About Rambling Rector

Church of England Parish Priest

Misconceptions

NuevaVizcaya,Philippines

Stalagmites in the Philippines – or are they?

Sorry, girls and boys and all stations between in these woke times, but this piece is a bit churchy to start with. If you stay with it, it becomes less so, and then rather exciting.

Christmas is over again. Somewhere in the last few weeks you’re likely to have heard the word virgin. You may even have heard it in the context of the Biblical nativity stories. If so, you should know that the use of virgin arose because of a mistranslation long, long ago of the Hebrew almah –  a young woman of childbearing age – which has nothing to do with what we call virginity.

That mistranslation – GOK when it happened – has completely fouled up Christianity and its attitude to sex.

Theories about the paternity of Jesus have been around for well over 200 years, but you’re unlikely to have heard them in sermons, mine excepted. We know nothing about where Jesus’ Y chromosome came from, but one thing’s for sure: Jesus wasn’t born parthenogenetically – he would have been she. That would be taking ‘wokery’ too far.

Some people who should know better think the virgin birth is the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. This is a mistake. That doctrine concerns the conception of Mary, not Jesus. The idea is that since Mary was chosen to be Jesus’ mama, she must have been special, sinless from conception. SWMBO has just interjected as I dictate into my computer “why?” A good question.

Let me repeat: the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is all about Mary. It has nothing to do with Jesus. IMHO it’s piffle, and if you read my MA dissertation available on this website (see Theotokos above, or click here), you’ll find out why. In short, we are all Marys. Mary is one of us.

So that’s another misconception.

Now to the modern day.

The phrase “fell pregnant” is often heard. “She fell pregnant”, or “I fell pregnant”. Obviously in the latter case the “I” wouldn’t be me: it’s reported speech such as you might read in the account of a court case, yer honour. SWMBO looms large in today’s wee fantasy: she’s just this minute told me that sometimes the phrase “catch on” is used, as in, for example: “they had no protection, but thankfully, she didn’t catch on”. This was new to me despite my 69.5 yeas of terrestrial existence, and my dissolute life.

There must be a positive plethora of penises, invisible and erect, cluttering up the pavements. How else can you account for “I fell pregnant”?

Imagine walking along minding your own business, tripping over something, and happening to fall, or catch on, in such a way as to find yourself “sitting” on an erect member ready to shoot. Incredible really.

Would this be an immaculate conception?

Reader, I have to tell you that I find the image of a pavement as a forest of sturdy cocks primed for action peculiarly mesmerising. It’s the stuff of nightmares. Or do I mean ecstasy?

Finally, I ask you to note that the correct word for the male member is cock. Penis is a Latin word meaning little tail, so merely a euphemism. Phallus is Greek for wooden pole. A cock is defined as “a short tube for the passage of liquid” – as in stopcock* (look it up if you don’t believe me). I suppose the use of penis arose when the matrons of ancient Rome needed a euphemism: “come on, Flavius, lunch is ready, so put your little tail away and go and wash your hands.” Imagine what would happen in our hospitals if doctors and nurses stopped using the Latin euphemism and started using the proper English word. **

So many misconceptions.

* or ballcock. So many opportunities for ribald utterances there.

** I thank my friend and erstwhile colleague Tom Farrell for this linguistic gobbet.

The Holy, Blessed and Glorious Onion

220px-Moscow_05-2012_StBasilCathedralEthical veganism having been declared a philosophical belief (here) provides me with the new religion I was seeking for retirement.

The onion has more than twelve times as much DNA as you or me, so I shall worship the Holy, Blessed and Glorious Onion. I can set up onion temples with onion domes. I can invent liturgies in which clouds of incense mask onion odours. I can make garlands of onions, wear them, and do with onions what SWMBO does with them when she stuffs a chicken.

I can still eat chicken, of course, because in the US it’s considered a vegetable. Some people are vegetables, so I can eat them too. To quote Jonathan Swift, who proposed eating babies to alleviate Dublin’s poverty problem (A Modest Proposal), “I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasee, or a ragoust.” I’m sure that well-cared for adults would be just as succulent.

A vegan was recently reported are saying that he didn’t like using buses because of the possibility that insects would be harmed in the making of the journey. Surely, that’s a certainty, not a possibility? Not only do I feel for the insect collection that develops on the windscreen and bumper, but also the poor dears that are squashed under the tires. I am well-known as holding the view that the only proper place for a cat is under the wheel of a heavy truck, but the possibility of an insect being squashed there is much greater than that of a cat being so flattened. Unfortunately.

Vegans need not only to ensure that they ingest enough protein, but also give serious consideration to what happens should they find themselves with an infection. You see, the things I really feel sorry for are our fellow inhabitants of planet earth, bacteria and viruses. The way that we use antibiotics in the genocide of these poor defenceless creatures is deplorable and indefensible.

Home thoughts from back home

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Michael Thomas Bass, MP outside Burton Town Hall

See Home thoughts from abroad

Observations and reflections after a Dublin Yuletide

It’s not wheat that bothers me, it’s yeast. It’s taken a long time for me to realise it.

In Dublin I stuffed my face more or less continuously for five days with soda bread, smoked salmon, and lashings of butter.

Not a bother.

Dublin airport fry-up at 8 am today, with one slice of ordinary toast, was another story. Copious sweating within minutes.

Soda bread – good.

Wheat – not good, probably.

Yeast – evil.

So the ideal place for me to live is, of course, Burton upon Trent—a town full of breweries with a pervasive hoppy and yeasty atmosphere. I think not. It’s God’s way of telling me that Irish soda bread is divine, which I’ve long suspected.

Change of subject

So far, Ireland has benefited from brexit with firms moving there from the UK. Whether that mini-boom continues remains to be seen. I hope it does for the sake of my Irish pensions.

But when my friends in Dublin raised brexit with me, they spoke to me in a “does he take sugar?” kind-of way, as if I, representing all the English, were a sad, self-harming imbecile. I assured them that I voted remain, but nevertheless I felt—feel—ashamed to be English. In truth, I’m probably not: more likely a mixture of Celtic, Viking and Slav.

My offspring are eligible for Irish, therefore EU, citizenship, living there since 1988 and intending to remain. One has, the other I think will. I don’t qualify, though if Scotland does the deed I could do it that way.

GOK what brexit will do for the island of Ireland. Economically I hope that the six counties and the Republic continue to grow together. Politically—who knows? A “border” of some sort between NI and Great Britain? What a bloody mess. Yet another example of the arrogance and ignorance of perfidious Albion.

Jonathan Swift would have had something to say. He is worth re-reading.

My Christmas homily if I were giving one

3306734280_7aeb48a6d5_z-e1573696472514Imagine the birth. Mary pushing, shoving, moaning, yelling.

Imagine the placenta, umbilical cord, blood, fluid.

Imagine the mess.

Imagine, for a moment, that the stable and animals are not fiction.

Imagine the noise, the animal dung, the hay getting places it shouldn’t.

Imagine the mess.

The nativity is messy. The infant is born into mess. My life is messy. Your life is messy. If you say it’s not, I don’t believe you. Being human is messy. But being human is what the nativity is all about.

People try to clean up Jesus. People try to clean up God. But the truth is that God is not present only in things that have to be cleaned up. God does not demand tidiness or purity. God does not demand cosmetics or fig leaves to cover up bits of us that we think will thus be hidden. God does not demand that we pretend.

God is present in your mess and mine — the mess of the world.

We have no need to pretend. As it says at the beginning of St John’s Gospel, every single one of us is a child of the Divine. Just as I am, just as you are.

The message of the incarnation is that you and I can be like Mary — agents of the divine, of God, of Jesus. Let Jesus grow in you as Mary did. As it says in verse 4 of “O little town”, O holy child of Bethlehem, be born in us today. Everything you do to make life a bit better for somebody else is you acting as God’s agent. Everything you do to make life more difficult or unpleasant for somebody else is you acting as Satan’s agent. Choose well.

Enjoy being human. Help others to enjoy being human. Help others to glimpse joy and delight, even if only for a moment. Then, you are letting the holy child be born in you again and again.

The Christmas message is not about making yourself sick on chocolates, or stuffing your face with turkey, or arguing about what to watch on TV, or about reliving your childhood. It’s not about going to church so that you don’t have to go again for another twelve months.

It’s about bringing joy to the world — and helping others do likewise.

Happy Christmas.

Home thoughts from abroad

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Royal Dublin Fusiliers Memorial

Oh, to be in Dublin now that nollaig’s here,

So I went, two days before Christmas.

Sunny and cold – my favourite weather. Some like it hot, others not. SWMBO says I’m a dog.

How can I tell its not England?

Well of course, there’s euro and speed limits in kilometres and elegant Georgian architecture and the green, white, orange trídhathach na hÉireann.

Ah sure, don’t waste my time: you’d expect them. Anything else?

Ermmm. Well now, let’s see.

  • Lots and lots of young people.
  • Lots of well-dressed people.
  • People from all over the world, some visiting, some at home here.
  • Happy looking families, you know, mum, dad, girls, boys.

Hang on a minute, you can’t say that. It contravenes woke gender fluidity stereotype laws.

Feck off.

  • Street corner flower sellers.
  • Cheerful faces.
  • Healthy faces.
  • Clean streets.
  • No really fat people. Haven’t seen a single one.
  • No people on mobility scooters. Haven’t seen a single one.

In Dublin now.

Election and empire

Untitled1To be honest, I haven’t been that bothered about the General Election.

Corbyn is unelectable in any circumstances: whatever the truth of the matter, he was and is perceived as pro-terrorist, anti-Semitic, and financially irresponsible.

I like many Labour policies, but I most strongly object to their murdering fetuses stance, their choose-your-own-gender nonsense and all that flows from it, the clamping down on dissent against illiberal “liberal” orthodoxy, and the Islingtonian sect mentality (the C of E is developing a similar sect mentality—thank God I’ve retired—but the C of E is irrelevant so it doesn’t matter).

I like some Conservative policies. We should. protect our borders. That doesn’t mean we should repel refugees: far from it, we should welcome them. We should expect immigrants to respect our society. We should  be thrifty. We should  take responsibility for ourselves, especially our health, for at present there is an expectation that the NHS will sort our stupid decisions (try to slither through the alcohol-induced vomit on the floor of A&E on a Saturday night). But I wonder when was the last time a Prime Minister was so openly dishonest, untrustworthy and apparently lacking in decency.

As for brexit, I voted remain. With daughter and son in Dublin and pensions in Euro, it made sense personally. There is something about togetherness that is admirable. Yes, the EU is run by seemingly arrogant, self-seeking and unelected suits, but one way to deal with that would have been to change it from the inside. But it is as it is, and Владимир Владимирович will be pleased.

But one thing niggles at me. I have this feeling that a very significant factor in the leave vote was concern about immigration. If so—I’ll be condemned for this—I rather suspect that it’s immigration not from the EU, but from the former Empire. Leaving the EU will do nothing about that.

Response to Retirement 1

c2RR writes: not long after I’d posted Retirement 1, I had this response from a retired priest. I have her permission to post it — it’s worth reading.

I can relate to a lot of what you say. I’ve been out of Church now for about 15 years and it took me an awful long time to get rid of enough rage to be able to recover the sense of the divine chuckle at the silliness of most of it.

When I went forward for ministry, women were not ordained at all, just licensed as Deacons, so I spent much of my time being regarded as the freak, and forcing a pathway to acceptance. Of course now the C of E is so desperate for ministers that women are accepted because they are willing, as a result of cultural pressure, to fill the vacancies. That, of course, will change as new generations of women, my children’s generation, no longer see that women have to be submissive, willing to do anything, to take on a job.

The saddest thing I’ve witnessed is the retreat of the Church from engagement with the world as it is for most people. When I was ‘called’, liberation theologians from South America were essential reading for us. David Jenkins was Bishop of Durham, and constantly in the media for standing on the side of the marginalised. In our own diocese, the then Bishop of Stafford was out on the streets marching against Thatcherism. I suppose this is what you mean by “being Jesus” rather than “talking Jesus” – the latter being something that makes me nauseous.

As you can see, the rage is still present.

As for speaking out—it takes its toll. The state of the Church Rampant (irony alert) now makes me sad. I see rural clergy with six churches and no ministerial help, up against all the things you mention in terms of nonsense from the institution. I would like to get involved but, as I’m constantly reminded by my partner, it is no longer my problem.

Maybe this is just as well, for beyond the confines of the institutional church there is plenty of life, and contributions to “The Kingdom” can come in other ways.