Saturday, 27 December 2008
Much of it has been touched on elsewhere. Here I would like to look at just three points.
First, regarding the sacred liturgy, the Bishop speaks of the centrality of the community. This is manifestly wrong. While liturgy is the action of the community, it is the service of the community. Thus the One Who is served must be greater than the one doing the serving. The Liturgy plainly does not centre on the community but on God Himself. To suggest that we are central in this action is to make our worship pointless. In all the Sacraments the things that we see, hear, touch and taste are the signs and symbols of that greater reality - the action of God that is behind them, inspiring the community's worship.
He also speaks of the community as being supreme over the individual, playing with words. As the Bishop knows perfectly well, the opening word of the Creed is not pistuomen but credo. The Greek word was used by the Fathers of the Councils as they gave their assent to the credal statements that were produced - the Councils speaking with one united voice. In the Liturgy things are different. Each one of us can only speak for ourselves before God, so we say 'I believe'. For exactly the same reasons do we say 'I am sorry' and 'I am not worthy.' These statements are signs of our own relationship with God, and it is the multitude of 'I's which make up the community.
Secondly the Bishop's statement on frequent confession is extremely disturbing - seeking to undermine the work that many of us are doing in trying to encourage people back to this wonderful Sacrament. Any priest will be aware that there are many who come to confession without a deep sense of conversion, and many who come back with the same words each time.
However, we do not, as priests, have a window into men's souls. There may be cases when a penitent's desire to avoid sin is getting stronger - even if the sins remain the same. And how many times does the Grace of the Sacrament prevent them from sinning? These are things we cannot know - but when I look at myself I can see that if I am letting it go for a longer time between confessions I am committing more sins. The Bishop's statement - as reported - seems to imply a lack of faith in the transforming power of Sacramental Grace.
And if people do come merely making routine confessions, is the role of the priest not rather to seek to lead them into a deeper appreciation of the Sacrament rather than to repel them? We need to try to help them come to a fuller understanding of the nature of sin, of Grace, of forgiveness. This can of course take longer - but St John Vianney found the time for it! It seems that the Bishop would rather turn people away than seek to teach them.
A sense of being unable to teach seems also to be present in the extraordinary statement that it is impossible to speak to young people about salvation because they won't understand. This is either lazy (not wanting to bother to teach) or patronising (not thinking they are bright enough). Of course it is not sufficient if we simply use theological jargon on its own - but the fact that such knowledge is not innate doesn't mean we shouldn't even try to teach it. That harks back to the discredited child-centred methods of education of the 1970s whose ill effects we are still suffering from.
To talk to teenagers about sin and death is to talk with them about things that are, in one way or another, part of their lives. Mostly they will say they don't want to sin. Certainly they will say they don't want to die! Jesus Christ has come into the world to save us from these realities over which, without Him, we have no control. What is difficult to understand about that? And how would talking to them about not over-filling kettles help to make it clearer?
Saving the world is, according to St Paul, an important part of our work as Christians. But to enter into that work we need first to encounter Christ as Our Personal Saviour and to develop a personal relationship with Him.
This we need to be taught - and who will teach it if our Bishops will not?
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
I certainly had occasion to change that opinion over the years since then. Sadly I never did see him in concert since then but everyone will have their own cherished selection of his discography.
This evening I was listening to his wonderful recording of choral music by Sir Charles Stanford - the Songs of the Sea, Songs of the Fleet, and the Revenge. Also by no means to be missed are his wonderful recordings of the Haydn Masses - possibly not always as precise as those of John Eliot Gardiner, but possessed of a warmth and human feeling that more than made up for any lack. Also of note are his recordings of Masses by the very much underrated Hummel.
One could go on and on... and on. English music has lost one of its greatest champions, and in a year which has also seen the loss of Vernon Handley it comes as a double blow.
May they rest in peace.
All this is in a remote corner of Oxfordshire (between Witney and Faringdon) - and a part that is perhaps not much visited - but there is so much to repay the visitor in the villages and the scenery. One other delight is the little Norman church at Kencot.
Monday, 17 November 2008
Saturday, 18 October 2008
Before saying anything else, let it be quite clear that one does not wish to judge someone who feels so depressed at such an accident, or deny the sense of life being pointless that may ensue. Also, unless one has been in such a situation, one cannot simply condemn parents who went along with what their son repeatedly urged on them.
However, there are questions to be raised.
We had no choice but to let our son die, cries the Daily Mail's headlines. But even the Independent, normally in favour of killing people who are sick, old, or unwanted, found this a little hard to take. Though their approval was clearly with the young man's family, they also ran alongside the story of another young Rugby player who had sufffered similar injuries, and who after three and a half years is rebuilding his life and future on a new basis.
I would argue - as did his physiotherapist and others - that Daniel James had simply not had time to come to terms with his injury, nor to see what kind of life he could look forward to. It is entirely understandable that a young man who sees his future ruined might react in this way - at lesat in the short term. But what Daniel needed was not to be killed but to receive help in seeing how his life could be worthwhile. Eighteen months seems like a long time for a young man, particularly when he is incapacitated. What he needed was the wisdom of those who are older and will no doubt have seen more tragedy and disappointment, and the many different ways by which people cope with it and overcome it.
It is true that at the moment we live in a society where large numbers of young people commit suicide simply because they haven't got any reason for living. But even the Independent sees it as a problem where the groups of suicides of people in their late teens and twenties. Daniel's reason seems to have been much the same as theirs - so where is the logic of saying to some people: We think you have a reason for thinking like this, so we'll kill you - while we say to others: We don't think you've got a good reason so why are you causing all this pain and suffering to those around you.
We live in a society which by and large does not believe in a Right to Live but is coming more and more to push for a Right to Die. Do we not see here the truth of Pope John Paul's description of our society as a 'culture of Death.'
Whether people have physical disabilities or not (and the liberal media are always pushing the idea that the disabled have just as much to contribute s anyone else, and are just as capable of enjoying life as anyone else) if they cannot see any point in living then it is up to those around them - and to all of us, to seek to show them reasons. To give them reasons for living, things they can achieve. Maters of life and death should not be controlled by a 'do as you feel' culture.
Those who are sick, disabled or depressed need help, not killing. Or do we really want to end up in a situation where if we go to the doctor suffering from depression we will simply be told to take ourselves away and die because that will solve our problems? When there is a solution like that available why should we be taking up a doctor's time and precious NHS resources. In modern England, it seems, Ebenezer Scrooge is alive and well - even if many others are dying.
Saturday, 4 October 2008
Of course, the voice of reason is nowhere present in any of this. Nor do any seem to think to question why some of those in the liberal establishment should be lending their support for this. As always we should ask cui bono? It is noticeable that many who are anti-Catholic in so many things will still agree that Catholics should be able to succeed to the throne, and really their motivation is quite clear. And it is not out of love for us!
The one point that nobody seems to want to raise about the Act of Succession is that it is simple common sense. If the Crown is Head of the Church of England, then it follows that the person holding that position must be able to support and defend the Protestant Religion. If we are seriously to try and say that a Catholic should be able to be head of the Church of England, would be as ready to say that religious belief should not affect the choosing of the Pope? This shows us the sbsurdity of the situation. The Act of Settlement should in fact not be repealed unless the Crown is no longer to be head of the Church.
Thus the price to pay (there is always a price) for repealing this largely irrelevant Act would be the disestablishing of the Church of England. Some might consider ways in which this would be a good thing - and they may be right. But if the Church were disestablished then this would be a secular state. The Church of England - with all its faults and difficulties - is still the guarantee that in law this Kingdom is a Christian Kingdom.
The only ones who would really feel a profit from repealing the Act of Settlement are those atheistic secularists who support such a move, and no doubt the Moslems who would then see even more of a religious vacuum that they could fill.
I don't want to be King. I do want this to remain - at least in name - a Christian Kingdom, committed at least in the broadest sense to the values of the Christian Faith. It may not be much, but it's better than the alternatives. Let us, as Catholics, support the Act of Settlement, and support Her Majesty the Queen, Defender of the Faith.
Monday, 22 September 2008
As Augustine said long ago, much heresy begins with one idea that is good or OK in itself, but becomes concerned with that to the exclusion of all else.
Sr Chris Schenk, of Futurechurch, argues that because the Eucharist is the most precious gift we have been given then it must be the will of Christ that we should all be able to receive it frequently, and that we are therefore justified in doing anything to achieve this laudable goal. This is argument is obviously faulty taken simply as a pice of logic. For example, suppose that something seemed clearly to be the will of Christ but we could only achieve it by some immoral means, then clearly it would not be right to bring it about. We would have to seek other means, or else we would perhaps come to see that although Christ might want it, He might not want it at any cost.
No doubt it is the will of Christ that all His people should benefit from the Eucharist, but time and again throughout history in many parts of the world, the faithful have bee deprived of the Eucharist. We might think of penal times here in England, or of the centuries in Japan when there was no priest in the whole country. At such times the faithful kept faith alive by other means - by obedience, prayer and devotion - not by seeking to change the structure and nature of the Church in order to bring about the end they desired.
Futurechurch does not seem inclined to examine the past any more than it considers the future. A knowledge of what Christians have done in the past is surely likely to be a helpful guide when we find ourselves confronting similar problems. In the pontificate of Innocent III of blessed memory there was a remote village in France that had been without a priest for some years. Eventually the villagers had had enough of this and they appointed the village blacksmith (he being regarded as a man of repute and position in the community) to say Mass for them. Effectively this is the Futurechurch solution. And what was the result? When things came to the Bishop' notice, he asked Rome for guidance. The Pope said that this must stop. Nobody can simply set themselves up as a priest in this way. Yet he also emphasised to the bishop that neither villagers or blacksmith were guilty of sin, since what they had done had been in no way sacrilegious but was born out of a love an desire for the Eucharist.
So, we might ask, faced with a shortage of priests what would be wrong with the Church deciding to ordain men (though I think futurechurch would like to ordain women also) in such situations who could serve as part-time priests while gettin on with their family life and work at the same time. Would this not be a good way of meeting a very real need?
This is where we need to think about the future consequences of our actions. If we were to respond to a fall in vocations by saying that we will ordain anyone on such a basis, many who might like to be priests would think: this is fine. I don't need to make it a commitment of my whole life; I can do it anyway! We would find numbers of vocations falling even faster! It would also totally change the work and role of a priest. A priest is not simply a machine for sacraments. Those to whom he is sent to minister are his family - hence the title of 'Father.' He is there to serve them in a whole range of situations and needs - and frequently at any time of day or night. The work Catholics expect from a priest cannot be done except by a full time and totally committed priesthood.
And there is more in the way of consequenes. With a drastic fall in vocations we would in time find ourselves without bishops - hence the Church would no longer be Apostolic. Without that central bond of communion each community would be reduced to doing its own thing and making its own decisions, and so the church would no longer be One or Catholic. With us all making decisions for ourselves rather than seeking to discern the will of God, the Church would no longer be Holy (that is, belonging to God).
And if the Church of the Future is not to be One, Holy, Catholic or Apostolic then what is left?
The people of Futurechurch may not intend or desire such results, and I have no doubt that their love for the Eucharist is as sincere as that of those thirteenth century French men and women, but if we seek a quick fix solution to our problems we may very easily find we have made them worse, even to the point of destroying what we profess to love.
What then is the answer? First, of course, to pray. Second, not to convince ourselves that the results of our prayer are infallible. Listen to others, and to the results of their prayer - because if our insights have come from the Holy Spirit, He will be giving them to others - we can be sure of that. Sr Chris didn't wish to reply to the above points, simply observing that we would not agree. Sadly that sounds so much like a mind that is wholly made up in advance of any argument. Because we don't debate simply in order to win, but in order to clarify our thoughts and test our own ideas - to test spirits so as to discern the one that is the voice of God. And if our thoughts converge into His thoughts then we are all winners!
Friday, 19 September 2008
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Of course there are those general laws, based on the concept of natural law, which are to be considered binding upon people of all faiths or none - as the current jargon has it. Prohibitions on Rape or Murder are examples of this.
Our own society, typically, takes things too far. It sees the separation of Church and State as indicating that there is no common standard of morality - and that therefore morality is not the concern of the state, but is something left to the judgement of each individual. Religious opinions, far from being seen as important, are things to be perhaps politely listened to, and then set aside as the enthusiasms of a small minority.
Because this is the 'received wisdom' it can be easy for Catholics to go along with this - not out of any wish to deny the faith, but because we do not wish to be imposing our views on others. The trouble with this view of things is that the result is the secular state ends up imposing its views on everybody. But separation of Church and State has not always been seen in this light. It has not always been seen as a denial of any common basis for morality.
In our society morality is seen as a matter for Church, not State - officially! In practice this is not alwayys the case. Increasingly the state comes to impose its own substitute morality for the morality of religious belief. But this is the opposite of what the true liberal democratic state should be doing.
Consider the words of Alexis de Tocqueville from his study 'Democracy in America' first published in the 1840s, approving the separation of Church and State, but not the isolation of one from the other:
Religion perceives that civil liberty affords a noble exercise to the faculties of man and that the political world is a field prepared by the Creator for the efforts of mind. Free and powerful in its own sphere, satisfied with the place reserved for it, religion never more surely establishes its empire than when it reigns in the hearts of men unsupported by aught beside its native strength.
Liberty regards religion as its companion in all its battles and its triumphs, as the cradle of its infancy and the divine source of its claims. It considers religion as the safeguard of morality, and morality as the best security of law and the surest pledge of the duration of freedom.'
Friday, 29 August 2008
I recently read a review of a book by Polly Toynbee & David Walker 'Unjust Rewards' on this subject. Johann Hari, writing the review, ended his comments by saying that 'no doubt Toynbee [what happened to Walker?] will be showered with right wing abuse for this book.' This is a fairly standard technique of the extreme liberal position, which means that if there is any criticism they don't need to listen to it. I will therefore begin with where I agree with the thrust of Toynbee's & Walker's arguments.
Inequality is a contravention of natural law, of divine law. This is if we assume that we are talking about inequality in the way people are treated, or the opportunities they are given. Even here, of course, we inevitably make distinctions. If somebody is unable to learn how to fly an aeroplane we do not insist that British Airways should give them a job as a pilot. And quite rightly so. What we should be concerned with is finding ways of establishing equal opportunities for all. This would mean that every person who thinks they would like to be an aeroplane pilot has the opportunities to move towards that goal. Nobody should simply be told: You're too old, you're too young, you're from the wrong family, the wrong address etc. etc. Yet even here we have difficulties. If somebody in their seventies decides they want to train to be an aeroplane pilot, is it wrong to refuse them? It might be that their health might not suffice to exercise the role. It might be that the years of flying time they would be able to put in would not justify the expense of training them. Already we can see that equality is not as simple a matter as we might wish it to be.
And we know that to be the case. If we imagine two people, and we give each of them £500,000 and leave them to get on with things, it is quite possible that in ten years time one of them will be doing very well while the other has drunk himself (or herself) to death. If we are concerned about equality of opportunity, we do need to be very clear about exactly what we mean.
Mr Hari presents us with two children on the Clapham bus (thank God, apart from the headline he refrains from calling it an omnibus) One is from a wealthy family, the other from a poor family. The child from a poor family is three times more likely to die in an accident, more likely to die young and less likely to 'achieve'. Toynbee argues from this that it is up to Government to do something to correct this iniquitous state of affairs. Parental income, she argues, determines who will run the banks and who will sweep the floors.
This simplistic argument has so many flaws that it is difficult to know where to begin. For instance, in an ideal society, the work of those who sweep the floors would be valued just as highly as the work of those who run the banks - but this ideal society is not what Toynbee is arguing for. She seems to believe the patent nonsense that everyone should be running the banks. But if there is then nobody to clean the floors, what happens? Equality at this level does not insist that everyone should be doing the top jobs, but should recognise that in a complex society the work of each member is work of value. If we deny this then we are condemning those who for whatever reasons are not able to run banks to a life of being regarded as worthless, having nothing to offer. A true sense of equality of worth recognises the principle that each person should contribute to society according to their means.
Where Toynbee examines disparity of income between rich and poor she is exposing a well-known inequality and what is at times an injustice. It does seem obscene that some have annual bonuses of millions whereas others struggle to get by on next to nothing. But her answer simply will not do. She suggests a High Pay Commission to recommend a 'suitable national average'. This sounds not unreasonable at first sight. But in fact what she is suggesting is that Government should be empowered to tell us what to do with our money. If a company gives huge bonuses to its chairman that may be immoral, but it is difficult to see in what circumstances it could be called illegal. Do we really want government to decide how much should be paid to people? Do we really want government to decide what is just payment - not just for the super-rich, but for me? The point of principle is important here. Do we want to live in a free society or in a society where goernment decides on all the details of our lives and our social interactions. We might have a government we can trust today, but will we have such a government tomorrow? We need to think very carefully before giving away such sweeping powers.
Toynbee also seems to overlook one of the reasons for children remaining in the lower echelons of education. She seems to think that government can and should handle all the problems, but while it may be debatable whether government should it is certain that government cannot solve this problem. Now, there may be areas where government can do something useful, but an awful lot depends on a child's upbringing.
We do not need to question, for the sake of this argument, whether a parent loves their child. But the fact is that our education system does not distinguish between children from wealthy or poor backgrounds. The same opportunities are given to each. Where then is the problem?
A child from a family (rich or poor) that encourages that child to work, to do well, to gain results, is likely to do better than a child from a family (rich or poor) that does not give such encouragement. Encouragement in this sense is not a matter of wealth or resources. A generation or two ago there was a sense among most families that it was a good thing of their children could 'better themselves.' This has been lost, and many of the poorer sections of our society do not see the advantages enjoyed by those better off as things that are desirable, or worth working for.
The problems of inequality are not capable of being solved by government alone, but need also the active help of parents who desire to see their children succeed better than they themselves have. Without this, any givernment programmes will be doomed to failure. It is not a situation we can buy ourselves out of.
Toynbee is right to highlight the problems presented by glaring social inequality. Where she errs is to suggest that government alone can find a way out of it. The only way out of the problems that beset us is through a conjunction of enlightened government and concerned parents - both of which seem to be in short supply in a society which has as its main aim the right of the individua lto do as they like and be valued for what they are.
Tuesday, 22 July 2008
Shall we revise the language?
And in revising the language
will we alter the doctrine?
Do we seek to plug the hole
in faith with faith's substitute
grammar? And are we to be saved
by translation? As one by one
the witnesses died off
they commended their metaphors
to our notice. For two thousand
years the simplistic recipients
of the messag epointed towards
the reductionist solution. We devise
an idiom more compatible with
the furniture departments of our churches.
Instead of the altar
the pulpit. Instead
of the bread the fraction
of the language. And God
a shadow of Himself
on a blank wall.
The whole published in Thomas' Collected Later Poems by Bloodaxe Books.
Monday, 21 July 2008
Sunday, 13 July 2008
Why are the clergy of the Church of England
Always altering the owrds of the prayers in the Prayer Book?
Cranmer's tuch was surer than theirs, do they not respect him?
For instance last night in church I heard
(I italicize the interpolation)
'The Lord bless you and keep you and all who are dear unto you.'
As the blessing is a congregational blessing and meant to be
This is questionable on theological grounds
But is it not offensive to the ear and also ludicrous?
That 'unto' is a particularly ripe piece of idiocy
Oh how offensive it is. I suppose we shall have next
'Lighten our darkness we beseech thee oh Lord and the darkness of all who are dear unto us.'
It seems a pity. Does Charity object to the objection?
Then I cry, and not for the first time to that smooth face
Charity, have pity.
Next, we'll probably have some RS Thomas.
Ome day last week I went to post a letter at the post-box across the road. On turning away from the post-box I narrowly missed a collision with a youth riding his bicycle along the pavement. He swore at me indicating that I should get out of his way. I pointed out the presence of a cycle path alongside the pavement, but he didn't seem very interested in that and swore at me again as he pedalled off along the pavement!
My reaction - well, I suppose if I'm to be honest I must admit that my first reaction was along the lines of: Who the devil does he think he is, behaving like that! - but my considered reaction was to think of how great the love in the heart of God must be for that young man.
Surely God must grieve over those whose hearts are so coarsened by the 'cares of this world and the lure of riches' that they have no time for anything else. A life that is lived so concentrated on self that every interaction with others becomes a confrontation; that every crossing of our own will becomes a source of anger - is that a life? Is it not rather a form of Hell? Is it not a shutting off of the self from all that can give life meaning or value?
My next reaction: How do we communicate to such people the hope, the love, the forgiveness, the reason for living that the Gospel offers us? In the present climate, where so many young people kill each other, or themselves, for trivial reasons, is there not an urgent need to make such communication? How do we do it?
I don't claim to have the answers, but I am sure I have a starting point. It's not about making the Gospel 'relevant' (see earlier post). That's a false path. Rather it's about those of us who are Christian taking that faith seriously. We can only communicate the Gospel if we live it; if people can see in our lives that sense of love and belonging, that sense of forgiveness and of hope, that joy in the risen Christ that marks our lives. It's not about being relevant, but about being credible. If that joy etc. is present then people will see it, and some, just some, will want to know what it is that we have that they do not; and of those, just some will want to ask: Could I have that too.
Thursday, 3 July 2008
Monday, 30 June 2008
Friday, 13 June 2008
Much of what is contained in it is unarguable, and the idea that we need to find ways of preaching the Gospel in ways that can communicate with people is naturally true.
But speaking of a lack of spiritual nourishment in liturgy and preaching in many churches, he says; The power is lost when relevance to life is lost, when the religion is no longer concerned with the realities, conditions and struggles of ordinary life. A little further on we read of two versions (admittedly not completely mutually exclusive) of the Roman Catholic Church - one still clerical, institutional...the other less institutional, less clerical, more human and trusting, where people rely more on the true inner authority of their baptism and on the Spirit-inspired sensus fidelium.
Leaving aside the implication here that a church which is clerical and institutional (whatever the precise meaning of those words may be) cannot also be human and trusting, there is much that is highly dubious in these words.
I may not be the world's greatest intellect, but I have never understood what people mean when they talk about the 'relevance' of the Church. If it be true that God became man, died on the cross to free us from sin, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven in order to show us the way to eternal life, then how can that not be relevant? People may accept it or reject it - but nobody can reject it on the grounds that it is not relevant. They might reject it because they don't believe it, or because ot asks too much of them, or because they're afraid to hope for something that wonderful. To try to link the faith primarily to this world is both a betrayal of faith and doomed to failure. If our faith in Christ Jesus has been for this life only then we are the most wretched of people, comments the Apostle.
If it be true, then it offers hope to the drug addict, to the single mother, to the unemployed, to the terminally ill, to the businessman, to the sports star, the musician etc. etc.
Christianity, it has been said, is based on one over-arching belief, and four practical paths of action. The belief is that God became man, died, rose again and ascended into heaven, reuiniting the earthly and the divine realms.
The actions it enjoins on us are first: to develop ourselves and our capabilities to the full, taking responsibility under God for our own lives. Second: to follow th epath of God's love - which leads us to God, and to become divine! Third: to show in our lives a real commitment to the poor and the outsider and the unloved. Fourth: to share the good news we have received with others.
This was the preaching of the early apostles - preaching not based on relevance to day to life but based rather on REJECTION of day to day life infavour of something deeper, more satisfying. Hence the preaching of the faith must not start with such vague things as 'Gospel values of trust, courage and openness' but with a firm and confident proclamation of the Word of God, Jesus Christ. If we don't start here, how will anyone think that we really believe it.
People can rely on the 'true inner authority of baptism' only when they have truly accepted the authority of Christ, only when they have truly committed their lives to Him and to His love. The 'institutional' church exists, like Christ, not only for those among us who may already be saints, but for those who like Caravaggio's St Matthew desire to follow, but still have one hand on our own gold! It exists to strengthen and encourage the sinner, to remind the sinner that even if he is not followng Christ faithfully, Christ has not abandoned him. It exists to show to others the love of Christ and attract them by and through that love; to help them grow in commitment to Christ and rejection of this world's values - not always as something evil in themselves but as something less than perfect. The Church is an institution in order to be a visible sign of Christ's presence - even if at some times the organs of that institution might be less than admirably used. The Church is, after all, made up of men and women who sin in all kinds of ways. The Church is clerical not to be exclusivist but in order to throw into relief the holiness of the sacraments which she guards and administers.
Fr O'Leary seems to verge dangerously close to pantheism when he declares 'The world is God's beloved body. Calling it Godless is a huge mistake.' Preaching a gospel that seems to comfort people where they are and leave them feeling good where they are is always a temptation. But with Bunyan's Christian, we need to remember that we are walking through the wilderness of this world, and that Jesus Himself, far from reckoning the world as God's body, spoke of the Prince of this world who was opposed to Him.
If we make a supposed 'relevance' our priority then we abandon any real spirituality based on the teaching of Jesus. We conform the church to the world rather than the other way about. Our preaching and teaching needs to come first and foremost from the depth of a lived and certain faith. It needs to begin by proclaiming to people what God has done and what tha means for us. And for all sorts of reasons we will often fail. But we will not fail as badly as we would if we changed the message - changed the Gospel.
Monday, 9 June 2008
Thursday, 5 June 2008
Saturday, 31 May 2008
I was very far from being bored and found that the rain kept off for long enough to walk to Culbone and back, along the cliff path - quite tiring when you're out of condition - but at the end of it is what claims to be the smallest parish church in England, at some 35 feet in length, and dedicated to St Beuno. It is in fact only accessible by footpath but it's a lovely little place and in a beautiful setting. It's difficult to be sure of its age, but I would think that parts of the fabric may go back even to the 11th century.
Even older wonders may be seen in this part of the country. At Tarr Steps, on the Barle Water (they don't have Rivers down here, but Waters) is an ancient stone bridge which some would date to the 10th century, but others even to prehistoric times. You can see why bridges were needed for these streams most of which are extremely fast-flowing and violent waters not easily to be crossed by fords. The country is wild. Its roads are extreme by English standards with even the main roads having precipices, hair pin bends and frequent gradients of 1 in 4 (25%)
Here we see Tarr Steps - however old it is. In the next post we may find we have a couple of pictures taken on Exmoor itself. We'll see what happens, but this will have to do for today. As I already mentioned we have the Bishop's Visitation of our parish this weekend, so it is inevitably a busy time - not because he demands it, but because the rest of him have what I consider a natural desire for him to see the parish at its best.
In the calendar, of course, today has been the Feast of the Visitation. If I believed in omens and suchlike fooleries, I would probably say that was a good sign!
Friday, 30 May 2008
God bless you all.
Monday, 26 May 2008
Friday, 23 May 2008
Sunday, 11 May 2008
Saturday, 10 May 2008
Thursday, 1 May 2008
Monday, 28 April 2008
Monday, 21 April 2008
The church at Redbourn is typical of many round here, with its massive Norman tower and the flint exterior largely dating from the 15th century. To the right of the church can be seen the very tastefully designed Parish Hall, linked to the church and built in the 1990s. Inside, however, the true age of the church can be seen in the elegant but solid Norman arcades dividing the aisles from the nave. Pace Pugin, I always feel that a Romanesque style is the most fitting for church architecture, speaking of strength, of timelessness, of purity, of endurance...... Here's a photo of the interior.
Another reason is the rise on ASBOs given against children which 'means there is a greater risk that they will get caught up in the criminal justice system' If we think clearly we will very soon realize that it is not ASBOs which cause this to happen as if there's nothing that the children can do about it. Against their will, it seems, they are 'caught up' in this terrible system. The ASBOs are, if anything, a warning to the children saying: continue to behave in this manner and this is what will happen. It is not ASBOs that result in children going to prison, but persistent criminal behaviour.
So long as we teach children - or adults - that they do not have to take responsibility for their own actions, things are unlikely to improve on this front. Children need to learn that their actions can andwill have consequences. Parents need to learn to be responsob;e for their children and so on and so forth.
Yet any attempt to speak what is basic common sense seems to result in accusations of 'demonising' those who seem at fault. Clear thinking in all levels of public debate - whether political, social, religious or criminal would be a great step forward!