Category Archives: Church of England

03 May

Gresham, Cricket and Saying Our Prayers

“Good money drives out bad” is a law formulated by the City of London financier Sir Thomas Gresham (1519-1579). Good money is money that shows little difference between its nominal value (the face value of the coin) and its commodity value – the value of the metal of which it is made, often precious metals, nickel or copper.

For example, silver coins were widely circulated in Canada until 1968 and in the United States, until 1964 for dimes and quarters and 1970 for half-dollars. when the Coinage Act of 1965 was passed. These countries debased their coins by switching to cheaper metals thereby inflating the new debased currency in relation to the supply of the former silver coins. The silver coins disappeared from circulation as citizens retained them to capture the steady current and future intrinsic value of the metal content over the newly inflated and therefore devalued coins, using the newer coins in daily transactions.

This law has application in areas of life away from financial concerns: in unlike subjects such as professional cricket and the way we say our prayers in church.

When I was a boy in the 1950s, professional cricket in England was the county game and the Test Matches. There were seventeen counties in competition and each played twenty-eight three-day games in the season and points were awarded according to win. lose, draw or tie. At the end of the season the team which had amassed the most points were declared County Champions. Test Match cricket was the international game. Seven national teams – England, Australia, West Indies, South Africa, India, New Zealand and Pakistan – arranged Test Match series, usually of five five-day games. So there would be, for example, a Test series between England and Australia and another between New Zealand and South Africa and so on. The best players were chosen from the county sides to represent England in the Tests.

For decades this was the form taken by the professional game.

Beginning in the 1960s, the county game saw some innovations. There began a one-day competition featuring  sixty-overs-a-side matches played by all the counties. It was a knockout competition with the final held towards the end of the season at Lords. In time the sixty overs were reduced to fifty and a Sunday League of forty overs games was set up

The reasons offered by the cricket authorities for these changes were, first, that spectators liked the one day game because they were guaranteed a result for the entrance fee and the time expenditure on a single visit. Secondly, it was said that many found the three-day game “boring” and “long-drawn out.” They wanted more sixes and fours struck and wickets tumbling regularly. Even this new, fast form of cricket did not satisfy the crowds’ craving for yet more of the smash, bang, wallop stuff. So twenty overs matches – Twenty20 – were introduced to the accompaniment of most un-cricket-like razzmatazz: dancing girls, fireworks and loud blasts of rock music every time the batsman struck a boundary

As Gresham would have predicted, this bad cricket began to drive out the good. County matches nowadays play to empty grounds and attendances at Test Matches have decreased. In their latest wheeze, the authorities have decided to take this dumbing down of the great game to extreme and absurd lengths. Twenty20 provides the sort of cricket that could be enjoyed only by those with minds like the grasshopper’s, but it has been adjudged too long. So there is to be a new competition in which teams will face a mere one hundred balls and no match shall last longer than three hours. The deleterious results are piling up thick and fast: attendances at “real” cricket are falling further and some of the best international players have decided that they will play only in the far more remunerative short forms of the game. The catalyst for further radical change is the monstrous pantomime of the Indian Premier League which is funded by commercial sponsorship and attracts gambling on a cosmic scale. Is the IPL a vast vehicle for rampant corruption? Is there water in the Indian Ocean? For decades India has been renowned as a country of cricketing fanatics with crowds of 100,000 turning up for five day test Matches. Now the Test Matches are neglected and some have suggested the previously unthinkable: that first class cricket in India will cease to be played.

Does any of this matter? Millions are still turning out to watch cricket matches. Only dinosaurs and fuddy-duddies reject change. The point is that the new forms of instant cricket cannot supply the subtleties of the traditional, longer forms of the game: there is the world of physical, intellectual and aesthetic difference between a contest fought over four or five days in which each side bats twice and a slog-fest which is begun and ended in an evening. Inevitably, and soon, the skills required to play proper cricket will be forgotten. There is only one thing wrong with the new game: it’s not cricket. 

From cricket, I turn for a minute to the form of Anglican worship. For four hundred years this was conducted from The Book of Common Prayer (1662) and The King James Bible (1611). All Anglican churches – High, Low and Broad – used these books which were composed when the English language was at its freshest and richest: the age of Shakespeare and Donne, of Richard Hooker and Lancelot Andrewes. But then in the 1960s, bishops, synods and the like decided that the church needed to provide alternatives to these texts. First there was The New English Bible (1961) and various forms of liturgy in booklet form which pretended to be written in modern English: but it was neither the English we speak in the street nor the good modern English written by the best 20th century poets. In short, it is the verbal equivalent of Twenty20 and the IPL. The new forms of service do not contain the substance to carry the religious weight of the BCP and the KJV. And so in the Church of England, there began that process of decay and decline that was being paralleled in the game of cricket. In 1980 the Church gathered the contents of all these booklets into a single bulbous excrescence – three times as long as the BCP – called The Alternative Service Book (1980). The Church of England authorities publicised the ASB as “the greatest publishing event in four hundred years.” Twenty years later they banned it. Yes, banned it! It makes a fine headline, doesn’t it: CHURCH BANS BOOKS. Just like the Nazis. Anyhow, the ASB was replaced by something even longer called Common Worship which – like the shape-shifting monster of the horror films – comes in a great variety of forms. You can buy a copy. You can download bits of it at will. You can adapt and edit as you please – no one will mind. What passes for liturgical texts in today’s Church of England is something that would be adequately described by the title Prayers for the New Babel .

I haven’t the space here to compare the new texts with the KJV and the BCP. If anyone seeks such a comparison, it can be found in my book A Partial Vision. But I will give one example to let you have the flavour. In The Solemnisation of Matrimony, the bridegroom utters the words “With this ring I thee wed.” Six words which exactly fit the rhythm of his placing the ring on his bride’s finger. The new version has instead, “I give you this ring as a sign of our marriage.” Eleven words for six. And the sentence must have been composed by an idiot: for, if the groom has to tell his bride that the ring is a sign, it just means the sign isn’t working!

The comparison with what has happened to cricket over the same period is pretty exact. in neither cricket nor in liturgy do the new forms bear the weight, the richness and the subtlety of the traditional forms. Bad prayers and bad cricket have driven out the good.

Predictably, the churches – like the cricket grounds – have emptied.

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01 Jan

Does Welby have a wireless?

The Archbishop of Canterbury has delivered his New Year’s message to the nation in which he praises the responses of what he calls “communities” to last year’s terrorist atrocities and to the Grenfell fire. Actually, “communities” is not a helpful word, Mr Welby if your aim is to promote social cohesion. There is one community and we are all part of it, whereas “communities” connotes ghettos – that failed multicultural experiment which encouraged the separate development of the different races and creeds. Most of the immigrants who have settled in Britain over the centuries have integrated into the general population – into the community, in fact. Only in recent years there has arisen an exception: Muslims who so dislike our British community that they segregate themselves in a form of apartheid. How inconsistent and odd of lefties such as Welby to have condemned apartheid when it took place in South Africa, but to applaud it here in their use of that divisive word “communities.” What we have in Tower Hamlets, Dewsbury, Walsall, Oldham and a score other of our cities and towns is not Muslim “communities,” Mr Welby but Muslim ghettos.

In his message, which was broadcast on the BBC, the Archbishop said he also wanted to highlight the suffering of people “struggling to find work or relying on food banks” and “those who are bereaved or coping with poor mental health or physical illness.”

He added: “Their suffering will never make the news.”

Really? Does Welby live anywhere near a television set or a wireless? Does he ever read a newspaper? If he did, he would discover that, far from “never making the news,” the topics of unemployment, food banks – many organised by the Church of which Welby is titular leader – and mental health are never out of the news. These subjects are of great public concern and so it’s right that they should feature prominently in the news.

It is entirely right that the Archbishop should express his thanks to the emergency services for their courageous presence during terrorist attacks and at terrible public disasters such as Grenfell. Likewise, his concern for the poor and the sick is something required of him by the faith which he professes. I just wish he would profess the Christian faith rather more than he does. Christian morality is derived from Christian doctrine. And the most fundamental Christian doctrine is that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but we can take comfort and hope from the fact that Jesus Christ died to save us from our sins. So, if we repent and turn to Christ, we shall be saved,

Not a word about this from Welby. As if a chemist were to talk about chemistry while avoiding all reference to chemicals, or England’s opening batsman should walk out to bat – only without his bat.

Surely, the turn of the year is the time for looking back and repenting of our sins, negligences and ignorances and for looking forward in hope and confidence in the saving work of Jesus Christ?

The social gospel is a very fine thing. But the social gospel without the gospel is just sentimental socialism. 

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13 Nov

Many Big Brothers are Watching You!

Relentlessly, day by day, the surveillance society is becoming more total – the word I am looking for is totalitarian

Last Saturday I was invited by the Church of England authorities to attend what is called a Safeguarding Course. If I had declined this “invitation,” I would have no longer possessed my work permit: the Bishop’s permission for me to officiate as a priest. So, along with thirty other priests and laypeople, I endured a couple of hours brainwashing session in which I was told to look out for incidences of “physical, mental, sexual or emotional abuse of children or adults.” Suggestions were offered as to how I might go about this. I should, for example, listen to children’s conversation from which I might glean some insight into their home life.

I was so uneasy about this that I mentioned it to my taxi driver on the way home in order to discover what he thought about these Safeguarding techniques. “Oh don’t talk to me about Safeguarding. I’m full up to here with it. We taxi drivers were told by the Safeguarders that we should look closely at our women passengers for signs of physical abuse. It’s sick, I tell you”

The Safeguarding industry is a nationalised industry and it has its branches everywhere. Clergy, teachers, doctors, nurses, members of the police and those in many other professions have to receive this education.

Everyone is under scrutiny

Safeguarding must be one of the most flourishing industries in the country and I wouldn’t know where to start to try to calculate just how many hundreds of thousands are involved in it. In the Diocese of Chichester alone, there is a full time Safeguarding supremo with his own office and machinery for the production and dissemination of propaganda on a huge scale. The supremo has many part time assistants who all report to him. And every parish church must appoint its own Safeguarding officer. If I suspect that someone I come across in the course of my work is being abused in any of the four ways mentioned above, I must on no account use my own judgement and, perhaps, intervene to find out what’s going on. No, though I am a priest with a lifetime’s experience, I must regard myself as incapable of any qualities of discernment and of any moral authority and, in the words of our safeguarding tutor, “Simply report your suspicions to your Safeguarding officer. And that’s your job done.”

Now, what does the “job done” look like? It might involve a child being removed from the family home by social workers. Or, in a recent case a teacher sent an email to an underage pupil which was suspected of ambiguity. Did it contain a sexual reference? Not according to the girl who received it. But others saw it and thought it did contain a sexual element and reported it to their Safeguarding officer who in turn reported it to the police.  The police interviewed the teacher but no charges were made. But, because an allegation had been made – albeit by people to whom the original message had not been addressed – the teacher was put on the sex offenders’ register. No trial. No charges. So the teacher was innocent – but he was being treated as if he were guilty.

Big Brother is no longer just a nasty character in a novel by George Orwell. He is alive and sitting in his office in charge of surveillance. In fact he is sitting in thousands upon thousands of offices nationwide.

I returned home to Eastbourne from that Safeguarding Course and opened the newspaper where I read:

“The headmaster of Eastbourne College, Mr Tom Lawson, was having to vet the sermons of visiting preachers – including bishops – in case there might be a complaint about extremism. Mr Lawson claimed that stifling rules and red tape had forced him to do this.”

So we have universal Safeguarding, we have safe spaces in our universities where students are hermetically sealed in case they come up against some ideas which they might find uncongenial. In alleged cases of abuse, we see many thousands of those accused treated as if they are guilty and punished accordingly without there having been any public examination of the allegations; and in some cases where the accused himself is not even made aware of the substance of the allegations.

We have complete freedom of speech. It’s just that we’re not allowed to say anything. Surveillance is endemic. The truth is being set at naught. Our liberties are everywhere traduced.

These things are not happening in some remote dystopia.

They are happening now and in England

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24 Oct

Softly, softly catchee monkee

The county of Herefordshire is one of the most beautiful rural areas of England and its people, being country folk,  are conservative in the broad sense of that word. It’s surprising then to see that the Diocese of Hereford is in the avant garde when it comes to issues of social morality. Hereford Diocesan Synod has put down a motion for the General Synod to debate blessings in church for homosexual “marriages.”

What do the boys and girls in head office think about this outburst of rural progressiveness? A spokesperson for the Church of England said:  

“Clergy of the Church of England are unable to marry couples of the same sex and, under the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement on same Sex Marriage, services of blessing should not be provided for those who enter into civil partnerships or same-sex marriages.”

Let’s tidy up that spokesperson’s language a bit. Clergy are not “unable” to marry couples of the same sex. By the Church’s rules, they are not “permitted” to marry them.

The spokesperson added:

“It is recognised, however, that there is real and profound disagreement in the Church of England over questions relating to human sexuality and the House of Bishops has recently embarked on the preparation of a major new teaching document on marriage and sexuality.”

That sentence could do with a bit of tidying up as well. Take the inaccurate statement, “There is real and profound disagreement in the Church of England over questions relating to human sexuality.” There is in fact no such disagreement, real or unreal, profound or shallow. There can only be rational disagreement when the pertinent facts are in dispute. And here the facts are plain and indisputable: the universal Church from its beginning has always and everywhere declared marriage to be the union of a man and a woman. This it has done on the explicit teaching of Jesus Christ.

So that statement, tidied up, would go something like this: “The Christian Church has always and everywhere declared that marriage is a union of a man and a woman. Only very recently, a vociferous sectional interest pressure group has refused to accept this clear and unequivocal teaching of Scripture and tradition. The Church therefore calls this pressure group to order and requests that they desist from suggesting that marriage can be anything other than ecclesiastical authority has always proclaimed.”

The spokesperson further muddies the waters:   

“We are seeking to find ways forward rooted in scripture and the Christian faith as we have received it and which values everyone, without exception, not as a ‘problem’ or an ‘issue’, but as a person loved and made in the image of God.”

Yet again there is tidying up to be done.

Why is the General Synod “seeking ways forward rooted in Scripture and the Christian faith” when there are no such ways? Scripture has not changed over the two millennia of Christianity. On the matter of marriage the teaching has always been the same.  What, therefore, could the bishops’ “major new teaching document” possibly have to say when the Church’s doctrine of marriage has never varied?

What is the purpose of the last part of the spokesperson’s statement saying that the General Synod “values everyone, without exception, not as a ‘problem’ or an ‘issue’, but as a person loved and made in the image of God”?

Of course, Christians value everyone as persons “loved and made in the image of God.” The reason this sentence is added here lies in the subtle policy of the Bishops and the Synod to achieve their ultimate aim of allowing homosexual marriage. Disingenuously, they insist that the rules cannot be changed but that homosexuals must be loved and valued by Christian congregations. Christian congregations knew that already. The valuing, loving and welcoming is being used as the first step in a process which will allow doctrine to be based on practice.

De facto acceptance – give it time – will lead to de jure approval. This is the political device preached and practised by revolutionaries everywhere  from Quintus Fabius Maximus to Vladimir Lenin: gradualism or softly softly catchee monkee.

Priestly blessings for homosexual “marriages” are already being performed by disobedient clerics. These are the storm-troopers in a guerrilla campaign. Bureaucracies such as the Synod prefer “due procedure.” They will get their way. It will just take a bit longer.

How long? I’d guess the Church of England will solemnise homosexual “marriages” within the next three years 

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12 Oct

Welby admits he’s hopeless

In an impressive epiphany of self-understanding, Justin Welby has admitted he’s “hopeless.” Never mind that I’ve been telling him as much for years. Still, deficiencies owned up to – even when so late-revealed – are to be commended.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was asked in a magazine interview if he ever suffered from mental ill health and said that in the past year he had sometimes felt hopeless and depressed but had never sought help for it. He said, “I think if you had asked me a year ago I’d have said ‘no’, and ten years ago I would have said ‘absolutely not.’ But what was that phrase Churchill used? ‘black dog’. There is an element of that. I think as I am getting older I am realising it does come from time to time. I have those moments.”

He certainly does have his moments. There was one last month when he returned from his holidays to demand “tax rises on the wealthy and more green technology.”

As his hopelessness lingered, Welby went on: “We are failing those who will grow up into a world where the gap between the richest and poorest parts of the country is significant and destabilising.”

There is a much larger issue which further demonstrates Welby’s hopelessness. Under his – can the word I’m looking for really be “leadership”? – the number of those identifying themselves as Church of England has fallen to an all-time low. Shouldn’t this hopeless Archbishop leave the running of the economy to those who know what they’re talking about and attend instead to the problems in his own backyard? He says the economy is “broken.” Let him first examine the fractures and decline in his own church.

In that magazine interview, Welby revealed to Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s old spin doctor, that he was hopeless yet again when it comes to giving “a straight answer” to the question: “Is gay sex sinful?”

Asked why not, the Archbishop replied: “Because I don’t do blanket condemnation and I haven’t got a good answer to the question. I’ll be really honest about that. I know I haven’t got a good answer to the question. Inherently, within myself, the things that seem to me to be absolutely central are around faithfulness, stability of relationships and loving relationships.”

His words look as if they were composed in the Circumlocution Office. So he’s certainly hopeless when it comes to expressing his thoughts in plain English

While an honest man will admit that he doesn’t know something, an intelligent man will know where to look for the answer. Justin Welby’s honesty is not in doubt. But what of his intelligence? Has the Archbishop of Canterbury never read the Bible? Well, an honest man in a state of uncertainty deserves not our contempt but our sympathy. I sympathise with Justin Welby so, since I have read the Bible, let me try to help him. What we are looking for, Archbishop, is the teaching of Scripture concerning sexual relations. Let us start at the beginning…

“And God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:27-28).

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24)

Nothing there about a man cleaving unto another man or a woman unto another woman. Never mind, let us look a bit further for more explicit guidance.

“If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination” (Leviticus 20:13).

Of course, some critics argue that these words are all from the Old Testament which was written a long time ago and perhaps the New Testament has something different to say? Let us look then at the teaching of Jesus:

“Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication and shall marry another committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matthew 19:9).

The clear teaching of Jesus then is that sexual relations belong to a lifelong marriage between a man and a woman, and anything other than that is disallowed. But Our Lord’s plain teaching should not stir us to condemn those who fall short of this high standard. When the Scribes and Pharisees were about to stone to death “a woman taken in adultery, in the very act” (John 8:4), Jesus forbid them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her (John 8:7). And to the woman, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

Thus we find here the origin of the Christian commandment that we should hate the sin but love the sinner. What we should notice though is that, while Jesus has mercy on the sinner, he specifically refers to her adultery as a sin.

Difficult as this might be to believe, it seems that the Archbishop of Canterbury has not thought to look at the 3000 years old tradition of Judaeo-Christian ethical teaching to help him settle his mind on the matter of sexual relations. I wonder then if Justin Welby has ever come across – if only in passing – a fairly famous Christian by the name of St Paul?

“And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet” (Romans 1:27).

It seems the Archbishop is so hopeless that he hasn’t even managed to read the Bible.

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28 Sep

There used to be a C. of E.

When I fancy a bit of excitement, which even at my ripe age I’m pleased to say is every day, I turn to the Church of England’s official website. Of course, the C. of E. being a dynamic, thrusting and very much up with the latest outfit, this is not called anything so dreary as Official Website: no, it’s called Top News Releases from the Church of England. This is the site which always sets my pulse racing. Take this morning for example. Today’s Top News Release simmers sexily for two or three pages, but I have space for only the scintillating opening sentence: 

“New research by the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) on the cement and steel sectors shows that few of the largest companies in these sectors are well prepared for the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI)? Now what does that remind me of? Why, of course, the Liverpool Care Pathway – the radical end of life treatment which denied sips of water to the dying. Happily, the LCP is now a thing of the past. One might hope a similar fate awaits the TPI

But really what most puzzles me is what the hell “the cement and steel sectors” of our industrial economy have to do with the C. of E.  – and that they should have so much to do with the C. of E. that the mention of them is first item on its website?

Think what might have appeared there instead: “Justin Welby urges people to repent of their sins.” No chance.

“Bishop blesses a bankers’ conference.” Are you kidding!”

But I do the church a disservice. The church still does think that sin and repentance are important, but in its new teaching there are only corporate sins. We don’t hear sermons on the wickedness of adultery, keeping the Sabbath day holy or the great wrong of coveting your neighbour’s new Jag.

But actually, the moral agent is the individual and acts of virtue or vice are products of the individual will. But for the modern C. of E. the individual has dropped out of its agenda altogether: it’s too reminiscent of Thatcherism and all that nastiness.

The C.of E. used to be known as the Tory party at prayer. Now it’s the Corbynistas on the picket line.

Sins are now only the politically incorrect acts of corporations – such as the corporations’ dealing in steel and cement. Good heavens – “They are not well-prepared for the transition to a low carbon economy”! That must score more on the Richter Sin Scale than sleeping with my neighbour’s wife.

The competence of the church to advise the steel and cement sectors must be in some doubt. Indeed the competence of the church in any area of management and administration is clearly in doubt. For example, the archbishops and bishops preside over an institution which has lost half its membership since the year 2000.

It is an institution whose leaders have so squandered its considerable assets that there is no money left…who sold off the old vicarages at the bottom of the property market…and its parish churches are closing almost as fast as the pubs

What to do in such a crisis? The bishops’ answer is displacement activity: think about something else. Their policy amounts to, “We can’t run our own affairs, so let us run someone else’s.”

It reminds me of when a previous Archbishop of Canterbury asked the prime minister if the church could mediate in the national coal strike. Stanley Baldwin replied, “Yes, if you’ll let the National Union of Mineworkers rewrite the Athansasian Creed.” 

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08 Aug

God gets it right at his second attempt

God got it wrong first time round and was told to try again.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office funds an institution called Wilton Park which has just published a report Opportunities and Challenges: the Intersection of of Faith and Human Rights of LGBT+  Persons

“Evangelical Christians in the Global South – mainly Africa – should be expected to re-interpret the Bible to make it compatible with LGBT+ ideology.”

This agency, supported by the British Government demands “direct action” and says, “Religious leaders should be held to account for their promotion of hatred against LGBT+ people. Queer lawyers and their allies are well-placed to challenge hate speech through administrative law and litigation.”

The churches must be obliged to provide “enlightened textual exegesis.” There should also be “…teaching of LGBT+ in Sunday schools and Queer theology in colleges training people for the church’s ministry.”

The report denounces missionaries and Christian teachers for “spreading prejudiced views”

The Wilton Park report calls for “the improvement” of the Bible, particularly of accounts of “Sodom and Gomorrah which perpetuate hatred.”

I quite agree. I have spent my life as a theologian and I confess that for all those years I took the Bible to be the Word of God. But, following my enlightenment by my LGBT+ friends and by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I now see that the Bible is a wretched travesty, a primitive and pernicious denunciation of homosexual behaviour which, thankfully, our enlightened and emancipated understanding reveals to be one of the greatest blessings received in the whole history of the human race. Not only do I approve, therefore, of the rewriting of biblical texts to demonstrate God’s Original Error and to prove what a holy and blessed thing homosexual behaviour is, but I shall make my own contribution to this new vision by offering a fresh translation of the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

“ And it came to pass that the Lord did look down upon the cities of the plain, even upon Sodom wherein dwelt the shirt-lifters and upon the whole company of them that did bat for the other side  which wast called Gomorrah. And the Lord repenteth of the wrath that wast aforetime kindled in his heart against them and all their doings which (in the days wherein God erred) he declared were abominations. And behold, the Lord said, ‘I will no more cause mine anger to be poured out upon them, neither will I destroy them in my judgement. And I will cause their works, even unto their shirt-lifting and their batting for the other side withal, to be blessed and to be honoured among all men…and women and among them that wist not what manner of creature they be.’

“So the Lord set his pink ribbon in the heavens as an everlasting sign that he would no more wax wroth against them that were in the olden time called an abomination but which are from henceforth to be called them in whom the Lord delighteth. And lo the Lord spake unto them and said, ‘I will give unto every man and woman and unto them which wist not what manner of creature they be boxed sets innumerable of Judy Garland movies and The Lamentations of Stephen Fry even unto every one of them in his/her/their own cottage.’

“And they all arose and with one accord said, ‘How come we shirt-lifters, brown-hatters and them that do bat for the other side to hear in our own polari the wonderful works of Stephen Fry?’

“And behold, the pillar of salt which aforetime wast Lot’s wife (Let him that readeth understand) wast turned into Judy Garland. So the multitude of them lift up their voices and sang Candle in the Wind.

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02 Aug

Well, well Welby

There are varieties of fatuity – and then we come to Archbishop Justin Welby.

Yet again this week he offered to the nation the benefit of his boundless wisdom and called for a cross-party commission to negotiate Britain’s departure from the European Union. He said major decisions should be “taken off the political table.”

Even someone with less perspicuity than Welby – always supposing such a person could be found outside Bishopthorpe Palace – would understand that Brexit and the whole business of Britain’s negotiations with the EU are political  issues and so it is nonsense to suggest that they be removed from the political realm.

We might as well suggest that when Welby sits down with his fellow bishops to discuss, say, a fresh translation of The Athanasian Creed, the matter should be “taken off the theological table.”

Besides, when Welby wades in as he has with his dazzling moral superiority on full beam, you would think that even he would understand that such an intervention is itself a political act. Thus incoherently he uses a political statement to declare that the matter should not be political.

The Archbishop’s first language is gibberish

He told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “Can the politicians not put at the front of their minds the needs of the United Kingdom to come out with a functional, working system for Brexit, and agree that certain things are, as it were, off the political table and will be decided separately in an expert commission, or commission of senior politicians led by someone that (sic) is trusted in the political world?”

Welby would benefit from reading the well-known primer for infants and juniors Janet and John Look at Polity. For the decision to leave the EU was a political choice made by the British electorate. What we did in the referendum of 2016 was to express our will and then hand the matter over to the politicians whose job it is to work out the details

He wants “an expert commission” or “a commission of senior politicians led by someone that (sic again) is trusted in the political world.”

Does such a paragon exist?

What he really wants is a nanny – someone who knows best.

I wonder that Welby hasn’t noticed that Brexit is a divisive issue and a sizeable minority of the electorate voted against it. Any “expert commission” would of course itself be contentious from its appointment, with one side claiming it to be independent and the other side accusing it of bias

Crying for nanny is of course a characteristic of the infantile mind.

Like weak men everywhere, Welby has a craving for authority, for someone to tell him what to think and what to do. Plato would have provided him with such figures. Plato called them Guardians which the Latin philosophers translated as Custodes.

And they immediately asked the question, Quis custodiet ipsos Custodes?

Who Will Guard the Guardians?

Round of applause, please everyone. Let’s hear it for the Archbishop of Cant.

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17 Jul

Four legs good; two legs bad

I don’t know how they get away with it. Let me try to explain, but first you’ll need a bit of background

The first Bishop of Loughborough is to be Rev’d Canon Gulnar Eleanor Francis-Dehqani, Canon Francis-Dehqani was born in Iran in 1966 and, along with a great many other Christians, she and her family fled that country after the 1979 Islamic revolution which brought to power Ayatollah Khomeini

The new bishop likes to be called Gull and the Diocese of Leicester (of which Loughborough is a part) has told us what they expect from her: “Guli will take a full role in the work of the Church across Leicester and Leicestershire, but the post will also have a focus on supporting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) clergy, lay workers and congregations in the county.”

Gull is delighted with her job specification:

“I’m very excited…”

(Newly-appointed hierarchs always start off by telling us how excited they are)

This one is excited “…about the potential for this role which draws together several important themes in the current life of the Church. Whilst being a bishop for the whole diocese, it (sic) will be a particular joy and a privilege to learn from and draw out the rich resources of Christians from minority ethnic communities.”

Well, she does not exactly speak as we speak in the street, but I think we know what she means. Since her escape from Iran, she has held a great many posts in the realm of synods, quangos and church committees and she has mastered the art of talking multi-culti bureauspeak.

That’s what I meant by saying I don’t know how they get away with it. I mean Gull and the Diocese ought surely to be arraigned for racism?

We can only imagine the furore that would ensue if a diocesan office had issued a job-specification as follows: “The post will have a focus on supporting White, English and Majority Ethnic (WEME) clergy, lay workers and congregations in the county>”

And if the appointee’s response had been: “It will be a particular joy…”

(Joy, like excited is another word they can’t leave alone)

“…and a privilege to learn from and draw out the rich resources from the majority white English population.”

An appointee saying such things would be denounced immediately for shameful and vile racism. She certainly wouldn’t be appointed. For the scandal is that you can be as racist as you like – so long as the objects of your racism are British and white.

I have listened to the arguments of the multi-culti fascists for for half a century and so I know them all off by heart. We are allowed to make exceptions in the case of preferred minorities, because they are under-represented and so we must give them a leg up with a good dose of positive discrimination.

The trouble with this is that there is nothing positive about it. Discrimination is discrimination is discrimination.

The multi-culti bureau-speakers are racists. And they get away with their racism because the counter culture, the culture of preferring minorities, is the culture now.

Do you remember chapter three of Animal Farm and Snowball’s condensation of The Seven Commandments of Animalism? “Four legs good; two legs bad.” 

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29 May

Hoo ha ha! Hoo ha ha!

A great part of the genius of the Church of England  authorities is their limitless ability to find ever new ways of wasting money to no significant purpose.

One of their wheezes is to finance congregations which model their worship on the pop concert. Prepare to clap and wave your arms in the air. Guitars at the ready. Bawl out times without number choruses so void of content that they weren’t worth singing once. This has been the trademark practice of Holy Trinity – chianti and pizza – Brompton for decades. It’s religion, but not as we know it, Jim. So what? It puts bums on seats and it brings in the cash.

Now the authorities are hoping it might just postpone the church’s final demise – for a few weeks, anyhow.

This method of “being church” has proved itself so successful that HTB now exports it in what are called “church plants.”  Churches in Derby, Portsmouth, Chelmsford and Bristol have…I suppose the word I am looking for is “benefitted” from this scheme and £1.35million has been given over two years to six of these HTB plants. In addition, St Luke’s, Birmingham, a church planted by the former director of worship at HTB, the Revd Tim Hughes, was given £350,000, while other HTB plants, St Swithin’s, Lincoln, and St Matthias’s, Plymouth, each received £200,000. St Swithun’s, Bournemouth, St George’s, Gateshead, and St Mark’s, Coventry, were each given £150,000.

Seven projects were paid for by the central authorities and, though six of the seven were operated by Holy Trinity Brompton, Andrew Brown, the secretary and the chief executive of the Church Com­missioners, insisted, “There is no bias towards HTB.”

Indeed not. For another new jape was launched in the Midlands when £2.6 million was given to Birmingham diocese’s Growing Younger programme.

I’ve just had a look at this jape and so I can tell you something about it.

It was started by the Bishop of Birmingham and the Archbishop of Canterbury with “star baker” Martha Collison. The two senior clergymen stood together on a platform in a darkened city centre church where they teased and chafed each other for a few minutes as if they were a comedy duo – which alas! they are not. Then they stepped down from the platform and called forth a group of teenagers called “The Sparklers,” Guess what they did next? That’s right, you’ve got it in one: they lit a sparkler and passed it around. This was supposed to symbolise something, but I forget what.

Those, myself included, who find it difficult to understand what Growing Younger is all about are in luck, for a commentary (in perfect Welby management-speak) is provided on their website. Let me try to give you the flavour…

There will be “facilitators” who will “work in a focussed way” be “highly skilled” (at what?) and they will “work flexibly.” The facilitators will bring “fresh thinking” to the project and “discern vision and strategy” while they will also “model good practice.” Then there will appear “a piece of commissioned evaluation” and the assurance that “research has been integrated” to provide “a baseline assessment” using “evaluation tools.”

There, there – don’t distress yourself: the mental nurse will be along in a minute, as soon as she’s finished tending to the Archbishop and the Bishop of Birmingham.

In fact I don’t feel very well myself. I know what usually wards of my hysterical collapses: it’s to quote Tom Eliot’s Sweeney Agonistes:

“And perhaps you’re alive. And perhaps you’re dead. Hoo ha ha. Hoo ha ha. Hoo. Hoo. Hoo. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock.” 

There, that’s better – just a bit, anyway.

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