This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday 29 September 2013

'Twas on the Monday morning Pope Francis came to call

With apologies to Flanders and Swann.

Now, let me explain this precisely...

'Twas on the Monday morning,
Pope Francis came to call.
He said a lot of clever things I didn't get at all.
It seems, when he explains the faith,  
Things aren't always made clear,
So I went to phone the Tablet up - a rag we all revere. 

CHORUS: Oh, it all makes work,
For the holy man to do!

Now what Pope Francis meant to say was...

'Twas on the Tuesday morning,
Ma Pepinster dropped in,
She told me that the Pope had scrapped the old ideas of sin.
"Abortion is OK now, 
Same-sex marriage too," she said. [said she.]
But this didn't seem too likely
So I e-mailed Father Zed. [Zee.]

CHORUS: Oh, it all makes work,
For the holy man to do!

What did the Pope really say?

'Twas on the Wednesday morning,
Father Z came in pursuit,
He sold me lots of coffee
And he taught me how to shoot.
He told me things were much the same
As they had been before,
But the day after his visit
I found Dawkins at my door.

CHORUS: Oh, it all makes work,
For the holy man to do!

You want me to walk on THAT?

'Twas on the Thursday morning,
That Dawkins rang the bell:
Once he'd got across the threshold, 
Not so easy to expel.
He said, "God's a delusion
And the Catholics are vile,"
So I had to call a bishop in,
To say something worthwhile!

CHORUS: Oh, it all makes work,
For the holy man to do!

This is not usually the way to welcome a bishop.

'Twas on the Friday morning,
The bishop took his turn.
He said "For abstract doctrine,
I have really no concern.
Just do what seems all right to you,
And not what you've been taught."  
It sounds great, but I wanted
To be sure what the Pope thought.

CHORUS: Oh, it all makes work,
For the holy man to do!

On Saturdays and Sundays,
They're busy down in Rome,
So 'twas on the Monday morning,
That the Pope came to my home!

The scansion, as in the original, is irregular, but it works OK if sung.

A medieval French song

The manuscript of a previously-unknown French carol has come to light. It is attributed to the medieval monk Frère Graham Quendrique.

The underdog

Chien j'y sous-chien!
[The singer complains that he is always the underdog.]
Fille d'Islande vif dit farceuse clairet.
[A girl from Iceland says he is lively, but she is a jester who drinks claret.]

The girl from Iceland.

Blé ce spire rite Blaise!
[He invokes St Blaise to condemn a ritual involving binding wheat into coils.]
Ce tour hâtes Enfer!
[This prank hurries one to Hell!]

Beware pagan rituals!

Flou rit va flou!
[Confused, he laughs and goes.]
Fleur de naissance suive graissant merci!
[The flower denotes birth, but afterwards greasing (unction) may follow, thank God!]

Frère Graham looks forward to his deathbed.

Scène de four dur verte,
[The scenery is green, even if toiling at the oven is hard.]
Lourdes en laideur Pilate!
[He goes to Lourdes to atone for the ugliness of Pontius Pilate.]

The ugliness of Pilate.

H/T brother Ben Trovato for reminding me of Mots d'Heures: Gousse, Rames. An alternative translation of the song may be found here.

Saturday 28 September 2013

Have you tried Eccles's Blogg? Aw, go on! Go on!

A special article in the Daily Telegraph from Damian Thompson.

Damian Thompson

Eccles has taught me all I know about custard.

Here’s some advice for Kieran Conry, Richard Dawkins, Iain Dale, and Stephen Fry. If you didn’t catch up with Eccles's blogg this week, don’t bother now. You’ll spoil your weekend. On the other hand, everyone else is in for a treat. Forget those tedious Telegraph blogs and read something with genuine spiritual nourishment. As Arthur Conan Doyle would say: Go on. Go on. Go on, go on, GO ON!!!!

Mary Riddell

Mary Riddell - a poor imitation of Eccles's Anti Moly.

Eccles is at the forefront of modern blogging - and opinion forming. He adopted Cardinal Ouellet as a papal candidate, and soon afterwards Cardinal Belgrano was elected Pope. He criticised Arthur Roche, and this led directly to his promotion to archbishop, with responsibility for closing churches in Rome. He praised Paul Inwood's innovative approach to "Vogon" music, and the old man was sent packing by Bishop Egan.

Darth Vader, bagpipes, unicycle

Star Wars, bagpipes, unicycles - back in fashion since Eccles posted this on Twitter.

Eccles has an ear for music that Van Gogh (and our own bloggers Stephen Hough and James MacMillan) could only envy. Who else would dare to help Christina Rossetti rewrite In the bleak midwinter?

It was quite a nice day,
Not too hot or cold,
They had lovely weather
In the days of old.

Tom Chivers

Tom Chivers - I gave him a job thinking that he'd write about jelly.

Of course, there are some Telegraph bloggers who are not overshadowed by Eccles. Young Michael "Mi" Wright, is our Tech blogger, who tweets as @brokenteacuplad, and so far Eccles has not yet turned his hand to technology. Also, we've got Gerald Warner, Ed West, Peter Mullen and David Lindsay. Oh, did we lose them? Well, never mind.

Molly's World

Moly (now retired) was a troll that I employed to drive up the hits on my blog.

Eccles is also relatively silent on environmental issues, whereas we have our great double act of Geoffrey Fat and James Upthepole, to tell us (a) the world will burst into flames next week unless we ban all motor cars (b) we're heading for a new Ice Age.

But in general the Telegraph blogs cannot compete with Eccles. His best line of the week? Out go Humanae Vitae and the other fuddy-duddy documents! In comes your own Episcopal Encyclical Fac Rem Tuam (or, since Latin is obviously not "cool", you may just say Do your own thing).

Pope and Oyster card

A fan of Eccles wonders why his Oyster card has stopped working.

Which isn't to say that Eccles is always being rude about people. His Eccles Bible Project has now reached the book of 1 Chronicles, and throws new light on the subject of Jizreel, Jishma, Jidbash, and their sister Hazlelponi. Scholars have said that it includes the definitive study of Hazlelponi.

If only Eccles would agree to write for the Telegraph blogs! But he already writes, under various pseudonyms, for the Tablet, Beano, Luton Budgie-Fanciers Gazette, Babes in Custard, and other scholarly publications, so he simply hasn't got the time!

Luton budgie

The budgie-fanciers of Luton do not know how lucky they are!

Friday 27 September 2013

How to be a bishop

I receive many letters from Catholic priests in good standing, telling me that they have been sent letters similar to the following one. Naturally, they ask for my advice.

Bishop Jones

Uneasy lies the head that wears a mitre.

Dear Fr Crony, You have been specially selected by our computer to become Bishop of the diocese of Arrogant and Brittle. The job comes with a beautiful house in scenic Pease Pudding, and your own company bicycle. Accept now without delay! Yours, Pope Brian XIX.

Of course you'll say "yes", but what should you wear? It is important not to stand out from the crowd, and so I recommend an old football shirt for everyday wear. On ceremonial occasions (in particular, religious worship), you should wear the company uniform, including a mitre, but even a dog-collar is considered to be overdressing when you attend discos in aid of CAFOD.

Kieran the red

Now available in red!

As a bishop, you are the shepherd of your flock, but occasionally you will find that one of your priests has been "stitched up" in an article by an unscrupulous journalist. For example, the priest may write a blog, the contents of which are distorted, and made-up quotations added. Your duty is plain here - apologise for him. Explain that you don't read blogs. Do not on any account offend the press, the broadcasters or the secular media in general! By going against the general consensus of the Catholic Church, you will stand out as a man of principle!

Argus, godless

Well done, Bishop!

As a bishop you will be approached occasionally by off-beat organizations, such as GERIACTA, the organization of 80-year-old Catholic rebels who want to depose the Pope and set up a Politburo. Give them your support, Bishop! Arrange meetings with them, explain that dissent is the life-blood of the Catholic Church, and that we should welcome people of all beliefs and none! Why, if a leading Catholic institution such as the Mater Misericordiae Hospital in Dublin is prepared to conduct abortions (and to drop the "Mater" title, as it's really not appropriate now), it's clear that Catholic dogma must have changed beyond recognition. Out go Humanae Vitae and the other fuddy-duddy documents! In comes your own Episcopal Encyclical Fac Rem Tuam (or, since Latin is obviously not "cool", you may just say Do your own thing).


Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Another job of a bishop is to interpret Christian doctrine. There's no point leaving it to those guys in Rome - they don't understand the everyday problems of Arrogant and Brittle. Make some really outrageous statement such as "The gospel has little to say about sexual behaviour." When the laughter dies down, you will find that you have opened the floodgates to fornication, adultery, incest, homosexual acts, ... so you will make lots of new friends, and may get invitations to wild parties!

The sort of wacky fun that your new friends get up to.

Well, there's only one fly in the ointment, dear infallible bishop, which will stop you doing and saying exactly what you want. Some meddlesome traddy troublemaker with a totally different idea of a bishop's responsibilities may kick up a fuss. So keep a suitcase packed in case a quick departure is required!

CDF van

If this van draws up outside your house, be very afraid!

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Australian priest excommunicated

The Tablet and National Catholic Reporter are outraged by the news that a dissident Australian priest, Father Bill E. Bong, has been excommunicated.

Satanic Mass

Fr Bong refused to use a standard liturgy for the Mass.

In general the Catholic Church is pretty tolerant of dissidents - for example, if you are a politician and you wish to campaign for abortion, euthanasia or same-sex marriage, then it is recognised that the Party is a higher loyalty than God, and you must be permitted to sacrifice your ultimate salvation for your earthly career. However, a slightly higher level of loyalty is expected from deacons, priests, monsignors, bishops, etc.

Pope in hard hat

Fr Bong's threat to "clobber the Pope with a goolagong" was taken seriously.

Said a Vatican spokesman "You wouldn't expect a Catholic priest to associate with ACTA or say things directly in contradiction to Humanae Vitae, although we might turn a blind eye to that sort of behaviour on the old 'wheat and tares' principle. But when Fr Bong said that Satan was the Lord of the Universe, and he was definitely rooting for the old buzzard in the forthcoming battle of Armageddon, then even the CDF felt it had to take notice."

Dawkins and jam

Fr Bong admires Richard Dawkins (seen here drooling over a pot of jam).

So what now for Fr Bong? Perhaps a lucrative contract with the Tablet, where his modern views may be just the thing they're looking for? Or will Roehampton University want him to lecture on "Human Flourishing"? Will Father "Jack" Flannery welcome him to Ireland? Well, perhaps we should leave the last word with the good father himself.

Paul VI made it quite clear that you should follow your conscience. Hic!

Monday 23 September 2013

An Appetite for Wonder

We are delighted to be able to print an extract from Richard Dawkins's new book An Appetite for Wonder, the first instalment of his long-awaited autobiography.

bug in jar

This bug in a jar proves the non-existence of God.

From an early age I realized two things:
1. I am the cleverest person who ever lived, even greater than my hero Charles Darwin.
2. God does not exist.

You can keep all your great thinkers and philosophers: Aquinine, St Augustus, Decarthorse (memo: check names). They weren't fellows of New College, Oxford with their own Foundation. Nowadays, nobody has heard of them, except the Regius Professor of Divinity, and what does he know about the personal hygiene of flies? Well, there you are.

At school I won all the prizes: the Mrs Joyful Prize for Raffia-Work, the Charles Darwin Prize for Cricket (my essay on "why crickets don't need bats" was reprinted in the school magazine), and of course the Victor Ludorum Prize for the largest brain, measured at Standard Temperature and Pressure.

ugly fish

Would a loving God have allowed such an ugly fish to exist?

Where was God in all this, you may ask? Was He there when I called upon Him, at the age of five, to strike Nanny with a thunderbolt? No, all He gave her, in answer to my prayers, was a slight sniffle, and that would probably have happened anyway after I poured lemonade down her neck.

Darwin is really cool, don't you think? He debated with his critics in a masterly way. I admire the fact that he used to make public pronouncements saying that all Catholics were "vile"! Why on earth didn't they give him a knighthood? Come to think of it, why on earth don't they give me a knighthood? Or, better still, a peerage? I can trace my ancestry back to Sir Richard Dawknobs, the 18th century composer, who many said was greater than Handel. (See pages 48 to 61 for my family tree.)

dunce's cap

At school they gave me a special cap to wear.

The secret to life, by the way, is genes. And memes. And - a new hybrid that everyone has missed - gnomes! Basically, a human being is just a gnome's way of making another gnome. And you can never have too many gnomes. Gnomes are denizens of geological time: gnomes are forever.

Dawkins and horses

In Volume 2 - how the Catholic Mafia sent me horses' heads.

Sunday 22 September 2013

That 11,000-word interview with the Holy Father

Well, it's half an hour since that 11,000-word interview appeared, and our commentators are now ready to give an in-depth analysis of what the Holy Father said - or didn't say.

Mark's Gospel

Says St Mark, the author, "I'm thinking of calling it 'My Gospel'."

Our correspondent from the Jerusalem Tablet writes:

This interview certainly turns all religious thinking on its head. There is no direct condemnation of abortion, gay partnerships, murder, theft or adultery. So we can be fairly sure that Catholic teaching on these matters has been overturned, and the time has come to get rid of old-fashioned notions of "God" and bring religion more into line with the secularist agenda of the state. Emperor Nero has very enlightened views on same-sex marriage, you know.

Nero at Rome

"This interview will set Rome on fire," says Nero.

Moreover, there is no support for traditional forms of worship, so we at the Tablet are going to run that brilliant cartoon we published a few years ago.

Tablet cartoon

How the Tablet showed its respect for the Council of Trent.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Jerusalem Tradblog is also dissatisfied with the interview, and for more-or-less the same reasons. It writes:

Many of us look back with nostalgia to the days of John the Baptist, when sin was sin, and sinners were told they were damned. It's a pity that John lost his head as a result of an unfortunate encounter with a liturgical dancer called Salome - he might have given the Church the leadership it needed. If we are to believe what we read in Mark's interview, this new Man takes a more touchy-feely approach, and seems to have a certain sympathy for the poor, the needy, and the sinners. We can't see this catching on - why, they'll be suggesting that priests open soup kitchens next!

Savoy grill

Fr Blake's soup kitchen has certainly improved since the Argus paid him damages.

Probably neither of these publications has quite got to the heart of the matter.

The spiritual enneagram

Our attention was drawn to this event, advertised on the Leeds diocesan website. Note that Leeds has been sede vacante for over a year, since Arthur Roche moved to Rome - it seems that when the cat's away, the mice like to play.

Catholic paganism in Yorkshire?

For those who might find this event too exciting, other alternatives offered include "Day with Margaret Silf - The Other Side of Chaos" and "Circle Dance Weekend".

Many readers have asked me, "Eccles, what exactly is an enneagram, and how will it bring me spiritual nourishment?"

An enneagram - not to be confused with an enema.

"Yes, very helpful, Eccles," you are saying, "but what do I do with this nine-sided figure? Is it a map to help me with my liturgical dancing at Mass? Or do I wear it to repel demons?"

Well, this is tricky. Wikipedia tells us of the Enneagram of Personality, but it also says that it was criticised in a 2003 Vatican document Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life. A Christian Reflection on the 'New Age', so of course the good Catholic folk of Ilkley, however much they may like dancing round stone circles, are not going to touch the "Enneagram of Personality" theory. No, that's right out.

How bishops are appointed. The nuncio uses the enneagram to make a random choice.

I continued my investigations, but the number 9 occurs rather rarely in the Bible, unlike, say, 7, 12 or 40. Certainly, Og of Bashan had an iron bed nine cubits long, but it was not particularly spiritual as beds go. Much later, Jesus healed ten lepers, of whom only one came back to say "thank you", prompting the words, "Were not ten made clean? and where are the nine?" Probably they were out circle-dancing.

More worryingly, there are nine circles of Hell in Dante's Inferno. But surely the damned do not indulge in circle dancing when they get there?

Just the place for some circle dancing.

We may be getting nearer the truth if we sing a popular hymn, "Green grow the rushes-O", with its reference to "Nine for the nine bright shiners". Except that nobody is sure whether these are planets or orders of angels.

The nine orders of angels. In Ilkley they speak of little else.

Certainly, nine is an important number in Hinduism (symbolising perfection) and Norse Mythology too. So if we take an ecumenical viewpoint, nine-ness is certainly something we should strive for. Perhaps it will help us to levitate...

A man with no visible means of support, except his stick.

No, I'm sorry, the whole thing smacks of New Age mumbo-jumbo. Perhaps I'm too old-fashioned - and need to accept that the world is changing. This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, after all. All our cultural heritage is disappearing, as the following pictures show.

Traditional (L) and modern (R) vestments.

Saturday 21 September 2013

False Gods 1: Stephen Fry

Today we start a new series of posts, highlighting some of the more absurd things that people will believe in once they stop believing in God. And where better to start than with the cult of Fry?

Fry on Twitter

Yes, at the time of writing six million people in the world are zombies.

Worship of Fry is a strange phenomenon. Probably it starts with an appreciation of his skills (20 years ago) as a comedian. Remember Jeeves and Wooster? Actually, that was Fry's first miracle: the scripts were such a travesty of the original stories, and the performances were so hammed-up, that he made P.G. Wodehouse turn in his grave.

Wodehouse grave

The miracle of the unquiet grave.

It also gave Fry a reputation for intelligence, as if he himself (with a second-class degree) were as brainy as Jeeves. In the words of Oliver Goldsmith:

And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew, 
That one small head could carry all he knew.
Later, Stephen was to benefit from the "Robert Robinson" effect: by hosting a quiz show, you are regarded as a clever person who knows everything, rather than just someone who can read the answer to a question off a cue card.

Fry at St Trinians

Oh yes, I also know about Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, ...

Thus, once it was established that Fry's IQ was approximately 350, it was only natural for him to write a few novels. They tend to be scatological and otherwise unsuitable for decent people, but they do have the odd joke in them too.

What puts the great god Fry beyond criticism in the fact that he is bipolar. This means that he allowed to be vicious and nasty to people he doesn't get on with - broadly speaking, anyone cleverer than he is - and can play the "Ooh look, I'm bipolar like Elgar, Edgar Allan Poe, Florence Nightingale and van Gogh" card if they respond. With the implication that he is somehow as talented as these people were.


One of Stephen Fry's best-known paintings.

Actually, most bipolar people manage to go through life without throwing public tantrums all the time.

So why is Fry considered to be a divine Being? Well, partly because he is omnipresent. Turn on the TV, and there he is telling jokes about child abuse on QI. On the radio he is telling everyone all about Verdi and Wagner - and possibly comparing their bottoms, but I didn't stay around long enough to find out. Perhaps you escape to the theatre and see him playing Malvolio - don't boo, or he'll storm off stage. So you go to the pub, and there he is, telling David Cameron all about how Russia needs more "Gay Pride" marches.

One of his pet hates is religion. You see, he cannot believe in any Being superior to himself, and it annoys him. Instead of people going to the church of Fry to intone the mantra "Bottoms, bottoms, bottoms" on a Sunday, they go to a real church and say "Kyrie Eleison" - or - if fans of Australian singers - "Kylie Eleison," at least according to the Tablet. Also, even Pope Francis isn't going to go on any "Gay Pride" marches. Well, I think not.

rainbow stole

A present for Pope Francis (not worn).

Yes, Fry's comments on religion make even Richard Dawkins look polite and erudite: for example, this brilliant poem, evidently a product of his Edgar Allan Poe mood:

Mary had a little lamb 
It's fleece was white as snow 
All you religious ****s 
Just **** off and go. 
No more discussion with ***heads. Sorry.
(Since this blog is largely suitable for children, unlike the Twitter feed of Stephen Fry, I have had to do some editing here.) Oh, note the brilliant spelling "It's". All right, that's a cheap shot. A man who boasts of five degrees, even if most of them are honorary, can probably spell "Its".

Mary's lamb

Baa! And you can **** off too, Mr Fry.

No, I'm sorry, I have tried to bow down and worship Stephen Fry, but it just isn't possible. Definitely a false god.

Thursday 19 September 2013

Design your own Pope!

The rules are simple. Arrange the following eight qualities in order of importance, and the EcclestronTM computer will find you a Holy Father that matches your choice!

Pius IX

A. Infallible

invisible man

B. Invisible

Pope Francis

C. Inscrutable


D. Incorrigible

John-Paul II

E. Indefatigable

Peter Graves

F. Impossible

Benedict XVI

G. Indomitable


H. Inflatable

Warning: these pictures were posed by models, and not all of them are popes.

The qualities currently preferred, according to a poll organized by ACTA, are papal invisibility, incorrigibility and inflatability. Whereas those dreadful traddies prefer infallibility, indomitability and indefatigability.