Of Course, I Could be Wrong

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For Free Or Not For Free? That Is The Question.

Durham Diocese is at it again. Advertising something for free while making it perfectly obvious that, in reality, they expect you to pay ten quid which, in my opinion, makes the event not free but blooming expensive.

One of the "priorities" of the present bishop of Durham is tackling poverty. The fact that the important people in the diocese think that ten pounds is easily affordable is a strong indication that they have no idea what poverty actually is. Or perhaps they believe that the sort of person who cannot afford to pay ten pounds to listen to a talk on Christmas carols is not really the sort of person they want at one of their events.


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Spreading The Gospel On A Shoestring

I don't even check my blog statistics anymore, haven't done for years now. Without checking I couldn't tell you how many Facebook friends I have. But, when it comes to the Saint Laika Facebook page I boast in the Lord big time. I am really gobsmacked at the speed we have increased our number of LIKES from one thousand to one thousand two hundred, it's only been a matter of just over a month. What I am even more excited about is the number of regular visitors we are getting on weekdays and the fact that these new friends are from all over the shop in respect of church background and tradition.

Saint Laika's is my ministry and mission. I wish it paid better (especially at this time of year) but at least it is bucking the general downward trend of the church that doesn't give a toss about me and I get a certain, naughty gratification from that.

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Uncertain Principal

I see that the Bishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has stated in an interview that the terror attacks in Paris made him "doubt" the presence of God.

Now isn't that a coincidence?!

The way he singularly failed to respond compassionately to my request to him for help when he was Bishop of Durham made me doubt the presence of God. In fact, I still doubt the presence of God - in the Church of England, that is.

The Salvation

Scandinavian noir versus the traditional western and very good it is too. Basically it does everything a western should do and, on top of that, the photography is simply gorgeous. There are hunks for those who like hunks, the kinky woman out of "Penny Dreadful" for those who like their women wicked and Eric Cantona for those who like French football players whose gallic charm makes up for what they lack in acting skills. They even persuaded Jonathan Pryce on board to add a bit of British luvvie crowd credibility to the project. I give it four out of five.

Be Careful What You Wish For

No way should the Church of England be allowed to advertise their religion at the cinema or on television or anywhere else where people can't avoid it by simply looking at something else. Why? Because the last thing I want to be forced to watch on the rare occasion I go to the flicks is some jihadist telling me that I should worship Allah and insist that my wife walks around in a black sack from head to toe. And if the Church of England is allowed to advertise Christmas then there is absolutely no reason why every other faith community shouldn't advertise their thing as well and it wouldn't be long before Scientologists, creationists, Islamists, Thuggees, atheists and every other cult that either wants your money or your body to strap a bomb to, starts insisting on their right to bombard us with their vile or just plain crazy propaganda.

And another thing, who paid for this complete waste of money? I bet it was the little old ladies of our parishes trying to get by on the miserly state pension.

Holy Communion For The Feast Of Christ The King


The king or queen is the head of the nation bringing all the citizens together as one people. Jesus Christ is the king of the people of God throughout the world and he draws them together to be as one, true citizens of the kingdom of God for all eternity. In the sacrament of holy communion the nations of the earth are joined to the kingdom of heaven through us who are one with Jesus Christ, our ruler, our saviour, our brother, our friend.

At Saint Laika's everyone is welcome to take communion and be in communion, with each other and with God. There are no exceptions. If you want to physically partake of communion you will require a small piece of bread and a small amount of drink (preferably made from grapes and containing alcohol). How you view the nature of this part of the service is completely up to you.

CLICK HERE to access the podcast via iTunes.

To stream the service direct from this page without having to use the iTunes' facility, click on the arrow on the left of the player below.

Join in with us as we worship God by CLICKING HERE for the order of service, credits and details of the music featured. The words in bold type are the ones we say together.

Commodilla Bust of Christ Yale Divinty Collection


It could have been a big mistake, watching this film. Part of my madness is an unreasonable belief in fate. I believe (I am told it is a delusion) that I am meant to be unlucky in life and that if I accidentally experience good luck then nature will right itself by throwing at me a whole load of catastrophic bad luck. So I tend to hide from happiness even to the point of deliberately screwing things up. I have endured many hours of cognitive therapy in which psychologists have tried valiantly to disabuse me of this "magical thinking" but all to no avail. The problem with this film is that is based on the premise that I am in fact right, that some people are born lucky whilst others are never going to get a break whatever they do to facilitate one. If the odds of winning a lottery jackpot was fourteen million to one, such people could buy fourteen million tickets and they still would not get three numbers coming up on even one of them.

But the film is about a lot more than luck. It is an old fashioned science fiction story containing science, fiction and the magic ingredient that is in all great science fiction stories - philosophy. If you are interested in the subject of free will then this is the film for you. I am and I really enjoyed this movie. I give it five out of five.

Oh, and so far I haven't slipped into a deeper melancholia than is normal for me. Perhaps I was meant to see this film after all.

Funny Facts

Here are three interesting facts from the current issue of "Philosophy Now":

1: The study of laughter is called "gelotology."
2: Children laugh about three hundred times a day, whilst adults only laugh about seventeen times a day.
3: Seventy years ago people laughed three times longer every day than we do today.

I think the last one has probably got something to do with the Marx Brothers.

Whatever You Do Don’t Mention The God

In England God is an embarrassment.

From "The Deseret News":

If you are a fan of the British drama "Downton Abbey," you have watched the Crawley family members enjoy many meals together, but have you ever noticed that the cameras always join the Crawleys halfway through their meal? Alastair Bruce, the show’s historical adviser, told The Telegraph that this is no coincidence and was the result of the show’s executives’ decision to “leave religion out of it.”

“In essence you hardly ever see a table that isn’t already sat at,” Bruce said. “We never see the beginning of a luncheon or a dinner because no one was ever allowed to see a grace being said, and I would never allow them to sit down without having said grace.”

Passing Thoughts Of A Mad Priest

The biggest load of bollocks I have heard recently is the claim, made by many a politician and various other talking heads, that the terrorists who were responsible for the carnage in Paris were cowards.

Heck, they were many things, many nasty things, but they were most certainly not cowards.

I know this because I am a fully signed up member of the International League of Cowards and there is no way I would even consider blowing myself into bloody pieces for the sake of any cause. I might, at a push, be persuaded to risk my life defending a cause I felt particularly attached to (such as the continuation of my wife's life) but deliberately killing myself. No!

People who believe that suicide bombers are cowards are fools. What is more worrying is the fact that such fools will act in foolish ways and put us all in even more danger than we already are.

Is The Q’ran The Word Of Allah?


The only way I can remain a "Bible-based" Christian when there are verses in the Bible that call for the subjugation of women, the execution of gay men, the flogging of children, the return of slaves to their "owners" and the ethnic cleansing of whole nations, is to accept that the Bible is not the word of God and that it is the word of men.

If I believed that the Bible was inerrant I would believe that gay men should be executed because I am a person of integrity.

I can deny the inerrancy of the Bible because I am a Christian and Christ did not claim that all scripture was inerrant or to be understood literally. I cannot understand how a muslim can claim that Allah does not command the killing of non-muslims simply for not being muslims without stating that the Q'ran is not the literal word of Allah as dictated to Mohammed by an angel.
Therefore, I would like to know if those muslims who claim that there is no excuse in Islam for the spilling of blood, have the same view of the Q'ran as I have of the Bible. If not, do they view the Q'ran as an allegory not to be taken at face value or are they, like so many Christians, ignorant of much of their scriptures, preferring to cherry pick what suits their ethics and to ignore the many contradictions they have to accept because of their theological laziness?

I agree with Hans Küng, the only way the faith communities of the world are going to advance even the smallest step towards being the solution rather than the problem is for all of us to be honest about our foundational beliefs, not only of our own religion but also of the religion of others.

The Dark Horse

Another gem of a film from New Zealand. Obviously standing upside down all day does wonders for the creative process. It's film about a mad man, written off by society because of his madness, who coaches a bunch of kids who, because of their poverty, have also been written off by society, to the national youth chess finals in Auckland. I give it four out of five and recommend you watch it.

Holy Communion For
The Twenty-Fifth Sunday
After Pentecost


Jesus, our great high priest, sacrificed his life so that we, the children of God, might finally accept, once and for all, that God, our father, loves us so much that he wants every one of us to be part of his eternal family on that day when the Kingdom of God breaks into our world bringing with it peace and freedom from all suffering. When we gather together, in this present case united through the wonders of modern technology, to share in holy communion, we both enjoy that divine family membership now and anticipate its fullness that will become manifest on the day of Christ's return in glory.

At Saint Laika's everyone is welcome to take communion and be in communion, with each other and with God. There are no exceptions. If you want to physically partake of communion you will require a small piece of bread and a small amount of drink (preferably made from grapes and containing alcohol). How you view the nature of this part of the service is completely up to you. You will also need a candle which you will be invited to light during the Commemoration of the Faithful which follows the receiving of holy communion.

CLICK HERE to access the podcast via iTunes.

To stream the service direct from this page without having to use the iTunes' facility, click on the arrow on the left of the player below.

Join in with us as we worship God by CLICKING HERE for the order of service, credits and details of the music featured. The words in bold type are the ones we say together.


Calling The Mad To Arms

The BBC have a report today about how cuts in funding are adversely affecting the care those with mental health problems are receiving. It does not surprise me that we are the first to suffer in our present government's campaign to render the national health service not fit for purpose so that they can sell it to their friends in the private sector. When even the supposed guardians of morality in England, the bishops of the Church of England, completely ignore the rights of the mentally ill, what hope is there that secular agencies will feel the need to be anything other than bigoted towards us.

Those of us who suffer from mental illness need to take a leaf out of the book of the physically disabled and others who embarrass the normals, such as gay people and those with developmental disabilities. We need to be far more aggressive in our demands for equality and our human rights. The organisations that are supposed to represent us are pathetically apologetic and far too cosy with the establishment. Worse, they are a bunch of patronising do-gooders. For example, my local branch of MIND has just set up a "well-being" centre in the high street. From what I can see it is all about getting us mad people to do needlework and other useless hobbies. We would be a lot better off if they stopped pleasing themselves, setting up stuff where we are the passive recipients of their charity, and started to provide us with the wherewithal to challenge the prejudice we face everyday.

We do not want hobbies and a shoulder to cry on. We want jobs and respect.

What we need locally is a club where we are in charge and where we can meet, without an appointment, to give each other the strength to carry on and to organise ourselves into an effective campaigning group that understands its own needs from experience rather than being told by the inexperienced what our needs are. We need to do stuff like picketing the premises of firms that act prejudiciously against their staff members who have mental health issues. A good start would be the Bishop's Office in Bishops Auckland.

Fear Of Niqāb

I am not a psychologist and this is not an excuse, but I wonder if my fear of anybody with their face covered (a fear I suspect is behind much anti-niqāb sentiment in England) is due in part to seeing so many photographs of members of the IRA in balaclavas during the 1970s. As these photographs often accompanied news reports about bombs exploding and people being killed, unexpectedly, in public places, they became portraits of bogeymen, inhabitants of a nightmare world. I guess for many Irish people, photographs of soldiers in uniform on the streets of Derry would conjure up similar negative feelings.


Helping Themselves

THE BBC has posted an article on its website today reporting the call by Muslims in the United Kingdom for the rest of us to stop viewing all of them as potential suicide bombers and as aliens in their own land. In an ideal world this would be no problem. The Queen would issue the decree: "You all stop doing it now!" and everything in the garden of society would be rosy. Unfortunately, even us religionists whose hope is in heaven, have to live in the real world, at least for the time being, and in the real world people are complicated and their thinking on any issue is the coming together of a whole load of personal and cultural stuff that just cannot be swept aside by appeals to their better nature.

Islam is a religion which emphasises the oneness of its adherents more than any other religion. Individual Muslims have a strong sense of this unity, placing it before nation and all other cultural belonging. We often hear how if one Muslim is attacked, then all Muslims are attacked. Bearing this in mind, the situation highlighted in this article from the BBC, would be soonest mended if Muslims accepted their collective responsibility, not for the atrocities committed by Islamic terrorists, but for countering the view of Islam among non-Muslims caused by such atrocities. Saying, "We are not all like that" is, unfortunately (because it is true), not sufficient. Moaning about the view others have of them, even when that view is unfounded, will do nothing but make the bigots more bigoted.

If the Muslim population wants to feel, at all times, an equal part of the general population then they need to accommodate the other just as vehemently as they demand that the other accommodates them. Non-Muslim English people (and I would guess many Muslim English people) see the covering of the face by any individual, of either sex, of any faith or none, as a threat or, at the least, as extremely bad-mannered. As the practice is not a religious custom but a cultural one it would seem to me that it may well be something worth sacrificing in order to make the Islamic religion appear less confrontational and separatist to non-Muslims in the UK.

Of course, these sorts of accommodations have to be made by members of any faith if they wish to be part of the society they choose to live within. I do not feel responsible for the nasty views of the fundamentalist parties within my own faith, but I do feel a great responsibility, as a member of my faith, to condemn those responsible for making my faith a hateful thing and to offer to the world a true Christianity, that is healing rather than destroying. It is annoying that I have to spend so much of my time doing so. But it is life and I expect it always will be. It is annoying and unfair that real Muslims in the UK have to prove they are not ISIS, but as long as some UK Muslims bring Islam into disrepute through their affiliation with violent extremists, then the real Muslims have no choice other than to stop the demanding to be included in British society on their own terms and to start behaving as if they are already included by reason of their willingness to be part of the whole. This does not mean capitulation but it does mean compromise and that is something we all have to make if we want to be part of any group that consists of more than just one person.


MadPriest, Where’s Your Troosers?

I only ever own one belt at a time because I only ever wear one pair of trousers at a time. A second belt would be an extravagance. It is always one of those reversible belts, black on one side, brown on the other, as this covers all eventualities as far as my wardrobe is concerned.

There is one major problem with my frugal accessorising and that is, when my belt falls to bits, (which is a regular occurrence because my belt is always, out of necessity, of the cheap variety), I have nothing to keep my trousers up with. Therefore, because a rent asunder situation arouse yesterday I had to put on my tightest pair of trousers today and venture out to that great temple of consumerism, the Metrocentre in Gateshead, to buy myself a new belt.

This, you would think, would be a simple task. The Metrocentre must have thousand of belts for sale within its many stores. Unfortunately, I have one simple requirement of my belts that makes the speedy purchase of one impossible. I absolutely refuse to buy a bog standard item, such as a belt, that has been made in China. I don't like the fact that such an item will have been shipped half way across the world when they can easily be produced nearer to home, and I certainly don't like the idea of my money going towards the increased empowerment of the human rights abusing, mass murderers of the Chinese government. However, this is not an attitude shared by the purchasing departments of the major chain stores. I couldn't even get a belt that was not made in China from Marks and Sparks, and it was not that long ago that they boasted about their goods being made in Britain. In the end, after over an hour of looking, I managed to buy a designer belt from TKMaxx at a knock down price which had, at least been made in Italy.

My New (Church) Year resolution is going to be to attempt, on my limited budget, to buy as local and as ethically as possible. I think, with global warming and all that, cutting the mileage on our essentials is more important than all other considerations, even the organic option. Above all, China has to be as big a no no as South Africa was during apartheid. Now that the Chinese rich have enjoyed the goodies of capitalism, threatening the continuation of their new found wealth has to be the easiest and quickest way to get the working people of China a lot more freedom in their everyday lives than they currently experience.

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