This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Friday, 31 May 2013

The Boat of Fools visits a Catholic school

This week our Mystery Worshipper visited a Catholic School in the south of England, where the chaplain was conducting a multi-faith service.

mystery worshipper

Our mystery worshipper passed undetected as a pupil of St Ali's Catholic School.

What was the name of the service?
Special ecumenical service.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, the chaplain shook me warmly by the neck before telling me how much he hated me.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Very chatty. Becky, the Year 5 representative of A Call To Outright Rebellion (ACTOR) explained how Vatican II had explicitly demanded that the Catholic church should henceforth get away from old-fashioned ideas such as God and Jesus, becoming more open to other faiths, such as the tree-worshipping community.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
Welcome to our special ecumenical service. Today we have present a variety of alternative faiths, including representatives of ACTOR, those who bow down to tree-spirits, and worshippers of the gods Thor, Dawkins, and Sun Myung Moon.

moonie

The sun shall not burn thee by day: nor the moon by night. Psalm 120:6

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Books sacred to the faiths of those present, including Tina Beattie's Why did the Virgin Mary never have children?, Richard Dawkins's The Reality of Magic, and Prince Charles's classic I talk to the trees.

I talk to the trees

The defender of all faiths meets a representative of the arboreal community.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
More a sort of unhappy-clappy, as the worshippers were clearly very angry about something (the Catholic church, at a guess).

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The chaplain explained that it was important to break with tradition. One example he gave (so good that he repeated it) was about sticking children up chimneys. I couldn't work out whether he was for or against that one.

chaplain sweeping a chimney

If you want to be a chaplain like me, you need to be able to handle chimneys.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
When the chaplain led us in a hymn to Thor:

When Thor had a hammer,
He'd hammer in the morning,
He'd hammer in the evening,
All over this land...
Rubbish words, but a great tune.

Thor

I hit my finger with the hammer and now I'm a little Thor.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Well, most of it really.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The chaplain told me to scram. He's known for his inter-personal skills.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
0. No, please, no!

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, but I felt terribly out of place.

Smiffy with umbrella

These "Thor" services are fine, but I always take an umbrella in case of a storm.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Eccles is told off

De way of a saved pusson is hard, and I was told off today by a dame, wot didn't find my blogg spiritaully nuorishin.

bossy dame

Unapprecaitive dame.

Wot happened was dat I wrote a blost about de Boat of Fools visitin Croydon (where I has got a good freind wot is a deacon), and dis dame wot I never heard of was upset by it. Here is a controversail pitcher wot was in de story.

I talk to the trees

The defender of all faiths meets a representative of the arboreal community.

I has been asked three salient questoins by de dame, in fact she asked em twice:

Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it kind?

Is it true? Is it kind? Is it helpful?

Well we satirists always takes care never to exaggerate de facts, but inevitabbly errors may creep in. I was readin my Bibble today, and it's got a bit where Jesus says: Blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel. Well we know dat Jesus would never dream of exaggeratin, so it must be dat camel-swallowin was a serious probblem in 1st Century Palestine.

camel

Warning: do not attempt to swallow this camel.

In fact, Jesus also says: And why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye; and seest not the beam that is in thy own eye? Well, it must have been true, and not a metaphor or an exaggeratoin.

beam

Warning, wear goggles when handling this, lest it go in thine eye.

Of course my blogg is always helpful, and we sometimes has to be creul to be kind. It seems dat Jesus had de same problems when He said: You serpents, generation of vipers, how will you flee from the judgement of Hell?

snake

A serpent wot needs to think about fleeing.

Well, I hope I has explained my position here: always truthful, kind and helpful. I met Michael Vortex recently, wot has a luvvly video about always being nice. I think that besides being a saved pusson I is gonna be a nice pusson from now on, and not make jokes at people's expense.

Michael Voris wig

Michael, if you're reading this, I think you left something behind.

Joshua

Well, it's time for a new dose of spiritual nourishment, as we continue the Eccles Bible Project with the book of Joshua. For those who want the course from the start, we have already seen Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

As usual, we are addressing an atheist called Richard who dabbles in theology in his spare time without ever really understanding it.

Crossing the Jordan

Crossing the Jordan - but is that the end of the story?

Now, the principle idea of the book of Joshua is that with Joshua in charge the Israelites are doing what God wants, and as a result things go rather well for them. Contrast this with Moses's adventures, where everything that could go wrong, did - with some exceptions - mainly because the Israelites weren't obeying God.

Moses

"I do try, Aaron... no-one can be more trying than me... but things keep going wrong."

Richard, it's good to see you at our Bible class. Have you ever thought of finding out what God wants, and doing it? It could be to your advantage. Or, even if it isn't, it will make you a better person who can cope with the problems of life without having a meltdown every few days. Anyway, it's time for a song.

♫ Joshua fought the battle of Jericho,
Jericho, Jericho,
Joshua fought the battle of Jericho,
And the walls came tumbling down! ♫
Yes, we could hardly fail to mention that. Now there are several morals we may deduce from this story. See which one you prefer:
1. You can get a long way by blowing your own trumpet.
2. Walls have ears.
3. Weapons of mass destruction can be disguised as musical 
instruments.
4. It's your own fault if you don't soundproof your property 
correctly.
5. God can do miracles, but He likes us to cooperate.
Richard, I suspect you go for (1), while many other people would go for (5).

Jericho

"Play 'Walk in the Light' now, and they'll all flee in terror."

Anyway, the story continues, with the capture of Ai (chapter 8). If you read this carefully, you find that there is some fairly clever military strategy going on here. They go to the city and, as soon as the Ai army comes out, run away. The Ai army follows - all of it - and one or two others of Joshua's people then sneak into the city and burn it.

Moral - if you're as stupid as the king of Ai, you end up being hanged on a tree. Evidently Ai didn't mean "Artificial Intelligence" in those days.

King of Ai

They can't see me, hiding behind this dustbin.

Anyway, in brief, they take over the land (first half of the book). More devious tactics are employed against Gibeon (Chapter 10), for Joshua makes the sun stand still, which basically seems to have been a device to gain extra time for smiting.

Extra time

I don't care if the referee's looking at his watch, I've stopped that too.

Once they've taken over the land, the children of Israel then proceed to share it out (second half). Nothing much to say there.

At the end Joshua dies and is buried. They also bury the bones of Joseph, which apparently they've been carting round with them ever since they left Egypt. Really, it was all his fault that they were in Egypt in the first place.

souvenir of Egypt

A souvenir of Egypt.

Oh, I should have mentioned that Joshua was the son of Nun (he called her "mother superior" through force of habit), but we don't want to be distracted by nun jokes, do we?

Next week - the Judges move in!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Religious leader talks about salvation

It has come as a great shock to many that Richard Dawkins, the Unholy Father or Chief Atheist, has broken an uncharacteristically long silence of approximately two hours in order to reveal ex cathedra that Damnation is not the exclusive preserve of atheists.

Richard Dawkins drinking

Richard Dawkins - voted the world's top drinker (H/T JabbaPapa).

Many people have misunderstood Dawkins's position on eschatology - they assumed, wrongly, that Damnation, Hell, Exclusion from God, Oblivion, The Lake of Fire, Scunthorpe (call it what you will) was the sole preserve of atheists, and that Christians would be left out. However, Dawkins has made it clear that Christians are also allowed to be evil, selfish, unrepentantly vindictive bastards, and so there is no reason to suppose that they will all be excluded.

Father Green

Fr Green - definitely at risk.

We were wondering how to illustrate this post with a photo of a Christian who was definitely at risk of Damnation, and in the end we picked on Fr Green from the parish of Cluedo, who spends much of his time wandering round large mansions, sneaking into the billiard room, and hitting innocent parishioners over the head with lead piping. To our inexpert eyes, this sounds like the behaviour of an unsaved person, especially since he shows no signs of repentance.

But we should leave the last word with Professor Dawkins, biologist and amateur theologian, whose book The God Delusion is shortly to be made into a film with Tom Hanks playing the part of Dawkins. "The biggest problem I face at present is that I can never find two socks that match. Look, the variety of different socks in the world proves that they were created by evolution, and not by some sky-fairy creature. I'm damned if I know what to do about it."

The God Delusion

Renowned Professor and beautiful Mrs Dawkins flee from a debate with William Lane Craig.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

A thoroughly modern Muslim

George de Pfeffel Cholmondeley-Farquharson is one of the new breed of "liberal" Muslims, most of whom were greatly influenced by the "Mecca II" council of the 1960s.

George de Pfeffel Cholmondeley-Farquharson

George de Pfeffel Cholmondeley-Farquharson.

When I came to interview him in his beautiful Kensington house, from which he operates London's biggest camel-hire business, he explained that, although culturally a Muslim, his religious beliefs had been much influenced by modern liberals such as Polly Toynbee, George Galloway, and Tina Beattie.

In fact, Islamic belief in Britain is currently in a state of flux, as the so-called "Magic Crescent" of liberal Ayatollahs is anxious to welcome all believers, regardless of colour, race, creed, sexual orientation or even religious conviction. George naturally finds his place in a liberal Mosque, where they even hold "gay" services.

mosque

The Mosque where Imam Nichols operates.

George's charming wife Aisha (age 9) was away at the Cat Stevens Primary School when I called round, but she had left a pile of sausage rolls for us to consume with our Château Hamza claret, in itself a sign that George no longer follows the Islamic customs as strictly as his ancestors (the Cholmondeley-Farquharsons of Libya) used to.

Islamic sausage rolls

Food for a modern Muslim.

I asked him about his praying rituals. Did he make use of a prayer mat for regular worship ad orientem? George explained to me that, since Mecca II, it had become customary for prayers to be held in a west-facing position, so that one had one's back towards Allah. Moreover, the traditional prayer mat had been in urgent need of modernization.

Novus Ordo prayer mat

Novus Ordo prayer mat.

George himself is very fond of participating in ecumenical services - for example he attends a Catholic church in Croydon where the deacon welcomes Muslim worshippers, explaining that "After all, we all believe the same thing really."

George has not been on the traditional haj, finding Mecca a little too expensive for a pilgrimage. However, he is shortly planning a two-week stay in Bradford, visiting the Alhambra Theatre, a well-known shrine. Here he plans to hear a Paul Inwood arrangement of sacred Islamic music, played by the ukelele orchestra of Great Britain.

Alhambra

ukelele orchestra

The Alhambra, Bradford, soon to host sacred music from the ukelele orchestra of Great Britain.

Finally I asked George about his cultural traditions. "Well, I am a very ecumenical Muslim, so I feel slighly uneasy about smiting the infidel," he explained. "In our weekly Koran-study classes, we learn that we are promised 72 virgins in Paradise if we go berserk and slaughter a few Christians. But then - who wants 72 mothers-in-law? No, I decided to go for the lesser 'all the sherbet you can eat' option, and this only required me to cut the hands off the local vicar."

Father Cleese

Father Cleese, of the Church Militant.

As I said my farewells to George, I reflected that Islam, the religion of peace, is adapting itself very well to modern secular culture. How can anyone find anything objectionable in George's lifestyle?

Yoof at the Catholic Herald

Meanwhile, the younger generation are firmly in command at the Catholic Herald with the appointment of 23-year-old Ed West as Deputy Editor.

Ed West.

Ed is author of The Diversity Illusion - why don't they all go home? which takes a critical look at immigration.

Diversity illusion

With his departure, the Telegraph blogs are looking somewhat diminished, but at least the staff were out in force to wave goodbye to the man they call "Mr Misery."

Telegraph bloggers

Thompson, Chivers, Hannan et al. say farewell.

An even younger recruit to the Catholic Herald is wunderkind Megan Hodder, aged 13 and only 4'6" tall. With her brilliant article, How those idiot atheists made me a Catholic, she has burst onto the scene as the only person in Year 8 to have read Aristotle, Aquinas, Dawkins and Little Women.

Catholic Herald ladies

Madeleine Teahan, Mary O'Regan, Megan Hodder and 2 other Catholic Herald writers whose names begin with M.

Said veteran Catholic Herald journalist "Wild Bill" Oddie (age 83), "How can we old-timers hope to compete with such brilliant young people?"

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Pope's new exorcise video

It is generally agreed that exorcism of demons is best performed by senior clergy. In the Catholic church it requires a bishop's permission - otherwise priests and deacons have been known to get carried away, attempting to expel demons from cats, rice puddings and bicycles. So it should come as no surprise that Pope Francis has been seen engaging in the practice of exorcism.

exorcism

I command the spirit of Hans Küng to quit this child!

For dealing with those who are only slightly possessed, Pope Francis has invented an alternative ritual.

Pope and Merkel

So, demon, if I win at scissors-paper-stone, you agree to leave this woman alone?

For highly-connected people, Pope Francis has been known to attempt exorcisms on demand.

Pope and Biden

So, Miss Biden, how long do you think that your brother has been possessed by demons?

Of course, Pope Francis is not the first to practice exorcism. Pope Benedict XVI also had to confront the evil done by demons who attacked Christianity.

Pope in pentagram

When dealing with the worst demons, Pope Benedict always stood safely inside a pentagram.

Stonewall visits a Catholic School

And now over to St Mary's School, where Fred Flintstone of Stonewall, the organization which knows all about bullying Catholics, has come to explain bullying.

Fred Flintstone bullying

Fred Flintstone knows all about bullying.

Now, Kristin, I understand that you are a victim of homophobic hate-crime, because Tony said your shoes were "gay"?

gay shoe

A "gay" shoe. Note how Kristin hides her face in embarrassment.

Yes, Fred. It's a real problem for me: my shoe would be happiest if paired with another left-foot shoe, but I am forced to match it with a right-foot shoe.

And what would happen if you bought another left-foot shoe?

Well, I tried that, but it didn't fit, and I kept falling over.

sports day

Problems in the 100 metres event for people with two left-foot shoes.

Well, this is a typical case. Now, children, there is one way to deal with anyone who expresses a different opinion to you. Do you know what it is? Yes, Eric?

BIGOT! BIGOT! BIGOT!

Well done, Eric. If you scream "Bigot!" this shuts down all further debate, and you don't need to come up with any other arguments. Now, I want as many of you as possible to grow up as Catholics in happy same-sex relationships, so we're going to show you how much fun that can be.

Stonewall

A happy couple from Stonewall

You see, when two men love each other, what they do is they go out into the countryside and build a stone wall together. Well, I'll be telling the over-9s a little bit more about this later - for example, how to place your stones together in an intimate conjunction - but that will do for now. If you have any further questions, do ask your local archbishop.

Peter Smith

Archbishop Peter Smith demonstrates an essential piece of stone-walling equipment.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Nightmare Song

With further apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan. But there's always room for one more pastiche, isn't there?

When you're sitting in church, and you're trying to search for a meaningful theme in the service,
You may find that it seems you've been having bad dreams, and they're certainly not for the nervous.

Walk in the Light

Warning - Damian Lundy ahead.

For it's Walk in the the Light, with its words very trite, that they've got as the hymn for procession:
At its music banal you are starting to snarl - finding it hard to control your aggression! Then things get even gorier - Kyrie and Gloria, sung to a setting by Inwood -
Which destroys all the sense. What could make you less tense? Well, you feel that perhaps a large gin would!

gin

An antidote to Inwood.

The priest's got no biretta, he thought it was better to dress in a cape and deer-stalker,
While the deacon's emphatic, he'll wear no dalmatic; he's dressed like a long-distance walker.

Fr Holmes

Father Holmes prepares for Mass.

The Epistles of Paul, we don't have them at all, though he wrote of some truths sempiternal.
What we get in their place makes you green in the face - it's a page of Dan Brown's book (Infernal!)
Well, you hope that the preacher will be a good teacher, but instead they've wheeled in Tina Beattie,
Who's at war with the Pope, and there isn't much hope that they're going to sign a peace treaty.

Tina's gig

Lest we forget...

She has often been banned, and you do understand that her words must be treated with caution:
All traditions are wrong, let us sing a new song: women priests, same-sex marriage, abortion!
Then it's on to the creed, and it makes your heart bleed, when you see all of the bits they've omitted:
For the priest isn't sure he believes any more, so it's best not to get too committed!

redacted

An uncontroversial edition of the creed.

Well it's time for some prayer. Yet again you despair - for we pray for Hans Küng, not Pope Francis.
A collection they'll take, but first - not a mistake - we'll be getting liturgical dances!
A guitar twangs away, to our increased dismay, with some rubbish the player has brought in.
Six girls leap to their feet, do the Liverpool beat, which is mainly suggestive cavorting.

liturgical can-can

A liturgical can-can.

They come round with the plate, you're obliged to donate, though you really had thought of refusin'...
For the case they support is to buy vintage port for a transgendered bishop called Susan.
Well the rest of the Mass is just equally crass, like the bit where you cuddle your neighbour,
When you know very well she would see you in Hell, for two pins, with the aid of a sabre!

kiss of peace

The kiss of peace.

When it's time to receive, you just cannot believe that the priest simply said "Come and get it!"
So you stay in your pew, feeling more and more blue, for you certainly think "Just forget it!"
Now it's Shine, Jesus, Shine! - oh, that hymn's really fine - as the song that we sing when it's finished:
Shine on me, shine on me, dum-de-dum, dum-de-dee... At the end you feel strangely diminished.

bitter pill

The worst is yet to come...

So you head for the door - Father'll be there for sure, with a greeting (he's likely to gabble it);
BUT right down the aisle, there's a huge unsold pile of a scurrilous rag called the TABLET!

From this sight you retreat, running into the street, for it's evil in print, you reflect as you sprint, heading into the town, to the pub where you drown... all your sorrows in beer, for the Tablet brings fear, of a hideous curse, yes, an evil, far worse, than you previously met, and you're really upset, by the demons within, which may lead you to sin, and destruction which can't be amended...

Tablet journalist

Read my new column in the Tablet!

But the service is past, and it's freedom at last, and next week you begin again, with a new priest (called Finigan?) so thank goodness this nightmare song's ended!