This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Sex and the Psalms

The Eccles Bible project has rather stalled recently, as Eccles has been too busy taking part in "Sloth Pride" events - or rather, not bothering - so we have asked Fr Phil Barney of the Church of St Daryl the Apostate to run this week's class.

Hi, I'm Fr Phil, and I've written today's analysis after consulting the writings of great thinkers such as Hans Küng, Tina Beattie, Tony Flannery, Timothy Radcliffe and Stephen Fry. For a long time we've all realised that the main point of religion is SEX, and we see this in the Book of Psalms as well.

Of course in St Daryl's we don't "do" the responsorial psalm, preferring to chant selections from Laudato Si to the tune of some modern pop song - perhaps something catchy by Gary Glitter or Rolf Harris. Still, I'm grateful to Eccles for letting me explain the psalms in the context of our GOD IS SEX project.

St Daryl the Apostate's is PROUD.

We'll be using the Good News Bible, as it's written for people with the IQ of a mollusc, with all the theological subtleties removed. Now, most of the psalms are definitely unsuitable for worship, as they are all about praising God - a rather controversial notion these days. Look how Psalm 6 starts:

Lord, don't be angry and rebuke me!
Don't punish me in your anger!
I am worn out, O Lord; have pity on me!
Give me strength; I am completely exhausted
and my whole being is deeply troubled.
How long, O Lord, will you wait to help me?
How inappropriate in this day and age! Calling on the "Lord" to sort out problems that should be addressed to your social worker, homeopathic doctor, or sex counsellor! We've got beyond that, surely?

Van Gogh picture

Give me strength; I am completely exhausted.

There's a lot of stuff in the Psalms about the Love of God. Nowadays, we only use "love" to mean "sex", so passages such as this (Psalm 13), apparently addressed to God, are clearly unsuitable for modern audiences.

I rely on your constant love;
I will be glad, because you will rescue me.

What's more, the psalmist seems to be unware that PRIDE is GOOD. Look at Psalm 59:

Sin is on their lips; all their words are sinful;
may they be caught in their pride!
Because they curse and lie,
destroy them in your anger;
destroy them completely.
Ian McKellen

Ian McKellen reminds us that PRIDE is GOOD.

In fact the psalms seem totally to misunderstand the main social issues of today - no mention of same-sex weddings (or any other), nothing about equality and diversity, climate change, etc. Still, the issue of the family is touched on in Psalm 112:

The good man's children will be powerful in the land;
his descendants will be blessed.
His family will be wealthy and rich,
and he will be prosperous forever. 
Blair Christmas card

A good man enjoying prosperity.

Well, those lines are a bit more in keeping with modern values! Of course, if the children were produced by IVF, ideally with a "borrowed" mother helping out a male couple, then that would be even better. But we mustn't be heterophobic here: let's recognise that some male/female relationships can be tolerated, even if we don't think they're natural!

Anyway, you see now why we don't use the psalms at St Daryl's - they really aren't relevant to contemporary issues, such as SEX. However, the last psalm, Psalm 150, makes a good point:

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his Temple!
Praise his strength in heaven!
Praise him for the mighty things he has done.
Praise his supreme greatness.
Praise him with trumpets.
Praise him with harps and lyres.
Praise him with drums and dancing.
Praise him with harps and flutes.
Praise him with cymbals.
Praise him with loud cymbals.
Praise the Lord, all living creatures!
Praise the Lord!
A few outmoded concepts there - God, temple, Heaven, Praise, etc. but the main idea - that we should play our guitars and show off our liturgical dancing - is clear!

Dolan on parade

"Come right in!"


  1. I see, Fr Barney, that you recently did a survey of your congregation to present to the Bishops before the Sinodd, which is presumably where you established the priorities of your parishioners. However, I must point out that of the magnificently representative population sample of 342, there seem to be a large number of names such as "Marmalade" "Tiddles" "Topcat" and "Mittens". Could this be related at all to the fact that your parishioner Mrs Maureen Mass-Trousers runs a sanctury for un-neutered tom-cats? And if so, might it be a coincidence that her husband Ferdinand has recently appeared at liturgical dancing rehearsals with his shirtsleeve covered in green ink?

  2. I always learn something from this blog.

    It all comes together now, I always wondered what sex on a first date meant, and now I know. First you go to the psalm tree and get a date, and the psalms mean sex, that's right innit?

    Only thing I didn't understand was, that if God knows he's not Tony Blair why doesn't Tony know who he's not?

  3. Dear Fr "Phil" [ may I call you "Phil" ? ],

    Reading about "The Great Thinkers", that you referred to, above, puts me in mind of the following.

    There is talk of a re-make of "Trumpton".

    "Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub.", which was first heard in the 60s during the TV Programme "Trumpton", might now be heard again (using the same "beat") as "Fry, Fry, Flannery, Fry, Radcliffe, Beattie, and Küng".

    The denouement, of course, is that the original Narrator in "Trumpton" was Brian CANT.How apt if that surname were to be applied to the re-make starring the above personalities.

    Just a thought . . .

  4. Can I put in a good word for the Jerusalem Bible? It's also written for people with the IQ of a mollusc, but with occasional (like, at least once every Mass) leaps downward into even more inspired banality and bathos. The translators never seem to have grasped the simple truth that colloquial language is only comfortable so long as it is current; let a year or so pass and the dated phrases jar like a sore tooth and the general impression is one of being patronised: poor people in the pews, they can't be expected to understand such arcane concepts as "give place" so we'll simplify it for them into "get out of here", aww diddums.

    Still I suppose I should be grateful it wasn't printed as "get outta here!"

  5. I see there is a rather confused lady called Klair Claws scratching about on on Twitter, who would like you to explain what a "psalm" is. Have you ever thought of supplying footnotes for newcomers?

  6. I actually kind of like the idea of a pride flag on the floor for the sacred ministers to wipe their feet on before ascending the altar...