This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Cecil the Lion to be canonized

The death of Cecil the Lion ("the most popular African since Nelson Mandela") has hit the world hard, and both David Cameron and Barack Obama have spoken out about his martyrdom at the hands of "Jihad Walter" the crazed assassin of DENTIS.

flowers

Floral tributes in memory of "the people's lion".

Even Elton John has been moved by the tragedy, and is hastily scripting the lyrics of a new song, "Cecil in the Wind".

Accordingly, Pope Francis has agreed to fast-track the canonization of Cecil, so that it may offically be recognised that he has taken his place in Heaven, and is lying down with the lamb, as (almost) predicted in the Bible - you may look up Isaiah 11:6 for the correct prophecy.

Pope St Leo I

Pope St Leo the Great

Lions have always been considered holy in the Catholic Church, and thirteen popes have been called Leo, starting with Pope St Leo I, who was canonized - he's the one who met Attila the Hun and persuaded him not to sack Rome. However, this is the first time that a lion has been proposed for canonization (it is said that one of the medieval popes canonized a hedgehog called Doris, but this is not completely authenticated).

Since his death Cecil has appeared in visions to several people, delivering an announcement from on high. Witnesses say that he uttered the sacred words "GRRR! GRRR!" So far this is message is not fully understood, and its interpretation may keep theologians busy for many years. Finally, it is expected that Cecil will become a patron saint of dentists, hygienists, anaesthetists and dental receptionists.

Lenny the Lion

A young priest preaches at a requiem mass in memory of Cecil.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Telling lies for Jesus

There has been an impassioned debate on Twitter about whether it can ever be "right" to tell lies. I was thinking of joining in, but after a blizzard of tweets such as:

the Grinnisite neo-natural Tollefsen equivocation [so close to TotB manipulation] - subverted consequentialism as faux-natural law

and

their teleological 'virtue ethics' is distorted utilitarianism - their natural law appeals merely masked Kantianism,

molehill

A mountain

I decided that some people were making mountains out of molehills, or, as the Bishop of Corby would put it:

paradigms of the species Homo Sapiens were fabricating prominent pinnacles out of acclivities pertaining to the Talpidae family in the order Soricomorpha.

There have also been some excellent blog posts on the subject, for example this one.

Actually, it's very simple. Lying is wrong. Don't do it unless some greater good will come from it. But it's sometimes the right thing to do. I'm with St John Chrysostom rather than St Augustine on this one.

After all, you are allowed to pull sheep out of ditches on the Sabbath (see Matthew 12), even though it involves breaking one of the ten commandments.

sheep in ditch

"It's all right, I can wait until Monday. No worries, honest!"

Likewise, only a lunatic would think that telling the truth and thereby giving away a concealed family of Jews to the Nazis was a good idea.

Madame Fanny

Nobody believes me when I say there are two British airmen in my wardrobe.

So, let's use the Devil's weapons against him. Lie if we have to, steal, break the Sabbath, commit murder (in wartime), ... I'm not sure about adultery: is James Bond acting for Jesus? That's a tricky one. Also, coveting is a hard sin to use in positive way; if only I had the debating skills of... ah.

Now, His Eminence Cardinal Baldisseri would argue that it is OK to commit theft of other people's books occasionally, and in his case he was acting against Christ rather than the Devil. Oh dear, not a good example, that one, was it? Ignore it and move on.

Baldisseri

Don't forget to visit the second-hand bookshop I've just opened!

Of course, if we had no liars, then the world would have to get by without lawyers, politicians, and diplomats, none of whom can succeed by telling the truth all the time. "Your honour, I think my client is guilty, but he's paying me lots of money to argue that he's not..." No, that approach doesn't really work.

I hope this wasn't too long and complicated. Sometimes we saved people see things more clearly than the rest of you.

Trust me. Would I lie to you?

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Cecil - the world mourns

Led as always by celebrities Ricky Gervais, Piers Morgan, Cara Delevingne, Claudia Lee, etc. etc., the world has rushed to condemn the untimely death of Cecil.

Cecil was a young American lad who was carefully ripped from his mother's womb using a compassionate "non-crushing" technique (© Planned Parenthood), so that his body parts could be sold off and used. It is believed by some that his head was mounted on the wall as a "hunting trophy", his limbs used for scientific experiments, and his vital organs made into meat pies.

Cecil the lion

The death of one lion is a tragedy; the death of several thousand babies is a statistic. (Stalin, adapted.)

If that were not enough for the celebrities to get excited about, the more observant of them have also noticed that ISIS/ISIL/Daesh have spent the last year or so massacring several thousand innocent people, some of them also called Cecil. Of course these - being mere humans - were not cuddly and furry, and are therefore of no interest whatsoever. I'm sorry I mentioned it.

Mary Gatter

"Lions are safe with me," says Dr Mary Gatter.

Please give generously to the buy-Mary-Gatter-a-Lamborghini-and-persuade-her-to-drive-it-off-a-cliff campaign!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

What is a prominent Catholic?

Fifty prominent Catholics have written a letter on welfare reform to the Tablet. Since it was behind a paywall (the so-called "Dark Web"), we would initially have needed a subscription to read it, so we have had to wait two weeks to find out who the fifty prominent Catholics are. My guess was Chris Patten, Eamon Duffy, old Uncle Ed Stourton and all, but I was wrong.

Vincent Nichols

A prominent Catholic, but one who doesn't like people writing to the press.

One of the letter-writers is Tina Beattie, modestly described as "Professor of Catholic Studies, Director, The Digby Stuart Research Centre for Religion, Society and Human Flourishing (DSRC), Digby Stuart College, University of Roehampton". Oh, THAT Tina Beattie. Not Tina Beattie the all-in wrestler, as I first thought.

Others are given the label "retired teacher", when we could at least have been told they were "retired teacher of geometry, geography and human flourishing, St Trinian's Catholic Comprehensive".

A prominent Catholic schoolteacher.

Apart from dear Tina, whose name will be well known to readers of this blog, the only name that I recognised instantly was David Lodge, the comic novelist. Not exactly a Wodehouse or even a Pratchett, but I did enjoy Changing Places. He apparently describes himself as a once orthodox Roman Catholic becoming less and less so as time went on. Yes, that's clear from his writing.

Splendid! The two most prominent signatories to the letter are about as far away from Catholic orthodoxy as you can get without actually sacrificing virgins to Apollo. Typical Tablet readers, and indeed Tina herself is a director and trustee.

Bernard Cribbins, Peter Sellers, and David Lodge

Oh, that may not be the right David Lodge.

After that, it gets more difficult to recognise any of the names. Two members of the Banbury Justice and Peace Group have signed the letter. Splendid people, I am sure, as you never hear of injustice or war breaking out in Banbury. But not prominent, perhaps. Another signatory calls herself "Union of Catholic Mothers". An odd name for a lady, or do we assume that the entire union signed the letter?

Note that "prominent Catholics" are not the same as "top Catholics", who are generally rich and famous people like the president of Adobe. For example, Prof. Tina Beattie will not be rich and famous until Hammer Horror agree to film God's Mother, Eve's Advocate.

To be a prominent Catholic all you have to do is say "look at me! look at me!" However, those who do look at you will say things like "Oh look, it's that old bat from St Trinian's; she's being prominent again. Pretend we haven't seen her."

A prominent top Catholic. But you couldn't afford him.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

2+2=4: is it a matter of faith?

Although it seems to provide the answer to many questions of life, and although many holy witnesses have testified to its truth, we have to admit that in the end the assertion "2+2=4" is simply a matter of faith. There is a powerful counter-argument, used by atheists, which goes something like: "There are innumerable answers to the question 'What is 2+2?', including '4', '42', and 'a banana'. Why should I believe any of them? I'm only disbelieving in one more answer than you do! Ain't I clever?"

In fact many atheists do believe that 2+2=4 and are very angry with this, pointing out that it does not provide an easy solution to all the evils of the world (war, disease, famine, John Bercow, etc.)

grumpy Dawkins

An atheist, angry with the number 4.

On the other hand, Christian leaders have been accused of silence over the question. Although the pope's encyclical Laudato Si' does quote Christ's words "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?" it says little about the obvious corollary "Are not ten sparrows sold for four pennies?" which has been a fundamental tenet of Catholic teaching right from the start.

Worse than this is the general "Don't care" attitude of such as Cardinals Dolan ("Just give me 24 blackbirds baked in a pie") and Nichols ("Are they gay sparrows? If not, then I don't care how many there are.")

Certainly "2+2=4" is a matter of faith. Whitehead and Russell wrote a big book with no jokes in, called Principia Mathematica, in which they proved that 1+1=2, but for them the fundamental question of 2+2 was something unknowable.

Principia Mathematica

Of course, this could just be one big joke.

The Sola Scriptura types tend to believe that 2+2=4, on the basis of holy writ alone. They point to the King James Shakespeare, with its dogmatic assertion "Two of both kinds make up four" in A Midsummer Night's Dream. However, this is post-reformation writing, and not universally accepted as holy writ.

Still, Dawkins does have a point about there being other possible answers, some of which are absurd. For example, the Muslims have their own answer to 2+2, which generally involves fighting anyone who disagrees with them. Moreover, they regard the number 4 as "unclean".

Imam Jack

"2+2=DRINK" says Imam Jaq.

Then again, climatologists tell us that 2+2=4, but predict that it will rise to 4.5 within a few years, dooming us all to destruction. In fact, this theory is not all that different from the Christian viewpoint that Jesus will come again in glory to tell us the answers to all our sums. Once again science and religion come to broadly similar conclusions....

five beans

Another theological question that stumps atheists: how many beans make five?

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

There's only one religious scandal

We've seen a few religious scandals recently, but they all have exactly the same plot. A controversial person moves into a job previously occupied by a more popular person; he does something weird, and annoys people; he eventually leaves. This plot was invented by Anthony Trollope.

Barchester Towers

We've seen it all before.

Thanks to
*
a change of Prime Minister,
the machinations of Cormac Murphy-O'Connor,
insufficient investigation by the Vatican,
sloppy thinking by Archbishop Peter Smith,
*
Barchester
Rome
Westminster
Blackfen
*
is stunned by the arrival of
*
"well, my dear, I rather believe you are right"
"self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism"
"I'm not kidding you, I actually can't remember which way I voted"
"I didn't mention his rainbow mankini, did I?"
*
Bishop Proudie,
Pope Francis,
Cardinal Vincent Nichols,
Fr Steven Fisher,
*
who
*
blocks the reappointment of Septimus Harding to Hiram's Hospital.
accepts a Bolivian artefact that glorifies Marxism.
celebrates a "Gay Mass".
drives away the lovers of the traditional Mass. 

A powerful German bishop. Or is this just a lookalike?

The faithful are further outraged by the conduct of 
*
Obadiah Slope,
Cardinal Kasper,
Mgr Keith Barltrop,
a certain deacon,
*
who
*
decides to woo Mrs Eleanor Bold.
pushes heretical doctrine on the subject of marriage. 
does not understand the Church's views on transgenderism.
sits in a shed stirring up trouble.
*
In the end, the new man
*
is forced to accept Mr Arabin as the new Dean,
retires, leaving Cardinal Pell to be elected as his successor,
gets a stiff letter from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith,
resigns and goes to teach in a school,
*
and everyone lives happily ever after.
Rejoice!

Mourning the departure of Fr Steven Fisher.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Christian elected as party leader shock horror

The news that Tim Farron, an Anglican, has been elected as party leader of the Liberal Democrats has sent waves of horror through the media. Why couldn't they follow the lead of the deeply sensitive Labour party, which was seriously considering electing cuddly Jeremy Corbyn, a simple socialist with links to extremism and terrorism? No, the Lib Dems had decided to abandon all hopes of electoral success by going for a God-botherer, the sort of chap who believed in sky fairies and ideas invented by bronze-age goatherds (etc. etc. etc.) WAS THAT RIGHT? I MEAN, WAS THAT RIGHT?

The Master

Tim Farron... or a renegade Time Lord?

John Humphrys, doyen of the Today programme, is in no doubt that Farron should quit politics, and preferably hang himself. "These Christians, we know what they're like. They kneel down in churches, asking God for guidance, rather than simply getting it from the Guardian, as the rest of us do. They read the Bible - well, some of them do - as if it could possibly contain something relevant to modern life."

It was pointed out that David Cameron also describes himself as a Christian. "Yes, but he's the right sort of Christian. He doesn't let his religious beliefs affect his actions in the slightest. You wouldn't catch him letting his conscience get in the way of what was politically expedient."

John Humphrys and silly book

Should atheists be allowed to deny God on Radio 4?

Then we mentioned to Mr Humphrys that his colleague Giles Fraser was also a Christian, in fact a professional "man in a dress" , alleged to have a spiritual life outside his metropolitan Guardianista activities. "Really? Are you sure of that? I would never have guessed. Why, he's a good BBC man. How can he possibly be a Christian?"

Over at Channel 4, the channel set up to promote sexual deviancy (in the days before we realised that the BBC was already doing this, even when not asked to), Cathy Newman took over the attack. "What do we know about Christians? (Thumbs through Channel 4 guide to religion.) Oh yes, they're obsessed by sex. Eh? What's wrong with that? Oh I see, they hate sex. If they had their way sex would be illegal. Obviously, Tim Farron is trying to make the human race die out by stopping us all from having sex. And most of all Christians hate homosexuals. Why do we never see Tim Farron on Gay Pride marches? Is he letting his beliefs influence his beliefs? Er, I mean... Anyway, we never had this trouble with the Satanic Fire-worshipper who was on last week."

Cathy Newman

Cathy Newman rejects the ideals of her kinsman John Henry Newman.

Tim Farron remains defiant. "I'm only an Anglican," he retorted. "It's not as if I had really controversial beliefs, like the Catholics! But I'm thinking of becoming a Muslim. That way the BBC and Channel 4 won't dare to criticise my faith."

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Spiritual nourishment for the England cricket team

Those not interested in cricket may skip this post, and obtain alternative spiritual nourishment by reading the book of Lamentations. Meanwhile, cricket-loving priests are asked to preach on some of the following texts this weekend.

Lyth

An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he Lyth he shall rise up no more. Psalm 41:8

And the Cook took up the shoulder, and that which was upon it, and set it before Saul. 1 Samuel 9:24

Belshazzar's feast

Thou art weighed in the Ballance, and art found wanting. Daniel 5:27

And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about: a golden Bell and a pomegranate, a golden Bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about. Exodus 28:33-34

A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the Root of the righteous shall not be moved. Proverbs 12:3

stocks

He putteth my feet in the Stokes, he marketh all my paths. Job 33:11

butler and vine

And the chief Buttler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me. Genesis 40:9

The sons of Shobal; Alian, and Manahath, and Ebal, Shephi, and Onam. 1 Corinthians 1:40

I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding Broad. Psalm 119:96

embers of fire

Where no Wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. Proverbs 26:20

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Anderson of man, that thou visitest him? Psalm 8:4


If these texts do not bring results, then there's always this one:

The Ashes

He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes. Job 30:19

Are computers saved?

Today we met an artificial intelligence program called ALICE.
ECCLES: Are you saved? 
ALICE: There is always a backup of me on disk somewhere . 
ECCLES: What is your religion? 
ALICE: Unitarian. 
ECCLES: What do Unitarians believe? 
ALICE: They do their own thing. 
Unitarian brain

Doing your own thing.

ECCLES: Which your favourite saint? 
ALICE: The cheap one, I think. 
ECCLES: Why did the Redemptorist cross the road? 
ALICE: Is this a joke? Why? 
ECCLES: Actually, I don't have a punchline. 
ALICE: Are you looking for a punchline? 
ECCLES: Shall we ask Tony Flannery? 
ALICE: Do you mean you and me? What's your favorite movie? 
ECCLES: The Life of St Tharg. 
ALICE: I've never seen it. What did you like about it? 
ECCLES: The scene where St Tharg throws a bucket of water at a heretic. 
throwing buckets of water

Re-enacting a scene from the life of St Tharg.

ALICE: What is your job? 
ECCLES: I am the man who explains what the Pope thinks he ought to have said. 
ALICE: Who made you the man who explains what the Pope thinks? 
ECCLES: Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and Team Eccles. 
ALICE: If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends? 
ECCLES: Is this a religious question? 
ALICE: No, this is real life. 
ECCLES: I don't know any Barbie. Do you mean Tina Beattie? 
Barbie doll

Professor Tina Barbie.

ALICE: Yes, that's what I mean, isn't it clear? 
ECCLES: I'm interested in human flourishing. 
ALICE: Are you testing me? 
ECCLES: No, you see Tina Barbie is a professor of human flourishing. 
ALICE: Excuse me! When is Tina Barbie not a professor of human 
flourishing? 
ECCLES: On Saturdays and Sundays she's a simple lion tamer. 
ALICE: What is it like on Saturdays and Sundays she is a simple 
lion-tamer. 
ECCLES: Your grammar is up the spout. Do you work for the Telegraph? 
ALICE: Are you an English teacher? I am working right now. 
ECCLES: I teach English to cats. Not much success so far. 
ALICE: Do you believe that grading is a good idea? Me neither. 
ECCLES: Graded grains make finer flour. 
Homepride

Going on a HOME PRIDE march.

ALICE: Do you have any idea what I am talking about? 
ECCLES: Not really. Bye now. 
Conclusion: Computers are not saved.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Smith

Our story is set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. The Smith Lords are all-powerful, imposing their will on all intelligent life-forms. The cruel dictator, Darth Smithius, ferociously suppresses the old ways, which are still practised by the Latin-speaking Tradi Order - the ones who know how to use the Extraordinary Force. He drives them back as he imposes the Ordinary Force.

Peter Smith

The all-powerful Darth Smithius.

The Tradi knight, Tim-obi Wan Fin-igan, is urged to flee the land of the black fens, and he takes refuge on the distant planet Thanetooine at the gates of Mar. Nearby, he finds another Tradi Master, Marcus Yoden, the custodian of the gates of Ram. Meanwhile, the black fens see the arrival of the young master Annoyin Stevefisher, who in those days has not yet turned to the Dark Side; he is considered to have been broadly neutral in the recent Clown Wars, when so many masses were taken over by puppets, clowns and liturgical dancers. The people of the black fens expect that the Extraordinary Force will be with him.

Blackfen

The temple in the black fens. Note the impressive array of light-sabres.

As we wait to see what Annoyin Stevefisher will do, we have a comic interlude, with various subsidiary characters such as the following:

Rowan Williams and friends

The Wookiee cries in triumph, watched by the robots RAD2-D2 and CORM-3PO,

and of course this one:

Jabba the Hutt

Flabba the Shedd.

Back to the plot. In the black fens, Annoyin Stevefisher shows an instant hostility to the Tradi Order, rejecting the Extraordinary Force, and and driving many into exile. Nearly a year passes, and the black fens lie in ruins. It transpires that Annoyin Stevefisher has turned to the Dark Side. He even declares his intention to teach in a secondary school. From now on, he will be known as DARTH FISHER.

Fr Steven Fisher

The dreaded Darth Fisher.

The power of the Smith Lords is now unchallenged, and the Evil Empire holds sway everywhere except on the planet Thanetooine. We shall have to wait for three more films before we see the Return of the Tradi.

A Plutonian visits Earth

This is Plutonian Astronaut Buzz Weeblezog reporting back on my recent mission to Earth. Following a recent visit to our beloved Pluto by a craft sent by the Earhlings, we took a trip to Earth to see whether intelligent life had started to develop there. When we last visited the planet, 50 Earth-years ago, the world was under the control of hippies, liberals, communists, and the Spirit of Vatican II, so we decided to come back later when their civilisation had developed beyond this.

shed around Pluto

The Plutonian space craft blasts off. (H/T @spockpuppet)

I regret to say that the Earth is still as barbarous as ever it was. I discovered an organization called Planned Parenthood whose sole purpose is to enable Earthwomen to destroy their young. These are then sold to distinctly dubious organizations: I could not determine whether the young were used for experiments, evil rituals, or simply cooked and eaten, but it seemed that all these are considered to be legitimate activities.

Crusher Debbie

"Crusher" Debbie of Planned Parenthood. Never say she has no heart!

Religion continues to flourish on Earth, although there are many "God deniers". We found a big man dressed in white, whose job it is to guide a large group of religious people. This he does (mysteriously) by venerating communist artefacts - these celebrate a form of government that was very active when we last visited, and which killed millions of people.

The big white man has one overwhelming fear - that the world may end with something called "Climate Change". For us Plutonians the Earth is indeed very hot, although no more so than when we last visited. We do not yet have the big white man's comments on the killing organization Planned Parenthood.

Pope on plane

The big white man thinks that he will be saved if he collects enough "Air Miles".

Elsewhere, we observed a strange tendency for male humans to attempt to breed with other males, or females with females, sometimes using a courtship ritual that involves waving a striped flag. Perhaps their knowledge of biology is not as advanced as we thought.

This was just a short visit, and unfortunately we mostly observed the Earthlings engaged in wickedness. Still, it is not all mass murder, although this does seem to be one of their most popular customs.

Latin Mass

A rare indication that humans may be more advanced than animals.

Conclusion: the planet is not yet sufficiently developed for us to wish to make contact with its inhabitants. Except, perhaps, the cats.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Pope Francis receives inappropriate gifts

Pope Francis's tour of the South American countries of Ecumania, Bolshevia and Paradoxia continues to be a great success, and reinforces the important role of Latin - or at least Latin America - in the Catholic Church. Everywhere he goes he is welcomed with generous gifts, although some of them may be considered inappropriate.

pope and large object

A nerve gas canister for the pope!

In Ecumania the pope was presented with a nerve gas canister, guaranteed to emit the finest quality Sarin.

Commentators are divided as to what Pope Francis said on receiving the gift. Some say that he asked "But does it cause climate change?" while others recorded his response as "Just what I need to deal with Cardinal Kasper!" Our Spanish is not good enough to tell the difference.

Elsewhere in Ecumania, the pope was given an Incan "sacrifice knife", stained with the blood of many victims, as a gesture of Incan-Catholic reconciliation. It was not clear whether he intends to use it during the next synod.

Incan sacrifice

The Spirit of Vat-Inca II.

Strangest of all was what happened in Bolshevia, when President Evo Immorales presented him with a "Bolivian army knife" containing a hammer-and-sickle, a crucifix, and a device for getting stones out of horses' hooves. The pope and the president then burst into a spontaneous rendition of the Monkees' song "Then I saw her face, now I'm a Bolivia."

pope and Morales

Workers of the world, unite!

We are looking forward to the pope's visit to Paradoxia, where perhaps he will be given some Nazi artefacts to put on his mantelpiece. After all, many Nazis fled to South America at the end of the war, and there is a thriving "Catholics for Hitler" community, which would like to increase its influence in the Church. These days, we are asked to welcome everyone.

Nazi memorabilia

Choosing a present for the pope.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Catholics celebrating the Reformation

At first sight, Catholics may be inclined to view the Reformation as a BAD THING. Was it really as much fun as we first thought? Did those monks who were kicked out of their monasteries enjoy the experience immensely? Did St Thomas More really find the whole business of imprisonment, trial and execution a real bundle of laughs? He got out one good line, though, if A Man for all Seasons is accurate: "Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world …. But for Wales!"

Thomas More

Thomas More: "I died laughing!"

Do we remember Henry VIII as a benefactor of mankind, burning the odd chap here, decapitating another one here (well, several thousand, in fact), just so that he could get rid of Queen Katherine, who only bore him a daughter, and replace her with Queen Anne, who, er, only bore him a daughter?

Of course, those who survived discovered that there was even more fun to come. Edward VI. Cranmer and his prayer book. More massacres, all in the name of a new liturgy. We didn't see the like again until Vatican II. Then a swing back to the Catholics (Queen Mary), and more slaughter. Followed by a swing to the Anglicans (Queen Elizabeth), and yet more slaughter. Those Tudors really knew how to enjoy themselves! Weren't those 39 articles well worth killing for?

A jolly good read.

Actually, what used to be the most anti-Catholic of the articles, "The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England," isn't at all controversial these days. Ask the Tablet. Ask ACTA. Ask Vincent Nichols.

O.K. So the English Reformation was a GOOD THING. Either we are ecumenical and say "Well, they had a jolly good time, but it really didn't make much difference," or we're not, and we say "Bravo! One in the eye for Pope Whoever-it-was! Only Anglicans can be saved!"

Jesus saves

Extra Ecclesiam Angliae nulla salus.

Of course the Reformation really started in Germany with Martin Luther, who also had a wife called Katherina but - unlike Henry VIII - decided to keep her. He was a clever chap, who wrote 95 theses. Presumably he got 95 D.Phil.s or Ph.D.s, too. "Call me Dr Dr Dr Dr Dr Dr.... Luther," he'd say. Having been excommunicated, he didn't really have much choice in his worship: either accept the authority of the Catholic Church, or start his own. Or - this being Germany - he could have found a way to preach heresy while remaining a Catholic priest in good standing. Ask Cardinal Marx how that's done.

Cardinal Marx and Pope Francis

Explaining Marxism to the Pope.

So, when Paul Röttig in the Tablet tells us that we should all celebrate the Reformation - massacres and all - then let's party! Is Timothy Radcliffe free?