President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad\’s Christmas Message

Actually you know, it\’s not half bad. The full text is here. I think you\’d be hard put to find any Church of England bishop who would disagree with what is said (rather than the man who is saying it or his attitudes or actions outside this particular statement).

I think this line is actually very fine indeed*, so much so that I might have to steal it to use myself:

On this difficult and challenging journey of man from dust to the divine,



* In the sense of being fine rhetoric, not necessarily a strictly true expression of reality.

Gosh, I wonder…..

In comments at the Vatican that are likely to provoke a furious reaction from homosexual groups, Benedict also warned that blurring the distinction between male and female could lead to the "self-destruction" of the human race.

In his address to the Curia, the Vatican\’s central administration, he described behaviour beyond traditional heterosexual relations as "a destruction of God\’s work" and said that the Roman Catholic Church had a duty to "protect man from the destruction of himself".

It is not "outmoded metaphysics" to urge respect for the "nature of the human being as man and woman," he added.

"The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less."

The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are. It opposes gay marriage and, in October, a leading Vatican official described homosexuality as "a deviation, an irregularity, a wound".

So, will those who applauded the Pontiff\’s sideswipes at capitalism and free market economics also applaud his latest strictures?

That I think he\’s wrong on both counts does at least make me consistent…..

Hokey Cokey: Hate Crime

But according to the Catholic Church and some Scottish politicians, singing the popular tune that begins with the words "You put your right hand in, your right hand out," may constitute an act of religious hatred.

A spokesman for the leader of the church in Scotland said the song had disturbing origins.

Critics claim that Puritans composed the song in the 18th century in an attempt to mock the actions and language of priests leading the Latin mass.

Now politicians have urged police to arrest anyone using the song to "taunt" Catholics under legislation designed to prevent incitement to religious hatred.

Leave aside the triviality of the complaint for a moment, the derivation looks very suspect to me.

Doesn\’t the next verse go "you put your right foot in, your right foot out"? And this is a reference to "standing on the square"? To being a Freemason, something that Catholics were not allowed to be (it would breach the obligation not to make secret oaths, not just because the Prods wouldn\’t let them in) and this is what leads to Papists being called "left footers"?

Maddy on faith schools

The basic argument here is sure to make Polly spit with rage.

What makes a school successful is a shared ethos. This is possible in a purely secular manner but is much more difficult than in a faith based environment.

Seems logical enough….the various faiths have spent a thousand or two years in developing the accoutrements of that shared ethos, the stories, the symbols. To a cynic (and of course we don\’t have any of those around here!) that\’s what the hymns, the different clothing, the stories of the saints, the stories of sacrifices made for beliefs, actually are, highly successful propaganda that works as has been proven over the centuries.

What will make Polly spit of course is that she\’s a highly vocal opponent of all that propaganda but a similarly highly vocal supporter of a shared communal ethos. That is, she supports the latter but rejects the most successful form of it that humans have yet devised.

An Amusing Argument

The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, Bishop of Fulham, claims most of the church\’s assets once belonged to the Roman Catholic Church.

He says it would be "legalised theft" if the Church of England tried to keep buildings used by Anglo-Catholics who may defect to Rome after its governing body voted to bring in women bishops without special concessions for traditionalists.

Anglo-Catholics have already said they hope entire parishes will be accepted into the Roman Catholic Church while keeping their existing churches, a move which would be strongly resisted by the Church of England and would inevitably lead to legal disputes.

Not sure it quite flies though. There might have been a time when churches actually belonged to the parish, even to the parishoners, but I rather doubt that that\’s the case these days. They belong to the central organisation, no?

Well, Obama\’s right here, isn\’t he?

In his radio show, Mr Dobson accused the Democratic presidential nominee of twisting Biblical passages like Leviticus, which Mr Obama said suggests slavery is acceptable and eating shellfish is an abomination.


11:9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.

11:10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: 11:11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.

11:12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.

Sure looks like shellfish are covered there to me.

Looking for the bits about slavery is beyond me at this time of day. Now of course it could be that Mr. Dobson thinks that passage needs interpretation, needs finessing from an intermediary like himself. But that would really be rather odd, a little Catholic of him. For the Protestant contention about the Bible is that it is the Word of God, plain and unadorned, written so simply that the truth is obvious to every man who reads it. Without the necessary intervention of that priestly caste.

But it is a Cult!

Seems a little odd that you\’re not allowed to tell the truth on the streets of Britain today.

The boy, who is described only as a minor, was taking part in a demonstration outside the church\’s central London headquarters on May 10 when City of London Police officers ordered him to remove the placard.

It read: "Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult."

When he refused, he was issued with a form of summons for an alleged breach of public order. Police plan to pass a file to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether charges can be brought.

Fra Matthew Festing

The Knights of Malta have just chosen another Englishman to succeed Fra. Andrew Bertie as Grand Master.

As I\’ve said before, Bertie was at Worth when I ws in the prep school there. Used to walk down to breakfast from his lodgings past the dorms, singing th Lord\’s Prayer in Arabic: always, but always, five minutes before the bell went. A wake up call if you like.

So that\’s two in a row from Ampleforth, one of them also had that connection to Worth.

Hmm, Downside next time around?


Our Basil is laughing quietly to himself:

Roman Catholics have overtaken Anglicans as the country\’s dominant religious group. More people attend Mass every Sunday than worship with the Church of England, figures seen by The Sunday Telegraph show.

This means that the established Church has lost its place as the nation\’s most popular Christian denomination after more than four centuries of unrivalled influence following the Reformation.

The conversion of England, just what he used to pray for.

Politics and Religion

Interesting, don\’t you think?

Over here, someone not revealing his religion because he thought it meant he would not get elected.

In the US, just about the only person who couldn\’t get elected would be the person who said he had no religion at all.

Tony a Catholic?

Not exactly the biggest revelation of recent years, is it?

Tony Blair is to become a Roman Catholic within weeks.

Personally I\’d tell him to stuff it:

But a friend of Mr Blair said: "It is something he has wanted to do for years but knew it would be easier after he had left office. Tony and Cherie are both thrilled."

Mr Blair has rarely been seen in a church of the Anglican faith except on official occasions.

He decided to remain an Anglican because of the potential complexities of conversion while in office.

Some lawyers believe the 1829 Emancipation Act, which gave Roman Catholics full civil rights, may still prevent a Catholic from becoming prime minister.

Clauses in the Act state that no Catholic adviser to the monarch can hold civil or military office.

If you really had the faith then small things like losing your job over conversion wouldn\’t stop you now, would they?

Err, Excuse Me?

Someone, somewhere, has a very odd view of religion:

The ultimate came in last week\’s episode, featuring rowing champion Matthew Pinsent. His tree traced back to Edward I. According to medieval genealogy, monarchs are divinely appointed, so this meant Pinsent was actually a direct descendant of Jesus.

While there are Christian and other sects who insist that Jesus had children it\’s certainly not a mainstream belief: nor was it a mainstream one in medieval times. Thus no monarchs claimed direct descent from Jesus: even if they did claim to be divinely appointed. I don\’t know who got this wrong, the original TV show or Vic Groskrop, but very wrong it is.

From a Lecturer in Philosophy

Giles Fraser\’s philosophy classes must be interesting, eh?

No: the struggle for the full inclusion of lesbian and gay people in the life of the church is a frontline battle in the war against global religious fascism.

Lessee, supporting the traditional teachings of the Christian churches, that sex may only unsinfully take place within marriage is fascism now, is it?