Tired of recalcitrant clergy that refuse to toe the episcopal line? Find that the carrot of a possible prebendal stall is no longer enough to guarantee compliance? Worried that abolition of the freehold is too far off to guarantee the desirable degree of deference? Fear not, a new up to the minute technological answer is at hand. The electric dog collar!

At the touch of a button the disobedient clerical creature can be trained with an instant burst of electric corrective therapy. After a few jolts a day he will rush to pay his quota, vote for Methodist reunion and rescind all resolutions in his parish.

David Rendel (Liberal Democrat MP for Newbury) has tried to get a Bill through Parliament banning these vital aids. Under the banner headline ‘MP seeks ban on electric dog collars’, Brother Rendel SSF is quoted as warning that ‘misuse can be unintentional or in a fit of anger’ at the creatures’ refusal to be trained ‘or even – perish the thought – in the hands of a sadist’.

The Bill has little chance of becoming law. But before the bishops get excited, as yet electric dog collars are only available for real mutts.

Porn Again Christians?

Wicked Westminster Council has come up with a cunning ploy to get prostitutes and pornography shops out of Soho. (Thus reported the Evening Standard). By getting the ‘girls’ to register as a business and pay tax the Council could then claim that they were illegally operating a business from a residential premises and move them on. Ah! The tricks these mean-minded moralists play to impose their reactionary and judgemental views on a liberated and pluriform society.

Fortunately for the ‘girls’ a petition (a sort of a Magna Tarta) of some 10,000 names has been raised (not all of them punters obviously) objecting to the dastardly deed. With true conservationist spirit, to keep the historic ambience of Soho, that great traditionalist the Vicar, Claire Herbert, has added her weight to the defence of the rights of ‘the working girls’.

Just a matter of time before the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence lead a flagellant procession down Peter Street singing ‘Bind us together Lord’. What exciting times for the Church.

Depreciating assets

Everyone is familiar with the dodgy ISA/Bond adverts. ‘We are the top performers’, they shriek, ‘a first quartile’, ‘best performing fund’ etc etc. Further down, in the small print, you read that, with them your £1,000 of a year ago is now worth only £820. If you’d invested with some other rascal, it would be only £750.

So it was, with great panache, that Andreas Whittam-Smith (First Estates Commissioner) unveiled the triumphant performance of the Church Commissioners year. The pension fund (and episcopal slush fund) has only lost 10 per cent of its assets this year. ‘Whitters’, a former editor of the Independent and a Licensor of tasteful titillation to the British cinema, described it as ‘a rainy day’. Pensioners should not panic. There is plenty of kit left to flog – and it will be. The Church of England fire sale will continue until further notice. The contract vicar will be fired and the vicarage is for sale.

Socialism Costs More

Remember the Carey bear? For a mere £60 to Canterbury Cathedral you could have your own comforting bedside teddy bear, a look-a-like of Archbishop George Carey . All part of Carey’s caring capitalism reordering of the CofE! On those long lonely nights in the presbytery bedroom when the CofE seemed one large conspiracy against Catholic teaching, help was just a cuddle away. Despite all evidence to the contrary the Carey bear reminded you how warm and snuggly and affirming the Anglican establishment really was.

Well, comfort comes a little more expensive these days. As Carey bears are transferred to the ‘remainder’ shelves, new fuzzy socialist Rowan Bears (hand made to order) will replace them at a mere £120! They are perfect companions for a bedtime story, for example, the one about big bad Arius. He turned out, as Uncle Rowan reminds us, not to be a monster heretic at all but just a hidebound traditionalist who couldn’t cope with anything new.

Throwing the Book

The Old Bailey was treated to a rather inarticulate outbreak of upfront evangelism recently. A category ‘A’ prisoner, on a firearms charge, refused to give his name and, presumably seeking to enlighten Judge James Wadsworth, passed him a hard-back Bible in an overarm motion at some speed. As ‘Wadders’ managed to duck the Bible ‘bouncer’, he did not feel the full impact of the Word of God.

Going West

People tuning in to ITV to see the new series on the Diocese of Truro got a bit of a surprise recently. To the rhythm of crashing guitars and a pounding drum beat, an immaculate and photogenic pair of singers leapt up-and-down crooning the praises of God while an enthusiastic audience of all ages, hundreds strong, clapped and sang along. The preacher spoke of God as ‘the head honcho and the big cheese’ while the audience cheered life-saving testimonies.

Mercifully this all turned out not to be the Diocese of Truro at all but the ‘Abundant Life Church’ back, as the presenter said, by popular request. To accommodate this excitement ‘Truro’ was shunted back half an hour. The first episode turned out to be extended appeal for the maintenance of old buildings, clergy cuts and the now familiar mantra, ‘new ways of being church’.

One mystery was solved however in the pre-show publicity. In an article entitled, ‘The Odd Squad’, Bishop Bill Ind told the Daily Mail that, via the Prime Minister and the Queen, he was ‘secretly head- hunted’ for Truro. So that’s how it’s done.

Fat is a fundamentalist issue

Over 50 per cent of Yanks go to Church. A huge proportion of them are fundamentalist Christians. Far too many of them are fatties!

Dr Don Colbert, a Christian physician, wants them to be more fundamentalist still! Get rid of the hamburger and fries culture, the fast food, TV tray-solo meals and get back to the way Jesus dined! Eat with friends, take your time, consume plenty of fish, olive products, wine, white meats (lamb and calf), bread, salad, vegetables etc.

Colbert discovered that the one sin his patients will not repent of is gluttony, so he has written a special cookbook for the cholesterolically challenged Christian. It’s called, What Would Jesus Eat?

If that deals with the Evangelicals’ portly problems, perhaps he could write a sequel to combat the expanding abdominal slopes on Catholic clergy – What Would Jesus Drink?