This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Monday 30 June 2014

Elton John tells us about Jesus

Sir Elton John, the musician, best known for his song "Scandal in the Wind", gives us this in-depth of analysis of Jesus, and what He would have said and done if he had "been alive today".

Jesus was basically a very Christian sort of person, you see; of course, he would have dropped the awkward bits of Christianity, such as claiming to be the Son of God, and perhaps gone in for a more touchy-feely version of the faith, perhaps influenced by Buddhism. Maybe he would have become a Jedi knight, and preached a good wholesome creed such as "May the Force be with you" (et cum spiritu tuo, Ed.) before hitting people with strip lights.

Morecambe and Wise, and Elton John

Elton John, with Jorge Bergoglio and Damian Thompson, in the 1970s.

Probably, Jesus would have come out as a gay man and entered into a civil partnership and then marriage with John, "the beloved disciple". Next, by means of a mysterious procedure which probably involves women somewhere along the line - but this isn't important - they'd have produced a couple of bizarrely-named sons, perhaps called Jeffrey Elton Messiah-John and Dwight Furniture Messiah-John.

Jeffrey John

Jeffrey Elton Messiah-John.

Of course Jesus was all about love, compassion, forgiveness and having a really kinky time - especially when this means that two or more people of the same sex - or hey, even different sexes! - can get together and do what they like. My old friend Jorge (like me he changed his name to something cooler) has stripped his church down to the bare bones, and when he said "Who am I to judge?" his real message was "Elton, get your trousers off!"

Morecambe and Wise, and Elton John

More from the historic meeting of Damian, Jorge and Elton.

Of course what Jorge needs to do now is to appoint lots of gay priests, especially married ones. It's what Jesus would have wanted, and I know that this is one of the pope's main priorities. I have offered my services as an adviser on spiritual matters, along with other great minds such as Catherine Pepinster and Nancy Pelosi, and I expect to be given a humble role - perhaps as Cardinal John, head prefect (and milk monitor) of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith - just as soon as the pope gets round to reading my e-mail!

skeleton at piano

Elton plays "Scandal in the Wind".

Sunday 29 June 2014

The Cormac wakes

Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Cormac sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides: above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages and will lie
Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by men and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
These words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, came to mind this week as we saw the fabulous Cormac rise to the surface with a letter to the effect that the law was doing little to protect religious liberties.


Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor takes charge.

Yes, after a fifteen-year sleep, in which it lay deep in its Westminster grot, and let the world go to the Devil without doing a great deal to stop it, the Cormac has arisen! And it's angry!

For the Cormac has noticed that Catholic adoption agencies have been forced to close, and that bed-and-breakfast owners are being coerced into hosting activities which are unequivocally condemned by their religion! And it has written to the Telegraph about it!


Disgusted of Chiswick.

In this, it is simply following in the steps of our Lord, who once wrote to the Jerusalem Telegraph in these tones:

Dear Sir,
I have recently noticed that the Temple of Jerusalem is being used for money-changing, as well as the selling of sheep, oxen and pigeons. It really is appalling! What a generation of vipers we see around us these days!

Yours sincerely,
Jesus Bar-Joseph.

cleansing of temple

It really is appalling!

Of course, the Cormac is not without influence. Ten years ago it took umbrage at the controversial journalism of Damian Thompson at the Telegraph, and wished to see him enter a voluntary period of prayer and reflection (© +Lancaster). And lo! a miracle occurred, and the Dame is now exiled to the Spectator!

With the Cormac arisen from the depths, what other fabulous creatures remain there in a deep sleep? Will we see the legendary Vin (Cardinalis Nichols) rise from its slumber? Today would be a good opportunity for it to condemn London Pride marches...

London pride

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Some commentators claim that there is a whole school of fabulous sea creatures keeping their heads down, and refusing to take a moral lead. We have even heard them described as the Catholic Fish-shops of England and Wales, although this may be a mishearing.

How to pray

The Bible gives several useful tips on what to say when you pray, but is less clear when it comes to matters of posture. Our experts have identified five possible positions you may choose to adopt.


Kneeling, the old-fashioned way (Posture 5, below).

1. Standing. This is very popular nowadays (even in parts of the Extraordinary Form Mass), although a pedant might argue that it goes against Matthew 6:5, And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Moreover, it means that anyone behind you who is kneeling cannot see what is going on.

5 postures

The 5 sacred postures.

This aside, there are four postures which make use of the pews/seats:

2. Sitting, and leaning back. This is roughly as antisocial as tilting your seat back on an aeroplane. It limits the possible postures adopted by the person behind you - of the ones listed below, your neighbour can still manage 3, but 4 and 5 will be prevented.

women ministers

Ladies, no slouching, please!

3. Sitting, and leaning forward. Bad for the back muscles, but perhaps the best if you refuse to kneel.

4. Sit/kneeling, with backside on seat and knees on the hassock/kneeler/cushion embroidered with a picture of Micky Mouse (whichever your church provides).

pope and bishop

The pope is unimpressed by a bishop's praying posture.

5. Kneeling, with backside unsupported, and body leaning against seat in front. This is surely the most recommended for saved persons, if possible. Of course it is also the most tiring.


An alternative praying position, not discussed here.

Well, now we come to today's question of church etiquette.

QUAERITUR: The lady in front of me is a "Position 2" pray-er, and sits right back when she prays. Thus, when I adopted my own favourite Position 5, I got my hands tangled in her hair. She then switched to Position 3 (leaning forward), at the same time tutting loudly. Should I now keep the territory gained, or should I retreat to Position 4 (sit/kneeling)?

FATHER E. writes: Oh, you must keep the territory gained. Perhaps you can somehow make use of an umbrella, firearm, cuddly toy, or whatever else you carry with you, to help you hold your position.

girl with crocodile

... or whatever else you carry with you...

Saturday 21 June 2014

Damian's Last Post

From Saturday's Daily Telegraph, or possibly not.

As most people will know by now, Damian Thompson is leaving the Daily Telegraph after an entirely amicable beating up by "self-content officer", "editor-in-chief" and "supreme commander", Jason Seiken. This blog has been given exclusive rights to the Dame's last Telegraph column, the one that was never actually printed.


Jason Seiken - he wants you to consume great content. Or something.

Just what is happening at the Telegraph? Mekon lookalike Jason Seiken has sacked nearly all the staff and from now is going to write the entire newspaper himself. However, all is not lost: reports are coming in that my friend Brainy Gordon is still on board. Brainy is known for her tasteful memoir The wrong knickers; some have compared her descriptions of the angst felt by young ladies seeking men to Jane Austen at her best ("Fie, Mr Bingley! You have sent me the bloomers of Lady Catherine de Bourgh by mistake!"). Brainy is said to be working on a sequel, to be called The wrong bra, or My cup runneth over. My spies tell me that she is in line to become the new business editor of the Telegraph.

Bryony Gordon

Professor Gordon. The badge reminds her how to spell her own name.

I myself am moving on to pastures new. After giving the best years of my life to the Telegraph and recruiting such star bloggers as James Delingpole, David Lindsay, Martin Salter, Gerald Warner, and George Pitcher, I have decided to take my talents elsewhere. Of course I do have my regular column at the Spectator, in which I introduce readers to composers they may never have heard of before, such as the "three Bs" - Bach, Beethoven and Mozart - but this hardly pays enough to keep me in CDs.

So I am currently weighing up various offers: the Australian Pottymouth Gazette, incorporating Rolf Harris's Kangaroo-tying Weekly, is looking for a new correspondent specialising in Catholicism, cupcakes and custard, and I may be in with a chance there. Alternatively, my old friend Cardinal Vincent Nichols has been getting a bad press lately - mostly from me - so I am thinking of offering my services as his new press officer.

Of course, since he suppressed the Protect the Pope blog, Bishop Campbell has also started feeling unwanted. I have written to him, offering to revive the PtP blog, leavening its usual heretic-smiting with a few witty anecdotes about Gladys Mills and Noele Gordon (mother of my friend Brainy!) We'll see if he bites!

Bishop Campbell

Bishop Campbell asks for an extra helping of custard.

One of the great things about my blog is the number of daughter blogs that it has inspired. I regularly read Mundabor's blog, although I don't really understand his references to Pope Quisling and the Sodo-Nazis - I think they must be some sort of rock group.

Bosco clown

I even read Bosco's blog!

Then there are Catholicism Pure and Simple, Eccles is Saved, All along the watchtower, the donkey man, etc. Of course my favourite blog of all is On the Side of the Angels, written by my great friend the Archbishop of Corby.


Dude, aren't you homologising the contradictorily monolithic contextualisms of mimetic space, by disregarding the tensely granulated actualities of logocentric wholeness?

So, what else is happening at the Telegraph? There's still a strong religious presence, both from the slightly silly wing of the Catholic Church (Tim Stanley) and the Monster Raving Pelosi church (Cristina Odone); Geoffrey Lean (aged 107) is there to warn us of the dangers of a new technology called the "horseless carriage"; and Dan Hodges is ready to give his expert opinion on the World Cup (apparently England are hot favourites), UKIP (not likely to get any MEPs), and Ed Miliband (a man of impeccable table manners).


The affable Dan Hodges.

Although I am sorry to let my blogging sheep wander unattended, I have every confidence that they will continue to generate click-bait by writing controversial articles, such as "Do Muslims cause climate change, or should we be blaming Steve Gerrard?"

So, farewell to all the readers of my blog, most of whom were banned long ago by my zealous team of Sri Lankan "muddlerators" (thanks, Eccles!) as soon as they said anything intelligent. I'm not generally in favour of euthanasia, but I've arranged for the last remaining trolls - mainly mollusc-molesters, Dawkinsites, incognito deacons, Fabian teenage girls, and of course a coach-load of "Phil" sockpuppets - to be sent to the Lord Falconer Death Camp, as they clearly cannot live without me. Byeee!

Damian Thompson

Freed from the evil Telegraph Empire, Damian looks 20 years younger already!

Sunday 15 June 2014

Graven images

We had two particularly interesting reactions to the piece on the (British) Ten Commandments: one, from Archdruid Eileen, wondered how many commandments there really were, and what they were exactly (Beaker Folk and Catholics having a different way of cutting up those stone tablets into handy soundbites). Bruvver Bosco made a similar point in the comments to the piece:

Ha ha, you used the catholic ten commandments brother Eccles. Notice how the 2nd commandment has been changed. They got rid of that pesky "do not make or worship or bow befor graven images." My hats off to the catholic church. That takes guts to get rid of commandments they don't like. So come on all you faithful cathols...its Ok to bow befor any and all graven images. Hold on to them tight...that trip to hell can get breezy.

Calvary Chapel

The Calvary Chapel, with its graven image of a dove.

Regular readers of this blog will know that Bosco is a member of the Calumny Chapel, and he kisses a cement dove before he goes to bed each night. Apart from that, he is very tough on graven images - for example he threw out a photo of our Anti Moly just in case anyone in the house was tempted to bow down and worship it.

Anti Moly

Not to be worshipped.

Still, as someone on a continuing spiritual journey, I do have a question to ask of the experts. "Graven" seems to mean "engraved" or "sculpted", like Bosco's cement dove. Are paintings and photographs evil? Or only if you worship them? Here's another test case, a 1938 painting of Catholic bloggers Fr Tim Finigan and Mrs Caroline Farrow as children (haven't they worn well?)

Margate and Hove

Does this break the 1st (or 2nd) commandment?

Our old friend Damian Thompson is known to worship cupcakes: indeed, he has written a book on addiction, and how he attended Cupcakes Anonymous meetings in a vain attempt to break himself of this habit. We did think he was now cured, but last time I went round to see him, I found him kneeling before the graven images below.

cupcake bakery

A clear breach of the commandments.

Well, the general consensus - Bosco and the Muslims aside - seems to be that making images is not the real problem, so much as worshipping false gods; and that is taken care of by the first commandment.

bicycle Mass

"He just worships that bicycle..."

Friday 13 June 2014

Protect the Poe

One fine day I started writing something slightly more inviting,
Which I hoped to make exciting, though I found the work a chore.
I had spent the night carousing, on the Internet a-browsing,
Many blogs I found arousing, many writers to explore:
Finigan and Father Zuhlsdorf, Blake and Farrow, and yet more:
Sometimes even Mundabor.

When the last pope came to Britain, Dawkins and his pals had 
But a famous blog was written -  you'll have heard of it, I'm 
Facing widespread insurrection, Donnelly tried pope-protection,
Holding up to wide inspection all the danger at the door:
ACTA's clowns, Küng, Tina Beattie; and the Tablet - what a bore!
Wickedness one can't ignore.
Poe, raven

At this point you may be inexplicably thinking about ravens.

Thus in hope I went a-seekin' for the blog of Nick the Deacon,
Those who wished our faith to weaken shuddered when they heard 
   him roar.
But to my great consternation, and indeed severe frustration,
There'd been an enforced cessation of the work I'd seen before.
Orders from on high had come in, orders Nick could not ignore -
Someone sticking in his oar.

Now the Bishop of Lancaster was to blame for this disaster
For, said he, "I am the Master. You will write your blog no more.
Pray, reflect, but do be wary - though my ban is voluntary,
Woe to you if you're contrary - don't resist, or I'll get sore.
Those who disobey my orders end up lying on the floor,
Sometimes weltering in gore."
bishop and nuns

Do you know there's a deacon under the table, Bishop?

From outside there came a knocking, and a sound of laughter 
Horrid sounds, aggressive, shocking - but I opened wide the door.
Now, that was a foolish gamble - through the door stepped Bishop 
And the man began to ramble - as he stood upon my floor.
"Now the pope is unprotected, is it your fault, Monsignor?"
"I deny it!" - thus he swore.

When our bishops are unwilling to give heretics a grilling,
Such indifference is chilling - for there's blasphemy galore!
Thus the bishop's pride I tested, for politely I requested,
"Now that Deacon Nick has rested, will you now his blog restore?
When can simple truth be published as it was in days of yore?"
Quoth the bishop, "Nevermore."
Bishop of Barf

After 3 months of prayer and reflection, the deacon looks the worse for wear.

Wednesday 11 June 2014

The British 10 Commandments

Following on from the Government's decree that schools should promote "British values", we have been trying to find out what these are. Is it old ladies drinking warm beer as they cycle across the cricket pitch to Mass in the morning mist, or is it something more concrete?

Miss Marple

Miss Marple on the trail of someone without British values.

We are therefore grateful to Michael Gove for providing us with an advance copy of the 10 Commandments, edited to incorporate British values.

1. I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.

In modern secular Britain, it's best if you have no gods at all: indeed, you can get into trouble for preaching Christian doctrine, especially if you actually mean it. There is no ban on strange Prophets, however, so Muslims can say what they like, unless they go so far as to wander around with hooks threatening to blow up people.

2. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.

Blasphemy isn't really a problem these days: we're more worried about "hate speech", and there are certain words you may not say, such as the N-word or various synonyms for "homosexual". Using "Christ" or "Jesus" as a swear word is perfectly all right, and even encouraged.

Boris Johnson

Bloody Hell, did I just say "Cripes"? Sorry, folks.

3. Remember to keep holy the LORD'S Day.

Yes, Sunday is the day for worshipping Mammon. Get down to the shops and stimulate the economy! Or watch football. Of course some eccentrics may prefer to go to Church, but there are no proposals to make this illegal. Oh, Nick says there are. But not before 2015.

4. Honour your father and your mother.

We've had to scrap this, as a majority of Britons don't know who their father and mother are. Others will, quite naturally, have two fathers or two mothers in a loving same-sex marriage. Anyway, who wants to honour an old fuddy-duddy who could be well over 30?

Bert and Ernie

We're soon going to hear the patter of tiny feet!

5. You shall not kill.

We Britons are very proud of having abolished capital punishment for people guilty of murder; contrariwise, we are equally proud to support abortion, euthanasia (soon), and other ways of bumping off the innocent.

6. You shall not commit adultery.

Since we've nearly abolished marriage, we have de facto abolished adultery. Result! Of course, fornication is frowned upon in some circles, but hey! this is the 21st century, and sex is a very British invention.

No sex please, we're British

This is postmodern irony. Or something.

7. You shall not steal.

Quite right too. Of course, as MPs, we personally don't need to steal, as if we require the odd duck house we can claim it on expenses. Or we can flip our "second" homes to get a favourable mortgage deal. Or claim that our live-in lover is our landlord. No, stealing is right out. Put away that striped pullover, the mask and the bag marked "SWAG". They're unBritish.

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

Note that lying in general (or "politics" as we call it) is perfectly permissible. It is well known that British politicians are the most honest in the world: well, more honest than the Greeks, Egyptians and Kazakhs, at least. Possibly. However, it is unBritish to make up stories about people, unless you're a Daily Mail journalist.


...and I heard that Mrs Gove at Number 6 was a Russian spy running a cannabis factory...

9. You shall not covet your neighbour's wife.

This has been extended to live-in partners, whether of the same sex, the opposite sex, neither sex, both sexes or undefined. Our core British values are Equality and Diversity, and we certainly aren't transphobic! Now, a little coveting is perfectly British, but nonetheless, Nick tells us that even he has slept with fewer than 30 women; so if your street contains more than 30 neighbours' wives, don't covet them all.

10. You shall not covet your neighbour's goods.

Who makes up this rubbish? How are we to stimulate British industry by selling more cars, washing-machines, etc. unless people do their duty and get coveting? Coveting is a British tradition!

Ed Miliband eating

How I wish I had a nice house in Downing Street!

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Peter D. Williams versus Hans Küng

Welcome to another edition of Unbelievable with me, Justin Bieber Welby Brierley. Today we have a no-holds-barred fight between Peter D. Williams of Catholic Voices, and Professor Hans Küng, learned professor and Catholic priest in good standing (it says here).

King Kong

"King" Küng discusses female ordination.

JB: So, Professor Küng, would you like to tell us when you first went mad?

HK: Jawohl. It happened when I was a student. One day I suddenly realised that I was right about everything, and the Pope was wrong. Clearly, the Catholic Church needed a programme of urgent reform. I wrote half a dozen books about it over the next few weeks, and became a priest. As a result Pope John called the 2nd Vatican Council, and appointed me as his main expert on the Catholic faith.

Pope john XXIII

Pope St John XXIII - he owed everything to Hans Küng.

Of course, since then I have been badly betrayed by the Catholic hierarchy. Joseph Ratzinger, who I appointed to Tübingen, was a big disappointment: in those days I was the Dean and he was a mere Professor, so he used to clean my car and do my shopping for me. But he soon left to go to a more conservative establishment, and now refuses to recognise that his subsequent success was all due to me.

Then I used to write letters to that Polish pope - can't remember his name - asking to be made a cardinal, but he ignored me completely. Now at last Pope Francis is taking notice of me. I sent him 17 of my recent books and he said he had never laughed so much since Maradona scored a goal with his hands! Great guy.

Pope Francis laughing

Pope Francis reads Hans's views on the priesthood.

JB: Now over to you, Peter Williams.

PDW: Thank you so much for having me here, Justin, and it is an honour and a privilege to be able to talk to a learned man as distinguished as Professor Küng, and to point out that he is barking mad.

JB: Now, what's all this about women priests?

PDW: Jesus... the priesthood... anamnesis... Last Supper... memorial sacrifice... no dames...

HK: Nonsense... Jesus not even at the Last Supper... Priests not mentioned in the Bible... 1 Corinthians 11... my book Why is the Pope going to Hell?...

PDW: Sorry... no evidence of your views in the Biblical texts... Matthew 16... John 21... scripture... tradition...

HK: Read my books: The Gospel according to St Hans, or The letters of Hans to the Romans... I studied 7 years in Rome... priest in good standing... the Mass is never a sacrifice... think of all the suppers at which Jesus DIDN'T say anything about His Body and Blood... I've been a Catholic for 86 years... young whippersnapper...

Kung and books

"Read all these books? Why I wrote them all..."

PDW: Why would anyone want to call themselves a Catholic if they were not a Catholic?

HK: My views are shared by millions of Catholics... well, some... well, I met some men down the pub who did... Why do you insist on referring to the Bible, as if it were some sort of Holy Scripture?

Clegg and Cable

Some men down the pub.

JB: Can I intervene here, and ask the professor what he thinks about giving Communion to Catholics who have murdered their wives, buried them in the garden, and run off with their same-sex lovers?

HK: This is an everyday situation, and I see no problem with it. Clearly the Church must change its teaching on this matter.

PDW: Er... interpretation not in accordance with scripture... Ephesians 55... Daniel 42... Revelation 99... Bingo!

HK: All the Protestant churches interpret scripture my way! Well, the Calvary Chapel does, and the Jehovah's Witnesses think I'm wonderful. You Schweinehund! I'll get you afterwards.

JB: Well, that's all we've got time for now. If you think that Peter D. Williams is a bullying thug who has gone out of his way to humiliate a distinguished old man, then please do write in and tell us.

Peter D. Williams

Peter D. Williams. The hard man of Catholic Voices.

The full version is here.

Monday 9 June 2014

Missing veteran found safe

Some items of religious news have just come in.


Basil Loftus - safe and well.

A Vatican II veteran, who disappeared from his care home after being told that he could not attend celebrations for E-day - because he didn't really believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ - has been found safe and well. Monsignor Basil Loftus, 93, escaped from his minders in Ravenloonie, in northern Scotland; he was eventually found wandering round the Catholic Times muttering that the Church kept asking him to assent to doctrines which no true Protestant could stomach. Also he would sue anyone who called him a heretic, especially if it was the pope.

Said one spokesman: "He really shouldn't be allowed to wander around unattended. Sometimes he just says the first thing that comes into his head, and it causes annoyance to so many people." A member of the public, Dr Joseph Shaw, added: "He came and sat next to me on the bus; after two minutes of his ramblings, I couldn't take it any more. In the end I was forced to go and sit somewhere else."

Basil has now been returned to his care home in Scotland. He is not believed to be dangerous, just very boring.

The bishops of England and Wales today were today in crisis, after their headquarters were officially labelled "unsaved". Said a spokesman, "I know that some of us have been getting a bad press lately, but it seems a little cruel to say that we are 'unsaved'."

Eccleston Square

Bad news for the CBCEW.

Finally, it was announced that a computer had narrowly failed to pass the Turing Test, which requires a machine to respond to questions so that it cannot be distinguished from a real person. The computer, a Retro 84, was programmed to contribute to Twitter, trolling the timeline of a prominent speaker for Catholic Voices, and making inane comments on everything she said.

Ena Sharples

Ooh, look what @fairdove has been saying today. Not a make-it-up-as-you-go-along Catholic like me LOL.

Initially it was thought that the Retro 84 was a genuine Catholic woman, but when it started loading its comments with meaningless words such as "bigot" and "homophobe", and when it described Hans Küng as an "eminent theologise", it was clear that in fact it was simply a computer program speaking, possibly one influenced by the legendary Professor Stanley Unwin.

Stanley Unwin

This computode Catholibabe knows its trollybanter! Amazey.

Thursday 5 June 2014

Dawkins reads us a fairy story

"Read me a fairy story, Uncle Richard," said Polly, age 6. "I need to improve my critical thinking before bedtime."

Dawkins and books

Kind Uncle Richard.

"Certainly, darling," replied her kind uncle. "That's what fairy stories are for. Would you like the funny one about the selfish gene, or the scary tale of the blind watchmaker?"

"Oh no, uncle," exclaimed the little girl. "Can we have the story of Dr Know-All? Or the story of the Professor's New Clothes?"

Dr Know-All

A bit too close to home...

"Well, I could read you something from my autobiography, I suppose," said the learned professor. "There's the fascinating story of how I spent twenty minutes reading the Bible and became an instant expert on theology."

"No, that's too fantastical. I know, let's have Snow White!"

Snow White

Christians* will tell you that Snow White's story was literally true.

*Or possibly just Sola Scriptura Christians.

"Yes, all right. Once upon a time there was an evil pope, with a magic mirror. He would ask it daily, 'Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who is the brainiest of them all?' and the mirror would reply 'You are, O Pope.'

But one day, the mirror gave a different answer. 'O Pope, you are indeed very clever, and you have read the Bible, the works of Augustine and Aquinas, and even the Vatican II documents. But there is a young man called Snow Dawkins, who is yet cleverer than you!'

Dawkins FACE

A FACE appears in the pope's magic mirror.

So the pope determines to dispose of Snow Dawkins, and tells a huntsman to take him into the woods and kill him. But the huntsman, who is an atheist and therefore much kinder and compassionate than Christians are, abandons him alive in the woods.

After wandering around, Snow Dawkins comes to a hut inhabited by seven dwarves, called Grayling, Toynbee, Sanderson, Harris, Pullman, Hawking, and Fry. They sing a jolly song, "Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, it's off to church we go!" since, like Snow Dawkins, they claim to be secular Christians and cultural Anglicans (not to mention atheist Muslims, militant Buddhists, and bullfighting Hindus).

Dr Who mummies

In a cultural, secular way, Dawkins and friends follow the Egyptian gods too.

Later, the magic mirror tells the evil pope that Snow Dawkins is still alive and doing very brainy experiments in his hut in the woods. He disguises himself as an old man and gives Snow Dawkins a poisoned apple. Of course, Snow Dawkins is very intelligent and knows instantly that the apple is poisoned; nonetheless he eats the apple as part of a much deeper plan, such as only an atheist could think of.

poisoned apple

Something told Dawkins that the apple was unsafe to eat.

When the dwarves return, they place Snow Dawkins in a glass coffin. Now Polly, dear, this is obviously where the Bible story of Jesus originated: we clever atheists know that Jesus wasn't really dead, and anyway he never existed. It was a sky fairy tale told by bronze-age goatherds, who didn't have the critical abilities of a 21st-century professor of biology.

To continue - the dwarves carry Snow Dawkins to the evil pope's palace, where the shaking dislodges the apple from his throat, and he recovers. Enraged by the failure of his plan the evil pope drops dead.

So Dawkins marries a handsome princess - well, three altogether, at various times - and lives happily ever after."

Happily ever after

"What a lovely story, Uncle Richard!"

"Now I do hope this story is not fostering supernaturalism in your mind, Polly, dear?"

"Oh no, Uncle, it has simply helped me develop critical thinking, and to learn to see through a certain class of falsehoods. Now I-am-an-unquestioning-atheist... I-am-an-unquestioning-atheist... I-am-an-unquestioning-atheist... zzzz...."

Dawkins sleeping