This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Christian Values from David Cameron

As pointed out by the blogger Cranmer, David Cameron finally managed to come up with an Easter message this year - the No 10 website didn't manage one last year, just messages for Passover, Ramadan, Diwali, the Jedis' May the Fourth (be with you), the Flying Spaghetti Monster Pasta Sauce Festival, Beelezebub's Wedding Anniversary, Zeus's Great Feast, Thor's Jolly Smiting Day, The Giant Fish's Finny Festival, Baalmass, Ed Balls Day, and a few other non-Christian religious feasts of importance in our truly diverse society.

Easter Island statue

Something to do with Easter, surely.

Unfortunately, Cameron rather bungled it this year by not actually mentioning the Resurrection, but simply waffling on about Christian values, which are apparently "responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion and pride in working for the common good and honouring the social obligations we have to one another, to our families and our communities." Which are wonderful values, but not exclusively Christian.

Dave has now come up with a more profound list of Christian values, which he will mention in a greeting at Christmas. These include:

Brushing your teeth after meals;
Changing your socks daily;
Having a bath once a month whether you need it or not;
Helping little old ladies across the road, whether they want it or not;
Fastening your seat-belt in the car;
Voting to remain in the EU;
Supporting same-sex marriage.

After all, Christ and the disciples spoke of little else, did they?

Jesus preaching

"Blessed are ye if ye eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each day."

Meanwhile, I've been studying the Catholic list of corporal works of mercy in order to get further ideas. I'm not very good at most of them, but "Bury the Dead" is one where I do score highly: when my aunt poisoned a couple of visiting Jehovah's Witnesses last week, I got them underground before anyone could ask any embarrassing questions. However, in general I'm better at the spiritual works of mercy, which include shouting "heretic" at my neighbours.


Remember: Jehovah's Witnesses are best in acid soils, political canvassers in alkaline.

I hope this helps, Dave.

Sunday 27 March 2016

Terrorist outrage in Croydon

Following this week's terrorist outrage in Croydon, where a man by the name of Matthew Doyle was rude to a Muslim woman in the street (or at least claimed on Twitter to have committed this atrocity), the national security level in the UK has been raised to "a bit worrying". The Prime Minister called a meeting of the emergency HADDOCK committee to discuss the issue, before disappearing on holiday to visit yet more fish markets. The Croydon police have cancelled leave for all officers, and arrested Matthew Doyle after a 48-hour siege.

twitter capture

The terrorist outrage.

Round the world, people have expressed shock at the outrage. Pope Francis took some time off from washing women's feet to condemn the "blind violence" of Doyle's tweet. The main public buildings of Brussels were lit up in the colours of the Union flag in solidarity with Britain's suffering. As the Mayor of Brussels, M. Poirot, explained "We have had a few bad moments ourselves this week, but at least nobody dared to insult a Muslim woman!"

Simon Jenkins

...and then the Guardian remembered that fools rush in...

Sir Simon Jenkins, already well-known on this blog for being wrong on every issue about which he has expressed an opinion, agrees that Brussels should be forgotten, whereas Croydon will be long remembered in the annals of terrorism. As he says, "The initial act is banal. The atrocities in Brussels happen almost daily on the streets of Baghdad, Aleppo and Damascus." He's right: do you get South London thickos being rude to Muslim women in Baghdad? No, of course not. We should be very scared.

burka woman

Mrs Neva X. Isted, the victim of the outrage.

We wanted to interview the victim of the terrorist hate crime, Mrs Isted, who is currently in intensive care. However, it was pointed out to us that, under Islamic law, all opinions that she expresses must be provided by her husband. So much for that, then.

shed on road

A prominent resident flees the terror tweets of Croydon.

The Boat of Fools visits the Charismatics

After a recommendation from Sister Hilary White, we sent our "Mystery Worshipper" to the local charismatic church, for a bit of speaking in tongues.

Get thee behind me, Stan!

"Stan" here is presumably Professor Stanley Unwin, known for translooping the sacred liturgicobble into the vernaculums, which sounds a bit like peebles sparking in tongles, doesn't it? Deep joy.

What was the name of the service?

Missa Polylingua.

Achtung! Allegro con brio! My hovercraft is full of eels. Och aye the noo! Geen toegang!

What were the exact opening words of the service?

The priest's opening greeting was La plume de ma tante est dans le jardin, to which the congregation responded in a variety of languages, known and unknown, all the while jiggling around excitedly and waving their hands in the air so that their neighbours would realise that the Holy Spirit hadn't overlooked them. According to the service book, some acceptable responses would have been:

Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!
Hasta la vista, baby!
Caesar adsum jam forte. Brutus aderat. Caesar sic in omnibus. Brutus sic in at.
Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd. Anfonwch unrhyw waith i'w gyfieithu.

However, we were encouraged to use our own imagination, and I said simply Bunga bunga!

"I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated."

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

Approximately -10. He was clearly trying to explain to us that speaking gibberish was the best way to bring the Holy Spirit into our lives. I don't think he succeeded.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

The most profound insights I got from him were Cave canem and Twój kocioł jest zapakowany w górę, giermka, the latter being Polish for "Your central heating boiler has packed up, squire."

Combien ça coûte, ce toutou dans la fenêtre?

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

It was specially-manufactured Mystic Maniac coffee, as drunk by lunatics.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

Yes, I only dropped into this service as a service to readers of this blog. I won't be coming back.

The next pope

In due course Pope Francis will retire, be snatched up to Heaven, be deposed, or die, and so there is already speculation about his successor. The first issue to address is, what name will this successor take? A poll on the sidebar of this blog allows you to choose between the four front-runners:

Benedict XVII,
Francis II,
Pius XIII, and
Popey McPopeface.

At the time of writing, the last two are neck-and-neck.


RSS Boaty McBoatface, the new polar research vessel.

A more difficult question is "who?" The Catholic Herald is tipping Cardinal Sarah, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, who seems to show signs of being a totally sensible and orthodox Catholic. In particular, he did not encourage priests to wash women's feet on Holy Thursday, which must have been a great relief to many embarrassed priests, not to mention some women who were in danger of being selected. Sarah is also African (so, guaranteed to make Cardinal Kasper throw a fit, if he is still at large), and bears a woman's name, which should be a sop to feminists of the Tina Beattie school. Memo: "Sarah" does not rhyme with "fairer".

Cardinal Sarah

Cardinal Sarah - probably a Benedict.

Then there's Cardinal Tagle - only 18 so we might be stuck with him for a long time. But then, popes, like policemen, always seem to be getting younger, don't they? According to Wikipedia, "He generally prefers to be called by his nickname 'Chito' than by his clerical title." Oh dear, can you imagine it, "Hey, it's not 'Holy Father', it's 'Chito'?" In fact he's very hot on global warming, "mercy" towards the divorced and remarried, etc., indeed, a low-carbon copy of Pope Francis. A cynic, such as Eccles, would say that he's saying all the things Francis likes to hear in order to inherit the throne of Peter from him. Memo: "Tagle" does not rhyme with "bagel".

Cardinal Tagle

Cardinal Tagle - definitely a Francis.

Traditionalists are hoping for the election of Cardinal Burke, currently exiled to Elba Malta, and there's no doubt that he'd make an excellent pope. His election would cause apoplexy in Cardinal Kasper, the entire staff of the Tablet, the National Catholic Reporter and Crux - oh dear, how sad, never mind. Also, I'm afraid, Emeritus Pope Francis wouldn't exactly be delighted.

Cardinal Burke

Cardinal Burke - presumably a Pius.

And we need a joker to finish off. Well, it could be Vincent Nichols, but he's pretty much the same as Tagle only 50 years older and less charismatic. No, the "silly party" candidate has to be the "fat man" - I used this term for him when commenting on the Church Militant blog, but inexplicably the comment was muddlerated out of existence - supreme Grandmaster of the St Patrick's Day Gay Pride March (everyone was welcome, except for pro-life groups), and complete clown. Elect him as Pope and the Catholic Church may as well close down. Which won't happen.

Cardinal Dolan

Cardinal Dolan - alias Popey McPopeface.

Sunday 20 March 2016

Has Kate Bottley had a lousy press?

In a television programme In The Footsteps Of Kate, to be shown on Good Friday, Judas Iscariot examines theories about what led the "Rev" Kate Bottley to betray Christ.

Kate Bottley

Kate Bottley - not as wicked as we first thought?

Traditionally, Fr Kate has been regarded as a buffoon who danced in church and later sold her soul to Channel 4's Gogglebox for a sum estimated at "30 pieces of silver". Certainly, there are some who think of her as a "disciple gone wrong". Mr Iscariot, however, feels a certain sympathy for this poor woman. "This is not to say 'Oh Kate, she's all right really', what we are saying is perhaps there is something else to this character than the dancing, the left-wing bigotry, and the dreadful TV show" he said.

Cain and Abel

Cain slaying Abel. But he wasn't just a murderer.

In an article in the Radio Times "Nick" Baines, Anglican bishop of Leeds, West Yorkshire, the Dales, and the Northern Powerhouse, re-appraises Cain. "I feel a bit sorry for Cain," he says. "He's gone down in history as a murderer, but we tend to forget his skills as a gardener, and the fact that he was a loving father to Enoch."

Joe Hart

"Am I my brother's keeper?"

Fr Kate agrees. "I travelled to Mesopotamia. You have to look really hard to find anything about Cain, he's a really shadowy figure, even when you go to the place where he killed Abel, you have to look really hard to find any reference to him."

Yes, it is time we re-appraised all these people: Cain, Judas, Nick, and Kate. Perhaps after all they are not as bad as we thought.

Rude words in church

This is loosely based on a real incident.

Dear Fr Arthur,

Being a man of advanced years (36), I sometimes drop off in your sermons. To my horror, I awoke at one moment and distinctly heard you say the word "knickers". To the best of my knowledge I have never heard such bad language in a church service before. If you are referring to something in the Bishop's Letter, then a little respect is needed, don't you think?

Fr Arthur

Fr Arthur uses a rude word.

Eccles, you moron,

My sermon was about refugees, and I was encouraging my parishioners to donate much-needed gifts to the "jungle" at Fraseur St Gilles, near Dunkirk. These would include any spare pullovers, knickers, tins of beans, Eccles cakes, pet hamsters, rowing-boats, guns, and copies of Enid Blyton's The Famous Five discover Transgenderism that you may have. But no sausages.

May I remind you that these days social awareness is more important than religion, and so we don't talk about God in our homilies.

wee box

A mysterious photo in the Catholic Herald.

Dear Luke Coppen, Editor of the Catholic Herald,

What exactly is a wee box? Is it what we used to call a toilet cubicle? And why should the Herald print a photo of Mrs Sturgeon inaugurating some?

No reply was received.

Walking on custard.

Dear Graham James, Anglican Bishop of Norwich,

Could you explain this photo of you jumping up and down on a tray of custard? Is it an attempt to ingratiate yourself with the great Damian Thompson, custard correspondent of the Spectator? Or is it merely a new liturgical dance?

Notre Dame University honours Kim Jong-Un

The University of Notre Dame, Indiana, has announced the winner of its 2016 Laetare medal, which is awarded in recognition of outstanding service to the Catholic Church and society. The lucky recipient is Mr Kim Jong-Un, 17, a North Korean politician, whose record of murder, imprisonment and torture is "just what we're looking for", in the words of a spokesman for the college.

Kim Jong-Un

"I am honoured to receive this medal," says Mr Kim.

"At first we thought of giving the medal to Vice-President Joe Biden," said the spokesman, "after he wrote to us telling us what a great Catholic he was. However, further investigation revealed that he was a supporter of abortion and same-sex marriage, and our strong Catholic principles obviously forced us to rule him out. If we'd honoured him we would have become a laughing stock. Our reputation still hasn't recovered from the time when we gave an honorary degree to Barack Obama - if we'd vetted him properly we might have noticed that Obama was an advocate of dismembering small children, which some of us feel squeamish about."

Mugabe and Pope Francis

Robert Mugabe (L) is not amused.

Mr Robert Mugabe, 112, of Zimbabwe (or, as Oxford students now wish it to be known, Southern Rhodesia) was not amused at narrowly missing out on the prestigious medal. "I have a great respect for what Mr Kim has achieved," he said, "but I should point out that, unlike him, I am actually a Catholic. Pope Francis has refused to condemn me, so I must be a pretty good guy. I don't know who this Laetare chap was, but he must be turning in his grave." The Notre Dame spokesman admitted that Mugabe was a "better fit" to the Catholic ethos of the college, but said "Well, there's always next year!"

What is a tragedy as far as Notre Dame is concerned is the fact that it never honoured Ted Kennedy, the politician and underwater racing driver. Medals were awarded to his brother JFK and sister Eunice, but somehow young Edward missed out on his due recognition as "the sort of Catholic that Notre Dame appreciates". Well, it's too late now.

Notre Dame Basilica

Spiritual nourishment to help you recover (Notre Dame's Basilica of the Sacred Heart).

Sunday 13 March 2016

Is Hans Küng infallible?

In conjunction with those well-known bastions of Catholic orthodoxy, the National Catholic Reporter and The Tablet, Pope Francis has issued a challenge to the doctrine of Küngly infallibility.

Kung Fu

Wave your Hans! The doctrines of Hans Küng Fu lead to enlightenment.

It will be recalled that the First Vatican Council of 1869–1870 formally defined the doctrine of Küngly infallibility, saying that whenever Hans (who in those days was a mere teenager) made an ex cathedra declaration on faith or morals, then it was to be treated as infallible. However, as early as 1980 it was recognised that Hans Küng was barking mad the teachings of Hans Küng were too radical to be accepted by the Church, and his "licence to teach" was withdrawn, along with his television licence and his licence to kill.

Pope Francis himself does not go in for ex cathedra declarations, but in an ex aeroplana statement, as reported by Eugenio Scalfari, he is believe to have said "Hans Küng is a complete idiot who should have joined the Lutherans years ago. They'll take anyone. Could I have a bag of peanuts, please?"

Dear Pope Francis book

Another entrant for the "Doesn't look like Pope Francis" competition.

Supporters of Küng have angrily claimed that Pope Francis is jealous of Hans's impressive academic record, including honorary degrees from AXA anti-Hellfire Insurance, Dreamland Margate, and the University of Atlantis. Not to mention his 250 published books, including "You is not infallible, only I is infallible" and "Why does everyone hate me?"

Pope Francis, on the other hand, has recently written a book answering children's questions such as "Does God work on Sundays?", "What is the point of Giles Fraser?" and "Do self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagians go to Heaven?"

Hans Küng book

Forget North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Syria. Here's REAL suffering.

The debate goes on. Is Professor Küng - three times winner of the Tony Flannery prize for patient bearing of torture - really infallible? Who are we to judge?

Sunday 6 March 2016

The eight most boring moments in church

Clearly, we don't go to church to be entertained (unless we're in the Calvary Chapel), but rather to worship God, and thereby to become more saved. However, there are parts of the service that count as "fatty tissue", and definitely waste our time.

sleeping in church

A gripping moment in the Mass.

1. Before the service. Obviously, for a 10 a.m. service you shouldn't turn up at 10 a.m., on the dot. Sometimes the priest is too quick off the mark, and will already be galloping down the aisle; in any case it may be difficult to get seats together, if you are coming as a family. So you turn up at 9.30 instead, and - according to taste - gossip with your neighbours, play with your phone, pray quietly, read the newsletter, or sit thinking holy thoughts. By 10 a.m. all these sources of spiritual nourishment are over, and you're getting bored.

2. A bad hymn. You may not get one of these. Moreover, if you do, you experience a mixture of irritation and boredom. If only I had the courage to kneel down during "Walk in the Light" with my hands over my face in a "Lord, forgive them" attitude.

Pope Francis facepalm

"No, not 'If I were a fuzzy, wuzzy bear, I'd thank you, Lord for my fuzzy, wuzzy hair'!"

3. Firing up the thurible. This will not apply in many churches, but watching the priest doling out a spoonful of gunpower - or whatever it is - into the thurible, about 20 minutes into the Mass, is very boring, and I don't know why he couldn't have done it beforehand.

Of course, there's always the possibility that Fr Bunsen will make a mess of it and set fire to his chasuble, but I've never seen it happen. The nearest I've ever got to that was when a priest I knew conducted a funeral at a crematorium and scorched his cassock - but it was on an electric fire after the service.

4. The sermon. Many priests are boring, we have to admit. Even (especially) when they steal their homilies from Fr Hezekiah Snoring's Collected Victorian Sermons in 12 bulky volumes. This year, Mercy is the big theme for us, and I never realised before just how boring it could be.

A variation on this is the Bishop's Letter, perhaps giving us even more Mercy ("This week we painted the Door of Mercy with rainbow stripes to show our commitment to the LBGT community, as its previous colours - red and white - suggested a commitment to St George, which many found offensive"), or What I Did This Month ("On Wednesday I enjoyed tea and Eccles cakes with the Medium-Sized Sisters of the Beretta"), or simply the bishop's strategy document ("Here is a list of churches that I am closing down this year").

nuns duelling

The Medium-Sized Sisters of the Beretta

5. The kiss of peace. Again a mixture of irritation and boredom, especially, when someone else is trying to beat last week's record of 23 victims. I've said enough on this topic already.

6. Blessing of altar servers / candles / new hassocks / pets. Yes, all these are worthy of blessing - indeed, most things are blessable unless they actually lead one to sin (e.g. copies of the Tablet). But it's a distraction from the service. Also, bringing pet hippopotamuses into church, although not exactly boring, is too "modernist".

7. An end-of-service chat from a representative of CAFOD / the Freemasons / our very own Kate Drivel who spent her gap year ecumenically working with ISIS. The aim here is to drum up support, or possibly money. GO AWAY.

puppet mass

Next week's preacher.

8. Final announcements. Next week the Bishop will be visiting, and there will be a special puppet mass. Tina Beattie's lecture has been cancelled again. There are coffee and cannabis in the Church Hall. All these things are in the newsletter, Father!

Any more?

The persecution of Cardinal Pell

The witch-hunt against Cardinal Pell, who happened to be in Australia at a time when bad things were going on, continues. Indeed, his worst enemies wanted him dragged back to Australia and tortured, in the hope that he might thereby suffer a heart attack. Now Pell is facing fresh allegations in connection with the notorious "Waltzing Matilda" affair.

jolly swagman

A jolly swagman. Could this have been George Pell?

Some time around 1895, a jolly swagman was known to have camped by a billabong under the shade of a coolibah tree. Nothing wrong with that, you may say, except that he grabbed a jumbuck and stuck it in his tucker bag. Later he evaded the law by jumping into the billabong, and was never seen again, except possibly as a ghost.

In vain has Cardinal Pell pointed out that he was not born until 1941, and anyway the "jumbuck" affair took place in Queensland, not Ballarat, Victoria.

Ballarat church


The next attacks on Cardinal Pell are centred on a reference in the Sherlock Holmes story "The Boscombe Valley Mystery":

Sherlock Holmes took a folded paper from his pocket and flattened 
it out on the table. 
“This is a map of the Colony of Victoria,” he said. “I wired to 
Bristol for it last night.” 
He put his hand over part of the map. “What do you read?”
“ARAT,” I read.
“And now?” He raised his hand.
“Quite so. That was the word the man uttered, and of which his son 
only caught the last two syllables. He was trying to utter the name 
of his murderer. So and so, of Ballarat.”
“It is wonderful!” I exclaimed.
“It is obvious. And now, you see, I had narrowed the field down 
considerably. The possession of a grey garment was a third point 
which, granting the son’s statement to be correct, was a  
certainty. We have come now out of mere vagueness to the 
definite conception of an Australian from Ballarat with a grey 
Cardinal Pell

Do you in fact own a grey cloak, your Eminence grise?

It is clear to many that Cardinal Pell was in fact the Black Jack of Ballarat mentioned in this story. Or else he knew him. All that remains to complete the case is the discovery of his grey cloak: the mere fact that we have not been able to find it proves that Pell must have destroyed it - clear evidence of a guilty conscience.


A kangaroo similar to one that was tied down by George Pell.

Nobody knows what the Australian national anthem is, but everyone agrees that it would make more sense if it were either "Waltzing Matilda" or "Tie me kangaroo down, sport" (it's a pity that the latter was written by Rolf Harris...)

Notoriously, TMKDS was performed by Cardinal Pell at a Vatican Christmas party in 2003, with an extra verse:

Stop me going to Hell, Pell,
Stop me going to Hell.
I’m not feeling too well, Pell,
So stop me going to Hell.
Enemies of Cardinal Pell have seized on this as evidence that he used to tie kangaroos down for sport, although so far no credible evidence has been produced. But it makes you think, eh? No smoke without fire. He's a traddy Catholic. Destroy him!