A BOOK of reflections written by a parrot, Coco, is raising money for a new outdoor church initiative for the farming community on the edge of Exmoor.
The Random Thoughts of Coco the Christian Parrot is a glossy, colourful compilation of 83 of the bird’s popular blog contributions and Zoom appearances in the Edgemoor group of 11 parishes over the past three years. The human race often underestimates the intelligence of animals, Coco says. “Parrots are particularly brainy and have been shown to have the same mental capacity as many three-year-old toddlers.”
His “typist and publisher”, Richard Holloway, is a Reader, with a day job as a school-meals supervisor at two primary schools. “The unique thing about the book is that it does look at everything from a parrot’s perspective,” he says.
“It makes you see everything from a brand new angle, and it’s actually helped me to reflect on some of the things I have taken for granted in the past. The result is sometimes funny, and sometimes challenging, but every one of Coco’s messages is underpinned by a bedrock of love and biblical text.
“Many clergy will tell you that getting folk to see outside their normal human perspective is half the secret in helping them to discover the Christian faith. So this is exactly what Coco tries to do.”
On “Difference and Diversity”, for example, Coco reflects: “As parrots, we’re a really diverse bunch, with some 193 species of us located around the world. And rather like people, we come in all shapes and sizes. We can be small, medium, large or even extra-large. We can be skinny or a bit podgy, ranging from just 12g through to four kg. And just like humans, we all have our own appearance, character and curious quirks.”
“Seeing it All from A Different Angle” prompts him to reflect: “Some humans think of me as a ‘parrot genius’ because of my writing and my philosophical thoughts. But the truth is this: the further I travel on this journey called Life, the more I come to realise how little I really know. It’s the same for all of us. And for that reason, we all need to carry humility in our hearts.”
On “The Living Miracle of Spring”, Coco observes, “If you stop to stare at the beauty of the spring, Heaven won’t seem so far away. The reality of the resurrection, salvation and our own afterlife all seem more plausible.”
All the proceeds from the book are going towards buying a teepee and other equipment to accommodate the growing numbers at the outdoor church at West Anstey, which has been running since last summer.
“It’s aimed at members of the local farming community, and young people who might otherwise be a bit reticent about walking into a traditional church building,” Mr Holloway says. “It’s about gently bringing people to God but also involving an appreciation of nature.”
The Bishop of Crediton, the Rt Revd Jackie Searle, writes in her foreword: “The mix of humour, challenge, biblical text and photography, along with the views of our perceptive parrot, make this book a unique reflection on our 21st-century lives.” Coco’s blogs have now been seen by people in more than 40 countries.
The book is available online from Amazon, or direct from the churches. Customers can order direct, with a cheque for £12 payable to the Oakmoor group of churches, sent to Coco the Parrot, Parkstone, George Nympton Village, Devon EX36 4JE.