Favourites Religion Stories

Saint Bock’s Gospel


Another shell slid into the breech of the Roman-built MkXIII Praetor assault cannon.

KLANKK! The noise echoed off the cold stone walls of the cave.

Too loud.

Goddamn ! Jesus bit hard on his cigar as he squinted through the crack where the huge round stone blocked the cave’s entrance. Behind him, his hijacked Roman flat-bed Quadriga jeep rumbled menacingly. Jesus had had to take out three elite legionaries to get this baby. It had a rapid-fire, gas-powered, self-loading, recoilless ballista mounted in the back and a pair of forward-aimed high-output Scorpio machine-crossbows above the headlights. The powerful engine (a full CDXXX cubic unciae swept volume) could out-pull a well-fed mule train or an African elephant.

Outside, the Roman motorised cavalry revved their engines, ready to move out, their job done. Or so they thought, Jesus told himself with a wry smile.

His hands and feet ached like hell and he had a gash at least VI unciae long, but apart from that he was in good shape. He hefted the Praetor and looked along the sights, lining it up with the big red-faced centurion in the lead wagon. Jesus recognised him: this was the guy who’d laughed as he stuck him with the spear three days ago. Long Johnnius, the troops called him.

I could blow you away right now, motherfucker, thought Jesus, but that wasn’t the plan. Later, there would be time for pleasure, but this was strictly business.

The Centurion raised his arm and the column began to move. OK, Jesus muttered. Show-time!

He jumped behind the Quadriga’s wheel and gunned the engine. The stone moved a little, and then a little more. He risked another push and the gap opened to a couple of pedes. OK. Enough. The Roman column rolled by, truck after truck, their pennants fluttering in the warm Springtime breeze, and Jesus counted them down. X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV! Go go go! The Quadriga’s engine screamed as Jesus slammed his jeep straight against the huge stone, rolling it into the road right in the path of the last truck. The Roman driver swerved to avoid it and slewed to a halt in front of the cave, but it was to be his last move. Three heavily-armed apostles appeared as if from nowhere and with a deft stroke, the big bearded one killed the soldier where he sat.

Rocky! laughed Jesus. You didn’t let me down.

Christ, no, Boss, boomed Rocky. You ok?

Jesus shrugged. I’ve been worse. What the hell went wrong?

Don’t know what the fuck. It all looked ok. That night in the bar? When you told us the plan?

Jesus nodded. I told you, get me inside and I’ll do the rest. I’ll capture Pilate, blow the communications and we’ll be out again in an hour.

Well, Rocky went on, all the boys knew their jobs. Everyone done it right. Judas was great – had ’em believin’ you was unarmed. That guy, he oughtta get an Oscar. So what the fuck happened? That’s what I wanna know. I get my hands on whoever blew it? He’s dead.

OK, Jesus said. What’s the point? It’s done. Here we go: Plan B. How many guys we got left?

Hard to tell, Boss. XV, maybe XX tops.

Jesus grunted. It’ll have to do. Come on, let’s get this ammo-wagon back on the road.


Pontius Pilate was in good spirits. The Prefect of Judaea had put to death the leader of the Jewish uprising and he was looking forward to rich rewards from his Roman masters.

Hey, see you Jimmy? he shouted at his Nubian slave. Gie’s that there bunch o’ grapes there, Son. Och, look, just go an’ peel ’em for us there, ya lazy fucker. Aye. Right enough. And while you’re at it, pour us another wee dram o’ that Judaean whiskey. Nae bother.

As he reached for the goblet, a gigantic explosion blasted a hole in the palace wall and when the dust cleared, it revealed a figure silhouetted against the fires in the atrium. Outside, more explosions echoed, punctuated by the heavy klakka-klakka noise of the Scorpios and the deeper resounding thud as the ballista demolished Pilate’s fortress.

Who the fuck are you, Jimmy? Pilate started, but as Jesus stepped through the opening and into the room, a grimace of pure fear spread across the Prefect’s face.

Wha’ aboot ye, Jesus? he greeted. Ye’re lookin’ well for a deceased punter. A thought ye were deid.

Somewhere at the back of the room, a door flew open and someone cursed.

What the fuck – ?

Without a word, Jesus whirled, drawing his short-bladed gladius in one smooth movement and driving it into the chest of the attacking red-faced centurion, Long Johnnius. Jesus smiled grimly. Well, motherfucker, he spat, how does it feel?

Pilate flattened himself against the wall. Ah for fuck’s sake, Jesus. If ye cannae tak a joke, what’s the world comin’ tae? Surely we can work somethin’ out? I mean, you’re probably pissed off, what wi’ bein’ crucified an’ all, but –


Pilate’s words were cut short as another shell slid into the breech of the Praetor assault cannon.

Jesus studied the whimpering Prefect of Judaea for a moment, then spat.

Crucify this!  Motherfucker!


Customs Religion

Fuck off, St Patrick


What are we celebrating? Some Welsh [tag]religious[/tag] nutcase arrived over here and filled us with a load of bullshit that eventually went on to become the Irish [tag]Catholic[/tag] church? The most dysfunctional and oppressive organisation ever to screw up the Irish people?

This we should celebrate?

No surprise that people drink excessively on St Patrick’s Day. It’s probably the best way to blot out the memories of stupidity, greed, tyranny and abuse inflicted on the Irish people by the bastards that fucker Patrick introduced to us.

What was wrong with the laid-back fun-loving, relatively equal society that Patricius barged into with all his talk of hell and guilt and damnation, and all the other mentally-ill bullshit these proto-Catholics were so fond of? [Hint: Nothing!]

By the way, who selected the 17th March as St Patrick’s Day? It has to have been some miserable old bishop, doesn’t it?

Hmmm. Let me see now. July? No. They’d enjoy it too much. August? Ah no. The girls would be sunbathing and getting me excited. I know! We’ll have it in the middle of March when the weather is dreary and wet and cold and miserable. Great idea. That’s how we’ll do it.

But enough of this begrudgery. I’m off now to wait for the parade. God, I just love watching dozens of fat girls with frozen blue legs and double chins. And as for the ancient Americans staggering down the middle of the street and waving at us? Oh stop. The excitement is too much.

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Crime Religion

Paedophile is not a word

Let’s get this nonsense out of the way right now.

Paedophile is not a word. I remember when the perverts invented it about twenty-five years ago to cover up what they really do, which is the rape of children. The perverts started this thing they called the Paedophile Information Exchange, because they thought Paedophile would be a more acceptable term than Miserable child-raping bastard.

Look at the etymology: it means child lover. These people are anything but that. They are child haters, or paedophobes, and that is what we should be calling them instead of using their own perverted terminology. So from now on, I’m going to say paedophobe.

Right. That’s that out of the way. On to current events.

Unless you live on Alpha Centauri or Ferbane, you must have heard the awful story about the young boy who seems to have been the victim of a ring of paedophobes. For obvious reasons, I shouldn’t mention the details of the case for fear somebody’s trial would be prejudiced and the miserable pieces of shit would get off on a technicality. Therefore, I’ll only talk about what was reported in the mass media.

It seems that a vigilant mother found inappropriate text messages on her fourteen-year-old son’s phone and went to the police about them. It further seems that up to ten men might have been involved some way in sexually abusing this child. Sensationally, it appears that a young policeman has been suspended because he is suspected of befriending the boy in order to draw him into this circle of perverts. This is looking more and more like an organised thing, the same as the Dalkey horror I wrote about recently.

My first comment is this. What a wonderful woman the boy’s mother is to confront this thing head on.

Secondly, what kind of godawful bastard would hurt a child?

Thirdly, it’s just as well I have no power in this country, because I would feed these people into a tractor’s gearbox feet first if I had the chance, and I wouldn’t lose a second’s sleep over it.

I am furious right now, and it isn’t good for me. Do you remember when the schools first introduced the Stay Safe programme? Do you remember the opposition of the Catholic Right to its introduction? I do. I remember it very well. I remember these loud, domineering holy-joes telling us that not only would they prevent their own kids from finding out about child abuse, but by Jesus, they were going to stop my kids from taking part as well.

I hope they’re proud of themselves, the miserable sanctimonious bastards. They lost and good riddance to them, but they haven’t gone away, you know.

Favourites Humour Religion Technology

My Plan for Ireland vs England

I was in my study, contemplating the beingness of nothingness and slugging back a quiet whiskey when a powerful rumbling shook the Bockschloss to its foundations.

What the- I ejaculated as I sprang upright and dashed to the window.

Outside, on the rolling lawn, I could see a familiar little figure gesticulating at me. He seemed agitated and as I flung open the casement, the little tyke leapt into my arms, trembling.

Good God, Ratzo, I gasped. What’s happened to you? You’ve never behaved like this before.

Ach, I have the rounding-ups barely escaped, mein Bockfreund. Die polizei, they are arresting alles hunden in den Strasse und them up are locking! I only the miraculous evasion make by into a paper bag jumping und mit mein kopf only peeping out, you see, and so they are gedenken that I only a midget am.

And not a bull pontiff, I finished for him.


Ja, he gasped. Was ist los mit den Welt, mein Bockfreund?

I don’t know, Ratzo. I think they’re arresting everybody who knows any secrets, and the dogs in the street are the obvious target.

As I spoke, something outside in the grounds of the Bockschloss caught my eye.

Ratzo, I said. That terrible rumbling I heard?

Ja? Ratzo looked shifty.

Was that you driving the giant military transporter I see parked on my lawn?

Ratzo said nothing.

Well – was it?

Ratzo rolled on his back and panted.

Don’t give me that crap Ratzo. You aren’t a dog. For Christ’s sake, you’re half Pope.

I only it to try out vanted, he pleaded pathetically.

That was when the penny dropped. You took the Desecrator again, didn’t you, Ratzo, damn you?

You might remember my design for a mobile Consecrator. The idea came to me when I heard that Mayo County Council were going to bless the roads to cut down road deaths. I felt it could be done more efficiently by machine, and all it would take was a County Council driver instead of a highly-trained killer-priest.

Then, the other possibilities started to take shape. Graves. Multi-denominational graveyards. There you are with your priest or mullah or whatever, and he’s blessing the grave of your loved-one, but he can’t spray this sanctity stuff in an exact right-angled shape, so he accidentally blesses his neighbour with the wrong flavour of religion. Not a nice notion. So I thought, maybe the lads from the Council could just back the Consecrator over the grave, turn the knob to whatever religion you need and just switch it on. Let it run for a few minutes while they’re having their tea, and the whole thing is done.

It was a short step from there to the military version. The Desecrator, capable of cursing your enemy in all known religions simultaneously, would be towed behind an armoured personnel carrier and fire curses horizontally at your opponent, at approximately knee height. No soldier with cursed legs would be able to fight you properly.

So that’s what the little Pontiff-dog was up to!

You were going to launch an attack, weren’t you? Ratzo, you little hound.

No. I promise, I was only to Croke Park mit it going, the earth to bless before the grosse rugger fussball match tomorrow. For the Peace in alles der Weld.

What?? I had an idea. Damn Ratzo. Maybe you’re onto something after all.

Forgetting about the little Papahund, I raced outside to where my Desecrator was housed.

Quick, Ratzo, I said. We must work all night at this. If we can re-balance the sanctity-malevolence matrix generator and reverse the polarity on the inertial prayer-curse dampers, we could fire an evil Delaney-seeking version of Faith of Our Fathers straight through the walls of Croke Park. Take out Delaney with the world’s first military Smart-Curse, and the whole rotten FAI edifice will crumble. Mwoo-ha-ha-ha-haaaa!

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Politics popular culture Religion

What it means to be Irish

I don’t know.

I have no idea what it means to be Irish. In spite of the fact that – as far as I’m aware- my people have lived here forever, I feel very reluctant to call myself Irish, because I don’t know what the term Irish means. I feel even more uncomfortable when I hear this new expression: the New Irish. Hold on a fucking minute. New Irish? What exactly does that mean? Is that one of those condescending new terms we have to swallow or else be killed by the PC people? Apparently so.

Let me be blunt about this. I really couldn’t give a flying fuck about the colour of your skin, or where you came from, or what religion you have. Really – I couldn’t care less. You’re welcome in my country, and I’ll take you for what you are. But if you came from some other country, I hope you have the same tolerant view about me. I hope you couldn’t care less about my religion or my skin-colour, or my political views .

And if you think somebody’s religion, or skin colour, or political views are a problem, well then, that’s a problem. It’s a problem for you, because you’re in my country. So, what can you do if you if you think my religion, or my lack of religion, or my skin colour, or my political views are a problem? Very simple. You can fuck off back to where you came from.

Favourites Religion Scandal

Doctors circle the wagons

Who remembers the Neary case? Michael Neary was an obstetrician in Drogheda who carried out unnecessary Caesarean hysterectomies on many women in his care. Neary treated his patients with contempt and most of the staff lived in fear of him, with the result that almost two hundred women women were mutilated before anybody raised the alarm.

When, eventually, the North-Eastern Health Board ordered an independent review, the case was referred to three of Neary’s peers. He was allowed to personally select the nine cases reviewed and the three experts duly concluded that he should be allowed to return to work, with some restrictions. The Health Board then referred the case to a Manchester-based obstetrician who was horrified by what he saw.

Neary was subsequently struck off the register of medical practitioners by the Medical Council and an inquiry was set up under Judge Maureen Harding-Clarke. The judge’s report reached the same conclusion as the Medical Council, but also went on to explore the deeper reasons behind the abuse. In particular, it mentions the Catholic ethos of the hospital, which was formerly owned by the Medical Missionaries of Mary – a crowd of nuns. It suggests that, as sterilisation and contraception were unavailable due to the lingering influence of the nuns, Neary may have resorted to hysterectomy as a sort of back-door sterilisation. This is only partially correct. Neary mutilated 188 women in all, some in their twenties, and most without permission, so at the very least there’s an element of playing God, which is not an unusual thing among Irish medical consultants.

Bizarrely, Harding-Clarke’s report also mentions the disappearance of many patient files from the hospital, which could only have been removed by a member of staff who knew what to look for. In fact, the judge’s own office was broken into three times during the investigation.

What of the three consultants who thought Neary wasn’t such a bad guy? Well, all three have been found guilty of professional misconduct by the Medical Council, so at last we might be making some progress in this ex-Catholic little country. I might as well list them. They are Professor Walter Prendiville, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, of the Coombe Women’s Hospital, Dr Bernard Stuart, also of the Coombe, and Dr John Murphy, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, Dublin 2.

The three boys are said to regret their actions in writing the report, but not as much, I’ll bet, as the 188 damaged women regret entering Neary’s clutches.
Prendiville and Murphy subsequently sought a judicial review of the disciplinary proceedings and the decision of the Fitness to Practise Committee was quashed on the procedural grounds.



Politics Religion World

Idiots, religious lunatics and the war on terror

Did you see the recent incident where American Airlines dragged some poor guy off a flight because he had dark skin? And two Israeli guys off the same flight for having “heavy accents”? Jesus. What next? I thought he might be about to grow a beard, so I shot him. You can’t beat the Yanks when it comes to putting fools in charge of security.

At the same time, though, we do need some protection from nutcases. I see that some people in Britain are getting upset about the idea of passenger profiling at airports. What’s passenger profiling? Well, it’s not something you’d need a genius on the payroll to figure out. Indeed not. What it means is that they’re going to pick out some passengers for deeper questioning, and they’re going to select them on various grounds, including their appearance. I saw a guy on television complaining that it would be discriminatory to pick on young Asian men. Yeah? Your point being? Apart from young Asian men, who else is threatening to launch Holy War on the decadent West? Of course: old Asian men. But the old guys don’t go out and fight, do they? No: they’re too busy growing beards and learning French. So, you would imagine it would make sense to stop some young Asian men, wouldn’t you? Not according to the equality fascists.

There you are at the airport, and you’re in charge of deciding who should be questioned. You aren’t an American security-woman with an enormous arse. You actually have a brain and you can’t stop everyone, so you have to pick the most likely candidates. What do you tell your minions?

Don’t stop any Asians for fucksake. Look, there! See that fuckin Eskimo? He’s probably carrying concealed whale-blubber. Grab him before he detonates it! And while you’re at it, I want you to grab those two old nuns, that tribe of Apaches and pick up any loose rabbis you notice wandering around.

That’s going to keep our skies safe, I’m telling you.

Where are we going with this equality shit? The PC people are making all the decisions, and now you can’t identify anything at all about anybody. There’s a horrendous multiple murder in a crowded supermarket. A giant 400-pound one-legged Samoan man goes crazy with a chainsaw and chops a family in half. There are two hundred witnesses. What can the TV news say about it?

A family were dismembered today by a giant –

NO NO NO, you can’t say giant – that’s sizeist!

OK. A family were dismembered today by a fat –

NO NO NO not fat, you can’t say fat.

Right. A family were dismembered today by a Samoan

NO NO NO NO NO, that’s racist and you can’t say it.

Right. A family were dismembered today by a one-legged –

NO NO NO NO NO. We have issues around disability.

Ah, let’s see then. A family were dismembered today by a man –

NO NO NO NO NO!!! Sexism!!

OK. Here we go. A family were dismembered today. Police are looking for someone.

That’s where we’re going, you know.

Meanwhile, the incredibly active intellects in the British security services have come up with a surefire way to keep us safe. As long as your hand luggage is the size of a carrier for a laptop PC, you can bring it on the plane, but not if it’s any bigger.

Oh Jesus, there’s a guy with a slightly-bigger-than-permitted bag!!! Christ Almighty, we’re finished!! Sir, step away from the slightly-bigger-than-permitted bag and place your hands above your head.

I’m starting to feel safer by the minute, especially as they’ve now figured out what the deadly dangerous things are that these new terrorists are bringing on board planes. Toothpaste. 7-Up. There was a guy on the radio recently who had a small Spanish pocket dictionary confiscated at Heathrow. They told him they’d take it away and destroy it. (In case it contained anything inflammatory, no doubt). I suppose he’d have been ok with a French or German dictionary, but not Spanish. No indeed. Not Spanish. That’s the worst kind. They even have highly literate sniffer dogs at the airports now, fluent in eight European languages and with a passable knowledge of Mandarin and Arabic. The only problem is, the airport authorities refuse to let the dogs light up their pipes or wear dinner jackets.

Now, as you know, I wouldn’t exactly be the world’s greatest admirer of Monkey Boy, and I thought his comments about “Islamic fascists” were especially rich. This is particularly stupid coming from a guy whose supporters think Jesus will cure AIDS, and not only stupid, but dangerous. Still, though, in spite of Monkey-Boy, you’d have to admit there’s a lot of strange ideas among the Muslims. I mean, for instance, I thought Islam was a religion, not a race, not a nationality. So why does everybody in the West take a middle-Eastern name when they convert to Islam?

Oh, howya, Murty? How’s things?

I am no longer Murty. Call me Youssef Islam Jihad al-Jawhalrlarlarwllalrwlrawrawl!!

Oh right. Fair enough.

What would be wrong with a Muslim called Brad Flintlock? Or Festy McMonagle? Do they not realise we’re actually not in a fucking desert? Do they think it’s a disguise so nobody will notice they have a big mad freckly boiled Irish head? Ah for fucksake, let me alone.

And don’t get me started on the Jews, who seem to be just as obsessed with their diet. Do they not also realise that we’re not in a desert? That we have fridges now and the meat won’t go off? So you could actually kill a pig if you wanted and it would be ok, it wouldn’t rot or anything. That we have running water and bathrooms and modern medicine so you no longer have to cut off the top of your dick to stay healthy?

Now that I’m on a roll, do you remember that story of the Gadarene swine, about how Jesus drove a gang of evil spirits out of some poor possessed fucker and into a herd of pigs, who promptly charged straight off the edge of a cliff? The pigs killed themselves, or the evil spirits did: I’m not sure which. Well, this happened (I think) in a place populated exclusively by Jews. There were no Muslims in those days, nor Christians, or only a few, which leads me to the inexorable conclusion that the people keeping the pigs were Jews. What changed? Oy vey! They should keep pigs in such a place, already? I can’t imagine business being great.

But again, as I’m on a roll, I think I see the way forward for Islamic suicide bombers. I doubt if they’ll get past the sniffer dogs with Korans or tubes of exploding toothpaste. Therefore, what I think they should do is simply bring a possessed person onto the plane. Then, when they’re over their target, an Islamic suicide exorcist can hop out of his seat and drive the evil spirits straight into the cockpit, repossessing the pilots and Bingo! Youssef’s your uncle!


Pope offends Muslims

Imagine being a dead Muslim

Suicide bombers 

Muhammad MacGyver

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Religion Scandal

Bock Joins the Scientologists

Some years back, I called to see the Scientologists in Florida. Lovely people. Here’s my diary from that experience:
I’m getting truly sick of all these eighty-mile round trips to Tampa. It’s good for the novelty of the thing, but the American road-laws become harder and harder to understand. Where are all these cops they told us about? A guy told me the other day that traffic fines are one of the biggest sources of State funding, and maybe that’s so but what do the cops say about eighteen-wheel Mack trucks that ride your back bumper at 90 mph?

Enough. We come to what must be the high point of anyone’s holiday. This is what makes travel worthwhile. I jump in the car and head for Clearwater, hoping to find the Scientologists. Along the way, I pass the newly-opened Planet Bubba, about which there’s been a lot of stuff in the press. Seems they have this talk-radio guy here called Bubba the Love Sponge. (Don’t ask. I don’t know, all right?) Anyway, Bubba decides to open a club of some sort and all the locals object because they have enough of this particular sort of club in the area. I don’t know. Genuinely, I just don’t have that information. Maybe it’s a gym.

Guess what? I hardly go twenty miles wrong before spotting it: Dianetics. That’s all it says on the sign. Dianetics. I have found the Scientologists. My head spins with excitement as I drive past it the wrong way. Of course, I realise that this is only one of many buildings the Scientologists own in Clearwater, and also it’s important to make a distinction. Clearwater is their spiritual headquarters, not the administrative HQ, which is in California. If you ask me, this is the better choice. You can almost feel the spiritual power throbbing in the very bricks of this city. What a sensation! I’m speechless with excitement as I perform an illegal U-turn and head for Dianetics.

As I pull into the car-park (sorry, parking lot) the air fills with the whirr of a hundred security cameras, all focussing on me. Jesus, I think, what a wonderful bunch of guys. Aren’t they just so caring? Even their security cameras love-bomb you. It’s great to feel wanted. One thing worries me though: I’m wearing a T-shirt with a large cigar-chewing Poker Alice on it, I have knee-length baggy shorts and filthy old trainers. Whatever will they think?

I needn’t fret. The lobby is cool and discreet, literature strewn everywhere, invitingly, and there’s a few shelves with books (which they must, regretfully, charge for, to cover costs). I meet a great guy called Decker, who’s no slouch when it comes to accents.

Ireland, right? says Decker. I hope he’s not about to roll up his sleeve and show me a leprechaun tattoo.

Right, I confirm, giving little away.

Where you from?

I’m not quite ready to sign up for Scientology yet, so I lie to him. Dublin.

Great, he says, and moves on.

What a great guy.

I’m picking up all sorts of free glossy brochures. I have an armful of free literature and I’m about to move off when Jennifer appears. It turns out one of the brochures isn’t free. You have to pay for it, but how can you tell the difference? Maybe it’s part of the test . . . Jennifer eyes me shrewdly. Jennifer is small and maybe too young to remember eighties power-dressing, yet she has these padded shoulders and a snappy dark business suit. A suit that says I know what I’m talking about. At least, in New York that’s what the suit would be saying. Here in Florida, where the air temperature is eighty-four degrees Fahrenheit, the suit says Christ, I’m dying. I bet this suit gets down on its knees every night and gives thanks to L. Ron Hubbard, the inventor of air-conditioning. Another great, great guy, Ron. I’ll get to him.

Jennifer wants to get my name in the visitor book, but I stall. Who wants to be in the Scientology database? That’s for later, when I reach a new level of consciousness. Who knows? Maybe it’s where old Scientologists go, sucked into a computer. We joust a little, Jennifer and I. Wouldn’t I like to stay and see the L. Ron video? It’s just awesome. I agree with Jennifer: it must be awesome, but, see, I’ve abandoned the kids in a fun-park and if I don’t go now I’ll be arrested for neglect. Jennifer isn’t put off that easily. When can I make it? If I call ahead, they’ll show the video specially for me.

Can you believe it? Just for me? I’m astonished by all this kindness and a little sickened by my own lack of principles as I give Jennifer a false name and leave. It’s not that I have anything against Jennifer as a person. It’s just that, well, I’d like a chance to review some of this literature before going on their mailing list. Anyway, I feel a little sorry for Jennifer so, as I depart, I promise to come back tomorrow morning and see the video. Who can tell? With all this power that Ron has revealed to them, perhaps it’ll happen.

Driving out of the parking-lot, I get a strange feeling. What did Decker say to Jennifer?

Get out there, check that guy. Yeah, the one in the Poker Alice T-shirt. The one trying to steal our books.

I don’t want to stare, or anything, but it’s hard to shake off the thought: what happens next? As the door closes behind you, do they drop all pretence? Do the smiles melt away? Do their arms drop uselessly by their sides? Even now, as I pull onto the highway and gun the engine, are they gathered in the lobby, watching me go? Thirty, forty, a hundred of them, all squashed up against each other and watching through the smoked glass?

I get a mild attack of the heebie-jeebies and start watching out for strange cars. Just to be certain, I do two or three U-turns to keep them off the scent, and it seems to work. A strange thing though: on the way back to Water Planet, or whatever they call it, at least three cop-cars fall in behind me at various times. Can this be coincidence? You decide.

Now, then.

L. Ron Hubbard. What a name. L. Ron Hubbard, with a little initial up there in front, like a fucking periscope. I can feel it watching me. What did his friends call him? How’s it goin’, L? The nice people at Dianetics gave me a questionnaire for a free personality test and I’m having a glance through it, thinking, God, these people really are interested in me. How great!

Question 31: could you agree to strict discipline?

Hmmm! Maybe this is a job for Bubba the Love Sponge. I should call him up – he might come over.

Hey Bubba, remember me? Yeah, the night of the party. Maybe you could help out here. Bubba, am I ever disturbed by the noise of the wind? No? Good. How about muscles, Bubba? Do my muscles twitch? Come on, Bubba, there’s no need for that kind of talk. All right, I know you’re only kidding. Listen Bubba, would you consider me a slow eater?

It goes on like that for two hundred questions and they ask you the same thing in twenty different ways. Why? Can’t they read?

Do other people interest you very much?

Of course they do.

Are you readily interested in other people’s conversation?

I thought I just answered that. I can’t believe this fucking shit. They have this thing called an E-METER © invented, naturally, by L. Ron. There seems to be no end to this man’s genius. Very impressive piece of kit, the E-METER ©, with a needle that moves over a dial and what seems to be two or three digital watches built into it. You hold a pair of shiny electrodes, one in each hand, and that’s all they need to analyse your inmost feelings. Remember those machines outside the shops? How sexy are you? That’s exactly what the E-METER © is, except you pay the Church of Scientology about a grillion dollars for it. Just fantastic.

I must sign up right away.

Crime Religion Scandal

Seán (can I call you that?)

Archbishop Seán Brady
Co Down

18th December 2006

Dear Archbishop Brady,

May I call you Seán? I read your comments in the paper today, and I have to tell you that I agree completely with almost everything you said. You’re quite right that there’s more coarseness and aggression in Irish society than there used to be. You’re also correct in saying that there’s a lot more drinking and sexualisation of children at too early an age. Fair play to you for pointing it out.

I’m glad for you that you’ve learned so much in the last ten years about the suffering of abuse victims. This is a good thing for you. Also, I’m sorry you’ve seen a decline to zero in the numbers of people joining your priesthood. That’s terrible, for you.

I’m glad you’re so committed to child protection. This is very encouraging.

Seán, (can I call you that?), I grew up in an Ireland where your church demanded complete obedience. I grew up in an Ireland where your church thought it had the right to dictate to the government on what laws it passed. I grew up in an Ireland where bishops like you thought they could tell the Irish people how to vote.

Seán (can I call you that?), you’d do well not to be talking about the sexualisation of children. Your colleague and predecessor, Cathal Daly, declared that he had no authority over that child-abuser, Brendan Smyth, because he was a member of a religious order. It didn’t stop you, Seán (can I call you that?) from silencing an Augustinian priest in Dundalk who did no more than share an act of communion with some protestants. An act of love.

Seán (can I call you that?), if you think there’s a moral vacuum in Ireland, you’re dead right. You see, in the Ireland I grew up in, people like you demanded total obedience, and the Irish people set aside their critical faculties in your favour, because they thought you knew everything. No civic society developed because you, Seán (can I call you that?), took charge of the whole lot and decided where people could dance, what they could wear and who they could talk to.

So, Seán (can I call you that?), is it really any surprise that, when your people are exposed as money-grabbing, child-abusing, power-mad hypocrites, there might be a small bit of a moral vacuum?

I think not, Seán (can I call you that?).




They just don’t get it . . .

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