The Bishop of Jarrow's imaginative plan to abandon the Old Testament for Lent in favour of the Koran has provoked unprecedented correspondence to the 30 Days column. A few from stuffy traditionalists objecting to the Koran's inspired corrections, rewrite and overruling of the Holy Bible but most from readers making suggestions for future Lents in the Northern Province.
Perhaps the most imaginative suggestion comes from a well known West Country clergyman. He vouchsafed the information that his Lenten penance this year will be a reading of the Kama Sutra. In this way he hopes to be able to get alongside those into Tantric Spirituality ( and behind them and above them) and return with new insights into Baal worship and the Canaanite fertility rites.
HAVE A NICE DAY 2
Oh dear! Two charming clergy persons have written in very angry letters to the Editor. They both claim to be the officiant at the Crem. who finishes the service with the deathless dismissal, "Have a nice day". Quite why they object to publicity for this exciting liturgical innovation is unclear.
As our report referred to a completely different officiant, we can only assume that there are at least three ministers out there adding a transatlantic touch to the terminal terminology
"The Press" column in the Church Times (21.2.97) caused much hilarity in Church press circles. Almost all of it was devoted to the "Lucy Winkett story" - the 28 year old, six month priested, new Minor Canon at St Paul's.
Written in the style of "The Merry Laughs School of Journalism" beloved of Parish Magazines, where everything in the C of E is rosy, it painted a glowing picture of the harmony, reasonableness and triumphant common-sense of the Anglican compromise. It concluded:
So it's prizes all round: For Canon Halliburton, Miss Winkett. - The Dean - even the C of E." And presumably St Paul's and the Diocese of London.
While this may all well be true it would be nice to have a more objective view. The author? Step forward the Revd. Eric Shegog - recently Anne Atkins vanquished Director of Communications for the C of E who will, by the time you read this, be a couple of weeks into his new job - as Director of Communications for none other than London Diocese. Nice one Eric.
HEADLINE OF THE MONTH
In The Jewish News the front page screamed: BAGELS FAIL DOPE TEST!"
Apparently the poppy seeds on the top can be just enough to disqualify you from the Olympics without quite raising you to the level of minor mystical experience
Perhaps the C.E.N. could run a similar story for Christians on the dangers of replacing wafers with a seeded Bloomer. Something along the lines of
"BEWARE THE LOW CHURCH `HIGH'."
SURELY SOME MISTAKE
Jolly Gill Craig, the Church Times T.V. reviewer, has clearly been overdoing it on the bagels recently. A review of a BBC programme in the "Inside Stories" series contained some fantastic revelations.
"The Honey Trap" was an account of the Soviet Union's use of sex in espionage, the use of gorgeous girls to entrap Western diplomats and businessmen.
Apropos of nothing Gill went on to tell us that the Legion of Mary had been set up by the Curia for similar purposes and "even today Forward in Faith is running secret communities of ultra traditionalist sisters, prepared to renounce their vow of chastity in an attempt to subvert the master strategy of Affirming Catholicism!"
We cannot answer for Rome but when the Forward in Faith Spokesman had recovered from a fit of helpless laughter he commented:
"If F in F had ever considered launching a flotilla of libidinous nuns to undermine the leadership of Affirming Catholicism the scheme would have had to be abandoned on the grounds that, for reasons the Bishop of Edinburgh could explain, they would be unlikely to prove susceptible."
A sharp-eyed gay reader called in to admire the style and appropriateness of our correspondent's arrival at the Southwark Cathedral Gay Day. How had Robbie Low managed to acquire that particular taxi for just that moment? We have enquired and Father Low assures 30 days that it was purely providential - just the next one off the rank at Charing Cross. But yes, our reader is correct, it was in the livery of a well known airline and bore the extraordinary legend "Virgin - vote with your backside". Equally coincidentally he left in a pink taxi but assures us this did not indicate a conversion experience.
Congratulations to the United Reformed Church. In the latest issue of their national magazine members are invited to a Lenten discussion on replacing the cross with an egg or a fish - symbols of life and sustenance rather than gloom and death. Stand by for several choruses of "The Old Rugged Haddock" or, for the more sacramentally minded,
"There is a supermarket near Where we can worship God Betokened by free range fresh laid And battered frozen cod."
After Fr Kirk's "gracious speech" in the General Synod pointing out how severely the Scandinavian hierarchies persecuted their orthodox brothers and sisters he was warmly greeted by a member of the Swedish delegation to the celebrations.
The Archbishop of Uppsala hove into view. He approached the delegate, a man he has to work with regularly and who has been a faithful servant of the Swedish Church. "I hope you are satisfied now, you fat pig", he exploded, and stormed off.
Such an encouragement to know that, under Porvoo, chaps like that are our Bishops too.
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