This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Thursday 30 August 2012

Bad Hymns 10

Today the Eccles Bad Hymn Award judges will be looking at It ain't necessarily so, words by Ira Gershwin. If you Google "Top Ten Atheist Hymns," you find this one at Number 4, with the immortal Imagine at Number 1, and this song is what we shall hear when Anthony Grayling and Richard Dawkins lead the singing at prize-giving ceremonies in their New College of the Humanities.

E: So, Mr Gershwin, thanks for coming along to tell us about your hymn. It is very popular isn't it?

IG: Great to be here, Eccles. Yes, my hymn is sung by many atheists, and also by some of the more modern Christians. We heard it at the last Tablet Christmas pantomime for example... don't you think that Nicholas Lash and Tina Beattie made a wonderful pantomime horse?

Catherine Pepinster

Catherine Pepinster and her staff rehearsing for the Tablet Christmas pantomime

E: Yes, indeed, but let us look at your hymn. The t'ings dat yo' li'ble to read in de Bible, it ain't necessarily so. Well, I wouldn't like to be in your shoes if Peter Mullen or Damian Thompson were around - not exactly the Queen's English is it - but I guess that the general message is clear.

IG: Yes, it pains me to say this, but I cannot accept the literal truth of the entire Bible.

E: Fair enough. I think most of us can take it that the exact details of the stories of David and Goliath, Jonah and the whale, and Methuselah may be open to debate.

Jonah's whale?

It don't necessarily contain a prophet.

IG: So we're agreed then.

E: Well, not exactly. For a start, you seem to limit yourself to rather obscure Old Testament legends, rather than actually attempting to tackle the more significant parts of the Bible. And then you give us some lines which can only be described as "utterly evil."

IG: As bad as that, eh? You don't mean my beautiful chorus?

Wadoo, zim bam boddle-oo,
Hoodle ah da wa da,
Scatty wah!
Oh yeah!...

E: No those are very moving words, and depict mental instability in a way that nobody has managed since - with the possible exception of Paul Inwood.

IG: Richard Dawkins sings those words in his bath. Can't get them out of his head.

E: My point exactly. No, I was really referring to:

Dey tells all you chillun
De debble's a villun,
But it ain't necessarily so!

Now, are you claiming that the Debble - er, Devil - is not the immensely evil personage depicted in traditional religious thinking, but rather a kind benevolent Rowan Williams sort of figure?

De Debble?

Probably not de Debble.

IG: Um, well, he's has a bad press, perhaps. Still I do have some good advice to give your readers.

To get into Hebben
Don' snap for a sebben!
Live clean! Don' have no fault!
Oh, I takes dat gospel
Whenever it's pos'ble,
But wid a grain of salt.

Hebben is not the only possible destination.

E: Ah yes, well, I'm sure we all wants to get into Hebben, Mr Gurblin (damn! you've got me doing it now). My advisers tell me that "Don' snap for a sebben!" is something to do with gambling, and obviously clean living and avoiding faults are also to be commended.

IG: Don't forget to take it with a grain of salt, Eccles!

E: Ah yes, so I would be allowed to snap for a few sebbens? And live slightly soiled with a few faults? Actually, that's rather reassuring. Thank you.

IG: You're welcome. Don't tell the atheists of your analysis, though, Eccles. Dey ain't necessarily gonna agree.

Pope forbids "Muslim" food

By Walim Ahdi of the Salafic Herald.

In response to the edict from a Salafi group that Muslims should not eat tomatoes because they are "Christian" food, the Pope has issued an encyclical De Cibo Musulmano, prohibiting Catholics from eating "Muslim" foods.


The tomato, food for pious Catholics. Note the sign of the Cross.

Unlike the faithful tomato, which suggests the purely Christian image of the Cross, other foodstuffs have distinctly Muslim connotations.

So today French bakers were up in arms, singing "Allons, enfants de la patisserie," as they learnt that croissants may no longer be consumed by Catholics.


Eating this says, "I am a Muslim." Bananas are similarly proscribed.

But less obvious foodstuffs are also on the Pope's "anathema" list.

cake Kaaba

One of these is a cake, the other the Kaaba in Mecca. Can you say which is which?

It is cakes, which often resemble Islamic buildings, that are considered particularly dangerous. This little girl will be getting a strongly-worded letter from her Bishop.


A heretical cake in the shape of a mosque. Note the four minarets.

Even concealing your cake is sometimes not enough. Here we see a deliberate attempt to evoke the image of a pious Muslim woman in a burka.


Easily mistaken for a Muslim woman.

Finally, the owner of this blog may be in deep trouble with Catholics and Muslims alike, since Eccles cakes, no less, often suggest the images of people from Islamic history.


Faces, yes. Not the Prophet. Honestly.

Other Christian denominations broadly agree with the Catholic line. As we see below, many Baptists also regard the tomato as a truly sacred fruit.


A young woman is baptised in tomatoes. (Pomodoro Baptist Church, USA.)

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Fr X's blog

Fr X's blog - what does the priest really say?

Fr X

Posted by Fr John Xylophone

I have been sent a pamphlet called The Great Sermon Handicap, apparently the memoirs of a British theologian called Bertram Wooster. In it I was horrified to detect a number of grave liturgical errors, signs of modernism, and other heresies. As usual, my highlighting in the extracts printed below is in bold and my comments are in red.

"There are about a dozen hamlets within a radius of six miles, and each hamlet has a church and each church has a parson [the correct term is "priest"] and each parson preaches a sermon [only one?] every Sunday. [No mention of holy days of obligation?] Tomorrow week – Sunday the twenty-third – we're running off the great Sermon Handicap. [They are in a state of mortal sin, discussing a priest's spiritual nourishment of his flock in these terms.] Steggles is making the book. Each parson is to be clocked by a reliable steward of the course, [are they unaware that "clocking" was forbidden by Pope Tempus III in 930?] and the one that preaches the longest sermon wins."

Fr  Wooster

A priest dares to ahow himself in public without proper vestments.

"Why, it’s a sitter for old Heppenstall," I said. [Show respect! The correct term is "Father Heppenstall," or perhaps "Fr H" if he has his own blog.] "He’s got the event sewed up in a parcel. There isn’t a parson [!!] in the land who could give him eight minutes. Your pal Steggles must be an ass, giving him a handicap like that. Why, in the days when I was with him, old Heppenstall [see above] never used to preach under half an hour, and there was one sermon of his on Brotherly Love [I trust that he preached in Latin. However, this is a very dubious subject for a homily] which lasted forty-five minutes if it lasted a second. Has he lost his vim [Latin for "power." We'll let this pass] lately, or what is it?"

Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount. Vim habet Jesus.

"Why," said Claude, "the first Sunday we were here, we all went to Twingchurch, [a parish unknown to me. Doubtless heretical] and old Heppenstall preached a sermon that was well under twenty minutes. [As agreed at the Synod of Basingstoke (the 1362 rite), all sermons should last exactly ten minutes.] This is what happened. Steggles didn’t notice it, and the Rev. [an insulting term for one of the Church's ordained priests] didn’t notice it himself, but Eustace and I both spotted that he had dropped a chunk of at least half a dozen pages out of his sermon-case as he was walking up to the pulpit. [As mere laymen, they were right not to interrupt the service by drawing attention to the missing pages.]

He sort of flickered [flickered? Such activities are generally regarded as liturgical abuses] when he got to the gap in the manuscript, but carried on all right, and Steggles went away with the impression that twenty minutes or a bit under was his usual form. The next Sunday we heard Tucker and Starkie, [priests unknown to me, so probably dangerous liberals] and they both went well over the thirty-five minutes, so Steggles arranged the handicapping as you see on the card." [At this point I gave up the book in disgust, and drafted a letter to the Pope demanding that this work of blasphemy be banned by the Vatican.]

burning book

Another blow against secularism.

P.S. Please "like" me on Facebook. If I get another 500 "likes" they will make me a Monsignor!

Tuesday 28 August 2012

The best in Catholic journalism

A few extracts from the work of some of our leading Catholic journalists.

Luke Coppen

We Catholics really have our backs to the wall.

Luke Coppen interviews Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.

LC: Now, you took part in the conclave at which Pope Benedict XVI was elected. Did you think that you yourself might become Pope?

CMOC: Yes, it seemed very likely, since the other cardinals, whenever they met me, would usually cross themselves and say "Lord, have Murphy" or sometimes "Lord, have Murphy-O'Connor's!" So I had a few names prepared, just in case. My first choice was Peter, but I didn't want to overshadow the other pope who bore that name. So I thought of some less-traditional alternatives, in order to continue our modernization of the Catholic church. Names such as Elton or Sting. Or Eminem. After all, I'm already "His Eminence," so "Pope Eminem," wouldn't have been much different.

LC: I gather you got on very well with Gordon Brown.

CMOC: Yes, indeed. Once you ignore his tendency to throw mobile phones at people, he is really a very nice man. I took to him because we both wanted to reduce the poverty gap between Britain and the Third World. Indeed, I gather that financially Britain is now as broke as most third-world countries, so in that sense you can say he succeeded.

Where's Wally?

Where's Wally? Damian Thompson at the Notting Hill Carnival.

Damian Thompson reports on the persecution of Catholics.

Is a shocking new wave of anti-Catholicism sweeping Notting Hill? Consider this: I saw a shop advertising "Catholic and chips," where people were queuing up to eat fried Catholic out of a newspaper. Elsewhere, shops are selling equipment for trapping Catholics by sticking hooks into their mouths.

You won’t have heard about this atrocious persecution. That's because – forgive me – I’ve played one of the oldest tricks in the journalist's book. For Catholics read Fish.

I think I need to go and have a lie down. The noise of the Notting Hill Carnival is driving me mad. Next week, if I'm feeling better, I'll blog about Joyce Grenfell's hairstyle.

Ecce Homo

Eccles Ecce Homo, by Cecilia Giménez

Sister Wendy Beckett analyses a newly-discovered fresco.

When we look at this charming painting of our Saviour, what is our first reaction? Do we see a handsome young film star, a 1st century Jewish preacher, or a monkey in a hoodie? What is the artist trying to say here? Is she saying that our Lord is the King of Kongs? Or simply that, if it were not for the divine spark given to us, we should also be merely great apes? Is a monk all that different from a monkey?

The genius who painted this fresco - wonderful in its simplicity and naivety - is saying all these things, and more. Do you remember those lovely words in the Book of Kings? ... brought from thence gold, and silver, and elephants' teeth, and apes, and peacocks. I am sure that Cecilia Giménez had these beautiful lines in mind when she painted her fresco.

When we say our prayers tonight, let us reflect on this painting, on those words from Kings, and on the challenges they pose to us.

St Stephen of Hungary

St Stephen of Hungary, one of the politest men ever to use the Internet

St Stephen explains what Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith can teach us about manners

Fr Lucie-Smith occupies an honoured place in the Catholic Herald, and is universally known for his charm and courtesy. He...


OTSOTA The Archbishop of Corby

Hold it right there, dude! You may be a saint, King of Hungary, and one of the most famous celebrities ever to come out of Esztergom, but that cuts no ice with me, squire.

When someone writes on the Catholic Herald website, we need to know whether they are writing in their capacity as saint, royal personage, and celebrity blogger, or simply in a private capacity.

We in Corby have far more respect for those people who call us "boring pretentious windbags" than we have for those who try to make us "love one another..."

(Another 10,000 words cut here. Sorry!)

Sunday 26 August 2012

Parish of St Daryl the Apostate

Father Arthur writes:

REINTERPRETING ST PAUL. Today's epistle of St Paul to the Ephesians is a challenge to us, isn't it? How can St Paul's words "Wives should be subject to their husbands as to the Lord" possibly apply in the 21st century?

Of course, what Paul really meant was that one member of each married couple should be designated the "husband," while the other should be designated the "wife." It is not necessary for the husband to be male, nor the wife to be female. Indeed, in our modern world, where couples may be same-sex, transgendered, or "don't-know," it is important to escape from sexual stereotyping. St Paul, although he suffered from the disadvantage of living in a world where access to birth-control, abortion and pornography were severely limited, would certainly have agreed that this is the only way to go.

The blessed Sally Bercow

In our family, I'm the one who wears the trousers.

FREE MASS ON. This week, St Daryl's was pleased to welcome our Masonic brethren for a truly ecumenical Mass. Although, technically the Vatican has shown a slight disapproval of freemasonry in the past, as in Pope Ignitus's frankly-worded Encyclical De Masone Comburendo, we freely admit that we at St Daryl's are in the vanguard when it comes to liberal thinking. We all had a great time at the "Free Mass," especially when I said "roll up your trouser legs" and the congregation replied "we roll them up unto the Lord." Moreoever, the "funny handshake of peace" with our neighbours was another innovation that we may well use again in future weeks.

Freemason Mass

Masons - helping us to build bridges.

PUSSY RIOTS. Likewise, we at St Daryl's are showing our support for the so-called "Pussy Riot" girls, who attempted to bring the fresh air of liberalism into the stuffy old Orthodox church. We are making a humble gesture of solidarity with these heroic rebels against misogyny, capitalism and (Fr Pau, please find out what they were actually demonstrating against and fill in something here. Thanks) as this photo, taken before Sunday's Mass, indicates.

Pussy altar-servers

Our altar-servers, in their new vestments, waiting for "kick-off."

ST DARYL'S CAR PARK. In this era, when the main spiritual issues that concern us are global warming, climate change, the melting of the ice caps, and the extinction of fluffy polar bears, it is obviously unreasonable for us to come to church by car (Michael Mann, our churchwarden, has done a statistical analysis and says that every time a car parks at St Daryl's a fairy dies). Therefore, we have begun work to convert the church car park into a bus station, complete with a fast food outlet, newsagent's and "gay" bar (all profits to church funds). Unfortunately, this has necessitated the demolition of our shrine to the blessed St Daryl, but we must all make sacrifices in the name of progress.

Bus to Mass

The environmentally friendly way to travel to Mass.

LATELY DEAD. Keir Bertrand Russell Lenin Jones, age 85. Stanley Baldwin Kitchener Allenby Robinson, age 94. (Miss) Laurel Hardy Chaplin Groucho Brown, age 83.

RECENT BAPTISMS. David Harper Seven United Smith. Gaga Beyoncé Wilson. Julian Assange Ecuador Asil Nadir Taylor.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY. Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. 2 Kings 2:23.

Saturday 25 August 2012

Ave! Magazine

Ave! Magazine has the exclusive photos of the 80th birthday party of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, at which a galaxy of celebrities joined to wish the cardinal Ad multos annos.

The Sacred


Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor was clearly enjoying himself immensely.


Vincent Nichols sits by his mobile phone. "I'm expecting a man to call about a red hat," he explains.


Mgr Basil Loftus (centre) conducts a simple post-Vatican-II service of thanksgiving for the ministry of Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor.

Rochey and Pope

Pope Benedict XVI (Keeper of the Keys) receives from Arthur Roche (Keeper of the Padlocks) a catalogue of those churches in Rome destined for closure.

The semi-sacred


Damian Thompson, a Notting Hill journalist, grumbles that the carnival organizers asked him to play his piano more quietly, as they couldn't hear themselves revel.

Tony and Cherie

Tony and Cherie Blair, who generously waived half their normal appearance fee, were the life and soul of the party.

The definitely profane


Polly Toynbee explains how she went to Tuscany to see for herself how women were being oppressed by the Catholic Church.


"Am I overdressed?" quips Prince Harry, grandson of the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.


The Honourable Member for Bradford West (representing Julian Assange) shows Respect.

Boris and Kelly

Boris Johnson and Kelly Brook arrive by bike. Lance Armstrong wanted to come as well, but is banned from cycling.

One of the many gifts given to Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor


The Venus de Milo, lovingly restored by a little old lady.

Thursday 23 August 2012

Our return to Notting Hell

We decided to leave my bruvver Bosco hidin wiv Juliano Assangua in de Ecuadorian souvenir shop, and we came back to London to stay wiv our friend Damain Thopmson again. Dere is a lot goin on in London dis weekend, as I will rellate.

Little Gidding

We finds ourselves in Little Giddin.

We is still havvin a little trubble wiv our Satan-Nav, and instead of takin' us to London, it landed us in a holly place called Little Giddin. Our chuaffeur, Hannan, tapped de machine, and it stopped its usaul dialogge, originally programmed by Anti Moly:,

Turn left, no I mean right, look where you is goin you nearly hit dat little old lady you poor old fool, aint you gonna get your eyes tested? Woeful.

Instead it waxed poetical and said:

If you came this way, taking any route, starting from anywhere, at any time or at any season, it would always be the same: you would have to put off sense and notion.

Which is very luvvly, but don't help much when you is lookin for de A1 Motorway.

We is lost.

We is lost.

Still, we got back to London finally, and found dat Damain Thopmson had buoght an oil painting, called Moaner Lissa, which he wanted to give to his great friend Cradinal Murphy-O'Connor as an 80th birthday present. It used to belong to de Luovre in Paris, but Damain is a rich man cos of de runaway success of his book "De Fix," and he made em a generuos offer.

Anti Moly had been readin about an old Spannish lady who restored frescos, and said "I can do better dan dat." So she set abuot restorin de Moaner Lissa. Sadly, I fink dat at de end it didn't look quite right.

Moaner Lissa

Moaner Lissa, after restoratoin

Still, Damain says it will give Cradinal Cormac somefink to remember him by.

Damain was very excited too because he heard dat someone called Harry was phottographed wiv no clothes on. He was wonderin whevver it was Joanne Harry, de great juornalist, but it turns out to be a Prince.

Well, apart from Cradinal Cormac's birfday party, to which we is all invited, de other grate social event of de weekend is de Notting Hell Cranival. By traditoin, de gruonds of Castle Thopmson is given up to music and dancin, while Damain retires to de cellar and puts a pillow over his head. Dis sounds like fun.

Cormac dancin

Cradinal Cormac dancin at last year's Notting Hell Cranival

Wednesday 22 August 2012

The Book of St Richard, Chapter 12

Continued from Chapter 11

1. Thus it came to pass that Joseph Ratzinger, he whom they called Pope Benedict XVI, travelled to Britain.

2. For he said, "There are many pious and faithful Catholics on this island, who will be pleased to see me. Also many bishops, who would like to have their photographs taken with me."

3. But Richard had vowed to arrest Pope Benedict, and so he formed the Dawkins Constabulary.

Dawkins Constabulary

The Dawkins Constabulary in action.

4. Led by Superintendent Dawkins and Inspector Hitchens, the team included the mighty Sergeant Grayling and two other men and women known for their forensic skills, namely, Constables Stephen Fry (an expert on credit-card fraud) and Johann Hari (an expert on plagiarism and cyber-bullying).

5. But the lawyers told Richard that he could not arrest the Pope, saying unto him, Nolle prosequi, which is the Latin for "Grow up, you silly little man."

6. But, just to be on the safe side, the Pope came to Britain in a mighty chariot, known as a Popemobile, which defended him from all ill.


Pope Benedict XVI, in his Popemobile, en route for Birmingham

8. And the Pope was protected by his mighty Swiss Guards; they were armed with state-of-the-art Swiss Army knives, which could remove a stone from a horse's hoof, open a packet of peanuts, or pierce the soul of a heretic.

9. But the Pope was merciful, and did not succumb to the temptation of going to Oxford to flatten the house of the author of The Blind Birdwatcher and all that God Confusion tripe.

10. Thus Richard, humiliated, slunk away, and turned his attention to attacking faith schools. For he had produced a hard-hitting television documentary, explaining how children were indoctrinated.


A fanatic attempts to brainwash children into his views on x, y and z

10. But many of the people who watched the documentary said, "Who is this nutter? He's just trying to indoctrinate us. Let us change the channel and watch Strictly Come Dancing, for this week we shall see Polly Toynbee dancing with Eric Pickles, a sight that no man has seen before."

11. And so, to Richard's great dismay, the Catholics continued to teach that 2+2=4, and other controversial doctrines.

Chemistry lesson

And here's one to do at home when Mummy and Daddy have gone to bed

12. Thus, at end of the tenth year of the second millennium, Richard ceased not in his folly. And as he grew weaker, both bodily and mentally, the Lord God came unto him in a dream and said "Pack it in, you old fool."

13. But still he packed it not in.

Continued in Chapter 13.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Bosco finds an asylum

After my bruvver Bosco organized a Pusey riot in de Orfodox church at Wallsingham, de cops was onto him, and he had to flee de town quickly. "I needs an asylum," he said, which is somefink Anti Moly has been sayin about him for years.

We ended up in a small town called Blakeney, where we saw a building wiv a big sign outside it. Anti Moly told us it meant dat it was a Tibetan monasstery.

Llamas 'R' us

A mysterious sign

She told us once again how when she was a little girl she went to Tibet and met de Dolly Llama, who gave her lotsa gin. So we went into de building.

A very nice man came to greet us. "Buenos Dias, Señors and Señora, my name is Juliano Assangua. Would you like to buy a llama?" he said. "Or we have a fine range of Ecuadorian products and souvenirs."

Juliano Assangua

Juliano Assangua, a simple Ecuadorian shopkeeper

At this point Anti Moly, who had been knocking back de gin, made a dellicate request. "Could I use your toilet?" she said. "I need a quickie leak."

"Wikileaks? I deny it completely," said Juliano hastily. "I am a humble Ecuadorian shopkeeper, and not in the least a fugitive from justice."

Well, when dese missunderstandings were all sorted out, Señor Assangua agreed to let my bruvver Bosco hide in his shop for a few days. We left them watching a fascinating televisoin programme, in which de famuous Muslim polliticain George Gallifrey was discussin de crimes of Jack de Ripper and explainin dat dey was simply "bad sexaul etiquette."

Bad sexual etiquette

"Hello, hello, hello! It's another case of bad sexual etiquette!"

So for de moment we is returnin to London, where no doubt furver spiritaul opportunities awaits us.

Monday 20 August 2012

Bad Hymns 9

Today the Eccles Bad Hymn Award judges are honoured to welcome, hot-foot from Portsmouth, the one and only Paul Inwood.

Paul Inwood

Gregorian Chant bad, Inwoodian Chant good.

E: Great to see you here, Paul. I see that on your website you say of yourself: "He has extensive liturgical knowledge and experience, dynamic musical skills, and a commitment to a wide range of styles in liturgy and liturgical music."

PI: I'm also known for my ease in communicating with people and my wonderful sense of humour, Eccles.

E: Ah yes. So I see from your hymns. Shall we start with this one, Alleluia Cha-cha?

PI: Er, it's "Ch-ch," not "Cha-cha," actually.


Pardon me, boy. Is that the Alleluia choo-choo?

E: I see. Isn't "Ch-ch" rather meaningless? Why not make it "Alleluia Beep-beep," or "Alleluia Oink-oink?"

PI: Well, I was drawing on my extensive liturgical knowledge and experience when I wrote this hymn, Eccles.

E: Of course. Well there aren't many other words in the hymn, although I see that later on it goes "Alleluia, Alleluia-Ha." Your wonderful sense of humour, eh, Paul?

PI: I develop the "Alleluia" theme further in another hymn, Finger-Snap Alleluia. "SNAP! Alleluia."

Finger snap

Could this also be a Paul Inwood hymn?

E: Yes, that's wonderful, Paul. I see that "Finger-Snap Alleluia" is a copyrighted hymn.

PI: Yes, anyone snapping their fingers has to pay me royalties.

E: Now the last hymn I wanted to discuss with you has actually got some original words. It's Go and tell the world.

PI: The birds and the mammals are His.
The fish and the reptiles are His.
The millions of insects are His.
The germs and the microbes are His.

E: Well, Paul, your last line seems to suggest that God has a nasty illness, but I dare say there are other interpretations.

PI: Yes. Note that I left out amphibians, though. We in Portsmouth often ask ourselves, "Are newts His? Are frogs His?" So, to play safe, I omitted the amphibians.


And are the axolotls His?

E: Now, here's a spiritually moving couplet:

Our sisters and brothers are His.
Our fathers and mothers are His.

Er, what about other relatives? I have this great-aunt... is she His?

PI: I'm working on some more verses, Eccles. What do you think of this?

Our spots and carbuncles are His.
Our great-aunts and uncles are His.

E: Magnificent, Mr Inwood. You have single-handedly done for liturgy and music what nobody else has ever done.

Paul Inwood

Paul Inwood, weighing up the relative merits of "Alleluia, Ta-ta" and "Alleluia, Pip-pip."