All right thinking people will surely applaud the BBC’s long overdue decision to pension off George Austin from Thought for the Day. His tiresome and repeated attempts to bring God into almost everything have endangered the liberal credibility of the modern church. The huge and supportive postbag he regularly receives is further evidence of the serious need for further re-education of the laity.

Apparently two years ago he was up for the chop, when some “high up” pointed out that he was the only token speaker left for orthodoxy. And the axe was temporarily suspended.

Now, it seems, George was going of his own accord. He had given the BBC notice that he was stopping at his 100th broadcast. Once again the powers that be have pre-empted a graceful retirement.

The vacancy leaves the BEEB in a dilemma. Who to put alongside the resident great thinkers, like Bishop Richard Harries and Rabbi Lionel Blue?

The criteria of more non-christians, women, improved audience figures and immediate relevance could be met quite simply – Friday morning’s slot should be given to Mystic Meg!


Congratulations to the Archdeacon of Sheffield, Stephen Lowe, for relaunching the Nine O’ Clock Service and continuing, fearlessly, to champion alternative worship.

The Easter liturgy began with breathing exercises to help the worshippers “centre down” while a woman sprayed the church with lavender cologne. Slide projections of sunflowers and strawberries dappled the walls to the accompaniment of “ambient” taped music.

The Archdeacon presided over a “releasing ritual” as members laid their hands on a “grieving stone” to release their pain and anger.

However it is unclear whether it was a valid Communion as the traditional Big Macs and dry ice were missing.


A blow for men’s lib has been struck at York by John Doyle, Director of the Mystery cycle. Having cast a woman as God and caused a furore, he has now done the decent thing and got a woman to play Lucifer. This is a bit of a comedown for actress Kate Thomson who was the Virgin Mary in 1992. Perhaps Mr. Doyle would consider a man for that part lest they feel they have no part in the economy of salvation.


The Revd Royston Such, who married his curate four months after divorcing his wife, has come up with an ingenious solution to his latest problem. When the Bishop of Basingstoke removed the curate’s licence, Revd. Such appointed her as his lay assistant. Who could argue with that?


Mr Martin Church, manager of the Whiplash Club, ended up in court after a police raid on his premises. They found 250, mainly middle aged, people indulging in bondage, sex acts, sadomasochistic performances, some “thrashed ‘til they screamed and bled”, a man dressed as a schoolgirl beaten on a cross etc. etc. Indeed an average Friday night in Putney.

Mr Church was acquitted of running a disorderly house (one wonders what would qualify) after the judge, Peter Jackson, told the jury to decide on the basis of what they thought was acceptable behaviour in 1996.

Where else would you expect such an exciting precedent to be set but… Southwark Crown Court.


Priest: N. Your divorce has passed through all the legal stages and is now absolute. On the day of your marriage you joined hands and made solemn vows. Today you stand alone and no-one holds your hand. Do you wish to renounce the promises you made in the name of God? N: I do

Priest: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel N: Who keeps his promises for ever.

(The wedding ring is returned to be sold in aid of Christian Aid)

N: Father, I give you this ring as a sign that my marriage is over and I am free to live my life as I choose, within the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Priest: You stand is the presence of God, you are legally divorced. You have been released from your vows, You have given up your ring. You are no longer married. N: Thanks be to God.

The above is not from Private Eye but one more example of the parodying para-liturgies used without discipline or censure in the C of E. Comment is superfluous.


When Bishop Bill Westwood arrived at Peterborough in his sixtieth year, he suddenly became very proper and reverted to William (Petriburg). Rumour reaches 30 Days that a similar fate is overtaking Bishop “Call me Jim” Thompson (b.1936). The man who changed his diocesan symbol from the cross to the British Gas pilot light (Motto: “Don’t you just love being in control?”) has recently been reported as asking people to call him James!

Perhaps it is all part of the syndrome of pre-senile nomenclature.


With the row merrily blazing around Southwark Cathedral’s planned celebration of Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement’s 20 years and Bishops Gladwin and Williamson hotly contesting the title of “Former Evangelical of the Year” fuel has been poured on from an all too predictable liberation quarter.

The diminutive and dynamic Desmond Tutu, Archbishop of Cape Town, has written a sizzling foreword to a book of homosexual liturgies claiming that a traditional biblical understanding is “near ultimate blasphemy”.

Sunday mornings, when there are no baptisms, may yet resound to such prayers as:

“We are no longer a people of the closet but a people of parades, rainbows, and quilts called to lead your people in a march for liberation” and

(The one coming out steps forward)

“I praise God for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are the works of God – that I know very well. Therefore I am proud to say, “I am a (lesbian / gay / transgender) child of God”

(We were baptised too – SCM – £12.95)