Thursday, 17 August 2017

Liturgy of Patronising The People Getting Their A Level Results

Hymn: Another Brick in the Wall

Archdruid: Let us all humble-brag our poor educational results.

Famous Columnist: I failed all my A Levels and now I'm a Famous Columnist.

Twitter Vicar: I failed all my A Levels and now I'm a vicar on Twitter.

TV Presenter: Failed all mine and now I get to read an auto cue for a living.

Famous Brain Surgeon: I failed all my A Levels but I worked my way up via carpentry

Businessman: I failed all my A Levels and now I'm a successful businessman.

All: What about you, Eileen?

Archdruid: 4 A grades and went to Oxford. Why do you think I'm the Archdruid?

All: No. You're supposed to say you failed and it didn't matter.

Archdruid: Well of course it matters if you fail. What is this? Self-delusion day? Self-publicising day for people who got away with not trying...?

The Archdruid is dragged out of the Moot House.

Hnaef: I failed all my A Levels and...

Archdruid  [From outside] : Liar! Mmmph!

Charlii: Let us all now praise ourselves...

Hymn: School's Out

Stacey: Let us go in peace to big ourselves up.

All: Too right!

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Garden Bridge : A Requiem

Hymn: Bridge over Troubled Waters

Archdruid: Ave Boris! Pontifex Minimus!

All: Is that real Latin?

Archdruid: I don't know.

Hnaef: Shouldn't that be 2nd or 3rd Declension Bor-e?

Archdruid: But how would you know that wasn't pronounced "bore?"

All: Sounds reasonable to me either way.

Archdruid: Oh, I dunno. We never did dead posh boys' languages at St Mitholmroyd's. I did Technology.

All: And even failed that.

Reading - Eccles 1

Reader:  "Vanity! Vanity...."

Archdruid: Yeah, that sums it up.

Hymn: The Eton Boating Song

Row, row, row your boat
When it's nice and sunny
You couldn't build a garden bridge
with the plebians' money.

Archdruid: Poor Boris laments and cannot be comforted.

All: His bridge is no more.

Archdruid: Where now can Joanna Lumley go to be absolutely fabulous?

All: Oh, she's got a few quid. She'll be comfortable.

Archdruid: So thank goodness Boris won't be allowed near any other vanity projects that will make us all much poorer just to bolster his ego.

All: Look, we hate to tell you this...

From afar comes the sound of treaties being torn up by a floppy-haired lecherous incompetent.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Boris Khan't : A Garden Bridge

Or a Vision in a Dream. A Fragment

In Westminster did Boris Khan't
A stately garden bridge decree:
The Thames, the muddy river, ran
Through Millwall, Barking, Dagenham
    Down to a frozen sea.
Three hundred meters in the air
were planned to thrill with flowers fair:
There would be gardens bright with planting grand,
Where blossomed many a commercially sponsored tree;
And here were Lumleys, honoured through the land,
Enjoying the privileges of chumocracy.

But oh! that deep unbridgeable chasm which yawned
Beneath the financials of this romantic venture!
And Boris Khan't, Tory, louche, mop-hair adorned
Ensuring Joanna Lumley was not scorned
Needed funding for this ludicrous adventure.
And from this river, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this City in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty funding momently was requested:
To assist which public finance was  sequestered
Like rain fell massive amounts of lolly
for the architects who designed this pointless folly:
Boris thought the cash would flow forever
for those engirdling the sacred river.
For years meandering with a mazy motion
Through city committees the planning schemes ran,
Still searching funding unmeasurable to man,
And still the Thames ran to the ocean:
And ’mid this tumult Boris did not hear
Those who said this was a bloody stupid idea.

Maximilian Kolbe /  Heather Heyer

Bracketing these two together, on the feast day of the former.

Both died because somebody else decided that some people, some lives, are worth more than others.

Did those who first supported Hitler imagine how it would pan out? They wanted to blame someone for their state of affairs. Supported the strong man who would put things right. Ended up with a Catholic priest being put to death by injection because they couldn't starve him fast enough. How, the guard that killed him might have asked, did we get from there to here?

By not recognising the humanity in others. Start with those who having nothing in common with you - once you've dehumanised them long enough, you'll soon enough not recognise it in anyone.

Same way when a bunch of child abusers can rape kids because they're not Muslims, because they're white - passing them around because they think they're worth less than their own kids.

Same way that the EDL and their friends can use those rapists to  smear an entire religion, a whole racial group. To make them somebody other, somebody less important, somebody who must be feared.

And so a racist who went on a racist march for racialist motives with people carrying Nazi flags claims he doesn't want to be called a racist. Well you  wouldn't , would you? That would imply you were the oppressor - being called that might cause a moment of self-realisation when you ask, in the manner of Mitchell and Webb, "Are we the baddies, Hank? You know, us with the swastikas and flaming torches shouting about blood, hanging out with the sort of fantasists who drive cars into innocent people?

If you don't recognise the humanity, the diverse image of God if you think that way, in people not like you - that's when you think driving cars into crowds, driving needles into priests' arms, is a reasonable way to behave. It doesn't start with murdering priests, Jews and gypsies. It starts with that suspicion that somebody is less than you - that that somebody wants your power - and that you'll support somebody who'll do something about that.

I'm not going to claim any moral equivalence between Heather Heyer and Maximilian Kolbe. Because some would object that one is better than the other, because one is a priest. And Kolbe's view of Jews has been a source of controversy in itself. But I can identify the common evil that caused their deaths - a fear of others that leads to making them less than human. As a snowball starts off downhill, and causes an avalanche, so do the smallest put-downs, the tiny fears, that lack of love turn into full-on hatred, death and oppression.

Tomorrow is the feast of the Dormition of the Virgin.  And here life turns the world's injustice on its head. If small fears and hates can turn to a terrifying oppression then here's a story where a small good thing turns to a great one - as one young woman says "yes" to hope and brings joy to a whole world, and the promise of a justice that makes tyrants and oppressors fear. 

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his humble servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed,
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear Him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

World Left Handers' Day

I'd like to thank all the left-handed people who came to our World Left Handers' Day service. We were ever so pleased that you all stayed to the drinks party afterwards.

Clearly there's some link between left-handedness and teetotalism.  Still, even though you didn't want to open any of the bottles of wine we provided, the Beaker Folk were ever so happy to pull the corks and enjoy them on your behalf.


Saturday, 12 August 2017

The Charlottesville Scream

"One day I was marching against the oppression of white people, the Universtiy was on one side and the good ol' boys on the other. I felt our story of oppression and exploitation was being called into question. The sun of white domination was setting, and the nation turning browner. I sensed a scream passing through my nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. The scream of those who had been in charge, who now had to reckon with everyone else as equals."

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Were There Aliens in the Roman Empire?

Controversy has broken out between the academic world and a bunch of conspiracy theorists over whether extra-terrestrial creatures were a common occurence in the Roman Empire, and whether they could have left alien DNA in the gene pool of western Europe.

A noted expert in the so-called "lady in red", Chris de Burgh, said:
A spaceman came travelling on his ship from afar,
'Twas light years of time since his mission did start,
And over a village he halted his craft,
And it hung in the sky like a star, just like a star...
Many alt-righ commentators have doubted the evidence of galactic diversity. One tweeted,

"If there were aliens in 1st Century Palestine how come they haven't appeared in BBC cartoons?"

While another suggested,

"Aliens in a space ship? You'll be suggesting the baby in a manger was God next."

In response, serious historians have suggested that in fact the whole thing was just a crappy 1970s song, played on CDs by department stores that don't have the theological or historical skills to point out the whole conceit is a pile of Roman era pants. Also that - if the best prophecy the aliens could come up with was that 2,000 years later a public schoolboy would rip off their chorus - then frankly they were hardly fit to be mistaken for the star of Bethlehem in the first place. The chances  of aliens having made it to Hadrian's Wall and fought off the Picts with a Martian Death Ray were described as "minimal."

The BBC, in an attempt to ensure balance, had a heated debate between someone who spends his nights on Solsbury Hill in the hope of seeing Peter Gabriel descend from the heavens, someone who believes that the world is flat, and the secretary of the Chris de Burgh fan club. The resultant debate was described in the Independent as:

"You won't believe how Gullible Greg from the Bath UFOlogists burned Brenda the de Burgh fan."

The argument continues. More heat than light is expected.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The Thinnest Christian Books in the World

Everything a pastor learns from books after they're ordained: A Digest

The Book of Three Readings everybody knows for Funerals, Weddings and Baptisms

Genuinely useful "alternative" worship ideas

Feminism by Mark Driscoll

Sydney Carter's Greatest Hymns*

The Holy Wisdom of Donald Trump

Sunny Days at Greenbelt: A Photographic Journal

Chord Diagrams for Christian Guitarists

Evangelical-Charismatic Theology

Wonders of 20th Century Church Architecture

The Book of Three Hymns Everybody Knows for Funerals

The Book of Three Hymns Everybody Knows for Weddings and Baptisms

Case Studies of Growth in Liberal Churches

Modern Christian Controversies that Don't Involve Sex

Christian Voice's Little Book of Calm

Anthology of Rowan Williams's Comprehensible Sentences

* technically a leaflet. Printed on one side only. With no hymn words on it.

Service for the Death of Glen Campbell and the Cancellation of Count Arthur Strong's TV Show

So that was a fraught, sad service. And very confused, as people weren't sure whether they were sadder about the death of a much-loved and world-famous singer, or the cancellation of a TV show about a confused imaginary music hall artist.

And "Witchita Lineman" wasn't the best-played hymn we've heard this year. Rodrik's claims that "It's really hard to play a G minor" were getting annoying every time we waited for him to check the fingering and play six buzzing strings.

And then the bit where a bunch of angry lions invaded the Moot House, and we had to rescue a couple of Beaker Folk. I'm pleased to say there was nothing more than some light mauling ,but it was touch and go for a while. If that Rhinestone Cowboy hadn't appeared from nowhere, and been chased out the Moot House, it would have been much worse.

Anyway, it's all over now.  We're all sitting in the Dining Room, drinking soup in our pyjamas. I've got asparagus. Which is an odd flavour for pyjamas.