Eddie Izzard’s Anglican Inquisition (Lego version)
Eilen Jewell, ‘Santa Fe’
Gérard David (c1460-1523), La Vierge à la soupe au lait
The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in this world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.
I open the New Testament and read: ‘If you want to be perfect, then sell all your goods and give to the poor and come follow me.’ Good God, if we were to actually do this, all the capitalists, the officeholders, and the entrepreneurs, the whole society in fact, would be almost beggars! We would be sunk if it were not for Christian scholarship! Praise be to everyone who works to consolidate the reputation of Christian scholarship, which helps to restrain the New Testament, this confounded book which would one, two, three, run us all down if it got loose (that is, if Christian scholarship did not restrain it).
We are a group of very welcoming people. Especially the vicar. She’s the one you can see talking at the front during the service. Unfortunately she will have rushed into the church without really greeting you (because she was on her way in from St Ambrose’s church, where she took the 8 o’clock) and she won’t get much chance to talk to you on the way out, either - she’s got to get over to St Swithin’s for the 10.30. She has a fairly fixed expression, we know. This is because she is now so used to ‘showing her face’ for short periods of time at so many events. Her face is more-or-less stuck in that expression where she looks vaguely friendly, but too busy actually to stop and talk. And her eyebrows don’t move at all from that kind of alarmed look any more, as a result.
Second of the two podcasts of the Honest to God event.
Podcast (first of two) of the Honest to God anniversary event, below. I was the grumpy member of the panel, arguing that the book had been destructive in trying to modernise Christianity by making it more abstract and minimal.