A well-known Dorset vicar was facing a congregational backlash today after she expressed outspoken views on the apostle St Paul in an interview published in the Sydling St Nicholas Sun last week.
Asked whether she thought the unlucky New Testament traveller would be "an ideal travelling companion", the Revd Agge Nostik, Vicar of Our Lady of Ingrowing-Toenails, Turbary Park said "Put it this way. I am not sure I would ever have got on an aeroplane with him". One church traditionalist labelled the comment blasphemous, whilst another suggested that if the vicar was serious about travel and had bona fide issues with St Paul, she could always consider inviting St Christopher along as sacred insurance. "I am not sure where each stands in the general pecking order, but I imagine St Paul's frequent-flyer [or, more accurately, frequent-crasher] status would be useful at the express check-in, whereas St Christopher would be a big help in lost-baggage reclaim and possibly securing a speedy hotel transfer".
The Revd Nostik is no stranger to controversy, or indeed the front page of the Sydling St Nicholas Sun; only last year she caused a stir when she agreed to pose wearing nothing more than a dog collar, in an attempt to boost sales of the Turbary Park Parish Magazine and to publicise the Church's then upcoming Virtual Easter Bring and Buy Sale.
In a [probably forlorn] attempt to clarify her latest position ["which is considerably less interesting than the one she adopted last Easter"] Revd Nostik said: "In no way do I wish to diminish the Apostle's achievement or question his established position in the canon of the saints. I was merely suggesting that his track record of bouncing off every Mediterranean island you can think of and ending up face down eating sand on random beaches whilst others scrabbled around for his waterlogged suitcase, suggests that he might not have been the most welcome sight in the Departure Lounge". "None of this is to say that his Epistles to several long- defunct civilizations [no causal link implied] are not a jolly good and occasionally quite instructive read or that they were not instrumental in establishing an early and robust post office system. If you think about it, he was probably singlehandedly responsible for keeping the Palestinian exchequer ticking over at a difficult time. Think of the stamp sales alone, bearing in mind that those tablets and scrolls are not standard size and quite probably fragile. Whether or not he used recorded delivery we will never know, but even presuming they went standard Second Class, I think we're still looking at a tidy sum given the volumes involved*."
* Biblical scholars have since confirmed that there is no way of knowing how the Epistles were delivered - so the Revd Nostik is "spot on". ["So she's quite right as well as a bit of all right!" [Picture Ed].]
A spokesperson for the Most Reverend Kendra Lust, Archbishop of Muccleshell said that Her Grace was "fully aware of the situation in Turbary Park" and that "whilst she welcomed any initiative which brought parishioners back into the fold, individual members of the clergy had to think long and hard about precisely which fold they were willing to welcome them back into". She added only that, "In this case it looks like a two-fold problem".
In the meantime Dorset’s most popular vicar will be "putting herself out there” once again when she returns to the pulpit on Sunday. Her sermon will take as its subject Isaiah 47:3 “Your nakedness shall be uncovered, and your disgrace shall be seen. I will take vengeance, and I will spare no one”. The import of that message (or at least of its first half of it) will be reinforced - on a personal level - through illustrative materials gathered by the Vicar’s boyfriend during their 2018 beach holiday in Mykonos. Explicit content warnings have been issued and extra chairs set out in the nave.