Most believers probably regard Jeremiah as a towering prophet called to do an appallingly difficult job in grim times. Relatively few readers will have spoiled the homoerotic and sadomasochistic (S/M) theme running through the book. Now, thanks to Ken Stone of Chicago Theological Seminary, we can read the text as a ‘ritual sadomasochistic encounter between the male deity (God) and his male devotee’.

Ken is just one of many unusual academics entertaining next month’s 7,500 scholars attending the annual American Academy of Religion shindig in San Antonio. Last year they received papers on ‘Polyamory’ entitled ‘Love is a many splendoured thing’ — an encouragement to open Christianity to group sex and multiple partnering. This year is even more exciting. Justin Tanis of the Metropolitan Community Church offers ‘Ecstatic Communion — the spiritual dimensions of Leather Sexuality’. Leather, you will be cheered to know, ‘is a foundation for personal and spiritual identity formation creating a lens through which the rest of life is viewed’ within the framework of ‘a belief in the rights of individuals to erotic self-determination with other consenting adults’. Absolutely.

More ‘leather’ with Thomas Peterson of Alfred University who explores ‘S/M rituals in Gay Men’s Leather Communities’ and how to ‘eroticize power’. More S/M with Timothy Koch (New Life Metropolitan Community Church) who informs us that ‘sadomasochistic interactions’ enable homosexual men to ‘transcend shamelessness’. Simply put, the man tied up (masochist) has little choice what happens to him and is therefore guiltless. The beater (sadist) is merely following orders to be brutal and therefore also guiltless. How very liberating. Needless to say there’s lots of jolly transvestism and appeals for ‘Polyfidelity’ — a posh term for endless sexual partners. Last year there was a paper on ‘God’s Promiscuity’ and another on the Trinity as a model for Christian sexuality (namely, three in a bed)! Why did we ever bother with Aquinas?


Fourth time lucky for Fr Richard Bolles, 77, but not so cheering for less exalted Episcopalian clergy. Bolles, who gave up practical priesting 35 years ago after writing a hugely successful lifestyle book, What Color is your Parachute?, just married his fourth

bride, Marci Mendoza, whom he dated for two years after she sold him a watch. Cue uproar in the oh-so-liberal Diocese of California (proprietor Bp William Swing), because, can you believe it, clergy are normally removed from the ministry at this stage — three strikes and you’re out.

There were therefore a lot of hurt clergy in the Bay area when Bolles revealed that he had had lunch with Swing and mentioned his upcoming fourth marriage. Ready to turn in his collar, Bolles was surprised when Swing replied, ‘Do whatever you want to do. It’s your call.’

Swing was unavailable for comment on the special treatment of his wealthy chum. A spokesman for ECUSA HQ in New York said, ‘There is a diversity of opinion within the mind of the church as to how disruptive multiple wives and families are to a cleric’s religious duties.’ Quite so.


Sydney Diocese wants lay celebration as soon as possible. Those who reject priestesses as unscriptural think we’ve already got lay celebration. But an unlikely and intransigent opponent of this exciting innovation (or return to early church practice) is Dr George Carey, now masquerading as a bastion of orthodoxy. Curious then that his Pooteresque ramblings in the recent memoir, Know the Truth, should include this remembrance of his pre-ordination days on National Service: ‘For several weeks we held services according to the BCP rite and I celebrated Holy Communion — quite illegally of course. I don’t suppose for one moment that the Almighty was bothered that in the absence of a priest a group of young men took it in turns to use the words of the 1662 Prayer Book to celebrate Communion.’ Obviously not if it was you, George.


Since 1996 Ed Krakowiatz has been selling postcards of an extraordinary epiphany. While the newspapers regularly churn out stories of Jesus face appearing in a potato or a cake stained doily etc, Ed has the copyright on the great immolation in blood! His landlord’s niece had just received her first Holy Communion when she took a plaster off her grazed knee. There for all to see, etched in sanguinary splendour, was the

face of the Saviour. Ed grabbed his camera and the rest is history.

Those who know Jesus personally, however, may be unconvinced. True, the image has long hair and a beard but that is where the resemblance ends. The bloodstain is, in fact, a dead ringer for the 1 960s cult murderer Charles Manson. Spooky!


The annual excitement about whether the Prime Minister will become a left-footer surfaced again last month. This time the source was a Roman Catholic priest from the Dr Carey school of confidentiality, Fr Timothy Russ, whose church the Blairs attended. The Vicar of St Albion, the Blessed Tone, apparently enquired if it was OK for a Prime Minister to be a Catholic. Russ assured him that it was. (It is the Royal Family who are disabled in this matter, but, with the lovely Cherie currently touring the lucrative US lecture circuit billed as ‘Britain’s First Lady’, it is an understandable confusion.) Russ, however, in subsequent interviews, thought the PM ‘had a little way to go yet’. Could he be thinking of New Labour’s longstanding preference for the rights of the fox over the rights of the foetus, the tide of persistent anti-family legislation, the unfolding pro-homosexual agenda in the Civil Partnership and Gender Bills and senior Church appointments or even the war in Iraq which the Holy Father presciently warned him off? While Cherie, ‘a good Catholic’, continues to be told which way to put her pants on by cult gum Carole ‘crystals’ Caplin, the rest of us needn’t hold our breath. Tony won’t go to Rome until there’s a suitable vacancy. How does PIUS XIII sound?


Are you a really committed Catholic? You need never waste a moment in the tireless works for salvation.

JMJ Products (yes, that’s Jesus, Mary and Joseph Inc — the ultimate family firm) of Kansas, ‘purveyors of fine Catholic merchandise’ offers a Dante-esque distraction for your morning ablutions. Hang ‘the laminated shower card containing St Gertrude’s prayer to free 1,000 souls from Purgatory’ and, while your loofah goes where the sun don’t shine, you can literally wash their sins away. Hallelujah!