Guest blogger, The Rev’d Humphrey Blytherington is former 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 was, until retirement, an avid member of the Great Snoring Morris Dancers. He is now honorary assistant priest in the parish of St Oswald’s, Dagwood Bumstead in the Gloucester Diocese. He writes a weekly column in The Stocks — the weekly paper of St Oswald’s Parish.

Hello chaps! Mind if I join you? Thank you Tom. It’s a half pint of lager shandy for me if you don’t mind, and say, would you get me a packet of those scampi snacks? There’s a good chap!

Daphne’s having one of her regular prayer groups round our place and it gets a bit crowded with the Romans muttering their rosary beads. I don’t mind really, they’re a good sort for the most part, and all this praying to Mary… I’ve never quite understood that myself. I’m sure Mary was a good sort of gal, but I can’t be calling her the Mother of God. I mean to say, God doesn’t really have a mother now does he, and why do you need to pray to a dead person I wonder?

It all seems a bit odd to me, then there’s all this talk of her appearing to shepherd children. A bit superstitious to my mind, but the ladies seem to like it, and it is certainly better than the latest offering on the idiot box.

I’ve always thought of Mary as the sort of gal we used to meet at the school dances at dear old Charnel House. I remember it well. The gals from St Trinian’s would turn up in a charabanc all gussied up, and then there would be a dance of sorts. The gals were all pretty hearty, jolly hockey sticks, what ho lads!, always a good sport and something wholesome about them you know? Stout pins, rosy cheeks and hefty lungs and not quick to be too silly and giggly. That’s the sort of no nonsense, slap on the back gal I’ve always pictured Mary to be.

What’s that you say Trevor? What do I think of the Americans getting rid of calling God the Father? Well dear me, I can never quite keep up with the Yanks, but time usually tells that they don’t often get it wrong. Cutting edge and all that.

I don’t know that its all that important really what you call God is it? I know our Lord preferred to call God “Our Father” but if that doesn’t do the trick for some folks I don’t see that it does any harm to call God by another name. He’s not likely to take offense is he? To my mind he’s a bit like Sir George Carruthers-Leamington-Spa down at the manor house. He’s actually the third Duke of Ellington and seventeenth Count of Basie, but he doesn’t stand on those titles. When he’s down here at the pub or out on a shoot or visiting the parish he’s quite happy for folks to call him “George” or even his old school name “Lemming”

I reckon it’s the same with the Almighty. I expect he’d rather like to be called “Father” or “Lord” but he’s not a proud sort of chap and probably doesn’t mind what you call him.  Come to think of it, we’re Church of England. If we’re not required to call Mary “Mother” why all the fuss about calling God “Father”.

Anyway, Bishop Treebeard here in Gloucester tells us things are changing very quickly and soon there won’t be mothers and fathers anymore in the old fashioned sense. Just young people who might be this or that or the other, and they can pick which one they want to be nowadays. Not that there’s anything wrong with this. British comedy has always had a streak of chaps dressing up like ladies to raise a bit of a laugh. Why not the other way ’round, like Bishop Treebeard dressing up as a bishop?

I remember in my former parish there was a young female vicar called Lavinia. Had a chum called Georgie Samsonite. The two of the were quite active in the amateur dramatics and called themselves thespians. They didn’t have any truck with calling God “Father”. Said it was patriarchal and oppressive and they used to get quite steamed up about it. My own opinion was that perhaps they were angry at men because, to be perfectly honest chaps, neither of them was really for all markets if you know what I mean. Hell hath no fury…if you catch my drift.

Anyway, Lavinia and Georgie used to take the annual Mothering Day service from time to time and they would use it to promote women’s rights and would call God “Our Mother” and “Holy Wisdom” and “Mother Gaia” and so forth.  It was all meant well I suppose, but it did set some of the members of the Women’s Institute scratching their heads.

I think our local bishop this Treweek fella is a bit that way–always giving the ladies a head start.

I can’t personally bring myself to call God “Mother” or “Isis” or “Baal” but if it suits the Americans and their friends over here I can’t see that it does any harm.

Go here to purchase the Vicar of Great Snoring – my Kindle e-book short story about the adventures of Humphrey and Daphne.