Saturday, July 25, 2009

What do you do when you can't afford to go on holidays this year to the Canary Island? You worry about shit. Any shit will do!

If you're not being ploughed six feet under by the Common Cup in your local Scottish Episcopal Church you're being chewed to death by imported rodents!

I saw the story first on the Sky News page under the headline

"Diseased Chipmunks Could Invade UK"

There followed a picture of a relatively inoffensive looking chipmunk chowing down on a toothsome bit of peanut. Whatever disease it has clearly hasn't affected its appetite. The first line of the article proper offers a little more information:

Britain is set for an invasion by thousands of diseased chipmunks coming from France,
experts have warned.

One's interest is piqued, of course, by all of this. Invasions of the British Isles are attempted rather rarely. One expects large quantities of masted ships sailing into the English Channel or barges assembled in the low countries or at least small fleets of long boats which can make it up many of the major rivers to threaten villagers. It's really all a matter of agency - how will these thousands of deadly chipmunks get to our shores?

These same experts (actually different experts from the earlier mention but they may take some of the same courses at Uni) offer the following prediction:

Nature experts fear tourists will pick up the animals and put them in their bags or car boots and bring them across the Channel to Britain.

Imagine the visual, if you will, of somebody chasing a chipmunk around the St Michel Fountain trying to stuff it in a handbag. Would somebody alert the policeman on the corner? What would he say, while shrugging his shoulders:

"Ah oui, Monsieur, ils sont fou, les Anglais!"

Once here, the newly liberated chipmunks will apparently set about adding Lyme Disease and Rabies to the Bird Flu and the Swine Flu we already need to worry about.

The Sun took up the story as well. Their headline was even more dire than Sky News:

Killer Chipmunks Threaten Brit Invasion

And they have something called a "Fact File" which gives you a map which outlines the vector of threat pointing directly at a British suburb near you.

At least they have a picture of a suitably scary looking chipmunk pretending to be Godzilla and letting us know that

"when I gets this pain I wants to do damage".

"Please" it's saying "could you pick me up off the sidewalk and let me loose in the car boot or in your wife's Gucci handbag the way thousands of your silly British compatriots are going to do because that's what you silly British do all the time.

Once it was in your handbag might it slip your mind that it was in there?

"A mint? You'd like a mint? I have one here in my bag....somewhere....let's see, purse, specs, evil infected rodent....oh bother, I forgot about that, it's dead and fusty mints this time!"

I do intend to announce this Sunday that the extension of Eucharistic hospitality to "all the baptised" specifically excludes chipmunks.

Our brother-in-Christ Kenny Macaulay made some disparaging comments about the Orange March which was planned in his town on the north bank of the Clyde. The story can be followed HERE. His views on the subject were picked up (without his say-so) in the local newspaper and have occasioned quite a lot of negative feedback from a group of people not known for their affirmative listening skills.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lawrence of Penicuik

The exhibiting of the obligatory camel-shot is a bit like a prostate exam. It's embarrassing and a nuisance but once it's over with it's not too bad. I'm thinking that my best effort to not look like a tourist didn't quite work out.

I'm reminded of Frank Greenhouse - Major Frank Greenhouse - who was nearly a hundred when I met him at St Philip's Church in Victoria where I was a curate in the mid eighties. Frank had been something dodgy in Mesopotamia during the First World War and was able to dress in local garb and fit in quite well while riding a camel or a donkey discreetly past the Turkish lines counting machine gun nests.

Not so here, I'm afraid.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Some of my plans for the introduction of new liturgical practices at St James' and St Mungo's following our Start-up Sunday at the end of the summer are going to have to be postponed in light of mishaps which have occurred in Churches elsewhere.

Back to the drawing board!

(comment: I find it amazing how quick an elderly nun can be when she needs to be!)
Thank you Kenny!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Stuff you knew already

...but which I didn't. I was only 11 years old and we were in a tiny cabin in Banff National Park listening on a radio with poor reception. I remember it as if it were yesterday. The fact that one of the astronauts had brought the Sacrament to the moon with him was never part of the official blurb. The faith of heroes and public individuals shouldn't be ostentatious - but it should, nonetheless, come as no surprise.

Forty years ago, in the first moments of July 20, 1969, after Aldrin had piloted the Eagle lunar module into the dust of the moon with only seconds of fuel to spare, he asked NASA for a radio blackout. He suggested that people around the world take the opportunity to "contemplate for a moment the events of the last few hours, and to give thanks in his own individual way."

Then, during the radio silence, Aldrin opened a packet of bread and a vial of wine that had been blessed a few weeks earlier at his home church near Houston, Webster Presbyterian. Aldrin unfolded a paper on which he'd copied Jesus' words from John 15: "I am the vine, you are the branches ..."

"In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup," Aldrin wrote in a story published in 1970 in Guideposts magazine. "I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility."

Read the whole thing HERE

The Pool of Siloam (Silwan, Siloah - there are competing translations).

One of the highlights of the time spent in Jerusalem (and there were surprisingly few of them compared to the Galilee which was brilliant) was walking the half-kilometre length of Hezekiah's tunnel which had been hewn in the limestone to access the Spring of Gihon in time of siege. It issues forth into this small pool and thence into a lower one - one of which was the pool in which Jesus commanded the 'man born blind' to go and bathe himself. The first pool immediately past the outlet of the tunnel (pictured above) is the peaceful one - atmospheric and inspiring. The only partially excavated pool (opposite this one with the length of sewer pipe running above it) has the greater claim to authenticity - having steps up to it from what is clearly a Herodian city street and steps down into the water.

Nachal David is a small stream that flows out of probably the dryest and most weather-blasted landscape I have ever seen between Qumran and Massada beside the Dead Sea.

Old Tombs and New Tombs

at the foot of the Mount of Olives. You might want to click on this to see the picture mo' better.