Chauvinism Corner

An extraordinary side effect of the World Cup taking place in South Africa over the coming weeks is that, according to Ruth Gledhill of The Times, the Bishop of Croydon is one of the favourites to succeed Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury. Apparently, Bishop Baines has co-authored three prayers for use during the soccer-fest. You know the sort of thing: Lord of all the nations, who played the cosmos into being, guide, guard and protect all who work or play in the World Cup...

Now 30DAys is, generally speaking, much in favour of prayer, especially if it’s the sort of thing that gets our Ruthie excited enough to think its author is thus bound for Lambeth. And we’re also aware that the last time anyone mentioned Nick Baines in these pages, they got a Geoffrey Howe-style savaging, so we are going to tread very carefully here. There are many ways of getting from Croydon to Lambeth – we recommend the 410 bus to Crystal Palace, followed by a number 3 all the way – but writing three prayers for the World Cup, not one of which seeks the intercession of St George our Patron that the best team will win, simply isn’t one of them. Sorry, Ruth.

Out on the pickle

Of course, the episcopal story of the moment – the year, probably – is the one about the Bishop of Winchester, his dressing gown and the naked lady trying to gatecrash the recent House of Bishops meeting in York. The Church Times broke the news: A Woman Bishop might have been useful during the House of Bishops meeting in York, after a naked woman guest triggered a fire alarm in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The Bishop of Wakefield took up the story: The alarm seems to have been triggered when two young ladies, who were pickled, came back late at night. One of the two ladies was naked, and one of the bishops had to take his dressing gown off to cover her nakedness. I think the other woman was also trying to take her clothes off, too, but she was stopped in time.

Jonathan Petre in The Mail on Sunday added some much-needed colour – Other bishops soon became aware of drink-induced vomiting and screaming – before getting an exclusive with the owner of the dressing gown: It was just before midnight. There was a commotion in the corridor outside my room.

I went out to investigate and there were two young women there. One was binge-drunk and the other had nothing on and was banging on the door of a room opposite. I went promptly back into my room and wondered what I should do. I then went out again and threw the naked girl my dressing gown. She seemed desperately embarrassed to have locked herself out of her room – but not, apparently, to be flashing her booty at quite so many, er, elderly men. Still, at least the whole caboodle gave the Bishop of Wakefield the knock-down killer argument in favour of women bishops. He told Petre: The Bishop of Winchester had to find a woman to go to retrieve his dressing gown later. If we had women bishops that wouldn’t have been a problem. Quite.

Worzel Lefferts Gummidge

This column is getting altogether too episcopal, so let’s cross the pond to something entirely bishop-free, courtesy of episcopal life online and an eagle-eyed lady reader somewhere in Oxford: Each weekday 10-yearold Elena Forbath eagerly looks up to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori – or at least an image of her – while checking the organic garden at the Gooden School in Sierra Madre, California, in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. ‘I like to see what’s growing big. The squash and tomatoes and Swiss chard are growing like crazy. We already pulled the beets,’ said Elena during a May 4 telephone interview. The organic garden project, dubbed the Garden of Hope, afforded Elena and other fifth graders at the K-8 Episcopal-affiliated school lessons in science and the environment, community service and the Millennium Development Goals, and a little bit about the Episcopal Church thrown in for good measure.

That’s because the presiding bishop gave them permission to use her image for the garden scarecrow.

Well, she would, wouldn’t she?

Crystal Balls Time

Once you’ve relegated all your bishops to scarecrow duty and hen-party policing, a shortage of clergy is one inevitable result. Add to that the credit crunch and global financial meltdown and we could soon see most of the clergy already in office needing to be laid off. Luckily, news just in from Japan points to the obvious way forward.

A four-foot tall robot with colourful, flashing eyes became the first robot to preside over a wedding as a Japanese couple were married at the weekend. The robot, called i-Fairy, is usually used in museums and exhibitions to direct visitors, but with the help of a flower headpiece and a new programme, it pronounced Tomohiro Shibata and Satoko Inoue man and wife at a ceremony in Tokyo. The event is being billed as the first ever wedding presided over by a robot, a fitting marriage for the couple who met through the machines. The bride works for the company that makes the i-Fairy and her husband is a client.

We confidently predict that The Episcopal Church (Proprietor: Bishop Worzel Jefferts Gummidge) will be launching a range of robot priests able to do everything and anything your human ones can do any day now. Watch this space!

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