Guest blogger, The Rev’d Humphrey Blytherington weighs in on public nudity… Rev’d Blytherington is Vicar of St Hilda’s, Little Snoring with All Saints, Great Snoring. He is a graduate of Plymouth University. He completed his studies for the ministry at Latimer Hall, Durham. He is married to Daphne and enjoys home brewing, model railroading and is an avid member of the Great Snoring Morris Dancers.

The other morning I was enjoying my bacon and eggs and baked beans when Daphne snorted from the other side of her Daily Telegraph. It seems a government minister has become the champion of naturists.

Daphne seemed quite annoyed by the whole business, and I said I really didn’t see what all the fuss was about. Old Canon Farnsworth at theological college used to travel out to Malta every summer to continue his studies of Mediterranean salamanders and I couldn’t see why Daphne should be indignant over the fact that the government might give the odd research grant to a few naturalists. Why should there be any harm in supporting scientific research?

She gave me that look of hers which could curdle milk and went back to her newspaper, so feeling rather confused about the matter I asked Lavinia, the lady curate over at St Etheldreda’s at the Clergy Fellowship Gathering.She was surprised I hadn’t heard. It seems that Daphne was talking about naturists not naturalists, and these are folks who like to go around wearing nothing but their birthday suits!

Well, I must say, I’d never heard of such a thing! I mean at school we lads used to enjoy the odd noody swim in the school pool, but Lavinia said it’s all the rage for the lads and ladies to tootle about in the buff just for the fun of it.

“What?” I said, “here in England? Isn’t it rather, you know, cold and damp for such things?”

“Of course not.” Lavinia said. She seemed quite surprised that I hadn’t heard of naturism. “Of course, it’s nicer on the beach in Greece or Malta…”

“Did you say ‘Malta’?” I asked.

“Georgie and I enjoy the beaches on Malta every summer.” she replied.

“Good heavens! Do you think that’s what old Canon Farnsworth was really up to?” I asked. “I always thought he was collecting salamanders.”

“It’s a serious matter.” Lavinia replied. “It’s perfectly natural to enjoy being naked, and naturists are discriminated against simply because they prefer to go about as God created them. I think it’s a jolly good thing the government is doing something about the frightful discrimination against these people. Did you know Georgie was turned out of her post as a Girl Guide leader when they learned that she and I enjoy beach vacations in Malta? Anyway, Georgie and I are starting something called the Ancient Order of Anglican Adamites and I was wondering of you and Daphne would like to give it a try?”

Lavinia’s always one for bright ideas, so I asked her what the Anglican Adamites were exactly.

She said very primly, “The Adamites are a very ancient expression of the Christian religion. They practice ritual worship as nature intended without the encumbrance of textiles. In solidarity with the naturists who are being discriminated against we are forming the Ancient Order of Anglican Adamites to bring this matter to attention of the General Synod. We will be campaigning for ‘textile free’ options in worship.”

“Do you mean to say that you want people to come to church in the nude?”

“No one has to, but we want people to have that option if they wish.”

“How extraordinary!”

“Not really Humph. If you read up on the Adamites you’ll see that their pedigree goes right back to the second century. It’s arguable that they are the genuine Christian article, and all we’re doing is restoring the original primitive Christian faith. There have always been Christian naturists, but they’ve been persecuted by the hierarchical, patriarchal Roman Catholic Church. Oh yes, you can trace them right back to the beginning. In fact, the first Christian naturist was there in the Garden of Gethesemane. Just look up Mark 14.51-52. Probably the reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus was because he had some of the first Adamites among his disciples.

“How extraordinary! I wonder why we never studied such things at theological college.”

“All part of the conspiracy against us Humpy. So what about it?”

“I’m afraid it’s a bit too much for me to take in just at the moment Lavinia.”

She gave me one of her gimlet stares. “You’re not in favor of discrimination against naturists are you Humphrey?”

“What me? No of course not! I mean, in many ways its an intriguing idea. I’m not sure it is exactly my cup of tea, but now that you’ve put it that way, I can’t really see any harm in it, I mean, as you say, it is the way God created us, and why be ashamed of the way we are? I can see that it is rather levelling, and you know that might be a good thing, and to tell you the truth, it would be rather a relief not to have to worry about what color vestments to be wearing…”

That evening down at the Goose and Garter I mentioned this to the lads over a half pint of lager shandy. “Cor blimey!” said Jimmy, “Maybe I will start going to church again after all!”

Then Stewart said, “But have you seen Georgie and Rev Lav? They’re bad enough with their clothes on!”

“Now that’s enough lads! Let’s keep the conversation decent!”

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