This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Tuesday 30 April 2013

New saints' names available

Although it is no longer forbidden by Canon Law, many priests are unhappy about baptising babies with names that are neither Biblical nor the names of saints: for example, Jay-Z, Harper Seven, or Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily.


Some say that "Tiger" was given her name because she was stripy.

Pope Francis has noted these concerns, and has agreed to do a "bulk-canonization" of dead people with particularly silly names, so that in future Catholic parents will be able to use them without embarrassment. These may include non-Catholics of a particularly saintly reputation.

St Groucho

St Groucho.

An addition to people with silly names, the Pope is also planning to canonize representative people called Darren, Tracey, Barack, Harrison, Rock, Whoopi and Beyoncé, which are all popular names amongst modern Catholics.

St Eeyore

Some people would draw the line at a St Eeyore.

In a powerfully-worded editorial in the Tablet, Catherine Pepinster has argued that the Holy Father is not going far enough, and that names such as Tablet, Homophobia and Why-Won't-They-Ordain-Women should also be allowed. In a sense this is a return to the Victorian age, when names such as Chastity, Cleanliness and There-Is-No-Salvation-Outside-The-Methodist-Church were commonly given to babies. However, at present the Catholic Church is trying to avoid out-and-out silliness.

St Fudge

St Fudge, a bishop.

You must be Joe King

It has been reported that Mr Justice King (real name not Joe, but Tim) has upheld the sacking of science teacher Robert Haye by Deptford Green School after he told children that homosexual activity was disgusting and a sin, according to the Bible.


A Bible - don't tell kids what's in it, eh, Joe?

It is surprising that Mr King has a particular antipathy to the Bible, as it contains various other passages which show him in an undeservedly favourable light, such as:

Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Psalm 2:10.

A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes. Proverbs 20:8.

Mr Justice King scattereth away all evil with his eyes.

But perhaps the good judge is more worried that the following verse may become well known:

They are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen: there is none among them that calleth unto me. Hosea 7:7.

A fallen king

A fallen king, having been kneed in the groin by a bishop (probably Philip Egan).

Although Mr Haye is perfectly correct in pointing out that homosexual acts are regarded in a somewhat dim light by the Bible, he is on dodgier ground when he says "anyone who worships on Sunday is basically worshipping the Devil." So, if you wish to worship the Devil, Mr King, it's the second Wednesday in the month only (coffee is available after the service).

Sunday Worship

Devil worship (er, basically, that is).

We must not leave without mentioning one of Joe King's finest moments as a lawyer (apart from this one, of course). It seems that in 2006 he happily defended BNP leader Nick Griffin on charges of inciting racial hatred. Admittedly, in their pursuit of money, lawyers are often expected to defend people whose views they don't agree with. I couldn't find an acceptable photo of Nick Griffin, so here is the next best thing.

Nick Griffin

The acceptable face of griffinhood.

It has not yet been determined in a court of law whether it is acceptable for schoolteachers to tell their classes that Mr Justice King is a complete idiot. Perhaps they will be able to work it out for themselves.

Sunday 28 April 2013


So we reach Chapter 2 in the Eccles Bible project, explaining the Bible in simple terms to an atheist called Richard who hasn't yet got the hang of it. We started with Genesis, remember.

Egyptian scene

Our story resumes in Egypt.

In fact I have already been condemned for heresy for not explaining carefully enough about scriptures being divinely inspired, etc., but let's continue to dumb down slightly and get to the story, which is a cracking good read.

Now, we're going to see a lot of miracles in this chapter: burning bushes, plagues, and the parting of the Red Sea, for starters. You atheists are naturally a little unhappy with this: we don't know what the laws of physics actually are, but whatever they are, we mustn't break them. It's a bit like most modern legislation in fact - is it legal to upset a police dog by saying "Miaouw" to it? But I digress...

upset dog

An upset police dog.

Still, if God exists then He can certainly break the laws of physics. But if He doesn't, then He can't. We'll see more of this later.

Now if you've been paying attention, you'll realise that the Israelites are very important in the Bible, and the first part of Exodus is all about how Moses helps them escape from the dangers of life in Egypt, and head off towards the promised land.

Egyptian dangers

Moses (R) observes the dangers of life in Egypt.

Their way out of Egypt is blocked by water; Moses parts the Red Sea and the Israelites escape. Now, Richard, before you say "Pshaw! An invisible god that we don't understand causing the sea to move. How can that be?" (you were going to say that, weren't you?) let me point out that the tides you take for granted already cause the sea to move by an invisible force - gravity - that we don't understand, even if we have some equations to describe its action.

Well, this is Whitby

If I told you that the moon was somehow involved, would you believe me?

Now, Moses is going to have some interesting times in the desert. There's this business of the Ten Commandments, for starters (these will also turn up in Deuteronomy, with a slightly different wording). I'm sure you'd agree with some of them - if you get a reputation for killing, telling lies and stealing they're not going to invite you to prestigious international conferences, are they, Richard? Although if your killing is restricted to young babies, then President Obama will bless you, if that's what you'd like.

Richard worships a rabbit

Bowing down to worship idols (even rabbits) is also a no-no.

Anyway, God sets up a covenant with Moses and the Israelites. Arguably, this is the third covenant we've seen so far, as there were previous (less detailed) deals cut with Noah and Abraham. However, this is the most significant, and says that if the Israelites behave themselves, then they will be God's special people. Until Jesus comes along to upset the apple-cart, this is what people will be mostly working with.

The rest of Exodus is mainly concerned with constructing a tabernacle, regarded as a place where God can dwell. You're going to have trouble with this, Richard, as obviously if God exists then He is close to us everywhere, but it's useful to have a particular holy place to focus on.

Plan of the tabernacle

Moses, you will also need a hammer, a Phillips screwdriver, and a lot of faith.

So we're rapidly approaching the end of Book 2 of the Bible, and I think I've picked out some of the more important bits for you. What comes next is Leviticus, in which there's a lot less action, and a lot more in the way of rules and regulations, but let's finish with another action photo from the earlier part of Exodus.

plague of frogs

An Egyptian conference on Anura zoology.

Adopt a Deacon!

Some of you will remember dat a few weeks ago I adopted a random cradinal - in fact de website assinged to me Cradinal Ouellet. De good man didn't make it to Pop, but he has been in de news recently, cos de Pop sent him to tell de English and Welsh bishops dat dey aint all saved, cos some of dem aint been standin up for truth and justice.

Magic Circle

Why is it always you four that I read about on Eccles's blog?

Anyway, we gotta new scheme goin now, which is to adopt a deacon. After all, cradinals is generally pretty well off, both spiritaully and materially, whereas deacons is de lowest of de low, often wiv naggin wives and screemin kids, and perhaps a parish priest wot gets em to unblock de drains after Mass.

liturgical plunger

A liturgical plunger - essential equipment for a deacon.

Anyway, I singed up for de new "Adopt a Deacon" scheme, cos I know many very good deacons wot could benefit from a few prayers, gifts of old socks, and so forth. In fact dere is one wot lives in de beuatiful town of Barrow-in-Furness and runs a website called Protect de Pop. I was hopin to get him, so I buoght myself de ceremonial pjyamas of de Swiss Gaurd, so dat I cuold do a bit of pop-protectin myself.

Swiss pyjamas

My new pair of pjyamas.

Also I got a Swiss army knife, wot has got a special blade for stabbin atheists with.

Still, it was not to be, dey has assinged me a very miserable deacon in Croydon, wot spends his time moanin at uvver Cathlics. Dis is gonna be a big challenge for me but I is gonna bring a little sunshine into de man's life.


De place where I is gonna bring sunshine.

In fact dere has been even more recent developments, as I has been invited to become a deacon myself. I got dis very interestin e-mail from someone called Chuck Umunny in Nigeria, wot told me I could become a deacon by a correspondence course. All I gotta do is give him my bank detials, date of birth, and other pussonal detials such as de name of my favuorite actress (Tina Beattie). In fact de trainin won't take long, as it aint very hard to do deaconly fings, you just says de black and does de red, as a friend of mine puts it - and, of course, you puts de plunger in and woggles it a bit once de priest has blessed de drain.

I may also have to trade in my red beretta (to which, strictly speaking I is not entitled) for a deacon's hat. Dis is de one I has chosen.

deacon's hat

Wot deacons gotta wear in church.

So, if de course goes as planned, I will soon be Deacon Eccles. I will keep you posted.

Saturday 27 April 2013

The dark side of Catholic Voices

What is this sinister organization known only as Catholic Voices - is it linked to the Freemasons, Opus Dei, Mafia or the North Korean government? In a special guest post, Damian Thompson expresses his concerns.

Kathleen Griffin

The Faceless Kathleen Griffin (official CV portrait).

Whenever the media wish to hear the views of a Catholic on one of the major religious issues of our day - for example, the election of Pope Francis, the government's attempts to redefine marriage, or whether coleslaw is so called because it resembles the inane witterings of the Rev. Richard Coles - you can be sure that Catholic Voices will worm its way onto the airwaves.

albino monk

A sinister albino monk - is he the power behind Catholic Voices?

Oh, they wouldn't let me join, would they? They said I had a squeaky voice and couldn't be relied on not to storm out of the studio if challenged by Peter Hitchens. Wasn't it simply that they were scared that, if they taught me the funny handshake and the secret passwords, I could expose them to the world?

Austen Ivereigh

Austen "Ronnie Corbett" Ivereigh - told me to grow up.

Look at the people involved: Jack Valero (Opus Dei), Caroline Farrow (mother of 12, and bullying commentator on my blog), Peter Williams (Right to Life), ... well, the list speaks for itself. Then look at how they are funded - by donations from individuals and organizations. That's very mysterious, don't you think?

Mugabe and his cash

Robert Mugabe - a prominent Catholic. Does he donate to CV?

Paul Priest, Archbishop of Corby, adds his own concerns.

Brilliant article, Damian! Have you noticed that many of the Catholic Voices people are converts? This means that, say ten years ago, they may have been atheists, Muslims, Satanic fire-worshippers... who knows what? Do we really want Satanic fire-worshippers speaking out for the Catholic church?


On the side of the angels...

What's more they promote the time-bomb of Vatican II-type liturgical/doctrinal/moral Vichyist revisionism. Trust me, I know an ontological paradigm shift when I see it - we were warned about them in the encyclicals of Pope Benedict XVI, which I've read from cover to cover, not to mention the complete works of Dan Brown.


Piero Marini presents Pope Benedict XVI with a liturgical/doctrinal/moral time-bomb.

So there we have it. Be afraid... be very afraid. These faceless anonymous secretive people, who are never off your television screens, are clearly hiding something very sinister.

Saturday Live

Welcome to Saturday Live with me, Richard Coles, and Sian Williams. As usual we have a dazzling array of remarkable guests, who we've invited in to tell their extraordinary stories.

Richard Coles

Father Coles.

Today I'm meeting some grossly-misunderstood people who have suffered a little "brouhaha" in their lives. So I'm pleased to welcome:

Dennis Nilsen, cook, civil servant and Muswell Hill murderer; 
Rosemary West, housewife, mother and serial killer;
Ian Brady, the Moors murderer; and
Peter Sutcliffe, HGV driver and Yorkshire Ripper.
Now, moving as I do in fashionable liberal circles, I sometimes find myself challenged by old-fashioned Biblical teaching, such as "Thou shalt avoid brouhaha," and I expect my guests will have something to say on the subject!


Fun for all the family!

Dennis, perhaps you'd like to start! Were you shocked by all the fuss made about your infringements of the law?

DN: Yes, indeed, Richard. People focus on my serial killing without mentioning the fact that I am able to bake fantastic home-made chocolate eclairs.

RC: Yes, such an obsession with your extra-curricular activities does seem to be uncalled-for. Well, I love chocolate eclairs too. Rosemary, do you have any good recipes you'd like to share with us?

chocolate eclair

Guess which serial killer made this delicious eclair!

RW: Well not really. I only accepted your invitation to come on this programme because I was told that I'd be meeting Kermit Gosnell. He's a real hero of mine.

RC: Sorry, Rosemary, we couldn't get him. He's been booked to do Thought for the Day, instead. Now, Ian, I gather you're interested in fell-walking...

Friday 26 April 2013

Vinston Nichill to appear on £5 note

The Bank of England has announced that Archbishop Vinston Nichill of Westminster, who led England and Wales to victory against the forces of modernism and secularism during the dark days of 2013, is to appear on the new £5 note.

Vincent Nichols fiver

"I have nothing to offer..."

Sir Mervyn King, governor of the Bank, announced the plan today. From 2016, Nichill will be portrayed on the £5 note along with a picture of Westminster, the scene of so many of his triumphs.

It is expected that people will soon start to refer to the £5 note as "Nichols," which is, curiously, how Americans refer to their 5-cent coin. It is believed that the two will soon be worth roughly the same.

Mervyn King went on to hint that other church leaders may feature on future banknotes. "Welby, Sacks, ... why even Kieran Conry or Giles Fraser could be chosen!" he quipped.

Vinston Nichill himself received the news humbly: "In the battle for a red hat, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

Warwick Street

Happy citizens in Warwick Street, the scene of one of Vinston's greatest triumphs.

The Book of St Richard, Chapter 17

Continued from Chapter 16

1. So the year of Our Lord two thousand and thirteen arrived, and Richard said unto himself, "What deranged things can I do now?"

2. For he was a man of great years and great wealth, but he was bored.

3. He said unto himself, "I have attacked the Catholics, but they laugh at me. Yeah, and they write books such as The Dawkins Delusion, and The Blind Dawkins, yeah, and even The Selfish Dawkins, which mock me."

4. Thus he resolved to attack the Muslims as well. Which was actually rather courageous, because the Muslim turneth not the other cheek as a rule. Indeed in some cases his wrath waxeth exceeding hot.

a humble Muslim

A humble Muslim bringeth gifts to Richard Dawkins.

5. So Dawkins spake loudly on the Twitter, which hath the advantage that it may be used from a bunker deep underground, and condemned the Muslims.

6. For forty days and forty nights he condemned them and insulted them. Until people said, "If Richard hateth Islam so, then perhaps there's something to be said for it after all?"

7. And there was a man named Meh-di Ha-san, of the hosts of Puff-ing-ton, who was himself a Muslim.

8. So Richard cried out, saying "Let him not speak! For he believeth in wing-ed horses."

winged horse

Cry "Mehdi! Mehdi!" and this horse will come and rescue you.

9. But the disciples of Richard cried "Shame! Shame! After all, it is only the New Statesman, which no man readeth anyway."

10. And some men began to question whether Richard was really infallible, as they had always believed.

11. After this setback, Richard was sore distressed, but his heart was uplifted when a prestigious magazine, the Beano, named him as the world's top thinker.

12. To which Richard responded with eloquence, saying, "D'oh..."


The runner up in the "top thinker" poll.

13. For, as it is written in the book of Eccles-iastes, the race is not to the swift, nor even to the clever, but simply to the one with the greatest publicity machine and his own sycophantic website.

14. For otherwise, one might have given the prize to one of many Nobel prize winners, or Fields medallists, or distinguished writers and scholars.

15. Why, they might have given it even to Joseph Ratzinger, he that is called Pope Emeritus.

Richard Dawkins

Richard "Thinker" Dawkins realises that he's forgotten to put any clothes on.

16. And Richard rejoiced exceedingly, saying "The Beano hath spoken. I am indeed the greatest thinker of our time, greater even than Stephen Fry, or Joan Bakewell, or Melvyn Bragg."

17. "What is more, I am modest as well; for when a man praiseth me, I publish his words on my website, and on Twitter, and on a big notice-board outside my house in Oxford. But otherwise I hold my peace."

Continued in Chapter 18.

The Book of St Richard started here.

Thursday 25 April 2013

Bad Hymns 20

The judges of the Eccles Bad Hymn Award have chosen a children's hymn today; this means that is it performed at "family services," and will drive to drink anyone over the age of about 6.


If I were a butterfly, I’d thank you Lord for giving me wings.

Eccles: So, welcome, Brian Howard, author of "If I were a butterfly." Yours is a wonderful hymn - I heard it sung in the London Oratory recently, to the Gregorian chant Si papilio essem. Or was it a Bach cantata? I forget.

BH: Thank you so much, Eccles. It's great to be recognised on a blog of this distinction.

E: Do butterflies actually thank the Lord for giving them wings, Brian? Or are you supposing yourself to be trapped in a butterfly's body? In which case wouldn't you be saying "O Lord, get me out of here!"?

BH: That's too deep for me, Eccles. Still, I can also offer you robins, fish, elephants, kangaroos...

E: "If I were an octopus, I’d thank you Lord for my fine looks." Do you think that octopuses have "fine looks?"


A fine-looking octopus.

BH: Well, compared with some ugly spotty children I've seen... and of course cephalopod molluscs may have different standards of beauty from the rest of us.

E: Now, the hymn does have a chorus: "You gave me Jesus and you made me your child," etc. Not bad, really. But those animals... You couldn't drop the animals and keep the chorus, I suppose?

BH: What, and lose lines like "If I were a wiggly worm, I’d thank you Lord that I could squirm?"

E: Is squirming a good thing? Or were you stuck for a rhyme? Still, let's come to one of the highlights of the song, and the bit where the grown-ups present start squirming.


Si ursus fuzziwuzzus essem...

BH: "If I were a fuzzy wuzzy bear, I’d thank you Lord for my fuzzy, wuzzy hair." Note that bears do appear in the Bible, unlike octopuses.

E: Ah yes, Elisha, who didn't have fuzzy-wuzzy hair, summoned two of them to eat up some rude children. 2 Kings 2, in fact.

BH: We don't teach that bit in schools so much nowadays.


Elisha - spare the bear and spoil the child.

E: Before you go, I would like to mention another hymn: this one's by Mick Gisbey. It's the grasshopper song. Shall we sing it together?

Both: I'm not a grasshopper 
I'm a giant in the Lord! 
I'm not a grasshopper
I'm a giant in the Lord! 
I'm not a grasshopper
I'm a giant in the Lord! 
I'm not a grasshopper
I'm a giant in the Lord!

Not a giant in the Lord.

BH: Of course if I were a grasshopper, I wouldn't sing that song.

E: Let's not go there, please. Brian Howard, thank you very much.

Previous entries for the Eccles Bad Hymn Award:

Lord of the Dance.    Shine, Jesus, shine.    Enemy of apathy.    Walk in the Light.
Kum Ba Yah.    Follow me.    God's Spirit is in my heart.    Imagine.    Alleluia Ch-ch.
It ain't necessarily so.    I, the Lord of sea and sky.    Colours of day.    The red flag.
Go, the Mass is ended.    I watch the sunrise.    Bind us together, Lord.    Our god reigns.
My way.    Ding-Dong! The witch is dead.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Atheists to issue nude calendar

Following the water attack on Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Mechelen-Brussels, by topless "Femen" protestors from Kiev, unwilling to tolerate Catholic teaching on homosexuality (and probably almost everything else), atheists have decided that the best way to get their message across is to strip off. The first Atheists' Nude Calendar is already being prepared.

Archbishop Léonard

Archbishop! Buy our calendar!

Said a prominent atheist, Prof. Brian Cox of Manchester: "The production of J/ψ mesons is studied in pp collisions at √s=7 TeV with the CMS experiment at the LHC. The measurement is based on a dimuon sample corresponding to an integrated luminosity of 314 nb−1. The J/ψ differential cross section is determined, as a function of the J/ψ transverse momentum, in three rapidity ranges. Which basically means, 'If I strip off it will persuade more people to take me seriously.'"

Brian Cox

Brian Cox, March's Calendar Boy.

Of course, female atheists are also anxious to contribute their charms to the cause of denying God in the home. Said Polly Toynbee of the Guardian, "Recently, I haven't been stripping off so much, but I am allowing the producers of the calendar to use an old photo taken in my wilder student days."

Polly Toynbee

Polly Toynbee (Miss December) in her student days.

Another exhibitionist, er, I mean selfless contributor to the cause of atheism, is Stephen Fry, who posted on Twitter: Whooooooooooooop!!!!! Life is so rich and varied. Lovely Stephen, you're a naughty boy! Bless!

Stephen Fry in the bath

Stephen Fry (August), also posted his bathtime video on Youtub.

But what of Richard Dawkins, the "Unholy Father" of British atheists? Will he be baring all for the sake of persuading people that God does not exist? No, so far he is remaining modestly covered up, to the annoyance of his fellow-atheists. Some people are just shy and self-conscious, don't you find?

Dawkins goes swimming

Even when he goes swimming, Richard keeps his shirt on.

So far it seems unlikely that any Christian organizations will be producing a rival nude calendar, although Giles Fraser has declared himself "willing to strip off if the money's good enough."

Tuesday 23 April 2013

St George

April 23rd is St George's day, so if your real name happens to be Jorge Mario Bergoglio, or if you are English, Greek, Catalan, Bulgarian (and a whole lot more), or live in Preston (yes, really), Genoa, Rio (and a whole lot more), then you will be dancing in the streets today!

St George and the dragon

Of course, if you are a dragon, you will not be celebrating.

Some people who will not be celebrating quite so enthusiastically are the good folk of Bury St Edmunds. Until the middle ages, Edmund was the patron saint of England (he blogged under the name On the side of the Angles), and like George he was a martyr. Still, there is nothing to stop you wearing a sugar-beet in your button-hole on November 20th if you do wish to honour this great Suffolkman.

St Edmund

The Vikings win this round.

Georgia, Egypt, Romania, ... but not Ireland, of course, where St Patrick is celebrated. He's known for driving all the snakes out of Ireland, which seems to be slightly easier than driving all the dragons out of England - unless there weren't very many in the first place. But we must not forget Preston.

St George's church, Preston

St George's church, Preston. Note the absence of dragons.

Ethiopia, Portugal, Iraq (???) ... Anyway, the villain of our story is the Emperor Diocletian, who for some reason didn't like Christians. "Nasty, vile, bigots!" he called them. Nothing changes much, does it? So on April 23rd 303 he tortured St George a little, just to make things more interesting, and then decapitated him. Probably a simple death from Viking arrows would have been more enjoyable.

St George stamp

St George, as seen by the Vatican.

Well, let's see the St George's flag, in its most usual manifestation - at least in England. Whenever the England football (soccer) team is in distress, which is every two years or so, the whole nation prays to St George - which is tough luck if the opponents are India, Ukraine, Serbia, ...

St George the footballer

St George, pray for us all.