This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Monday 26 January 2015

Saint of the Week - St Libby

St Libidina ("Libby") Lane of Stockport was a twenty-first century Anglican saint, known for bringing Christianity to the sexist, misogynist, pagan lands of Stockport.

St Libby Lane

St Libidina of Stockport.

Such was her piety that St Libby was described by the legendary Archbishop Sentamu (a man of such exalted station that he was outranked only by Archbishop Welby, Queen Elizabeth II and God - and even then, only just) as "following in the footsteps of St Margaret Clitherow."

Sentamu and Welby

"Actually, I meant to say Jimmy Clitheroe, but nobody noticed."

St Margaret Clitherow was a Catholic Saint who was martyred in 1586 by being crushed with rocks (this was in the reign of Good Queen Bess, and was part of her policy of "tolerance towards Catholics"). St Libidina, on the other hand, suffered far greater woes, as she saw a succession of useless no-hopers appointed to the job of bishop - this is also a Catholic tradition - while she was sent out to make the tea and do the washing-up. Was she never to wear the coveted hat of a bishop?

Margaret Clitherow

St Margaret Clitherow - her martyrdom was considered a "luxury" by Yorkshiremen.

Of course traditions in the two churches do differ. The Catholics are forced to follow in the sexist footsteps of Jesus Christ, a man who never said anything significant about equality and diversity, women's issues, or the right to wear Babylonian fish hats. The Anglicans, on the other hand, take their lead from Henry VIII, a man who married six times and fully knew how to give a girl a good time (at least for a while).

fish hat

The latest in bishop's mitres.

The day of St Libidina's fast-track consecration/ ordination/ promotion/ redeployment to an executive role in Anglico was itself full of drama. As the Archbishop read out the traditional words "Does any sexist mail chauvinist pig know any just cause or impediment why this girl may not be given a key to the bishops' washroom?" there came a cry of "Put a sock in it, Sentamu!" Nonetheless, a miracle occurred, and Archbishop Sentamu managed to achieve something that Christ Himself would never have dared to do. Yes, St Libidina had made it to the Board of Directors!

Sunday 25 January 2015

How to pray 1: Posture

Today we begin a mini-series on prayer, in which we try and sort out questions such as: What posture do I adopt? Who am I praying to? What should I say? and so on. We begin with posture.

praying mantis

The classical "praying mantis" position.

There are three commonly-adopted postures - kneeling, sitting or standing - but there may be circumstances in which you have little choice. If you are confined to bed (or even merely in a wheelchair), you must make the best of the situation. If you are driving a car, and feel a prayer coming on, then you will probably lose control of the car should you decide to kneel down or stand up. In this case, prayers were probably appropriate.

If your plane is coming into land, make your prayers while seated with your belt fastened.

Brace! Brace!

Brace! Brace! Oh, and say your prayers.

In church, the traditional posture for prayer is "meekly kneeling on your knees". In modern churches this is not always possible: there is often not enough space in which to do this, and the comfy cushions have been removed. Well, everyone knows the expression "It's as difficult as finding a kneeler or a hassock." [Pun. Not a very good one, sorry.]


This is where all the hassocks ended up.

"At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow." Well, so we thought, but nowadays - at least in Catholic churches - the modern thing is to stand up instead. Or, if we're being really lazy, "We'll remain seated for some prayers."

Traditionalists, of course, will kneel even if there is no hassock. Some will even bring broken glass with them, to make the experience more uncomfortable, and to mortify the flesh. Monks and nuns kneel on cold stone floors - well, they used to, certainly.

nuns jumping

Prayer while levitating. Comfortable, but difficult.

Of course, prayer does not simply involve saying words - whether made up on the spot or already written down (this will be discussed in a future instalment); one may count hymn-singing and liturgical dancing (oh dear) as forms of prayer. In that case, the correct posture should still be reverent.

horrible liturgical dance

This is not the correct posture for prayer.

No, on balance, kneeling is more respectful than standing, standing is more respectful than sitting, and cavorting around like something from a circus is worst of all. But who am I to judge?


A cartwheeling priest in Westminster Abbey. A prayer of thanksgiving.

For prayer you should probably close your eyes (unless you are driving a car, doing a liturgical cartwheel, reading the prayers, etc.) It is considered rude to stare at your neighbours, although everyone seems to do it. Er, so they say. How would I know that?

You can clasp your hands together in various holy-looking ways (DON'T put them in your pockets). In Evangelical churches it is usual to wave them in the air so that God will notice you more easily.

bed of nails

Finally: how to pray in an ecumenical service.

Saturday 24 January 2015

Mummy, today we played lesbians!

Over now to Dothekids Hall, a school awarded the highest marks in an Ofsted inspection, unlike that nasty Grindon Hall Christian School, which was apparently punished because its 10-year-old kids didn't know about lesbian sex.

Little Nicky Morgan, 10, is coming home to her devoted parents. These happen to be a man and a woman, so she is already branded as a reactionary bigot. Why couldn't she have two men as her parents, with a surrogate mother that she never knew? That's the modern way to breed!

lesbian priestesses

Ofsted-approved lesbian priestesses.

Nicky dear, what did you do at school today?

We played lesbians, Mummy, and then I lent some of my clothes to little Johnnie - I mean Jeanie - Nash, so that we could play transgendered awareness games.

That sounds lovely, darling! Did your teacher like the homework you'd done? That essay on "Magnetic Attraction"?

No, Mummy, I got it all wrong. She didn't want me to improve on Hawking's work by rewriting Einstein's field equations in order to derive a new Theory of Everything, uniting quantum theory with relativistic electrodynamics. She wanted me to write a story about the sex life of three lesbians in a loving multi-person marriage.

Theory of Everything

Can I tell you about my Theory of Everything?

Well, never mind, dear. How about the Translation exercise you were going to do in class? Before Ofsted turned up you were translating Goethe's Faust into perfect Latin hexameters, weren't you?

That's changed too, Mummy. It's "Transition" not "Translation". She got us to give hormone injections and surgery to Wilshaw, the School Dog, so that she's now become a girl dog and not a boy dog. It was very interesting and useful. Can I try it on Harry the Hamster?


A nervous moment for Harry the Hamster.

No, I don't think so, dearest. Do tell me, though, didn't the Bishop visit today? Did you manage to go to Confession with him?

Oh Mummy, you're so old-fashioned! We call it "Reconciliation" now, and dress up as witches! Ofsted told us to.

liturgical dancing

An Ofsted-approved Mass.

Friday 23 January 2015

He was the People's Despot

So there we are then. The grim reaper has come for King Abdullah ibn Abdilaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia (if he had been called Al Fred, then the country would be Fredi Arabia, of course).

At this time it is only right to call on Tony Blair to lead the tributes, and he has not let us down. "He was loved by his people and will be deeply missed." Somehow Tony forgot the bit about the People's Despot, but maybe that will come later. Elton John's "Candle in the Sand" is also due, once his tribute to Charlie Hebdo is complete.

Blair and Abdullah

Tony, I'm taking you to the Royal Floggerdrome this evening!

Meanwhile, Westminster Abbey flies its flag at half-mast in memory of this great champion of Christian virtues: faith, hope, love, with a bit of flogging, stoning, and decapitation on the side. For this tribute we must thank the Dean, the Very Reverend John Hall. As for Canon Jane Sinclair, Canon Steward of the Abbey, well, she can get back in the kitchen and shut up, if she doesn't want a good flogging! Women!!

Westminster Abbey's shame

The abbey is a "Royal Peculiar", and this is one of its more peculiar days.

King Abdullah is mourned by his 14 wives and 18 children. Already it is being said that what finished him off was being described as a "rabbit" by Pope Francis. His half-brother Salman has taken over, and has promised to continue the rapid march towards democracy, provided that he doesn't have to cut down on the flogging, stoning, and decapitation.

Prince Charles

King Salman ibn Abdilaziz Al Saud (memo: check this).

A hymn I particularly like is "Hail to the Lord's Anointed," with words by James Montgomery. We don't often sing this verse, although it is excellent theology:

Arabia's desert ranger to Him shall bow the knee;
The Ethiopian stranger His glory come to see;
With offerings of devotion ships from the isles shall meet,
To pour the wealth of oceans in tribute at His feet.
Anyway, assuming that the words are accurate, King Abdullah had better hope that his arthritis isn't playing up now, as he has some emergency knee-bowing to get on with.

Louise's tribute

Louise Mensch is less than "deeply saddened".

Actually, I don't think I can stand any more of these tributes. If I see any more I'll send them to Private Eye. They have a Sauds' Corner, don't they?

cheering Saudis

Grieving Saudis mourn their king.

Offensive Page 3 to continue

After a few days in which it seemed that there would be no more offensive material on Page 3, the Tablet has indicated that it is reverting to its traditional layout. "If you did not have a Page 3 in last week's issue, then it was probably a printer's error," said a spokesman.

Pepinster and Marx

Catherine Pepinster interviews "Rhino", the last surviving Marx brother.

Page 3 of the Tablet has long come in for criticism by Catholics for its offensive nature, as indeed have most of the other pages. We remember that even the cryptic crossword was considered nasty. Clues such as:

1. Nice debt rearranged - how we hate him! (8) (Answer: Benedict), and
2. They mix no metaphor where the world's leading Catholic Professor is based! (10) (Answer: Roehampton) caused distress to many.

Curiously, there is still a wine column by N. O'Phile: is this still written by the great Kieran Conry? Well, why not?

Kieran and wine

Wine, women and song!

So what will we continue to see on Page 3 of your soaraway Pill? Well, probably more turgid drivel from the likes of Catherine Pepinster, Elena Curti, Tina Beattie, Christopher Lamb, Timothy Radcliffe, etc. However, they have been persuaded to keep their clothes on.

Indeed, we are unlikely to see any Page 3 lovelies in the Tablet. So no topless photos of Voluptuous Vera from Leeds (77), a keen ACTA member and admirer of Bishop Stock. Thank goodness.

Old lady

Voluptuous Vera.

For those readers who wish to write their own Tablet articles, the way ahead is as follows:

1. Take a random comment by Pope Francis. This is easy as most of his comments are pretty random. But, for example, take his comment on women priests: "The Church has spoken and says no - that door is closed."

Pope on plane

There are two doors to women's ordination at the rear of the plane...

2. Present this in Tabletese. Here is a suggestion:


Pope Francis has indicated that only one flimsy obstacle remains in the issue of Equal Ordination in the Catholic Church. Speaking to reporters, the Pope made a coded reference to Jesus's "Knock and it will be opened unto you" when he said that the door was closed to women's ordination. It is clear that the Holy Father is now as anxious as we are to ordain women to the priesthood, or indeed to let any woman who wishes ordain herself.

3. Send it to Catherine Pepinster and wait for a fat cheque.

granny priest

"This must be OK. The Tablet said so."

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Je suis Capet

Today, January 21st, is the anniversary of the murder in 1793 of Louis Auguste de France, King Louis XVI, known to his enemies as Citoyen Louis Capet. Curiously, the poor man had not been drawing cartoons of Mohammed, and was not killed by Islamic terrorists. Possibly, he had been sketching Robespierre, and in any case it was the secular state that bears responsibility for his death. That basically means the chaps who are in power now.

Louis XVI

Louis XVI.

I tried to contact President "Flanby" Hollande via his Twitter account @fhollande, to ask him for details of today's "Je suis Capet" march in memory of his dead king, but he did not reply. Probably, he was out on his motorbike, chasing some morceau sur le côté as the French so poetically put it. If he comes back to me on this, I'll let you know.

Je suis Charlie

"Je suis Louis. Vous êtes Marie Antoinette, si vous voulez."

Ah yes, his widow, Marie Antoinette, who was killed 9 months later. Her son, Louis XVII of France, was murdered two years later, at the age of ten. This, the French assure us, is called Liberté, égalité, fraternité, and therefore a GOOD THING. Mind you, they have a national anthem which is all about filling up ditches with impure blood, so what do they know?

Marie Antoinette probably never said "Let them eat cake," or even "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche." I suspect that what the good lady preferred was Eccles cakes. Can it be any coincidence that James Birch's shop on the corner of Vicarage Road in Eccles began selling small, flat, raisin-filled cakes in 1793, the same year that Louis and Marie-Antoinette were killed? I rest my cake, er, case.

Marie Antoinette

Waiting for an Eccles cake!

Back to Louis XVI. He was a good Catholic, and was described as a martyr by Pope Pius VI. Perhaps he should be canonized, but this seems unlikely to happen now. Unless Pope Francis takes another aeroplane trip and slips in an off-the-cuff canonization: yes, that could easily happen. You read it here first.

J.S. Capet Eccles.

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Pope declares war on rabbits

In his latest ex Cathedra, or more precisely, ex Carro Volante statement, Pope Francis has come out firmly against rabbits, as he declared that "Catholics do not need to breed like rabbits."

how rabbits breed

This is how rabbits breed.

Apparently, too many Catholics have been breeding as in the picture above: the male Catholic retreats to a "hutch" or "shed", and is visited by the female Catholic. A mere eight weeks later, she makes a "nest" out of hay, and presents the happy father with four to six baby Catholics. Such behaviour, although hitherto common amongst the faithful, is nowadays considered eccentric, and Catholics are now urged to breed in the same way as people of other religions and none.

Dawkins and rabbit

A distinguished biologist explains how rabbits breed.

When the Holy Father made his speech, there was at first some confusion, as several commentators misheard him, and thought that he said "do not breed like rabbis." These words would have been unfortunate at a time when relations between the Jews and the Catholics are very friendly: neither party can stand the Muslims.

Bugs Bunny

Annibale Bugnini.

Only one famous Catholic in recent history has actually been a rabbit, namely, Annibale Bugnini (shown above), whose reforms of the liturgy included replacing the famous Gregorian chant Quid agatur, medice? by the less elegant "What's up, Doc?" (arr. Inwood). The pope's commination of the Leporidae may be seen as a rejection of Bugnini's changes. Well, we hope so.

A rabbit writes: This is just the latest in a series of gaffes by Pope Francis. Last week, he was encouraging us to punch his mother, and this week he is making racist accusations against rabbits. Does he not know that many rabbits lead chaste, celibate lives, and do not breed at all? Yours, Disgusted of Wonderland.

white rabbit

Disgusted of Wonderland.

Hilary Mantel - not the villain that everyone thought?

A new BBC television drama Wife Hil tells the story of the Elizabethan woman Dame Hilary Mantel. History has not treated her kindly and she is regarded by some Catholics as a cruel and unpleasant woman who chose to persecute them. Most people remember her words that the Catholic Church "is not an institution for respectable people," and many faithful Catholics were severely traumatised when they discovered that Dame Hilary did not regard them with respect.

Pope facepalm

"Dame Hilary doesn't respect me. How can I live this down?"

One firm supporter of Hilary Mantel is Tommy Cromwell, the author of Wife Hil. "You have to realise that Dame Hilary held views that were very common amongst twenty-first century intellectuals," he explains. "For example, her confession that she fantasized about the murdering of Margaret Thatcher was perfectly normal amongst lefties of the time; likewise her description of the future Queen Catherine as 'a shop window mannequin', although it could be seen as unpleasantly personal bullying, merely indicated that she did not feel that the princess lived up to her own standards of beauty and elegance."

Mantel looking weird

The beautiful Dame Hilary. When you pulled her nose, her eyes rotated in opposite directions.

The public is avidly waiting for future instalments of Tommy Cromwell's Wife Hil saga in order to discover the ultimate fate of Dame Hilary. Like her, Tommy was born a Catholic but later turned to the dark side, so he has a unique insight into the psychological problems this may cause. One possible version of the story says that Dame Hilary was unable to survive in a position of power after making enemies of the Church, the Crown, and the Government. It is not clear whether the final outcome was her execution for treason and heresy on Tower Hill.

Thomas Cromwell

Tommy Cromwell, the prize-winning writer.

Monday 19 January 2015

Crowds flock to see religious leader

Professor Richard Dawkins today declared himself "delighted" after a vast cheering crowd of twelve people turned up to see him explain his latest contributions to theology in a lecture entitled "Religion makes my brain hurt." The professor modestly attributed his great popularity to his charm, wit, and civility towards his opponents, adding "Muslims make me puke!"

Dawkins church

A triumph for rationalism, humanism, secularism and atheism.

Meanwhile, Tony Flannery, the Red Emptorist who is regarded as the unofficial leader of the Catholic Church Church in Ireland, is also reported to be attracting crowds of "nearly double figures." We asked him for the secret of his success and he replied "Mmmmmmpphhh", which, as a friend explained, means "I am afraid that the Vatican has asked me to remain silent, and as an obedient son of the Church I am therefore unable to make any comment."

Flannery, ungagged

A rare picture of Fr Flannery, ungagged.

Finally, Pope Francis declared himself "disappointed" after only six million people turned up to his Mass in the Philippines. He tried to put a brave face on it by blaming the bad weather, but it is clear that, as Granny Lucey, the 80-year-old woman who has ordained herself as a Catholic "priest" explained, "the church is dying."

heretic granny

Granny Lucey.

Those who attended the papal Mass were generally dissatisfied. Said one worshipper: "I was expecting to hear some exciting new Catholic doctrine about tortoises going to Heaven, or headbutting thy neighbour being allowed, and all I heard was traddy stuff such as 'Gloria in Excelsis Deo' and 'This is my Body', which any old priest could have said. What on earth was he thinking of?"

papal mass

A massive failure for Pope Francis.

Sunday 18 January 2015

Women, keep silent in church!

1 Corinthians 14:34 reads, in one version:

Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith.

Somehow, this is not as much a regular part of the liturgy as the great Chapter 13, with its

And now there remain faith, hope, and charity [love], these three: but the greatest of these is charity [love].


Women (and one priest) keeping silent, but, er...

Here are a couple of possible interpretations of what St Paul had in mind:

1. There should be no women priests or deacons; no women reading the lessons; maybe no women in the choir?

2. There should be no women chattering during the service.

Of these, (2) is probably more sexist than (1). There are other theological arguments against the ordination of women, but (2) - which was offered to me by a woman - seems unfair. Is the female sex the "chattering" sex?

Today at Mass, it definitely was. Two elderly ladies (60ish) were sitting next to me, and they spent the entire sermon conversing in loud whispers. I glanced over at one point, and one of them was showing the other a train ticket.

train ticket

The next morning Andrew told his brother "We have found a train ticket."

So I decided to focus on Fr H's sermon, which was all to do with being called by the Lord. At least, until a flash of light from my left distracted me. Yes, one of the ladies was consulting her mobile phone, and showing her neighbour a text she had received.

I suspect that the text was something like "Come home at once, the parrot has caught fire," for, the moment the sermon was over, the two ladies crept out - pushing past me with a glare. Evidently, that was enough spiritual nourishment for one week.

Still, it's not only women... men chatter as well. Occasionally, I hear comments drifting over: "Excellent blog by Eccles this week. I learnt a lot from it. Really spiritually nourishing." And that was just the priest talking to his deacon while the altar servers were doing their stuff.

Of course another text from St Paul that is not often read out is where he condemns homosexual acts. Stephen Fry's assertion that he and his young friend have become "one person" by signing a book probably can't be justified on Biblical grounds.

Methusaleh and Shem

Fry and friend. Two persons, or maybe one. Whatever.

Saturday 17 January 2015

Saint of the Week - St Martin McGuinness

When parents christen their baby James Martin Pacelli McGuinness - note the Pacelli after Pope Pius XII - you can be sure that he will grow up to be a pious Catholic, destined for rapid canonization. Admittedly he may have been a bit of a handful as a child - there are stories told of his tarring and feathering his teddy-bear, kneecapping his golliwog, and attempting to bury his Humpty Dumpty doll in an unmarked grave - but we knew that he would grow out of such childish habits. By the way, there is no truth in the story that his pet kitten was blown up by semtex to punish it for bringing in a dead mouse.


Pacelli? Why didn't the parents choose Al Capone, Don Corleone or Sinatra?

After a distinguished political career, Martin rose to be the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. His was the voice of Catholicism, in contrast to the nasty Protestants led by Ian Paisley. Indeed, many believed that a holy man like Martin would become a priest, perhaps something like Fr Tony Flannery; maybe he would even rise to be a distinguished archbishop like Seán Brady. The Catholic Church in Ireland had never had it so good.

Paisley and McGuinness

Fathers Paisley and McGuinness enjoy an ecumenical joke together.

Eventually Martin, who had been MP for mid-Ulster, left the British House of Commons. To do this he had to apply for either the Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds, or the Stewardship of the Manor of Northstead. He chose the latter, and the good people of Northstead were indeed blessed by several weeks' just stewardship with hardly anybody being murdered. Since Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley have also held this stewardship at various times, this remote part of Yorkshire is rapidly becoming a place of pilgrimage.


Lourdes? No, simply the gardens of the Manor of Northstead.

St Martin is in the news again now, for he has announced a change in the Catholic doctrine on abortion. From now on, it's OK to kill Catholics in the womb, as - for some people - it's always been OK to kill Protestants outside the womb. "I try and be the best Catholic I can be," says Martin, and who can doubt that he has always been the best Catholic he could ever be? After all, Hitler was a pious Catholic, as atheists never stop telling us, and Martin is no less a saint.

Eamon Martin and Martin McGuinness

Explaining to Archbishop Eamon Martin what the new rules are.

So please give us no more talk about Martin McGuinness being excommunicated. Rather let us talk of this saintly man being swept up to Heaven with a blaze of trumpets. Alleluia!

© Extreme Loony Socialist Party of Ireland.

On another topic, here's some moral instruction:

considered as one of the fine arts

Thomas De Quincey's thought for the day.

Friday 16 January 2015

It's time to mock Charlie Hebdo

Although this blog is primarily for spiritual nourishment, we do occasionally tease the arrogant and powerful; likewise, we receive criticism in good humour.

For example, if Pope Francis insults my mother by calling her a self-absorbed promethean neopelagian, then I do not feel it necessary to punch him. In fact, since he was once employed as a nightclub bouncer, he probably packs quite a good punch himself.

Pope Francis punching

Pope Francis demonstrates the Catholic "punch of peace".

Likewise, if a deacon from Hell devotes a blog post to a character assassination of me, simply because I don't have a high opinion of Bernadette Farrell, then I take it in good humour, simply making a few cryptic references to idiots in garden sheds.

Now, how should we react if people insult Jesus, Mary, etc.? In Chesterton's The Ball and the Cross, there is the distinct suggestion that we should fight them:

The glass fell in ringing fragments on to the pavement, and Evan sprang over the barrier into the shop, brandishing his stick.
  "What is this?" cried little Mr. Turnbull, starting up with hair aflame. "How dare you break my window?"
  "Because it was the quickest cut to you," cried Evan, stamping. "Stand up and fight, you crapulous coward. You dirty lunatic, stand up, will you? Have you any weapons here?"
  "Are you mad?" asked Turnbull, glaring.
  "Are you?" cried Evan. "Can you be anything else when you plaster your own house with that God-defying filth? Stand up and fight, I say."
  A great light like dawn came into Mr. Turnbull's face. Behind his red hair and beard he turned deadly pale with pleasure. Here, after twenty lone years of useless toil, he had his reward. Someone was angry with the paper. He bounded to his feet like a boy; he saw a new youth opening before him.

The Ball and the Cross

Never mind this blog: here's something much better to read.

Obviously we do not approve of fanatics murdering cartoonists, even talentless prats who couldn't make a decent joke. Still, if Cardinal Vingt-Trois had horsewhipped the Charlie Hebdo editor on the steps of Notre Dame, many would have thought it no more than he deserved. Cartoons about the Virgin Mary giving birth, or Jesus being sodomized, deserve some response. Curiously, a lot of the Charlie Hebdo stuff is sexual: I suspect that its staff pinched most of their ideas from toilet walls.

So, Cardinal 23 definitely shouldn't have been ringing the bells of Notre Dame in memory of Stéphane "Charb" Charbonnier and his bunch of talentless freaks - a gesture mocked in the new issue of Charlie Hebdo:

"What made us laugh the most is that the bells of Notre Dame rang in our honour," the editorial stated. "We would like to send a message to Pope Francis, who, too, was 'Charlie' this week: we only accept the bells of Notre Dame ringing in our honour when it is Femen who make them tinkle."

No, it's a gesture they don't appreciate. What they appreciate is tasteless abuse.


Charb has some awkward questions to answer at the Pearly Gates.

Got that? Je ne suis pas Charlie. Charlie Hebdo is a blasphemous Christ-hating pile of garbage, written by some very creepy people indeed. As you see from the picture above, Charb himself wore a shirt which his mother bought him when he was a teenager. Also, he couldn't even shave properly. A Peter Pan character stuck in the 1960s. A man whose hobbies included pulling the wings off butterflies and writing on toilet walls. His only friend was a pet rat called Eric, and even Eric decided he was too repulsive and ran away.

je suis Charlie politicians

A bunch of fools sticking up for radical secularism.

Ring the bells of Notre Dame for the thousands killed by Boko Haram, or for the millions killed by abortionists. Given the quality of French driving you might even ring them for the thousands killed in road accidents. Just don't honour people who insulted your God.

Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Bells! The Bells!

All right, rant over. Let Chesterton have the last word. Our duellists, Evan MacIan (Catholic) and James Turnbull (atheist) have reached France.

"Yes, France!" said Turnbull, and all the rhetorical part of him came to the top, his face growing as red as his hair. "France, that has always been in rebellion for liberty and reason. France, that has always assailed superstition with the club of Rabelais or the rapier of Voltaire. France, at whose first council table sits the sublime figure of Julian the Apostate. France, where a man said only the other day those splendid unanswerable words"—with a superb gesture—"'we have extinguished in heaven those lights that men shall never light again.'"
  "No," said MacIan, in a voice that shook with a controlled passion. "But France, which was taught by St. Bernard and led to war by Joan of Arc. France that made the crusades. France that saved the Church and scattered the heresies by the mouths of Bossuet and Massillon. France, which shows today the conquering march of Catholicism, as brain after brain surrenders to it, Brunetière, Coppée, Hauptmann, Barrès, Bourget, Lemaître."
  "France!" asserted Turnbull with a sort of rollicking self-exaggeration, very unusual with him, "France, which is one torrent of splendid scepticism from Abelard to Anatole France."
  "France," said MacIan, "which is one cataract of clear faith from St. Louis to Our Lady of Lourdes."
  "France at least," cried Turnbull, throwing up his sword in schoolboy triumph, "in which these things are thought about and fought about. France, where reason and religion clash in one continual tournament. France, above all, where men understand the pride and passion which have plucked our blades from their scabbards. Here, at least, we shall not be chased and spied on by sickly parsons and greasy policemen, because we wish to put our lives on the game. Courage, my friend, we have come to the country of honour."

Of course, times have changed. And Charlie Hebdo isn't exactly Voltaire, is it?