A recent article in The Sunday Times by John Humphrys (‘Mr. Rude’ of the Today programme) was entitled, ‘An atheist’s creed may be the saving of the Church’. (Judging by the recent Cost of Conscience survey of clergy beliefs, salvation should be just around the corner) .

Humphrys points out what most of us have known for a long time that the God slot (‘Thought for the Day’) is frequently banal, implausible and downright embarrassing to believers. Often sounding like an Alan Bennett parody and couched in the breathy tones of a sub-standard counsellor addressing a nursery class, it is, the BBC had decided, in need of ‘refreshing’.

The answer, it seems, is to start including contributions from agnostics and militant atheists. This should come as little surprise with a Head of Religious Affairs from these categories himself.

Humphrey’s article is chock full of the kind of unbridled tosh that he would never tolerate in an interviewee. Did than you know, for example, that the Bishop of Oxford resembles the self-effacing Welsh poet-priest R.S. Thomas in his dislike of a hierarchical authoritarian church ? Or that uncompromising religious teaching does not fill churches but evangelical clergy do ?

What Humphreys does not acknowledge is that ‘Thought for the Day’ is so appalling because, for many years now, it has been an orthodoxy free zone for Christians. While Angela Tilby and Christina Rees continue to feminise the faith and Jumbo Jim Thompson gibbers on well into retirement, the last kosher contributor received his P 45 in 1996.


It was the saintly Thomas More who said that he would rather cut a man’s throat than let him read Wycliffe’s Bible. It was, admittedly, an extravagant way of showing his prescience. Get rid of the Pope, everyone becomes a Pope in his own conventicle, and you have more Protestant sects than McDonald franchises.

Now ‘Wickers’, a martyr for the English tongue, has been subjected to a fate worse than death. Reincarnated as a large bearded robot, ‘Wickers’ is the star of ‘Scriptorium’ – an £8m. religious theme park in Florida. Visitors can walk through a recreation of Old Jerusalem in ‘the Holy Land experience’ or sign up for a cruise on Noah’s Ark (complete with robot giraffes). As the finger of God writes the Commandments on a simulated rock, why not relax at the Oasis Cafe with a Camel Cooler and a Goliath Burger?

All in the best possible taste.


Where did the writer of ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ get his inspiration?

Apparently Richard Curtis was at a wedding when it struck him as ‘perverse’ that ‘bachelor men are in charge of things that would more suit a woman’. He went away and created the lovely Dawn French as the enormous, charming and utterly muddled chocoholic (Rev. Geraldine) in charge of a bunch of bigots and a halfwits (the local church).

Dibley, so the propaganda goes, has been an enormous success in converting churchgoers to women priests.

Dawn modelled her character on Joy Carroll – a former South London priestess now married to American radical Jim Wallis. Apparently when Dawn first visited Joy ‘there were sufficient empties lined up in the kitchen to reassure me this girl knew how to party.’

How marvellous.


A spokesperson for the Bishop of Lincoln, President of the Modern Churchpersons Union (MCPU), an organisation revealed by the recent Cost of Conscience survey to have considerably less Christian credentials than a meeting of Agnostics Anonymous, said the bishop would like to see the methodology of the report.

Of course the Bishop could simply have given his wholehearted assent to the Creed and resigned from MCPU. The methodology of the survey is a good deal more open and transparent than the methodology by which the Crown Appointments Commission managed to shoehorn John Saxbee in as Bishop of Lincoln. Perhaps Uncle George would like to explain how a man, whose organisation registers 8 % conviction on the Virgin Birth and 12 % on the bodily Resurrection, came to be Father in God to the ancient Catholic diocese of Bishop Edward King?


The most famous divorcee since Moses, Sun Myung Moon, head of the Moonies and fabulously wealthy international businessman is in a spot of bother again.

Having bought up 2 million acres of Brazil, including 300 miles of the Paraguayan border which apparently includes some sensitive drug running and money laundering routes, Moon now finds himself an object of intense interest to Brazilian police and intelligence services.

As Moon was quite innocently trying to re-create ‘heaven on earth’ and bring ‘peace and world prosperity’ to a ‘ huge country with a small mind’, it is downright ungrateful of the Brazilian authorities to start investigating baseless allegations of tax evasion and immigration violations. (Moon spent time in an American prison for similar outrageous misunderstandings in the 1980s).

The Brazilian authorities may also be guilty of blasphemy as Jesus, Buddha and God have told Moon that he is ‘the Saviour, the Messiah and King of Kings of all humanity’.

Perhaps Moon should cut his losses and help General Synod with its marriage policy. He chooses the couples, marries them in a huge job lot and then they work for him for peanuts ever after. Marriage policy and financial crisis solved in one go.

Beam me up Scotty !


Which 20th C technological invention has had the greatest impact on our lives? Diana Murrie is in no doubt. It is the contraceptive pill. The Pill meant ‘women could take control of their lives without their husbands/partners knowing, thus creating irrevocable change’. It has given ‘our daughters and granddaughters the gift of freedom to choose where we had none’.

Who is Diana Murrie ? CofE National Childrens’ Officer and former Head of Prayer and Spirituality for the Mother’s Union.


Want to impress the liberal intelligentsia and stop offending non-christians ?

Time for inclusive language and the end of ‘cannabalistic’ imagery in the Eucharist says the Bishop of Oxford in his latest theological potboiler.

Pimm’s and grissini anyone ?