Dis is me, Eccles

Dis is me, Eccles
Dis is me, Eccles

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Sex-selective murder is not prohibited

In the UK, we have traditionally taken a dim view of murder. Of course, the law has always recognised exceptions: when the killer's life is in danger, or someone else's, then killing may be allowed (the self-defence plea). Moreover, murder on health grounds - assisted suicide - is not usually prosecuted as it would not be "in the public interest". You're not interested in the fact that old Mrs Goggins was bumped off, are you? Well, you've no right to be.

Mrs Goggins

"I don't need any assistance, thank you very much."

Still, things have drifted slightly since the 1960s, and it became necessary to clarify whether one was allowed to bump someone off on the basis of their gender (sex). Having Auntie Moly around the house all day long drinking gin is such a nuisance, and I would have preferred an uncle, with whom I would have had more in common. He would probably have helped with the garden too. Auntie Moly's presence is damaging my health, indeed you might exaggerate 100 times and say that my life is in danger. So I can murder her, right?

WRONG. The law forbids this. Or does it?

Yvette Cooper

"Legislation isn't needed," says Yvette Cooper.

Yvette Cooper ("the only woman with Balls" as a rude joke has it) thinks that legislation to clarify this matter would be a bad idea. As explained by Tim Stanley, the arguments against making sex-selective murder illegal are:

0. It's already illegal, but we mustn't say so, as that will stop 
people from doing it.
1. Using the word "murder" isn't in the spirit of anti-murder 
legislation.
2. There are faults specific to each sex, e.g. men are lazy and women 
are garrulous (or vice-versa) and so, er, this is a bad idea.
3. Stopping murders may cause people to murder, in frustration at not 
being allowed to murder.
4. It stigmatises the "murdering community".
Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper. Chose his victims by gender, but don't stigmatise him!

So, no change there, then. Murder remains mostly illegal, even though everyone's doing it. Murder on the basis of the victim's sex is also illegal, but we mustn't say so. And in fact, the law will probably turn a blind eye if you try it. British justice - the finest in the world!

Are you being radicalised?

After the startling revelation that Jihadi John's real name is Mohammed Emwazi - and not George Galloway after all - we must each ask ourselves "COULD THIS HAPPEN TO ME"?

Mo Emwazi

Little Mo. Bad breath, not potty-trained until he was 15, ugly, but otherwise normal.

Little Mo was, by all accounts, a saintly boy who hardly ever pulled the wings off butterflies or stuck pins in frogs. However, all the other kids mocked him, and so it was natural for him to grow up to be a serial killer and sadist. Still, some say that his personality changed when he ran into a goal post - a clear sign that football can be a radicalising influence.

We have this tribute to Little Mo on the authority of CAGE, one of the few apologists for terrorists to have charitable status. As Lord Carlile so profoundly puts it, CAGE needs to make clear they reject murder. Apparently, this is something the Charity Commission insists on (except, arguably, in the case of the BPAS). Even the National Trust has decommissioned all its weapons of mass destruction.

CAGE

CAGE fighting is not as glamorous as you might think.

So if CAGE could give us 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence, it would be much appreciated. Permanent silence would be even better.

Now, are YOU being radicalised? Did your mother tell you to tidy your bedroom when you were a child? Did the girl/boy/camel you invited out to the pictures tell you that you were a boring toad smelling of urine? Did the bus-driver refuse to stop when he saw you? Did it rain yesterday? Do you think that Britain's foreign policy is a disaster (actually, this is a perfectly normal point of view)?

Jihad John

The Satanic State's Jihad Johnnie models a burka (don't ask why).

These are all danger signs. Are you thinking of changing your name to Crusading Chris, Fighting Freda, Warring Wally, or Holy Smoke Moly? (Of course you won't use the name Mohammed, as nobody will take you seriously.) Have you been looking up Ryanair flights to the Levant (nearest airport Beirut, then hitch a lift)?

Of course, this post is mainly addressed to our younger readers, especially the more stupid of them, but the "call" can come at any age. Even 80-year-old ladies have a role to play in the Satanic State, if they are vicious and sadistic enough. After all, murdering hostages doesn't require much skill or strength.

Hell's Grannies

Hell's Grannies - Teresa, Michelle, Joan and Erica - head for the Middle East.

Now, if you feel you are being radicalised (what we used to call "p*ssed off with life"), we urge you to take it gently. Start by campaigning for a party that wants to turn Britain upside-down, such as the Greens, or Respect, or the Monster Raving Loonies. If this doesn't satisfy your radical ambitions, you could try studying the works of great thinkers such as Russell Brand, or Giles Fraser. Nothing too aggressive. Got that? Great.

God threatens to sue Fr Rosica

From: Messrs Tort, Tort, Malfeasance and Tort, barristers and solicitors.

To: Father Tommy Rosica of the Salt and Vinegar Corporation.

Dear Father Rosica,

We have been retained by God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (hereinafter referred to as the Trinity) in relation to various of your public pronouncements that have been judged to be false, defamatory, or both.

This is a preliminary notice, and our clients reserve the right to require your soul of you and send you to the Lake of Fire, without the necessity of any further warning.

These are some of your public statements to which we take exception:

Rosica tweet

Defamatory.

In particular, you did insult the Mother of Christ by describing the Holy Family of Nazareth as "irregular". Apart from charges of blasphemy, with which our clients will proceed when you reach the Day of Judgement, we should point out that you are bringing God the Son's Church into disrepute by trivialising the principle of Verbum Caro Factum Est, and you are undermining our clients' teaching on marriage as an indissoluble bond made between a man and a woman.

Rosica tweet

Disgraceful.

Furthermore, you did label Cardinal Burke and his associates, by implication, as "dissenters", for upholding Christian teaching. This again may be regarded as a direct attack on our clients in Heaven, who have incurred serious damage to their reputation and the probable loss of many souls as a result of your careless words.

Moreover, you did threaten a harmless blogger, Vox Cantoris, with legal action after he made critical comments about your activities. This also undermines the ChristianTM principles in which our clients have an interest. We are prepared to argue in court that the legal maxim of Loftus Hereticus Toleratus - whereby a well-known comedian can persuade some people to take him seriously no matter what he says - does not apply in your case.

Trinity

Our clients are waiting to hear from you.

Your offences are all the more culpable, as you appear to be in a position of power and influence in the Vatican, and thus your words may be construed as carrying some sort of official endorsement from our clients. This you have never obtained, and although you have on several occasions attempted to address our clients by means of prayers, you have taken no notice of their response.

sock

In short, our clients demand that you put a sock in it, Rosica.

Yours truly,
Nina Tort.


BREAKING NEWS. The Trinity's solicitors are also writing to Cardinal Baldisseri, concerning the theft of copies of a book authored by five senior cardinals, which was sent to all participants at last year's Extraordinary Synod on the Family. The book, "The New Testament", by Cardinals Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul (with additional material by some trusted colleagues), was a complete answer to the fantasies of Cardinal Kasper. It is suspected that Cardinal Baldisseri wished to hide this book from synod participants, many of whom would not have read it.

Cardinal Baldisseri

"The New Testament? Never heard of it!"

What colour is this dress?

This week's Internet sensation was caused by arguments over the colour of a rather ugly dress. It seems that different people saw it in different ways, and there was no consensus.

Some say the dress below is purple, which would be the liturgically correct colour for Lent. Others see different colours: white, red, blue, green...

Jefferts Schori

What colour dress is this woman wearing?

The photo is a source of further optical illusions, in that some people see a woman wearing a bishop's mitre, whereas others see a clown in a silly hat. Then is that a cross she is carrying or a pitchfork? Stare at it for 30 seconds and see what you think.

Said one celebrity, Justin Biebly of Canterbury, "Obviously it's a multicoloured dress that the lady is wearing; those are the liturgically correct vestments for All Fools' Day." However, many others see it differently.

The model wearing the dress is Kathy Schori, 60, a professional bishop-o-gram entertainer. She is available for weddings, funerals, and other happy occasions.

Jefferts Schori again

Kiss me, Kate! Another controversial dress.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Don't forget to say your Rosica!

The Rosary is old hat! From now on Catholics are encouraged to say the Rosica, a new sequence of prayers involving meditations on the Mysteries of the Rosica interspersed with cries of "Where's my lawyer?" "I'll sue!" and "I DEMAND an apology!"

Groucho Marx in court

Did you or did you not describe Fr Rosica as a "silly old buzzard"?

Named after Fr Thomas Rosica, of the Sue and Litigate Salt and Delight media network, whose response to criticism on the Vox Cantoris blog was to run to his lawyers and threaten legal action, the Rosica draws on some little-known sayings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, including the following:

Matthew 5:11. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. For ye can get in touch with your lawyers, and SUE THE PANTS OFF THEM!

no pants

We've been sued by Fr Rosica!

Matthew 5:20. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of Fr Rosica, then ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven.

Be ye perfect

"Be ye perfect, even as Fr Rosica is perfect." Matthew 5:48

Matthew 5:39. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Thus wilt thou be able to claim DOUBLE DAMAGES.

Pope Francis and Fr Rosica

Pope Francis gives some boxing tips to Fr Rosica.

For more on the mysteries of the Blessed Rosica, we recommend the blog of Brother Lapin.

Into the wilderness for Lent

So Eccles prepared to go into the wilderness for Lent. On the day before Ash Wednesday the world had celebrated a big festival: formerly called Shrove Tuesday, it was now universally known as Pancake Day, being a day when all mankind - except for the starving millions - was obliged to gorge itself on pancakes. Apparently, this was in honour of the blessed St Pancake, a Roman martyr who achieved immortality by having a railway station named after him.

St Pancake

The face of St Pancake appears in a plate.

Enough of this foolery. Lent arrived, and Eccles retreated into the wilderness. The first wilderness he tried was the desert of Telegraph blogs. Here there had clearly once been a great civilization: people spoke in hushed tones of the legendary Damian Thompson, James Delingpole, Tom Chivers, Daniel Hannan, and the millions who hung on their every word.

But when Eccles arrived, he saw a deserted wasteland. In one corner, Judith Potts was gallantly carrying on her popular series of "cancer" posts: "Why cancer can be fun", "Make the most of your cancer", "How we grew to love cancer", ... and so on. In another corner, there was still Pete Wedderburn with his "furry animal" blog: "Why the possum is man's best friend", "Give your mother a scorpion for her birthday" and "A gorilla is for life, not just for Christmas".

gorilla at computer

One of Pete Wedderburn's remaining fans.

But apart from that, nothing. No Toby Youngs, no Norman Tebbits, not even a humble Geoffrey Lean. What calamity had struck the Telegraph? All Eccles could find was a broken statue, bearing the following words: MY NAME IS DAMIAN THOMPSON, KING OF KINGS, LOOK ON MY WORKS YE MIGHTY, AND DESPAIR...

list of bloggers

Lies, all lies...

Eccles moved on to the Guardian, well-known as a wasteland full of dangerous creatures. There he suffered three temptations at the hands of Giles Fraser. At this point, some readers will say "There is no such thing as Giles Fraser. He doesn’t exist. At his best, he is a very human projection of ourselves and our darkest nature." But still, the legend goes as follows:

Fraser showed Eccles his Guardian articles and said: "If you are a saved person, then turn these stones into spiritual nourishment." But Eccles replies: "It is written: 'Man cannot live on the words of Giles Fraser, but only on words that come from the mouth of God.'"

Then Fraser took Eccles up to the moral high ground, from where he could look down into the abyss of Radio 4. "Jump in," he said. "If you are a saved person, then the Lord will protect you from the Today Programme, the Moral Maze, and all other places where my views are to be found." But Eccles replied, "Don't tempt me to turn on the radio. Please."

Evan Davis

Can Radio 4 really lead you to Evan?

Finally Fraser showed Eccles all the United Kingdom and its splendour. "Bow down and worship Ed Miliband," he said. "and a new socialist era will dawn, in which children may learn all about homosexual relations, yeah, even at the age of five. What's not to like?"

But Eccles shouted "Get thee behind me, Fraser!" and left for another wilderness.

Eccles flees

Eccles flees the human projection of our darkest nature.

To be continued.

Hilary Mantel rewrites the New Testament

After the runaway success of "Wolf Hall" with its novel thesis that Thomas Cromwell was a hero and that the nasty Catholic St Thomas More was a villain, the great Dame Hilary Mantel is said to be working on a new novel "Goat Hall". We shall explain the title later.

Damian Lewis

A powerful King with a beard.

In "Goat Hall", there is a powerful King with a beard, this time called Jesus, who is surrounded by warring subjects. One of these is Peter, who although revered nowadays as a saint and martyr, was in fact the first Catholic, and therefore automatically "not respectable". (Apologies to our readers from other denominations: you may wish to point out that Peter was also the first Anglican, the first Lutheran, the first Methodist, and the first Calvary Chapel worshipper. Clearly, he was not the first Baptist: that was John.)

The hero of Hilary Mantel's "Goat Hall" is of course Judas Iscariot, who most historians think of as one of the most repulsive villains of that time. Luckily Dame Hilary is there to put them straight: she points out that he was on excellent terms with the King, and on one memorable occasion gave him an affectionate kiss.

Judas and Christ

Proof that Judas was on good terms with the King.

After the Resurrection, Peter disappears to an obscure administrative position in Rome, where he eventually meets his come-uppance. The novel focuses more on the fate of its hero Judas. Did he hang himself, or was he murdered? Is the reference to his bowels gushing forth a sign that he was poisoned by jealous Catholics?

It is confidently expected that the book, and its dramatization as a TV series, together with "Goat Hall" souvenir mugs and tee-shirts, will make at least 30 pieces of silver for Dame Hilary's MANTELTRASH® company; moreover, she will no doubt win even more ludicrous prizes and awards on the strength of it.

So all that remains is to explain the title of the book.

Judas goat

A Judas goat leading lambs to the slaughter. Or Hilary Mantel leading her readers.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Christians get ready to observe Ramadan

We are guided today by a brilliant observation from the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales:

CBCEW drivel

Of course! The time has come to combine Ramadan and Lent into one great period of abstinence, to be called Ramalent, or Lentadan, or something. Rentalamb. Whatever. Maybe we can get the Jews on board too, and combine Lent with Yom Kippur as well. We've agreed to eat no bacon on Fridays - see how much common ground we have already? Crumbs! The Middle-East crisis is as good as solved, even without the efforts of Tony Blair!

cat in fez

A new-look Catholic cat.

For Christians, Lent is the time when Christ went into the desert and met the Devil - or, according to Giles Fraser, didn't meet the Devil. If only Matthew, Mark and Luke had been Guardian-readers they'd have known that such a thing was impossible! Mohammed of course did not meet the Devil, or even Giles Fraser, but his followers still recommend Ramadan as a period of fasting, at least until it gets dark, when Muslims can PARTY!

Muslims dancing

See? Muslims love liturgical dancing, just as Christians do!

Mgr Ronald Knox wrote a fine piece, Reunion all round, about the possible inclusion of Muslims, Jews, Atheists, etc. into the Church of England (where they would hardly be thought of as unusual). One of his best recommendations was that Muezzins should awake people in the morning by intoning simple, non-controversial messages from church towers, such as:

Early to bed, and early to rise,
Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise!

Pope and Muslim

"Mohammed said 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away.' Are you Catholics happy with that one?"

Indeed, other messages are possible. The Anglicans might wish to use the well-known statement of faith, which applies to every issue they discuss (it was first published in Private Eye, I think):

On the one hand...
On the other hand...
In a very real sense...

while the Catholics may simply shout out:

Who am I to judge?

Westminster Cathedral

One of Westminster's finest mosques (prop. Imam Nichols).

Anyway, these precise reforms are probably further down the line; although the Tablet, as usual, is in the vanguard, and is already tipping Jihad John as the next bishop of Arundel and Brighton. Meanwhile, we Christians can prepare for Ramadan with a clear conscience, knowing that we are now eligible for 72 virgins in Paradise (offer available to men only) as an alternative to an eternity in Abraham's bosom.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Can the Curia reform Pope Francis?

The Curia - essentially the Vatican's Civil Service - is a body with a long and distinguished history. It was founded by Christ Himself, when he gave Peter the keys to Heaven and - as a consolation prize - passed on the keys of His filing-cabinets to the other disciples, saying "Keep an eye on him."

filing-cabinet

These filing-cabinets were made by St Joseph the carpenter.

However, popes come and go, while the Curia endureth for ever. When a new pope is elected, he often arrives with new and exciting ideas about how the Catholic Church should be reformed. It is the duty of the Curia to make sure that God's business is carried on as usual, and nothing changes.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

Cardinal Humphrey Appleby explains.

Says Cardinal Appleby, the Permanent Secretary to the College of Cardinals: "When Pope Francis came on the scene, he was full of new ideas that would have been disastrous to implement. For example, he wanted the Swiss Guard to invade the Falkland Islands, he wanted to introduce the tango as a compulsory part of the Mass, and he wanted the cardinals to dress like the Argentine football team. We dealt with these ideas by our standard method, saying 'Yes, Holy Father. What an interesting idea. We must set up a committee to look into these plans.' We also manage to divert the pope by giving him long documents in Latin to read: since he he failed his Latin Certificado General de Educación Secundaria we knew he would never get through them."

Argentina football team

A group of cardinals poses in their proposed new vestments.

Of course, the Curia's blocking tactics are not always successful. When Pope John XXIII came up with his own modest wish-list of changes, the Permanent Secretary of the time, Cardinal Arnold Robinson, made the mistake of persuading him to convene the Second Vatican Council. For three years the politicians of the Catholic Church quarrelled with each other - during which time John himself left his Ministerial post, being promoted to a new position in Heaven - and it looked at first as though this time-wasting device would have the desired effect. Numerous reports and memoranda were produced - dignified by the name of constitutions, declarations and decrees - and in the end they were filed away unread, as intended. However, the Church still managed to change in bizarre ways unforeseen by Cardinal Robinson, who was forced to resign in disgrace.

Pope and curia

"Yes, Holy Father." The Curia humours a new pope.

Cardinal Appleby continues: "The last two years have been very difficult for us. Normally I get to vet all papal speeches, to make sure that the Holy Father doesn't commit himself to any significant new policies. However, the present incumbent has become very adept at making off-the-cuff statements, usually in aeroplanes, causing severe embarrassment to us." Although this has not been publicly admitted, it seems that Cardinal Bernard Woolley, the Pope's Principal Private Secretary, is looking into the possibility of lacing Francis's in-flight gin and tonic with a powerful sleeping drug, so that he sleeps during flights, rather than re-inventing Catholicism.

Pope Francis in an aeroplane

"No new doctrine today, guys. Must... lie... down..."

Which brings us finally to the Extraordinary Synod of 2014, and the General Synod of 2015. This is part of Cardinal Appleby's high-risk strategy for blocking the pope's ideas for reform. Everyone - except, apparently Vincent Nichols - remembers those confusing votes which decided (or not) the statement to be issued by the Extraordinary Synod under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The crusading idealism of Cardinal Kasper came head-to-head with the more conventional orthodoxy of Cardinal Burke and his allies in the Resistance. Appleby himself is proposing that Cardinal Kasper be sent on a round-the-world fact-finding mission, from which he will probably never return.

Michelle of the Resistance

"Listen very carefully, Cardinal Burke, I shall say this only once."

Still, Pope Francis remains unreformed, and all Catholics must pray that the Curia manages to keep him on-message. His predecessor, Pope Benedict, now in retirement, admits that he "never managed to get round Appleby," and perhaps in the end Francis will be similarly thwarted.

Giles Fraser may not exist, but we need him.

Our guest blogger Cormac Murphy-O'Stopheles writes:

It is unfortunate that the Church of England has just decided to remove all mention of Father Giles Fraser from the baptism service. He will be missed.

Gollum

Giles Fraser - more than just a pantomime villain.

Now don’t get me wrong. There is no such thing as Giles Fraser. He doesn’t exist. However, as a very human projection of ourselves and our darkest nature, he plays a vital role. Under his various titles - priest-in-charge at St Mary's Newington, Thinker of the Day of Radio 4, Threader of the Immoral Maze, Father Dave Spart of the Guardian, Stonewall Hero of the Year - orthodox Christians have dreaded him for many years.

Thus, in the Church of England Baptism ceremony, the victim's sponsors were asked, "Do ye renounce Giles Fraser and all his works? Will ye turn off your radio the moment he comes on, as ye do for Stephen Fry? Do ye promise to consign the Guardian to the depths of thy trashcan?"

burning radio

One way to renounce Giles Fraser.

"Oh, we do, we do, we do!" comes the response, and a huge burden is lifted from the shoulders of those present. At least in principle.

However, these days young people do not listen to Radio 4, nor read the Guardian, and, as the Bishop of Truro has pointed out: "Those who work with young people give constant advice that references to Giles Fraser are likely to be misunderstood in today’s culture." Of course it would be too much effort to explain those references, since bishops are busy people, and many young people have an attention span only slightly superior to that of a goldfish.

goldfish

"I can't remember what Giles Fraser said, but I'm sure it was excellent."

So, Giles Fraser is consigned to the dustbin of Anglican history, and this is a pity, as he embodies a side of humankind that we do not face often enough. However, you may still encounter him in the Catholic liturgy, as seen in a famous documentary film about baptisms called the Godfather.

Godfather

Sorry, but I quite like Giles Fraser.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Prayer 3: How to do intercessions

I'll hand over to Tony now, as he's going to lead us in our intercessions.

Thanks, Father Phil. Please kneel, stand, sit, or lie down - whichever position you find most comfortable - while I lead us through today's prayers.

First we pray for the Church throughout the world, and in our cycle of prayer today we think particularly of the Kingdom of Bhutan, and its king, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. Although his people are Buddhist, we know that, like us, he is only seeking the Truth, and who are we to say that we know better?

King of Bhutan

Thanks for the name-check, Tony!

We pray for Pope Francis, Pope Benedict, Archbishop Welby, the Dalai Lama, the Chief Rabbi, the Archmuslim of Canterbury, the Archdruid of Husborne Crawley, and the Supreme Freemason. May they continue to do spiritual things.

Nearer at home, it is the day that we pray for the Diocese of Scunthorpe, and particularly for Bishop Eric Blast-Furnace, that the police will soon drop all charges against him. May he be a worthy pastor of his sheep, and may the Lord help him to leave Mrs Slag alone. Oh sorry, I didn't mean to read that bit out.

Moving on, our cycle of prayer moves us to think of our brothers and sisters in the parish of Little Dreadville, their priest, Fr Nasty, and his pet hamster, Radcliffe, who is unwell. May little Radcliffe soon be turning happily in his wheel, and bring joy to all who behold him. Then, nearer to home, we remember the people living in Slaughterhouse Crescent, especially Mrs O'Ghastly, who is suffering from acute halitosis. May the Lord breathe on her, and may she breathe back without knocking Him over.

St Ermenilda of Ely

St Eormenhild (Ermenilda) of Ely.

Today is of course St Ermenilda of Ely's day, and we join her in our intercessions. Although she does not appear to be the patron saint of anything in particular, simply mentioning Ermenilda of Ely reminds us to pray for all producers and wearers of ermine, all people who risk their lives for us in order to catch or eat eels, and anyone whose name rhymes with Ermenilda. We may wish to say a prayer for all the Hildas and Matildas that we know. In fact we shall be singing "Waltzing Matilda" as our Communion Hymn later.

a stoat

A producer and wearer of ermine.

We pray for the Royal Family, in particular for Lady Louise Windsor, because we haven't "done" her for several months, and for all Members of Parliament. In our cycle of prayer we think particularly of Mr Nicholas Clegg, and we try not to laugh. O Lord, you have probably read in your Spectator a particularly nasty piece by Damian Thompson, attacking the conductors Dudamel, Gergiev and Rattle for (if you'll excuse me, Lord) political butt-kissing. Soften the heart of Dr Thompson we pray, that from now on all his words may be words of kindness and praise, that they may flow smoothly as the custard floweth in Lebanon.

custard advert

The Lord recommendeth this for thy health.

We pray for all who try to communicate the word of the Lord, whether they be priests, journalists or humble bloggers. Today we especially remember Brother Bosco of the totally unread "Why all Catholics are damned" blog.

Now we pray for the sick, especially at this time for people suffering from spots in embarrassing places, addictions to toilet-cleaning products, or delusions that they are a teapot. May their spots be healed, their beverage requirements become less potent, and their kettles whistle as they boil in the Lord's Name.

I'm a teapot

The sick.

Finally, we commemorate the departed, especially our own great-great-aunts, whether known to us or not. We also remember any whose anniversaries fall at this time, especially King Béla II of Hungary, Richard Wagner, and Mr Ronald Pickering of the BBC. In the words of Mr Pickering, "Away you go!"

Finally a moment for silent prayer, in which we bring our own needs to the Lord. No matter how complex our problems, and difficult our situation, He is ready to listen to us. One. Two. Three. That's enough silent prayer.

Lord in Your Mercy, grant these our prayers, and help us to have a Nice Day. Amen.

Thanks, Tony. That was great!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

How to understand atheists

Broadly speaking, there are three kinds of atheists: trolls, obsessives, and ignorant people. Curiously, most of them use the same catchphrases when debating, so it is not always easy to tell them apart. Having encountered a few of them yesterday, I think I am ready to explain how we more intelligent and well-informed people can help them.

fairy

You believe in sky fairies!

Mentioning "sky fairies" or "invisible friends" is a sure sign of a troll who has made no attempt to understand what it is that Christians believe in. Other good terms of abuse are "men in dresses" (actually, having gatecrashed the Vatican changing-rooms, I can reveal that many priests wear trousers under their vestments) and the old favourite "all made up by bronze-age goatherds", as if it were not possible for philosophers and goatherds to live at the same time. Remember, that Richard Dawkins wrote a thesis on the behaviour of chickens, and may thus be described as a plastic-age chicken-herd. That's him sorted.

snake and mongoose

"You believe in talking snakes."

The "talking snake" refutation of all Christian thinking goes as follows: "Snakes can't talk. Therefore the Bible is fiction. So Jesus never existed. I win."

Either your atheist has read the Bible as far as the Garden of Eden story and then stopped, or else has lifted this argument straight from the works of Richard Dawkins. It doesn't occur to him or her that a God who made Heaven and Earth could easily endow a snake with the power of speech (or perform any other miracle, such as the Virgin Birth). That's what omnipotence is all about, you see. Nor does it occur to him that it is not necessary to believe in the literal truth of the Genesis story to realise that it has a meaning. You know, the Fall of Man, that sort of thing.

Worse than that, your atheist believes that Christians DO NOT KNOW that snakes can't talk. Not being trained scientists (although many are), Christians are not able to understand this simple fact. It must be true that Augustine and Aquinas - of whom your atheist probably hasn't even heard - went through life talking to snakes and wondering why they didn't reply.

Job

"Bad things happen. So God doesn't exist and I hate Him."

This is of course the "Stephen Fry" version of atheism. Stephen Fry is not entirely dim - a 2.1 from Cambridge must be nearly as good as a 2.1 from Oxford - but he does seem to be woefully ignorant. After a lifetime of reading quiz answers off little cards and getting an undeserved reputation for being the biggest genius who ever lived, Fry is apparently unable to deal with any concept that requires more than a little card to explain. Again, he thinks that nobody before him has ever worried about why God permits death and disease, or even about why He permits every single radio and television programme to be infested by a certain charmless bore who thinks bad language is funny.

walrus and carpenter

"You eat shellfish, and so it's perfectly OK for me to have sex with anyone I wish.

Yes, it's another poorly-informed atheist, or maybe just a troll or an obsessive. No, Christians aren't bound by the dietary laws of Leviticus, they've been explicitly superseded by the New Covenant. Yes, murder, adultery, theft, and the like are still considered to be wrong. I don't think I can face explaining this one again: come back when you've read some of the New Testament.

Richard Dawkins and laptop

An atheist (reading Eccles's blog, as it happens).

One final argument goes something like this: "All right, then. The Bible isn't historical, because all the people who contributed to it believed in God. Why don't we have some accounts of Jesus's life, death and resurrection written by eye-witnesses who were atheists? You suppressed those, didn't you?" Somehow, I think it's not really necessary to answer that one.