Thursday, 31 March 2011

Spirit of Earth, Root, Stone and Tree

In her Wednesday round-up Lesley made a link to Angela Maher's Live Unitarian-ly blog entry (of some time ago, I might say) about the difference between theist and atheist, and its lack of tension in the Unitarians (and she would expect more tension). I met Angela at Great Hucklow a month or so back, and there was one of these late night sessions, and she said there that she is atheist. She led a presentation on target audiences and creating phantom friends as a marketing tool.

Perhaps one reason for an absence of tension is the place of the poetic (especially when non-credal) and also alternative theisms. At the moment I am transcribing a tune for use in a service called Leaving of Lismore, and to this Lyanne Mitchell, of Glasgow, also present at Great Hucklow, wrote this hymn now in our supplement book, Sing Your Faith, at 147, and we sang it in an evening worship with Lyanne at the piano.

Spirit of Earth, Root, Stone and Tree

Spirit of earth, root, tone and tree,
Water of life, flowing in me,
Keeping me stable, nourishing me,
O fill me with living energy!

Spirit of nature, healing and free,
Spirit of love, expanding in me,
Spirit of life, breathe deeply in me,
Inspire me with living energy.

Spirit of love, softly draw near,
Open my heart, lessen my fear,
Sing of compassion, help me to hear,
O fill me with loving energy!

Spirit of nature, healing and free,
Spirit of love, expanding in me,
Spirit of life, breathe deeply in me,
Inspire me with living energy.

Spirit of life, you are my song,
Sing in my soul, all my life long,
Gladden and guide me, keep me from wrong,
O fill me with sacred energy!

Spirit of nature, healing and free,
Spirit of love, expanding in me,
Spirit of life, breathe deeply in me,
Inspire me with living energy.

It's one of those hymns that implies some sort of theism, indeed panentheism, but it can be interpreted as a process without theistic implication - the language makes the process into an object, or say a verb into a noun. The third verse makes that 'force' more sacred and existing, but even then can be interpreted as a process to be celebrated.

I particularly like the hymn; it is nicely Pagan and well focused and it does have this generosity of interpretation. This is something I look to do when writing services - making the language deliberately ambiguous and to bring as many people in as possible.

Rev. Reed on Darwin

From the Unitarian General Assembly Email News

Important new book from the Lindsey Press on Charles Darwin

New Book

'Till The Peoples All Are One': Darwin's Unitarian Connections by Rev. Clifford M. Reed

Charles Darwin described himself as an agnostic, but how far was he really a Unitarian?

That is the question that the Reverend Cliff Reed sets out to explore in the newly published 'Till the peoples all are one': Darwin's Unitarian Connections.

The short and sharply focused biography explores Darwin's extensive connections with members of the Unitarian faith community and the extent to which their ethos had an impact on, or at the least coincided with, his own. Cliff considers their emphasis on scientific understanding in the quest for knowledge, their belief in human advancement, their changing assessment of the Bible, and their moral and social concerns.

Among these last, he examines in some detail the opposition to slavery shared by Darwin and most Unitarians and pursued by Unitarian Members of Parliament in their understanding that, black or white, all humans are equal and that the contemporary stereotyping of slaves as an inferior species was simply both wrong and cruel.

Reed details the changes in Darwin's religious beliefs from an apparent readiness to take orders in the Established Church to an increasing dislike of orthodox religion setting this in a contemporary Unitarian context which included Unitarians who were prepared to have their children baptised in an Anglican church, and radical Unitarian thinkers like James Martineau and his sister, the writer and journalist Harriet Martineau. He gives some emphasis to Darwin's approval of the faith of contemporary American Unitarians such as Francis Ellingwood Abbot as expressed in the journal of the Free Religious Association.

The book, which began as a lecture given at the Ipswich meeting house during the bicentennial celebrations of Darwin's life in 2009, makes extensive use of the letters and other writings of Darwin himself and his contemporaries, providing valuable fresh perspectives.

In an extensive exploration of the understanding between the couple, it challenges conventional accounts of Emma Wedgwood, Darwin's wife, as a 'simple-minded evangelical Christian' demonstrating that she was in fact a lifelong Unitarian, widely read and intelligent and, although she might attend an Anglican church when in the country, she went to Martineau's Little Portland Street chapel when in London.

Reed concludes that, 'Unitarians - of various kinds - touched Darwin's life at so many key junctures from early childhood to old age that it seems perverse to deny the immense significance of their faith tradition for him'. He adds that, although present-day Unitarians have been loath to claim Darwin as one of our own, we should 'not be too quick to deny him either'.

The book is available from Audrey Longhurst at Essex Hall (Tel: 020 7240 2384) at £7.50 plus £0.72 postage. It will be offered at a special price of £6.50 at the Annual Meetings of the General Assembly at Swansea.

Kate Taylor, Lindsey Press Panel

Charles Darwin was the eyes and ears of his Anglican absentee Rector but his sympathy was with the Darwin-Wedgwood clan and this was was why he was shunned by a later incumbent. But in fact Charles Darwin also approved of a non-conformist evangelical who was able to collect up the village drunks. Emma Darwin did believe in God the creator and life after death, and this is what could have been offended by Charles's doubts regarding animal and human origins. Her beliefs were consistent with much Unitarian piety at the time. When attending at the Anglican Church, she turned herself and the children around when the creed was said to indicate that she and they did not believe it nor approved of the concept. Once I decided to abstain from it, I used to content myself with staying sat down or sitting down when the creed was said, but often thought of Emma's stood up alternative.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Slave to this Thing

Who'd have thought it? I remember when a child drawing a picture of me as an adult with short hair alongside a computer as if I would be employed working with computers. It was as big as a wardrobe.

Now I sit in front of a keyboard and screen with speakers, and the computer is wired up to a tape-CD-radio stereo or a video recorder/ player. I will get another Freeview box wired in as well.

I sit and make CDs for each Sunday and this includes using Unitarian choir CDs, downloading public domain organ music, other sources and even, as necessary, transcribing music from a hymn book or a .MID file using a computer music score writing program that also produces the music itself. I can convert and edit files. I have headphones that plug into the speakers that allow me to see that the edits are clean.

So that has been added to the word processing and spreadsheet efforts. My memory is good enough and appointments too few to keep a diary, but I have a few.

I text process, and that means throwing text around as needed and clips (different from word processing, which is formatted text). I still write in HTML for my website (I upload the list of hymns for example, which is my own created webpage).

A pad and a pen are connected, which means now most of my drawing is directly on to the computer screen. My camera dumps its photos on the computer, and they end up on CDs.

I use Skype so I can speak with video to a very few people, and then there is the live text chat either via Skype or via Facebook.

My CV is online, and increasingly applications are made online, and I am at Facebook, also on a schools list website (that has added Facebook-like features) and I reveal myself on my website itself.

I get information from the web whereas I once had to go to the library, and if I go to the library I will want 30 minutes on a computer.

So much of these activities are highly individualistic, although many communication based websites are becoming near monopolies.

The only thing I can't do on a computer is buy, because I don't have the proper card. If I did I'd have bought more books and I don't get a card because can't spend on anything much beyond a basic budget.

I also use the computer to express my opinions and read that of others, and grab the news both general and specialist. I receive and send messages and hardly now receive letters.

None of this was predicted! No wonder I hardly get off this thing. That's why I did the census on the paper and posted it.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Those Church Times Arguments in Favour

The Church Times of 18th March contained a number of articles for and against the Anglican Communion Covenant.

Here is some comment on those articles in favour of it (given that this blog has been consistently against it ever since the Covenant was introduced).

Simon Killwick (Church Times, 18 March 2011, 22-23) argued that one holy Catholic and apostolic Church is international, and the Covenant "embodies this insight". So the discernment of Christian truth is on this international basis.

He recognises that this has ecumenical implications, and that it is a very high bar. If only division results, then it is not of the Spirit. Truth, as well as being in scripture, would need unanimous, or near-unanimous agreement.

On this basis, nothing innovative would be done, because there is always objection from somewhere. But he says himself:

Historically, Christian truth has often been discerned through controversy.

The Trinity and incarnation came from centuries or argument. But given that this was once not the guiding doctrine, indeed that Arianism was once the majority view, how come the Trinity and incarnation were allowed to be innovations?

These innovations were achieved precisely because dissent was cut out. In the end, some think this is how the Covenant will have to operate if it is to have any meaning.

The Anglican way has been, as far as I understand it, not to wait for overall consensus, but for some part to suck it and see. Others have not then sought to exclude or expel, but the controversy has been subjected to a kind of organic argument of appropriateness.

So discernment by centralisation is 'unAnglican'; indeed the whole ecumenical approach assumes some sort of ecumenical average or overall similarity, but this is a fantasy as Churches Catholic retain strong differences from each other, just as do Churches Protestant. Anglicanism embodies an inner difference that allows for cultural and institutional response by each Church on the ground.

The argument he presents doesn't hold practical water, and is contrary to actual experience.

For Gregory Cameron (20-21), the Instruments of Anglicanism worldwide are undermined, even if parish life carries on largely unaffected. He also asks should individual Anglian Churches be opposing each other, or extremes versus the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is all a bit chaotic.

Lambeth Conferences in 1988 and 1998 wanted more primatial oversight, but when given in the Covenant such was not wanted, nor the lead to be taken by the Anglican Consultative Council.

But why then is the (Joint) Standing Committee any better? It starts to look like discernment by committee having passed dispues around for comment. In that so much ends up on the lap of the Archbishop of Canterbury, it even more looks like monarchy. Monarchs did consult, even when absolute.

He argues for the via media between the Jerusalem Declaration and autonomy. A little bit of confession then? He thinks provinces are agreeing with this.

The Jerusalem Declaration is meaningless as regards centralising Anglicanism: via media does not take it or any other extreme as a peg in the ground. Via media is rather a process in whatever situation a Church finds itself. For Western Churches, the Jerusalem Declaration is relevant only to a minority of Conservative Evangelicals. The demand that African Churches have on Western Churches is only that entryist threat of international supervision and a few congregations diverting funds or splitting off.

Via media involves a relationship of theological working with society and culture and, again, is not about some international average. Those pro-culture work with those resisting culture or attacking it. It is these shifts that allow for innovations, and these take place in specific places. Again it is about suck it and see. The international dispute is irrelevant when the discerning takes place on the ground in one place.

Norman Doe's (22) notion of the via media is that the traffic lights are on amber.

Imagine driving a car with amber lights. First of all, what do drivers do on amber? They stay still. There are amber gamblers, however, those who continue to cross when green goes to amber, and those raring to go as soon as amber joins the red. Both risk crashing.

It makes more sense, therefore, if one Church operates with a green light, even if another church has a red light. In fact the green light may go to amber as a result of testing something, just as a green elsewhere persuades a red to go to red amber in a slower Church.

To have the centre impose amber lights is to slow everything to a snail's pace and frustrate. It frustrates a red Church that sees a permissive red amber, and it frustrates a green Church that sees only amber. And rather than the lights be determined by the sensors on the ground, the centre traffic control somewhere else is pressing the ambers.

Of course that breaks autonomy, and it is control. Whilst other non-Anglican Churches have international bodies, they do not have rule by committee but rather have broad positions and exclude those beyond them.

What is the broad position of Anglicanism under threat worthy of excluding? Just anti-homosexuality?

John Akao is not one for diversity. He wants uniformity and rather undermines the argument of others regarding amber lights or lack of international centralised compulsion.

He was in favour of the Covenant, but now is not, as:

the Anglican establishment... fashioned a covenant which in motive, content, and thrust deviates from the original objective of healing and unifying the Communion.

The present Covenant won't work, as it keeps 'orthodox' and 'revisionist' together via "perpetual talking". Its final form emerged remote from African input (a consequence of centralisation?). In any case, a Covenant comes from cohesion, not lack of cohesion.

Diversity means a lack of unity, he thinks, the Bible weakened by the "evil" cultural and behavioural practices of the likes of human-rights activists and parliaments and education (rather than the evil cultural and behaviour practices of governments that lock up men who do no more than love other men - consequences of the autocratic and ignorant).

So, there we are. The very people who kicked up the fuss in the first place are not persuaded.

The Covenant is the worst of all worlds. It does centralise and it does put all to amber, but it's no good for the conservative forces.

Basically, Anglicanism is balkanising, and the best approach is to let it do so. Relationships will still exist. There'll have to be a bit more sucking and seeing, even some competition over the same turf.

The Covenant was either going to be oppressive, a nuisance or a completely pointless dud. The present Covenant is a nuisance. It could be rewritten (removing section 4) to become a completely pointless dud. As a nuisance, it is worse than useless, and will achieve nothing.

Indeed all it is doing now is showing the arrogance of some Church of England authorities desperate to push it through despite no obvious positive use. The Study Guide was a travesty as have been all presentations from on high. Perhaps there is still time that the Covenant can be rejected from below, in the Church of England: the rejection of which would destroy it internationally.

The need is to save Anglicanism from the central control of amber traffic lights whilst falsely claiming that the cars are still being driven with autonomy.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Doing it Right

Friday's coffee morning on the fifth Friday did not have the usual stalls so it became a display of art work, and although only contacts/ friends were the extra people there was a surprise across the congregation about the painting interest shared.

Then on Sunday was another kind of display, but this time how to take a service. All about Alfred Nobel and his secretary Bertha, it was delivered also on the theme of peace via several small connected easy-to-follow sermonettes, with prayers and hymns and readings into the mix. It was also delivered properly in terms of speaking, and the microphone doing its job and yet our congregation member never getting too close to the microphone. Initially I was grumpy because he changed the order of the music, but having made two CDs and having a double CD player with mixer the logic of use suggested itself. I moved between the two CDs without error including an instant move from a hymn tune to an out of sequence music piece for collection. Indeed, not only that but this method meant no need to alter the sliders, so I could use this again, with music grouped according to slider positions.

We had a visitor in, and by the fact that he sung the hymns with intent meant he knew them and must have been somehow Unitarian. Indeed, he was doing lay preaching training, and took opportunities to visit neighbouring congregations from his own ('neighbouring' in this case means 50 miles). He even refined my knowledge about John Disney, the second Anglican minister of the first named Unitarian church in London. He was son of founder Disney in terms of Lincolnshire, and took on being an Anglican priest so he might not have been the dedicated real thing. Ah. This chap and I ended up having a strong conversation (and not the only one he had) because he had no time for postmodernism and was rather critical of Sociology as a subject. I have my Ph.D in Sociology, but not to worry as I (and another member of the congregation too) have an MA in Theology (indeed he and I also have a PGCE in Religious Education). This visitor told us that his congregation has positively decided not to seek out a minister, but to continue its spread of involvements and tasks. Hull will very soon advertise. Unfortunately the person that I think could do the job, and has been mentioned, and is looking for a ministry, isn't available for our part of the world. Advertising the vacancy follows.

So if there is anyone out there of ministerial experience, or ministry training, with definitely a sceptical and liberal outlook, being interested in a diversity of views, and someone who doesn't want to have to jump through doctrinal hoops, is interested in developing one small congregation (money is sorted) and fancies a different life, well you know where we are and you certainly know where I am as a means to get to where we are. Discretion, if you want it, is always assured in the first instances!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Jesus Waiting for Easter

I think we ought to be patient a little longer...

In late January three different videos fortunately viewed some sort of craft hovering over the Dome of the Rock. It descended until some 50 feet above it, hovered, emitted a bright flash and shot upwards out of sight. Then blood-red orbs appeared overhead.

Easter is soon, so here is my theory. As Chris de Burgh taught us, Jesus Christ is a spaceman who came travelling and his mission will come once again. So the craft, having travelled billions of miles, delivered him, and at the present he is probably with a few folk relatively unknown in Jerusalem. He might be begging or cleaning the streets. Anyway, Easter is late this year but the chaps did pretty well considering the distance they travelled and they had to be early rather than late. The arrival will declare himself on a special programme introduced by the attractive scholar Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou after the repeat of her programme about God's wife (surely Mary Magdalene?).

Softly Softly Art Show

Friday morning is a coffee morning at the Hull church, and I had the impression that I had to take a stack of paintings to make up what would only have been a few pictures on display. I was even a bit grumpy in having to disturb boxes of the things in position since moving. As it happens, there were many other paintings on display all of which led to 'surprises of talent' one to another.

Interestingly a discovery made times before was demonstrated again. Leaflets had been put through doors and an advert appeared (but only the night before) in the Hull Daily Mail. The result was two strangers who thought it was a jumble sale and immediately left when it wasn't. The different faces seen were those invited personally who were other connections to existing attenders. They had coffee and food. There were no big numbers attending, no unknowns, no sales (and I wasn't selling, though one new face to me asked after I cleared mine).

It is possible, just possible, that the new faces might visit the congregation in its core activity. If not, well they enjoyed the event and the chat for what it was. But, yet again, what has been demonstrated is that leafleting is a waste of time. I did say this, gently, but you just let people make the mistakes of effort made before. Newspaper advertising was too late. Although there can be a follow up article, no photos were taken and editorial would only make sense if there was another art exhibition. Perhaps when another approaches a more pro-active medium term approach will be taken. The best approach is, and always was, the people you know who may share common interests already. The website and its message, and contents, can reach out to the unknowns who wonder in secret whether or not to show up.

What of those who have left: do we know why they left? Well, many have died, and the amazing thing is how they have been replaced - or nearly replaced. Many though did leave, and yes we do know why, which is why it is imperative that a congregation behaves itself when it gets to disputes. This is partly why I don't push what could be active publicity based activity, despite going to Great Hucklow and discussing publicity issues, led by webmaker James Barry and others. Once I did push harder, and in the 1980s in my early days even achieved a column in the Hull Star, but it created nothing but grief because the arguments of this upstart were not accepted as representative by an old guard, even though I wasn't seeking to represent the church at all but only say my sort of arguments were part of its range. That the column created responses from Bible quoting evangelicals was a problem for some, but not a problem if you think about the silent reasoning some would make that the column mentioned a church that was different. But it didn't last because it didn't have support and actually the Hull Star was a free advertising rag for which my little Pause for Thought stood out like an intellectual sore thumb island in a sea of dross.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Church of Ireland on the Fiddle

I like Irish folk music but not the fiddle being played by the Church of Ireland.

This is clever. By subscribing and not adopting the Covenant, they don't have to take two years over it with two third majorities. All they need do is have a single motion in a single synod. Subscribing means adopting by lesser means, a looser adoption, to presumably meet the objections of those who would not adopt it. Really? But it would be subscribing to the Covenant, like Churches subscribe to the Creeds, like the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland does not subscribe or adopt the Creeds.

What a fiddle. Hey, this subscribing method could be adopted by lots of Anglican Churches to continue the one way tactics these bishops are pursuing to desperately get this thing on the books. What a cheat and what a sham.


Interesting, the British Religion in Numbers findings (via Thinking Anglicans). First of all, concerning 25 years 1980 to 2005, even a glance at the diagram shows that church attendance dropped by some 40%. We know also these figures are too optimistic. I remember doing a survey of a council estate where religious observance was minimal, and for all our efforts we got returns suggesting that attenders would be queuing round the block. Assuming regular optimism, the drop is quite startling.

One of the biggest drops is for Roman Catholicism despite the influx of the Poles. Clearly it is scandal-ridden and is paying the price for its tendency to control over that to serve, over its international abuse of children that the hierarchy covered up. Anglicans retain about the same percentage of the diminishing market. I am interested in how the United Reformed Church and Methodist Church are doing, to see whether there is likely to be structural ecumenism brought about by structural collapse. The Methodists can most easily take on bishops as they don't count the number of divisions in the ministry, and have Chairs of districts who are bishops in embryo, but the URC presumably thinks there are Presbyters and Deacons. Perhaps I am wrong.

From 1980 to 2005 there was a 63% drop in URC attendance. I wonder if this includes their taking over independents in Scotland. There was a 52% drop in Methodist Church attendance. These figures are pretty catastophic. So if we take these figures and keep going... That's 150,488 in 2030 for the Methodists and 48,231 for the URC, with the Baptists much higher given their lower drop rate.

Such a calculation doesn't do justice to reality, partly because closure and disappearance can have a gathering effect: disappearance from public view intensifies.

Looking at places of worship the number of churches in the URC dropped by under 7% (again does this include takeovers?), and the Methodists were down a shade under 6% so this means that their churches are emptying.

The Society of Friends closed just one (really?) and the Unitarians lost 4. 176 is about right for now, 2012, though number are moribund and occasional; anyhow, I remember an optimistic figure of 7000 members in the mid-eighties and it might be 5000 now or even less. The problem with the chapels count is it gives no indication of how they are filled. In the mid-eighties York was on the verge of closure with about 6 people attending. It's now doing very well. In the mid 1980s Hull was reasonable, in the 1990s doing well and now it is not threatened but struggling. Unitarian churches can bounce up and down rapidly.

What will keep Unitarianism bobbing along the bottom is its increased profile thanks to the Internet, with people like me, and its Unique Selling Point (USP) at one end of the religious spectrum. Unitarians are unashamed go-where-you-will liberals. I still note the mix between someone who has searched us out and made a decision to walk through the door and the random caller (even if it is also an effort to come through the door). I would never have come through the door in 1984 had not the Baha'is used the building, and probably I would have continued with Anglicanism without deviation and handling the problem of being too liberal. In Hull now we are trying to get the internals right before doing the externals, that is employing methods of greater publicity - although a new member is changing the website. There is music (largely done now), ministry (about to push harder) and the building (about to get a series of changes made that will rearrange its parts and slightly expand it).

I am sure the URC will want to retain its two orders of ministry, but it is a bizarre argument to maintain for a time that cannot understand such arguments. The Methodists surely have no USP now, or at least I cannot think what it may be. 'As we like it' is not an argument.

The Quakers and Unitarians ought to merge, but the Quaker practice and its commitment against professional ministers is so distinct that this is impossible. They and the Unitarians have reached the point of no return.

It is possible to see a future where the Church of England has a straight fight between Evangelicals and Liberals and the liberals lose. We might then see radical change and denominational rearrangements. The problem is that this defies history. First of all, as Theophilus Lindsey discovered, Anglicans didn't follow him and they tend to stay where they are. The living is too good and the alternative connections still too numerous. Secondly, the Anglicans that do leave are usually the more doctrinal and more activist: it is the mixed and liberal that stay behind. It is the traditionalist Anglo-Catholics who have upped-sticks. So Anglicans will feed and continue to feed the growing Independent Churches, like the big urban media churches that suck away evangelicals and charismatics. It may be that in the future smaller numbers of larger Anglican churches get together and arrange the finances to throttle out the liberal subsidised, but they'd have to be clever. So far this is extra-systemic and via entryism, and yet to be prominent, and that usually leads to departure.

Still, at present sizes, it doesn't take much change at the minority end of the market to pump up the Quakers and Unitarians.

Personally I doubt that the Anglican Covenant coming into existence will make much difference to people leaving the Church of England (or the Church in Wales, Scottish Episcopal Church or Church of Ireland). Although it will end for a very long time any prospect of social inclusion in ministry and blessings (because of the role the Church of England plays internationally), liberals usually compromise and put up with things; they even continue to obey the rules unlike their evangelical counterparts (who break many liturgical rules, for example). On the other hand, liberals have started owning the label and have been speaking out, whereas they used to just mumble and mutter in corners, so such a restricted future in the Church of England might cause some to go elsewhere.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Thinking Ahead on Resurrection

My next Unitarian service is resurrection Sunday, and it is well know by now that I don't believe in the resurrection in any sense that a man, Jesus, had personal continuity and consciousness after his death. The texts are about something else and quite different. I'm just thinking ahead and, nevertheless, I want to tackle the subject more positively and like many people who take occasional services the service's sermon gets some advanced thought.

This is nothing but my first advanced draft of a sermon that might, when it appears, look nothing like this! On the other hand, it might stay close. But the following is rough text.

My starting point (again) is dementia broken down into Alzheimers - the road to total loss - and Transient Ischaemic Attacks or reduced mental ability and change in personality.

So what we are as personalities are our memories refeeding our consciousness of being conscious. We are our biographies and our stories. With Alzheimers there is a progressive loss until we are nothing, recognising no one and memories that are but a flash of the moment. Eventually old memories are lost too. Sometimes there is a memory flash, a recognition, but then it is gone, and gone beyond distance.

With Transient Ischaemic Attacks there are memories, but distorted and fantastical, so that a person remembers something like they are married to someone they divorced twenty years earlier or who had died ten years earlier. It also involves a change of personality and the puzzle is whether this is the real person emerging after a lifetime of complex social suppression of frustration or if it is just something else.

Now it is well known that I don't believe in the resurrection of Jesus in the sense that the person who died had a continuous consciousness and memory restored afterwards in a restored body. The texts seem to be saying something else in terms of the basis of legitimising authority and ritual in the new early Churches. But I want to treat the concept positively.

Resurrection implies that the person is restored and restored into a condition of perfection. Now we don't really know what perfection is, though we might speculate it involves an inner ethical condition. It must mean personal fulfilment.

Resurrection also implies the restoration of the world - indeed the cosmos - into a condition of perfection, and therefore its fulfilment.

If who we are is so much the sum of our memories and consciousness of memories, how does this relate to the fulfilment of personality, and of the cosmos.

Obviously we need here a concept of time, but time is something that varies out there objectively and varies internally subjectively. Indeed, some subjective experiences of time have objective reality. A person who travels faster will become younger than a person who travels slower, time does slow down for the traveller. A person kicked off a cliff edge, for whom time slows down, actually can read a fast moving electronic clock face that could not be read when he wasn't scared. In other words, time actually does objectively slow down for a person who is scared. It emphasises what is known in quantum physics, that the observer changes the result of external reality.

Nevertheless, whatever is our time, we are always lost to the past, that the future has not happened, and the present is but a flash that is instant and vanished. But with memory, time becomes more like a container, holding something with a breadth of time, sorting and storing in the past, and admitting new material as the future breaks into the present, with some reorientation of the self towards that future. Why do we worship, after all? In part, I'd suggest, to reorientate our reception of the coming future.

So any kind of perfection must be within a time package, within something held. Personally, it is in our memory, our autobiography. Collectively it is in the culture, that transmission of language and words and symbolism that makes meaning of all the clutter around us.

How then one might understand God in this sense? Well, God is part of the communicative system, and is received within it, and if the concept of eternity means anything, then it means piercing time at any point of the past, present or future.

Now if our universe, thanks to entropy - I spoke about entropy in my last service, and it is that compulsory capacity towards decay; properly, the dispersal of energy so that it can do no work, then the universe is going to expand towards an end of heat-death, that is when in trillions of years there is no star burning, and all black holes have evaporated. Light photons will be dispersed and useless. And remember, our universe is expanding at an increasing rate. Hardly resurrection, then. Or is there resurrection?

Memories are stored communication, and so God in communication is perhaps the perfection of memories. It's those elements of communicating who were are and what we are, and indeed what the world is, that identify what is perfect about it.

Some have the circular argument that Jesus as God the Son was perfect, and a mark of that perfection was the defeat of death, as people believed that illness and indeed death were caused by the imperfection of sin. Trouble is, we cannot do the calculation of perfection the other way, from the ground up. We don't have the data about Jesus's life or personality, nor indeed if he is the most perfect compared with anyone else who has lived about which we have no data. Perfection pretty soon becomes nothing more than a doctrinal statement and a circular argument. I think Jesus learnt, he made mistakes when he learnt, and he made mistakes throughout, and perhaps dismissed Gentiles and gentile life too easily, perhaps had an ego problem with his own role in prompting God to bring in the Kingdom, the fulfilment of Israel, at then the last days.

Perfection also works with Buddha, if at one remove: how someone could try this method and try that, and then hit upon the perfect formula of the Middle Way to overcome attachment or the samsara version of sin. Overcome that, with compassion and concentration, and you will find Nirvana.

But perfection is problematic: we would not know it if we saw it.

And in any case, surely in a planet, a solar system, a galaxy and a universe all condemned to die, and indeed we as individuals each and every one, the whole notion of resurrection is simply an ancient belief we should drop.

Indeed we can, and perhaps should, for to use the term is misleading, but rather like in the use of the term God, what we look for is perhaps not perfection at all, but rather intrinsic worth, what is of ultimate value in and amongst the mundane and both the good and bad.

If we go back to those who have suffered loss in their personalities, then the other person has memory, and also sympathy for that person, even an imaginative leap inside where someone has suffered such loss. Despite everything, it is the ability to see what is special, what is worthwhile, was was and also what is, that perhaps gives a sense of restoration. That restoration is imaginative, yes, but if comes about in the affirmative.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Unitarian Ministerial Formation

Back in 1990 when at Unitarian College I wrote a long essay to justify professional ministry in Unitarianism. People ask what happened to it, and although "nothing" is the best answer it did get transferred across from my Amstrad PCW to my first PC computer via CP/M to DOS on a 3.5" disk and subsequently ended up on my website. I have not read this recently, and having found it I have decided not to read it now either! I am simply blogging on the matter of ministry and training, and wish to keep my thoughts here loose and creative. I am motivated in part by an article a number of bloggers have highlighted about American seminary training. The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. argues for residential formation set against the cheaper training methods available. We know that more and more Church of England training is non-residential and that older clergy and NSMs come through this way: an older and volunteer caste of ministers maintain the well established trend towards frequent Eucharists avoiding the once talked about more radical lay-led options.

Unitarians have a bizarre situation now for a tiny movement. You would think there would be too many ministry candidates and not enough pulpits to fill. Not so. You can't get the candidates. More candidates need to be trained to be full ministers, and this needs more training flexibility. I disagree with Rev. Dr. Schmidt.

The Unitarians still have two training colleges, one in Oxford in the Liberal Arts Harris Manchester College and then Unitarian College at Luther King House. They each reflect a defunct bipolar disagreement about Unitarianism - the ecumenical one being the more sectarian in background! A handful of students still attend both. Any Welsh students have variable provision. I once got into trouble (again) over thinking ministry students should all attend at Great Hucklow.

Unitarians have maintained residential formation even for older students. There isn't the same paid/ NSM division. In Unitarianism, professional ministers are paid for their labour. I understand the attractions of academia at Oxford and of ecumenical links as at Manchester. I wrongly chose the ecumenical links one, when (as Tony McNeile says) they should have locked me in a tower at Oxford and told me to think. That would have been a different kind of ministry, and Unitarians don't have different kinds of ministry (except as additional tasks).

Sorry, but the time has come to close both colleges, or at least leave HMC in Oxford as an address for Americans who want to say they studied at Oxford (etc.).

Ministry students should stay and meet in one place, and that is indeed at Great Hucklow (SK17 8RH on a map). Being there, they could learn from all the groups that use the Nightingale Centre and indeed give their physical support and presence. The libraries relating to Unitarian material could go to Hucklow, but let's be honest much can now be Internet based, and there are many Unitarian resources Internet based. It makes as much sense for a Unitarian researcher to be based at Dr. Williams's Library in London than in Oxford, and again much can be done online and in the post.

But students do not need to be at Hucklow all the time. Some will want to do courses at universities and these could be at Sheffield, Manchester, Derby, Nottingham and Leeds as the nearest. These might have distance learning characteristics in part or full. I also suggest courses relating to theology, education theory and management.

I remember writing against the 'priesthood of all believers' regarding ministry in that essay, because Unitarians are not coherent as believers but are searchers, so my model was rather based on radical education theory such as that which overlaps with liberation theology (Paulo Freire). In other words, training is about ministers being facilitators of other lay leaders in congregations. Ministers should be more like bishops: trained into understanding the Unitarian tradition and pushing out that trained insight to others.

Even if we consider a minister in one congregation (that can afford such, or is successful enough) the minister should be building others to do what he or she can do, and he and she should regularly go out and support weaker churches.

Such courses in universities could take place before doing more Unitarian based courses located at Great Hucklow. There is no need to do full theology degrees, or other subjects, but rather let's take people after they have done degrees in theology, education or management. They might do an MA or do a diploma for a year. In this time their Unitarian work, including work based at Hucklow and elsewhere, would be more practical and flexible.

The point about Hucklow is that it can be a busy, supporting centre, with in residence students coming down from the Derbyshire hills into the conurbations all around on Sundays. Students would be in residence, and then not in residence as they go and sample chapel life all around in placements. A student might spend several weeks in Scotland, say, and then come back to join others coming back from all around. They would still get plenty of formation with one another, as well as experience observing and assisting church life. Tutors at Hucklow could be many and mixed, when coming in for those weeks and weekends of activity (like music, publicity, spirituality, age-based, even lounging around and out walking to talk). Plus we are talking about people just meeting people.

At Great Hucklow I would base courses on Unitarian History, Unitarian Spirituality and Unitarian Ideas. Ministers need to know the tradition from the earliest non-Unitarian Calvinist days through to the present. Unitarian ideas? They need to be able to understand Liberal Christianity, neo-Paganism, Religious Humanism, Eastern perspectives (yes, using Religious Education perspectives), rationality and romanticism, modernism and postmodernism, and how Unitarians relate to near neighbours in other denominations and beyond (such as in the PCN, Modern Church, Sea of Faith).

People who had transferred from other denominations would thus be better inculturated into the denominational folk. After all, so many Unitarians know each other and there are going to be lay people and ministers from other denominations transferring across who really ought to meet other Unitarians. Unitarians do not 'grow their own' now - they take their new friends from other denominations and new blood is always good blood.

So let's save a lot of money, cut the duplication, move to Great Hucklow and redesign how students do the whole thing on the basis of making servants to the denomination. Each year old students would be returning to Hucklow on those weeks and weekends of activities, many with congregations.

Next thing is to put the headquarters there as well!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Northern Catch: The Bishops Fashion Show

Lara Crofter: [Stood, holding a microphone] Well welcome to this special programme from the team of Northern Catch and some like me from Radio Chadderbox here in Wykkyfish as we host a special television event, a fashion show for the coming of bishops. Tell us all about it, local minister, Lesley Bloke.

Lesley Bloke: [Stood next to a high-backed chair, holding a microphone] Well I thought I'd generate a bit of publicity for my new Church by looking forward to the coming of female bishops in my old Church, and this really took off when Wok Pan decided this was an area where he could apply his talents. And once he said yes, we got our sponsorship, from Cheeses of Nachos, and it was all go.

Lara Crofter: But you are hosting it, not taking part.

Lesley Bloke: That's because the people taking part are in my old Church, with a few exceptions, but they also have bishops, whereas my Church at least in the UK doesn't have bishops. Wok said he wanted his clergywomen especially to "Look good bishoped" and one lucky person will have their image projected on Wykkyfish City Hall.

Lara Crofter: You thought at one point you might not make it.

Lesley Bloke: I've been suffering from MP3 Syndrome, so that's why I've got the chair and why I wasn't at the rehearsal.

Lara Crofter: Where is he?

Lesley Bloke: Who?

Lara Crofter: Wok Pan.

Lesley Bloke: Behind the scenes I think. I need to say, Peter, anchorman of Northern Catch, the leading regional news programme for this area, please introduce fashion guru Wok Pan.

Peter Levite: [Stood, holding a microphone, pointing it at himself and at Wok Pan as needed] He's here with me. How's it cooking, Wok?

Wok Pan: I've been with these wonderful clergywomen all this week, and they are perfectly safe with me, you know, even though they all love me very much. A week ago these girls did not have the confidence to strutt their stuff, but now I've made my choices and given them my designs and these are the fabulous bishops of the future and they will be out there in the crowds.

Peter Levite: Lets get those crowds in our living rooms to text in with your comments or email to uk or We'd better get started, then. Over to you, Lesley Bloke.

Lesley Bloke: [Sat down] First one is casual, Wok?

Wok Pan: The theme, Lesley, is from blue to red so long as it's purple to crimson, the colours of bishops. Our first model, Julie, she is wearing casual clothes or the bishop for a more evangelical or low liberal church Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: So there is Julie on the catwalk. Julie, come over here. Julie, what are you hoping for, as well as becoming a bishop perhaps?

Julie: World peace and an end to famines.

Lesley Bloke: Do you pray for those?

Julie: Oh yes. The clothes are lovely, just right for lounging around and meeting evangelicals.

Lesley Bloke: And low liberals, I suppose. Thank you Julie.

Wok Pan: So you can see, Lesley, and all you lovely ladies, that this bishops' uniform of colours is for the older lady, and is just as good for the more casual wear and would also suit the office too for those in Church House.

Lesley Bloke: Is there any support in that?

Julie: It's the natural me, but the heavy cross helps. [Each model knows that as Lesley Bloke pauses to move on they are to return behind the screen and into the changing room to await the final walkout of all the models]

Lesley Bloke: Oh crumbs. How long does this go on for? The next one Wok. Wok Pan, is this what the bishops are going to be wearing?

Wok: The word is feminine, Lesley, and our next one is all about pattern co-ordination, with a strong pattern from mitre to tops to bottoms, thoughout, so Angie would make a big impact coming out of the vestry into that all important church service. Here's Angie on the catwalk everybody.

Lesley Bloke: Gosh, even her hair is purple. Angie, come and talk to me. We have met before so, er, Angie, what do you think about the proposed Anglian Communion Covenant?

Angie: Well all the bishops currently are in favour of it.

Lesley Bloke: Angie, are you? What do you think about Hereford putting into touch and Wakefield saying no? We haven't spoken about this issue have we, so I'm curious.

Angie: To be honest, Lesley, I haven't given it a lot of thought.

Lesley Bloke: Do you think you will be giving it a lot of thought?

Angie: If I was a bishop, yes.

Lesley Bloke: So what about it going to the dioceses. I mean, Oxford, sending it to the deaneries too?

Angie: That's good.

Lesley Bloke: Angie, do you think your outfit better suits Morning Prayer, the liturgy of the Eucharist or Evening Prayer?

Angie: To be honest again, Lesley, I haven't given it a lot of thought.

Lesley Bloke: Do you think you will be giving this a lot of thought?

Angie: If I was a bishop, yes.

Lesley Bloke: Well thank you Angie. From the list I see your ordained sister is on later.

Angie: Yes, she might want to be a bishop too.

Lesley Bloke: Thank you again Angie. [Saying quietly] Oh shit, this is really bad. [Louder now] Wok, who is next?

Wok pan: We can't forget the men, Lesley, even the most feminine of men if we have some pretty masculine women.

Lesley Bloke: A name would be useful, Wok.

Wok Pan: This is one of our men, Perry Match. He is the new radical face of being a bishop, because along with the purple he is just so much the multicoloured swapshop of fashion.

Lesley Bloke: Come from the catwalk and come and see me. You are Perry Match from...

Perry Match: Swindle, a town up north like Wykkyfish.

Lesley Bloke: And what position or role do you hold. You're not a bishop already? Hang on, I know you: you are one of my Faceblock friends.

Perry Match: Oh I've forgotten to put the cross and chain on. No, there's only Bishop Adrian, as of now, and I'm a member of the Liberal Catholic Church of Britain, the LCCB. Here is my identity card. This one cost me £10 but they are cheaper if done in bulk. It gives the phone number of the bishop, and the website details of things like my CRB clearance.

Lesley Bloke: I once thought about a bit more independence. Some call you independents.

Perry Match: Independent Sacramental Ministry. It goes back to the days when Arnold Harris Mathew brought Old Catholicism into this country. The Church of England, as it was then, Archbishop was pretty irritated. AHM thought there were congregations already in place, but he was cheated. He had a line up of clergy and bishops, including making an ex-Anglican priest, Willoughby, a bishop, and AHM was pretty much concerned then over the gay clergy issue, even in the 1910s, an undercurrent when he changed his mind and banned clergy from being in the Theosophical Society. So Wedgwood, into Theosophy, became a bishop from Willoughby and with Leadbeater developed the Liberal Catholic Church. This provides one line of tradition and consecrations, but there are others including from your own man, Ulric Vernon Herford, or he was one of your Unitarians before he went off eastwards and as bishop founded the Evangelical Catholic Communion on the basis of wanting to be very ecumenical.

Lesley Bloke: Who irritated the Archbishop?

Perry Match: You did, according to your blog.

Lesley Bloke: No, back then. In the 1910s.

Perry Match: Arnold Harris Mathew or AHM. Archbishop Davidson was worried by him, because AHM went around reordaining hundreds, especially Anglo-Catholic clergy worried about their orders.

Lesley Bloke: Anyway that was most interesting, Perry.

Perry Match: There's a few more of us behind the partition, ready to come on to the catwalk.

Lesley Bloke: The name of our next catwalker, or should that be wokcaker, Wok?

Wok Pan: Daphne with the rolled back sleeves, Lesley. Back around the usual broad purple guideline we go hard over to the blues now but see in the shine the hint of the other towards the red. See, Lesley, this is all very postmodern, but it's postmodernism with the rules of the office. Except when it's Look Good Naked.

Lesley Bloke: Daphne, come over here. Hello Daphne.

Daphne: Are you the famous Lesley Bloke, who used to be an Anglican?

Lesley Bloke: Yes I am. Daphne, what churchship are you?

Daphne: I'm strongly Anglo Catholic, Lesley, very traditional. I met Maggie today, cousin of Annie and Angie - she's the same but different.

Lesley Bloke: So when would you wear this outfit, Daphne? Which service - the midweek one?

Daphne: Oh no, it wouldn't be for taking services. I'd wear this when out visiting, like to old peoples' homes and so on, though even there we get the garb on to do the house communions.

Lesley Bloke: Do you have a curacy in an Anglo-Catholic parish?

Daphne: No I'm priest in charge now. The previous incumbent left to join an ordinariate - the Roman Catholic one not the Unitarian one. Are you helping to organise the Unitarian one?

Lesley Bloke: Yes, the Society of Francis William Newman is for Anglicans who wish to retain Anglican patrimony after the Anglican Communion Covenant is passed, should it be passed. It'll be up and running as soon as it is passed. Those retaining Anglican features - without creeds, of course - would have to be in new planted churches, having to build up their congregations. Patrick in the Midlands and me in Wykkyfish, we are doing it with advice from Harry Tickpaper. Harry and we are writing Unitarian Common Worship, the first major liturgical book since Orders of Worship in 1932.

Daphne: I have to build up my congregation since half of them walked out with Father Nobbs.

Lesley Bloke: Well thank you for that conversation. I genuinely wish you the best in your ministry.

Daphne: I shall ask that Mary prays for you, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: If you wish. Wok?

Wok: We have the other boy. Yes, the boys have been bishops for a very long time, Lesley, but this design, sticking this time to the colour scheme, shows that being a bishop is something of a prison without the girls in purple. Our next model nearly wasn't well enough tonight but there's nothing like good clothing and solidly suitable fashion for pumping up the spirits. So on to the catwalk, out you go, here he comes!

Lesley Bloke: Ah, it's Adam. Adam Tilgate everybody. Adam, what is that shirt? Such a contrast with Perry's!

Adam Tilgate: It's the arrows, suggesting a doctrinal prison, or the limitations of office I think, in the Church in England.

Lesley Bloke: So what are you suffering from?

Adam Tilgate: Same as you; why you are sat down Lesley. MP3 syndrome.

Lesley Bloke: It's little known, Adam. Anyway, thanks and bye.

Adam Tilgate: Is that it? Don't I get to talk?

Lesley Bloke: If you must.

Adam Tilgate: It's what you might call a Sensually Transmitted Disease, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: Yes, thanks Adam, bye.

Adam Tilgate: Don't you want me to explain it? Or do you wish to cut off all your ties with Anglicans, Lesley?

Lesley Bloke: Go on then.

Adam Tilgate: It is when people who are in love, OK, share their things, and especially their music players. They put one earpiece on one ear and one in the other's ear - when both earpieces were in the one head before, yes? So then it deposits a bug that affects the ear, nose and throat department, with visible evidence around the neck and on the lips, Lesley, in the early days, and then it leaves you all sort of tired. For me it leaves chest pains and for women it swells the breasts. Not a good thing if you are a minister of religion, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: So it's what used to be known as the Walkman bug.

Adam Tilgate: But it is much more frequent now. It's why the Church in England has such strident rules on sexual contact before marriage, especially for clergy, Lesley. Imagine the condition of clergy, including male and female bishops, if so many were suffering from MP3 Syndrome.

Lesley Bloke: Really, the Church should go further and ban the sharing of MP3 players. Well, thanks, Adam, and for everyone's health information please do listen to music through your own headphones or, better still, through a set of speakers. I'll see you later, Adam, as it is a long way back to Oxford from Wykkyfish and, no, I don't wish to lose all contact with Anglicans. Did you park your car in the church car park?

Adam Tilgate: Yes, but I said I wasn't going to shop in Tesco.

Wok Pan: It's the service-taking look next, Lesley. They set me a challenge: designer fashion or get it from the high street. Lesley, Annie here is Angie's sister, and Annie is wearing everything from the high street, except for the hat. That was made by cutting and folding card and it's painted. So if bishops turn people off, this will not; this is the fashion of the street.

Lesley Bloke: With a sort of see through middle and shiny leggings. I mean, what's the alternative, a shell suit? Come over here Annie.

Annie: I think this will increase the numbers in our congregations.

Lesley Bloke: I don't doubt it. Well, I suppose it beats filling pews with parents who want to get their children into the local school. Annie, do you think the Archbishop of England, Rowanov Treetri, is doing a good job?

Annie: It is a very difficult task, Lesley. I mean, since the Church has been disestablished, you'd have thought it would be an easier job. Some said we'd have become more sectarian, like, but we still do Erastian duties and we still have clergypeople not unlike you, Lesley. But when it comes to the division of the job between his international role and then this Church, he is between a rock and a hard place. He must resign, Lesley, if the Covenant didn't go through, but some of us may resign if it does go through.

Lesley Bloke: Well fortunately I don't have to make that decision. I quit early.

Annie: If it goes through, Lesley, people like you still with us will be very uncomfortable, whereas if it doesn't go through the institution will be in turmoil and they'll be looking for scapegoats. Bishop Monarch will be unbearable. Our cousin, she's on later, she is different still.

Lesley Bloke: Well, you've raise the tone of the event Annie and I thank you. Wok, what else is in the pan?

Wok Pan: Very droll, very droll Lesley. Lesley, I share my MP3 player and I've never become weak and listless. Next up is someone you know, wearing a proper mitre and looking the part. Out you go my lovely, in the first of a number of outfits.

Lesley Bloke: Oh yes, it is Rachel Marsovenus. Strutt your stuff Rachel! Oh yes, it's almost like you've done this before. Come come. I'll stand up to talk to you [Lesley stands]. What's coming up in your diary, Rachel?

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiccough. I'm off to New York very soon, into the land of Anglican heresy! Actions should mean consequences, Lesley, but as an individual only recently ordained a deacon and a curate I need to learn. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Not a curate exchange to America?

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiccough. No no, I'm going to do an extended indaba. It is in a church in Daba County, Upper New York, so a number of us are going to do an indaba in Daba doing our debate input into the indaba really on how to bring the Americans within the terms of the flouted moritoria.

Lesley Bloke: So you will be one of the Flintstones.

Rachel Marsovenus: What? Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: It is what you call people who participate in indabas. Indaba Daba do, in your case. Wilma!!!

Rachel Marsovenus: I think you are taking your postmodernism a bit far, Lesley, after all I understand Frei and Lindbeck and they are postliberal and I've never lost the Gospel, Lesley. Lesley, can't you change? Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: You are going to be on again, very soon: by the way, that is a question mark on your mitre, Rachel.

Rachel Marsovenus: Pity you didn't stay, Lesley, hiccough, or you might have been wearing it yourself, even if it is a question mark. It's a crook, Lesley. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: I'll ask you later if there is a place for any sort of mitre on a female head in the future Church in England. Go get changed, Rachel.

Wok Pan: The question mark is a mark of the ambiguity of the newer bishop's office, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: So it is a question mark. Well it's not quite where Rachel is at, at the moment, Wok. What's next, Wok?

Wok Pan: Katie was a TV presenter before being ordained, Lesley, so as she gets to the catwalk you can call her over for that all important chat.

Lesley Bloke: [Sits down] Katie, come across here.

Katie: I'm actually a Methodist, Lesley - a minister. Did you never think of becoming a Methodist?

Lesley Bloke: Never gave it a thought. Why would I move sideways. But, er, tell me about your ministry.

Katie: Methodist Association of Youthful Clubs. We call it youthtful now because people are so much older. It's still, though, like the old joke, the Marriage Association of Younger Couples. I think God is telling us to merge with the Church in England, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: Don't bring God into it.

Katie: I think we won't start to grow again until we put back together a critical mass, and God says this will only happen when Methodism self-sacrifices and goes back into the Church from where it came. We will take bishops back; I would accept conditional reordination.

Lesley Bloke: And why has God decided so far that the Methodists have stayed distinct?

Katie: We needed to discover holiness, so that God saw that we were worshipping him properly. We discovered that, and we lost that, and now we must come back together.

Lesley Bloke: Can I ask you a question? Does your God really give a toss about what Methodism does when thousands are dead in Japan, many are killed in Bahrain and bombs are dropping on Libya?

Katie: God looks after his own, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: Well Katie, I hope God looks after you.

Katie: The youthful and me pray to God regularly and dearly, Lesley. I hope you pray, pray that you might be saved.

Lesley Bloke: Prayer is one of the things in my wardrobe, Katie.

Katie: But do you wear the clothes, or do they stay in the wardrobe?

Lesley Bloke: I wear what I put in my wardrobe, Katie; other people like you wear what I sent to the charity shop.

Katie: I only go to the high street, Lesley. On clergy income, less than TV I grant you, we don't need to go to charity shops.

Wok Pan: High street it is, but not for clergy shirts, and Sharon has a full round collar informal wear, Lesley, thus for work if in jeans and it suits the shape of her face.

Lesley Bloke: So that is Sharon now on the catwalk.

Wok Pan: Baring her middle, it states, 'We bishops are just the same as all other human beings.'

Lesley Bloke: What a relief. Sharon. Hello. You Anglican?

Sharon: I am a Rector and Vicar and have twenty five rural churches under my watch. I'm one of the last to have freehold. I learnt to drive last year too - the insurance is enormous.

Lesley Bloke: I have one church and a tiny congregation. How do you manage twenty five?

Sharon: Services at 7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12 midday, 1:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m, 4:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and we rotate with most of them opening once a month and some twice a month. Don't worry - I only write one sermon a week.

Lesley Bloke: And sizes of congregations?

Sharon: From about six to twenty. Trouble is, most say they don't know if the church opens that particular week, so we tend not to get new people.

Lesley Bloke: Why not close a few?

Sharon: The suffragan bishop wants to see which ones close naturally and then to rationalise only later.

Lesley Bloke: Presumably you have some lay Readers.

Sharon: No no, well they're a bit old now and have stopped. We have suggested some younger ones turned 60 become Non-Stipendary Ministers, with a crash course, but I'm afraid apathy is the main problem, as people like to do more leisurely things when they retire.

Lesley Bloke: You are young, Sharon, younger even than me I guess.

Sharon: I'm getting old, quickly, Lesley; look at me on a Sunday evening.

Lesley Bloke: But six to twenty multiplied by 25: still plenty to have coffee with after services.

Sharon: No no: done one service, in the car. Packed lunch, packed tea: every week and it's busy very soon too. Easter.

Lesley Bloke: I remember Easter. Well thanks, and Wok?

Wok Pan: It's that all embracing Star Trek look now, Lesley, with the crosses doubling up as communicators. We can't exactly beam them up, but they are coming on to the catwalk. It's Rachel again and her friend.

Lesley Bloke: No mitres. Star Trek in shades of purple then. The chaps in red, when they beamed down with the ship's leaders, they didn't last long.

Wok Pan: That was the original Star Trek, Lesley; these are definitely Next Generation. These are high flyers. Lesley. Rachel, Anna Spaniel.

Lesley Bloke: Rachel and a spaniel? Who's her friend then? Where's the dog?

Wok Pan: Anna Spaniel. Anna.

Lesley Bloke: Sorry, I'm a bit tired, poor attention span. Do come over and sorry Anna.

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiccough. We were ordained at the same time.

Wok Pan: You are forgetting something, Lesley. Our sponsor.

Lesley Bloke: Oh yes. Rachel or Anna. Do you like Cheeses of Nachos?

Anna Spaniel: All sorts of cheeses.

Lesley Bloke: But Cheeses of Nachos. Well, mild or mature? What is the answer?

Rachel Marsovenus: Jesus. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Cheeses not Jesus.

Rachel Marsovenus: Jesus is the answer to everything. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: That's an old one. BOO!!

Rachel Marsovenus: Hey?

Lesley Bloke: I'm trying to frighten you, to lose your hiccoughs.

Rachel Marsovenus: They sound like hiccoughs but its called the Belpering Condition. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Where did you get it?

Rachel Marsovenus: I was going around the Derby and Joan club. Hiccough. I was doing some healing, you get it from giving a kiss. I first noticed it when I gave my first sermon to my new priest in charge - well, actually, I didn't think it was very good so went to the vicarage and put it under the car's windscreen wipers and when I ran off I hiccoughed then.

Lesley Bloke: Surely it would be more common if it was just from kissing.

Anna Spaniel: It's not like a kiss we might do with a boyfriend or girlfriend. It's when you kiss someone's hair and you take in a hair follicle and it spreads it chemical and agitates. Hiccough. Oh shit.

Lesley Bloke: What happened?

Rachel Marsovenus: Well we didn't kiss, that's for sure. Gosh no. Hiccough. When? Hiccough. I don't kiss women. I, hiccough, hiccough, oh it's getting worse. I'm mature enough now not to kiss women like some teenage crush and I read Romans 1.

Lesley Bloke: Mature? I'll put that down as mature. Rachel here prefers mature Cheeses of Nachos.

Anna Spaniel: You came to me and I laid hands on you. I kissed your head afterwards.

Rachel Marsovenus: Phew, of course. Hiccough. Hell. Right. Well, all three of us, then: I'll lay hands on you Anna, you lay hands on me and we'll both lay hands on Lesley. Let's not kiss each other's heads afterwards. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: What for?

Rachel Marsovenus: Don't want to extend the hiccoughing. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Why me?

Rachel Marsovenus: Your MP3 Syndrome.

Anna: Actually, more people than you think get MP3 syndrome and not everyone feels tired. It isn't just chest pains like Adam said: it can swell the male stomach just as it swells the breasts.

Lesley Bloke: Leave me out; it's superstition. [Lesley Bloke stays sat]

Anna: No it's true.

Lesley Bloke: What Rachel wants to do.

Rachel Marsovenus: No no, we don't do superstition. It's the Holy Spirit. Anna. Kneel down Anna now please. [So Anna Spaniel kneels, Rachel lays hands on her head] O come down Holy Spirit, hiccough, and heal this child of God, through Christ our Lord. OK, me now. Hiccough. [She forgets and kisses Anna's head] Damn, oops; not damn at all.

Anna Spaniel: [Anna gets up, Rachel kneels] Hiccough. O come down Holy Spirit, hiccough, and heal this child of God, through Christ our Lord. [Anna doesn't kiss Rachel's head]

Rachel Marsovenus: Please can we lay hands on you?

Lesley Bloke: No. So we are now well into this fashion show, covered by Northern Catch and sponsored by Cheeses of Nachos.

Anna Spaniel: I'm sponsored by Jesus of Nazareth.

Rachel Marsovenus: Oh brilliant. That's brilliant. So am I, praise God. Hiccough. Hey, you didn't hiccough. Hiccough.

Anna Spaniel: Gosh, you're right.

Rachel Marsovenus: See, Lesley, that's the power of the Holy Spirit. Hiccough. Now will you come back? Change your mind and come back to the bosom of the Church.Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: No, and there are enough bosoms here in this fashion show.

Rachel Marsovenus: Can we please lay hands on you? It can't do any, hiccough, harm.

Lesley Bloke: Oh if you must. Ha - it's all part of the postmodern mix I'm sure, and you see it in emerging Church.

Anna Spaniel and Rachel Marsovenus: [Together - Rachel taking a slight lead] O come down Holy Spirit, and heal this child of God, and bring her back to the true faith, through Christ our Lord. [They don't kiss her head]

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiccough. Lesley, why not stand up in the power of the Lord. Throw away that chair!

Lesley Bloke: Well thank you anyway and I'll stay sat down if you don't mind.

Rachel Marsovenus: Well, God is in charge. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Thank you Rachel Marsovenus and Anna Spaniel.

Anna Spaniel: Hiccough. Oh bugger.

Wok Pan: Next up is the sexy look, right at the red end of the spectrum. It's Caroline, and she is on the catwalk. Say woo to that all you ladies and the boys will be excited too.

Lesley Bloke: What the fuhh?

Wok Pan: It's the bishop in the bedroom, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: Caroline. I don't know how you can, Caroline.

Caroline: I think this will make bishops inescapable.

Lesley Bloke: Well, you're not kidding. The men, and not a few women, will come and find you. But let me ask you a serious question. Do you think bishops should be in the bedroom, when it comes to clergy relationships?

Caroline: How do you mean?

Lesley Bloke: Well, in the Church in England, thank goodness not in mine now, clergy have standards to meet that are the old fashioned ones, and if two lovers go to the bedroom before marriage they are likely to find the bishop in the bed.

Caroline: I thought that was just for Civil Partnerships.

Lesley Bloke: Well it is, but on the grounds that the Church in England upholds heterosexual sex only and in marriage only, the Civil Partnership people can never have sex, and the heterosexuals must get married pretty quickly.

Caroline: Paul said: if you have to succumb to the urge, better to get married.

Lesley Bloke: But the Church in England rules. You know, like we'd only shared a music player but I've got MP3 Syndrome. Imagine getting a dose of the clap?

Caroline: Does the bishop know all that?

Lesley Bloke: Starts with the archdeacon, doesn't it, who is the eyes and ears of the bishop?

Caroline: I think my outfit is for the heterosexual, married bishop.

Lesley Bloke: But then it is not very ecumenical, is it?

Caroline: Why not?

Lesley Bloke: Because Rome and Orthodox don't have married bishops.

Caroline: They don't have women bishops, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: Sorry, poor attention span. I'm being distracted. I'm starting to forget. No that is true. Can only bishops order that costume?

Wok Pan: Anyone can order these costumes, Lesley, through my website and there's a link on the Northern Catch website and at Cheeses of Nachos. It's the postmodern spillover: we are all bishops now. Next up is Rose, and back to the daytime with Rose.

Lesley Bloke: Thanks Caroline. Gosh, that's quite usual, considering.

Wok Pan: It's the working girl and Rose is a Non-Stipendary Minister.

Lesley Bloke: I'll stand again. Rose is quite tall. [Stands up] Hello Rose.

Rose: I'm a teacher, and that's my income job, but I am going part time.

Lesley Bloke: Why part time?

Rose: The sheer workload.

Lesley Bloke: Too many churches again.

Rose: No no, that's easy compared with teaching. Teaching is like you need more hours than you've got.

Lesley Bloke: Ministry was similar. I'm all right now, like.

Rose: Nobody should be fooled by this. Ministers of religion do work some funny hours throughout the day but they have lots of time in between. They might not want to talk to x, y and z, but that's a lot different from planning lessons, doing them, doing all the marking and assessments and dealing constantly with unruly pupils.

Lesley Bloke: But going part time means less money.

Rose: It does because the NSM is ministry on the very cheap - you don't get paid at all. Lots of women have ended up as NSMs, and don't have the time to do it justice unless they are kept women or are retired. Very few could come here, to be in this fashion show.

Lesley Bloke: You have, though.

Rose: I'm off work for stress.

Lesley Bloke: So is part time a solution?

Rose: It's my only solution. But the Vicar, he said I can do more. I'm not doing more, and hear this - 'I am not doing more.'

Lesley Bloke: How many churches?

Rose: Seven, two in towns. They run full whack, the rest open fortnightly. We have a new deacon soon, a she, and she was trained non-residentially. Like mine, training on the cheap, and not good for formation. She'll be NSM.

Lesley Bloke: The thing is, though, that the Unitarians could do with more distance learning, indeed any distance learning for professional ministry. There could be a happy medium somewhere.

Rose: Well it will only grow more in the Church in England. Trouble is, some Conservative Evangelicals insist on college formation.

Lesley Bloke: That's inculturation for you: the need for the total institution to implant sectarian ideology. Well, thank you as time presses and we have still more for the catwalk. So yes it's Chesses of Nachos, let me remember, sponsoring this fashion show on Northern Catch. Wok. [Lesley sits down]

Wok Pan: At the red end but with shimmers of that all important purple, it is Claudia, who is in fact another NSM and a chef. The straps are unnecessary but indicate continuity between the body and the brain.

Lesley Bloke: Is this what postmodernism really means?

Wok Pan: Postmodernism is one big swimming pool, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: And this is obviously the shallow end. Claudia, come and see me.

Claudia: I am a liberal. You might be interested as you are the famous one. I have read your blog for two years now.

Lesley Bloke: Excellent. Well it doesn't have the readership it once had. Once you stop being Church in England, people stop being interested. The tension dissipates.

Claudia: It is a pity we cannot have a liberal Church.

Lesley Bloke: I am in a liberal Church. It is nothing else. Creedless, it ministers to atheists and theists; Christians, Religious Humanists, Easterns and Pagans; Rationalists and Romanticists.

Claudia: Yes, but this is like the Progressive Christian Network, it's all talk and gets nowhere. It's like arguing over the recipe and never cooking the thing.

Lesley Bloke: We do: we worship. Well what do you want?

Claudia: You undermine, dismantle everything.

Lesley Bloke: No I don't. No we don't. I used to, unless I told stories, but now I build up.

Claudia: I want a set belief in the reality of God, what is real to me and so many.

Lesley Bloke: No one is stopping you. Many of ours have just that belief.

Claudia: Yes but you don't state it, you undermine it. We could set up our own fellowship.

Lesley Bloke: What about the liberal ordinariate?

Claudia: It is undermined. No, we need not a philosophy but a set belief, a conviction.

Lesley Bloke: So that would be the basis of your Church. That's doctrine, not liberal.

Claudia: You see, you are doing it again. QED.

Lesley Bloke: Well, there are lots of choices out there, and you can make up your own. I can only wish you the best.

Claudia: I like the parish church in the Church in England.

Lesley Bloke: Problem solved then.

Claudia: Every time I look at your blog, I think there you go again and you undermine everything, and here we are - problem solved, but it isn't and we are back where I started.

Lesley Bloke: I don't know what to say.

Claudia: Which is not very helpful.

Lesley Bloke: But thanks for, really, a stunning, figure-hugging outfit that suits you very well.

Claudia: You're not bad yourself. Sexuality is not fixed, you know. Your outfit pleases me.

Lesley Bloke: We all have our stories. Wok!

Claudia: You know where to find me.

Wok Pan: Imagine if we had women bishops in the Eighties, Rachel. This is bishop's wear for the summer, and Maggie is displaying it wonderfully. It's for those warm summer afternoons when the bishop comes to open the garden party.

Lesley Bloke: Blimey.

Wok Pan: Why didn't you come to the dress rehearsal, Lesley? We held it in Hereford. You never seem to quite know what is going on. Cheeses of Nachos did offer to pay for all travel.

Lesley Bloke: Well I thought it would be better if I saw the outfits for the first time and could respond like a member of the public. And it is about honesty, saying you don't know what's been going on when you don't. Maggie come here. You agree with honesty, Maggie.

Maggie: I think this is telling me that women cannot be bishops.

Lesley Bloke: What?

Maggie: What if the bishop is pregnant? Who then is presiding at the Eucharist?

Lesley Bloke: Fuhh - they had this argument before. I mean it's hardly a new one is it?

Maggie: No, but say you put your arms out and make the blessing: what if the foetus puts its arms out?

Lesley Bloke: Or indeed a member of the congregation.

Maggie: No, but the foetus hasn't been baptised, and yet is part of the ordained. And the difference is that the pregnant woman might be consecrating men.

Lesley Bloke: Whoopee - so?

Maggie: It's not exactly Bishop Foetus, is it, Bishop Unborn Baby?

Lesley Bloke: Well, pray, tell me what the Church Fathers say about this?

Maggie: Precisely nothing; nothing I could find.

Lesley Bloke: Then - ask Rachel Marsovenus - consult Hooker because this allows you to make tradition does it not? You're not pregnant are you?

Maggie: I'm a single girl observing Issues in Sexuality.

Lesley Bloke: You're gay!

Maggie: I didn't say that. I'm cousin of Annie and Angie, and they are very hetero. I'm the most Anglo-Catholic in the family. We all set about being ordinands at the same time, you see.

Lesley Bloke: But you couldn't ever join the pope's ordinariate, could you?

Maggie: Second thoughts, second thoughts. I go as a lay person. I'd be entirely happy to wear this as a lay person, and indeed I think the Holy Father has much to teach us.

Lesley Bloke: God give me strength.

Maggie: Is that a prayer?

Lesley Bloke: Thanks Maggie; I think it just might count as a prayer. Wok?

Wok Pan: She's back, and it's everybody's favourite. We've got plenty of push in this dress, and it's Rachel Marsovenus on to that catwalk! She's got the diamond on everyone.

Lesley Bloke: Goodness me she's got some front. Do you have an MP3 player Rachel?

Wok Pan: She's got the diamond on everyone.

Lesley Bloke: Another chat then Rachel. Come over here.

Rachel Marsovenus: Please change your mind and come back. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: No.

Rachel Marsovenus: Jeeeesus, he really loves you, wants you to come back. Hiccough. Stuff all the theology in the world, it's just that relationship he wants with you.

Lesley Bloke: What are you on about?

Rachel Marsovenus: Can't you feel it, imagine it, see it in coming to you? Hiccough. I'll pray for you. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Can we have a sensible conversation?

Rachel Marsovenus: Jeeesus, I pray that our servant Lesley can receive the gift of the Spirit, the Spirit you sent Lord, and will be blessed again. Hiccough. Amen. What do you want me to say?

Lesley Bloke: You're evangelical. So what about God the Father, Christ, Church, Husband, wife: that pecking order. What do you say to the claim that you should be silent in church or at best lead a Sunday School or the Mothers' Union? Not a problem for liberals.

Rachel Marsovenus: No no, we mustn't think all women clergy, all women bishops, are liberals. Hiccough. It is the Trinity - equally - and then humanity. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: A conversation between God, a conversation between humans. Indabas, even.

Rachel Marsovenus: No not that. Hiccough. Well yes to conversations. The Trinity means God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all equal, all co-eternal. Nothing wrong with my doctrine! Hiccough. It's our job to talk. Like I said, I'm going into Daba to do Indaba. But God remains the same.

Lesley Bloke: So why do you bother with all that postliberal stuff?

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiccough. It's the emerging evangelicalism, the trend of the moment: we need to communicate. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Do you understand the crisis of objectivity that leads to such as Barth, Frei and Lindbeck? Because you ignore it when it suits you, and use it as a fashion - as a fashion like these clothes are a fashion. Are you, Rachel, just fashion?

Rachel Marsovenus: It is the same gospel but a different age. Hiccough. You're just postmodernism. So there! We can all play at that game, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: So did Jesus make any mistakes? What about the disciples? He got one wrong, didn't he.

Rachel Marsovenus: He had to pick Judas, hiccough; it wouldn't have worked otherwise.

Lesley Bloke: What about the last days?

Rachel Marsovenus: He said it'll come like a thief in the night. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: But not in thousands of years, or never.

Rachel Marsovenus: You used to think Jesus was perfect, hiccough, before 'the change'.

Lesley Bloke: The change? Perfection I did from the perspective looking upwards.

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiccough. Jesus came down from heaven. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Look, I wouldn't have seen eye to eye with you before 'the change', never mind now. Don't you ever think that, you know, you come out with all this stuff but actually it only speaks to the in crowd?

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiccough. But Jesus is in control.

Lesley Bloke: Nevertheless that is a stunning outfit and I'm sure you are young enough and sound enough in doctrine to climb the greasy pole to being a bishop, supposing that Evangelicals rule the roost. Plenty of time.

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiccough. Thanks anyway. I'll pray for you.

Lesley Bloke: I'll pray for you.

Rachel Marsovenus: Yeah, but who do you pray with and who to? My God is big. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Me and my small God. See you after. Wok, who is next?

Wok Pan: Two together and one's got the crook. It's Jenny and Georgina, and as they sit upon the catwalk one can just imagine - put those green lights on them - the grass, the sheep and the pastoral scene.

Lesley Bloke: Well I'll stay sat but I hope Georgina and Jenny can come over here. Yes, come on.

Jenny and Georgina: [Together] Hello.

Jenny: We'll sit by you like we did over there.

Lesley Bloke: Do you agree with the idea that the Church in England should be led by bishops but synodically governed? Because, if you look at the Covenant, it could be that the bishops have led but the governance may not quite be working.

Jenny: It's Catholic and Reformed, isn't it, I mean we have to expect direction from the bishops.

Georgina: But I think women will consult more. They will change the House of Bishops, and it will be less like a cabinet that must show no dissent, and more like a discussion.

Jenny: I would like to believe it. What I hope is that any humanising that comes from mixed sex bishops...

Lesley Bloke: That really would be different.

Jenny: You know what I mean, might mean hooking in the lost sheep like with this crook.

Georgina: But will we be more like The Episcopal Church? It's inevitable, isn't it.

Jenny: I would not like to believe it.

Lesley Bloke: Why not? It is shown statistically, at least in the Church in England: women tend to be more liberal. Not Rachel Marsovenus, but many of her colleagues. Me, I was one.

Georgina: That's right, but we are a both-and Church, and should always keep up that presentation of doctrine but an ability to be ambiguous about it, at least in private if not totally in public.

Jenny: That would be duplicity.

Georgina: But not if people don't know.

Jenny: They know already. The cat's out of the bag. We need to just manage it best we can, and see who it is this kind of Church can attract.

Lesley Bloke: I'm getting signs that we need to move on to - oh - our last model. Well I think you've both got very nice legs but I've not met bishops with bare feet in church.

Wok Pan: Bare feet are the Emperor's new shoes, Lesley. We are at our last but one, Lesley, a lovely lady, actually. It is the understated, slightly see-through, working clothes that say, 'Hey, I'm feminine.' You can see Yasmin there.

Lesley Bloke: I think I might just throw up after this. By the way, where are all the ethnicities?

Wok Pan: Couldn't get them from the present day and interested ranks of the clergy, which was a stipulation. Are you feeling ill, Lesley, or is it your lack of commitment to the new postmodern woman?

Lesley Bloke: As a clergywoman, Wok, I am, and I was the most committed to postmodernism in the whole Church of England and probably now in Unitarianism too. Don't question my postmodernism, Wok, because if there is one thing I believe in it is postmodernism. So Rachel is right. Yasmine then, come across. Tell me, how long before the Church in England has gay clergy in relationships fully accepted?

Yasmine: I'm not in the Church in England. I'm a member of the Liberal Catholic Church in Great Britain, the LCCGB, ordained as a deacon and then priest a month ago.

Lesley Bloke: So a bit like Perry Match.

Yasmine: Well no. Well yes, but he is in the LCCB.

Lesley Bloke: Oh, well how big is your congregation?

Yasmine: Well there isn't one as such, but what I do is hold a daily Mass in my chapel alone, and sometimes someone like my dad comes and joins me.

Lesley Bloke: Where is your chapel?

Yasmine: It's my garage. I take the car out and there is an altar at one end.

Lesley Bloke: Do you have any congregation at all?

Yasmine: I think we will hire a room in town and advertise. I might do a Reiki healing. But we do a lot of ordinations because, when we get members of a congregation on the Internet we interview them, get them CRB checked and then tend to ordain them.

Lesley Bloke: Restrictions? I mean, once the CRB is clear.

Yasmine: None at all. We ordain regardless of sex or sexuality. I should say I have started a funeral ministry, and this pays quite well if you do enough of them, and we could well build a congregation that way. I mean among those who come to the service.

Lesley Bloke: I'm doing the same.

Yasmine: And I cremate regardless of sexuality.

Lesley Bloke: Well we don't actually cremate them ourselves, and I think all churches bury the dead whatever their sexuality. I mean, otherwise, if they took discrimination to that level there'd be heaps of rotting bodies.

Yasmine: And I will do religious ceremonies for Civil Partnerships and marriages and even I did a three way one - but it was unofficial.

Lesley Bloke: They are until legalised. I think we'll stick to couples. So presumably you have female bishops.

Yasmine: Next year.

Lesley Bloke: You haven't got any?

Yasmine: Oh yes but I will be a bishop next year. I'll join the House of Bishops then as only they run the Church. I mean we are not Protestant so we don't have lay involvement. But then there are six bishops and fourteen clergy, and perhaps still nine known lay people, although that might be thirteen clergy as one left yesterday I think. Oh and Bishop Small might be going to join the Great Britain Liberal Catholic Church, the GBLLC.

Lesley Bloke: You in the LCCGB have disagreements with the GBLCC? And with the LCCB?

Yasmine: I think the GBLCC are more Latin Rite centred than we are. We allow a mixture of liturgies, and with more of a preference for Leadbeater's than the LCCB.

Lesley Bloke: That is most interesting. And do you work?

Yasmine: I'm a firefighter. Fully trained, and can use all the breathing apparatus. I've even done the funerals for people who've died in fires I've attended.

Lesley Bloke: Gosh. I hope there is no clash of interest there. Well, a strong, dynamic woman indeed. Many thanks.

Peter Levite: It's the part I think we've all been waiting for.

Lesley Bloke: Oh Peter, yes. Over to you. Time has moved on.

George Hudson: [Sound only] I'm glad you said that Peter. The weather follows this programme.

Peter Levite: Wok, it's over to you.

Wok Pan: Sponsored by Cheeses of Nachos you can now see all the girls come out in the catwalk with Rachel back in her Star Trek outfit alongside her friend Ms Spaniel. But we have a real treat now for you, because I said to a real live bishop, you madam need more confidence in your body.

Lesley Bloke: Oh hell's teeth, where is the exit?

Wok Pan: If you look above the exit, Lesley, you'll see a fantastic image of a bishop projected on there now. Turn around everybody! But we can do better than that. This is postmodernity big time. We took her out, and we dressed her up, but now as the girls themselves part the way, here she comes. Yes she is a bishop, from the Liberal Catholic Church of the British Isles, the LCCBI, and we say hello Bishop Elaine, and Bishop Elaine has now the confidence to strut her stuff wearing the pink stole of office because she Looks Good Naked. There she goes, there she goes, and there she pauses and shows you how it's done.

Lara Crofter: I know her from the club: she's that naturist clergywoman.

Peter Levite: Shush Lara, this is the magic of television remember.

Lesley Bloke: [Standing up, thenwalking towards the models] Well, that's postmodern television for sure. Ladies and gentlemen, I think they say, we have surely had a most interesting event that we have organised today, thanks to the sponsorship provided by Cheeses of Nachos. I am the Unitarian Minister of Wykkyfish, so I look forward to any of you whatsover coming to the congregation, even the odd one extra, and I'm sure we can arrange to rent our space out to Yasmine or even Elaine here and they can build a congregation, probably quite easily in Elaine's case.

Peter Levite: George, where are you?

George Hudson: [His projected image replaces that of Elaine, over the exit] It is one warm day here at Doncaster station, as it is warm in there at Wykkyfish.

Peter Levite: Once upon a time you'd have done a decent forecast.

George Hudson: I've been too busy watching the fashion show, Peter.