Laughter as an antidote to power; addressing the Burka.

If you have an iphone or an ipad, you will have met Siri, the electronic personal assistant. The geeks in Silicon valley have become more humorous as they have programmed her to answer a wide range of questions.

They have begun to flex their humour muscles. If you ask Siri to help you through the day with a joke or two you may get; “the past, present and future walked into a bar one day. It was tense.”

She even does pathos and sarcasm. If you explore romance with her and ask “Siri, do you have a boyfriend?” One of her answers is “Why? So we can get ice cream together and listen to music and travel across galaxies, only to have it end in slammed doors, heartbreak and loneliness ? Sure where do I sign up?”  For anyone with a broken heart, this is tender territory. But once past a certain point, laughing helps not hurts.

They are playing it fairly safe, because  jokes can present a bit of a risk. But they have a number of functions,

Jokes can be dangerous; jokes can be healthy; and jokes can be therapeutic. While they look at first sight as though they are just about funny, in fact they are to do with power and incongruity as well as joy or fun.

Why are jokes sometimes dangerous? Because they act like banana skins under the shoes of the powerful and pompous. That’s why some of us like them so much. The powerful and pompous are hard to hold to account, but jokes start the process.

One of the most impressive films for placing a banana skin under a dictator’s boot was Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’ (1940) where he imitates Hitler and parodies him mercilessly.

Chaplin wrote in his autobiography,  “It is paradoxical that tragedy stimulates the spirit of ridicule. Ridicule, I suppose, is an attitude of defiance.” Sometimes the only defiance you can afford to risk is humour.

Quite how dangerous jokes can be in a different context we discovered when the cartoonists and journalists of the Charlie Hebdo magazine which published cartoons about Mohammed and bombs, were assassinated by Muslim activists in Paris. In 2015. Two Muslim brothers walked into the magazine’s offices and shot dead 12 people, and seriously wounded another 11.

It raised the question of what happened when you used jokes to hold religion to account.

It has been interesting to hear how the Monty Python team have reflected recently on how easily they made fun of Christianity and clergy, and in the Life of Brian, coming within a hair’s breadth of making fun of Jesus. But they rightly claimed they were making fun of Christians, especially the pompous ones. There were no consequences for them except bigger box offices. Most Christians laughed with them. They wouldn’t dare treat Islam in the same way.

Boris Johnson stepped into the same arena last week and provoked outrage because he dared to make a joke about the burka. He wrong footed a lot of his would-be critics by making the liberal case against banning it. But too many people couldn’t get beyond the post-box joke. How dare he cause such offence against Muslims by making a joke about what the more extreme followers wear?

It raises the question as to why is there such a difference between Islam and Christianity when confronted by humour? Why didn’t a squad of Christian activists take down the Monty Python team, or the director of ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’?

It seems to have something to do with the fact that Christianity and Islam are radically different as ways of dealing with the mysteries of life.

At their heart the two religions are doing very different things. Our relativistic culture doesn’t manage the difference very well. Christianity has at its heart not power but love. Love laughs more easily when teased than power does.

Islam is a hybrid mixture of religion and politics and is deeply concerned with the exercise of power. After all, Islam means submission.  You have to submit to God and the Koran. It is an exercise in both religious and political control.

The wearing of the burka does seem to be more than a statement about modesty. It is also an exercise in power. The observer sees nothing, and knows nothing about the person hidden in it, and so is disempowered from either any relationship or any kind of assessment.

When we meet power in public life, we can either submit, challenge or laugh. Submission requires too high a price. A challenge risks conflict. Laughter may be preferable to both, and tests the intention and practice of power.

In the wake of Boris Johnson’s letter-box and bank robber quips, and the response which tried to shut the humour down because all criticism was not allowed, because it caused offence, what should we do? Allow power to become more powerful? Or welcome humour to hold it to account when it overreaches itself and becomes ridiculous? As Charlie Chaplin said, “sometimes the only defiance you can afford to risk is humour.”

Supporting This Work…An Appeal-

To my dear readers: – If you are willing to offer a small amount of financial support for this work, it would be enormously helpful.

Travel costs, website maintenance, computing and internet equipment are all beyond the reach of my pension.

If you feel that is something you are able and willing to do, then please go to the menu at the top of the page ‘Donate via Patreon.’ If patreon is off putting, and would be willing to use electronic transfer – then please email me at, & I will happily and gratefully give you the necessary details.

Alternatively, if you use ‘paypal’- then you can send a donation via this link.

Continue reading “Supporting This Work…An Appeal-“

Ely cathedral and the great apostasy.

pride in ely.jpg

Ely cathedral has promised to fly the gay rainbow flag this weekend.

Mark Bonney, the Dean of Ely explained.

“This weekend we will be proudly flying the rainbow flag in support of the first ever ‘Pride in Ely’ event.

I am very pleased that Chapter agreed to my request to fly the ‘Pride’ flag from the Cathedral tower on 11 August when Pride in Ely holds is first festival. I am pleased first of all to lend my backing to this community event because it celebrates the breadth and diversity of the community in which we all live. I am also very conscious that Christians have not always been perceived as being as supportive and inclusive as some of us would wish, and so I am pleased to fly this flag as a sign of the kind of inclusion that I wish to promote at the Cathedral”

The Dean of Ely has adopted the secular values of a culture that has set its face against Christianity, and is waging a war against Judaeo-Christian revelation and values.

Sexual ethics have always been at the heart of the Christian’s struggle with sin, the world and the devil. But it seems the Dean of Ely is not over concerned with either sin, or the distinction between the Church and the world, or the struggle with evil.

But then more and more cathedrals see themselves as civic centres of spirituality, wanting to embrace the secular world as a way of winning both community approval, and community finance.

Jesus warned that you could no more serve God and mammon than you could submit to the temptations of the devil and still work for the Kingdom of Heaven.

In the case of Ely, the Dean is choosing the Leftist values of so-called ‘breadth and diversity’ (values found nowhere in the Christian Gospels) and wants to make reparation for the fact that Christians have been insufficiently supportive of non monogamous and non heterosexual sexual and romantic adventure (code word ‘inclusivity’- another term found nowhere in the teaching of Jesus.)

In brief why is this an act of apostacy and worse?

The flying of a gay pride flag above a cathedral is more than a contradiction, it constitutes a blasphemy.

Distorted sexual identity and practice is diagnosed by St Paul as a symptom of idolatry (in Romans 1).

He warns that the more a society turns its back on the living God, the more people experience dis-ease and disintegration. This expresses itself partially in a confusion of sexual identity and equally by an absence of continence. By contrast the Judaeo-Christian tradition is a journey into a deeper sexual and psychological purity, set within the parameters of God’s created order.

The present cultural and ideological assault on the Church takes the form of an attack on the conceptual integrity of both marriage and the family.

It particularly sets out to undermine the integrity of the the given-ness of the ‘binary’ categories of man and woman coming together to co-create, as God’s agents.

Instead of resisting this assault, parts of the church have welcomed it. By ripping a piece of St Paul out context they have made him say the opposite of what he intended.

In Galatians 3 Paul explored the basic categories of mutual antagonisms embedded in his culture. Jews against gentiles, men against women and the free against the enslaved. Once anyone defined by these categories of adversity entered the new life in Christ, this baptised life washed these antipathies away into a new identity. “In Christ there is no slave or free…”. This can best be summarised by saying that no Christian can truly be a Christian if they place a defining categorising adjective in front of their identity in Christ.

So there can be no black, tall, rich, old, feeble, or any other category to define ‘Christian’, or it becomes a contradiction in terms.

And particularly, of all adjectives, the least desirable would be an adjective denoting perversion of God-given identity, or a disorder of behaviour whose effect was the sullying of sexual purity. The experience of followers of Jesus down the ages is that the Holy Spirit deepens rather than disorders our identity. He recreates rather than disintegrates. You might have thought it was obvious to anyone with any experience of the Holy Spirit that the effects of promoting homosexual and transsexual culture were a deeper disintegration and disorder of both the psyche and society. And that is, in Christian terms, because the movement is energised and driven by the wrong spirit; an un~holy spirit working against the Holy Spirit, the spirit sent by Jesus.

Allegiance to this other spirit, is exactly what the gay pride movement has set out to achieve in the redefining and undermining of Christian sexual ethics and theological identity.

It would be ludicrous to describe people as ‘straight’ Christians. It is just as ludicrous to define people as ‘gay’ Christians. Our new anthropology of the Kingdom bestows an identity that is ‘in Christ’. How can a Christian withdraw that identity and relocate it in a spectrum of sexual and genital attraction ? What kind of Christian, what kind of church would replace the ‘imago Christi’ with the romanticised stimuli of genitalia ? What kind of Church would would replace the call to die to yourself with the psycho-sexual narcissism of a call to sexual and romantic adventure with a same sexual partner ?

It is not even as if gay pride marches are the simple dignified processions of same sex partners walking hand in hand declaring undying love and chaste fidelity to one another. They are a celebration of rampant sexual appetite and imaginative sexual perversity, elevating sado-masochistic sex to the platform of public entertainment.

The matter is not made any clearer by the observation that the very term gay is too clumsy to act as a descriptor of the horizon of sexual incoherence that stretches through the spectrum of  LGBTIQCAPGNGFNBA etc…

In flying the flag of gay pride from a Christian Cathedral, the clergy have indicated their allegiance to an ideology of sexual identity that is at complete odds with the faith that the Cathedral was built to teach and embody.

They have instead adopted the categories, language and ethics of the enemies of Christ and his kingdom. They have betrayed Christ by raising the standard of surrender and offering their allegiance instead to an over sexualised, disordered and decaying secularism.

A church built on such a foundation, a house theologically and ideologically at war with itself, is both under judgement and built upon shifting sand. It is in danger of imminent collapse.

As one broken hearted Christian observer put it: “that beautiful building, constructed as a sanctuary for the Blessed sacrament, now sports the regalia of lust.”

Cover up and abuse: Winchester, Canterbury, York, Hull, Gloucester, Jersey…., ~ in and by the Church. Corruption in the Church of England.

WATCHING a previous Archbishop of Canterbury being grilled by a QC last week was like watching a slow-motion car crash. Having your internal self-contradictions exposed by a skilful interrogator in the public gaze is the stuff nightmares are made of. Continue reading “Cover up and abuse: Winchester, Canterbury, York, Hull, Gloucester, Jersey…., ~ in and by the Church. Corruption in the Church of England.”

Winning and losing, and how sport gives the lie to ‘equality’.

“’Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all”.

For Tennyson, who wrote this in his poem In Memoriam, longing and loving is what makes us truly human. There have been different kinds of longing this summer. Longing for England to win the World Cup again and bring it home. Longing for our heroes to triumph in tennis and cricket. Continue reading “Winning and losing, and how sport gives the lie to ‘equality’.”

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