlie: I'm sorry if I smashed your dinner in your face. But it's been a hard week. And you've not really been much support. Whoever you are.

Archdruid: You are all provisionally forgiven. But whatever caveats you've applied may also apply to this forgiveness.

(For advice on real apologies, see Sorrywatch)