This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Monday, 5 September 2016

Conjuring tricks with bones

David Jenkins, Anglican bishop of Durham in the 1980s, has died at the ripe old age of 91. He will long be remembered for saying that the Resurrection was "far more than a conjuring trick with bones" and "not a single event but a series of experiences".

Kirk and Bones

Captain Kirk attempts a conjuring trick with "Bones".

Surprisingly, since Bishop Jenkins's death, many people have claimed to have had mystical experiences convincing them that David's life, power, purpose and personality were still continuing.

For example, Jenkins's famous remark "I wouldn't put it past God to arrange a virgin birth if he wanted, but I very much doubt he would", then considered to be somewhat inappropriate for a man paid by the Church of England to promote Christian teaching, has been mystically echoed by the totally orthodox cleric Giles Fraser.

Today Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, agreed to clamp down on "turbulent priests" by introducing a list of fundamental Christian teachings that they - and indeed all worshippers - were expected to recite in church without crossing their fingers, rolling their eyes, winking, or in any other way indicating that it was a joke as far as they were concerned. "I shall call it 'The Creed'," he said, "and there will be three versions: the Nicene one for general use, the Apostles' Creed for when we're in a hurry, and the Athanasian Creed for people as clever as that Catholic chap Fr Hunwicke."

Bachelors 'I believe'

Someone could even make a song out of it!

It is thought that such a "creed" may contain phrases such as "the Virgin Mary" or "the resurrection of the dead", in order to weed out the unsaved.

Although I, Eccles, never met Bishop Jenkins, I did a long time ago meet Bishop John "Honest to God" Robinson, another famous Anglican liberal. Robinson had managed to anticipate Mother Tina Beattie by describing sex as "an act of holy communion" in the trial that tried to ban Lady Chatterley's Lover (he was defending the book). Actually, Mother Tina's own book describes Holy Communion as an act of homosexual sex, but Robinson did do his best to shock people, given that homosexuality wasn't invented until the late 1960s.

John Robinson was famous for pointing out that God is not an old man living on a cloud, which was another of the brilliant scientific discoveries of the 1960s. My most interesting conversation with him involved a planned Lake District Trip; he quoted to me the saying "Choose your companions carefully, you may have to eat them" from Sellar and Yeatman's And now all this. I duly followed his advice.

choose your companions carefully

Choose your companions carefully...

In the end our bishop-less expedition climbed Scafell Pike, and I discovered God sitting on a cloud at the top. Which only goes to show that bishops don't know everything.


  1. Note: the most prominent theologians assert that God went to the cloud recently, He earlier used to rely on His own servers.

  2. Yes, cloud-based "spritchooality" could be said to be in the Ascendant, until the Son comes out.

  3. Oi! You two! comfyteor and Anonymous. Don't out-eccles Eccles!