For a brief moment bishops’ expenses were in danger of going into orbit. Episcopal butlers rushed to order celebratory champers as the mid-March broadsheets fell open at the obituaries. There it was, a sight to rejoice liberal hearts everywhere in the Anglican Communion – Geoffrey Kirk RIP.

The plaudits were effusive. ‘Precocious brilliance’, ‘bright, clear, cool-headed’, ‘he brought a clear unpedantic analysis of the issues to a jargon-littered field’, ‘he liked to produce a historically valid solution based on reason and evidence rather than the theoretical direction of modernizing scholars’, ‘charming and generous – particularly over the dinner table’.

Corks back in the Bolly, bish! This was the obituary of Professor Geoffrey Kirk, war hero and former Regius Professor of Greek (Cantab).

The Lion of Lewisham is still at large.


An English parish priest recently agreed to do ‘holiday duty’ in a small rural Church of Ireland benefice. A series of instructions were posted to him underlining that nothing in his conduct of the services should hint at Catholic practice! (It is widely reckoned that the Church of Ireland introduced women priests, not out of conviction or repentance of Protestant misogyny but as a further indication of its rejection of Catholic order). Underlined on the visiting priest’s crib sheet were the words ‘No manual actions!’

On his first Sunday he arrived in good time to find the church locked. Five minutes before the service a verger turned up – without a key. A warden was sent for. He arrived, several minutes after the official start of the service, along with the congregation, with a key to the door but no key to the safe. No access to the ‘plate’ meant no Holy Communion. So, matins it was. But more serious than the lack of chalice and pattern was the inaccessibility of the offertory dish! Eventually someone found an old Milk Tray box in the recesses of the hymn cupboard.

As the offertory was handed over to the peripatetic priest, he was heard to jest,

‘And all because Our Lady loves Milk Tray.’

He was not invited back.


Lena Lolishvili, a Georgian spiritual healer with powers of clairvoyance, is causing outrage in deepest Lithuania. Cardinal Backis, the senior Catholic hierarch there, has denounced her as one of Satan’s operatives.

The lovely Lena has been brought in by President Rolandas Paskas, a former stunt pilot, to use her astrological and psychic powers to guide the Government. President Paskas is in good company. Recent heads of state to be assisted by psychic superwomen include the Reagans, the Blairs and Princess Diana.

While Ronnie was planning ‘Star Wars’, Nancy wouldn’t let him get out of bed without a favourable star chart. While Tony has been planning the Iraq adventure, the lovely Cherie has been consulting Carole Caplin, a former member of the mind-bending cult, Exegesis, and getting Carole’s mum to contact the dead for up-to-the-minute advice. Princess Diana’s legion of paranormal advisers, tragically, foresaw everything but what actually happened to her.

History is littered with the debris of these advisers as King Saul, were he able, would be willing to testify.


When the Social Affairs Unit published Called to Account recently, it got an avalanche of publicity. The collection of hard-hitting essays on the crisis in numbers, finance, liturgy, mission and morale in the Church of England got coverage in all the broadsheets, Church press and commercial radio. Even the liberal agnostic BBC couldn’t ignore it. To ensure balance they chose one of the essayists, Fay Weldon, a famous novelist but very new Christian, to confront the great modernizer, Dean Slee of Southwark. Given the fragile state of Southwark’s economy and parlous electoral rolls, Dean Slee’s defence was regal but unconvincing. His implication that whenever he visits churches they are well-attended reminded many of our readers of the story about Edward VII. The playboy King once recommended the vicar of a fashionable South Coast resort for episcopal preferment on the grounds that, ‘He must be doing a good job. Whenever I go there, the church is full.’

Dean Slee is obviously a one-man revival movement!


Devotees of the Glastonbury Festival may be delighted by its international nature this year but a little taken aback by its ecumenical breadth.

Regulars will be thrilled to welcome back from Australia Bishop David Silk, who took up voluntary exile after the little local unpleasantness of 11th November 1992.

But the afficionados will be intrigued by the presence of the preacher before Benediction – one Lord Carey of Clifton!

Sadly missing from the procession and adoration of the Blessed ‘Uncle George’ (for it is he) will be the hundreds of Catholic priests whose ministries were removed from the Church of England by his exciting innovations, and who would find ‘the real presence’ too much to bear.


Anglican military chaplains in Canada are keen to be able to perform same-sex weddings. United Church chaplains are already planning to do so.

There is, however, a snag. A Pentecostalist chaplain claims that such events would be offensive to conservative Christians and also, incidentally, to Jews and Muslims. While the views of the former are, in an enlightened society, irrelevant, the views of the latter may not be. Chaplains, for example, are not allowed to mention Jesus or use Christian terminology in public services directed to troops of all faiths in case they offend non- Christian personnel.

So will the Canadian Defence Department rule that Jesus is more offensive than homosexual weddings?

Ah! The dilemmas of a ‘liberal’ society.


Congratulations to the plucky ladies of the Californian peace movement, ‘Baring Witness’. Forty of the gutsy gels lay bumper to bumper in their birthday suits in a field to spell out ‘NO WAR’ with their bodies.

Unhappily the pink protest had no effect on the only Bush that mattered.