Prince George Converts!!

In a surprising development, the royal baby Prince George of Cambridge has been baptised into the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, symbolising and completing his conversion to Christianity from agnostic paganism.

“It’s true,” said the young prince, through an interpreter. “I’m all about Jesus now.”


Rumours have abounded among royal-watchers that George, the third in line for the throne of whatever-is-left-of-the-kingdom-by-that-time, has since his earliest days displayed an alarming proclivity to wild living.

“Frankly, he was a boob man,” admitted Mike Tindall, England rugby captain turned crooked-nosed royal. “And we’ve always been concerned that he’s tended to search for solace in a bottle.”

As is traditional, Prince George slept through most of the christening service, only waking up as the waters of absolution were dribbled onto his head by Justin Welby; the Archbishop of Canterbury having first dropped the baby three times, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

To the delight of onlookers, George cried loudly for the remainder of the day.

“Through these tears of repentance, he has really come to terms with the cost of forgiveness and the price paid in substitutionary atonement by Christ on the cross,” confirmed George’s uncle and new godfather, Prince Harry, wearing a ‘comedy’ Borat mankini. “But we remember that those who sow in tears will reap in joy.”



Eating our friend, Mr Pig, or: Why I Respect Vegetarians

[By David]

Yesterday (Friday) I did a bundle of things for the first time.  I’ll go through them one by one (with pictures – click for large versions), then go through the things that have been going through me.

Here are the firsts:

08:00 – Went to collect the head and offal of our boar.
08:15 – Talked to the butcher, who skinned the head for me.
08:30 – Took the head, kidneys, heart, liver, trotters, & ‘mountain oysters’ (testicles!).
09:00 – Bought a meat saw.
09:30 – Laid out plastic bags to catch blood; sawed the pig’s head into quarters; cut out the tongue; chopped off the ears; extracted the brain.
10:30 – Ate pig-brain for breakfast (w/ scrambled egg, parsley, & rocket/arugula).
12:00 – Put all the bits of pig-head into pots and boiled them up for a few hours.
16:00 – Scalded myself with boiling pig-stock; spend 45 minutes icing my stomach.
17:00 – Put all the bits of meat and stock into dishes to make brawn/head cheese.


And what I want to talk about is:

a)  The process of an animal becoming food.
b)  Why it’s important not to hide from the gruesome stuff.

When does ‘pig’ become ‘pork’?

Mr Pig was a nice boy: no hassle at all, and liked to lick my boots for some reason.  On Thursday lunchtime I gave him an apple and said goodbye; on Friday morning I saw him again, post-butchering, and his face looked just the same.  It was still Mr Pig.  Even when skinned, the head was very familiar (see top).  Two hours later, I was eating him.

[By the way, a skinned head is very slippy, and I discovered that the best way to hold it still is to grip the eye-sockets.]

Mr Pig is now meat, but from my perspective he didn’t cease to be Mr Pig at any specific moment: he turned into meat gradually.  While the moment of death was technically when he ceased to be him, it didn’t feel like that for me.  It was only when all the meat had long-since fallen off the bones and I was actually pulling out the teeth (I want to keep them as a kind of memorial) that Mr Pig genuinely ceased to exist in my eyes, yet even now the meat he has given us is completely distinct from any other food I’ve ever consumed.


What relationship do you have with your food?

I have a lot of respect for people who have chosen to do without meat because of the way in which animals are often bred, raised, transported, culled and so on.  Vegetarians may get laughed at and stereotyped as ‘bleeding hearts’ or whatever, but they’re far more in the right than most of us, who are happy to eat meat as long as we can forget that what we’re chewing was once a sentient being (who very probably had a crap life because that’s what suited us).  I don’t want to be that guy, any more than I want to be the guy who demands cheap clothes, yet is horrified when confronted by the sweatshops in which they were produced.  If I’m going to eat meat, I want to do it with integrity.

So farewell Mr Pig.  I know what he ate, where he lived, and how happy he was when we scratched his back; I know that we treated him well, that the culling process was as stress- and pain-free as possible, and that he didn’t exist just for money; and I know that we are not taking him for granted now we are eating him.  If I had known all of the biographical details of the last pack of suspiciously cheap bacon I bought, I doubt very much that I would feel too good about it.

photo[I’ve intentionally been a bit ‘explicit’ in this post (in pictures and descriptions).  That’s because this process has left me exposed with no place to hide, and I wanted to share that uneuphamized nakedness.]

Coptic Daily Prayers pt 4

The Repentance of Saint Peter, by Bartolome Esteban Murillo
The first three posts in this series were of the section of these prayers that originates specifically in the Coptic Church, but the remainder are far older than that: they are Psalms, and there are four of them.

The first Psalm is one of introspection, repentance, and forgiveness – a chance to get the ugly things out of my system and to reallign myself to God.  Some days this is as far as I get, but I know that I always need to get this far.

PSALM 51 [abridged]

Have mercy on me O God, according to Your loving-kindness;
According to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
Cleanse me from my sin;
For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

Create in me a clean heart, O God
Renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me away from Your presence,
Or take Your Holy Spirit from me,
But restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And uphold me with Your generous Spirit.

For the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart;
These, O God, You will not despise.

Hear Your servant's humble prayer. 


Peter repentance


I have been told that the further you walk with God, the more utterly aware of your own fallen nature you become, and maybe that's true.  But I had always wanted it to mean that I would progressively get harder on myself, due to achieving increasingly high standards in Godly living, whereas the reality is not that I'm getting any more righteous, only more aware of my need for forgiveness.

I can't spend even a few minutes under the weight of sin, which clouds everything and burdens everything and twists me into self-hate.  That's why I need this prayer.

I'm grateful for King David writing it (and having the guts to distribute it for public use, written at the lowest point in his life), for the emphasis on the magnitude of God's mercy, and particularly for the reminder that the worship God is interested in comes from a broken and contrite heart.  He loves and restores us.

Rembrandt.prodigal son detail

JRR Tolkien on the death of his wife Edith

Since I came of age, and our 3 years separation was ended, we had shared all joys and griefs, and all opinions (in agreement or otherwise), so that I still often find myself thinking 'I must tell Edith about this' – and then suddenly I feel like a castaway left on a barren island under a heedless sky after the loss of a great ship.

… the Luthien Tinuviel of my own personal 'romance', with her long dark hair, fair face and starry eyes, and beautiful voice…

But now she has gone before Beren, leaving him indeed one-handed.

[from Letter 332 of 'The Letters of JRR Tolkien']


Melancholic moments sometimes strike me, and I feel for a second something of how I would respond if Maria were to die.  I won't describe it now, but I will say what happens in the middle of it: I find myself loving her more (or being more aware of the degree to which I love her).

'The way to love anything is to realise that it may be lost' said Chesterton.

a humble pride in the impossible truth

So far as a man may be proud of a religion rooted in humility,
I am very proud of my religion;
I am especially proud of those parts of it that are most commonly called superstition.
I am proud of being fettered by antiquated dogmas and enslaved by dead creeds
(as my journalistic friends repeat with so much pertinacity),
for I know very well that it is the heretical creeds that are dead,
and only the reasonable dogma that lives long enough to be called antiquated.

–G. K. CHESTERTON, in Autobiography, 1936


Brennan Manning: 1934-2013


Some small snippets from this great man:

As we come to grips with our own selfishness and stupidity,
we… accept that we are impoverished and broken,
and realize that, if we were not, we would be God.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the
light side and the dark.

There is a beautiful transparency to honest disciples who never
wear a false face
and do not pretend to be anything but who they are.

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is

The temptation of the age is to look good without being good.

Do the truth quietly without display.

The litmus test of our love for God is our love of neighbor.