From The International Harpoon, No. 1, 1997. Published by the High North Alliance for the International Whaling Commission in Monaco.

Church of England Recognises Whale-Hugging

RIPON, NORTH YORKSHIRE, Oct. 5: Ripon Cathedral, an austere monument to God dating back to the 7th century, is normally associated with the sounds of traditional hymns spat through the gums of octogenarians in sparsely filled pews. But today, its walls reverberate to a different tune: the thumping of whale-bibles and the mating calls of humpback whales.

After years of prompting from the Harpoon, Britain has finally recognised the religious essence of Whale-Hugging, and granted devout huggers refuge in Christian churches.

Fire and Brimstone

The event in Ripon was the inspiration of an organisation called Breach Marine Protection, which Harpoon readers will remember was launched in 1995 with a fire-and-brimstone declaration of war on whalers. Since then, however, Breach have failed to find a single whaler on the high seas, and have decided instead to spit their fire and brimstone from the pulpit.

In its open invitation on the Internet, Breach invited one and all to the first ever "inter-denominational Requiem Service For The Great Whales". October 5 was chosen because it coincided with something called "World Prayer Day for Animals", which in turn coincided with the day in 1938 when the Nazis decreed that all Jews should have a "J" stamped in their passports.

The occasion would be used to "commemorate the Great Whales which have been cruelly slaughtered for commercial reasons so far this year (including those killed under the guise of so-called 'scientific' whaling) and to pray for those whose survival is still in danger through constant pressure from human acts."

Dick Wally

In keeping with the current British taste for groovy church services, there were all sorts of hot items on the bill. There was to be a recital not on the pipe organ but on the didgeridoo, of all things, by a Mr. Dick Wally (who will surely be prime suspect if his mum is ever found murdered). And for traditionalists, candles would be lit for the souls of all cetaceans which had suffered "captivity or cruel death at the hands of man", to the accompaniment of that Whale-Huggers' old stand-by: recordings of humpback whales on heat.

The inter-denominational part of Breach's big day would be supplied courtesy of "Messages to the congregation ... applied for from all the major religious leaders including the Dalai Lama."

Ayatollah Khomeini

Could such an event really take place, even in Britain? Harpoon checked with the Dean of Ripon, and to our astonishment the answer was, well, basically yes.

It wasn't actually a requiem, he said, but "a commemoration and celebration of the great whales" - a technicality for which Breach can surely be forgiven. Also, there were only two denominations represented: Christianity and Whale-Hugging. The Dean had not received any messages for the congregation from rabbis, ayatollahs or Dalai Lamas, and indeed had no idea that such messages had even been requested.

That said, the Dean was a keen conversationalist when it came to discussing the subject of celebrating dead whales. Highlights from an exclusive Harpoon interview follow:

Harpoon: "What do you think about all this nonsense?"

Dean: "We do rule over God's creation. It is important to exercise our rule responsibly, not to pollute, not to exploit and not to abuse. The whole of creation belongs together. We cannot exploit to the point the species is extinct."

Harpoon: "Do you think it's OK for humans to eat wildlife, and specifically whales, if it's done sustainably?"

Dean: "It is inevitable that people will use them for food, but I am not sure it is necessary. ... For some creatures it would probably be wrong to kill them, such as dolphins. I have been told that they are particularly intelligent."

Harpoon: "Actually there's no reason to think they are any smarter than pigs, and yet being a Yorkshireman you probably eat black pudding every day, which as you know is made from the congealed blood of loads of dead pigs after they've had their throats cut with a razor-sharp knife. What do you think about that, then, eh?"

At this point his Deanship started to show signs of stress, mumbled something about his spuds boiling over, and hung up.

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