This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Eccles issues an injunction

Rumours have been circulating that I, Eccles, am the mysterious "ECC" who took out an injunction to stop people telling the truth about me. Although my public image is that of a saved person, with a close personal relationship with God, there are stories going round that allege my participation in a threesome in a bath full of tomato ketchup.

toy ketchup van

Seen outside Eccles's house.

In the interests of protecting my privacy and that of my pet cats, my lawyers have instructions to make vicious threats against anyone using the following expressions on social media:

Eccles,
Threesome,
Tomato ketchup,
Camel,
Hedgehog,
Filthy pervert,
Stupid idiot in a red biretta,
ECC,
Lawyer,
Saved person,
Amoris Laetitia.
That should cover most eventualities.

ISIS flag

Our lawyers have told ISIS to remove the message "It was Eccles all along!" from their flag.

Please note that although the jurisdiction of the court is England and Wales only, my lawyers will take particular delight in harassing people in Ireland (who may be unaware that they are no longer part of the UK), the USA (ditto, more-or-less), Antarctica (some penguins have been known to make ECC-like squawks), Scotland, North Korea, Mars, Alpha Centauri, etc.

As a very rich man, Eccles is prepared to keep this game going until he dies of old age, and even afterwards, so don't expect to see any books with titles such as "Eccles - the world's greatest hypocrite" or "Ketchupgate and other sex scandals of the 21st century".

asses

Eccles's lawyers, Messrs Ass, Donkey and Ass.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Book of Brexodus, Chapter 4

Continued from Chapter 3

1. It came to pass in those days that the high priests and scribes spake out, telling the faithful whether to remain in the land of EUgypt.

2. First there came Welby, he that they called Cantuar, saying, "God doth not tell us how to vote," although some suspected that he himself was advising God to bless Cam-aaron rather than Bosis.

Bosis and Cam-aaron argue over their destination.

3. Next there came many holy bishops, such as Cormac the old Cardinal and Vincent the new Cardinal.

4. Unlike Welby, they had been told by God in a dream that they should remain in EUgypt.

5. Yet herein lies a mystery. For the high priests of the land held a meeting in the Halls of Hinsley, at which there were two vexing matters to be discussed.

6. The first was simple: for it was asked, "What shall we do about the shameful doctrines of Tina, she that they call the Beauty?"

7. And the high priests were as one on the matter, for they said "Let us sweep this under the carpet."

8. Thus they purchased a carpet, woven from the finest cloth, and they swept all reports of Tina underneath it.

Bishop Arnold of Caphod consulteth the "Carpets'R' Us" catalogue.

9. However, on the second matter, that of the flight from EUgypt, the holy bishops were unable to agree. For it seems that God had not vouchsafed unto them all the same dream.

10. So after agreeing to say nothing of these matters, the bishops went their various ways.

11. Some went to the house that is called public, where they consumed fine ales, some to sleep in the library underneath copies of the rag that is called Tablet, and some to indulge in more holy activities such as the reading of blogs.

12. Finally, there spake out a high priest of the temple of Welby, an aged man called Carey.

13. And lo! Carey said that he wished to flee the land of EUgypt, and that indeed he was voting for Brexodus.

14. Which is proof that even in the temple of Welby there are those to whom the Lord speaketh new words through the blogs of saved persons.

The martyrdom of George Carey.

To be continued.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

"I just want to be loved," says Fr Rosica

Fr Thomas Rosica, described in some circles as a "Vatican PR aide" and in others as "that big bully who threatened to sue Vox Cantoris" has complained that everyone hates him, whereas, in reality, he is a big softie who just wants to be loved.

Fr Rosica recently received the St Francis DeSales Distinguished Communicator Award from the Diocese of Brooklyn (yes, I collapsed into hysterical laughter at this point, too), so it is ironic that many bloggers apparently think of him as a neanderthal creature who communicates in grunts of "You're Blocked!"

Bill Haley and the Comets

One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock BLOCK,
Five, six, seven o'clock, eight o'clock BLOCK.
Nine, ten, eleven o'clock, twelve o'clock BLOCK,
We're gonna block around the clock tonight.

No, in reality Fr Rosica is a kind and generous man, meek and mild like Jesus - at least if you get your theology from children's hymns - who regularly helps old ladies across the street and nurses wounded sparrows with broken wings.

However, according to the great man himself, Catholics blogs create a cesspool of hatred, mostly because they insist on poking fun at him and his "Salt and Light TV" Catholic network. Thomas Rosica himself loves everyone, and has never been known to make provocative remarks about people who disagree with him. In the Year of Mercy, it was a difficult decision whether to use a logo of a two-headed man on skis, or a logo of a great burly man knocking people over, and many of us think that the wrong decision was made.

Kasper and Rosica

Cardinal Kasper cruelly grins at poor Fr Rosica.

We on this blog have never had any difficulty in loving Fr Rosica. Following his example, we wish only to build bridges that encourage encounter and inclusion, and to avoid misunderstandings that add to wounds and vengeance. We hope that other readers will feel the same. Why not invite Fr Rosica into your home - he likes nothing more than stroking fluffy kittens, so make sure you have some handy.

Oh, for goodness' sake - give the poor blighter a hug!

Join the Big Brothers of the Rich!

Dear Uncle Eccles,

I was fascinated to hear the news about the Little Sisters of the Poor, and their battle against President Obama's "Abortercare" legislation. So I applied to join. However, my application was rejected on several counts:

(a) I am too tall to be "little".
(b) I am too male to be a sister.
(c) I am too rich to be "of the poor".

Can you advise me, please?

Bruce Caitlyn Jenner.

little sisters

Two little sisters (well, one is medium-sized).

This is one of many letters I have received from oversized men who are interested in getting rich. Many of them don't worry too much about President Obama's total lack of a conscience, his bizarre fondness for killing babies, his weird idea that two people of the same sex - er, "gender" - can get married, or his eagerness to let the boys invade the girls' toilets. So perhaps the Little Sisters of the Poor is not for them.

Fortunately, we now have available a new religious order, the Big Brothers of the Rich. Standing for everything that the Little Sisters detest, their Abbot is no less than Mr Obama himself (Fr Joe Biden, winner of the Laetare medal from Notre Dame, is of course too devout a Catholic to be associated with the BBR, even though he has the same high moral standards as Abbot Obama).

Obama in fancy dress

Big Brother (Abbot Obama) is watching you!

To sign up, all you need to do is take a vow of wealth, and swear allegiance to Big Brother. Thus, we believe that this fills a much-needed gap in the range of religious orders available. And don't worry, you won't be having any embarrassing encounters with the Little Sisters in the After-life. Members of the BBR will be going to quite a different destination!

Monday, 16 May 2016

Explosive device found in Amoris Laetitia was left by security company

Catholics expressed their anger last night when it was revealed that an explosive footnote found in the Amoris Laetitia area had been left behind by Papal Solutions Ltd, the company charged with ensuring the security of the Catholic Church.

Apparently, it had been put there during a security exercise - as a test to the faithful - but never removed. Indeed, Pope Francis, the Managing Director of Papal Solutions Ltd, claimed to have forgotten all about the footnote.

Pope in hard hat

Doing a security check.

As a result of the discovery, the Armageddon League Game between Catholics United and Kasper Wanderers had to be abandoned. In the words of some expert commentators, "This is a bit of a bombshell," although others tried to reassure the public that business could go on as usual.

Efforts are now underway to remove the explosive footnote. Indeed, some people, anxious for the security of Catholics United, are demanding that the whole of Amoris Laetitia be demolished, in case it contains other significant dangers.

Vin and football shirt

Catholic Church's exciting Number 11 shirt. And some man or other.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

No jokes in your sermons, please

We have written before on How to make sermons less boring, but a recent poll has indicated that congregations do not like jokes in sermons. So let's have another go at this one.

No jokes. So, I'm afraid, dear Lord, that joke of Yours about straining at a gnat (gamla) and swallowing a camel (gamal) will have to go. It always brings the house down when we have that in the Gospel. Also the story about people having planks in their eyes - well, our focus group isn't too keen.

old lady swallowed cow

There was an old lady who swallowed a camel.

Today's tip for preachers is to avoid words and phrases that may trigger giggles in sermons. Here's a short list:

1. The bishop. Like it or not, most bishops are figures of fun. There are exceptions, of course: some are not megalomaniac self-publicists or idle time-servers, but devout and holy men who are true pastors of their sheep. However, in many dioceses the mere mention of the bishop will cause eye-rolling, sniggering, and head-shaking. Especially if he was on the television last night.

Rhino Marx

A devout and holy man.

2. Richard Dawkins. Although a tragic figure, rather than a comedian per se, he is associated with so many funny stories that his comedy value is more than his value as a source of spiritual nourishment. If he does finally convert, then he will have a natural role as a patron saint of comics. Or possibly honey.

3. The Spirit of Vatican II. It's probably safe to mention Vatican II, which was not inherently funny. However, invoke the Spirit (and the same goes for the Spirit of Laudato Si' or the Spirit of Amoris Laetitia), and the giggling will start.

morris dancer

The Spirit of Amoris Dancer.

4. Tina Beattie. I suppose a blood-and-thunder denunciation of the dear lady from the pulpit, although it would be impressive, is too much to ask for. Mentioning her in the context of Catholic teaching will probably count as a joke. No, avoid the subject.

5. Giles Fraser. Like Dawkins, an endless source of mirth, so much so that the mere mention of his name brings a smile to the face. I suppose that in private he may be a tortured soul who only wants to be loved, but even God must be congratulating Himself on one of his funniest creations.

6. Women bishops, women priests, deaconesses. Stop sniggering at the back.

Women bishops

I said, "Stop sniggering."

7. Paul Inwood. It's difficult to see how the subject might come up in a sermon, unless one of the Biblical readings was about a hideous and ghastly noise (there's probably a suitable text in the book of Revelation), but your audience will now be thinking "Alleluia, Ch-Ch" or "Prepare the way of the Lord, Moo-oo-oo, Moo-oo-oo".

8. Jesuits. Nowadays these are inherently funny, inasmuch as there are more jokes about Jesuits than spiritually nourishing stories. Forget it.

Well, you get the idea. Keep off topics that may trigger laughter. Model yourself on a BBC alternative comic - Jeremy Hardy, say, or Marcus Brigstocke. If they can talk for 20 minutes without making anyone laugh, then you should be able to as well.

Kate Bottley looking even stupider than usual

Maintain the dignity of the cloth at all times!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Pope to ask CDF about the history of trolling

Pope Francis has said that the historical role of trolls in the Catholic Church needs to be clarified, and he will ask the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith what is known.

The Pope told a meeting - not held on an aeroplane, for reasons unexplained - that the people described as trolls in the New Testament were mostly interested in inventing new interpretations of scripture, proposing new doctrine, and harassing the faithful.

Laurel and Hardy

Fr James Martin and Fr Thomas Rosica demonstrate what deaconesses might look like.

In the Acts of the Apostles, there is an explicit mention of trolls, as follows:

1. And there came unto Paul a troll, whose name was James, saying "Let us hear women preach in church."

2. "For then they can tell us their experiences during the Mass."

3. "For would it not be more fun to hear from Tina the Batty about her holiday in Corinth and her unusual ailments, than from Peter, with his perpetual droning on about Christ's teaching?"

4. Then Paul said, "No, actually, it would not. Do not be silly."

5. And James cried out, "Woe is me, for I have unleashed a torrent of misogyny!"

6. But Paul replied, "Actually, nearly all the women here seem to agree with me. Perchance they are misogynists too?"

History of trolls

The role of the troll in Church history is well-documented.

In 2001, the International Theological Commission, which advises the CDF, concluded that trolls in history were not normally allowed to serve as priests. Their usual function was to assist at baptisms, by hiding under bridges and jumping out at people.

Although some exceptions have slipped through, trolls are still generally forbidden from serving as priests in the Catholic Church. In extreme cases, they are silenced and never heard of again - as in the case of Tony Flannery (see his articles in Trolls and Trollmen and the Tablet, his speech to the Ballydancer Peat Farmers, and his latest book This is my final word on the subject until tomorrow).

Although Pope Francis's Jesuit training means that he is programmed never to give a straight answer to any question, commentators are not expecting Catholic teaching on trolls to change.

Fr Martin gets cross

A distinguished theologian threatens his enemies with mercy.

Monday, 9 May 2016

The Book of Brexodus, Chapter 3

Continued from Chapter 2.

1. Then there came a great leader from the Western Lands, whose name was O-bam-a.

Obama confronts Prince George

O-bam-a uttereth threats, yeah, even unto the fourth generation.

2. And O-bam-a spake, saying "I have a special relationship with the children of Britain. I love them, even as Les Dawson loved his mother-in-law."

3. "But should ye flee the land of EUgypt, then the first shall be last, and the last shall be first: that is to say, ye shall be at the back of the queue when it cometh to trade deals."

4. "No longer will ye be able to feast on the Cola that is Coke, nor the Mac that is big. Thus will ye starve."

5. And the people of Britain grew wrathful, saying, "What manner of man is it, that dareth to speak thus? And in six months from now, will not the Western Lands be ruled either by the Trump or the Clinton, whose only virtue is that they are not O-bam-a?"

6. Thus Cam-aaron's plan to keep the children of Britain in the land of EUgypt had taken a backward step.

7. Soon after this, his brother Bosis abandoned the city of Lon-don, where he was Governor. Thus the children of Lon-don appointed Sadiq Khan, the son of Genghis, to rule over them in his stead.

Genghis Khan

Khan, son of Genghis. Or possibly George, he that is called Galloway.

8. And Bosis continued to fight for Brexodus, while Cam-aaron continued to make threats.

9. "Woe unto ye if ye leave the land of EUgypt," said he. "For if ye do, there will be a great war the like of which ye have not seen before. The Assyrian will come down like the wolf on the fold."

10. "Further, the Hittites, the Thumpites and the Bashites will hit ye, thump ye, and bash ye."

11. "Also the bodysnatchers from outer space, the Klingons, the Daleks, and the triffids, shall join in a mighty war. Not to mention the Germanites."

triffid

A triffid prepareth to smite the unwary children of Britain.

12. And there, perhaps, he had a point. For the Germanites were clearly waiting for the children of Britain to leave EUgypt, so that they might smite the Franks again, as they had not done this for a few years.

13. But the people of Britain replied unto Cam-aaron, "Have a lie down, thou fool, for thou hast been working too hard."

Continued in Chapter 4.

Vincent Nichols misses his own funeral

Westminster, Thursday, May 7th 2048.

The funeral of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who died last week at the age of 102, took place today at Westminster Cathedral. The Mass was celebrated by his holiness Pope Pius XIII, formerly Cardinal Mark Davies, who is himself a youthful 94 years old.

Westminster Cathedral

Westminster Cathedral (it hasn't changed much, has it?)

One unusual feature of the funeral was the absence of the deceased himself. As a spokesman explained, "After a lifetime of moving religious festivals from the correct day to the following Sunday in order that priests and bishops could attend midweek football matches, it seemed appropriate for Vincent Nichols to arrive at his own funeral on the following Sunday."

In fact, the controversial Synod of Whitstable in 2034 was supposed to have fixed the dates of religious festivals once and for all, so that, for example, Ascension Day should take place 40 days after Easter. However, this decision did not apply in England and Wales, where it was habitually moved to the following Sunday, irrespective of whenever the Pope himself thought it should be.

Whitstable beach

Trying to make the date of Whit(sun) stable.

When asked whether the absence of Vincent Nichols meant that his funeral "lacked something", a spokesman said, "It's the way he'd have wanted it. Whenever anyone called on Vin to take action, rather than merely make speeches, you could never get a response. We'll hardly notice the difference."

Meanwhile, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor is 115, and already lobbying for the next pope.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Lunatic targeted in vicious online campaign

Sister Judy Piranha writes:

Co-eee, Eccles!? Ever since I signed my name to that letter to the Polish bishops, I have been vilified, insulted, and MOCKED!? Me, sister Judy Piranha of the Catholic Nuns for Naughtiness!!?? Called a "silly old trout" and "loopy old bat"!!?? And all because I joined in Tina Beattie's campaign to EDUCATE the Polish bishops in the CATHOLIC approach to abortion!!??

Judy Piranha

Sister Judy - the voice of Catholic youth!

Apparently, Tina Beattie is a great FAN of the Eccles blog, and this is how she heard about me!!?? So together with some of my SAINTLY sisters, I was invited to sign that famous letter!!?? Sister Beyoncé and Sister Gaga agreed without hesitation, and eventually Sister Madonna and Sister Elton John also joined in the fun!!??

The basis of Catholic teaching on abortion, is that babies have RIGHTS too!!?? They have the right to be aborted!! Of course, they're too YOUNG to decide for themselves, so we let the mothers decide!!

Like my friend Tina, I was very CROSS at the reaction to our letter!!?? Some people criticised my appointment as Distinguished Catholic GUEST LECTURER at Roehampton (subject: Enrich your Catholic Life with Nude Circle Dancing!!), my position as theological adviser to the Catholic Charity CAPHOD BEEBLEBROX, and my role as the BBC's "tame Catholic" whenever Ed Stourton needs someone from Catholic Vices to put forward an authentic CATHOLIC viewpoint!!?? Well!?!?

Burning Tablet

They're burning the Tablet in protest!!??

Also, Vincent Nichols preached a really NASTY sermon saying that abortion destroys an innocent human life??!! However, he only called us "ghastly Hell-cats" six times, so we know he's on our side really - Tina said so!! As for the other bishops, well at least +Arnold is a great fan, and has installed a Tina Beattie stained-glass window in Salford Cathedral!!?? Admittedly, we DON'T expect much support from +Egan and +Davies!!??

Enough is enough, that's what I say!!?? And the Polish bishops haven't even replied to our letter!!?? Don't they want to know what authentic Catholic teaching looks like!!??

Egan and Davies

"That's agreed, then. I'll call them 'demonically-possessed old biddies' and you call them 'fiends from Gehenna'."

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Tina Beattie thanks the blogosphere

Following a complicated and controversial discussion between respected and learned people (yes, really), such as Chalcedon 451, Joseph Shaw, and Mark Lambert, Professor Tina Beattie has issued a statement, thanking the Catholic blogosphere for pointing out that her letter to the Polish bishops might lead to a minor theological controversy about whether abortion could ever be consistent with Catholic teaching. The Polish bishops have been in a real quandary ever since they received the letter, signed by so many celebrity Catholics. Should they follow the Pope, the Magisterium, Catholic tradition, the Bible, God etc. or should one letter in green ink carry more weight?

Pope, head in hands

"Have we been wrong all along?" asks Pope Francis.

Finally the balance was tipped when Vincent Nichols preached a pro-life sermon, so for the time being the Polish bishops are "staying put" with their patriarchal sexist misogynist attitudes.

The real debate centres on freedom of speech. Should a professor of Catholic studies be allowed to attack Catholic views? Actually, I don't see why not. If a professor of Physics wishes to write to the Royal Society claiming that E=mc2 is wrong, and that it should be E=mc3, then nobody is going to worry about it, except those running nuclear power stations who decide to use the new formula and find that their power stations blow up. Likewise, a professor of French who announces that the French word for "cake" is "chapeau" will never be criticised, except possibly by silly people who end up eating hats in French restaurants.

Paddy Ashdown and a hat

Eating a delicious hat.

Tina's full title is "Professor of Catholic Studies and Director of the Digby Stuart Research Centre for Religion, Society and Human Flourishing". We don't see a problem with that. It doesn't mean that she teaches Catholicism, merely "Catholic Studies". Why, even Richard Dawkins has studied Catholicism - at a beginner's level - and come out against it. Then again, people who go to Roehampton are attracted to it because it is a world centre for Human Flourishing.

Spiritual nourishment, human flourishment

What they're wearing at Roehampton.

Others have sought to prise Prof. Beattie away from her exciting position as theological adviser to CAFOD. This is really only a problem if you take CAFOD seriously as a Catholic charity. Nothing to see here, move on.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Fr James Martin wins Comedy Award

Fr James Martin SJ is known for his gifts as a humorist, often seen in his uncanny ability to draw the wrong conclusions from the Gospel or indeed anything else he comes across. Of course, in Jesuit circles, this is regarded as theological brilliance, while the rest of us simply appreciate it as light comedy.

Martin, Colbert and Rosica

Fellow-comedians Colbert and Rosica rush to congratulate Martin.

For those of us who hang onto his every word on Twitter, the following Martinism was a classic of the genre.

infamous tweet

Wit from Fr James.

This is excellent humour. Nowhere in the Bible nor in Christian tradition is it ever claimed that the Holy Spirit is female. The Catechism of the Catholic Church uses "he". There is a weak argument based on the fact that certain Aramaic words (such as "ruah" or "ruach") are female - similarly, all German girls are neuter (it seems ungallant to point this out, Eccles, they don't all look like Angela Merkel) and cats are female, while French "personnes" are all female.

Gerard Depardieu

A female "personne".

Fr James (or should we say "Parent James"?) has had a long and successful career as a comedian. Another of his classic japes was to use the picture below as an argument for women priests. You see, it's a 3rd century woman in what looks vaguely like a dalmatic, so she's obviously a deacon, so...

lady in dalmatic?

Lady in a dalmatic (or possibly Demis Roussos).

Therefore we are delighted to announce that Fr James Martin wins the April "Comedy Vicar" award, also known as a "Giles", being a tastefully-designed statuette of Giles Fraser. Congratulations, Father, er Parent, James!

Giles award

A prestigious "Giles".

For another take on this story, we recommend Faith In Our Families.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Waiting for Vincent

With apologies to Samuel Beckett.

ESTRAGON: Any sign of Vincent yet?

VLADIMIR: No. Perhaps he didn't get our letter.

ESTRAGON: Fancy having to call him "Your Eminence" just like a real cardinal.

VLADIMIR: He is a real cardinal.

ESTRAGON: Oh. I thought that was a joke. Like Kasper.

Waiting for Godot

Waiting for Vincent.

VLADIMIR: It doesn't have to be Vincent. One of the other bishops would do.

ESTRAGON: Even Smiffy. Or Conry.

VLADIMIR: No, not Conry. But one of the others.

ESTRAGON: So I told Vincent, "All you have to do..."

VLADIMIR: All he has to do...

ESTRAGON: "... is sort out Tina Beattie."

Tina Beattie

Tina - needs sorting out.

VLADIMIR: Give a moral lead.

ESTRAGON: Explain Catholic teaching to her.

VLADIMIR: Professor of Catholic Studies. Theological adviser to CAFOD.

ESTRAGON: Trustee of the Tablet...

VLADIMIR: Let's stick to her Catholic credentials, shall we?

ESTRAGON: Sorry. Now what was Vincent going to tell her?

VLADIMIR: Abortion is bad. Wrong. Sinful. Immoral.

ESTRAGON: That's not our team, is it?

VLADIMIR: No, no, we want babies to live. Humans of all ages.

ugly baby

Admittedly, not all babies are sweet.

ESTRAGON: Even teenagers?

VLADIMIR: Yes even teenagers have a right to live.

ESTRAGON: Being Catholic is tough sometimes.

VLADIMIR: Of course the Polish bishops will probably write to her.

ESTRAGON: They'll say: Czemu nie pójdziesz i trzymać głowę w toalecie?

VLADIMIR: I didn't know you spoke Polish. What does it mean?

ESTRAGON: Why don't you go and stick your head down the toilet?

VLADIMIR: Look, I only asked...

ESTRAGON: No, that's what it means. "Why don't you go and stick your head down the toilet?"

VLADIMIR: Do bishops say that sort of thing?

ESTRAGON: Think of it as offering a baptism.

VLADIMIR: Washing away her sins.

ESTRAGON: Vincent will say that when he turns up.

Vincent Nichols

Missing person.

VLADIMIR: How long have we been waiting now?

ESTRAGON: For a moral lead?

VLADIMIR: Yes.

ESTRAGON: Six years.

VLADIMIR: Not long now, then...

Saturday, 30 April 2016

The legend of Telegraph Blogs

From the Daily Telepath, April 3016.

It is strange to think that 1000 years ago mankind was unable to communicate by instant telepathy, as we do today. Historians tells us that there were miserable people who sat in front of boxes containing electronic equipment, laboriously typing their thoughts into something called "blogs", which were then read by other sad people, also sitting at (or at least holding) boxes. (Less "progressive" people read "newspapers", which were apparently produced by cutting down "trees" - a form of life that became extinct in the 27th century - and writing on them.)

The tradition is that the readers would then "comment" on the blogs:this was generally done by means of trading insults or (in the case of one commentator known only as "On The Side Of The Angels", but believed to be the then archbishop of Corby) writing incoherent essays, longer than the original article, on a vaguely related subject.

However, recent excavations at the remains of "London", the primitive city now known as Corbyngrad, have revealed a "cache" of "Telegraph blogs", which our ancestors tried to suppress in 2016.

Damian header

There is evidence that this man was worshipped as a god.

Looking at the writings of the Telegraph blogs' supreme being, Damian Thompson, we see some of the questions that concerned our distant ancestors. Religion was one such issue: these were the days of Pope St Francis I, who was not universally loved. He was to be succeeded by Pope Francis II, our own Vincent Nichols, who introduced "gay" masses and the writings of Mother Tina of Roehampton into the Vatican. Nichols is also mentioned in the blogs, although not in respectful terms.

Pope Francis

Francis I, later the first Dalai Pope.

Now, for us who live in the reign of Pope Richard XIX, it is odd to think that the saint after whom he is named, St Richard Dawkins, was in in those days a fierce atheist. However, Damian, whose prophecies were invariably correct, foresaw Richard's conversion and eventual canonization.

Dawkins before conversion

St Richard, in his "unsaved" days.

In those days something called "politics" was a matter of great interest. Nowadays, of course we are looked after by a benevolent Big Brother, who reigns in Brussels, chosen by a computer that telepathically reads our minds and finds the most suitable candidate. However, in those days the leaders were selected by voting. One such person, who disappeared mysteriously in the summer of 2016, was known as "Dave". For reasons that our analysts are still trying to discover, the big political issue of 2014 - according to Damian - was whether Dave consumed too much custard.

David Cameron

Dave, who disappeared mysteriously in 2016.

It is fascinating to learn of 21st-century culture from the blogs of Damian Thompson - cupcakes obviously played an important part in the everyday life of 21st-century Britain, as did the music of Gladys Mills (believed to have been a teacher of the great Stephen Hough) and the dramatic efforts of Dame Noele Gordon, a Shakespearean actress known for performing the play "Crossroads" which has not survived to the present day.

orange juice

Damian foresaw that orange juice would kill millions in 2025.

We are still investigating the Telegraph Blogs find, and attempting to make sense of it. For example, there was also a writer called James Delingpole who warned of climate change just 10 years before the New Ice Age began and Scotland was destroyed by glaciers (this seems to have gone largely unnoticed at the time). Also a man called Dan Hodges the Hermit, who was ridiculed for his always-wrong prophecies. Odone the Odd One, Lean the Fathead... yes, archaeologists, historians and psychiatrists will be investigating this find for years to come!

Friday, 29 April 2016

Dear Polish bishops...

Oh look, your Eminence, we've been sent a letter written in green ink. It's addressed to "The male chauvinist pig bishops of Poland, c/o Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, Warsaw, Poland, near Germany, Europe, The Earth, The Solar System, The Universe, Space the Final Frontier."

letter in green ink

How the letter starts.

It seems to be signed by 97 concerned Catholic theologians, although some of the signatures are illegible, and some just say "X, Her Mark". They want us to withdraw our opposition to abortion.

There are some people I've heard of - look, a Professor Tina Beastie of Roehampton seems to be involved. You know what they say: Roehampton locuta est, causa finita est. It's going to be hard to stick to orthodox Catholic teaching if Roehampton's finest are against it.

Apparently, these people claim to be pro-life.

Massace of the Innocents

Herod was pro-life, since he only killed people under 2 years of age.

Any other names we recognise?

Well, there's a Professor of Moral Theology from Notre Dame. You know, the place that honoured Joe Biden recently. Could that be a misprint for "Immoral Theosophy"?

There's one here who simply describes herself as Maureen Crank, full-time troll, Altrincham. I think - it's hard to read the writing. Then there's a "hermit", writing from "5th cave from the left, Hans Küng Park, Nottingham".

Cardinal Nycz

"We must take these people very seriously," says Cardinal Nycz.

Ah yes, theologians, paediatricians, art historians, business trainers, the Editor in Chief of Spam magazine, ... oh we definitely have to consider overturning Catholic teaching when such people write to us.

The real danger is that some of these ghastly people may come and visit. We'd better let Fido out into the grounds in case this Beastie woman tries to drop in.

Cerberus

Fido.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Tina Beattie gives a lecture

Welcome to Roehampton, everyone! I'm Tina Beattie, Professor of Catholic Studies, and Director of the Digby Stuart Research Centre for Religion, Society and Human Flourishing. So I am a very important authority on the Catholic Faith, whose views are very influential in Tablet-reading circles.

I'm a member of CAFOD's Theological Reference Group, author of the best-selling God's Mother, Eve's Advocate - Comedy Book of the Year, 2003 - and an unoffical adviser to the Polish Bishops' Conference. You can call me ``Holy Mother'', as I am the nearest thing the Catholic Church has to a female Pope.

Tina Beattie

"And I have an extensive library of theological texts."

Now, some of you are here to study for the priesthood, some are doing degrees in Catholic Studies, while others are brushing up their Human Flourishing Skills. A special welcome to the spotty girl in glasses, who is doing a degree in Nuclear Physics and Human Flourishing, and the man with bloodstains all over his white coat, who hopes to get a B.Sc. in Human Flourishing and Brain Surgery.

blood on white coat

Time to brush upon your human flourishing!

In this lecture I'm just going to give you a flavour of the topics that we cover in this Catholicism 101 course. We'll start with my own Syllabus of Errors - a list of teachings that the Catholic Church has got wrong. Sometimes it's the fault of Pope Francis, sometimes they're traditional errors going back to the 12 Disciples, and sometimes we have to lay the blame squarely at the foot of Jesus Christ. Although since he was a mere Man we could not expect Him to be right very often, now could we?

Birth of Venus

God, by Beattie-celli.

Take Abortion, for example. Many female members of my class may find it helpful to have access to a safe and legal abortion at some stage - their children may not be so keen on being ripped to pieces, but, hey! you can't please everyone all of the time, can you? If you're male, then just accept that this human right is reserved to women only. I am still waiting to hear from the Polish Bishops' Conference about whether they consider the Catechism of the Catholic Church to be more authoritative than the teaching of a Professor of Catholic Studies with her own centre for Human Flourishing! Perhaps our letter got lost in the post?

Pope John-Paul II

Traditionally, Polish bishops know nothing about Catholic teaching!

Now some of you came here because you'd heard that I was an expert on mysticism and spirituality. I'll be teaching you the principles of circle dancing later, in a lecture called Knees Up Mother Tina! Others want to learn about the Mass, and why it is the metaphysical consummation of homosexual love. Well, it stands to reason, doesn't it? What else could it be about? Still, my book has more details!

To put it simply, this course should be seen as a quest to discover the primordial sacramentality of creation, with a particular focus on questions of gender, nature and embodiment. So, out goes all the stuffy old male Moses-Jesus-Peter-John-Paul all-boys-together Biblical stuff, and in come feminism, paganism, naturism (Lecture 12 is called Tina Bares All), and readings from the Guardian!

Jael and Sisera

It's Biblical, but we don't see it in Catholic Masses, even in Westminster Cathedral, do we?

Now, in this week's assignment, I want you to take some well-known Christian teacher - perhaps Biblical, or one of those boring men like Augustine or Aquinas - and rewrite his thoughts from a feminist point of view. Identify his errors, and explain how by changing his words we can argue for a female priesthood, with me as Archgoddess. Be imaginative!