Be sure to wear some flowers

'What better than a night out for trashy tales of sex and smut?' asks an article on the website of the Diocese of California. 'Where better to go for bawdy fare than St Mary the Virgin, San Francisco?' Where, indeed?

Advertised as For Mature Audiences Only Pulp Scripture by St Mary the Virgin resident playwright William Bivins, was billed as 'Bible stories they didn't teach you in Sunday School' or, as the advert put it, 'Sex! Violence! Perversion! Incest! Human Sacrifice! Eye-gouging!'

Apparently, "The women of Pulp Scripture not only challenge our sense of who God is and what our relationship to the divine is all about, they challenge the broader cultures sense of feminine sensuality as a mere expression of the profane. Indeed, Bivins unveils the grace inherent in the gift of sexuality.' In case that's too opaque for the San Franciscan in the pew, Senior Associate Rector Beth Hansen explains it all in her programme notes: 'Scripture offers witness to a clear pattern of sneaky seductive women becoming very useful to God's purpose. Ironic that by Eve's seducing Adam to eat the forbidden fruit we are driven from God's Grace, yet by many women's sexual seduction we are given the progeny for redemption back into Grace. With such unexpected Holy results coming from these sneaky seductresses, curious that our Ultimate Redeemer was born of a virgin, or so they say! Beth Hansen is a priest of The Episcopal Church, or so they say.

 

Cheapjoke

Congratulations to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Motherwell, Dr Joseph Devine, who, faced with an house unfit for episcopal habitation (serious and extensive dampness, significant structural faults and hazardous electrics), did just what any of us would have done and allowed it to be demolished and replaced with a new one at a cost of just 650,000. A quick check online reveals that the most expensive house for sale in Mother-well at the moment appears to be priced at just 345,000, but as it has only five bedrooms, four bathrooms, extensive grounds to the side and rear, suitable for use as parking for a number of vehicles and/or substantial garden space, to say nothing of extensive additional space suitable for conversion to a gym or home cinema - but not, presumably, a private chapel - it would clearly be most unsuitable for the chief pastor of a diocese containing no less than 75 parishes.

 

Sales pitch

Actually, what the bishop should have done was simply sell the damp and dangerous house on the open market and then bought something suitable, which he could no doubt have found in the pages of Country Life. But hang on! What about the credit crunch? How on earth could he have sold it, you'll no doubt be asking. The answer is plain, if you visit <www.catholicfamilygifts.com>, where the solution to the depressed housing market is available at just S7.25! Yes, that is all it takes to buy a statue of St Joseph, which you can then bury and thus ensure the sale of your home.

Instructions are varied but apparently all you need to do is bury a statue of St Joseph upside down next to the 'for sale' sign; or bury it 3' from the rear of the house; or simply place it somewhere on the property; or bury it next to the street facing the home; or bury it next to the front door facing away from the home; or bury it in the front yard (or garden as we have it in English).

 

Sophistication & Beauty

Talking of marketing, <wwwcatho-licsupply.com> has some ace Christmas gifts. The Kneeling Santa particularly caught our eye:

Elevate your Christmas display to a whole new level of sophistication and beauty with this elegant Christmas collectible figurine. This lovely Christ Child and Santa Claus figurine is beautifully sculpted and carefully hand-painted in resin, highlighting the poignant expression on Santa's face as he kneels next to the smiling Baby Jesus' manger. It's destined to become a heavenly heirloom you'll cherish always.

At S35.95, it's the perfect gift for someone who has sold their house, courtesy of <www.catholicfamilygifts.com>, and can now afford to indulge themselves fully in honour of the incarnation.

 

And I saw a Nye Bevan

With Christmas just around the corner, and Waitrose well-stocked with all the seasonal goodies (Hot Cross Buns), our thoughts naturally turn to carols. Or, in this case, a well-loved seasonal hymn:

Once in royal David's city 
Stood a big apartheid wall; 
People entering and leaving 
Had to pass a checkpoint hall. 
Bethlehem was strangulated, 
And her children segregated.

Though this city is a symbol
To the world of peace and love,
Concrete walls have closed around her,
Settlements expand above.
And apartheid Israel stands

All around on stolen lands. So right on that at least one conservative Catholic blog went ballistic when it was published, and what Mrs C.E Alexander thought about it no one knows. But what 30Days found so comforting was its alleged provenance. Apparently, it was due to be sung at an 'alternative' service of lessons and carols at St James, Piccadilly.

It seems all of 27 years since the publication of the notorious spoof Not the Church Times, which extracted the urine out of St Jim's Ecclesiastical Plant, Piccadilly with 'Muesli in the Vicarage' and 'Street Theatre & Breast-Feeding Affirmation in Jermyn Street'. It's just so comforting to know that, post-Donald Reeves, St J's is still so, so cutting edge.

No headline

All the newspapers were beside themselves with the story of the Revd Teresa Davies, the swinging former Team Vicar in Daventry who, when she wasn't enjoying the fruits of her 'open marriage, used to turn up for services very, very much the worse for wear. It would have been tasteless in the extreme, though, had any newspaper managed to weave into its account a headline on the lines of 'St Stephen's House-trained Teresa staggers from vicarage to church', so 30Days will naturally fall into line with this admirable self-denying ordinance.

Copy for 30 Days should reach FiF office by the 10th day of the month:

30days@forwardinfaith.com

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