Dis is me, Eccles

Dis is me, Eccles
Dis is me, Eccles

Monday, 29 September 2014

The Apostle Judas Isconry resigns in shame

Jerusalem, AD 30

One of the country's twelve most senior clergy, Apostle Judas Isconry, today declared himself "relieved" that his secret was finally out. For months he had been "having a relation" with the chief priests, and in the end the fact that he had sold out for thirty pieces of silver became only too clear. After Jesus had been betrayed by Judas, He staged a surprise comeback, and promptly went to the Daily Mail (editor: St Matthew the Evangelist), which duly printed the whole story. However, Isconry insists that he is not resigning over his affair with the chief priests, but over an earlier relationship (believed to involve a man with horns and cloven hooves).

Judas Iscariot

Bishop Isconry caught by a Daily Mail photographer.

Bishop Isconry has now resigned his position as apostle, and his future is very uncertain. Said his senior colleague, St Peter, "Who are we to judge? The bastard betrays Christ, thinks of nothing but his own personal desires, and has caused untold distress to the folk for whom he was supposed to be a spiritual father. Give him a break!"

The Bishop himself was at pains to stress that he had at no time shown hypocrisy by preaching against the world, the flesh and the Devil. Indeed, many people, hearing his words, had wondered whether he was really an apostle at all. Moreover, he did not encourage Confession, for if he'd gone to Confession himself, it would have given the whole game away.

Godless Brighton

The fruits of Bishop Isconry's ministry.

The big question now is "How much did the other apostles know?" Could the Apostle Cormac himself really not have known about Judas's double life? Was the "Protect the Messiah" blog suppressed by the Archangel Michael because its author persisted in revealing embarrassing truths? Why did St Damian the Spectator not bother to investigate when he heard rumours about Judas - was it because they were not yet officially confirmed by Twitter? Does St Catherine the Popehater really think that an adherence to traditional rules is at the root of the problem? Indeed, should apostles be allowed to take wives - other people's wives, that is? Well this is all very sordid, so let's finish with a charming picture of a saint.

Kieran the contrite

St Kieran the contrite says "I like a wine with body..."


On an unrelated matter a reader, Mr Hilaire Belloc, writes:

Young Kieran was a naughty lad
Whose mischief made his parents sad:
For in Confession he would lie
And make up sins. The priest would sigh:
"Young lad, you say you've killed your aunt,
And eaten her - I cannot grant
You absolution for this sin:
Two hours ago, your aunt dropped in!
She showed no signs of being eaten."
The wicked lad was soundly beaten!
Sorry, ran out of ideas at this point. The plan was that he would become a bishop and get involved in an adulterous affair. But nobody would believe it, would they? H.B.

Francis facepalm

Pope Francis hears how well the English bishops are performing.

Friday, 26 September 2014

The Franciscan Friars of the Filthy

We were privileged to be invited to talk to Fr Sid Polecat, superior of the order Congregatio Fratrum Franciscanorum Spurcae, the Franciscan Friars of the Filthy (FFF). Its sister organization, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, has been placed under restraint from on high - a moratorium on ordinations, restrictions on EF Mass, exile of some of its members, Fr Fidenzio Vulpine peering through the window and making faces at them, etc. However, in contrast, the FFF has received a papal gold star for good conduct.

Fr Sid

Fr Sid.

The FFF cannot in any way be described as a traditionalist group. Unusually for monks, they are a mixed order, with each cell being occupied by one man and one woman; well, some may be occupied by two men, but who am I to judge? In line with the Spirit of Vatican II, their worship consists of the Novissimus Ordo, a form of the Mass which has been specially translated so as to eliminate all references to God, Jesus, Sin, Hell and Confession, let alone those words which so many Tablet readers find difficult such as Consubstantial and Communion. In place of the homily, their Mass features a fifteen-minute excerpt from an improving video, such as Fifty Shades of Grey or Game of Thrones.

Volpi and Francis

Fr Vulpine reassures the Pope that the FFF is as modern as possible.

Unlike modern translations of the liturgy, which unaccountably fail to mention clowns, puppets, liturgical can-cans, and the Grope of Peace - all introduced on an ad hoc basis by more progressive priests - the FFF's own liturgy has these as compulsory parts of the service. Since the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, etc. were removed there is plenty of space for praising God (or at least Man) in these ways.

In line with their "filthy" label, the FFF spend their afternoons in muddy sports, such as pig-wrestling, Rugby football or jumping into heaps of manure; it was suggested that afterwards they might retire to the mixed baths in order to recapture the spirituality of the Garden of Eden, but in fact the monks and nuns prefer to keep God's Good Soil (or possibly Good Dung) close to their bodies.

pig-wrestling

A group of spiritual nuns grapples with a pig.

Father Polecat, whose cell is decorated with pictures of his spiritual idols - I noticed Bugnini, Martini, Harriet Harman and Hillary Clinton - is optimistic about the future of the order. "Spiritually-inclined young people, many of whom naturally reject conventional Catholicism as being too focused on Christ, often discover that lounging around, wallowing in mud, and refusing to repress their normal lusts and desires is a very attractive lifestyle. Fortunately, we have friends in high places who agree." Certainly nobody would describe them as self-absorbed Promethean neo-Pelagians, and this may be the key to their success!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Justice for Tina - the fight goes on

We are shocked to read in the Tablet that Professor Tina Beattie, the "Catholic" "theologian" has been banned by Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh from speaking on Church property in his diocese. This blog has long been a supporter of "lovely Tina", without controversially going so far as to describe her as either Catholic or a theologian, and it is time to revive the Justice for Tina! campaign.

Beattie

Theology? An ology? She gets an ology and she thinks she's failed?

Of course St Paul notoriously wrote "Women keep silent in church" (1 Corinthians 14:34), but modern theological scholarship has concluded that this was probably an over-reaction after the day he took his Auntie Moly to church with him and she kept up a constant commentary of "Woeful!" Archbishop Leo's interdiction - according to the Tablet - is even fiercer, and dear Tina will not even be able to speak on church property. So even a "good morning, bruvver Eccles" will be a hanging offence if she says it while standing in the church car park.

Peter Cushing

Archbishop Cushing.

Leo Cushley was apparently acting on instructions from the Inquisition (now known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), and this is evidence that even in Rome the writings of dear Tina are scutinised for heresy. Tina, as a close friend of yours, may I give you some advice? If one day you are lecturing in Roehampton and you find Cardinal Gerhard Müller sitting in the audience, BE VERY AFRAID. Drop your plans to explain how abortion and same-sex marriage are key Catholic doctrines, forget any possibility of comparing the Mass to an act of homosexual intercourse: go for something uncontroversial, like the parable of the sower and the seed, while keeping off rude jokes about seed.

Justice for Tina!

The campaign goes on.

To be banned once (Clifton), Tina, may be a misfortune; to be banned twice (San Diego also), looks like carelessness. To be banned three times (Edinburgh) looks very much as though someone thinks you've been misbehaving. But we're not going to take this lying down, are we, Tina? Forget the massacres of IS/ISIS/ISIL/SS (Satanic State)! Forget the fact that Cardinal Kasper was cornered by 20 cardinals led by George Pell, and had his head pushed down the Vatican toilets! Forget the fact that the Catholic Church in Scotland is now run by the SNP! No, the burning issue today is JUSTICE FOR TINA! Write to the Pope now! Write to Gerhard Müller! Write to the Tablet! Write to the Beano!

45

45% of Scots said that Tina was welcome to lecture in their homes!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A profile of Archbishop-elect Capone of Chicago

Bishop Al Capone of Speakeasy, recently appointed Archbishop of Chicago in succession to the much-loved Cardinal George, is not the usual sort of Catholic bishop. When we met him, we started off by asking him about his pro-life credentials, but we were slightly nonplussed by his reply, when it became clear that he was not averse to throwing dissident clergy into the river, their feet encased in concrete boots. Even the Bishop of Lancaster, a hard-liner when it comes to suppressing people who disagree with him, has not yet sunk any of his blogging deacons in the River Lune, as far as we know.

Al Capone

Bishop Capone.

Bishop Capone is clearly a saintly man, and he tells me he is planning something special for the feast of St Valentine next year. I also observed half-a-dozen priests entering his cathedral carrying violin-cases, so I assume that some brilliant musical event is being planned.

Ladykillers

The clergy invite an old lady to a musical event.

All things considered, Bishop Capone looks like being a great asset to Catholicism in Chicago. And to think that, owing to a clerical error, they nearly appointed a seminary-closing, pro-life prayer-forbidding extreme-liberal bore called Bishop Blase Cupich instead!


Meanwhile, in England, Bishop Marcus Stock has been appointed as the new Bishop of Leeds. Stock is said to be a close friend of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and has even been described as Vin's stockpuppet. Curiously, Damian Thompson of the Telegraph Spectator was once tipping Fr Alban McCoy of Cambridge to the prestigious (and especially enlarged) seat once occupied by Arthur Roche. Clearly, this was a simple confusion between Star Trek personages. As the picture shows, it is Spock who has Vin's ear.

Spock and McCoy

Marcus Spock and Alban McCoy.

Uufortunately, Mgr Raymond Kirk of Chicago was excluded from consideration, owing to his extreme age.

Three wise men turned away from Blacklefen

1. When Jesus was born in Blacklefen in the days of Fis-herod the king, there came three wise men from the East, saying, "Where is He who hath been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."

wise men and camels

The three wise men, somewhere on the M25 motorway.

2. When Fisherod the king heard this, he was troubled and said, "We don't want any of your sort here, thank you very much. Worship of the Messiah is reserved for local people, and ye have come from afar."

3. "For did not the prophet Smiff decree that we should give priority to the humble shepherds, who abide in the fields nearby?"

4. For there were indeed shepherds at hand, and their worship was conducted in simple words such as "Wurr! Tis a foine day!" because they had learned their trade from listening to the Archers.

angel and shepherds

"Ooh arr, there's good news, lads," saith the angel in the tongue of the shepherds.

5. "Moreover, O wise men, ye have come from afar," said Fisherod, "and ye speak not the local tongue of Blacklefen."

6. For the wise men had studied the language of the Roman empire, which is called Latin; indeed, it had been encouraged in the days of King Finiganus, he that now reigned over the gates of Mar.

only fools and horses at Margate

Three less-wise men worshipping at the gates of Mar.

7. "Alack!" said one of the wise men, "we have nowhere else to worship. Also, we bring costly gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, such as might stimulate the domestic economy of a young couple bringing a Messiah into the world."

8. "What tales we shall have to relate," said another one. "Surely the evangelists St Zuhlsdorf, St England, St Eccles and St Mundabor will tell of our deeds. Yeah, and St Damian, he that is called the Spectator."

9. But Fisherod charged them not to speak of these matters (so it is somewhat lucky that an account hath come down to us), saying that it was sometimes a mortal sin to report the truth.

10. Thus the wise men said Adstringite illud pro alaudida! which, loosely translated, means "Stuff this for a lark!" and returned to their own homes.

lark

A lark, like unto that for which it was stuffed.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Eccles - the early years

I have been asked by Mary O'Regan to say a few words about my childhood, and to answer the questions:

What kind of child were you?
Are you a very different adult?

SAVE ECCLES

Possibly a very different Eccles, but still saved.

Regular readers who come here for spiritual nourishment will not be disappointed by the theme of this post - it tells how a distinctly naughty and unsaved child can nevertheless become a truly virtuous and saved adult. When Mary O'Regan gets fed up with Padre Pio, she can write about me instead.

I started writing rubbish at an early age: when I was six I had a piece published in the school magazine (yes, they were desperate for copy). It was a satirical story, supposedly written by the Cheshire cat, giving his own account of the meeting with Alice. As with all Eccles satire, it was probably very rude and naughty - I don't have a copy of it now - and you may think of Alice as an early victim of Eccles, someone like Catherine Pepinster, say.

Cheshire cat

A mere sockpuss.

One thing I remember about my early schooldays is that every Friday we had fish pie. It was disgusting. As P.G. Wodehouse would say, it was not made from happy and contented fish, but possibly from salmon and sturgeon that had just lost a crucial referendum. Although the food on the other days wasn't wonderful, it was the sufferings caused by fish pie that made me the soulful person I am today.

Eccles as a child

A young Eccles. Note the handsome ears, and the embryonic biretta.

I was also a rather naughty child with little respect for religion. As a teenager I got very interested in chemistry (like the present Pope, as it happens), and made some nitrogen iodide crystals. My friends and I felt that the school chapel could benefit from these, so just before a service we placed some on the floor near the lectern. In due course a senior boy went up to read the lesson, and trod on the crystals, which went CRACK and emitted violet fumes. I don't suppose that the Pope also did that sort of thing, but I can console myself that I was exploring alternative forms of worship, and so was probably acting in line with the Spirit of Vatican II.

nitrogen iodide

Like incense, only it's purple and explodes.

So, I haven't really changed much from childhood to adulthood, except that now I am much more saved, so of course I don't leave nitrogen iodide in churches except on special occasions.

I am asked to recommend three more bloggers for the "when I were a lad" treatment. All the good one have probably been signed up by now, so I am choosing three bad bloggers instead: Cardinal Dolan, Tina Beattie, and Bishop Campbell of Lancaster. If anyone is in touch with these luminaries - I'm not - could they please mention that Eccles has called them to greatness? Thanks.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Pope Francis vows to promote more useless people

In a striking breach with Catholic tradition, Pope Francis has promised to demote the reliable, orthodox clergy who hold very senior positions in the Roman Curia, and to appoint a number of useless time-servers instead. It is believed that in the more egalitarian church of Francis, one should not be able to achieve high office through an accident of birth, such as being wise, efficient or hard-working.

Danneels

In comes Cardinal Danneels - the token idiot on the Synod.

There is an injection of new blood in the form of Cardinal Danneels of Belgium, whose track record is so sordid that we cannot even think of anything amusing to say about him. Suffice it to say that he missed out on several more promising careers, such as clown, village idiot, and crash-test dummy, where his unique talents might have flourished.

Burke

Out goes Burke - too clever and orthodox.

Cardinal Burke, on the other hand, has been known to confuse Pope Francis by quoting from learned theologians such as Augustine and Aquinas, he has actually read the Vatican II documents, and he shows no interest whatsoever in football. Thus he is being demoted, and will now become Patron of the Knights of Malta. This is basically a non-job, which involves making tea for the knights whenever they drop in to the Vatican, and occasionally popping over to Malta in order to be patronizing.

Dolan

Cardinal Dolan: so useless he must be in line for a big job.

We have long appreciated the talents of Cardinal Dolan, the hero of New York; the fact that his imbecility level has now reached "critical" must surely mean that a senior position is soon to come his way. Vice-pope with special responsibility for organizing Gay Pride parades in the Vatican? Who knows?

But where is England in all this? Do we not have senior clergy to match the expertise of Danneels and Dolan? I find it hard to think of anyone useless, I really do.

Nichols and Smith

Put in a good word for us, won't you, Eccles?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

What did not happen at Blackfen

In view of all the stories flying about, linked with the arrival of "Stormy Steve" Fisher, the new priest at Blackfen, it is the duty of this blog to provide a categorical denial of the more outrageous rumours.

Dear Eccles, is it true that Fr Fisher stripped off his shirt during Mass, and shouted "I can take on any two of you traddies with one arm tied behind my back?" Or is this exaggerated?

Eccles: this story is completely exaggerated. Fr Fisher remained correctly dressed throughout Mass, and he would never have tried to face up to some of the more muscular women who attend Mass at Blackfen.

incredible Hulk

Definitely NOT Fr Steven Fisher.

Dear Eccles, is it true that Fr Fisher used his sermon to denounce the Extraordinary Form Mass, and to say that nobody who participated could ever be saved, in fact only he was saved?

Eccles: it is unlikely that Fr Fisher would go against the Spirit of Vatican II, which we all adore so, by reducing the role of Latin, since its importance was emphasised in the Vatican II document De liberalis comburendis. Moreover, I do not think he has claimed to be more saved than... well, me, for example.

Dear Eccles, is it true that Fr Fisher denied Communion to someone who refused to hold his hand out for it? Did he really use the words "Come on, stick those paws out, you dog!"

Eccles: this story seems to have been exaggerated, as well. Obviously in an EF Mass sticking out your grubby paws is a no-no, and Fr Fisher would be aware of that.

Pope Francis giving communion

"Oh dear, I don't think Fr Fisher's going to like that."

Dear Eccles, is it true that Archbishop Peter Smith burst into the church while Fr Fisher was preaching and shouted, "You're a very naughty boy. Go to your shed!"

Eccles: Archbishop Smith is always very keen on correct liturgical behaviour, and he would naturally be horrified if he thought that one of his priests was anything less than a beacon shining in the wilderness. He has not intervened, so nothing can be wrong.

Dear Eccles, did Fr Fisher greet one of the stalwarts of the congregation with a cry of "You live five miles away! P*** off!"?

no visitors

A welcoming church.

Eccles: No, Fr Fisher realises that even people who live as far away as Chislehurst have souls - of a sort - and should therefore be welcomed to the Lord's Table.

Dear Eccles, is it true that Fr Fisher has placed copies of the Tablet and Babes in Custard at the back of the church, "to fulfil a deeply-held spiritual need"?

Eccles: It seems unlikely that such filth would be introduced into a church, so I am afraid this is another misunderstanding.

custard wrestling

Probably more spiritual than the Tablet, but still banned from Blackfen.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Should noisy adults be allowed in church?

One of my younger readers writes:

Dear Uncle Eccles,

What should we do about noisy adults in church? I am six years old, and I go to Mass with my parents and Lucy, my sister. Lucy is only three, and very well-behaved, usually either sleeping, reading a book such as Charles Kingsley's Water-babies - she scribbles on the heretical parts - or drawing pictures with crayon.

Water Babies

Warning: probably a book to upset Blessed John Henry Newman.

My parents are naughtier, but I am usually able to keep them under control by hissing "Ssshhh!" at them when they start chattering.

However, other adults are not so well behaved. Part of the problem is that they aren't trained to be quiet, as those of us who attend St Tharg's Primary School are. So we often hear adults chattering through those parts of the service that are less exciting than others, for example:

1. the bit before it starts, when worshippers are encouraged to discuss their neighbour's clothes and hairstyles;
2. the sermon - although I personally found it very interesting when the priest said he was appointed only for those who lived in the parish, and he wanted all visitors to get lost;

Punch cartoon

Welcoming worshippers to the parish.
First polite native: Who's 'im, Bill?
Second ditto: A stranger!
First ditto: 'Eave 'arf a brick at 'im!

3. the prayers, which always sound the same - I'm told that some churches make them more varied by saying "In our cycle of prayer we pray for all who live in Lembit Opik Terrace, for the people of Liberia, for the diocese of Luton and Bishop Loquitur, for all librarians, liberals and libertines, and for all limpets." But we don't do that;
4. the "peace", which the grown-ups just use as an opportunity to cuddle each other (yeugh!);
5. that Scottish song near the end, about someone called Angus Daly, which I don't understand.

Anyway, you get my point. People with short attention spans, such as grown-ups, need something to distract them. Of course they have their smart phones, and so they can (and do) send texts and follow the cricket score when things are getting a bit dull, but it's not enough.

Noah's Ark by Tracey Emin

Mrs Emin drew a nice picture during Mass.

So it's bit of a dilemma, really. Most adults are not really needed in order to make the service go with a swing, and there should perhaps be some nursery arrangements made for them, so that we children can worship without being distracted.

Oh, and one last thing. We kids don't like songs such as "Shine, Jesus, Shine" or "If I were a butterfly": we find them patronising. Give us "Salve Regina" or "Iam lucis orto sidere", any day. Then we'll know we're singing a work written by someone who was actually religious, rather than just a greedy entrepreneur. I know the adults like dumb hymns, but we kids do expect something better.

Love, Alex Smith (age 6).

quiet coach

A modern "quiet" church.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Why don't I hate Ian Paisley?

Ian Paisley, alias Lord Bannside, is dead, and I feel very guilty. Look, I know it was my Christian duty to hate him, and now I should be opening the champagne, dancing around, and writing a blog post saying that the old bastard is no doubt going straight to the Lake of Fire, but... actually I don't feel that way.

True, he had a slightly Protestant view of religion - just as you might say that Richard Dawkins has a slightly atheist view of religion - and, like Dawkins, he said some horrible things, many of which were rather stupid. For example, he thought the popes were the Anti-Christ, although it's not clear to me whether he would have included St Peter in that number.

Paisley at airport

Ian waits at the airport for the Pope (and/or the Anti-Christ) to collect his baggage.

Yes, this is worrying. I ought to be thinking nasty thoughts about Paisley and they just won't come. Probably he's in some queue for Purgatory now with Donald Sinden the actor, who has also died, each trying to shout louder than the other. Luckily, Brian Blessed shows no signs of joining them today.

The Lake of Fire. Some people end up here (not readers of this blog, obviously).

If it wasn't that he had many of the same religious opinions, my big brother Bosco would even now be condemning Paisley to the Lake of Fire.

Look, I'm trying to think nasty thoughts about the Reverend Ian Paisley (or RIP, as everyone is calling him today), but they're not coming. I had the same problem when the comedian Bernard Manning died. The man said unspeakable things, but he wasn't just plain evil in the same way as Hitler, Stalin, and the rest of them.

Bernard Manning

Probably you should shout "Yah, boo" at this photo of Bernard Manning.

Admittedly, nobody is claiming that Ian Paisley was a saint, in the same way as St Francis or St Thérèse of Lisieux. Actually, these days, when asked to think of a saintly character, people name Gandhi or Mandela instead: this proves that the era of satire is dead. Still, Paisley may be slightly saved, in spite of all his obvious nastiness.

No, I really don't find it in me to spit on his grave. Sorry. Perhaps if I pray a bit more, I will be able to summon up more hatred...

Paisley anf McGuinness

Devil horns or rabbit ears? RIP shares a joke with a friend.

Jesus asks "What would Dolan do?"

Jerusalem, AD 30

Jesus of Nazareth, the young preacher and miracle-worker who has taken Israel by storm, was today criticised for his "bigoted" views on sin. Said one commentator "He should ask himself, 'WWDD - What Would Dolan Do?' before sticking his neck out in this way."

Caped Dolan

The Caped Crusader: Dolan leads the way.

Specifically, Jesus was criticised for saying to a woman taken in adultery, "Go and sin no more." The general consensus is that He should have taken the WWDD approach, and joined her in an "Adulterers' Pride" march, to celebrate some religious festival, rather than criticising her perfectly natural lifestyle choice.

Dolan and Obama

WWDD? Feast in the company of notorious evil-doers! So the Messiah got that one right.

Another occasion on which Christ is said to have fallen short of the high moral standards of Cardinal Dolan is when He scourged the temple, overthrowing the tables of the money changers, and the chairs of them that sold doves. Apparently He was objecting that a house of prayer had become a den of thieves.

Said one critic, "Apparently, He refused to join in the 'Thieves Pride' service that was being conducted in the temple. I can't see the blessed Dolan acting like that. Moreover, if the Temple of the Holy Innocents were to be converted into a pet shop, then Dolan would never have tried to prevent that."

Dead parrot sketch

Trouble at the Pet Shop of the Holy Innocents.

We therefore urge all our readers, before contemplating any difficult course of action, to ask "What would Dolan do?" One can avoid so much trouble by giving into the world, rather than trying to take a high moral stance. So no referring to a "generation of vipers", please!

Dolan cracking up

Now, being serious for a minute...

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Family-friendly churches

It has been reported in the Tablet that parents are put off attending church by the inconvenient timing of services, which are not family friendly, and which clash with their busy lives.

bouncy church

Come to church, and let the priest and people bounce!

The picture above shows one possible solution: mobile, bouncy churches, which can be parked in the street and, like ice-cream vans, play music to attract families with young children. We suggest the tune of Wesley's Shine, Jesus, Shine or else Newman's If I were a butterfly to get the kids running to church, especially if there is free ice-cream on offer.

For people who prefer static churches, it is important to adjust mass times to the convenience of those attending: since the priest only works on Sunday, he can easily fit in with the wishes of the customers. It seems that a popular time is early afternoon: fathers and mothers can come along and doze in luxuriously-upholstered pews, while the kids play with lego. In the background the priest can do whatever he chooses (mumble a few prayers perhaps) as nobody will be paying attention. So no change there.

kids at the altar

"Let's play priests and deacons!"

As the picture above shows, it is sometimes possible to get children involved in the service. After all, when it comes down to it, the job of a priest doesn't require much training: you say the red and do the black, or possibly vice versa, and - to get through the only bit of the service that isn't written down in detail - you can buy books of ready-made sermons.

Basil Loftus sermon book

An essential book for the priest who's run out of ideas.

In general we can base our actions on the maxim "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." Here, Jesus was clearly saying that Sundays are a day for rest and relaxation. If you happen to feel like dropping into church, that's a bonus, but God really doesn't care. Going shopping at IKEA, or to a football match, is just as good. Keep the day holy of course - but only by doing what YOU want.

Still, churches should be thought of as cool places to hang out. Although they often offer nothing more spiritual than what you can find in shops or sports grounds, the main reason for the service should be to have fun.

baby in priest costume

Getting the kids involved!

Lastly, churches are not just for conventional services, of course. They have the added advantage that they often host "fun" events, such as baptisms, weddings and funerals, where all the family can come along and party. Our final picture reminds us that the revels should start in the church, and not be kept until afterwards.

flamenco in church

It's flamenco time!

If that doesn't bring in the punters, then I'm afraid we're doomed.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Prodigal Son

There was a man called George who had three sons. The eldest was called David, the second Patrick and the youngest Andrew. The youngest one said, "Father, give me a share of your estate." The father said "Actually, we only have a family debt, but you are welcome to take your share of that. No, I thought not. Still, you can take that can of oil that you found, together with anything else that is yours, such as the bottle of whisky and that dreadful set of bagpipes that you will insist on playing at all hours."

Salmond steps out

The youngest son steps out.

At this point we should point out that the youngest son was definitely in two minds about going. His heart told him to leave, even though his head told him it would be madness. Still, in the end he went, and soon squandered the few pounds he had been able to take with him; then he decided to print his own money, but it was not widely accepted, and indeed the expression "Bent as a five-salmond note" soon passed into common usage.

He therefore went to work for a farmer, and was sent into the fields to feed the haggises. He would have loved to have fed himself on the revolting porridge that these creatures ate, but none was given to him.

Bagpipes on a bicycle

The taming of the haggis.

After a while he could take no more of this, and said "I will arise and go to my father, and say, 'Father, give me money and I will live with you.'" For this trick had worked in 1707 (did we mention that the youngest son was adopted?)

And his father saw him coming when he was still far off, and said "Bring my best pair of trousers and put it on him; for he cannot wear that dreadful kilt, as it frightens the cat. Also, let us kill the fatted calf and have a fatted Yorkshire pudding with it: anything but haggis, anyway."

fatted Eccles cake

... with fatted Eccles cakes to follow.

Now, the eldest son, David, was in the field, tending to the leek harvest, and singing strange ballades, as was his wont, and as he returned to the house he heard wondrous music: for the youngest brother had brought his bagpipes back with him, and was attempting to play James MacMillan's The Confession of Isobel Gowdie on them.

girl tossing caber

I thought pole dancing was naughtier than this.

And he was angry and said to his father, "In all the years I have been with you, I never caused half as much trouble as my young brother, and yet he gets a wild party."

And the father said, "Son, it was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was lost, and is found."

And at that moment the youngest son popped his head round the door and said, "Thanks, Dad. Well, I'll be off again now..."

Cameron and Salmond

The prodigal son breaks the news to his father.