Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It was once said of Canada that, had we played our cards right, we could have had British government, French culture and American know-how. Instead we got French government, American culture and British know-how.

With respect, then, to the latter: Citizens of the very same nation which invented Spam (the luncheon meat) and scattered their Mars explorer in tiny bits across the dusty surface of the Red Planet are now turning those prodigious skills (normally reserved for taking a common-sense approach to road repairs) to tackling God. The British Humanist Association, Richard Dawkins and an assortment of other luminaries are conducting a campaign during the Christmas shopping season to get the 'atheist' message slapped on to the sides of busses in London for four weeks. It will cost around £11,000 and they are raising £5,500 by way of donations from the general public. Dawkins, I gather, is putting up the rest.

At first glance one is not struck by the ... um.... boldness of the campaign. I could sit down with a few of my vicar chums and we could come up with something witty and memorable and which meant what it said.

"There's probably no God?"

And that's the best they can come up with? That would be like a church commissioning a great big banner to evangelise the neighbours and carefully printing out the words

"Jesus is quite possibly Lord, don't you think?"


"Your mother might have been right - someone could be watching"

I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall at the planning meeting.

So what do you say - in the spirit of Ecumenical good will just prior to Advent shall we give the atheists/agnostics a hand and come up with some better slogans for them? I mean we'd have no scruples about attending a Presbyterian Coffee Morning or sitting on an eco-justice committee with the local rabbi!

The atheists have raised all the money they said they needed and the charity regulator will get all fierce and thump them if they spend much more than they (clearly!) have already on creative work. They need our help!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Approachable? Possibly not....

Yet more hopeless overstatement from a man in a woolly jumper: an article in the Telegraph says that, according to a 'leading theologian', all the regulations forcing clergy to wear robes are clearly out-of-step with the 21st century. Clerical robes reinforce the hierarchies of a bygone age and make clergy less approachable.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, however: "Leading theologian" morphs seamlessly in the course of the article into "Tutor at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford" where the woolly jumper and the beaten down trainers are taken as a sign of holiness and a rich inner life.

Robes, we are told, build barriers.


My daughter Hannah, aged 16 months sat on the carpet at the back of the church where the then Bishop of British Columbia was decked out in his best duds waiting for the processional hymn to begin. She grabbed a handful of his costly and well-embroidered cope, stuffed it into her mouth and began to chew.

Overdressed or not he seemed palatable enough to her at the time!