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A more realistic vocation

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Governments all over the planet have the potential to achieve global unity, social equity and justice, and provide free chocolate for everyone. That they fail to do so is largely due to maladministration, abuse of executive power, and the various frailties of human nature.
The same might be said about organised religion. It must be comforting for all the round pegs who are prepared to fit through the inflexible round holes of scriptural faith, but the square pegs of the world need to find their own square holes in order to find peace and contentment.
As the following story illustrates;
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As a Methodist child during the 1950’s I was one of the scrawny little automatons singing in the front row of the Castlemaine Sunday School Choir. One of it’s favourite songs was “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam”… a delightful reminder that our ultimate purpose in life was to spread rays of joy and happiness wherever we went.

Despite my intentions being honourable, I’ve subsequently spent more than half a century leaving behind trails of disgruntlement made up almost entirely of previously cheerful people who’ve had the misfortune to become caught up in my backwash of misery, insouciance and sarcasm.

Not a single illuminating sunbeam has ever snuck it’s way out of any of my organs or orifices.

This failure, and my general attitude of resolute contrariness, was reported by some traitorous bastard to the Director of Omnipotent Affairs who, it turns out, is a very decent fellow. After a mock stoning using black jellybeans** He gave me a gentle admonishment before whacking a “refurbished” stamp on my forehead. (which should scrub off in a week or two using steel wool and kerosene) Then with a wink He gave me a much more suitable job. A position which also comes with it’s own anthem.
This time I’ll sing it with rhapsodic conviction knowing that I’m the right man for the job. And now I can stop the futile task of trying to manufacture sunbeams.

Jesus wants me for a Stoker,
To fuel the fires of Hell.
Gather up all the cadavers
And cook ’em till they’re done well.
I’ll wear my asbestos jumpsuit.
And work religiously.
Y’all grab the sinners and villains
Then sling ’em on down to me.

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Quotation for the week;  You can’t make a Rolls Royce out of the Datsun 120Y parts you find in the wreckers yard. (GOF, 2014)
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** The ‘stoning’ didn’t really happen. I totally made that bit up.
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Happy..ummm…errr…Whatever?

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Well no.  I refuse to be drawn into the rapidly filling sewers of political correctness.  It’s HAPPY CHRISTMAS, and if the Christians of this world choose to light a celebratory fire of hope and renewal in December each year then I’ll happily sit on the sidelines and absorb some of it’s warm glow.

If all the religions of the world would similarly respect and share the theological virtues and sacred observances of the others then there would be fewer days remaining in the year for them to both literally and figuratively bomb the crap out of each other in the name of God.

I will just take this annual opportunity to look around me and be thankful for all that is good in my world. Summer warmth and early sunrises over the mountain. Thunder storms. Wild birds feeding on my verandah at dawn. Mrs GOF’s temporary gift to me this Christmas of silence and solitude. A house of my own, and a very large puppy dog to play with.

And your company.

I wish you a Happy Christmas, and may good health and contentment be your traveling companions in 2013.

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You too might  see some relatives and friends in the following  Christmas offering from the Dropkick Murphys;  “If you think your family’s crazy, then you should see mine.”

The Bucket ‘Good Works’ Award for 2011

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On several occasions in the past the Wrath of GOF has been unleashed upon organised religion. I have spoken harshly to it, menacingly tapped it on the beak with my finger, and even periodically unsheathed my feather duster in order to give it a jolly good old-fashioned flogging.

This was not done frivolously or without justification.
In New Guinea some of the most self-serving, intolerant, bigoted and racist foreigners I came across just happened to be Christian missionaries.

Neither has the reputation of religion been enhanced by the traveling circuses of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Bakker, Benny Hinn and many other smooth-talkin’ preacher-man show ponies who accepted personal riches in exchange for offering eternal redemption as the ultimate prize for blind faith.
A reward which quite frankly was never within their purview to hand out anyway.

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Today however in the Yuletide spirit of goodwill I have chosen to put away all my corporal punishment hardware. During the next three days as the New Year is being prepared for mass consumption I will be hard at work marinading all 366 days of it in my oil of tolerance and the secret herbs and spices of Goffly generosity.

Accordingly, The Bucket would like to take this opportunity to applaud the REAL Christians both at home and abroad.
Those like Catholic Franciscan ‘Father Tom’ whose remarkable life of service to Sepik villagers inspired me to write this tribute  some years ago, as well as another applauding his composure in the face of adversity whilst enthroned atop of the world’s highest long-drop toilet.

Today I especially salute the Uniting Church Wayside Chapel and Crisis Centre  in Sydney, which, in addition to it’s regular services throughout the year to the disadvantaged, destitute and homeless, served at least eight hundred meals in the street on Christmas Day.

The Chapel’s Reverend Graham who delightfully describes himself as a “lapsed athiest” made reference to a public ‘welcome’ notice at the Chapel;

“It doesn’t matter if you’re not much of a Christian, because we’re not much of a Church.”

May their God bless all the Reverend Grahams, Father Tims and the thousands of selfless community service volunteers in all parts of Australia and the world.

The true Christians.

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Bilge soup #4

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1.  For today’s gourmet extravaganza let us begin by using a heaped prattle of pre-packaged Evangelism.

Our bible reading in Melanesian Tok Pisin is from the
Gospel according to Matthew Chapter 24 verse 31.
In the unlikely event that you lack fluency in this language, it is all about angels, bugles and people being collected from all compass points and swept off to some better place.  A little New Guinea Rapture.

Na bai em i salim ol ensel bilong en, na biugel bai i krai bikpela, na oli bungim ol manmeri em i bin makim bilong em.  Bai ol i kisim ol long hap bilong olgeta 4-pela win, i go olgeta long arere tru bilong graun.

Please don’t thank me with any great profusion. I am merely a humble vessel dripping vague hope, ambiguity and confusion for the benefit of humankind wherever I go.

2 Now add a dash of inspiration from the antiquity cupboard.

3. And…….

The most requested ingredient during the last month has been some raw Viggo…….. The Bucket Culinary Department worked overtime to manufacture this product in response to your insatiable demands, so please dissect and share him amongst yourselves.
(Personally I don’t see what all the fuss is about.)

Not Mr Mortensen (just to cover MY arse legally)

4. Add two square eyeballs of disillusionment.

Freeview is Australia’s new television extravaganza.
Sixteen free-to-air television channels instead of the previous five.
It is being relentlessly promoted by a gaggle of pre-geriatric small-screen has-beens wearing permanently beaming faces which are probably the result of cosmetic surgery gone wrong.
Either that, or the commercials were shot in a studio where the atmosphere was predominantly nitrous oxide.

So recently, in the absence of Mrs GOF’s normal midday commentary on the world, I decided to snoop around this apparently wonderful thing that my country has done for itself.

Each one of the 7 channels I selected had either news stories, movies or crime shows depicting people who had suffered from acts of violence perpetrated against them, or who had been, or were about to be, killed in various creative ways.

I switched the television off.

I might turn it back on one day if someone can convince me that my life will be enhanced and uplifted by doing so.

5. Garnish with two sprigs of my Peculiar Perspective.

A euphoric microwave oven at Newell beach

And I just elected a new Pope today

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Bon appetit……and Ringo turns 71 today.  Happy birthday Ringo.

History according to GOF; Tutorial 104

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THE  INQUISITIONS

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Aloysius

Aloysius the Border Leicester ram looked around the field at all fifty of his cute and fluffy satisfied conc-ewe-bines who were knee-deep in abundant but dry summer grass, and he baa-ed out loud at how wonderful his world was.

Then he decided to celebrate with a drink.
It was 96 degrees in the shade.
Firstly he snouted-down the float valve to send a burst of water bubbling through the trough so it would have extra froth on top.
He preferred it that way.

Their world was a single paddock which contained everything that the sheep thought they needed, and none of them ever felt an urge to look through the fence, or, Ovine God forbid, break through it and discover that Old McDonald had five acres of lush irrigated rye and clover growing on his farm just beyond the next ridge.

It is therefore no coincidence that the word ‘flock’ was adopted by religious organisations to describe their congregations of faithful adherents.

Pastoral Staff

The ‘pastoral staff ‘, an object which is part of the Episcopal Vestments of Bishops in the Catholic Church is a replica of a shepherd’s crook, and is used as a symbol of power over the “flock”.

The Roman Catholic Church has historically needed to use much greater force than a pastoral staff to prevent it’s parishioners from venturing into the intellectual topography beyond it’s constrictive boundaries.

“Inquisitions” were committees of Little Theological Hitlers charged with the responsibility of rounding up the strays, and having them clonked on the head with a four by two plank of wood when other methods of convincing them to remain within the confines of the Catholic paddock failed.

1. The Papal Inquisition

Established in 1233 by Pope Gregory 9.

Erasmus the Tinker trotted around Italy on his horse in the year 1235 providing a unique service repairing leaking pots and pans with his patented sealant concocted from Vesuvian Spotted Toad spleens.

He was put to death by the Church after inadvisedly whispering to
Mrs Ciccione, the owner of an extremely holey frying pan who also happened to be an undercover informant to the tribunal, that the story of Adam and Eve  “was a bloody great big load of unmitigated codswallop”.

Two Popes later in 1252, Pope Innocent 4, a gentle caring humanitarian and devoted earthly representative of God, authorised the use of torture by his Tribunals.

Gaius Apuleius Gaggio, a shy and sensitive used chariot salesman, (who also enjoyed an occasional cup of coffee) was suspected of having heretical tendences in 1253.
Additionally, there was a rather well worn track of evidence in the grass starting at the back door of his house, to suggest that he might have been servicing, after hours, some of the aforementioned Mrs Ciccione’s needs which were not always being attended to by Mr Ciccione, a merchant seaman.

He was tethered inside the apse of the church just behind the altar and rigorously interrogated for seven hours, but a full confession only came forth after his testicles had been connected to the terminals of a truck battery in the following sequence;
Right to +ve, left to -ve.

2. The Spanish Inquisition

In 1480 the Church endorsed King Ferdinand the 5th and Queen Isabella’s dubious idea of launching an Inquisition which, over a period of three centuries, executed 30,000 people for heresy, polygamy, seduction, smuggling, wearing your underpants inside out, and not cleaning the blue lint out of your belly button.

3. The Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition

It was a particularly bad day for Pope Paul 3 in 1542 for two reasons.

Firstly he had received an unusual item in the mail.
It was a bundle of pamphlets hot off somebody’s newly invented
‘printing press’.
They were invitations for all the Priests and Bishops to join the Roma Club de Spogliarello for  ‘Steamy Friday nights of raunchy revelation.’

Shocked, appalled, and just a tiny bit aroused at the prospect of attending, he retired to the Sistine Chapel for meditation and guidance from God.

No sooner had he opened the door, than a trail of paint spatters led his eyes ever upwards to an intoxicated Father Pius, with his black cassock in disarray revealing all manner of atrocities, suspended beneath the ceiling on ropes, holding a paintbrush in one hand, having obviously spent a lot of time enlarging certain anatomical features on Michelangelo’s male nudes.

Upon being discovered, Pius swung himself back onto an upper parapet whilst attempting to sing a slurred rendition of the chorus of  ‘Oh what a lovely bunch of coconuts’, in Latin.

The Pope immediately rushed off to the Apothecary, swallowed four aspirin and six valium, washed them all down with a bottle of mead, then declared an Inquisition to counter the dissemination of ‘subversive’ information from all the new-fangled printing machinery which threatened the Church’s domination and control.

The prospect of free expression and mass-produced literature for all people scared the Papal crap out of him.

This Inquisition remains in place today, although in 1965 at Vatican 2, it was renamed ‘Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith‘, and it no longer interferes in the lives of the laity.

The Catholic Church Administration today has a full-time job just trying to prevent it’s own clergy from widening the narrow 16th century tunnel of doctrine into something that might be vaguely appropriate and useful for the 21st century.

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In the broader perspective of the universe, whatever happens in this field of human endeavour will most likely prove to be little more than a conceited and impertinent irrelevance.

Henny the rooster

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Not quite so mellow today.

This is a story about a rooster who bestowed upon himself the mantle of spokescock for the Supreme Poultry Diety after having identified this role as a potentially lucrative source of wealth.

If you notice any similarity to human behaviour, or to any specific living person, I will not be disappointed, but it is of course entirely coincidental and only a product of your imagination.

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Henny was a rooster who grew up to be too big for his spurs.

He was a Rhode Island Red who liked to wear a pure white uniform around the farmyard to make himself look like a superior, more important, imposing, and spiritual White Leghorn.

Henny crowed to all the chickens in the world including the Australorps and the Bantams and all the Fancy Breeds that he had special powers, and a message given directly to him by the Avian Divinity, and that he was the only one who had it, and
“all you chickens had better believe me OR ELSE“.

A lot of the chickens did believe Henny, and many were scared out of their tail feathers, so they all gathered in special chicken sheds to listen to him crowing about how all of chickendom was doomed and was going to be destroyed unless they followed his threatening sermon channelled directly via Providential hot-line into his skull.

Then Henny started to do some really weird things to improve his popularity and profit margin following, like getting lame chickens to limp up onto his high perch, after which he would slap them in the face with one of his wings, and they would fall down on their backs looking for all the world like they were hypnotised, before they all miraculously fluttered off with fully-restored unfettered bipedal competence to the back of the shed.

When all the other chooks saw these performances they would jump with joy, and sob, and cry things like “Amen Henny, you da Rooster” and clap their wings together and thump nesting boxes with their feet until their gizzards felt like exploding.

Side to side he would strut across the perch, with his “striking wing” occasionally pointed towards the rafters of the barn, in front of twenty virginal pullets who cluckily provided an accompaniment of the  “Halle-brrrrrk-buk-buk-buk” Chorus, which gave Henny time to pause and consider his own wonderfulness before patting his comb back into an appropriate state of evangelistic perfection.

And before all the chickens vacated the hen-house they would leave behind gifts, including shell grit made out of diamonds and gold, and pledge to him a portion of all their future egg-laying profits just so that Henny would never go hungry or poor.

Henny never did ever go hungry or poor, and all the chickens thought that they’d been shown the true road to Poultry Heaven, until the following week when the big truck came and took Henny to the abattoir instead.

At that moment they realised that Henny had in fact been a deceitful imposter who had never really been an officially designated Chickengodly Spokesperson, or even a greater poultry-being than themselves.

Their own personal quiet beliefs in their Diety, along with daily good deeds which honoured their faith, were always going to be in His eyes one thousand-fold more important than anything sprouted by a rooster with a loud beak and a gift of theatre.

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The Bucket reaffirms it’s respect for those who choose to hold religious beliefs, but not for those self-appointees or hierarchically commissioned monothiest leaders who find ways to take advantage of those believers.


AND…………..

Thank you to all my wise and wonderful friends who contribute to the discussions following my stories…….especially those who pointed out last time the error of my assumption that garden tools and concrete mixers were keys to a woman’s heart, …

so I went out and got her some of these instead;

The Cardinal and the Bishop

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Can I come out now?

Is it safe to stick my head up?

GOF has been huddling in the bunker at the bottom of The Bucket for the past week taking shelter from the fusillade of vitriolic verbal missiles which were aimed at my godless little ears by Australia's church leaders during Easter.

Catholic Bishop Fisher, apparently blessed with greater maturity, wisdom and worldly experience than I, in the spirit of charitable  Christianity chose the occasion to announce a list of atrocities for which my athiest beliefs are somehow responsible.
 
It included "Nazism, Stalinism and Pol-Pottery", but as good luck might have it, made no mention of paedophilia against altar boys, sectarian killings in Northern Ireland, and the prohibition of contraception, all of which apparently must be the fault of some other very naughty people.

Cardinal Pell, reinforcing Bishop Fisher's opinion, also went on to hit me with this profound Easter observation;

"we find no community services sponsored by athiests".

Perhaps dear Cardinal many of them are simply too busy
co-operating with people of all faiths during their daily volunteer firefighting, surf lifesaving, school pedestrian crossing duty, Meals on Wheels and State Emergency Service activities.
 
They probably don't care one iota about those who choose to adorn themselves in splendid regalia and shout out their irrelevant divisive religious messages from the rooftops to an increasingly disinterested, and disenchanted audience.

Bishop Jenson went on even further to accuse my quiet unobtrusive acceptance of the ultimate power of nature and evolution as being an "assault on God".

Bishop, I am sure that despite having to function within the mental straitjacket imposed by your church, you are a good man, but please also have the good grace to accept those of us in the world who have chosen different beliefs, and cease using us for pontifical target practice.

Me assaulting God?
 
My dear Bishop, please let me tell you a story.
It is perhaps similar to one you might relate in one of your sermons, only mine is shorter and it does not conclude in the realms of theosophical fantasy.

Our Organic Chemistry lecturer at college after a few months of unsuccessfully trying to teach us the difference between alkanes, alkenes and alkynes, one day became terminally disgusted with our disinterest and apparent (and possibly real) lack of intelligence.
He threw his arms up into the air in a gesture of surrender, and with reference to our lack of brains, declared in his broad Scottish accent;

"How can I work with something that isn't there"
 
Similarly Bishop, I am unable to assault something that for me, based on the lack of evidence, isn't there, and does not exist.

Gentlemen, how about a little more tolerance and acceptance of the beliefs of others next Easter.

The world desperately needs it, and I am sure Jesus would approve.

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