Monday, 21 March 2011

Northern Catch: The Bishops Fashion Show

Lara Crofter: [Stood, holding a microphone] Well welcome to this special programme from the team of Northern Catch and some like me from Radio Chadderbox here in Wykkyfish as we host a special television event, a fashion show for the coming of bishops. Tell us all about it, local minister, Lesley Bloke.

Lesley Bloke: [Stood next to a high-backed chair, holding a microphone] Well I thought I'd generate a bit of publicity for my new Church by looking forward to the coming of female bishops in my old Church, and this really took off when Wok Pan decided this was an area where he could apply his talents. And once he said yes, we got our sponsorship, from Cheeses of Nachos, and it was all go.

Lara Crofter: But you are hosting it, not taking part.

Lesley Bloke: That's because the people taking part are in my old Church, with a few exceptions, but they also have bishops, whereas my Church at least in the UK doesn't have bishops. Wok said he wanted his clergywomen especially to "Look good bishoped" and one lucky person will have their image projected on Wykkyfish City Hall.

Lara Crofter: You thought at one point you might not make it.

Lesley Bloke: I've been suffering from MP3 Syndrome, so that's why I've got the chair and why I wasn't at the rehearsal.

Lara Crofter: Where is he?

Lesley Bloke: Who?

Lara Crofter: Wok Pan.

Lesley Bloke: Behind the scenes I think. I need to say, Peter, anchorman of Northern Catch, the leading regional news programme for this area, please introduce fashion guru Wok Pan.

Peter Levite: [Stood, holding a microphone, pointing it at himself and at Wok Pan as needed] He's here with me. How's it cooking, Wok?

Wok Pan: I've been with these wonderful clergywomen all this week, and they are perfectly safe with me, you know, even though they all love me very much. A week ago these girls did not have the confidence to strutt their stuff, but now I've made my choices and given them my designs and these are the fabulous bishops of the future and they will be out there in the crowds.

Peter Levite: Lets get those crowds in our living rooms to text in with your comments or email to uk or We'd better get started, then. Over to you, Lesley Bloke.

Lesley Bloke: [Sat down] First one is casual, Wok?

Wok Pan: The theme, Lesley, is from blue to red so long as it's purple to crimson, the colours of bishops. Our first model, Julie, she is wearing casual clothes or the bishop for a more evangelical or low liberal church Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: So there is Julie on the catwalk. Julie, come over here. Julie, what are you hoping for, as well as becoming a bishop perhaps?

Julie: World peace and an end to famines.

Lesley Bloke: Do you pray for those?

Julie: Oh yes. The clothes are lovely, just right for lounging around and meeting evangelicals.

Lesley Bloke: And low liberals, I suppose. Thank you Julie.

Wok Pan: So you can see, Lesley, and all you lovely ladies, that this bishops' uniform of colours is for the older lady, and is just as good for the more casual wear and would also suit the office too for those in Church House.

Lesley Bloke: Is there any support in that?

Julie: It's the natural me, but the heavy cross helps. [Each model knows that as Lesley Bloke pauses to move on they are to return behind the screen and into the changing room to await the final walkout of all the models]

Lesley Bloke: Oh crumbs. How long does this go on for? The next one Wok. Wok Pan, is this what the bishops are going to be wearing?

Wok: The word is feminine, Lesley, and our next one is all about pattern co-ordination, with a strong pattern from mitre to tops to bottoms, thoughout, so Angie would make a big impact coming out of the vestry into that all important church service. Here's Angie on the catwalk everybody.

Lesley Bloke: Gosh, even her hair is purple. Angie, come and talk to me. We have met before so, er, Angie, what do you think about the proposed Anglian Communion Covenant?

Angie: Well all the bishops currently are in favour of it.

Lesley Bloke: Angie, are you? What do you think about Hereford putting into touch and Wakefield saying no? We haven't spoken about this issue have we, so I'm curious.

Angie: To be honest, Lesley, I haven't given it a lot of thought.

Lesley Bloke: Do you think you will be giving it a lot of thought?

Angie: If I was a bishop, yes.

Lesley Bloke: So what about it going to the dioceses. I mean, Oxford, sending it to the deaneries too?

Angie: That's good.

Lesley Bloke: Angie, do you think your outfit better suits Morning Prayer, the liturgy of the Eucharist or Evening Prayer?

Angie: To be honest again, Lesley, I haven't given it a lot of thought.

Lesley Bloke: Do you think you will be giving this a lot of thought?

Angie: If I was a bishop, yes.

Lesley Bloke: Well thank you Angie. From the list I see your ordained sister is on later.

Angie: Yes, she might want to be a bishop too.

Lesley Bloke: Thank you again Angie. [Saying quietly] Oh shit, this is really bad. [Louder now] Wok, who is next?

Wok pan: We can't forget the men, Lesley, even the most feminine of men if we have some pretty masculine women.

Lesley Bloke: A name would be useful, Wok.

Wok Pan: This is one of our men, Perry Match. He is the new radical face of being a bishop, because along with the purple he is just so much the multicoloured swapshop of fashion.

Lesley Bloke: Come from the catwalk and come and see me. You are Perry Match from...

Perry Match: Swindle, a town up north like Wykkyfish.

Lesley Bloke: And what position or role do you hold. You're not a bishop already? Hang on, I know you: you are one of my Faceblock friends.

Perry Match: Oh I've forgotten to put the cross and chain on. No, there's only Bishop Adrian, as of now, and I'm a member of the Liberal Catholic Church of Britain, the LCCB. Here is my identity card. This one cost me £10 but they are cheaper if done in bulk. It gives the phone number of the bishop, and the website details of things like my CRB clearance.

Lesley Bloke: I once thought about a bit more independence. Some call you independents.

Perry Match: Independent Sacramental Ministry. It goes back to the days when Arnold Harris Mathew brought Old Catholicism into this country. The Church of England, as it was then, Archbishop was pretty irritated. AHM thought there were congregations already in place, but he was cheated. He had a line up of clergy and bishops, including making an ex-Anglican priest, Willoughby, a bishop, and AHM was pretty much concerned then over the gay clergy issue, even in the 1910s, an undercurrent when he changed his mind and banned clergy from being in the Theosophical Society. So Wedgwood, into Theosophy, became a bishop from Willoughby and with Leadbeater developed the Liberal Catholic Church. This provides one line of tradition and consecrations, but there are others including from your own man, Ulric Vernon Herford, or he was one of your Unitarians before he went off eastwards and as bishop founded the Evangelical Catholic Communion on the basis of wanting to be very ecumenical.

Lesley Bloke: Who irritated the Archbishop?

Perry Match: You did, according to your blog.

Lesley Bloke: No, back then. In the 1910s.

Perry Match: Arnold Harris Mathew or AHM. Archbishop Davidson was worried by him, because AHM went around reordaining hundreds, especially Anglo-Catholic clergy worried about their orders.

Lesley Bloke: Anyway that was most interesting, Perry.

Perry Match: There's a few more of us behind the partition, ready to come on to the catwalk.

Lesley Bloke: The name of our next catwalker, or should that be wokcaker, Wok?

Wok Pan: Daphne with the rolled back sleeves, Lesley. Back around the usual broad purple guideline we go hard over to the blues now but see in the shine the hint of the other towards the red. See, Lesley, this is all very postmodern, but it's postmodernism with the rules of the office. Except when it's Look Good Naked.

Lesley Bloke: Daphne, come over here. Hello Daphne.

Daphne: Are you the famous Lesley Bloke, who used to be an Anglican?

Lesley Bloke: Yes I am. Daphne, what churchship are you?

Daphne: I'm strongly Anglo Catholic, Lesley, very traditional. I met Maggie today, cousin of Annie and Angie - she's the same but different.

Lesley Bloke: So when would you wear this outfit, Daphne? Which service - the midweek one?

Daphne: Oh no, it wouldn't be for taking services. I'd wear this when out visiting, like to old peoples' homes and so on, though even there we get the garb on to do the house communions.

Lesley Bloke: Do you have a curacy in an Anglo-Catholic parish?

Daphne: No I'm priest in charge now. The previous incumbent left to join an ordinariate - the Roman Catholic one not the Unitarian one. Are you helping to organise the Unitarian one?

Lesley Bloke: Yes, the Society of Francis William Newman is for Anglicans who wish to retain Anglican patrimony after the Anglican Communion Covenant is passed, should it be passed. It'll be up and running as soon as it is passed. Those retaining Anglican features - without creeds, of course - would have to be in new planted churches, having to build up their congregations. Patrick in the Midlands and me in Wykkyfish, we are doing it with advice from Harry Tickpaper. Harry and we are writing Unitarian Common Worship, the first major liturgical book since Orders of Worship in 1932.

Daphne: I have to build up my congregation since half of them walked out with Father Nobbs.

Lesley Bloke: Well thank you for that conversation. I genuinely wish you the best in your ministry.

Daphne: I shall ask that Mary prays for you, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: If you wish. Wok?

Wok: We have the other boy. Yes, the boys have been bishops for a very long time, Lesley, but this design, sticking this time to the colour scheme, shows that being a bishop is something of a prison without the girls in purple. Our next model nearly wasn't well enough tonight but there's nothing like good clothing and solidly suitable fashion for pumping up the spirits. So on to the catwalk, out you go, here he comes!

Lesley Bloke: Ah, it's Adam. Adam Tilgate everybody. Adam, what is that shirt? Such a contrast with Perry's!

Adam Tilgate: It's the arrows, suggesting a doctrinal prison, or the limitations of office I think, in the Church in England.

Lesley Bloke: So what are you suffering from?

Adam Tilgate: Same as you; why you are sat down Lesley. MP3 syndrome.

Lesley Bloke: It's little known, Adam. Anyway, thanks and bye.

Adam Tilgate: Is that it? Don't I get to talk?

Lesley Bloke: If you must.

Adam Tilgate: It's what you might call a Sensually Transmitted Disease, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: Yes, thanks Adam, bye.

Adam Tilgate: Don't you want me to explain it? Or do you wish to cut off all your ties with Anglicans, Lesley?

Lesley Bloke: Go on then.

Adam Tilgate: It is when people who are in love, OK, share their things, and especially their music players. They put one earpiece on one ear and one in the other's ear - when both earpieces were in the one head before, yes? So then it deposits a bug that affects the ear, nose and throat department, with visible evidence around the neck and on the lips, Lesley, in the early days, and then it leaves you all sort of tired. For me it leaves chest pains and for women it swells the breasts. Not a good thing if you are a minister of religion, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: So it's what used to be known as the Walkman bug.

Adam Tilgate: But it is much more frequent now. It's why the Church in England has such strident rules on sexual contact before marriage, especially for clergy, Lesley. Imagine the condition of clergy, including male and female bishops, if so many were suffering from MP3 Syndrome.

Lesley Bloke: Really, the Church should go further and ban the sharing of MP3 players. Well, thanks, Adam, and for everyone's health information please do listen to music through your own headphones or, better still, through a set of speakers. I'll see you later, Adam, as it is a long way back to Oxford from Wykkyfish and, no, I don't wish to lose all contact with Anglicans. Did you park your car in the church car park?

Adam Tilgate: Yes, but I said I wasn't going to shop in Tesco.

Wok Pan: It's the service-taking look next, Lesley. They set me a challenge: designer fashion or get it from the high street. Lesley, Annie here is Angie's sister, and Annie is wearing everything from the high street, except for the hat. That was made by cutting and folding card and it's painted. So if bishops turn people off, this will not; this is the fashion of the street.

Lesley Bloke: With a sort of see through middle and shiny leggings. I mean, what's the alternative, a shell suit? Come over here Annie.

Annie: I think this will increase the numbers in our congregations.

Lesley Bloke: I don't doubt it. Well, I suppose it beats filling pews with parents who want to get their children into the local school. Annie, do you think the Archbishop of England, Rowanov Treetri, is doing a good job?

Annie: It is a very difficult task, Lesley. I mean, since the Church has been disestablished, you'd have thought it would be an easier job. Some said we'd have become more sectarian, like, but we still do Erastian duties and we still have clergypeople not unlike you, Lesley. But when it comes to the division of the job between his international role and then this Church, he is between a rock and a hard place. He must resign, Lesley, if the Covenant didn't go through, but some of us may resign if it does go through.

Lesley Bloke: Well fortunately I don't have to make that decision. I quit early.

Annie: If it goes through, Lesley, people like you still with us will be very uncomfortable, whereas if it doesn't go through the institution will be in turmoil and they'll be looking for scapegoats. Bishop Monarch will be unbearable. Our cousin, she's on later, she is different still.

Lesley Bloke: Well, you've raise the tone of the event Annie and I thank you. Wok, what else is in the pan?

Wok Pan: Very droll, very droll Lesley. Lesley, I share my MP3 player and I've never become weak and listless. Next up is someone you know, wearing a proper mitre and looking the part. Out you go my lovely, in the first of a number of outfits.

Lesley Bloke: Oh yes, it is Rachel Marsovenus. Strutt your stuff Rachel! Oh yes, it's almost like you've done this before. Come come. I'll stand up to talk to you [Lesley stands]. What's coming up in your diary, Rachel?

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiccough. I'm off to New York very soon, into the land of Anglican heresy! Actions should mean consequences, Lesley, but as an individual only recently ordained a deacon and a curate I need to learn. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Not a curate exchange to America?

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiccough. No no, I'm going to do an extended indaba. It is in a church in Daba County, Upper New York, so a number of us are going to do an indaba in Daba doing our debate input into the indaba really on how to bring the Americans within the terms of the flouted moritoria.

Lesley Bloke: So you will be one of the Flintstones.

Rachel Marsovenus: What? Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: It is what you call people who participate in indabas. Indaba Daba do, in your case. Wilma!!!

Rachel Marsovenus: I think you are taking your postmodernism a bit far, Lesley, after all I understand Frei and Lindbeck and they are postliberal and I've never lost the Gospel, Lesley. Lesley, can't you change? Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: You are going to be on again, very soon: by the way, that is a question mark on your mitre, Rachel.

Rachel Marsovenus: Pity you didn't stay, Lesley, hiccough, or you might have been wearing it yourself, even if it is a question mark. It's a crook, Lesley. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: I'll ask you later if there is a place for any sort of mitre on a female head in the future Church in England. Go get changed, Rachel.

Wok Pan: The question mark is a mark of the ambiguity of the newer bishop's office, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: So it is a question mark. Well it's not quite where Rachel is at, at the moment, Wok. What's next, Wok?

Wok Pan: Katie was a TV presenter before being ordained, Lesley, so as she gets to the catwalk you can call her over for that all important chat.

Lesley Bloke: [Sits down] Katie, come across here.

Katie: I'm actually a Methodist, Lesley - a minister. Did you never think of becoming a Methodist?

Lesley Bloke: Never gave it a thought. Why would I move sideways. But, er, tell me about your ministry.

Katie: Methodist Association of Youthful Clubs. We call it youthtful now because people are so much older. It's still, though, like the old joke, the Marriage Association of Younger Couples. I think God is telling us to merge with the Church in England, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: Don't bring God into it.

Katie: I think we won't start to grow again until we put back together a critical mass, and God says this will only happen when Methodism self-sacrifices and goes back into the Church from where it came. We will take bishops back; I would accept conditional reordination.

Lesley Bloke: And why has God decided so far that the Methodists have stayed distinct?

Katie: We needed to discover holiness, so that God saw that we were worshipping him properly. We discovered that, and we lost that, and now we must come back together.

Lesley Bloke: Can I ask you a question? Does your God really give a toss about what Methodism does when thousands are dead in Japan, many are killed in Bahrain and bombs are dropping on Libya?

Katie: God looks after his own, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: Well Katie, I hope God looks after you.

Katie: The youthful and me pray to God regularly and dearly, Lesley. I hope you pray, pray that you might be saved.

Lesley Bloke: Prayer is one of the things in my wardrobe, Katie.

Katie: But do you wear the clothes, or do they stay in the wardrobe?

Lesley Bloke: I wear what I put in my wardrobe, Katie; other people like you wear what I sent to the charity shop.

Katie: I only go to the high street, Lesley. On clergy income, less than TV I grant you, we don't need to go to charity shops.

Wok Pan: High street it is, but not for clergy shirts, and Sharon has a full round collar informal wear, Lesley, thus for work if in jeans and it suits the shape of her face.

Lesley Bloke: So that is Sharon now on the catwalk.

Wok Pan: Baring her middle, it states, 'We bishops are just the same as all other human beings.'

Lesley Bloke: What a relief. Sharon. Hello. You Anglican?

Sharon: I am a Rector and Vicar and have twenty five rural churches under my watch. I'm one of the last to have freehold. I learnt to drive last year too - the insurance is enormous.

Lesley Bloke: I have one church and a tiny congregation. How do you manage twenty five?

Sharon: Services at 7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12 midday, 1:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m, 4:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and we rotate with most of them opening once a month and some twice a month. Don't worry - I only write one sermon a week.

Lesley Bloke: And sizes of congregations?

Sharon: From about six to twenty. Trouble is, most say they don't know if the church opens that particular week, so we tend not to get new people.

Lesley Bloke: Why not close a few?

Sharon: The suffragan bishop wants to see which ones close naturally and then to rationalise only later.

Lesley Bloke: Presumably you have some lay Readers.

Sharon: No no, well they're a bit old now and have stopped. We have suggested some younger ones turned 60 become Non-Stipendary Ministers, with a crash course, but I'm afraid apathy is the main problem, as people like to do more leisurely things when they retire.

Lesley Bloke: You are young, Sharon, younger even than me I guess.

Sharon: I'm getting old, quickly, Lesley; look at me on a Sunday evening.

Lesley Bloke: But six to twenty multiplied by 25: still plenty to have coffee with after services.

Sharon: No no: done one service, in the car. Packed lunch, packed tea: every week and it's busy very soon too. Easter.

Lesley Bloke: I remember Easter. Well thanks, and Wok?

Wok Pan: It's that all embracing Star Trek look now, Lesley, with the crosses doubling up as communicators. We can't exactly beam them up, but they are coming on to the catwalk. It's Rachel again and her friend.

Lesley Bloke: No mitres. Star Trek in shades of purple then. The chaps in red, when they beamed down with the ship's leaders, they didn't last long.

Wok Pan: That was the original Star Trek, Lesley; these are definitely Next Generation. These are high flyers. Lesley. Rachel, Anna Spaniel.

Lesley Bloke: Rachel and a spaniel? Who's her friend then? Where's the dog?

Wok Pan: Anna Spaniel. Anna.

Lesley Bloke: Sorry, I'm a bit tired, poor attention span. Do come over and sorry Anna.

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiccough. We were ordained at the same time.

Wok Pan: You are forgetting something, Lesley. Our sponsor.

Lesley Bloke: Oh yes. Rachel or Anna. Do you like Cheeses of Nachos?

Anna Spaniel: All sorts of cheeses.

Lesley Bloke: But Cheeses of Nachos. Well, mild or mature? What is the answer?

Rachel Marsovenus: Jesus. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Cheeses not Jesus.

Rachel Marsovenus: Jesus is the answer to everything. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: That's an old one. BOO!!

Rachel Marsovenus: Hey?

Lesley Bloke: I'm trying to frighten you, to lose your hiccoughs.

Rachel Marsovenus: They sound like hiccoughs but its called the Belpering Condition. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Where did you get it?

Rachel Marsovenus: I was going around the Derby and Joan club. Hiccough. I was doing some healing, you get it from giving a kiss. I first noticed it when I gave my first sermon to my new priest in charge - well, actually, I didn't think it was very good so went to the vicarage and put it under the car's windscreen wipers and when I ran off I hiccoughed then.

Lesley Bloke: Surely it would be more common if it was just from kissing.

Anna Spaniel: It's not like a kiss we might do with a boyfriend or girlfriend. It's when you kiss someone's hair and you take in a hair follicle and it spreads it chemical and agitates. Hiccough. Oh shit.

Lesley Bloke: What happened?

Rachel Marsovenus: Well we didn't kiss, that's for sure. Gosh no. Hiccough. When? Hiccough. I don't kiss women. I, hiccough, hiccough, oh it's getting worse. I'm mature enough now not to kiss women like some teenage crush and I read Romans 1.

Lesley Bloke: Mature? I'll put that down as mature. Rachel here prefers mature Cheeses of Nachos.

Anna Spaniel: You came to me and I laid hands on you. I kissed your head afterwards.

Rachel Marsovenus: Phew, of course. Hiccough. Hell. Right. Well, all three of us, then: I'll lay hands on you Anna, you lay hands on me and we'll both lay hands on Lesley. Let's not kiss each other's heads afterwards. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: What for?

Rachel Marsovenus: Don't want to extend the hiccoughing. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Why me?

Rachel Marsovenus: Your MP3 Syndrome.

Anna: Actually, more people than you think get MP3 syndrome and not everyone feels tired. It isn't just chest pains like Adam said: it can swell the male stomach just as it swells the breasts.

Lesley Bloke: Leave me out; it's superstition. [Lesley Bloke stays sat]

Anna: No it's true.

Lesley Bloke: What Rachel wants to do.

Rachel Marsovenus: No no, we don't do superstition. It's the Holy Spirit. Anna. Kneel down Anna now please. [So Anna Spaniel kneels, Rachel lays hands on her head] O come down Holy Spirit, hiccough, and heal this child of God, through Christ our Lord. OK, me now. Hiccough. [She forgets and kisses Anna's head] Damn, oops; not damn at all.

Anna Spaniel: [Anna gets up, Rachel kneels] Hiccough. O come down Holy Spirit, hiccough, and heal this child of God, through Christ our Lord. [Anna doesn't kiss Rachel's head]

Rachel Marsovenus: Please can we lay hands on you?

Lesley Bloke: No. So we are now well into this fashion show, covered by Northern Catch and sponsored by Cheeses of Nachos.

Anna Spaniel: I'm sponsored by Jesus of Nazareth.

Rachel Marsovenus: Oh brilliant. That's brilliant. So am I, praise God. Hiccough. Hey, you didn't hiccough. Hiccough.

Anna Spaniel: Gosh, you're right.

Rachel Marsovenus: See, Lesley, that's the power of the Holy Spirit. Hiccough. Now will you come back? Change your mind and come back to the bosom of the Church.Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: No, and there are enough bosoms here in this fashion show.

Rachel Marsovenus: Can we please lay hands on you? It can't do any, hiccough, harm.

Lesley Bloke: Oh if you must. Ha - it's all part of the postmodern mix I'm sure, and you see it in emerging Church.

Anna Spaniel and Rachel Marsovenus: [Together - Rachel taking a slight lead] O come down Holy Spirit, and heal this child of God, and bring her back to the true faith, through Christ our Lord. [They don't kiss her head]

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiccough. Lesley, why not stand up in the power of the Lord. Throw away that chair!

Lesley Bloke: Well thank you anyway and I'll stay sat down if you don't mind.

Rachel Marsovenus: Well, God is in charge. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Thank you Rachel Marsovenus and Anna Spaniel.

Anna Spaniel: Hiccough. Oh bugger.

Wok Pan: Next up is the sexy look, right at the red end of the spectrum. It's Caroline, and she is on the catwalk. Say woo to that all you ladies and the boys will be excited too.

Lesley Bloke: What the fuhh?

Wok Pan: It's the bishop in the bedroom, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: Caroline. I don't know how you can, Caroline.

Caroline: I think this will make bishops inescapable.

Lesley Bloke: Well, you're not kidding. The men, and not a few women, will come and find you. But let me ask you a serious question. Do you think bishops should be in the bedroom, when it comes to clergy relationships?

Caroline: How do you mean?

Lesley Bloke: Well, in the Church in England, thank goodness not in mine now, clergy have standards to meet that are the old fashioned ones, and if two lovers go to the bedroom before marriage they are likely to find the bishop in the bed.

Caroline: I thought that was just for Civil Partnerships.

Lesley Bloke: Well it is, but on the grounds that the Church in England upholds heterosexual sex only and in marriage only, the Civil Partnership people can never have sex, and the heterosexuals must get married pretty quickly.

Caroline: Paul said: if you have to succumb to the urge, better to get married.

Lesley Bloke: But the Church in England rules. You know, like we'd only shared a music player but I've got MP3 Syndrome. Imagine getting a dose of the clap?

Caroline: Does the bishop know all that?

Lesley Bloke: Starts with the archdeacon, doesn't it, who is the eyes and ears of the bishop?

Caroline: I think my outfit is for the heterosexual, married bishop.

Lesley Bloke: But then it is not very ecumenical, is it?

Caroline: Why not?

Lesley Bloke: Because Rome and Orthodox don't have married bishops.

Caroline: They don't have women bishops, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: Sorry, poor attention span. I'm being distracted. I'm starting to forget. No that is true. Can only bishops order that costume?

Wok Pan: Anyone can order these costumes, Lesley, through my website and there's a link on the Northern Catch website and at Cheeses of Nachos. It's the postmodern spillover: we are all bishops now. Next up is Rose, and back to the daytime with Rose.

Lesley Bloke: Thanks Caroline. Gosh, that's quite usual, considering.

Wok Pan: It's the working girl and Rose is a Non-Stipendary Minister.

Lesley Bloke: I'll stand again. Rose is quite tall. [Stands up] Hello Rose.

Rose: I'm a teacher, and that's my income job, but I am going part time.

Lesley Bloke: Why part time?

Rose: The sheer workload.

Lesley Bloke: Too many churches again.

Rose: No no, that's easy compared with teaching. Teaching is like you need more hours than you've got.

Lesley Bloke: Ministry was similar. I'm all right now, like.

Rose: Nobody should be fooled by this. Ministers of religion do work some funny hours throughout the day but they have lots of time in between. They might not want to talk to x, y and z, but that's a lot different from planning lessons, doing them, doing all the marking and assessments and dealing constantly with unruly pupils.

Lesley Bloke: But going part time means less money.

Rose: It does because the NSM is ministry on the very cheap - you don't get paid at all. Lots of women have ended up as NSMs, and don't have the time to do it justice unless they are kept women or are retired. Very few could come here, to be in this fashion show.

Lesley Bloke: You have, though.

Rose: I'm off work for stress.

Lesley Bloke: So is part time a solution?

Rose: It's my only solution. But the Vicar, he said I can do more. I'm not doing more, and hear this - 'I am not doing more.'

Lesley Bloke: How many churches?

Rose: Seven, two in towns. They run full whack, the rest open fortnightly. We have a new deacon soon, a she, and she was trained non-residentially. Like mine, training on the cheap, and not good for formation. She'll be NSM.

Lesley Bloke: The thing is, though, that the Unitarians could do with more distance learning, indeed any distance learning for professional ministry. There could be a happy medium somewhere.

Rose: Well it will only grow more in the Church in England. Trouble is, some Conservative Evangelicals insist on college formation.

Lesley Bloke: That's inculturation for you: the need for the total institution to implant sectarian ideology. Well, thank you as time presses and we have still more for the catwalk. So yes it's Chesses of Nachos, let me remember, sponsoring this fashion show on Northern Catch. Wok. [Lesley sits down]

Wok Pan: At the red end but with shimmers of that all important purple, it is Claudia, who is in fact another NSM and a chef. The straps are unnecessary but indicate continuity between the body and the brain.

Lesley Bloke: Is this what postmodernism really means?

Wok Pan: Postmodernism is one big swimming pool, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: And this is obviously the shallow end. Claudia, come and see me.

Claudia: I am a liberal. You might be interested as you are the famous one. I have read your blog for two years now.

Lesley Bloke: Excellent. Well it doesn't have the readership it once had. Once you stop being Church in England, people stop being interested. The tension dissipates.

Claudia: It is a pity we cannot have a liberal Church.

Lesley Bloke: I am in a liberal Church. It is nothing else. Creedless, it ministers to atheists and theists; Christians, Religious Humanists, Easterns and Pagans; Rationalists and Romanticists.

Claudia: Yes, but this is like the Progressive Christian Network, it's all talk and gets nowhere. It's like arguing over the recipe and never cooking the thing.

Lesley Bloke: We do: we worship. Well what do you want?

Claudia: You undermine, dismantle everything.

Lesley Bloke: No I don't. No we don't. I used to, unless I told stories, but now I build up.

Claudia: I want a set belief in the reality of God, what is real to me and so many.

Lesley Bloke: No one is stopping you. Many of ours have just that belief.

Claudia: Yes but you don't state it, you undermine it. We could set up our own fellowship.

Lesley Bloke: What about the liberal ordinariate?

Claudia: It is undermined. No, we need not a philosophy but a set belief, a conviction.

Lesley Bloke: So that would be the basis of your Church. That's doctrine, not liberal.

Claudia: You see, you are doing it again. QED.

Lesley Bloke: Well, there are lots of choices out there, and you can make up your own. I can only wish you the best.

Claudia: I like the parish church in the Church in England.

Lesley Bloke: Problem solved then.

Claudia: Every time I look at your blog, I think there you go again and you undermine everything, and here we are - problem solved, but it isn't and we are back where I started.

Lesley Bloke: I don't know what to say.

Claudia: Which is not very helpful.

Lesley Bloke: But thanks for, really, a stunning, figure-hugging outfit that suits you very well.

Claudia: You're not bad yourself. Sexuality is not fixed, you know. Your outfit pleases me.

Lesley Bloke: We all have our stories. Wok!

Claudia: You know where to find me.

Wok Pan: Imagine if we had women bishops in the Eighties, Rachel. This is bishop's wear for the summer, and Maggie is displaying it wonderfully. It's for those warm summer afternoons when the bishop comes to open the garden party.

Lesley Bloke: Blimey.

Wok Pan: Why didn't you come to the dress rehearsal, Lesley? We held it in Hereford. You never seem to quite know what is going on. Cheeses of Nachos did offer to pay for all travel.

Lesley Bloke: Well I thought it would be better if I saw the outfits for the first time and could respond like a member of the public. And it is about honesty, saying you don't know what's been going on when you don't. Maggie come here. You agree with honesty, Maggie.

Maggie: I think this is telling me that women cannot be bishops.

Lesley Bloke: What?

Maggie: What if the bishop is pregnant? Who then is presiding at the Eucharist?

Lesley Bloke: Fuhh - they had this argument before. I mean it's hardly a new one is it?

Maggie: No, but say you put your arms out and make the blessing: what if the foetus puts its arms out?

Lesley Bloke: Or indeed a member of the congregation.

Maggie: No, but the foetus hasn't been baptised, and yet is part of the ordained. And the difference is that the pregnant woman might be consecrating men.

Lesley Bloke: Whoopee - so?

Maggie: It's not exactly Bishop Foetus, is it, Bishop Unborn Baby?

Lesley Bloke: Well, pray, tell me what the Church Fathers say about this?

Maggie: Precisely nothing; nothing I could find.

Lesley Bloke: Then - ask Rachel Marsovenus - consult Hooker because this allows you to make tradition does it not? You're not pregnant are you?

Maggie: I'm a single girl observing Issues in Sexuality.

Lesley Bloke: You're gay!

Maggie: I didn't say that. I'm cousin of Annie and Angie, and they are very hetero. I'm the most Anglo-Catholic in the family. We all set about being ordinands at the same time, you see.

Lesley Bloke: But you couldn't ever join the pope's ordinariate, could you?

Maggie: Second thoughts, second thoughts. I go as a lay person. I'd be entirely happy to wear this as a lay person, and indeed I think the Holy Father has much to teach us.

Lesley Bloke: God give me strength.

Maggie: Is that a prayer?

Lesley Bloke: Thanks Maggie; I think it just might count as a prayer. Wok?

Wok Pan: She's back, and it's everybody's favourite. We've got plenty of push in this dress, and it's Rachel Marsovenus on to that catwalk! She's got the diamond on everyone.

Lesley Bloke: Goodness me she's got some front. Do you have an MP3 player Rachel?

Wok Pan: She's got the diamond on everyone.

Lesley Bloke: Another chat then Rachel. Come over here.

Rachel Marsovenus: Please change your mind and come back. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: No.

Rachel Marsovenus: Jeeeesus, he really loves you, wants you to come back. Hiccough. Stuff all the theology in the world, it's just that relationship he wants with you.

Lesley Bloke: What are you on about?

Rachel Marsovenus: Can't you feel it, imagine it, see it in coming to you? Hiccough. I'll pray for you. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Can we have a sensible conversation?

Rachel Marsovenus: Jeeesus, I pray that our servant Lesley can receive the gift of the Spirit, the Spirit you sent Lord, and will be blessed again. Hiccough. Amen. What do you want me to say?

Lesley Bloke: You're evangelical. So what about God the Father, Christ, Church, Husband, wife: that pecking order. What do you say to the claim that you should be silent in church or at best lead a Sunday School or the Mothers' Union? Not a problem for liberals.

Rachel Marsovenus: No no, we mustn't think all women clergy, all women bishops, are liberals. Hiccough. It is the Trinity - equally - and then humanity. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: A conversation between God, a conversation between humans. Indabas, even.

Rachel Marsovenus: No not that. Hiccough. Well yes to conversations. The Trinity means God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all equal, all co-eternal. Nothing wrong with my doctrine! Hiccough. It's our job to talk. Like I said, I'm going into Daba to do Indaba. But God remains the same.

Lesley Bloke: So why do you bother with all that postliberal stuff?

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiccough. It's the emerging evangelicalism, the trend of the moment: we need to communicate. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Do you understand the crisis of objectivity that leads to such as Barth, Frei and Lindbeck? Because you ignore it when it suits you, and use it as a fashion - as a fashion like these clothes are a fashion. Are you, Rachel, just fashion?

Rachel Marsovenus: It is the same gospel but a different age. Hiccough. You're just postmodernism. So there! We can all play at that game, Lesley.

Lesley Bloke: So did Jesus make any mistakes? What about the disciples? He got one wrong, didn't he.

Rachel Marsovenus: He had to pick Judas, hiccough; it wouldn't have worked otherwise.

Lesley Bloke: What about the last days?

Rachel Marsovenus: He said it'll come like a thief in the night. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: But not in thousands of years, or never.

Rachel Marsovenus: You used to think Jesus was perfect, hiccough, before 'the change'.

Lesley Bloke: The change? Perfection I did from the perspective looking upwards.

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiccough. Jesus came down from heaven. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Look, I wouldn't have seen eye to eye with you before 'the change', never mind now. Don't you ever think that, you know, you come out with all this stuff but actually it only speaks to the in crowd?

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiccough. But Jesus is in control.

Lesley Bloke: Nevertheless that is a stunning outfit and I'm sure you are young enough and sound enough in doctrine to climb the greasy pole to being a bishop, supposing that Evangelicals rule the roost. Plenty of time.

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiccough. Thanks anyway. I'll pray for you.

Lesley Bloke: I'll pray for you.

Rachel Marsovenus: Yeah, but who do you pray with and who to? My God is big. Hiccough.

Lesley Bloke: Me and my small God. See you after. Wok, who is next?

Wok Pan: Two together and one's got the crook. It's Jenny and Georgina, and as they sit upon the catwalk one can just imagine - put those green lights on them - the grass, the sheep and the pastoral scene.

Lesley Bloke: Well I'll stay sat but I hope Georgina and Jenny can come over here. Yes, come on.

Jenny and Georgina: [Together] Hello.

Jenny: We'll sit by you like we did over there.

Lesley Bloke: Do you agree with the idea that the Church in England should be led by bishops but synodically governed? Because, if you look at the Covenant, it could be that the bishops have led but the governance may not quite be working.

Jenny: It's Catholic and Reformed, isn't it, I mean we have to expect direction from the bishops.

Georgina: But I think women will consult more. They will change the House of Bishops, and it will be less like a cabinet that must show no dissent, and more like a discussion.

Jenny: I would like to believe it. What I hope is that any humanising that comes from mixed sex bishops...

Lesley Bloke: That really would be different.

Jenny: You know what I mean, might mean hooking in the lost sheep like with this crook.

Georgina: But will we be more like The Episcopal Church? It's inevitable, isn't it.

Jenny: I would not like to believe it.

Lesley Bloke: Why not? It is shown statistically, at least in the Church in England: women tend to be more liberal. Not Rachel Marsovenus, but many of her colleagues. Me, I was one.

Georgina: That's right, but we are a both-and Church, and should always keep up that presentation of doctrine but an ability to be ambiguous about it, at least in private if not totally in public.

Jenny: That would be duplicity.

Georgina: But not if people don't know.

Jenny: They know already. The cat's out of the bag. We need to just manage it best we can, and see who it is this kind of Church can attract.

Lesley Bloke: I'm getting signs that we need to move on to - oh - our last model. Well I think you've both got very nice legs but I've not met bishops with bare feet in church.

Wok Pan: Bare feet are the Emperor's new shoes, Lesley. We are at our last but one, Lesley, a lovely lady, actually. It is the understated, slightly see-through, working clothes that say, 'Hey, I'm feminine.' You can see Yasmin there.

Lesley Bloke: I think I might just throw up after this. By the way, where are all the ethnicities?

Wok Pan: Couldn't get them from the present day and interested ranks of the clergy, which was a stipulation. Are you feeling ill, Lesley, or is it your lack of commitment to the new postmodern woman?

Lesley Bloke: As a clergywoman, Wok, I am, and I was the most committed to postmodernism in the whole Church of England and probably now in Unitarianism too. Don't question my postmodernism, Wok, because if there is one thing I believe in it is postmodernism. So Rachel is right. Yasmine then, come across. Tell me, how long before the Church in England has gay clergy in relationships fully accepted?

Yasmine: I'm not in the Church in England. I'm a member of the Liberal Catholic Church in Great Britain, the LCCGB, ordained as a deacon and then priest a month ago.

Lesley Bloke: So a bit like Perry Match.

Yasmine: Well no. Well yes, but he is in the LCCB.

Lesley Bloke: Oh, well how big is your congregation?

Yasmine: Well there isn't one as such, but what I do is hold a daily Mass in my chapel alone, and sometimes someone like my dad comes and joins me.

Lesley Bloke: Where is your chapel?

Yasmine: It's my garage. I take the car out and there is an altar at one end.

Lesley Bloke: Do you have any congregation at all?

Yasmine: I think we will hire a room in town and advertise. I might do a Reiki healing. But we do a lot of ordinations because, when we get members of a congregation on the Internet we interview them, get them CRB checked and then tend to ordain them.

Lesley Bloke: Restrictions? I mean, once the CRB is clear.

Yasmine: None at all. We ordain regardless of sex or sexuality. I should say I have started a funeral ministry, and this pays quite well if you do enough of them, and we could well build a congregation that way. I mean among those who come to the service.

Lesley Bloke: I'm doing the same.

Yasmine: And I cremate regardless of sexuality.

Lesley Bloke: Well we don't actually cremate them ourselves, and I think all churches bury the dead whatever their sexuality. I mean, otherwise, if they took discrimination to that level there'd be heaps of rotting bodies.

Yasmine: And I will do religious ceremonies for Civil Partnerships and marriages and even I did a three way one - but it was unofficial.

Lesley Bloke: They are until legalised. I think we'll stick to couples. So presumably you have female bishops.

Yasmine: Next year.

Lesley Bloke: You haven't got any?

Yasmine: Oh yes but I will be a bishop next year. I'll join the House of Bishops then as only they run the Church. I mean we are not Protestant so we don't have lay involvement. But then there are six bishops and fourteen clergy, and perhaps still nine known lay people, although that might be thirteen clergy as one left yesterday I think. Oh and Bishop Small might be going to join the Great Britain Liberal Catholic Church, the GBLLC.

Lesley Bloke: You in the LCCGB have disagreements with the GBLCC? And with the LCCB?

Yasmine: I think the GBLCC are more Latin Rite centred than we are. We allow a mixture of liturgies, and with more of a preference for Leadbeater's than the LCCB.

Lesley Bloke: That is most interesting. And do you work?

Yasmine: I'm a firefighter. Fully trained, and can use all the breathing apparatus. I've even done the funerals for people who've died in fires I've attended.

Lesley Bloke: Gosh. I hope there is no clash of interest there. Well, a strong, dynamic woman indeed. Many thanks.

Peter Levite: It's the part I think we've all been waiting for.

Lesley Bloke: Oh Peter, yes. Over to you. Time has moved on.

George Hudson: [Sound only] I'm glad you said that Peter. The weather follows this programme.

Peter Levite: Wok, it's over to you.

Wok Pan: Sponsored by Cheeses of Nachos you can now see all the girls come out in the catwalk with Rachel back in her Star Trek outfit alongside her friend Ms Spaniel. But we have a real treat now for you, because I said to a real live bishop, you madam need more confidence in your body.

Lesley Bloke: Oh hell's teeth, where is the exit?

Wok Pan: If you look above the exit, Lesley, you'll see a fantastic image of a bishop projected on there now. Turn around everybody! But we can do better than that. This is postmodernity big time. We took her out, and we dressed her up, but now as the girls themselves part the way, here she comes. Yes she is a bishop, from the Liberal Catholic Church of the British Isles, the LCCBI, and we say hello Bishop Elaine, and Bishop Elaine has now the confidence to strut her stuff wearing the pink stole of office because she Looks Good Naked. There she goes, there she goes, and there she pauses and shows you how it's done.

Lara Crofter: I know her from the club: she's that naturist clergywoman.

Peter Levite: Shush Lara, this is the magic of television remember.

Lesley Bloke: [Standing up, thenwalking towards the models] Well, that's postmodern television for sure. Ladies and gentlemen, I think they say, we have surely had a most interesting event that we have organised today, thanks to the sponsorship provided by Cheeses of Nachos. I am the Unitarian Minister of Wykkyfish, so I look forward to any of you whatsover coming to the congregation, even the odd one extra, and I'm sure we can arrange to rent our space out to Yasmine or even Elaine here and they can build a congregation, probably quite easily in Elaine's case.

Peter Levite: George, where are you?

George Hudson: [His projected image replaces that of Elaine, over the exit] It is one warm day here at Doncaster station, as it is warm in there at Wykkyfish.

Peter Levite: Once upon a time you'd have done a decent forecast.

George Hudson: I've been too busy watching the fashion show, Peter.


Lesley said...

My favourite line was the one about I wear what is in the wardrobe, you wear what I sent to the charity shop!

You are a very bad boy - I got the windscreen wiper reference.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

If you got the reference to the windscreen wiper, then it's an unintended consequence. It is actually from Rachel's account of justifying female ordination, but being scared of approaching those in charge of her church, and putting her reply in favour of female ordination under the windscreen wipers of the car rather than face the person directly.

So now I have stumbled on something I don't know! I'm a very bad boy in ignorance.

Lesley said...

That is what I meant - she said she was embarrassed about it... it was only a quip on my part - not a criticism :)

Rachel said...

...does weird things to me... but mostly makes me laugh...with a bit of cringing to boot

FL's sedtaruji,RSStS OIO said...

I thinks your blogger ver great,but i saw the pic,good my lord,may i say that. first,i want to know,who's idea?