Thursday, 28 April 2011

Royal Wedding: Special Report

Lady Jean Bridie, our Diplomatic and Royal Editor

As befits my aristocratic style and title, we are pleased to describe the Royal Wedding which will take place in the next few hours in London.  Among the many guests will be some who are perhaps unworthy of an invitation.  Mr Cameron has decided that the absence of Messrs Blair and Brown was due to the fact that they did not hold appropriate knighthoods regarding chivalry.  We do not know if Mr Blair has a Papal knighthood or if Mr Brown was even considered for a Knight of the Thistle (KT).  We can only say that with a lot of arm twisting, both the Syrian Ambassador and the Crown Prince of Bahrain have kindly remembered that they have alternative arrangements. 

Relations with the 3rd, 4th and 5th estate remain cordial and we are pleased to invite thousands of media reporters to the procession route, and we remind everyone to obey the commands of His Majesty the King of FIFA, the Olympic Committee, Tesco Finest and Primark, exclusive sponsors.  Mr Cameron has issued edicts for the governance of street parties and it is important that when William and Catherine exchange vows, the whole nation responds in a rapturous shout of “Calm Down, Dear!”  This response is to be repeated SEVEN times, to be followed by a round of synchronised gestures.   

We have pre-programmed our blogging and tweeting service as of 2359 GMT this evening, and if our tweets bear no relation to reality, you can blame this on the Liberal Democrats.  If you find anyone canvassing for the LibDems or for Yes to AV, you are to report it to the appropriate authorities. 

We have nonetheless received information that The Prince William is to be raised to the Rank of a Duke.  He will henceforth be known as the Duke of Cambridge (other titles include Strathearn and Carrickfergus).  Catherine will be known by courtesy as HRH The Duchess of Cambridge.  Her heraldic achievement based on her family 'coat of arms' will be impaled with those of her husband. 

Many of our viewers were wondering why Cambridge was chosen.  Many royal dukedoms revert to the Royal Family central line, and currently Edinburgh is used by the Queen's husband.  Lancaster is used by The Queen (Yes!) - her Majesty is also The Duke of Lancaster.  York, Gloucester and other cities such as Inverness are already in use.  Some of the royal titles are inherited on birth.  While a female monarch cannot have a title Duke of Cornwall before ascending the throne, the heir male apparent would get this title on birth.  The titles Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester have to be created.  Thus Camilla Parker Bowles, though technically The Princess of Wales and future queen, prefers to be known as The Duchess of Cornwall. 

Strange things happen when the royal family go to that foreign country known as Scotland.   The royal coat of arms changes, and the lion and unicorn have reversed positions as supporters.  On his food products line, the title HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay is used, as the Duchy of Cornwall is not allowed to have land in Scotland. This is a reference to Duchy Originals. 

So Catherine Middleton will become HRH The Duchess of Cambridge.  The couple will be officially known as Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and informally as either The Cambridges or just Wills and Kate.  Names are so important.  They could have picked Clarence, Milton Keynes or Bolton, but Cambridge sounds so nice.  St Andrews could not have been used as one of the subsidiary titles of the Duke of Kent is already St Andrews.

So there you have it - the widow Pinter and Dr Kate Williams were quite hopeless on Radio 4.  Who said the late Queen Mother wasn't aristocratic?  Thank goodness Lady Jean Bridie-Bowes Lyon of Glamis and Forfar is the true thing!

We hope you have all enjoyed the Obreption Group Genealogical Institute (OGGI) reporting in many languages, across boundaries and across many faiths.  You will note with joy that the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams spoke with clarity the words from the Prayer Book and none of the mumbo-jumbo from other ecclesial bodies.  You will also note with great approval the address from Bishop Richard (the Bishop of London) made to the Royal Couple. 

Among our many viewers, we trust our fashion statements will be noted at the high street when 'foot fall' and monetisation theories are pre-eminent.  We have all had a superb day and some of the younger ones are going to rock round the clock. 

Our musical review specialists thought that the selection of Hubert Parry was well-judged: "I was glad".  There was also some pleasure that Elgar seemed to be missing from the playlist we enjoyed at the Abbey, but it may be that Obreption's loathing of this Malvern Hills musick has screened out the dreary tunes.  We're re-thinking the John Rutter piece. 

All in all, a great day for the Church of England.  We're not going to mention another service, but will doubtless blog.  May the festivities continue.  Please tidy up after your street parties.    And have a nice evening.
We wish William and Catherine all the best for the future.  GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!

ps: Do I get the Regius Jenny Geddes Chair of Theology title, Ma’am?

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Glasgow post – old firm drama: Linklater, Bruce and Bell


As promised, here is the round up of the Old Firm match following the opinion in the Times of London on Holy Saturday.  Magnus Linklater always waxes lyrically, and being part of the establishment, tries to keep on certain guest lists.  Linklater discussed sectarianism in Scotland at length in his article:

"Religious hatred lives on - not in church but at football".

Please note, there is a pay wall to this article and you may have to find other ways of getting it.  Please also note that Obreption bought the paper for a huge sum in Swiss Francs at a railway station in Chur (GR).

On Sunday Steve Bruce posted an article on the Guardian “comment is free” website entitled "Scottish sectarianism?  Let's lay this myth to rest". (  We don’t know if this article was published on Sunday in the Observer/Sunday Guardian (it’s the same paper, unlike the Sunday Mail which is really the Sunday Record and the Mail on Sunday, which is really the Daily Mail on Sunday).

We’ve mentioned Steve Bruce before and being a real academic, Bruce always backs up his comments with numbers taken from reliable sources, unlike some of Professor Haldane’s ‘sources’.  As usual Steve Bruce is thought provoking and uses clear language, much to the annoyance of some religious broadcasters and some eminent theologians from Oxford, Cambridge, London and Tuebingen! 

On Tuesday, John Bell did his "Thought for the Day" slot (BBC Radio 4) about Glasgow, and started with an old joke about a Protestant giving the ‘last rites’ to a Catholic.  If you don’t know the story, you can contact me, but be careful in case you leave an electronic trail and get arrested.   One of my previous posts involved a huge bit of ecumenical syncretism with my “hail baaji, full of cumin”.  We’re not re-tweeting this one as it could be viewed in bad taste, but many people in South-east Asia, China and Japan cope with syncretism quite well. 

John Bell is an interesting character from the Iona Community (  Bearing in mind that the Iona Community was promoted by George MacLeod (Lord MacLeod of Fuinary) on giving work to many unemployed people in Glasgow during the slump, the community has an interesting take on social justice as well as Christianity - though it has a tinge of self-righteousness when viewed by some other Protestant churches! 
I could make a bad joke about Hallow Een, but I’m trying to be on good behaviour for both the Royal wedding and the Second Coming of John Paul 2 on his first step to being made a saint (check out sainthood in a previous post). 

Thought for the Day: John Bell 26/4/2011-
ps:  A beautiful example of syncretism in action was made by Rev. Angela Tilby, who is a tutor at Cambridge.  If her ordinands at Westcott House appreciate people living in harmony, her tribute to Sathya Sai Baba was both moving and explanatory.  Sure the guru amassed a huge fortune, but he wasn't alone in this.  He built hospitals and communities and some of his devotees actually read the Gospels.  Angela quoted one of them reading from St John.  I have only on two occasions put an entry on the Platitude of the Day blog, and those two know who they are!  Well done Angela and you are up there with the Bishop of Oxford, and shows that you understand the 21st century.   

Thought for the Day: Angela Tilby 28/4/2011

The Scottish Government should encourage Angela to do some outreach work in Glasgow.  It would certainly be better than some of the characters mentioned in Magnus Linklater's column. 

pps: As we prepare for the Royal Wedding, we are having to hold over our tribute to Poly Styrene and Phoebe Snow.  I hope readers will understand.  Samira Ahmed on Channel 4 has done some work on Poly Styrene and I was going to add some input on the contribution of Dame Ethyl Benzene to the production of Poly Styrene.  (This was a significant cash cow for the Huntsman group in America and could in fact fund some of the GOP!)

Although we have many experts in sports, we are not great experts in racing.  Our knowledge of horses is limited to colts during Palm Sunday and we refer anyone who lost a packet at the 3:40 at Ascot on 'Theology' to take their complaint to the FSA, who will no doubt put it in an appropriate place.  We are similarly not offering any odds on or off the field regarding Royal Wedding and its chances at the races.  We do hope, however, that you enjoy the service and wish William and Catherine all the best when they marry tomorrow.

We also enjoin the Liberal Democrats to refrain from canvassing in the Abbey, St Margaret's and in street parties throughout the UK.  Obreption has spies everywhere.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Letter from Laax: Epistle from the Rhaetians

A discussion paper presented by the Office of Compline (CE) and Complan (Food for Thought)

This presentation was prepared in advance of Easter Monday and is now being leaked to the press.  The fear of an outbreak of violence in Glasgow has receded.  Steve Bruce made an interesting comment in Sunday’s Guardian.  We raise the issue of inter-faith and multi-faith schools and would reflect that these were sensibly dealt with on the Sunday programme* hosted by William Crawley, who is an excellent manager of this programme.  This programme is well worth a listen on an occasional basis; and when Crawley does it there isn’t the same sense of awe, majesty and respect for some religious specialists, which makes the programme much more enjoyable.


The Bishop of Oxford’s theories on faith schools were discussed and I was beginning to agree with Julia Neuberger on multi-faith schools which chimed with some of my syncretism predictions.  Given current EU laws and the Human Rights Act, there is going to be a lot of business for lawyers, accountants and inspectors.

Anti-competition practices are usually outlawed in the USA and European Union, though there are some exceptions.  In the US, the old sledge-hammer The Hart–Scott–Rodino (Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976) bans any type of 'collusion' or price-fixing or anything viewed as 'rigging the market'.  In Europe, DG4 controls the rules as they relate to the Treaty of Rome.  To some extent we religious specialists rely on such examples of sacred text, holy writ, divine inspiration, authority, rules, regulations, ordinances and so on.  We frequently make up the rules as we go along, and some are even said to be infallible. 

At this point I would normally have launched into a presentation concerning rational choice theory and why inter-faith dialogue or discussion groups are a nonsense.  If, to paraphrase Professor Bruce, "my way is better than your way" why bother to dialogue.  The only need for dialogue is surely to discuss the segmentation of the market and maximisation of the intellectual property rights of the religious body. 

In the old days, the scribe would write and copy learned texts, but with modern day cut and paste it can all be done by an app with 3D PowerPoint and cinematographic experiences such as those of Professor Cox.   Things can't get worse...  On theatrical expressions in worship, many worshippers have done the full circuit and the concept of cyber-worship is so old-hat.

Taking a keen interest in UK politics, I was taken aback by a couple of things heard in the House of Commons.  One was, Ed Milliband going on about the possibility of the EU interfering with the NHS once Mr Lansley and his wife have wrecked it. (What's going to happen to the Chaplains?  How are they going to be funded?)  And if this is going to happen in the hospitals, what about the chaplains in the prisons, in the armed forces and in the universities?  It seems that some religious specialists could be in for some tough revenue streamings, and if the EU rules our inter-faith discussions to be anti-competitive, how are we to protest?

The second item which caught my attention was the Westminster ban on feeding the poor in the vicinity of Westminster (RC) Cathedral in London.  I have already commented on this in an earlier post, but it is still interesting to consider the impact on such forthcoming events as Easter egg distribution and even Maundy Money for that matter! 

If Jesus came to Westminster, would he be served with an ASBO or one of Theresa May's equivalent products - Criminal Behaviour Order and Crime Prevention Injunction?  Will the EU wreck the glue that keeps Britain together?

As a well-known Catholic intellectual said recently: we academics need more saints.    Well, you can't beat that!  I nominate Richard Feynman:

Philosophy of science is about as useful to science as ornithology is to birds.

"Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it."


"Physics isn't the most important thing. Love is."

Finally, having spent a joyous Easter in a beautiful canton in Switzerland, we send you greetings from Flims, Falera and Laax.  We've had some very nice sermons and a real hoot of an Easter Sunday 'service' where a PowerPoint presentation went wrong and the RADA inspired pastor had over-rehearsed the women at the tomb, and while the congregation were reluctant to join in the happy-clappy part of the service, there was a spontaneous round of applause when the choir sang the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah.  Their service was so multi-lingual and so inspired, that it drowned out some of the bores who were bleating, as is their rite and right, if not responsibility!

Ben Di from Laax.  This link will take you to the local tourist office website for the area and its main mountain in the local Swiss (fourth language) Crap Sogn Gion.  Obreption has resisted putting sermon and the name of this mountain in the same phrase.

Holy Saturday roundup


Obreption has been very busy on several fronts and is still under close guard.  Tweets are still limited and Obreption has allowed an apostolic succession to the chosen 12 Obreptiles.  These Obreptiles are chameleon like and often act obreptitiously.  Current themes are the Royal Wedding, Urbi et Orbi, asbestos and insurance, histories, inspirational music and coping with the digital age. 

The team have been able to find an unpaid internship for a former prime minister at a nearby ski resort, checking out the monetisation theory of ski lifts.  Obreption found this a very difficult job and having heard from Mr Cameron about the need to get people off incapacity benefits, especially if they are power crazy, the team has been tasked with finding a job for Mr Clegg now that the scrap heap on the M1 near the former Scratchwood services has vaporised.  We are not implying any valorisation at this point. 

Power Point Presentation delivered by Professor Dr Regius (insert name) of University of (insert name)

Ladies and Gentlemen, can I draw your attention to the following pages on the hard copy of The Times of London of Saturday 23 April 2011, which has gone very holier-than-thou on some aspects of Christianity.  It is almost as if the proprietor of The Times was craving forgiveness for past transgressions (allegedly), and is giving valuable space and honorariums to wee specialists who know what is Best for readers of The Times.  Those featured include:

Michael Burleigh, Professor of History at the University of Buckingham

Alister McGrath, Professor of Theology at King’s College, London

Peter Hitchens, Columnist for The Mail on Sunday

Steve Clifford, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance

John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy at The University of St Andrews

David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity and Director of the Cambridge University Inter-Faith Programme.

+ an article by Nick Wyke about Rev Martin Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation

+ an editorial on faith schools and a rebuke for the Bishop of Oxford (p2)

Burleigh’s article is very probable.  He states that Christianity is on the rise and outside western Europe this is probably true, though the type of Christianity would be unrecognisable to readers of The Times and The Telegraph, but probably not to readers of the New York Times, The Guardian and – wait for it – The Mail Online, which has a huge outreach programme and a massive footprint internationally.  Burleigh has also written for Standpoint, and a reading group thought quite highly of the article, if a little bilious in tone towards Muslim immigrants.

McGrath had a bit of a rant against atheists who rant, a touch of a fog horn calling another fog horn loud.  Reading McGrath one feels that Augustine of Hippo was the rock of the church and not Jesus.  Still, predestination is always with us and it’s such a pity that Martin Palmer (who’s always on the airwaves) wasn’t there to stick the knife into St Augustine.  (see Pelagius controversy on )

Peter Hitchens – no comment

Steve Clifford with his evangelical background cites his own story with the evangelical subtext “you must be born again”, even though he had church connections. 

John Haldane, being surrounded by the relics and iconoclastic violence of the Scottish Reformation of 450 years ago - with the ghosts of Cardinal Prince David Beaton and John Knox and George Wishart within grasp - has an interesting take on philosophy.  Of course, being a good obedient Roman Catholic he has plugged his bosses book in the usual way and his input was certainly lacking the gravitas he normally puts out in the Catholic press.  Maybe the honorarium from the Times was Rupert’s pennies rather than the Ratzinger rouble. 

Nick Wyke wrote an interesting piece about Rev Martin Junge who exemplifies a trend well documented by Jose Casanova* on the social and practical ministry of much of the evangelical Protestant church which is attracting huge audiences and converts in the southern hemisphere.  Chile is a very good example and church (Evangelical and Roman Catholic) and state issues are well covered in the Santiago Times.
* (

David Ford gives an account of inter-faith activities which we have covered beyond belief in this blog, though we think that some inter-faith dialogues are often just a version of my enemy’s enemy is my friend.  Some faith’s are so exclusive, ‘have all the truths’ and are always so right that they really is no point in dialogue.  The higher one ascends the approach to god, the less room there is at the top, which makes a nonsense of some inter-faith dialogues when there is no common ground. 

These articles can be viewed on the following link - though there is a paywall!
At this point, Easter is being celebrated around the globe and we wish everyone the blessings of the season and if you have given up anything for Lent, you can now enjoy all the forbidden fruits, chocolate bunnies, Easter eggs, and other material culture which can only help the global economy.  Obreption is going to have to listen to the Archers for the first time in 6 weeks on Sunday at 7 pm.  Please pray for Obreption and do not tweet any plot line. 

Given this day in Laax (GR), Switzerland.   

Covereage concerning Easter Sunday, sermons, 'Clegg takes his gloves off', Bishop of Oxford and Glasgow football are being held over.  Expect inputs from Magnus Linklater, Steve Bruce and Cardinal Keith O'Brien on topics such as sectarianism, secularisation and football!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Letter from Louisville (KY)

Obreption was going to describe a pleasant visit to Laax in Switzerland and attempts to both climb every mountain and ski every ski-run.  However, a very serious letter has arrived from Louisville, in Kentucky, USA.  While much of the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic church has focussed on Boston, Dublin, Philadelphia, Belgium and some of the orders, we should not forget that other religions and indeed other so-called Christians have not been exempt from falls from ‘grace’.  As Easter is now breaking out in Asia, this link to report should be analyzed bearing in mind the documentation which backs it.  

Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up in the Louisville Archdiocese - Documents and Other Resources: Part 1

We had hoped that our letter from Kentucky would have covered more topics on the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Mississippi river system and the lakes in the west of the state of Kentucky.  Obreption has some golfing, fishing and house-boat stories from the area around Kentucky Lake and Cumberland Lake.    What follows is serious and no doubt there will be many cries of "Shame on you!" for releasing this on such a holy day.

To those who are incandescent with rage about the Bishop of Oxford raising the topic of community schools within England, I offer you two words.  You will find them in the New Testament.  If you haven’t read the Gospels for a while, you will find them if you type ‘Jesus wept’ into a search engine.  There is certainly nothing holy or Holy about this scandal and cover-up, breach of trust and abuse of authority.  We can no doubt expect a lot of moral relativism and outrage.

New allegation in Archdiocese of Louisville priest abuse scandal

There is also going to be a lot of bad news coming out of Ireland, as the Cloyne report is released.  There have been some legal discussions concerning redaction and the Irish press will cover this if you care to look it up.
Maureen Dowd has written a column in the New York Times which may be of interest, concerning the beatification of JP II and the ceremony following on from the Royal Wedding. 

Also, a pre-publication blurb on the sex lives in and around Rome of people who are supposed to be celibate.  We suspect this may not be a book officially reviewed by the Vatican media channels.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Full moon: festival of reflections

At this time of the year many religions switch to a lunar calendar and if you look at the night sky you'll get a view of an Easter moon, a Passover moon or just a normal moon.  We are, in case you don't know it, in Holy Week and some of the music on BBC Radio 3 gets better (more Bach), some of the talks on Radio 3 get very serious with Dame Joan Bakewell.  Being a holiday period there is usually a politician free week, though the wretched debate on the AV referendum went very anti-Clegg.

Start the Week hosted by Mr Andrew Marr was more stimulating than usual and three of the speakers actually engaged, while one was primarily plugging  her book (which is the raison d'etre for the programme in the first place).  Andrew Marr took a back seat and let Sam Harris, Lucy Winkett and Adam Rutherford have an adult discussion about science and belief.  You can get a podcast of the programme on and find out about the speakers from

Meanwhile on Radio 3, Joan Bakewell started her series with a discussion on belief.  On Tuesday,  Professor Raymond Tallis was on.  This man is described as a polymath.  While agreeing with the term, Tallis doesn't half let us know it!  Nevertheless, his views are quite challenging and though he does not like the concept of scientism, his many books reflect his own belief system.  This is well worth a listen(

It shows that Joan Bakewell certainly improves with age, if one can comment on age these days. 

Note: Dame Joan is a real Dame and not a title bought by ordination to some other authority!

It is also sad to report that the Holy Week in Glasgow has turned out to be a real stinker, with some mad people doing something connected with football.  If I had my way, I would let them all play with no spectators, no broadcasting, no commentary, no pundits for what is certainly not sport.  Someone mentioned Frank Carson.  Frank had a word for almost everything and he had one to say about bigotry.   See previous posts on this blog if you don't understand what Glasgow is about. 

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Royal wedding : infeftments and feudal disposition


Lord Obreption has been hermeneutically sealed within a Lead Chamber, a process well known to those prone to making acid remarks, wind and dyspepsia.  Obreption is guarded for world safety reasons by security conscious nuns, who have allowed five tweets per day and a choice of Arabella Weir or Professor Ratzinger for reading material.  Quo Vadis?


This presentation is brought to you by GOWF, Greater Obreption World Faith, led by the Dean of the Faculty of Monetisation of the Royal Wedding, Lady Jean Bridie-Bowes-Lyon of Forfar and Glamis.  We invite Lady Jean to make her presentation.

Thank you.  We welcome all of you who have been wondering why this blog has not been covering the pre-nuptials nuptials and post-nuptials of a certain couple about to enter Holy Matrimony. 

It appears that the Great British Public having realised that they may have 17 days of voluntary time off (as well as some involuntary time off) and some involuntary administrative leave.  The Royal Wedding allows many old commentators from anthropologists, genealogists liturgical pedants and heraldic pedants, to celebrity news, court reports and news of impending cataclysmic events.  At this point we would like to wish Wiliam and Kate all the best on their happy day. 

For academic discussion on line of succession, Act of Settlement we suggest you look at the following links:

We would also recommend you try and find the defining interview between Mr Partridge and the Duchess of Stranaer – widely regarded as authoritative, coming from a Norfolk celebrity and academic. 

After this issue we’re going to check the statistics on the blog to establish whether our outreach programme is succeeding. 

Let me introduce our panel of experts covering the royal wedding from aspects of faith, ethics, fertility, genealogy, privilege, democracy and God.  We would like to point out that god has two faces within the unwritten British constitution.  The one which is most familiar to constitutional experts is Gus O’Donnell.  You might like to share your opinions about this god with Obreption in the comments column of Standpoint magazine. 

Meanwhile, our panel includes the following:

The etics trio – that’s Polly, Ester and Cynthia Etics from Lake Balaton in Hungary.  They’re a very happy bunch and are known for their festive and glowing demeanour around the spa town of Heviz.  Please note, Etic is not the same as emic.  (Link here for more information on Heviz and Lake Balaton:

Next we welcome the married duo Thea and Genny Hessiod whose acclaimed poetry about god gave us a model for Homer’s Illiad, where you will recall that Paris ran off with Helen and started the 10 year Trojan War (citation Illiad, Sparta, Trojan Horse, Hector). 

Bhurca Nic-Amhac Domhnallach, Celtic fashion and inter-faith advisor to Radio Nan Gaidheal (RNG) (

Lady Jean:
Our set of lawyers has been following the royal wedding story with much thought on monetisation theory and practice.  A lot of insurance policies have been issued for street parties, which may be ruined by inclement weather or Acts of God.  Sales of material culture are moving very slowly within the UK retail sector and the British retail consortium has noted that the High Street has tanked, though hopefully many mugs will be sold over-priced souvenirs; and many hard pressed journalists, facing huge legal costs in the phone hacking scandal, are having to upskill and multimedia their commentaries all over twitter, all over the internet, all over facebook, and even in hard copy on the China Wall! 

The LDS is looking at the legitimacy of baptism and confirmation within the Royal family.  Some very unkind words have been said against Mr Clegg, who has incidentally been put in charge of negotiating changes in the line of succession and possibly the Act of Settlement with other countries.  Will he succeed and what's more are the British public ready for a change?

Theo and Genny: 
We didn’t think much of the religious output on Standpoint, and we agree with Obreption that this theological professor must have had a problem with his sources or possibly he was multi-skillling on the Telegraph blog, which had a really ugly piece about the new Bishop of Salisbury and the fact that he had married someone who had been divorced.  Trust them to raise the issue of divorce, marriage, church, and confirmation in the blogosphere. 

The Etics Trio:
Polly, Ester and Cynthia have been inspiring much of the church, synagogue, Sikh festivals, Hindu festivals and even some of the more Presbyterian non-festivals with their musical interpretations and frugal derangements of epi-phanic proportions.  Their comment has so far been to listen again to BBC Radio 3 CD Review and enjoy the music coming round your place of worship over the next few weeks - a lot of Bach (Easter and Ascension), a lot of Passion (John, Matthew, some Heinrich Schutz), thankfully no Samuel Scheidt so far, and quite a lot of Tallis, Bird and Handel.

The Etics Trio are going to review the review in Gramophone magazine (May issue 2011) of the 100th Anniversary of Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss.  We know this to be one off Obreption’s favourite operas, but we’re not quite sure of the style of English used in the review by Mike Ashman.  We think Mr Ashman may be over familiar with the Arabella Weir canon as exemplified by her work Stupid Cupid - an interesting stylistic approach to English, though we much preferred the comments of Rene Fleming: very reflective and well-written.  We think that although she played Britannia last year on the Last Night of the Proms, she should be used more often.  Certainly better than a Lenten talk!

The Etics trio have also engaged in the syncretism of Mairi’s wedding and Der Rosenkavalier.  It’s not quite what Hugo von Hofmannsthal thought of! 

Bhurca Nic-Amhac Domhnallch: 
I am the fashion expert and inter-faith researcher on Radio Nan Gaidheal (RNG).  We know Obreption’s fondness for our radio station, especially the request show and the political discussions concerning worldwide issues.  Our radio discussions can be difficult for the non-Celtic aware amongst our audience.  For example, our ancient language only has eighteen letters so we have a device known as ‘aspiration‘, which converts the letters ‘b’ and ‘m’ to ‘v’, the letters ‘d’ and ‘g’ to ‘gha’, letter ‘p’ to ‘f’ , the letter ‘f’ to ‘h’, and the letters ‘t’ and ‘s’ to another ‘h’.  There are some exceptions, but if you listen to RNG, they’ve been discussing faith issues in Islam, Sikhism as well as music, politics and celebrity.  (
Bearing in mind the above, you can listen out for the (RNG) approach to Dolly Parton, Taliban and burka.   We all look forward to discussing Miss Universal, Highland Wedding and anthropological issues concerned with evolution on the shores of Loch Torridon.  It’s not the same as Gneiss from the Isle of Lewis.

With these Lenten thoughts we leave you with happy holidays.  After we’ve tweeted this, we’re going to check the statistics on the blog.   Comments are now moderated, and we wish our followers from all over the world happy holidays happy weddings, given this day in Kanton Glarus, Switzerland.

Our research programme includes possible obreptions regarding breaches of privacy, alien torts, the bursting of the soap cartel bubble in the EU, and the continuing story of asbestos.  Any thoughts are as usual welcome.

Quentin Cooper on the podcast concerning fossils from Loch Torridon has been awarded a Gold Star for pronunciation.  Well done, Quentin!


This link to Radio nan Gaidheal contains Allelulia - or the A word as it is known to some Christians.  This is a forbidden word during Lenten observance, but today's Sunday worship on Radio nan Gaidheal includes items for all tastes ranging from psalm singing in Crossbost, in Lewis, to some services with added music (i.e. instruments) from Castlebay, Barra, Outer Hebrides.  This wins the award of the week for inspiration on the BBC radio Palm Sunday networks.  Enjoy!

Our team of researchers has been enriched with material culture and we are pleased to report that many Christian churches are thinking of others  and not their fabric during this Holy Week. 

It is with sadness that we report the death of Ishbel MacAskill.  Her obituary appeared in the Guardian on 14th April, 2011: 

Ishbel was also mentioned on the BBC R4's Last word.  This was another example of what the BBC does best.

As mentioned in the blog, there can be a problem with some Gaelic spelling of names, so you will find variations.  We have a link to a YouTube performance of Isbbel:

Commercial recordings are available which include some intrumental arrangement.  One of Obreption's favourite is the Mermaid's song:

Monday, 11 April 2011

God made Templetonium from Tellurium

This  presentation is brought to you by the inter-faith delegation to the Council of Atheists

Lord Rees was given a cash award (atheists understand monetisation theory very well) and no sooner had the famous economist Evan Davis, of Radio 4, interviewed Lewis Wolpert and Peter Atkins (just before the Chief Rabbi), then the blogosphere started humming .  Letters were being written, tweets sent and eventually a concordat was agreed in the Guardian: see 

As Lord Obreption recently told a leading daily: "I don't think a million pounds is enough. I would want a lot more to name the element Tellurium (Te), Templetonium, in order to give Templeton any credence. This approval requires many committees, peer review and much tertiary research, and possibly even divine inspiration. Let the man enjoy his money. I'd rather rename another element.

Incidentally, many years ago a colleague of mine ended up in a hospital isolation unit after a Tellurium experiment went wrong. I have tales of a Selenium experiment going very wrong - it raised a stink, but that's for another day."

In the event - as with all Lord Obreption's predictions - the Large Hydrangea Collider crashed when someone who was cutting peat on Benbecula cut through the power cable. This resulted in the discovery of 30 pieces of royal wedding souvenir crowns which had been hidden by Mary Queen of Scots after she had been involved in the Kirk O'Fields booby trap which killed her second husband (check citation re. Mary Queen of Scots biographies).  These coins were submitted for research and it was discovered that a new element had been created and that the orginal Tellurium pieces had infact been transformed by a miracle to Templetonium with the assistance of 1 million pounds from a funding body which normally doles out cash to UK political, economic and humanities institutions.  There was a lot of hand wringing, demands of proof, primary sourcing and in this special week of WHHW, claims and counter claims were made.  The Concordat which we previously published spontaneously combusted and it has been agreed by newspapers that newsprint shall from henceforth be treated with flame retardants.  This will come as good news to those who had been reading Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis which was barbecued and metamorphosed into a Kofta Kebab.  This is not a reference to Norman Lamb, who has been advising Mr Clegg and who has threatened to resign over the NHS reforms.

Some atheists thought that Lord Rees had sold out.  Some theologians thought that as an atheist Lord Rees should not have accepted the prize.  Lord Obreption's views were that he had already got the prize, but had palmed off any questions on his confession with a virtual shrug. 

The obreption competition: can any one recognise this?  Normal competition rule apply.

For further details on this, check out the Nick Cohen piece in the Guardian:

For an interview with Lord Rees, check out Articles of Faith by Ruth Gledhill at:

For information about what chemists actually do, check out Nature Chemistry:;jsessionid=85FC9ED2A722EB6F87E5D6DE9E987A3D.c3

(They quite liked my ideas on Strontium and Tungsten, but were not sure about my comments re. an organo-arsenic derivative.  We are still speaking, unlike one political columnist who couldn't take a joke - and you know who you are!)

We are going to pursue a tale of Dr AV O'Gadro as told by him after another of his fabulous films on the chemical elements.  Tony recalls that when chemists actually created novel molecules, it was very important to have them 'characterised' by what were known as 'sporting' and 'non-sporting' methods.  In the old days, sporting methods meant that you had to spend hours with punch cards and tape to make any sense of any observation that had been made.  Non-sporting methods gave you the answer in an instant and allowed time for a game of squash, a round of golf, and a round of home brew.

The story which Tony recounts, concerns Tellurium (Te) and a few molecules.  It so happened that 0.2 mmoles got out.  All the research staff were rushed into an isolation ward, put into strait jackets and observed for a few days.  They were finally released and returned into the community.  Tony thinks they are still around.  If you do a search for organotellurium compounds in a search engine, it might tell you why these things don't get out of the lab.

Regarding our survey of the periodic table, we have decided to award the letter V to Vedanta.  It has proved on inspirational grounds to be a bit more worthwhile than some of the other candidates, though it was close run at the very end.

(By the way, Tony made a fortune at the Grand National at the weekend, but was saddened at the outcome of the Masters in Augusta.  Better luck next time, Rory McIlroy.)  Tony also has some golfing stories with great theological implications and we are pleased to announce that another friend of the blog has some perspective on clerics in belles lettres and the novel - of which more anon.


Dr A.V.O'Gadro would like us to draw attention to the campaign to save The Cardinal, a well-known hostelry in Westminster.  We would like to join the Archbishop of Westminster in trying to prevent the rechristening of this pub as something to do with the House of Windsor.  This would indeed be an obreption, or possibly subreption, according to the on-line dictionaries.  Tony also says that the strange drawing above reminds him of a trekking expedition in the Himalyas, when he made a hash of an experiment in his younger days.  He can't remember what it was, but it was definitely scientific - and not some form of blarney or Celtic divination.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Templeton Award, privacy, Euro crisis, coalition rumbles

Lord Rees was given a cash award (atheists understand monetisation theory very well) and no sooner had the famous economist Evan Davis, of Radio 4, interviewed Lewis Wolpert and Peter Atkins (just before the Chief Rabbi), then the blogosphere started humming .  Letters were being written, tweets sent and eventually a concordat was agreed in the Guardian: see 

It wasn't a good week for Mr Murdoch or the coalition government in the UK.  Mr Murdoch has had to issue an apology regarding some eavesdropping matter affecting the great and the good.  (

Strangely, this coincided with an appearance in the House of Commons committee by a senior law officer; and both the News of the World and The Guardian getting some press awards. 

There was a noticeable silence around many papers regarding the phone hacking scandal.  This is an area in which many lawyers are likely to clean up and where the cover-up may yet to be revealed.  Arrests have been made and in common with other media, we shall assume the innocence of the accused parties until proved guilty.  Some resemblance to other cover-ups may be discerned, but we have said enough on that already.

Mr Lansley's plans have been Clegged and the unholy trinity of Clegg, Cameron and Lansley tried to relaunch a programme of health reforms within the English NHS.  Mr Clegg was opening his heart out in a celebrity interview and even some of the panelists on Radio 4's Any Questions thought the piling of ordure on Mr Clegg was unfair.  Given that the whole Any Questions concordat thought that Lansley's plans were a disaster and that Cameron should have seen this one coming, one could have been forgiven for feeling some remorse for previous comments about Clegg on this blog.  This did not last long.  Clegg has walked into so many traps that there ought to be a word "declegged" in the same way that obstructions in engines can be de-coked using unleaded plus or extra. 

The eurozone has come in for yet another crisis.  Four countries were identified sometime ago as the PIGS: Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain.  Some economists consider that other countries should be included.  The euro crisis started in Greece, spread to Ireland and has now hit Portugal with much bailing out, stress-testing transparency and more borrowing to pay the debts.  This sounds like another classic infinite regress. 

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Mohammed Iqbal (1877-1938) and Urdu poetry : Lent thoughts

Following the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, which is not far from Islamabad, it appears that Osama had been hiding for sometime in the area.  We do not know about the involvement of the ISI or the Government of Pakistan, but this may perhaps give another chance for Pakistan to recover some democracy and reality following years of bad government by some of the feudal families under the General Zia regime which only played into the fundamentalists hands.  This may also give a chance for some peace in the India/Pakistan/Afghanistan area.  The poetry of Mohammed Iqbal should be continually assessed.

We are reposting this and will update this fully.

source: all pictures courtesy of

At the time of writing, the British Prime Minister was in Islamabad, Pakistan.  The BBC broadcast a programme last week about Mohammed Iqbal, a poet who wrote in Urdu & Persian.  The BBC programme details are summarised below, with the text taken from the BBC website, where there is a facility to listen to the programme again until 8 April 2011:

“ … Seema Anand explores Muhammad Iqbal's epic poem Shikwa, one of the most famous and enduring works of Islamic literature. The poem is an audacious and heartfelt complaint … [about how]… God has let Muslims down.

When it was first recited by Iqbal at a public gathering … a fatwa was issued by Islamic scholars … shocked by its … impudence …

… Iqbal felt strongly that Islam should be open to reform and questioning - and many of his ideas are as powerfully relevant today as they were 100 years ago.
Iqbal is often called the spiritual father of Pakistan for using poetry to raise self-awareness amongst Muslims in pre-partition India so that they would eventually rise up and seek a separate nation. …

Contributors: Professor Javed Majeed, Navid Akhtar Readings by Sagar Arya, Saeed Jaffrey and Pervaiz Alam
  source: Page 28 from Shikwa & Jawab-i-Shikwa, Transl. by Khushwant Singh, Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Mohammed Iqbal (or Allama Iqbal, as he is known as in Pakistan) was an interesting character and an ‘official’ website can be found on   If you follow the link to Iqbal’s background ( you will note that he attended a “Scotch Mission College” (sic) and he went on to become the McLeod Arabic Reader at the Oriental College in Punjab University.

In a previous post, we refer to Sanskrit, the ancient language of the Hindu sacred texts.  Urdu and Hindi are mutually intelligible, though political and religious differences have resulted in a split of the old Hindustani along similar lines to Serbo-Croat in the former Yugoslavia
In other words, the choice of alphabet and the choice of keywords has reverted in the case of Urdu to some Persian and Arabic influences, while Hindi has become more a lingua franca of the modern Indian state, though many south Indians (from Kerala and Tamil Nadu) would object to this. 

Urdu poetry is very complex, as this programme illustrated and it was one of those programmes the BBC does quite well.  In other words, they got a non-Muslim to present it and share her experiences of the poetry with a range of experts and lay people. 

Iqbal studied in Germany and though there may be some glossing over his studies, one can detect echoes of Goethe (Faust) and Nietzsche.  However, Iqbal did not associate himself with the Nietzsche statement that God was dead, though he came fairly close to some of the thoughts on Self (khudi) as described in a previous post on advaita Vedanta. 

Given the atrocities at the Sufi shrine in Pakistan and the events in Afghanistan, I am reluctant to say much more, but it shows how tricky this subject can be – especially when some ‘fog horns’ are let loose and some people react to an obvious nutter in Florida.

Iqbal’s main works which caused controversy at the time were Complaint (Shikwa) and Response to a Complaint (Jawab – e- Shikwa).  In these poems, there are echoes of the Prophet Job arguing with God in the Old Testament; and there are obviously echoes of Iqbal’s studies in Germany.  It is interesting that Iqbal and Gandhi received much of their education from non-traditional Hindu and then Indian Muslim studies.  Both returned and came (respectively) to colonial India and developed their thoughts further.  Their later histories are well recorded.  A lot of Iqbal’s thoughts have probably been redacted due to some political influence over the years, especially with the swing towards a more fundamentalist interpretation of Islam since General Zia’s coup in 1978.

We would urge readers to make an effort to find this programme.  You can always leave a comment on the blog and an effort will be made to reply.

On a lighter note, last Sunday was Mother’s Day, a pleasant liturgical break from my Lenten observance.  You may wish to recall that I gave up the Archers for all of Lent, have avoided Thought for the Day, have given Sunday on Radio 4 a second chance and I have allowed myself one Lent talk.  On the roster this year for the BBC Lent Talks there were such luminaries as Lord Ian Blair, a former Metropolitan Police Chief who was effectively sacked by Boris Johnson.  I didn’t listen to this so make no comments.  Another talk was by Austin Iveraigh, a prolific writer, some time never off the BBC during the visit by Professor Ratzinger to England and Scotland.  The one I listened to was by Feisal Abdul Rauf, an imam from New York.  It may be that I caught the repeat, but I did learn something about multiculturalism and faith.  The Greek Orthodox Church comes from Greece, the Dutch Reformed Church comes from Holland, the Roman Catholic Church comes from Italy and the Anglican Church comes from …. Even my course on central European Philately 101 could have done a better job.  Why is this series of Lent talks so awful?  Discuss.

My references to fog horns and nutters should perhaps be extended further with a source from South Coast Today, which was kindly tweeted by a friend of the blog.  The conclusion: "Finally, if Terry Jones is an irresponsible fool for his pronouncements on Islam, the editor is as well for echoing his tripe."

Don't blame Muslims for murderous rampage: the 'God of hate' is Terry Jones' 'terracotta idol'.

In Kashmir (Indian administered) a blast at a mosque Srinagar has killed Maulvi Shaukat Ahmed Shah, a well-known moderate cleric.

Srinagar: Mosque blast kills Kashmir cleric

There is also an interesting article in the current issue of Time (no paywall!) about the sectarian roots of the current violence in Pakistan.  It appears that the Taliban is exploiting differences between the majority moderate Berelvi sect and the minority hardline Deobandi sect.  You can read the article on:,8599,2063794,00.html

Another media outlet, The Daily Mail, has covered an apparent 'gaffe' by Prime Minister Cameron on the occasion of his short trip to Pakistan.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

We say no to AV : pollution of adveita vedanta


In case you have not noticed, we are now on twitter with a real avatar built, as the wise man said, ‘on the rocks please’.  Obreption has often been described as the ‘wisest fool in syncretism’.  Obreption is still travelling and suddenly had to divert to India to watch the cricket final.  We regret any loss of twitter feed during the game. 

The editorial board has decided to say no to AV.  Obreption has agreed with such luminaries as those who contribute to Standpoint, apart from one of their religious experts.  The board has commissioned a well-known psephology specialist to undertake a double blind randomised poll of Standpoint, of which more in future posts.  We are sorry to say that we think that adveita vedanta has been sullied by the AV for the stupid stunt of a referendum which you Britishers will have to pay for. 

This presentation has been prepared by Sri Donald Donald MacDonald and the Very Reverend Mousa Kousa MacCuish of Applecross (WA).

For background reading we suggest that you acclimatise yourself with the aid of Hinduism: A Very Short Introduction by Kim Knott.  Knot refers to three important approaches to Vedanta: Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhva. 

Hindu philosophy can be very geometric. It has been three dimensional for 32,000 years and invented the multi-storey concept long before the Tower of Babel. 

It is helpful to note that many terms in Hinduism and Buddhism are similar, though spelling changes can be irritating, particularly if your search engine is sensitive to spelling changes and diacritical marks.  Some Hindu terms are usually described in an Anglicised version of Sanskrit, which can often be ‘described’ as an Indo-European language.  In other words, there is an echo of familiarity with some of the Germanic and Romance languages in basic concepts, for example counting.  For more details on transliteration, this link might be useful:

Vedanta philosophy based on the ancient Sanskrit texts known as the Vedas and Upanishads has three ways of looking at the Self.  There is monist non-dual, modified monist non-dual, and dual.    Hence the terms adveita, which means non-dual and dveita, which means dual.  (Dveita is not too dissimilar from the number 2 in Germanic or Romance languages!)

At this point we would like to refer to the BBC In Our Time programme which focussed on the Bhagavad Gita.  You can find more information about the programme contributors via this link:

Obreption’s views regarding Lord Bragg and this series are already well-known and well-documented and we recommend this programme unreservedly.

As noted above, Shankara is written in Western alphabets in different ways, and even within modern Indian languages such as Gujarati and Hindi, there are variations on the pronunciation.  Gujarati’s tend to omit the final ‘a’ in Shankara.  This is also confusing when dealing with the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.  Some care is, therefore, advised when researching Hindu websites.  We’ve chosen a few which show some interesting concepts in the promotion of Hindu philosophy.

If Christianity can be described as a two-dimensional matrix (see Linda Woodhead on Christianity in the Very Short series), Hinduism is really a tetrahedron based on extremes of worship, good works, pre-destination and stage in life. 

We now need some sounds and music with the following link to a bhajan sung by Sharon Janis being particularly evocative:

Some of Sharon’s earlier recitals are well worth a visit - not quite Reshma, but pretty good nonetheless.

The spiritual leader of Shankara Vedanta is H.H. the Shankara Acharya -  (NB: the spelling of this varies a lot, but we provide a link to a site which is advert free.) Unfortunately, His Holiness is also beset by legal problems,, like some other Holinesses.  (

Another interesting site is:

As is our policy the links are fully written and they have caused us no harm psychologically – unlike some other sites!

For an example of the globalisation of Vedanta we are showing a link to an American blog which has been running for some time, and has some very interesting interviews with practitioners.

In looking at Hinduism from a ‘western’ perspective, you could say that adveita vedanta was the Calvinism equivalent and that Eastern Orthodox Christianity was the modified version.  Furthermore, that dveita vedanta, with a concentration on Krishna, has some syncretism and mapping equivalence to Roman Catholicism, with a high value on worship, material culture and missionary zeal.  These correlations are of course superficial in the same way that sectarianism is a cancer on world understanding. 

We hope you enjoy this introductory lecture on aspects of Hinduism.  While we are quite happy to investigate adveita vedanta on your behalf in an unbiased way, we are nonetheless committed to saying that alternative vote is a complete nonsense. 


For Indian religions questions are being asked about the future of Sai Baba and his institutions.  

This is technically nothing to do with AV, but those who have an interest in Sai Baba should check in with their guru.