Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Sermon on the Nativity of Nicky Campbell (1961)

Sometimes I feel I've got too tired and cynical. I was going to preach about how socialist church people believe in nationalisation, central control of the production and enforced wealth redistribution - just like Jesus did. Maybe draw a line from that to the way conservative church people believe in free enterprise, a minimum social safety net, lower taxes and a genuine free market - just like Jesus did.

But I won't. That would be tired, and cynical. And it's Nicky Campbell's birthday. And he wouldn't like us to be tired and cynical. So maybe if I just keep bashing on, some of his natural Caledonian charm will find its way into what I'm saying. He's like a Donald Farfrae for our times - upbeat, practical, remarkably youthful, and inclined to sing "Edelweiss" at a moment's notice.

So instead let's have some happy thoughts. On my way to the Moot House this morning - it's just coming up to 6.45 -  I was struck by how, despite the gray chill, there is a springly optimism in the air. The birds are singing - in a shivery kind of way - as they bustle around building nests in a desperate attempt to keep warm. The sun is going to be heaving above the horizon any time soon. As the great Police said (the new wave/reggae band, not the people enforcing law and order), "there seems to be an invisible sun/it gives heat to everyone." And, in a very real sense, I like to think that's true. The Police also made a song about a stalker, which people like to use at weddings. Later on, I'll be getting two people to discuss the song "Every Breath You Take". Ideally one from the National Secular Society and one from Christian Voice.

Sorry. Lost the thread again. It's early - in fact, it's 6.47 -  and we've got up specially this morning to celebrate the Nativity of Nicky Campbell. We thought we should rise early in the morning because, in doing this, we remember that this is what he does for us. Maybe that's why this sermon appears to consist of light-hearted and whimsical thoughts, mixed up with the sort of provocative statements that make mildly lonely people with a grudge phone in to Radio 5 at 9 am, to share their badly-thought-through prejudices and terrifying social panaceas with the rest of us.

Panacea, by the way, is the name of a Greek goddess. I think that's a great shame. I was hoping it might be the plural of "panaceum". Which would mean "panaceas" would be a very bad form of grammar. Or not? Maybe you disagree? Which would give me the opportunity to ask the important question, "why do people misuse plurals like "data" and "agenda"? Then we could have some people tell us that Greek doesn't matter and we should live in the modern age. Then somebody could tell us that "data" and "agenda" are Latin words, and the previous people were just wrong and should be locked up. Then somebody else could tell us that the Government has no right to interfere with our grammatical constructions, and somebody else could blame the asylum seekers / Tory party / social workers / pedants / Poles / Polish asylum seekers / LGBT rights lobby. That should while away an hour.

It's just coming up to 6.50, and I remember that I'm supposed to be preaching a sermon on Nicky Campbell's birthday. I like to think he could have been anything that he wanted to be - do you remember that song, Hnaef? What was that in? Bugsy Malone, wasn't it? Scott Baio and Jodie Foster. A fine film. I walked down to see it in our Scottish cinema - tartan seats, and a tanner from Ma Campbell to buy some pop-corn. At 9 o'clock, we'll be asking the important question - "Whatever happened to affectionate names for coins?" We'll have a numismatist who, let's face it, will be unlikely to have a proper job to go to, a Professor of Comparitive Neo-Linguistics from the University of Hertfordshire, and David Haye.

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