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IF you want good reading, head over to the excellent Ship of Fools, said the USA’s Christianity Today magazine.

Now the British duo behind the internet’s most inventive Christian webzine – – are heading to Philadelphia (Thur 19 Feb) as part of a major US lecture/entertainment tour (see details below).

From the Mystery Worshiper to Gadgets for God, Signs and Blunders to the Fruitcake Zone, Simon Jenkins and Steve Goddard, the ship’s editors, will draw from their unique, anarchic website in a day of entertainment, insight and humor.

Simon is an established performance poet in the UK and will read his own work. Steve, a former recording artist for Kingsway Music, is threatening to pay tribute to one of his favourite artists – and do a turn as Beltin’ John, piano permitting.

With more than 1.75 million pages viewed every month, Ship of Fools has evolved into a global, interactive community. Thousands of readers value the ship’s unique cocktail of iconoclasm and devotion, where the ridiculous is vigorously exposed and genuine spirituality actively pursued.

‘We think organized religion must learn to laugh at itself before it will be taken seriously,’ says Simon Jenkins. ‘Ship of Fools is not a campaign. There are enough of those around already. We are a 24/7 conversation, with the Christian faith at the heart of it all, where all traditions are respected and people with little or no faith are welcome, too.’

Fully and fiercely independent, Ship of Fools has 12 bulletin boards and an online membership of more than 5000 people. Four administrators and 30 board hosts – many living in the US and all unpaid volunteers – encourage discussion, keep things on track and help settle disputes. It is now one of the largest Christian discussion spaces on the internet.

In April 2003, launched the world’s first Internet reality game show. Dubbed ‘Big Brother meets the Bible’, The Ark set sail on Easter Sunday for 40 days and 40 nights. On board Noah’s famous floating zoo were 12 Bible cartoon characters, controlled on computer by contestants in their own homes, linked via the internet. Six of them were from the US and Canada.

‘We wanted to bring characters like Samson and Simon Peter to life as fallible, witty, compassionate and selfish human beings – making them accessible to a non-Christian audience,’ explains Steve Goddard. ‘Most church-related initiatives play things too safe – and fail to reach computer-minded Generation X.’

When not wearing his ‘Captain’ hat, Simon is a freelance writer, editor and designer with several books to his name including When Clergymen Ruled the Earth – a collection of his own religious cartoons, The Bible from Scratch and Windows into Heaven: the icons and spirituality of Russia.

Steve Goddard is a freelance journalist and public relations consultant. Leading Christian publisher Zondervan and sociologist Rev Dr Anthony Campolo – former spiritual adviser to President Clinton – are among his UK clients. He has just finished work on a novel Two Blind Mice – and is ‘looking for a publisher brave enough to take it on!’

* For information contact Matt Ralph Cell (856) 266-5410. Home (856) 845-1029. Work (856) 451-1000, ext. 418. Or Simon Jenkins (editor, +44 (0) 7808 297146. Or Stephen Goddard (co-editor, +44 (0) 7930 198209.

Mon Feb 23 – Philadelphia PAVenue: Circle of Hope Center City, 239 S. 10th Street (near Locust) 2nd floor, Philadelphia, PATitle of Event: Ship of Fools Live with Jon Felton and His SoulmobileTime: 8pmEmail: [email protected]: Matt Ralph Cell (856) 266-5410. Home (856) 845-1029. Work (856) 451-1000, ext. 418