This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Pope says Catholics should apologise to the Jesuits

In his latest aeroplane conversations, Pope Francis was asked whether he agreed with Cardinal "Rhino" Marx's recent suggestion that the Catholic Church should apologise to Jesuits. As an SJ himself, Pope Francis agreed that Jesuits should not be discriminated against, but should be respected and accompanied pastorally.

Rhino Marx

"Rhino" Marx: "The Church has been very negative about Jesuits".

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that being of an SJ orientation is not in itself sinful, but acts of a Jesuitical nature (e.g. dishonesty, distorting Church teaching, going around with a silly smug grin on one's face, and other things not suitable for a family blog) are indeed considered sinful;. Accordingly, SJs who happen to be Catholic should try to abstain from such acts. We recall Pope Francis's earlier words "If a Jesuit is genuinely seeking God, then who am I to judge?"

3 clowns

Showing mercy to Fr James Martin S.J.

But now the Holy Father has now gone further, and insisted that the Catholic Church should apologise to the SJ Community for any offence it has given over the years. This has not gone down well with the more traditional commentators, many of whom regard Jesuitism as a lifestyle choice (and are shocked by "SJ" marches), rather than something intrinsic.

Jesuit day

Fr Thomas Reese SJ gives offence by participating in an SJ event.

Many Catholics point to the Bible, quoting phrases such as "brood of vipers" and "whited sepulchres", which are traditionally held to refer to people of an SJ orientation. (St Paul is even ruder...) However, in this year of Mercy we should try and forget these uncomfortable words, says Pope Francis, knowing that Christ Himself would have been horrified to think that He was causing a minute's offence to anyone.

John the Baptist apologises to Salome for his rudeness.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

The Book of Brexodus, Chapter 6

Continued from Chapter 5.

1. So the children of Britain came finally to vote on whether they should remain in the land of EUgypt.

2. And half of them said "stay", and half said "go", but slightly more said "go". So it was decided that the people should leave the courts of Juncker.

3. And Cam-aaron was exceedingly grieved, and said "Alas, I cannot take you into the wilderness: I shall resign my position as High Priest, and eke out a humble existence advising the rich and powerful, eating massive dinners, and giving speeches to those who can afford me."

4. For this had earlier been done by the great warlord Blair, he who had conquered the lands of Mesopotamia, at least briefly.

Dave and Sam Cameron

Cam-aaron and his handmaiden prepare for a life of riches.

5. However, many of those who had voted to remain in the courts of Juncker the Pharaoh lamented in deep distress: indeed they wept for several days, refusing to be comforted.

6. Some spake out with a voice of wrath, saying "We must vote again, as the common people have given us the wrong answer." And others, more gentle, suggested, "Er, best of three?"

7. Said one man: "It is mostly the fault of the aged men, who voted to leave. For, as it is written, God giveth wisdom to the young man, and folly to the old."

8. Said another: "Indeed, my son is sore distressed that he could not vote. He is only two but he hath a mighty grasp of the issues."

clever baby

Disenfranchised.

9. Next, a great petition was born, with ten thousand times ten thousand signatures, mostly in the names of the puppets that are called Sock.

10. And others, who had earlier voted to leave, spake out, saying "I knew not that I was voting to leave. For I thought that I had entered my name into a prize draw, that I might win a camel or at least a box of dates."

11. Then another man, whose name was Lammy, which is to say, "Stupid", cried out with a loud voice, saying "Let us ignore the vote completely. For the voters are not blessed with wisdom such as I possess."

Lammy's gaffe

On another day, Lammy commenteth on the election of a High Priest.

12. Thus no man could tell whether the will of the people would prevail, and whether Bosis would indeed be able to lead his people towards the promised land.

To be continued.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Justin Welby and Vincent Nichols resign

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Vincent Nichols, Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, offered their shock resignations today, following the referendum in which the people of the UK voted to leave the EU.

Welby and Nichols

Unskilled workers: no reasonable offer of employment refused.

Welby and Nichols had campaigned vigorously for "Remain", convinced that the EU was God's own system of government, and that Jean-Claude Juncker was a truly holy man, beloved of the Lord. Discovering, however, that they had called it wrong and that God probably regards Juncker as a bit of a prat, the two Archbishops have realised that their positions as pastoral leaders are untenable.

Mary and Juncker

Spot the difference. (Justin and Vincent didn't!)

Meanwhile, you may judge your own attitude to the European Union, by deciding which of these hymns best reflects your reaction to the result of the referendum.

1. O God our help in ages past.
2. Now thank we all our God.
3. God moves in a mysterious way.

Tardis removals

God moves in a mysterious way.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The Book of Brexodus, Chapter 5

Continued from Chapter 4

1. So the great day approached, on which the children of Britain were to vote. Should they stay in EUgypt, or seek the promised land flowing with milk and honey?

2. And there spake out many learned people, some of whom wished to stay, and some to go.

3. For example, there was a man named John, also called Cleese, who wished to leave. Meeting some Germanites, he spake out, saying "Do not mention the war," and, on another occasion, said of his servant, "I'm sorry, he is from Bar-celona."

Fawlty Towers Germans

John preacheth to the Germanites.

4. While, on the other side, there was Edward, he that was known as Izzard, who wore a wondrous hat, but said nothing very memorable.

Izzard and Farage

Edward preacheth while dressed up as Eccles's Anti Moly.

5. However, following the tragic slaying of Jo Cox, the Remainites of Cam-aaron and the Leavites of Bosis came together in a show of unity, saying, "Now is the time to put aside our differences, and to speak peace one to another."

6. And this era of peace lasted for approximately five minutes.

punch-up

A debate on the Common Agricultural Policy.

7. Then the people shouted out with a multitude of voices:

8. "The Leavites are traitors!" "The Remainites are frauds!"

9. "Cam-aaron is a cheat!" "Bosis is a liar!"

10. "The Leavites have got bad breath!" "The Remainites never wash their feet!"

11. "Vipers!" "Scorpions!" "Toads!" "Locusts!"

slug

A typical Leavite/Remainite (you decide).

12. "If we remain, we shall be slaves!" "If we leave, we shall be ruined!"

13. "There will be war!" "There will be disease!" "There will be famine!" "There will be a lack of free bus passes!"

14. "Boil thy head!" "Shut thy gob!" "Stuff it!" "Bog off!"

15. And thus it was seen that the politicians, the celebrities (the actors, the footballers, and other leading opinion-formers), and even the bishops and professors, had finally learned how to act as adults.

Geldof v-sign

St Robert of Geldof discusseth fishing quotas.

16. In the words of the apostle Paul, "When I was a child, I spake as a child. But now that I am a man, I still speak as a child. So Nah, Nah, Nah to the lot of you!"

Continued in Chapter 6.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

How to be a Good Pope 4

Continued from Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

As we have pointed out before, it is quite likely that one or two of our readers will end up as popes; or, if not, as mothers of popes, fathers of popes, etc. You therefore need to know how good popes behave - and if you are the parent of an errant pope, to say "Bosco, stop being silly!" at the right moment.

Pope Francis and his parents

"Give 'em Hell, Jorge!" says Maria Regina Sivori.

Now, it is the duty of all popes to challenge the faithful, by saying things that will make them think. So you could tell them "Most Catholic marriages are invalid, because Catholics have not read my lovely book Appassionata Erotica, complete with amusing footnotes." This will go down well, and probably lead to husbands and wives walking out, children being abandoned in the street as "invalid", and everyone saying what a wise pope you must be. Then, when nobody is looking, change "Most are" to "Some are", or "One or two may be", or "I heard a rumour that there was one", just in case anyone asks you for some definite facts.

Of course marriage is not the only way to have a relationship with someone. You can cheer up your flock by saying that relationships based on fornication are just as good really. Who needs the sacrament of marriage? If nobody ever married, then adultery and divorce would vanish from the face of the earth! In the new modern streamlined church we can also get rid of ordinations, baptisms, marriages... You can go down in history as the pope who sent everyone to Heaven - believers or unbelievers - without any fussing about.

Lennon and Yoko

A model for the modern Catholic Church.

When discussing relationships you should of course be "gay-friendly". In the words of Saint John Lennon, "All you need is love!" Why not fly the rainbow flag over the Vatican, or organize a "Vatican Pride" event? A few of those stuffy traditionalists will object, but you will be able to convince the secular public that "We all believe the same thing, really". Then expect to receive extravagant praise from that ultimate arbiter of morals, Fr James Martin SJ - as pope you'll know that means you've "arrived"!

Monday, 20 June 2016

Baroness Warsi quits the Catholic Church

In a stunning body-blow to the Catholic Church, Sayeeda Hussein Warsi, also known as Baroness Warsi, has announced that from now on she is joining the Muslims, acknowledging the prophet Mohammed as her redeemer and saviour. This high-profile defection is so calamitous that Cardinal Nichols will probably have to resign, and even the papacy itself is threatened.

The reasons given are that Warsi could no longer stand the hatred and nastiness she encountered in the Catholic Church. However, as far as we know she has never even met Fr Thomas Rosica, so it is not clear what the problem was.

Warsi

"I'm not a turncoat," insists Baroness Warsi.

The most remarkable aspect of this defection is that - as with her high-profile "defection" on the Brexit referendum - nobody had the faintest idea that she was ever on the other side.

LATE NEWS: Baroness Warsi has spoken out again, saying, "From now on I identify as a woman, and anyone who refers to me as 'Fred Warsi' is guilty of a transphobic hate crime." The mother-of-one has made it clear that she is does not wish to be regarded as a member of the racist, xenophobic, nasty, male sex. In this case, we are happy to go along with her wishes.

Pope and tiger

"Don't worry, he only attacks Catholics."

In other news, the Pope has "defected" to the Catholic Church.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

A saved poet replies to Carol Ann Duffy

Poor Carol Ann Duffy has made a brave attempt to write the worst poem ever seen - after a dozen lines claiming that all sorts of people are "gay", it ends with the following very silly lines:
The actress is gay,
spot-lit in the smash-hit play;
the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker,
our children, are gay.
And God is gay.
goldfish

My pet goldfish is gay.

This shows an understanding of theology that would embarrass an under-9s Bible class, or maybe just an attempt to troll people of faith: CAD forgot, however, to include Mohammed in her litany of honour. If it were not written by the poet laureate - you know, the successor to Wordsworth, Tennyson, Betjeman, etc. - this garbage would not have been published in the Barnsley Chronicle, let alone any national newspapers. Still, we may respond to it in its own terms.

thief

As thick as thieves.

Thieves are thick,
And end up in the nick;
My custard is thick,
and it makes me sick;
Atheists, alternative comedians, and Guardian journalists are thick.
Unsaved Tommy Reese

The Fishwrap's Fr Thomas Reese SJ is thick.

Whoever thought Carol Ann Duffy was a good poet 
is thick.
And we really need a stronger word
Like "stupid", "imbecile", "moronic" or "deranged",
but Carol Ann Duffy is thick.
Can I be the next poet laureate please?

Friday, 17 June 2016

Pope claims that most Catholics are bastards

Pope Francis, in his usual friendly I-hates-you-all-because-you-is-not-saved-only-I-is-saved style, has claimed that most Catholic marriages are invalid, thereby implying that the fruits of the marriage (kids) are technically bastards.

John Major - also thought that most of his colleagues were bastards.

As has already been pointed out by wiser people than myself*, it is quite likely that most ordinations were also invalid - we can give you a list of prime suspects on request - not to mention Masses, Reconciliation (Penance), etc.

*wiser, but less saved, perhaps.

Having spent the three years of his papacy in accusing Catholics of particular sins (Pope Francis has a particular objection to holiness, faithfulness, honesty, truthfulness and orthodoxy), the Holy Father has now decided to "go for broke" by issuing this general Commination on his Church.

"O God! I've just insulted my own parents!"

Some critics (not us) have responded by suggesting that certain papal conclaves were invalid, because either Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and his mates interfered, or simply because the the cardinals ended up electing a rather dim person who didn't understand canon law. I expect that dear brother Mundabor could tell you more.

However, we should remember that the choice of the Pope is made by the Holy Spirit, possibly influenced by the Spirit of Vatican II, and that God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform. He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm. After one saintly Pope, and one very learned Pope, it is clear that the time had come for the Church to be led by someone very different. You got it.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The martyrdom of Harambe the gorilla

The entire universe is naturally incensed this week after the shooting of Harambe the gorilla at Cincinnati Zoo, when he was believed to be a danger to a four-year-old boy known only as "the boy".

Vatican lit up with monkey picture

The Vatican is lit up in memory of Harambe.

Clearly it would have been more appropriate to have shot the boy instead (at four years, his termination could have passed for a very late-term abortion, and thus have offended nobody). However, in the end it was Harambe that was martyred, and so the campaign for his canonization is already starting.

King Kong

Flashback to when Hans Kong employed gorilla tactics against the Catholic Church.

Naturally, Cardinal Ravasi has joined in the mourning with a moving tribute to Harambe, tweeting the words, "Ook, oook, ooook!" Fr Thomas Rosica is already blaming traditionalist zoo-keepers for his death, and Fr James Martin is preparing a moving homily where the death of Harambe is to be seen as a sign that God wishes for a liberalization of gay rights, the ordination of women, and the banning of the most recent translation of the liturgy.

Ricky Gervais

Harambe: looked almost human, but was of course totally different.

Well, all that we need now is for Tony Blair to declare him "the people's gorilla". So may Harambe rest in peace, and let us have the Furry Requiem in his memory.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Pope Francis issues pep pills to all clergy

Following his criticism of Catholic clergy for not working hard enough, Pope Francis will be issuing papal pep pills to all priests, deacons and bishops, so that they may be able to work a 23-hour day.

papal pep pill

Habemus pep pill!

As his Holiness points out, clergy get a lot of "rest and relaxation" time each day, when they are either on their knees or sitting down listening to the choir (etc.), and they should not require more than this. "You don't catch me sleeping!" he said. "If I have some spare time I go out and get some selfies taken with the faithful. Even on aeroplane trips I don't sleep or listen to the in-flight movie, but stand up and preach, without notes, without any preparation, and often without thinking!"

pope with red nose

A pope, hard at work.

"Unlike many priests and deacons, I am available 24/7," continued Pope Francis. "At 4 a.m. I telephone random Catholics and tell them that they are self-absorbed Promethean neo-pelagians. Curiously, they don't seem to be grateful for this information, and they often swear at me and disconnect the call. Which rather proves my point."

closed for Christmas

Too many churches put up signs like this.

However, not all clergy are as industrious as the pope. Said one Catholic bishop who wishes to remain nameless: "The Holy Father should try doing my job sometime. Even though I've moved all the feast days to Sunday, some people are expecting me to clock in on weekdays as well. And I've got a pile of letters of complaint about Tina Beattie that reaches to the ceiling. Even though I don't read them, let alone answer them, the effort of ignoring them is wearing me out!"

Saturday, 28 May 2016

The blogs that upset Father Rosica

Father Rosica, a long-time admirer of this blog, has identified for us some of the Catholic blogs that, in his opinion, have filled the internet with venom and vitriol (a Basilian expression meaning "they disagree with me, and they express their opinions without fudging them").

Fr Rosica

Fr Rosica - tipped to be the next James Bond as he tackles the evil BLOGGER.

"I was reading a blog called the Gospel of St Matthew," explained Fr Rosica, "and there was this most unpleasant contributor called John the Baptist. He was writing things like You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?, which you will agree turns the Bible into a cesspool of hatred!"

"There's another Person there, who says things like Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. That sounds like a direct attack on my Salt and Vinegar media empire!"

Salt and Vinegar

The Salt and Vinegar media Empire expands into corporal nourishment.

"Apart from the infamous St Matthew site, and the related Mark, Luke and John blogs, I also wish to mention a blogger called Paul," continued the salty cleric. "He has written a series of blog posts, called `Epistles', that show him up as an obsessed, scrupulous, self-appointed, nostalgia-hankering virtual guardian of faith and liturgical practices! (Yes, I admit it, Pope Francis lent me his thesaurus, so that I could dig out more insults for ordinary Catholics...)"

"There's a particularly nasty blog called '1 Corinthians', where he lists people who will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners. I shall advise my friends to respond in the most Christian way possible, by consulting their solicitors!"

St Paul

"Nor liberal Catholics, nor Tablet-readers, nor Jesuits, nor Professors at Roehampton, ..."

No wonder the good Father Rosica is cross...

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Eccles issues an injunction

Rumours have been circulating that I, Eccles, am the mysterious "ECC" who took out an injunction to stop people telling the truth about me. Although my public image is that of a saved person, with a close personal relationship with God, there are stories going round that allege my participation in a threesome in a bath full of tomato ketchup.

toy ketchup van

Seen outside Eccles's house.

In the interests of protecting my privacy and that of my pet cats, my lawyers have instructions to make vicious threats against anyone using the following expressions on social media:

Eccles,
Threesome,
Tomato ketchup,
Camel,
Hedgehog,
Filthy pervert,
Stupid idiot in a red biretta,
ECC,
Lawyer,
Saved person,
Amoris Laetitia.
That should cover most eventualities.

ISIS flag

Our lawyers have told ISIS to remove the message "It was Eccles all along!" from their flag.

Please note that although the jurisdiction of the court is England and Wales only, my lawyers will take particular delight in harassing people in Ireland (who may be unaware that they are no longer part of the UK), the USA (ditto, more-or-less), Antarctica (some penguins have been known to make ECC-like squawks), Scotland, North Korea, Mars, Alpha Centauri, etc.

As a very rich man, Eccles is prepared to keep this game going until he dies of old age, and even afterwards, so don't expect to see any books with titles such as "Eccles - the world's greatest hypocrite" or "Ketchupgate and other sex scandals of the 21st century".

asses

Eccles's lawyers, Messrs Ass, Donkey and Ass.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Book of Brexodus, Chapter 4

Continued from Chapter 3

1. It came to pass in those days that the high priests and scribes spake out, telling the faithful whether to remain in the land of EUgypt.

2. First there came Welby, he that they called Cantuar, saying, "God doth not tell us how to vote," although some suspected that he himself was advising God to bless Cam-aaron rather than Bosis.

Bosis and Cam-aaron argue over their destination.

3. Next there came many holy bishops, such as Cormac the old Cardinal and Vincent the new Cardinal.

4. Unlike Welby, they had been told by God in a dream that they should remain in EUgypt.

5. Yet herein lies a mystery. For the high priests of the land held a meeting in the Halls of Hinsley, at which there were two vexing matters to be discussed.

6. The first was simple: for it was asked, "What shall we do about the shameful doctrines of Tina, she that they call the Beauty?"

7. And the high priests were as one on the matter, for they said "Let us sweep this under the carpet."

8. Thus they purchased a carpet, woven from the finest cloth, and they swept all reports of Tina underneath it.

Bishop Arnold of Caphod consulteth the "Carpets'R' Us" catalogue.

9. However, on the second matter, that of the flight from EUgypt, the holy bishops were unable to agree. For it seems that God had not vouchsafed unto them all the same dream.

10. So after agreeing to say nothing of these matters, the bishops went their various ways.

11. Some went to the house that is called public, where they consumed fine ales, some to sleep in the library underneath copies of the rag that is called Tablet, and some to indulge in more holy activities such as the reading of blogs.

12. Finally, there spake out a high priest of the temple of Welby, an aged man called Carey.

13. And lo! Carey said that he wished to flee the land of EUgypt, and that indeed he was voting for Brexodus.

14. Which is proof that even in the temple of Welby there are those to whom the Lord speaketh new words through the blogs of saved persons.

The martyrdom of George Carey.

Continued in Chapter 5.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

"I just want to be loved," says Fr Rosica

Fr Thomas Rosica, described in some circles as a "Vatican PR aide" and in others as "that big bully who threatened to sue Vox Cantoris" has complained that everyone hates him, whereas, in reality, he is a big softie who just wants to be loved.

Fr Rosica recently received the St Francis DeSales Distinguished Communicator Award from the Diocese of Brooklyn (yes, I collapsed into hysterical laughter at this point, too), so it is ironic that many bloggers apparently think of him as a neanderthal creature who communicates in grunts of "You're Blocked!"

Bill Haley and the Comets

One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock BLOCK,
Five, six, seven o'clock, eight o'clock BLOCK.
Nine, ten, eleven o'clock, twelve o'clock BLOCK,
We're gonna block around the clock tonight.

No, in reality Fr Rosica is a kind and generous man, meek and mild like Jesus - at least if you get your theology from children's hymns - who regularly helps old ladies across the street and nurses wounded sparrows with broken wings.

However, according to the great man himself, Catholics blogs create a cesspool of hatred, mostly because they insist on poking fun at him and his "Salt and Light TV" Catholic network. Thomas Rosica himself loves everyone, and has never been known to make provocative remarks about people who disagree with him. In the Year of Mercy, it was a difficult decision whether to use a logo of a two-headed man on skis, or a logo of a great burly man knocking people over, and many of us think that the wrong decision was made.

Kasper and Rosica

Cardinal Kasper cruelly grins at poor Fr Rosica.

We on this blog have never had any difficulty in loving Fr Rosica. Following his example, we wish only to build bridges that encourage encounter and inclusion, and to avoid misunderstandings that add to wounds and vengeance. We hope that other readers will feel the same. Why not invite Fr Rosica into your home - he likes nothing more than stroking fluffy kittens, so make sure you have some handy.

Oh, for goodness' sake - give the poor blighter a hug!

Join the Big Brothers of the Rich!

Dear Uncle Eccles,

I was fascinated to hear the news about the Little Sisters of the Poor, and their battle against President Obama's "Abortercare" legislation. So I applied to join. However, my application was rejected on several counts:

(a) I am too tall to be "little".
(b) I am too male to be a sister.
(c) I am too rich to be "of the poor".

Can you advise me, please?

Bruce Caitlyn Jenner.

little sisters

Two little sisters (well, one is medium-sized).

This is one of many letters I have received from oversized men who are interested in getting rich. Many of them don't worry too much about President Obama's total lack of a conscience, his bizarre fondness for killing babies, his weird idea that two people of the same sex - er, "gender" - can get married, or his eagerness to let the boys invade the girls' toilets. So perhaps the Little Sisters of the Poor is not for them.

Fortunately, we now have available a new religious order, the Big Brothers of the Rich. Standing for everything that the Little Sisters detest, their Abbot is no less than Mr Obama himself (Fr Joe Biden, winner of the Laetare medal from Notre Dame, is of course too devout a Catholic to be associated with the BBR, even though he has the same high moral standards as Abbot Obama).

Obama in fancy dress

Big Brother (Abbot Obama) is watching you!

To sign up, all you need to do is take a vow of wealth, and swear allegiance to Big Brother. Thus, we believe that this fills a much-needed gap in the range of religious orders available. And don't worry, you won't be having any embarrassing encounters with the Little Sisters in the After-life. Members of the BBR will be going to quite a different destination!

Monday, 16 May 2016

Explosive device found in Amoris Laetitia was left by security company

Catholics expressed their anger last night when it was revealed that an explosive footnote found in the Amoris Laetitia area had been left behind by Papal Solutions Ltd, the company charged with ensuring the security of the Catholic Church.

Apparently, it had been put there during a security exercise - as a test to the faithful - but never removed. Indeed, Pope Francis, the Managing Director of Papal Solutions Ltd, claimed to have forgotten all about the footnote.

Pope in hard hat

Doing a security check.

As a result of the discovery, the Armageddon League Game between Catholics United and Kasper Wanderers had to be abandoned. In the words of some expert commentators, "This is a bit of a bombshell," although others tried to reassure the public that business could go on as usual.

Efforts are now underway to remove the explosive footnote. Indeed, some people, anxious for the security of Catholics United, are demanding that the whole of Amoris Laetitia be demolished, in case it contains other significant dangers.

Vin and football shirt

Catholic Church's exciting Number 11 shirt. And some man or other.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

No jokes in your sermons, please

We have written before on How to make sermons less boring, but a recent poll has indicated that congregations do not like jokes in sermons. So let's have another go at this one.

No jokes. So, I'm afraid, dear Lord, that joke of Yours about straining at a gnat (gamla) and swallowing a camel (gamal) will have to go. It always brings the house down when we have that in the Gospel. Also the story about people having planks in their eyes - well, our focus group isn't too keen.

old lady swallowed cow

There was an old lady who swallowed a camel.

Today's tip for preachers is to avoid words and phrases that may trigger giggles in sermons. Here's a short list:

1. The bishop. Like it or not, most bishops are figures of fun. There are exceptions, of course: some are not megalomaniac self-publicists or idle time-servers, but devout and holy men who are true pastors of their sheep. However, in many dioceses the mere mention of the bishop will cause eye-rolling, sniggering, and head-shaking. Especially if he was on the television last night.

Rhino Marx

A devout and holy man.

2. Richard Dawkins. Although a tragic figure, rather than a comedian per se, he is associated with so many funny stories that his comedy value is more than his value as a source of spiritual nourishment. If he does finally convert, then he will have a natural role as a patron saint of comics. Or possibly honey.

3. The Spirit of Vatican II. It's probably safe to mention Vatican II, which was not inherently funny. However, invoke the Spirit (and the same goes for the Spirit of Laudato Si' or the Spirit of Amoris Laetitia), and the giggling will start.

morris dancer

The Spirit of Amoris Dancer.

4. Tina Beattie. I suppose a blood-and-thunder denunciation of the dear lady from the pulpit, although it would be impressive, is too much to ask for. Mentioning her in the context of Catholic teaching will probably count as a joke. No, avoid the subject.

5. Giles Fraser. Like Dawkins, an endless source of mirth, so much so that the mere mention of his name brings a smile to the face. I suppose that in private he may be a tortured soul who only wants to be loved, but even God must be congratulating Himself on one of his funniest creations.

6. Women bishops, women priests, deaconesses. Stop sniggering at the back.

Women bishops

I said, "Stop sniggering."

7. Paul Inwood. It's difficult to see how the subject might come up in a sermon, unless one of the Biblical readings was about a hideous and ghastly noise (there's probably a suitable text in the book of Revelation), but your audience will now be thinking "Alleluia, Ch-Ch" or "Prepare the way of the Lord, Moo-oo-oo, Moo-oo-oo".

8. Jesuits. Nowadays these are inherently funny, inasmuch as there are more jokes about Jesuits than spiritually nourishing stories. Forget it.

Well, you get the idea. Keep off topics that may trigger laughter. Model yourself on a BBC alternative comic - Jeremy Hardy, say, or Marcus Brigstocke. If they can talk for 20 minutes without making anyone laugh, then you should be able to as well.

Kate Bottley looking even stupider than usual

Maintain the dignity of the cloth at all times!