This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

A guide to Britain, part 1

A few weeks ago there was a comment on Father Z's blog, saying that one of its readers found this blog spiritually nourishing - that may not have been the exact terminology used - but didn't often know who we were talking about. So we propose a step-by-step guide to the main religious and anti-religious figures in Britain. With luck you will be able to spot a Tina Beattie at 50 paces, to take cover when you hear a Richard Dawkins ranting, and to understand obscure jokes about druids and Rowan Williams.

The first Englishman is an easy one to identify.


Evidence that Christ is an Englishman.

It's generally agreed that God is an Englishman, and that the original version of the Bible is the King James Bible (later translated into Hebrew, Greek, etc. and hidden in caves in the Middle East). So far, so good. No Americans (etc.) will have any trouble with that one.

Welby, Cameron, Queen Elizabeth II

David Cameron explains to the Queen and Archbishop Welby where Heaven is.

Second only to God, as far as many English are concerned, is Her Majesty the Queen, Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Although she is the top spiritual being for Anglicans, many of her most important duties are delegated to the Prime Minister (David Cameron) or the Archbishop of Canterbury (Justin Welby). Note that the Church of England was founded in order that Henry VIII could have six wives - nowadays, this would be called "showing mercy to him" - and it has been a tradition ever since for the British sovereign to have six husbands or wives where possible.

Prince Philip

Three of the Queen's six husbands.

The main rival to the Anglican Church is of course the Catholic Church, which kindly supplied most of the beautiful medieval buildings that Anglicans use, leaving the ugly buildings for itself. It currently has one non-retired non-disgraced cardinal in Great Britain, namely Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster. Now "Vin", as he is affectionately known, has always done his best to reflect the mood of the pope of the time, so much so that he might be a model for the legendary Vicar of Bray. When Pope John-Paul II was reigning, Vin was saintly; when Benedict XVI took over, he became intellectual and orthodox; under Francis he is confusing and rather liberal ("gay masses" etc.) - a worthy companion to Kasper, Baldisseri and Danneels at the forthcoming synod.

Pope and comedy bishops

Pope Francis encounters four spiritual giants. ++Vin is on the left.

While we're surveying the "Premier League" of religious figures, we cannot forget the World's Greatest Atheist, Professor Richard Dawkins. Variously described as "a genius", "barking mad", "a complete moron", "Dr Bonkers", "gives atheists a bad name", etc., he is a controversial figure, and presumably well-known overseas. Now in retirement, his 24/7 presence on Twitter screaming insults at Catholics and Muslims has not prevented him from producing Volume 2 of his memoirs, called "Brief Candle in the Dark", which I suppose we ought to blog about some time.

Dawkins doing science

A young Richard Dawkins does something brainy that proves the non-existence of God.

To be continued.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The unknown Pope Francis

Following Pope Francis's trip to the USA, here are a few pictures which indicate that some people have absolutely no idea what the Holy Father looks like.

Pope doll

An iDoll, but not Pope Francis.

Pope cartoons

Could be anyone...

Pope cake

Getting nearer, but still doesn't quite capture him.

bad Pope portrait

Very artistic, but who is it supposed to be?

Pope dog


concelebrating clowns

Yes, here he is at last, surrounded by "concelebrating" clowns.

fat idiot in front of Pope

And again, with the local village idiot.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

The fable of the mediocre shepherd

Once upon a time there lived a group of shepherds, whose leader was a man called Vincent. These shepherds had the care of various flocks of sheep, having been told to guide them and keep them safe. However, there were never totally agreed on how this should best be done.

Vincent Nichols and crook

"I am the mediocre shepherd."

Now it came to pass that there was to be a World Shepherds' Conference, also known as a Synod, to which Vincent was invited. The shepherds were going to decide on the best way to keep their sheep saved. Some of the world's worst shepherds (many of whom had lost half their sheep to the wolves) would be there: old "Godless" Danneels of the Mafia Club, whose sheep usually found themselves at the bottom of a lake wearing concrete boots; "Lozza" Baldisseri, who did not want the shepherds to read books; "Rhino" Marx the wolf in shepherd's clothing; and so on.

Pope Francis and sheep

A very important shepherd.

Vincent had his own ideas on how to look after sheep, which involved them getting involved in activities normally condemned in the Shepherds' Bible. However, in order to promote "honest dialogue" as a "process of discernment" - and lots of other phrases that weak leaders use when they can't rely on their own principles - he had a brilliant idea: ASK THE SHEEP HOW THEY SHOULD BE GUIDED.

wolf in sheep's clothing

"As a member of ACTA, I support Shepherd Vincent's initiative."

Replies flooded in from the sheep, as well as certain wolves, hyenas and jackals who thought their own votes would be helpful:

"Let the sheep wander freely into the swamps."

"Hold special "massings" of the sheep to which wolves are also invited."

"Do not feed the sheep on grass, but let them devour other sheep."

Kasper and Danneels

"Do you think that the horse's head in the Pope's bed will be persuasive, Wally?"

Anyway, Vincent was incredibly impressed by the wisdom of his sheep, although their views went totally against the advice given by the original Good Shepherd. He vowed to recommend these new ideas to the Synod. Meanwhile, some of the wiser sheep began to be very worried...

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

German bishops recalled in mission scandal

The company Volksbischof has been forced to recall its entire stock of Catholic bishops, after tests proved that they had been deceiving people about the quality of their missions. In everyday situations there was a distinct whiff of sulphur about their teachings, which the bishops successfully concealed whenever they were inspected closely.

unholy smoke

Unholy smoke! A German bishop leads his flock astray.

Said a spokesman, "I have had my doubts about the Kasper 2.0 and the Marx 1.6 for some time. I was also concerned that if I drove them in hilly countryside, they would rush out of control down a slippery slope without any hope of stopping. From now on I'm getting a steady reliable Burkemobile!"

Meanwhile, in other news, Cardinal Vincent Nichols has been trying to answer this question: What do the Catholic church's most devoted members believe? As a "process of discernment", the bishops of England and Wales have been taking soundings and the results are shocking.

According to the survey, 90% of Catholics are dissatisfied with the Church. But there's more!

Welby and Nichols

Vincent Nichols looks for loopholes in the Bible.

90% of the most devoted Catholics are members of ACTA, the organization for stirring up dissent in the Catholic Church.

90% of the most devoted Catholics are Tablet readers.

90% of the most devoted Catholics never attend Mass, except for special "gay" masses.

90% of Catholics are still whingeing about the word "communion" in the new translation of the missal.

90% of the most devoted Catholics want Vincent Nichols to be the next pope.

Nichols and old men

90% of the most devoted Catholics are over 80 years old.

Indeed, 90% of the most devoted Catholics say they would be happier as Protestants.

Cardinal Nichols believes that the survey is statistically meaningful; if so, then the inescapable conclusion is that the Catholic Church needs to drop its pretence of being "religious" and become a secular charity with aims similar to Stonewall or BPAS. You read it here first.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

When the professor got stuck in the snow

We don't normally do book reviews on this blog (apart from books of the Bible as part of the Eccles Bible Project), but I recently read "When the professor got stuck in the snow" by Dan Rhodes, and its spiritually nourishing subject means that it deserves a review.

Dan Rhodes book

The book.

The basic premiss of the story is that an atheist professor by the name of Richard Dawkins is on his way to Upper Bottom (cue some very subtle but rather impolite wordplay here) to address the Women's Institute, when he gets stuck in the snow and has to find temporary accommodation with a retired Anglican vicar called Potter.

We see therefore the development of several dramatic themes, which make this one of 2014's great tragic novels about the sorrows of a senior academic in good standing. Even When Tina Beattie was taken to a Latin Mass and When Hans Küng was given a papal encyclical for his birthday cannot compare with the book's atmosphere of sheer misery.

Prof. Calculus

Professors are tragic people.

As a close friend of the Regius Professor of Rocket Science, New Testament Greek, and Human Flourishing, I know that professors are, by and large, deeply tragic people. Especially science professors, who may be extremely brainy about things like genes and memes, but may not have much of a clue about real life. (Of course there are many exceptions.)

So our hero Professor Dawkins - often confused with the man in the wheelchair - is cast as an innocent creature, one who will face the vicissitudes of Fate while raging blindly against the world.

Scott of the Antarctic

Professor Dawkins heads for Upper Bottom.

On his journey, Dawkins has many adventures, but it's bad form to include too many spoilers, so I will be a little vague here. However, I can reveal that he is called in to save a cat having difficulty with childbirth. Will he earn headlines such as "GODLESS BUT CARING ACADEMIC BRAVES SNOW TO DELIVER KITTENS" or will he be too late, and have to settle for "ATHEIST VISITS DEAD CAT"? Will he deliver the kittens, or be forced to euthanase the mother, perhaps by feeding her into a large antique mangle (for want of any more convenient device)? You'll have to read Chapter 14 to find out.

The professor meets many challenges to his faith - or lack of it - on the way. We have all wondered why, if Charles Dickens's theory of evolution is correct, there are no hairy fishes flapping around the water's edge. Dawkins can answer this question, and in fact gets very tired of answering it.


His rival, A.C. Grayling - better hair, but he hasn't done the experiments.

After a series of adventures, often involving unconventional means of transport, Dawkins does indeed reach Upper Bottom, just as Scott did eventually reach the South Pole. However, his non-faith is severely questioned on the way. Sometimes he is 6.9 out of 7 sure that there is no God, but at other times he weakens, and it is only 6.8 - a significant difference.

As for what happens next... well read it yourselves. I enjoyed the book very much - even the rude bits.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Pope Francis to meet top Catholics in USA

As Pope Francis prepares to visit the USA, it has been announced that President Barack Obama has arranged for him to meet a selection of his favourite Catholics, the ones who are so influential in the modern church.

girl on unicycle

Sister Jezebel of the "Nuns on the Unicycles" organization.

Sister Jezebel is a thoroughly modern Catholic nun, who refuses to kow-tow to the male patriarchal hegemony of Pope Francis by dressing like a nun. She is hoping to advise the Holy Father that for 2000 years the Church has been wrong on such issues as the ordination of women and the rights of lesbian nuns who wish to marry in church.

Anne Elk

Caitlyn Nutcase.

Although originally born as a male humanoid, Caitlyn now identifies as a female elk, and who are we to judge? She is fond of browsing and ruminating, and occasionally emitting the trumpet-like mating call of the elk, although she has not yet found a male elk to take any interest in her. A pious Catholic and cover girl for Vanity Elk, Caitlyn attends liberal masses, where she emits loud mooing sounds and chews the flower arrangements.

Fu Man Chu

Fred Fu Manchu (and daughter) of Planned Extermination Baby Parts 'R' Us (Inc.)

Barack Obama is a close friend of Fred Fu Manchu, whose "baby parts" empire made him a multi-millionaire. His daughter owns a Lamborghini. Fred recommends the National Catholic Reporter for all your spiritual needs.

the Penguin

Senator Joe Penguin

A close political ally of President Obama, Senator Penguin is a pious Catholic who likes reciting the Rosary in a Neil Kinnock voice; when he's not doing that, he campaigns for same-sex marriage. He opposes abortion except in extreme cases, such as when the woman is pregnant.

Selfish Gene

Bishop Selfish Gene

It is said that Bishop Gene left his wife, the mother of his children, in order to "marry" a man. If you're going to commit adultery, do it in style, that's what we always say. It can only be a matter of time before Gene becomes a Catholic. Becoming a Christian may take a little longer.

Finally, we learn that the Master of Ceremonies will be...

Mr Creosote

Cardinal Timothy Donut

Three times winner of the Vatican's Fattest-Cardinal-Who-Has-Not-Yet-Exploded award, Cardinal Donut is also grandmaster of the St Patrick's Day Gay Pride March. An old friend of both Barack Obama and Pope Francis, he is regarded as someone who can reconcile all shades of liberal opinion.

Late news: This is basically correct.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Is God an old man with a beard?

Recent events in British politics have led many people to suppose that God is an old man with a grey beard, living in some remote area beyond the reach of ordinary human beings (Islington, also known as Corbyngrad). But is such a belief tenable in the present day and age?

Corbyn in shorts

A man walking like a chicken, or God moving in a mysterious way?

Certainly after his miraculous election to the leadership of the Labour party, and his consequent appointment as leader of the Opposition, against all the odds, many people are prepared to bow down and worship this mysterious figure that we all associate with times long gone by (the 1960s, mostly).

Still, if indeed Jeremy Corbyn IS God, then that would provide an explanation of his refusal to sing the National Anthem, "God save the Queen". After all, he would only be talking (or singing) to himself. And presumably he already has a fairly good idea whether the Queen is saved.

Corbyn not singing the anthem

It's so embarrassing when people sing hymns to you.

For a long time it was thought that God was a middle-aged man who wrote down his promises on stone tablets and ate bacon sandwiches in a mysterious way, but a few months ago this theory was disproved and the search for a supreme being went elsewhere. But really, who believes in the divinity of an old man with a beard in this day and age?

Meanwhile, Pope Francis has made it perfectly clear that he does not believe in the divinity of JC (even though he shares his initials with a *very* famous religious personage indeed). Indeed, in asking Catholics to reduce their Corbyn Footprint, he has made it clear that, wherever Heaven is, it cannot be in Islington.

Angel, Islington

The Angel, Islington, a challenge to non-believers.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Eccles registers with the Ministry of Truth

Under Home Office plans, Imams, priests, rabbis and other religious figures will have to enrol in a "national register of faith leaders" and undergo vetting.

Well, naturally Brother Eccles could not expect to stay under the radar for long, and I received the following letter from the Ministry of Truth.

Yes, minister

The Ministry of Truth investigates a religious blogger.

Dear Brother Eccles,

We understand that you are the author of a spiritually nourishing blog that is read worldwide by as many as six people. This means that you must register as a "faith leader" and subject yourself to regular training and inspection. Our inspector, Brother O'Brien, will be knocking on your door at 4 a.m. to take you to a cell, where we shall address the many problems with your blog that have come to our notice. These include:

1. Derogatory remarks about David Cameron, his fondness for visiting fish markets, his unwillingness to address the problems of Islamic extremism, and his rush to implement same-sex marriage legislation.

Cameron and his fish

Big Brother shows his appreciation of fish.

2. Too many unfunny jokes, or at least jokes that our civil servants in the Ministry of Truth need to have explained to them.

3. Critical comments about registered "national treasures" such as Elton John, Gerry Adams, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Fry and Dr Giles Fraser of the BBC.

Dawkins dressed as a penguin

A penguin national treasure trying to think of something silly to say.

4. A general religious attitude in your blog, as seen in the fact that you use prohibited words such as "sin", "evil", "adultery", "murder" (in the context of abortion), and "God".

5. A tendency to mock senior international figures such as Barack Obama, François Hollande, Jihad John, Robert Mugabe and Kim Jong Un; if one of these were to read your blog it might cause a major diplomatic incident.

I warn you now that if you do not change the tone of your blog, then you will probably have to be burnt at the stake.

Little Uncle pp. Big Brother.

Luckily all is not lost, and support has come from an unexpected direction.

Voris with Eccles cake

Michael Voris eats some Eccles cakes in solidarity with your blogger.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Bill "killed off too soon"

Supporters of the Assisted Suicide Bill reacted angrily to the news that it had been killed off prematurely in a House of Commons vote (330 votes to 118).

Rob Marris, the proposer of the bill, commented, "I know that the bill was very sick, and was going to die anyway; it probably had less than six months to live. But it is really shameful to see people deliberately killing it off, rather than letting it die naturally, as Lord Falconer's bill was allowed to. If I'm in the House of Commons for one purpose, it is to protect the weak and vulnerable - and I don't just mean the Labour Party."


Undertakers - expecting extra business but now to be disappointed.

Apparently, many of the opponents of the Bump-em-Off bill were people of a religious tendency - which of course means that their views are totally invalid, and they should not really have been allowed to vote. On the other hand, those who actually wanted the Death-Blood-Cut-Psycho bill were mostly an alliance of actors, second-rate comedians, and other celebrities - in short, the modern opinion-formers.

Lee Hurst

Lee Hurst - will his comic career be allowed to die naturally?

It is believed that a "compromise" bill may soon be introduced, allowing doctors to help people who wish to self-harm but not kill themselves. Thus, if you feel an urgent need to gnaw your own arm off after watching David Baddiel, you will be able to go to a doctor's surgery and the doctor will gnaw if off for you. It is not clear whether this is against anyone's religious principles.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Pope Francis annuls all marriages

As a special gesture to celebrate the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has declared that all marriages contracted by Catholics are now null and void. Fed up with handling numerous claims for annulment, the Holy Father has in characteristic style cut all the red tape and granted freedom to all previously-married couples.

A happy couple celebrate the Pope's decision.

As a special bargain offer, those couples who did not really want an annulment (believed to be a small minority) will be allowed to remarry free of charge.

Said one unhappy husband, Fred Cheese, "We've been together now for 40 years, and it don't seem a day too much. There ain't a lady livin' in the land as I'd swop for my dear old Dutch." However, his wife, Dutch Cheese, replied "Er, don't count your chickens, Fred. If we remarry you can start doing the cleaning, for a start."

It is not clear where this leaves the General Synod on the Family, as, from now on, there aren't any families. Once again the Pope has solved a knotty problem in his own unique style.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

The New Church of Nasty

Religious commentators became very puzzled this week, when the Church of Nice decided that, after all, it would be more honest to rebrand itself as the New Church of Nasty. This caused untold confusion, as there is already an Old Church of Nasty.

Nasty sign


The original Church of Nasty takes the view that keeping God's commandments is quite a neat idea. So no adultery, homosexual activity, abortion, euthanasia, theft, false witness, etc. Loving one's neighbour doesn't include supporting him when he runs amok with a chainsaw - for although Jesus never explicitly condemned sawing your neighbour in half, we Old Nastians believe that somehow this prohibition is implicit in His teachings, based on the old Jewish law. So since for many people the greatest virtue is Tolerance, this has naturally made traditionally-minded Nastians unpopular in some circles.

Nice poster

... or Nice?

The big change this week came when Kim Davis of Kentucky was sent to prison by Judge David Bunning because she refused to issue same-sex "marriage" licences. Apparently, she was said to have committed contempt of court; as a result David Bunning himself is now regarded with contempt by many decent people - the words "arrogant bullying toad" spring to mind here. We heard a rumour that he himself was a Catholic - if so, then presumably one of the "Church of Nice" types.

The vultures gathered round the corpse of liberty. For example, Michael Coren, the comedy apostate, who left the Catholic Church in order to spend more time with his ego, was full of glee at the news that a committed Christian woman had been sent to prison for her beliefs - rather than, say, being assigned to other duties and being awarded compensation for the inconvenience. As for Hillary Clinton - well, the less said about her the better, under all circumstances.

Obama selfie

Meanwhile, Barack Obama takes a picture of the person he loves most.

Of course this is not the first time that the Church of Nice has shown its teeth. Peaceful demonstrators outside abortion clinics are routinely spat on and otherwise intimidated by those of a more "liberal" point of view. People are sued when they refuse to bake cakes bearing absurd political slogans. So now that the inevitable has happened, and the "Nice" people have decided to stop all pretence of being kind, sweet, gentle people who keep kittens and love their neighbours, the renaming of their church as The New Church of Nasty was inevitable.

Kim Davis

"Burn her for her Christian principles!" © Church of Nice New Church of Nasty

No doubt Pope Francis will ecumenically get Kim Davis released when he visits the USA.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

New glasses for the Pope

Clearly the main item of religious news this week (reported by the BBC, Guardian, Telegraph, etc.) was Pope Francis's trip to the opticians to get new glasses. Previous popes had their spectacles fitted by a special Cardinal Oculorum, but this Holy Father is anxious to show that he is no different from anyone else.

Pope Francis glasses

"No, these ones make me look a little too neo-pelagian."

As we all sing "Glory to God in the eye-test", we should remember some of the problems associated with papal visits to the optician. Note that Matthew 6:22 reminds us "The eye is like a lamp for the body. Suppose your eyes are healthy. Then your whole body will be full of light." Thus it is very important for a pope to have good eyes.

On the other hand, one optician started by saying "Holy Father, let me remove that speck from your eye," only to be told "You fool... you've got a log in your own eye!"


Pope-eye the sailor man.

There has been dirty work at the crossroads, however. Cardinal Baldisseri is said to have painted the Pope's old glasses with black paint, in the hope that he would be forced to turn a blind eye to the shenanigans at the forthcoming Synod on the Family. When that didn't work, we are told that Cardinal Kasper broke into the optician's overnight, and substituted a new eye chart for the Pope to read out.

Naughty eye chart

Cardinal Kasper's eye chart.

Well, the Pope avoided this rather obvious trap, and is said to be "very happy" with his new glasses. In fact he has three pairs: one for looking at things in a traditionalist way, one for looking at things from a liberal point of view, and one that just gives a confusing picture of things.


Not the Pope.

We conclude with the song "My eyes are dim, I cannot see", which on this video is sung by someone looking suspiciously like a young Jorge Bergoglio. It is strongly tipped to become one of the special anthems for the Year of Mercy.

My eyes are dim

Don't forget to do the actions when you sing it at Mass!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Pope Francis says "Have an abortion on me!"

By Julia Carpet-Chewer of the Telegraph, Tom Wingnut of the Times, and in fact most of the most foolish journalists in the secular media.

Yes! Pope Francis - who I've just discovered is the head of the Cathartic Church (memo, check spelling) has made it clear that during the forthcoming Year of Murphy abortion will no longer be a sin! In fact all Cathartics, male and female, will be encouraged to go out and have abortions, knowing that they will automatically go to Heaven as a result!

Cormac Murphy-O'Connor

Is this why it's called the Year of Murphy?

I've been given a fascinating but rather difficult book called "Catholicism for three-year-olds" - oh, THAT's how you spell it - and, as far as I can tell, there are two important notions going round in the most advanced theological circles. One is called GOOD and the other is EVIL. Weird, eh? Now, if you do GOOD, you go to Heaven, and get angel's wings, learn to play the harp, and sit on a cloud. But if you do EVIL - now don't be shocked by this - you go and sit in a big lake of fire, eat brimstone, and watch endless television shows starring Stephen Fry.

Harpo Marx

A vision of Heaven.

And that's all there is to it, EXCEPT that you can still do EVIL and get away with it. All you have to do is tell a PRIEST - a sort of holy policeman - and you are FORGIVEN. But BEWARE, for if you've done GOOD and you tell THAT to a priest, then it gets FORGIVEN as well, and so you get no credit for it. This is what Catholics call ABLUTIONS.

thumbs up from Pope Francis

It's a big thumbs-up to EVIL from now on!

So what did Pope Francis actually SAY? Well, he said that in the Year of Murphy there was no need to worry about committing sins. There won't be any! In fact he even said that HITTING STUPID JOURNALISTS OVER THE HEAD WITH A CRICKET BAT - although normally said to be one of the wickedest things you can do - was no longer to be considered sinful. In fact he RECOMMENDED IT. Oo - er...

Vatican cricketer

Preparing to tackle the Press.