When commenting recently on what I might have blogged about had I bothered to write anything at all, I mentioned a few issues, but avoided the Pussy Riot trial in Moscow. The reason I avoided it has nothing to do with the issues raised by the case itself. I'll come back to it later – after a couple of bland observations that I hesitate to make without developing them (for which there isn't time).

First, Pussy Riot would still be anonymous around the world if Putin's boys and girls hadn't lost perspective. Putin will do the opposite of anything the 'old enemy' wants him to do – it's almost a matter of principle. So, the riot of disgust and anger around the world at the eventual sentences handed down to the three women won't cause Putin to lose sleep.

Second, the Moscow Patriarchate shows signs of being a little too close to Putin and his regime. This has clearly also led to a loss of theological perspective on its part. The ensuing global publicity about the Pussy Riot demo has simply drawn attention to questions the Church finds uncomfortable (or, at least, should do) and focused critical attention on its political allegiances and privileges.

Whichever way you look at it, Pussy Riot has managed to attract more attention to their cause than they could ever have dreamed of. And both the Putin regime and the Church look ridiculously self-regarding and over-sensitive. I wonder whose tables Jesus would have overturned…

Anyway, I am on an island holiday with almost no mobile signal and few places where I can get a wi-fi connection. I am also trying to avoid 'work'. So maybe this is the time to explain an unusual phenomenon that still surprises and amuses me.

Way back in 2009 I posted something entitled 'The rules of pizza'. It followed a bizarre experience in an Italian restaurant in London when the waiter, rather than asking me if everything was OK with the meal, instead observed that I “eat pizza funny”. The women on the next table were laughing. I said I wasn't aware there were any rules for how one should at pizza. So, I posted the piece and posed the question.

However, the odd thing is that I still get daily views of this particular post. Dozens every day – sometimes hundreds. I was amused early on after I had originally posted it that I was getting hundreds of referrals from a lesbian bondage website. This seems to be happening still. And I have no idea why or how.

So, you can understand why I hesitated before posting anything about Pussy Riot. Most referred viewers must have been really disappointed to find they got to a bishop discussing pizza. I dread to think what will happen to future referrals from exotic websites caught by the title of this post.

Or maybe they will all come from cat protection organisations…


I came across a disturbing press notice on the EKD (German Protestant Church) website in the wake of the election of Bishop Margot Käßmann as Chair of the Council of the EKD last month.

It would appear that the Russian Orthodox Church has expressed an intention to cut off ecumenical contact with the EKD because of Käßmann’s election. Apparently, ‘representatives of the Foreign Office of the Russian Orthodox Church had announced that relations with the EKD would be terminated… Archbishop Hilarion said that celebrations planned for the end of November to mark 50 years of dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the EKD would also mark the end of the conversations.’ Archbishop Hilarion was quoted as such in the Kommersant newspaper.

It appears that the fundamental reason for this move is that the Orthodox Church does not allow that a woman can be a bishop. Fair enough – and no surprises so far.

But the conversations between the two churches have been going on for years and the EKD has had female bishops for years. All that happened on 28 October was that Margot Käßmann was elected ‘Chair of the Council’. That isn’t a change of orders – that happened a long time ago.

So, it is not only the EKD that is expressing confusion about this. If ‘female bishops’ was the problem, the Orthodox would presumably have suspended their relationship with the EKD many years ago. But they didn’t.

So, what is this about?