This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Thursday 31 July 2014

A caliph for all seasons

A special eulogy from Aaron Y. Zelin of the Washington Institute for Getting Things Dreadfully Wrong (in association with the BBC).

Mad Caliph

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi with his greatest fan.

Caliph Baghdadi is a truly great man, and, as a member of the exclusive Al-Gore tribe, he can trace his ancestry back to the prophet Mohammed. Thus he is able to claim the title of "Grand Caliph of the Muslims, Ruler of the Philistines, the Midianites, the Jebusites, the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Parasites, and the Molybdenites (incorporating the Children of Gath, Babylon, and Wolverhampton)". What's more he is a distinguished scholar, who knows all about Algebra, Algorithms, Alcapone and all the other branches of mathematics invented by Arabs. He obtained a Ph.D. from the Islamic University of Baghdad, having followed courses in dress designing, media studies, Islamic terrorism, bomb-making, knitting and flower arranging. Oh, he's brainy!


Fractions - invented by Mohammed.

So, when he's not planning genocide, mass-murder, terrorism, and the extermination of all life on Earth, how does Baghdadi like to relax? Well, he's very fond of music, and although he refers to Lady Gaga as a "shameless infidel hussy with a rotten singing voice", he does have a complete collection of her CDs, with which he likes to chill out when nobody is watching. He is also a keen nature-lover, and escapes from the tensions inherent in being a world leader by pulling the wings off butterflies and chewing live gerbils.


"Harry", Caliph Baghdadi's pet gerbil (and lunch).

Well, I hope I have managed to give a balanced and unbiased eulogy of the man they call "Al-jol-son" - an Arabic term meaning "That scruffy old lunatic in the long black dress who keeps drivelling to himself and hasn't changed his underwear since 1991" - isn't Arabic an amazingly expressive language? As he prepares his latest jihad, one has to ask: is he really getting the praise and recognition he deserves? Compared with the religious leaders of the West, is he not both more sincere and more popular - well, with the BBC at least?

women priests

Western religious leaders prepare to launch a jihad.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Dawkins explains moral philosophy

This blog has often expressed the opinion that Richard Dawkins is barking mad. On the other hand, we do not think he is as barking mad as Anjem Choudary, the Muslim activist who looks forward to the day when the flag of Islam is hoisted high over the Knesset, the White House, Downing Street and the Kremlin. So that's all right then.

Dawkins in silly shirt

"Being made into soup by cannibals is bad, but it's worse if they forget the salt and pepper."

Professor Dawkins recently managed to offend a number of people with a succession of tactless tweets, of which this is an example:

Dawkins tweet

Learn to think the Dawkins way.

E: Richard, how nice of you to drop into this blog. Well, not nice, really; pretty horrible in fact. But not as bad as having my toenails pulled out. Is it worth pointing out to you that sometimes making gratuitous comparisons is silly and unnecessary, and that it can often be offensive?

How to be topp

Molesworth compares mumps and measles. This is not an endorsement of mumps.

R: But Eccles, this is LOGIC. You just haven't learnt how to THINK, boy!

E: Could you give us another example of your amazing insights, Richard?

Jack the ripper

"Jack the Ripper wasn't as bad as Hitler."

E: Good point, Richard. Er, is that supposed to be an endorsement of Jack the Ripper, then?

At this point Professor Dawkins lost his temper and stabbed Bruvver Eccles to death.

Reader's voice: That's pretty bad, but thank goodness he didn't cut him up and eat him!

John the Baptist

Having your head cut off is bad, but worse if you forgot to put the cat out first!

Monday 28 July 2014

Olé smoke!

Several priests have written to me, saying, "Eccles, how can I make a spectacle of myself in church, like José Planas Moreno, the flamenco-dancing priest, and thus bring the congregations flocking back to Mass? So far I have made the mistake of emphasising controversial notions such as God and Jesus, and it simply isn't getting the punters in."

Fr Pepe

The Credo, a key part of the Mass.

Well, Father F (or Z, or R, or whoever you are), there are various ways in which priests can focus the attention of the congregation onto themselves, and away from the Almighty (who, after all, gets quite a lot of attention already). For example, in 1937, Harold Davidson, the former Rector of Stiffkey, displayed himself in a cage with a lion called Freddie, which eventually killed him. So, dear Father P (or B), we don't recommend this strategy. Similarly, liturgical bullfighting, even in the Malaga area, is still at an experimental stage, and is not yet a standard part of modern worship.

Davidson and Freddie

Warning: lions are like bishops - they bite!

No, the future definitely lies in dancing. It started with liturgical can-cans, and continued with Kate Bottley, the dancing vicar, now hotly tipped to be the first female bishop in the church of England. Dancing has now been taken up by those Catholic priests who find the general idea of worshipping God a little too dull.

dancing vicar

Sursum Genua (Let's have a knees-up!)

Let's conclude with another picture of the man they call Fr Pepe: note the quiet dignity which which he explains the hermeneutic of continuity in the context of Pope Benedict's 2005 speech to the Roman Curia, firmly rejecting the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture that has upset so many orthodox Catholics.

Fr Pepe

Take your partners for the Agnus Dei!

We are not sure who the lady in yellow biting her nails is: probably just an altar server modelling the latest in hot-weather vestments.

Sunday 27 July 2014

Pope eats ordinary food

Vatican-watchers were astounded today when Pope Francis came into the canteen at lunchtime and ate some food. "I didn't think that popes ate food like ordinary people," said one witness. "Aren't they nourished directly by the Holy Spirit? Next you'll be telling us that he has to buy his clothes at Gammarelli, rather than being clothed in white by angels."

pope in canteen

That chap in white - haven't I seen him on the telly?

After a simple meal of pasta, cod and tomatoes (reports by aged Italian journalists that Pope Francis ate some processed lion meat - or "Burger Leo" - on a Friday are almost certainly inaccurate) the pope went to the washroom, where he is said to have squirted some Olio di Nichols onto his hands, before washing them in simple unblessed tap water and holding them for five minutes under a CORMACTM hot-air hand-dryer.

Cormac hand-dryer

The Pope is presented with an almost human-looking CORMACTM hand-dryer.

Meanwhile, the Pope's private cook, Cardinal Dolan, was less than happy with events. "I cook the Pope a simple meal of Lobster Thermidor aux crevettes with a Mornay sauce, garnished with truffle pâté, brandy and a fried egg on top, and spam, and he sneaks off and eats in the canteen. Now, I'll have to eat it all myself."

Dolan eating

Cardinal Dolan makes the best of it.

Friday 25 July 2014

Something for Catholics to celebrate

These are hard times for Christians who want something to celebrate, as Archdruid Eileen has pointed out. Our fellow-Christians in Mosul are being persecuted by Islamic thugs - although this can't be a very serious massacre or else Messrs Obama, Cameron, Hollande and Merkel would have said something about it, and Clegg the wonder dog would have barked. Not all that far away, the people of Israel and Gaza are getting on rather badly, as even the politicians have noticed. Then if you're a Christian in the West you will be assailed by the forces of darkness in various ways: abortion, euthanasia, "gay pride" parades, ... and you are increasingly likely to be persecuted if you stand up against them. Not a lot of laughs so far.


The story so far.

However, for Catholics, it is a time of celebration! 500 years since the Reformation (or it will be in 2017). Indeed, the Lutherans have invited us all to celebrate this, and why not? 500 years since the Catholic church got rid of some of its most boring members! Douglas Adams would have put the Lutherans in the B-ark along with the hairdressers and telephone sanitizers, and this is the religious equivalent. As the Mikado has it:

All prosy dull society sinners
Who chatter and bleat and bore
Are sent to hear sermons 
From mystical Germans 
Who preach from ten to four.
Fortunately, Catholics are more likely to get a five-minute homily (say, the same length as the Beatitudes) rather than a six-hour German sermon with all the verbs packed into the last half-hour - even if it may be an anecdote about a power cut in the deacon's shed rather than a piece of solid theology.


Luther: never wrote one thesis when he could write 95.

Of course, the Reformation had more consequences than simply putting some of the most boring Germans into their own little box. Lots of people (both Catholic and Protestant) were martyred, enduring what the Bishop of Lancaster might call "a voluntary period of being burnt to death". Shall we celebrate that, too? Oddly, we don't do that to each other any more, we leave it to the Muslims to do it for us.


If you lose your luggage, say a prayer to someone. Anyone will do.

It's unlikely that ISIS will invite us to a multi-faith celebration in honour of the "cleansing" of Mosul, but if you do get an invitation, do accept! It is always blessed to be ecumenical, and it doesn't matter what you believe provided that you believe something! Not that I would wish to offend our non-believing brothers and sisters either, of course.

Peter Glaze

Jubilate Deo!

Thursday 24 July 2014


Welcome back to the Eccles Bible Project, where we present the books of the Bible to atheists and other backsliders. Following on from Judith we now have, according to the Catholic and Orthodox listing, the book of Esther.

Richard Dawkins, you've read this book as part of your homework. Would you like to stand up and tell the class what it's all about?

Well, I've only read the first chapter and the last chapter, as that's enough for a clever man like me to work out what's going on. Indeed, if you look on my website you can read the first and last chapters of The God Delusion for free, and they hardly even mention God because I was thinking of something else at the time.

God in cloud


What? Stop plugging my book? Oh, all right. Esther it is, then. Incidentally, this book doesn't mention God either, so obviously it supports my atheist pericope that we're just a mass of little cells, and that God is a delusion. Now, the book of Esther starts off with a King Assuerus, who is said to have reigned from India to Ethiopia over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces: he holds a great feast, and after seven days of eating and drinking he calls for his wife Queen Vashti, but she refuses to come in.

Dawkins stuffing himself

King Assuerus / Ahasuerus / Xerxes / Artaxerxes enjoys a feast.

Actually, that sort of thing happens to me a lot too. After the seventh day of a feast at New College, Oxford, many a learned professor might ask his wife to come along and drive him home, but she might equally well have gone off in the Tardis in disgust. By the way, may I point out that Assuerus, or whatever you call him, almost certainly didn't exist? I'm a trained biologist and I know these things. Esther didn't exist, either. Or India. Or Ethiopia.

Now, the other chapter I've read, Esther 16, contains a letter sent out by Artaxerxes. It does mention Esther, but only briefly. He seems to be going on about some chap called Aman being disobedient, and the Jews being well-behaved. Basically nothing much happens in this book, and they're too ashamed even to mention Jesus or Mohammed. End of.

Haman hanging

An 'appy ending: Aman is 'anged.

Thanks, Richard. I'll give you 2 out of 10 for effort there. You did miss a few details, in fact. There's a Jew called Mardochai / Mordecai who saves the king's life, there's a man called Aman / Haman who wants M. killed, and there's a Jewish woman called Esther who becomes a friend of the king and invites him to several dinners; in the end she contrives for Aman to be 'anged, er, hanged, on the gallows he built for Mardochai.

By the way the ``expanded" version of Esther's book does mention God, but this is not the version accepted by most Protestants. My brother Bosco, who thinks that God wrote the King James Bible and that all other versions are mistranslations of the KJV, would certainly not approve of it.

That's life!

That's Life! Esther, Mordecai and Haman offer an oddly-shaped parsnip to King Assuerus.

So next time we'll discuss Job. He was a bundle of laughs and no mistake...

Tuesday 22 July 2014

At the drop of a biretta

With apologies to the original Flanders and Swann song Transport of Delight.
Some people like a Latin Mass: they say, "Credo for me!"
Or for bonny Agnus Dei, they'd lay them down and dee.
Such means of praise and worship do seem old and rather crass,
To the priest...
... yes, and the deacon...
... in a very modern Mass!
Sing Alleluia! Ch-ch!
Sing Alleluia! Ch-ch! 
When you are sitting in our church, the coolest place in town,
You'll see the priest processing in, dressed as a jolly clown.
He greets the congregation with "Hey folks! This is a gas!"
In a swinging sixties, Novus Ordo, 
Liberal and progressive modern Mass.
clown Bible

The Gospel reading

We start off with some dancing girls, for in our litur-gy
We take out all the holy bits and shout "Hey! Look at me!"
So let's have wild cavorting now from every lad and lass
In an all-inclusive, Tablet-sponsored, swinging sixties, 
Novus Ordo, liberal and progressive modern Mass.
This is a transport of delight. 
Of delight!
Walk in delight! Walk in delight!
This is a transport of delight. 
Walk in delight!
Walk walk walk walk walk in delight!
liturgical dance

... your right arm in, and shake it all about...

We now bring on our puppet friends, to help us with our prayer:
For who can say that Mass is not improved by Fozzie Bear?
Those nasty traddy Catholics were faced with an impasse! 
The priest is putting on a show,
The deacon is Pinocchio
In the all-inclusive, 
Swinging sixties, Novus Ordo, 
Liberal and progressive modern Mass.

A solemn moment in our devotions.

We don't have moral standards now - that really is too tame!
Since Vatican the Second, things just haven't been the same.
We praise gay rights, abortion, women priests, divorce - 
   it's clear
That Jesus, Peter and St Paul had simply no idea!
Our secular religion they may say is a "morass".
We don't believe in Heaven or Hell,
And really, that is just as well,
For the priest is putting on a show,
The deacon is Pinocchio
In the all-inclusive, 
Swinging sixties, Novus Ordo, 
Liberal and progressive,
Liberal and progressive modern Mass!
Sing Alleluia! 

Monday 21 July 2014

Let's talk about the weather

Yesterday's post about the devils of ISIS was a little vitriolic, so let's talk about something gentler. Following a suggestion of leutgeb, this post will be all about the weather, which seems to have been typical of an English summer - sun and heavy rain. We invited some of our favourite religious figures to comment.


Tina Beattie, Roehampton.

Whenever I see a flash (!) of lightning or hear the bang (!) of thunder, I am reminded that the phallocentricism of neo-orthodox theology risks reducing the Mass to an orgasmic celebration of homosexual love, from which the female body is excluded. It makes me very cross, even if I remembered to bring an umbrella with me! We Tablet directors have concluded that the only answer is to ordain women, liberalise the abortion laws, and drop the God-centred aspects of religion in favour of human flourishing! By the way, if anyone would like me to give a lecture in a prestigious place - say, the Scunthorpe under-7s Bible Class - I will be glad to accept. But don't tell the local bishop beforehand - he might try and stop it!


Michael Campbell, blogger, bishop and controller of information.

Although I do not approve of humour on blogs - or indeed anything but the most tedious platitudes as a rule - it may be that the following hilarious story might make an exception. It was raining hard in Lancaster last week, and one of my deacons came to ask my advice on a moral dilemma. He had discovered an outbreak of cannibalism in my diocese - in particular his parish priest had been eaten by some members of ACTA - and wondered whether it was appropriate to mention it on his blog. However, he voluntarily slipped on the damp pavement and fell into a puddle, voluntarily ruining his vestments and breaking his leg. How we laughed at his voluntary misfortune! I think he's in for a period of voluntary prayer and reflection, don't you?

mad hatter's tea party

Damian Thompson declines a cupcake at the Mad Hatter's tea party.

It's been very hot lately, hasn't it? My spies in the Vatican tell me that this is because Pope Francis is finally getting to grips with the English weather. Whereas Pope Benedict was satisfied with the traditional mixture of rain, cloud, more rain, and fog, the man that his intimate friends call "Pope Francis" is determined to impose his own South American weather on the Catholic church. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that a new bishop, with responsibility for weather, had been appointed, with instructions to pray for sunshine! I have even heard the name of Fr Ray Blake mentioned - it is no secret that while at Brighton he has produced significantly more good weather than they get in northern cities such as Luton.

All Gas and Gaiters

George Carey (2nd left) is corrected on a matter of theology.

A lovely day, isn't it? Of course, as the Bible says, if you don't think it's a lovely day then you are not appreciating God's creation to the full, and should take medical advice as to whether to carry on living! Trust me, I know all about these things, I was once an archbishop.


Paul Inwood, composer and liturgist.

Here's a little something you might like to sing at Mass. Don't forget your ukelele!

The sun has got his hat on, hip-hip-hip-hooray!
The sun has got his hat on and he's coming out today... ch-ch!

Sunday 20 July 2014

Time to get nasty about ISIS

In general, this is a somewhat friendly as well as spiritually nourishing blog. We do occasionally tease one or two backsliders - for example, Tina Beattie the preposterous professor, Michael Campbell the bullying bishop, Vincent Nichols the cardboard cardinal, Richard Dawkins the drivelling don, and George Carey the absurd archbishop - but these people are not evil through and through, and our comments are kindly meant.


"Caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi - or "Piggy" as he is known to his friends.

However, once in a while one has to write about real bastards: if Charlie Chaplin was able to mock Adolf Hitler in The Great Dictator, then surely Eccles can get uncharacteristically nasty about Caliph Piggy, self-styled ruler of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and an Allah-fearing Sunni Muslim?

Sunni Jim

"Sunni" Hundal Jim, Piggy's second-in-command.

To be fair, Piggy is mad as well as bad - and I am not going to mention his disgusting personal habits, his loathsome infectious diseases, or the fact that he smells like a dead rat. Our hero is planning to march on Rome in his quest to establish an Islamic State across Europe. However, we know that there is no chance of that, as President Obama is on the case!

Obama at golf

Obama takes charge of the crisis.

You may have heard the parable of the wheat and the darnel (or tares) in church today. It's all dressed up in agricultural metaphors, but the basic plot is that God sends Jesus down to the world to redeem mankind, and then Satan sends Mohammed along to poison everything. Well, Satan is certainly having a great time in Mosul at present, as the ISIS goes about its business of exterminating Christians.


An Arabic "nun" letter, used to denote a Christian's house.

The above picture shows Piggy's idea of a smiley emoticon - or at least a smiley as designed by a one-eyed cyclops. There is a school of thought that says that the false prophet Mohammed - as well as being nearly as obnoxious a character as Caliph Piggy - was in fact a one-eyed cyclops. We could not possibly comment.


Could this really be Mohammed?

Oh, and late news has come in that President Obama has left the golf course and is sorting out the situation. Contrary to what some people say, we do not believe that Obama is himself a Muslim - this would be incompatible with his own sincere self-worship. No, for him it is a matter of complete indifference whether the Muslims massacre the Christians, or not.

Obama sleeping

A Nobel Peace-Prize Winner at peace with the world.

Saturday 19 July 2014

Assisted Dying on the Orient Express

"That was a strange case, Hastings, mon ami," said my friend Hercule Poirot. "I was taking the ad Orientem Express to the mysterious east (Margate), to consult my friend Fr Tim Finigan on a curious question of hermeneutics, when we were held up by two or three snowflakes on the line - apparently, they were the wrong kind of snow. Still, there we were, marooned in some uncharted wastes near Faversham, with no hope of rescue for several days."

Somewhere near Faversham.

The chef de train summoned Poirot to one of the compartments, where there lay the dead body of a fattish man in his early sixties. One could tell at a glance that he was dead: there were stab wounds and bullet holes in various parts of his body, a rope round his neck, an empty bottle of pills by his side, and the marks of a blunt instrument on the back of his head. "His name is Charlie Falconer, and he was some sort of gangster," commented the train guard. "Could it be suicide, M. Poirot?"

Lord Falconer

Charlie Falconer in happier times, singing the Nightmare song from Iolanthe.

Poirot examined the body carefully. "I think not, mon vieux. Someone evidently helped him on his way. The worse case of assisted suicide that I have ever seen. We must find an explanation for his death."

An eager, fresh-faced man joined them. "Hi! I'm Tony!" he said. "I used to be something big in politics, but now I go round the world making money. Also I've been bringing peace to the Middle East. Charlie was an old friend of mine, and I gave him a job once."

"I have heard of you, Monsieur," acknowledged Poirot. "You are a pious Catholic who supports abortion and same-sex marriage. Can you think of any reason why M. Falconer could have opted for assisted suicide?"

Blair and Pope John-Paul II

Tony gives Pope John-Paul II some tips on becoming a saint.

"Well, he had a sore throat, and he didn't like train journeys, and England did badly in the World Cup, and he was worried about his pet hamster, Miliband, and he scratched his car against the gatepost last week, and they'd run out of gin, and he thought it might rain later, and..."

"I understand. All perfectly good reasons for a doctor to recommend assisted suicide. Now, let us see if there are any likely suspects." At that moment, a strange character entered the compartment.


John Birt. Formerly of the BBC.

"EX-TER-MIN-ATE! EX-TER-MIN-ATE! AS-SIST SU-I-CIDE! AS-SIST SU-I-CIDE!" screamed Lord Birt, for it was indeed he. This was a man who had been Director-General of the BBC, an organization that had employed megastars such as Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris. During his rule, it was said that more people had switched off their televisions and said "I can't go on!" than ever before.

"There are indeed marks of extermination on Charlie Falconer's body," said Poirot, "but they may have been inflicted after death." He was then joined by a bumbling figure dressed as an Anglican archbishop.

Lord Carey

"And if my sermons don't finish them off, a good swipe with the crozier will do it."

"Hello, everyone, I'm George," said the man, who was wearing a strikingly silly mitre and carrying a large blunt instrument. "I am man of deep Christian principles. Can I be of assistance to you as you seek to end your life in a truly Christian way?"

"No! No!" said Poirot. "I wish to live to be 130. Indeed, if Agatha Christie doesn't sort out the chronology of her stories, I may be forced to."

At that moment the compartment began to fill up with other well-intentioned supporters of assisted death: apparently, the House of Lords had organized a day trip to Margate for all its most irritating members.

Ian Blair the Sikh

Ian Blair as seen in "Hello (Hello, Hello)!" magazine, deals with the old and Sikh.

"You've all been very helpful," said Poirot. "Of great assistance, in fact..."

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Scalfarius interviews Jesus

Galilee, 30 A.D.

Many people will know of me as the leading journalist of the Roman Empire, and founder of the newspaper Res Publica. I spoke to Jesus of Nazareth shortly after his famous Sermon on the Mount, and what He had to say will shock you.


Sorry, my hearing aid's been broken for years.

I interviewed Jesus under the best possible circumstances: I refused to record the interview, or to take notes, and my hearing aid was broken, so I couldn't hear Him either. In fact most of the time I hid in a cupboard, so as to resist the temptation to try and lip-read the Messiah. Nonetheless, I can tell you exactly what He said, even though He spoke Aramaic, a language unknown to me.

Jesus told me that He is very keen on an all-female priesthood, and that the all-male priesthood favoured by Jewish tradition was simply a mistake. He had given the keys of Heaven to Petra, an ambitious young lady that He had met somewhere, and she was going to become the first Holy Mother.

St Petra

St Petra shows off the keys to Heaven (ringed).

Jesus is well-known for saying "I came not to judge the world, but to save it." He expanded on this theme to me, explaining that old-fashioned notions of Good and Evil were now redundant. "If a man wishes to commit theft, murder, adultery or even bear a little false witness, who am I to judge? Who is my Father to judge? No, just SMILE, that's all I ask my disciples to do."

Pope Francis sad

Smile, Francis! Football's only a game!

Evidently, reports of Jesus's teachings from journalists such as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have got things completely wrong. They claimed that Jesus believed that one of the Twelve would betray Him, but in fact what He said to me was "Do you know that 8.333333% of my disciples are perverts?" Trust me, I'm a Tablet journalist, would I make up something like that?

Well, there are many other things Jesus said to me (such as "Why are you hiding in that cupboard?") but I think I have given the essence of his character: a quiet man, who merely wants to be left alone, with simple hobbies such as climbing mountains, messing about in boats, and sometimes riding on donkeys. I would say that He was probably an atheist, like myself, and that all that He wishes to do is to undermine religion, as I do.

walking on water

Simply messing about in boats (or out of them).

© Large Scale Fairy Stories inc.

Monday 14 July 2014

Church of England votes to allow atheist bishops

In an historic vote at the General Synod (now rebranded as "Oddsyns"), the Church of England has voted that atheists may be consecrated as bishops. This is seen as a general move towards equality and diversity, following a modern interpretation of Galatians 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Dawkins and fan

Two aspiring bishops.

It was pointed out that there have been Jewish bishops in the past (e.g. St Peter), although he is not generally considered to have been an Anglican. So, if you're reading this, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis - he's the successor to Jonathan Sacks, but nobody seems to have heard of him - then there may be a cushy job available in the Anglican church.

Ephraim Mirvis

Rabbi Mirvis... looking for a nice comfy diocese.

Applications from the Greek Orthodox church are also warmly encouraged.

Today's historic vote was welcomed by Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, since it means that self-declared atheists such as he will be allowed to become bishops. Until now, atheists who wished to become Anglican bishops had to be more subtle in declaring their beliefs, usually by denying the truth of the resurrection, or, more subtly, by contradicting Jesus's teaching on marriage, life and death, etc.

Nick Clegg

Soon-to-be-unemployed atheist politician seeks bishop job. Has got own mitre.

Many of my readers are either Catholics (hello, there, Vin!) or atheists (hi, Richard!) and may be unsure what an Anglican bishop actually looks like. We decide to go to the Church Times for an authoritative picture.

bishops levitating

At a solemn moment in the service, your bishops will levitate.

Of course the Catholics are unlikely to consecrate women, atheists, liberals or Jewish rabbis as bishops in the near future. However, there was a scandal recently in Lancaster, where the bishop was seen performing what looked like a Vulcan Death Grip on a worshipper, and was promptly accused of being a logically-minded alien. It was soon agreed that such a claim was ludicrous.

Campbell death grip

A deacon and his wife are accused of blogging.