We’ve dealt with murderous Islamists before, haven’t we?

In 1898, in the context of the scramble for Africa, the British decided to reassert Egypt’s claim on Sudan. An expedition, commanded by Kitchener, was organised in Egypt. It was composed of 8,200 British soldiers and 17,600 Egyptian and Sudanese soldiers commanded by British officers. The Mahdist forces (sometimes called the Dervishes) were more numerous, numbering more than 60,000 warriors, but lacked modern weapons.

After defeating a Mahdist force in the Battle of Atbara in April 1898, the Anglo-Egyptians reached Omdurman, the Mahdist capital in September. The bulk of the Mahdist army attacked, but was cut down by British machine-guns and rifle fire.

The remnant, with the Khalifa Abdullah, fled to southern Sudan. During the pursuit, Kitchener’s forces met a French force under Major Jean-Baptiste Marchand at Fashoda, resulting in the Fashoda Incident. They finally caught up with Abdullah at Umm Diwaykarat, where he was killed, effectively ending the Mahdist regime.

The casualties for this campaign were:

Sudan: 30,000 dead, wounded, or captured
Britain: 700+ British, Egyptian and Sudanese dead, wounded, or captured.


Looks like Mormonism is growing up as a religion

Members of the Church of Latter Day Saints are planning a “mass resignation” in Salt Lake City on Saturday in response to a leaked church policy that punishes the children of same-sex couples who don’t renounce their parents’ relationship.

The event, which is expected to draw close to 1,000 people, seems unprecedented in the church’s 185-year history, according to several experts.

Their first schism.

Wouldn’t any parent be proud at such a demonstration of maturity?

So here’s a question

It’s a general (although perhaps not canonical) idea in Islam that there should be no representations of the human form.

OK. Art, paintings, there’s some historical examples but it’s generally accepted in Muslim societies.

How far does that go? Are photographs OK? I would assume obviously so, given that Arab newspapers carry photos.

But where’s the dividing line? Is a picture from a camera OK while one manipulated with photoshop (or Instagram’s filters say) not OK? Where is the dividing line between the allowable and not allowable representation of that human figure?

Good Grief

The first priest to marry his same-sex partner has begun a discrimination case against the Church of England over its withdrawal of his right to officiate as a priest following the union.

Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who married Laurence Cunnington in April 2014, had been informed that Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS trust was withdrawing an offer of a job after Bishop Richard Inwood refused him the official licence in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.

The clergyman, who argues that Inwood unlawfully discriminated against him, told the first day of hearings at Nottingham employment tribunal how he felt after his permission to officiate (PTO) was revoked.

“PTOs are (only) really revoked if someone has done something serious, they’re criminally involved, is involved in an affair or has lost their capacity,” said Pemberton, the Lincolnshire Echo reported.

A spokesman for the Church of England said the church has no truck with homophobia and supports clergy who are in civil partnerships.

He added: “The Church of England’s doctrine on marriage is clear. The church quite reasonably expects its clergy to honour their commitment to model and live up to the teachings of the church. Clergy do not have the option of treating the teachings of the church as an à la carte menu and only modelling those with which they personally agree.

If you’re going to be an official of the club, officiate in the club, it’s hardly too much to ask that you follow the rules of the club, is it?

Bit like a footie ref insisting he’ll have no truck with the offside laws. Not quite the point of him being there, is it?

So, I have something in common with Il Pappa then

Pope Francis has revealed that he has not watched television for 25 years – not even the matches played by his beloved Buenos Aires football team.

The South American pontiff said he last switched on a TV in 1990 in an interview on Monday with an Argentinian newspaper.

After that he simply decided that “it was not for me”, he told La Voz del Pueblo.

Perhaps not 1990 and I do make it a religious habit (sorry) to watch the international rugby. But other than that, about right….

Don’t see why not

Obviously, as a lapsed Roman not for me to determine the theorlogy of the CoE but this seems entirely reasonable:

The Church of England is to debate plans to introduce a ceremony akin to a baptism to mark the new identities of Christians who undergo gender transition.

The Rev Chris Newlands, the vicar of Lancaster Priory, has proposed a motion to the General Synod to debate the issue, after he was approached by a young transgender person seeking to be “re-baptised” in his new identity.

I may have the theology a little wrong here but I don’t actually know of anything that argues that you cannot be baptised more than once. Certainly, I was baptised twice (once immediately at birth, very poorly chap I was, then once again more formally later) and as I say, I don’t know of anything in Canon Law to say that it can’t happen again and again.

Don’t forget, baptism and christening are not the same thing. One is the blessing of the soul (and in Roman, the eradication/forgiveness of original sin?), the other the provision of the name.

Obviously, this being this blog there are readers who know all of this in far more detail than I do. So, am I about right?

Islam and that Reformation stuff

It’s a commonplace among the Very Serious People that Islam needs to have its reformation.

Hey Ho.

So here’s an idea: what if this is actually it?

Sure, this would be a partial reading of it. And history doesn’t repeat but the burps do have reminiscent tastes. And the Christian Reformation was marked by a series of ever more idiot fundamentalists rising up and slaughtering everyone they considered insufficiently Godly. The Hussites were not having nice little prayer meetings and calling for tea and tolerance.

So, what if Isis were viewed as, say, those Hussites? The Reformation actually coming a couple of hundred years later, after everyone had got sufficiently pissed off with the fundies and everyone settled down to that tea and tolerance.

The other way of putting this is that that Christian Reformation was marked by a remarkably bloody series of wars. This does not mean that a series of remarkably bloody wars is Islam’s Reformation but we might want to be alive to the possibility of that repeating taste to history.

That’s an awful lot of cattle class tickets you know

A well-known televangelist is attempting to raise $60 million for the purchase of one of the most coveted private jets on the market — one that he and his ministry will use to “continue to spread the gospel of grace around the world.”

Pastor Creflo Dollar, founder of World Changers Church International, has launched Project G650, an effort to encourage 200,000 people to donate $300 or more so that he can purchase a jet….

Fly cattle class matey. At $500 a pop that’s 130,000 flights. Without even considering the running costs of that jet.


A distant cousin of the Queen has become the first head of the 1,000 year-old Knights of Malta chivalric order to be put on a fast-track path to sainthood.

Andrew Bertie, who died in 2008, was the Grandmaster of the Knights of Malta, a charitable order that was founded by a group of warrior monks during the Crusades. As such he held the title ‘Fra’, as in ‘frater’ or brother.

At a Mass in the Basilica of St John in Lateran in Rome, the former Scots Guards officer was formally placed on the road to sainthood.


If that goes through it will mean that I’ve actually met a saint.

Somewhat odd bloke though, it has to be said. He was at Worth and used to walk down to breakfast, past the dorms, singing the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic.

You might not want all the bad boys in the same place

Priests who moonlight as bar tenders, post naked photos of themselves on gay websites and run off with the church coffers: welcome to the diocese of Albenga-Imperia on the Italian Riviera.

When the bishop in charge decided that the hand of forgiveness, and a second chance, should be offered to “black sheep” priests from across Italy, it must have seemed the charitable thing to do.

The consequences, though, suggest that recidivism is as much a feature of clerical as prison life.

Pope Francis last week ordered an investigation into a diocese run for 24 years by Bishop Mario Oliveri, 70, who has earned a reputation of welcoming in aspiring priests, even those expelled from seminaries for misconduct.

Some of the
cases are rather eye openers. And I can think of more than one case in the English Church where such behaviour has led only to a move of parish rather than anything else. But a whole diocese full of them is more than we have…..

Weirdly it can be the traditionalists who are worse at the blind eye bit. The thought being (no, not all of them are simply hypocritical toads) that a priest is ordained, is touched by divine favour in some manner, and while they may then do things they shouldn’t (running a bar with the live in girlfriend in the next village over say, then turning up on the Sunday to say Mass) they are still ordained and touched by that favour.

Odd, but there it is.

Blimey, shouldn’t doctors know some doctoring?

The largest ever medical study into near-death and out-of-body experiences has discovered that some awareness may continue even after the brain has shut down completely.




“We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating,” said Dr Sam Parnia, a former research fellow at Southampton University, now at the State University of New York, who led the study.

“But in this case, conscious awareness appears to have continued for up to three minutes into the period when the heart wasn’t beating, even though the brain typically shuts down within 20-30 seconds after the heart has stopped.

Well, you’ve just said there that the brain doesn’t work when the heart stops: but that it works for 20-30 seconds when the heart stops. And then your amazing finding is that perhaps it doesn’t stop for 3 minutes or more after the heart stops.

Which isn’t, when you think about it, really evidence of life after death. It’s evidence that the transition from life to death takes a little longer than you’ve previously been estimating. And that’s not all that much of a surprise either. Because people have been “brought back to life” after the heart stops without brain damage. Thus the brain can indeed survive for some period of time without it getting new oxygen from the bloodstream.

What’s so odd about this?

Couples who have been “living in sin” and women who had children out of wedlock will be married by Pope Francis at a ceremony at the Vatican on Sunday, in a further sign of his determination to make the Catholic Church more inclusive and compassionate.

They will be among 20 couples from Rome who will tie the knot in St Peter’s Basilica, in the first such ceremony led by the Pope in his role as Bishop of Rome since he was elected in March last year.

For the Vatican, it will be the first such event since Pope John Paul II joined eight couples in matrimony in 2000.

The prospective brides and grooms had varying personal backgrounds, the diocese of Rome said in a statement.

“There are those who are already cohabiting, those who already have children, who got to know each other in Church,” the diocese said.

It’s rather the duty of the priest to aid congregants in moving from a state of sin, such as cohabitation, to one of not sin, like marriage, isn’t it? And it is rather one of the foundations of the Catholic faith that we all err, all sin, but that a confession of such a sin, repentance, plus the attempt not to do it again is meritorious. Well, if not meritorious at least the best way that we sinful humans can deal with matters.

So, priest marries those who have decided to stop sinning. And the news value of this is?

On the writing of Sharia compliant wills

Oh, there’s going to be fury about this:

Islamic law is to be effectively enshrined in the British legal system for the first time under guidelines for solicitors on drawing up “Sharia compliant” wills.

Under ground-breaking guidance, produced by The Law Society, High Street solicitors will be able to write Islamic wills that deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude unbelievers altogether.

The documents, which would be recognised by Britain’s courts, will also prevent children born out of wedlock – and even those who have been adopted – from being counted as legitimate heirs.

Anyone married in a church, or in a civil ceremony, could be excluded from succession under Sharia principles, which recognise only Muslim weddings for inheritance purposes.

Nicholas Fluck, president of The Law Society, said the guidance would promote “good practice” in applying Islamic principles in the British legal system.

And that fury will be wildly misplaced. For we are not like the Frogs and others who insist that the State should detail how your very own property is disposed of. We actually have a free and liberal system, which says that you can do what the hell you like with your cash. Leave it all to the cats home, hell leave it to the cat if you wish. So a will that disposes of property on the grounds of religious faith, gender, legitimacy, style of marriage or anything else your religious beliefs might require is already entirely legal under English law.

All this is is a set of guidance notes to make sure that the usual Islamic religious desires are incorporated into wills in a manner that is indeed consistent with English law.

It is not, at all, a change in that underlying law itself. It’s “if this is what you want to do then here’s how you go about doing that”.

Sure, we can all have lovely arguments about whether such a will is being misogynist and all the rest (but then so is primogeniture) but it’s sod all to do with bringing Sharia into English law.

On the Catholic Chruch and the Concordat with the Nazis

Something that popped up in the comments. The Catholic Church signed up to the Concordat with the Nazis. This shows that the Catholic Church therefore supported the Nazis.

Well, I think there’s a little bit of projection going on there. Worth recalling that New Testament bit about give unto Caesar really.

And there’s obviously the realpolitick point that an organisation attempting to care for its flock has to come to some accommodation with the de facto (and in hte case of the Nazis, de jure) government of the day.

But allow me to pose the question slightly differently. The German Church did indeed say that yes, you’re the government: but it’s still wrong to kill the mentally feeble you know.

The current English Church says that the Abortion Act really is the law of the land but it’s still wrong you know.

Do we therefore say that the Church is complicit in abortion? And why is it that what the English Church currently says something that produces spitting rage in a certain segment of the population: usually, that same segment that the Concordat produces the same spitting rage in?