Friday, 31 October 2014
I never listen to or watch media on blogs, so I've no idea about the details. But I have two questions.
1) If an atheist believes in angels, in what sense are they an atheist?
2) What's that Subbuteo player doing on the beach?
But in remembrance of this day, we are glad to post the following 45 Whinges.
- The church is too cold.
- The minister's a woman.
- The hymn books smell.
- The Youth Group mumble when they lead the service.
- The organist is too flashy.
- Why does the Press talk so much about sex and religion, and so little about the poor?
- The choir is out of tune.
- Don't like the coffee.
- The glue on the offertory envelopes tastes horrible.
- Barrack-room lawyer on the PCC.
- They won't let us sing carols in Advent.
- The vicar is, apparently, a Pelagian.
- Which isn't so bad as the congregation are mostly Arians.
- Those kids are always running around.
- Don't like the smell of incense.
- Can we have little tokens to drop in the collection plate, to show we donate by direct debit?
- Three people died of old age during the 'Taize" intercessions.
- Aaagh! A clown in the service! Help!
- Why do we have to have an ecumenical service? The URC always want to preach, and the Salvation Army band always plays.
- The Circuit Steward won't give me a lift to meetings because we can't agree a reasonable contribution for petrol.
- The old pastor was better.
- Why doesn't somebody else clean the memorials?
- The flower arrangers are scary.
- It's a baptism on Sunday.
- We don't like the chairs in a horseshoe. Can we put them in a straight line?
- The BCP/old hymn book/ Songs of Living Waters was much nicer.
- The guitar solo was 8 minutes long.
- Why can't we sing "I Vow to Thee, my Country"?
- The church loos are across the graveyard.
- The radiant heaters on the ceiling burn the heads of bald people.
- The "radical" statue of Our Lady scares the kids.
- Why do we have Deanery services when nobody goes?
- The PCC meeting was three hours long.
- It's my turn to organise the Jumble Sale.
- We have to bring our own umbrellas to church for when it rains.
- The drummer would be about the right volume if he were playing on the other side of the graveyard. Preferably in the loo.
- The Minister never comes to see me.
- Somebody put a pumpkin in the pulpit. Oh, wait, it's the Minister.
- Mrs Charlton's chutney is too expensive at the Autumn Fayre.
- The Parish Share is impossible.
- There's too many notices.
- Why does little Agnetha always play St Mary at the Nativity? She's 42 now, and after 36 years it's time somebody else had a go.
- We feel really embarrassed by "interactive" sermons.
- The Minister brings his dog round because he thinks it makes him seem more friendly. But the dog sheds hair on your carpet.
- The sermon was too long.
Jan 5 - Jan 20: Orthodox Christmas
|The Orthodox Bling stays up till mid-January!|
NB volunteers must be physically fit, good at obeying orders, and prepared to sign the waiver form.
28 February - 3 March - "The ancient wonder of Easter Egg Painting"
|Weather definitely won't be like this|
So all we have to do, before we can bury deceased Beaker Folk in this holy place, is actually to build a long barrow. As a combination of physical exercise and spiritual refreshment, what could beat heaving mounds of soil and sandstone on top of each other, under the light breezes and gently sun of March?***
15-19 April - International Bodhran Festival
The instrument anyone can play! Beaker bodhran expert, Shiughavnan MacNimmie (Hnaef in a beard) will be introducing us to the deep secrets of the playing of this ancient and annoying member of the percussion family.
Groups are invited to build their Wicker Men on a theme - "The Saints", "Bedfordshire", "Edward Woodward" being just three examples. At the end of the day, the winning team will receive a rosette and the best exhibits will be burnt. The team coming second last will receive a DVD of the Nicholas Cage remake. The team coming last will receive two copies of the DVD.
Join us for this special day of meditation, as we try to work out why her feast isn't in the autumn, when there's hazel nuts about.
1-8 June - Ikon-painting, Jackson Pollock Style
This special week is for people who'd like to do proper ikon-painting but are too ham-fisted. At the Beaker Folk we stick to the motto - "All have won, all have paid, and all shall have prizes". If your St Theresa of Avila looks like Moomintroll's Mama, then join us in throwing paint at a piece of board and swearing blind it's a spiritual experience.
20-24 June - Midsummer Festival
What better way to celebrate the ancient longest day of the year, and the period through to St John's Day, than by taking part in our "Midsummer Night's Dream from Scratch"? 5 days of rehearsal, back-biting and jealousy, followed by, on the night of the 23rd, the performance itself! "Does my Bottom look big in this?" You bet!
Thursday, 30 October 2014
August is the cruellest month
Memory and desire, stirring
The hope of glory with speedy strikers.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Our defeats with the thought
We could turn it round by Easter.
May surprised us, coming over the Wembley Arch
With a shower of rain; we jumped off London Midland,
And went on in sunlight, into the Harrow Road
And went into Subway, and queued for an hour.
Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.
And when we were children, round my Nan's,
Watching the '74 Cup Final with Grandad, who was from the North East,
And I was a Liverpool Fan. He said, Eileen,
Eileen, the Geordies are gonna win. And down they went.
3-0. Supermac was invisible.
I read 4-4-2, much of the night, and subscribe to Sky Sports when it's half price.
What are the straws we clutch at, what can we hope
In a World Cup year? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, in a Panini magazine,
Rooting for Holland gives no hope, the cricket no relief,
And the commentary no hope of a goal. Only
There is shadow in this London pub,
(Come into the shadow of this London pub),
And I will show you something different from either
The England team snatching at shadows
Or the Germans sweeping all before them;
I will show you fear on 3 acres of grass.
Who are you?
Who are you?
They called me the Anfield girl.”
—Yet when we came back, late, from the fields of Anfield Road,
Your heart full from a League Cup defeat, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Dead nor Red, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of darkness, the refrain.
You're not very good you''re not very good.
Roy Hodgson, International Manager,
Mocked for his "r"s, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest coach in Europe,
Is your team. The only fit midfielder,
(rested from a season on City's bench)
Here is Wayne Rooney, the Scally of the Weave,
The lad of tabloid situations.
Here is the team with a flat back four, and here a winger,
And here is the one-footed midfielder, and this player,
Who is Sturridge, has some kind of injury,
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
Raheem Sterling on the pitch.
I see crowds of people, walking round the stadium.
Thank you. If you see dear Mr Rodgers,
Tell him I'll do the medical myself:
One must be so careful these days.
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed into the Etihad, so many,
I had not thought pot-hunting had called so many.
Prawns, on wholemeal bread, were consumed
And each man expected the natural rewards
Of throwing petrol money at overpaid stars,
Where there was always the wiping out of cheaper opposition
With a dead sound on the stroke of ten to 5.
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying “Liam!
You who were with your brother in Oasis!
That Title you won with your foreign millions
Does it make you happy? Do you need to win it every year?
Or will you lose it all if the economy crashes?
You should have kept Micah Richards in defence, that’s one we know,
Though they will find someone more reliable on the Continent.
II. A GAME OF TWO HALVES
The chair he sat in, like an airplane seat,
Glowed by the touchline, where the grass
Held Fergie's standards from another time
In which Howard Webb looked over
(The lino hid his eyes behind the winger)
Surely, we thought, doubled the added-on time?
Flood lights shining on Giggsy's cross as
The dodgy weave of Rooney rose to meet it,
Now Van Gaalacticos, poured in rich profusion;
In strips of red, and white and black
Unfettered, playing three at the back,
But when facing a team pressing high up —troubled, confused
And drowned by the tears of those fallen
Long ago, when they dreamed of Trebles
Flung Teddy Sheringham forward,
Snatching it back when Bayern Munich thought they were sealing.
Another victory - resigned to copper medals
Glowing green and orange, flashing in the fireworks for Fergie
In which bright light lithe Solskjaer danced
And on the Mancunian mantle was displayed
The centrepiece of Fergie's reign
The trophy that said kings of Europe
So bravely won; yet there the Glasers
Filled all the city with unquiet voices
And still they cry, and still the world wonders,
Bobby Charlton with the comb-over.
And other withered stumps of time
Sit in the director's box; staring forwards
Leaned out, leaning, wishing Fergie still ruled.
Roy Keane shuffled under the glare,
Within the changing room, the hair-drier
Spread out in fiery points
Glowed into words, then would be savagely still.
“My nerves are bad to-night. Can we hold on?
Win for me. Why do you never win? Win.
What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
Why did you think that backpass a good idea?.”
I think we are in Leeds now
Where the faithful nurse their longings.
“What is that noise?”
The wind howling round Elland Road.
“What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?”
Struggling in the Championship.
You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember
Those players that were Ridsdale's dreams
“Are you solvent, or not? Is there nothing in your head?”
O O O O that European adventure
Seemed so magic
Now so tragic
“What shall I do now? What shall I do?
I shall go and shout for the whites
With my eyes down, so. What shall we do next season?
What shall we ever do?”
An early bath for the hot-headed striker.
And if it rains, that closed-in feel.
And we watch that mythic game,
Pressing lidless eyes against the encircling floodlights.
When Lil’s husband was late, I said,
I didn’t mince my words, I said to him myself,
HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S KICK-OFF TIME
There's gonna be a 30 minute queue down the Walton Breck Road.
There I was, heels, hair, off-to-a-wedding-frock
which I'd flung a dressing gown over,
just in case, and a distressed pigeon.
He said, I swear, I can't bear to look at you.
And no more can't I, I said, and think of poor Skrytel.,
He’s been in that team four years, he deserves a medal,
And yet Djima Traore - Champions League Winner - couldn't kick a ball straight.
Oh there is something in that, she said.
I blame that Rafa Benitez, she said, and gave me a look.
HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S HALF TIME
If you don’t like scouse you can have a burger, I said,
Others can pick and choose if you can’t.
She said I wouldn't mind giving Sterling some of that tight marking.
You ought to be ashamed, I said, fancying the players.
(And him number thirty-one.)
I can’t help it, she said, pulling a long face,
All those young bodies.
(She’s forty-five already, and bored of poor George.)
I met one in a night-club once and I've never been the same.
You are a proper fool, I said.
Well, if your husband's always half asleep what can you do, she said,
What you married for once you've grown-up children?
HURRY UP ITS NEARLY FULL TIME
On this Sunday afternoon at home, if we're not out before the whistle goes,
It's gonna be an extra hour to get back through the traffic.
HURRY UP PLEASE ITS FULL TIME
HURRY UP PLEASE ITS FULL TIME
Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight George. Goonight.
Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight.
Good night, ladies, shame about the score, good night, good night.
III. THE FULHAM LESSON
Al Fayed’s tent is broken: the last flickers of hope
Drift and sink into the wet bank. The wind
Crosses the green pitch, unheard. Michael Jackson has departed
Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.
The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers,
Coke cans, chip boxes, cigarette ends
Or other testimony of winter days. The stars are departed.
And their friends, the money men of far-away cities
Watch their money sink.
By the waters of Pakistan they sit down and weep
Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,
Sweet Thames, run softly, for the Cottage has a quieter song.
But at the back in a cold blast I hear
The slow rattle of turnstiles, and a cry of fear..
A fan crept sadly down Fulham Palace Road
Flashing a bulging belly under his replica shirt
While I was thinking about Kenilworth 70s Saturdays
Old First Division, in the "Bobbers".
Musing upon two clubs, their fortunes wrecked
And during the game as Rovers pressed them
White shirts battered on the green damp ground
And another home defeat for the season,
Rattled by their fall, year on year.
But in the side streets, waiting there
The lines of waiting motors, which shall bring
Their drivers home to rue the loss
Of the phony Pharaoh once again.
As with sad eyes
They munch their minced meat pies.
You're not singing anymore, you're not singing anymore.
You're going home
in a Millwall ambulance
You're going home
in a Millwall ambulance
A blue club, playing in red
Mr Tan, the Malaysian merchant
Trim-moustached, with a team full of failures
Premier adventure over, sunk out of sight
Asking me in broken English
If I'd like a glass of wine in the Director's box
Followed by a week-end watching Sky.
At the violet hour, when the eyes and hands
Reach over to the dial, when the anxious motor waits
Its engine throbbing waiting,
I the listener, though blind, driving down the lanes,
Can see the results come in
At the violet hour, the fan drives
Homeward, ten to five,
The full-time whistles blow around the country
Brighton and Hove, hanging on for the draw.
Time added on perilously played
A pitch in Liverpool, touched by the sun’s last rays,
By the dugout are piled (quick-grasped in a break in play)
Water bottles, the odd tracksuit top.
Balotelli, odd man with bib on backwards
He sulked around, we all foretold the end
No goals. He gazes, finds no friend
He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,
A footballers' agent’s clerk, with one bold stare,
One who makes his money betting on other's
Making even the journeyman a millionaire.
The time is now propitious, as he guesses,
The transfer window opens - he weaves the dream
Endeavours to engage managers in soft addresses
With players who are unproven in some Ghanaian team
Brash and confident, he expounds at once;
"He's great going forward - ideal for the modern defence."
He demands a five-million-quid response,
Collects his ten percent with indifference.
(And I the financier have fore suffered all
Enacted in this same club over again;
I who have sat for seasons watching hopes fall
And longed for Europe, and financial gain.)
The agent goes off with no shame,
The African lad will never play a first team game.
The Director of Football looks into his glass
Hardly aware of the departed seller
He's gone for cheap weekly wages over class:
“Well now that’s done: sure he's a good feller.”
When football stoop to folly and recrimination
Sign on reputation, promise alone alone,
"He just don't fit in our formation",
Can't play in the "hole", or up front alone.
“This music crept by me upon the waters”
And along the Strand, up Queen Victoria Street.
O City City, I can sometimes hear
Beside a public bar in Lower Thames Street, 260
The pleasant whining of a mandoline
And a clatter and a chatter from within
Where fishmen lounge at noon: where the walls
Of Magnus Martyr hold
Inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold.
The river sweats
Blood and tears
The season's hopes
With the turning tide
Midfield tucked in
To cause the full-backs troubles.
Northward, West Ham
Down Greenwich reach
Past the Isle of Dogs.
No-one likes us
We don't care
Geoff Hurst, Peters
The myth was born
A gilded dream
A sainted team
United the nation
Down time's stream
An arch instead of
No-one likes us
We don't care
“Buses and dusty trees.
Highbury bore me. White Hart Lane
Undid me. At the Boleyn Ground I squashed my knees
Into the back of a supporter who gave no evidence of a brain.
“My feet are at Gallowgate, and my heart
Ever in my mouth. After the defeat
I swore. The manager promised ‘a new start.’
We need someone else In the hot seat."
“On the Emirates.
I can connect
Nothing with nothing.
The stars flogged to pay for the ground.
My people humble people who let in
To the Arsenal
Always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the bright
IV. RELEGATION AND THEREAFTER
Delia the magician, six months down
Forgot the call of Old Trafford, and Swansea as well
After a season of loss.
A division under cover
A Yo-yo Team - as they rise and fall
They alternate hope, celebration and fear
The bottom-three whirlpool
Rich team or poor
O you who prime the pump and pour the cash in
Consider Delia, who was in the Premiership before.
V. WE CAN SEE YOU SNEAKING OUT
After the flood-light white on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the park
After the agony in far-off places
The threatening and the chanting
Leicester and London and Burnley and Bolton
Of snow far off over distant Pennines
They who came up are falling
Those who were winning are falling
Fans have little patience
Here is no water but only lager
Defeat and Decline and the endless road
The road winding to a series of humiliations
There's a mountain to climb if they're gonna stay up
If there were water they could stop and drink
Out of those fancy branded bottles, green and pink
Sweat is shed, but feet are in quick-sand
If there were only water upon the grass
To give the ball some life, to make the passes zip
These days we can't stand - we have to sit
There is not quite silence even at Old Trafford
The faithful stand, regardless of the rules
There is never solitude for the players on the pitch
But red sullen faces sneer and snarl
From the seats of crumbling stands
If there were hope
And no failure
If there were failure
And also hope
At Liverpool on the road
If there were the sound of hope only
Not the sadness
And dry hopeless singing
But hope overcoming failure
Where the winger drops the ball in the perfect spot
Dead ball, spot kick
But there is no hope
Who is the third who plays always behind them?
When I count, there are only the strikers together
But when I look ahead up the white line
There is always another one in the hole
Between the midfield and the centre backs
Pulling them out of position
—But who is that on the other side of you?
What is that sound high in the air
Murmur of eternal lamentation
Who are those hoodied hordes swarming
Around endless stands, hoping in earthen jars
Ringed by the cloying stands only
What is the hope beyond the ities
Cracks and reforms and bursts in the April air
Swansea Liverpool Manchester
Drogba drew his long black hair out tight
And fell screaming on the waiting pitch
And the refereee, tiny beetle in the searing light
Whistled, and gave him a free kick
He clambered up, and turned to face the wall
And carefully ignored the jeers around the ground
Then jogged forward, leaving Fabregas with the ball
Chelsea voices singing as he headed in the rebound.
In this decayed stand within the city
Under the moonlight, the grass is singing
Over the tumbled striker, about the corner flags
There are the empty eyes of the attackers, losing at home.
They're three nil down, beyond unlikely swings.
The home fans are silent.
Only the cock of the walk with his pose and posse
Who the ***ing hell are you?
In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust
The home fans, shrunken in their seats
Waited for the whistle, left, or watched the rain
Gathering over the Main stand.
The manager crouched, slumped in silence.
Then the whistle blew.
Carra: what have we learnt?
My friends, blood stirring in veins
The awful tragedy of a defence’s surrender
Which later prudence can never correct
By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
In our empty rooms
Neville: Drogba found the key
Turned, took the defence apart
We think of his strength, class and vision
Thinking of his whining, diving precision
Only the physio, running out on the pitch
Revived for a miracle this broken Collosus.
Carra: The Reds responded
Gamely, with pace and control
But the Blues' defence was calm, their captain responded
Gladly, marshalling his colleagues,
With waving hands
I sat upon my seat
Aching, with the barren season before me
Well, we can concentrate on the League Cup now.
Stamford Bridge is falling down falling down falling down
Poor old Chelsea.
Nil satis nisi optimum — unless we get a good offer
Superbia in proelia - Domus clamantium
You'll never walk alone. You'll never walk alone.
Ludere causa ludendi. Vim promovet insitam
Arte et labore
Boing! Boing! Boing!
I can only say, if anyone was offended by their perception lack of sincerity, then I'm sorry.
In Glossop, young men wrap themselves in bacon and dance around the town singing the song "I'm a perfect Christmas Accessory". This is believed to be an ancient fertility rite. Although not a very effective one, as they smell of bacon for weeks afterwards.
In Middleton-in-Teesdale, men dress up as Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, and run around the streets scaring old men. When they return to the "Housey-wousey"', the Brands announce they have found enlightenment and can now save the universe. Then they get frustrated that they are still unable to work the TV remote.
Wednesday, 29 October 2014
Sometimes I think that scientific activity is like cooking a sausage in a frying pan, and worrying it's not cooked in the middle.
The only way to ensure it's cooked in the middle is either to cook the outside until it's utterly burnt, or to cut it in half and, if it's not cooked in the middle, fry the inside.
Either way, you now know the truth.
But you don't really have the fried sausage you wanted.
- The minister will just have to drive faster.
- The minister.
- Some other church will find them.
- A trick question. You can't do 2 half-time posts unless the Government legislates for an 8 day week.
- .....always knows best.
- Other churches will have to contribute more.
- Yes, you are an exceptional case.
- The minister.
- The group cannot make any decisions until s/he gets there from the other meetings. Have a cup of tea while you wait.
- Somebody else's service will have to shift.
- The minister.
- No, she's too young.
- No. The Grest Commission applied to other people.
- The minister.
- The memorials. The current congregation won't be around long, anyway.
- Because it makes the choir nervous.
- He'll have to learn the mouth organ.
- Over her dead body.
- Because it didn't work last time.
- Because it's an innovation.
- It doesn't matter if nobody is there. The important thing is that it happens.
- The minister.
- Write a letter to the bishop.
- Only if he time travels.
Tuesday, 28 October 2014
To me it mostly looks like a very sad ghost, gazing upwards wondering whether it has the energy to absorb somebody's soul. Sepp Blatter's, probably. It puts me in mind of the wraith of Stalinism, sucking the psychic energy out of the Mexican Day of the Dead, and setting out to consume Europe.
Or maybe it's meant to look a bit like the trophy.
"The Catholic Church has long had a reputation for being anti-science – most famously when Galileo faced the inquisition and was forced to retract his “heretic” theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun." - From the Independent.
That "anti-science" reputation propagated by silly statements like the above, I guess.
Let's list a few Catholics quite famous in their field, who were also of the Catholic clerical classes:
- Gregor Mendel - monk and major pioneer in Genetics.
- Francesco Grimaldi - priest and discoverer of the diffraction of light.
- Gabriele Falloppio - priest and researcher into reproduction, has the tubes named after him.
- Georges Lemaître - priest, physics professor, the man who conceived of (but didn't name) the Big Bang.
A few lay-people (there's lots more, obviously):
- Amedeo Avagadro - famous for his faith being constant, like his mole.
- Henri Becquerel - glowed in the bath with righteousness.
- John Eccles - neurophysiologist and saved pusson
- Blaise Pascal - Mathematician and philosopher.
I mean, some of us are so loathsome by nature you wonder how God can even look at us. And, if it's you that I'm talking about, you'll know who you are.
So now I'd like everybody to sit quietly, with their eyes closed.
And if you're one of those people that feels that crumby, that foul, that you wonder how God could ever look on you - you know who you are - then very gently I'd like you to just put one hand in the air. Nobody else is looking. Not even me. Though, obviously, neither will I be needing to put my hand in the air. I'm past all that kind of thing. That's why I get to lead.
Now, I'm aware that there aren't any hands in the air at the moment..."
[Charlii: "That's because you're squinting!"]
Archdruid: "Shhh... So I'd like you to go back and think of all the rotten things you've ever, ever done.... Did you ever pull the wings off a Daddy Long Legs as a child, to try to convert it into a spider? Did you fight with your siblings? Have lustful thoughts? For the same gender? Different gender? Different species.... Did you ever take too much dinner at a self-service cafeteria and get offended when you were charged for a double portion?
Well..... Let's try this.... do any of you still feel hurts because of somebody being nasty to you? Has anybody made you feel small?
No? OK..... let's turn to phobias....."
I'm sure at least one of the Early Fathers must at some time have written on the dangers of marking out a labyrinth using tea lights. And, if they didn't, I must have. If Beaker liturgical history has taught us one thing, it is that you shouldn't mark out labyrinths using tea lights.
And the other thing it should have taught us - if you do mark out a labyrinth in tea lights, as part of a "Spirit of the 70s" act of worship, don't get so immersed in the recreation of that most holy of eras by walking around the labyrinth in nylon flared trousers.
Hnaef is OK, you'll be pleased to hear. Swift action included wrapping his legs in an afghan rug and beating out the flames. Daphne, in particular, took very swift action, to judge by the vigour with which she was beating them out - long after everybody else had retired to the White Horse, actually.
Hnaef reports this morning that he has no lasting damage, and no hair left on his legs. Says he's amazed by the feeling of confidence that has given him.
Monday, 27 October 2014
"I am, and always have been, an ardent feminist", said the former racing correspondent, "and now I've explained what that means to the Booby, she is one as well."
1) Maybe he's a busy chap. Like Ed Miliband he has the press and back-stabbing party members to deal with. Unlike Ed, he's also running the country. And let's face it, power's been good for David Cameron. Maybe they didn't have a big enough T-shirt. Or he didn't think he'd look good in it - unlike Ed.... Or maybe he doesn't just have to do whatever a fashion company demands.
2) If Nick Clegg ever again sacrifices whatever passes for Lib Dem principles for a share in government, will there be any Lib Dem women in Cabinet next time? Just to prove it's more than T-shirt wearing?
3) What's a paper called "New Statesman" doing banging on about equality? Consider first the plank in thine own etc.
4) Who originally didn't know the difference between Ed and David Miliband? The editor of Elle or the reporter on the New Statesman?
- Rediscover the original values that mattered.
- Reconnect with what people are looking for.
- Take a serious look at the costs of trying to have a presence in every community, no matter how small. Weigh the benefits, not the costs.
- Return to offering the key, core essentials.
- Stop trying to be all things to all people - concentrate on what matters, what you're good at.
- Empower local initiatives by resisting the urge to impose a top-down approach.
- Stop making short-term financial imperatives the driving force.
- Resist the temptation to use staff reduction as the only way to respond to challenging conditions.
- Use the Intermet to its maximum potential. It is where people are, and where your competitors are.
- Remember that small, local units, by being closer to people and the original core values, may be more effective than large, centralised models.
- Divest from the Asian operation. It's only a distraction and it may raise the money to support core initiatives.
- Cut down on diversification into financial services, white goods and flowers.
- I'm sorry.
- I've got the Church of England confused with Tesco again, haven't I.
Sunday, 26 October 2014
I realise that in the past I have said some rude things about Russell Brand. I have accused him of bullying behaviour towards old age pensioners. I have often thought his only real achievement was being more talented than Jonathan Ross. Although this wasn't much of a compliment.
However I have realised over the last few years that he is quite funny. I've laughed quite a lot at his views on politics and the environment, for example.
I hasten to add that I've not seen him on stage, or read any of his books. I suspect that would only ruin my new impression of him.
Lord, thou hast been our refuge in every generation
I'm not that keen on people who take one verse of the Bible to prove their view. It may be a bit silly to counter the idea that the Bible has a verse that says homosexual acts are wrong - by pointing out that the verse next to it condemns eating prawns. But then it's only meeting silliness with silliness. Because it's generally countering a claim made on the basis of that one verse. It's much harder, but more more important, to work through what the whole Biblical and Christian witness leads to.
I've also no real time for people who tell me that the Bible is true because the Bible says so. All Spirit may be a God-breathed, as the man said, but you've got already to believe that, to believe in the sense of that verse in that way. It's a circular argument.
But those words of Moses the man of God capture, for me, the essence. The Bible is the account of how God has always been heen the refuge of the people of God. From the days of a wandering Aramean, to the days when a bunch of Hebrews made the risky trip across the Sinai desert. From the coalescing of a bunch of tribes who gathered that their various "El"s and "Lord"s were one and the same God. From the annihilation of rival tribes to the injunction to care for the foreigner in their land, to the calling to be the Light for the Gentiles.
The tangled, sometimes confused story of how one group from within that people of God stumbled upon a man who came from God in a new, and special way. The disparate collection of tales he told and things he did. The tale of a dark Friday and a bright Sunday morning. And the strands of the letters the Church wrote, as it lived in the new power of the Spirit and tried to understand what he had said, what his life meant.
And as we live in the gap in the latter collection of books - between the end of Acts and the end of Revelation. We inhabit the story - we are part of it, because God has breathed us into it. Because I do believe that the story is God-breathed, not because it says so itself, but because it is the story of the life of the Jews and the Church, as we reach to hear from God in the words that his people have written. As we enter into worship, or struggle, or as parts of the church face persecution and oppression and death - this is our story as well. An odd collection of poems, old laws, history, myth and aspiration. This is our story, the story of our lives. We can cry "alleluia" with the psalmist, or "how long, O Lord?" We can lift our crosses, be filled with new life, look for the End to come. The Bible isn't an old, closed story written in dead languages - because we're still living in it. The last chapter isn't over, yet.
Until it is, and all the way into the never-ending glory that is the song of the love of God, we can turn to face our God, and sing with Moses.
Lord, thou hast been our refuge in every generation
Saturday, 25 October 2014
All: The 2am clock-change
Archdruid: Will Apple users be awakened at 3 o'clock?
All: Or fall into another dimension?
Archdruid: Will they awake in Greenwich Time?
All: Or Rocky Mountain Time?
Archdruid: Is this the real life?
All: Is it just fantasy?
Archdruid: Leaving British Summer Time
All: No escape to GMT.
Archdruid: Will they be late for church or work?
All: Or gazing, blankly, into the darkness of 3am?
[Archdruid: Picture angular glimpses of sharp youth cutting strident shapes through the curling grey of 3am. Hear the soaring joy of immaculate rhythms, the sublime glow of music for heroes driving straight to the heart of dance. Follow the stirring vision and the rousing sound on the path towards journeys to glory.]
Archdruid: Let us pray that we will know what day it is tomorrow.
All: For, so addicted are we to our iPad Minis, we're not sure what today is.
Archdruid: So it's a great leap backward.
All: Into the future.
Archdruid: And now we sing the Apple Clock-Change Hymn
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
Your old road is
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.
Friday, 24 October 2014
"At that time King Hazael of Aram went up, fought against Gath, and took it. But when Hazael set his face to go up against Jerusalem, King Jehoash of Judah took all the votive gifts that Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, and Ahaziah, his ancestors, the kings of Judah, had dedicated, as well as his own votive gifts, all the gold that was found in the treasuries of the house of the Lord and of the king’s house, and sent these to King Hazael of Aram. Then Hazael withdrew from Jerusalem."
The Book of Kings has quite a resemblance to modern matters - bloodthirsty men claiming to rule in the name of God, kinglets running amok around the Middle East and King Jehoash playing the part of the Iraqi army.
Thomas Hardy was scathing about the way Religion looks forward to peace, while the opposite happens:
"After 2,000 years of mass
We've got as far as poison-gas."
But the Great War was about nationalism. And the scientific modernism Hardy lived gave us tanks and Hiroshima. Then atheist politics gave us Stalin's purges and the Chinese Cultural Revolution and Year Zero.
Then just a quarter of a century ago, Francis Fukuyama promised us that liberal democracy would bring us the End of History.
Yeah, that went well. Between Russian nationalism and radical islamism, we've got far more history than we can deal with. Whenever anybody tells you they've got a brilliant plan for how everything's going to be good from now on - check whether that person's philosophy is balanced like a bus on an Alpine peak.
And so we come full-circle, with Putin cast as Nebuchadnezzar and al-Baghdadi playing Hazael.
There's a special psalm for thoughts like these. As I sit in my comfortable Home Counties conservatory, watching the leaves on the Virginia Creeper glow red under an autumn sky, maybe it's not for me just now.
But for those where there's no hope; those fighting bravely in a hopeless cause, doomed to be forgotten; they're very powerful words. And they're brave, honest, shocking words to have been written in a book of religion, when everything is supposed to turn out nice again in the end. It's Psalm 88.
Ready? Here's the last bit.
"Lord, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?
I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.
Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.
They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together.
Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness."
It ends there.
Thursday, 23 October 2014
All: "And with Your spirit"
Leader: "Morning everybody. Nice to see you. If you've not got tea or coffee it's over there - have a bun. If your kids run around don't worry. The hymn is...."
Wednesday, 22 October 2014
"Oscar Pistorius was guilty. However gripped by anger, it’s difficult to accept he didn’t know whom he was likely to kill. He had a violent history and his claim that he thought he was shooting a burglar stretches credulity."
"He killed his girlfriend"
"Given the leniency South African courts used to show towards white people killing black people, it is hard to see how the court could show leniency to a white person killing another white person."
"Beyond the cause of consistency, imprisoning Pistorius can serve no purpose."
"The purpose of depriving wrongdoers of their liberty, now that we no longer hang or flog, should be to rehabilitate them and, if not, keep them from further crime."
"That it should be “retributive”, a mere expression of society’s rage, is primitive theology. It is trotted out when no other reason for imprisonment can be imagined."
"Imprisonment is brutalism, reflecting society’s inability to police antisocial acts"
"Men such as Pistorius have had their lives ruined, their failings exposed and chance enough to reflect on their crimes and what they can do to atone for them."
"No one will be more or less “deterred” by the length of his jail sentence."
That's the problem with designating groups of anything with a letter - based scheme. It did for car registrations in the UK a few years ago.
When the concept of Generation X - the social cohort, not the short-lived British punk rockers - was invented, they were so named for being the 10th generation since the American revolution.
Why this then took in we English and other Europeans is beyond me. Even in England, the American revolution was little more than "in other news", as a bunch of plucky Brits fought off a largely-German colonial army.
But Gen X was a number - 10 - not a letter. So to call the people born after that Generation Y, rather than XI, was silly. Small wonder we now instead refer to "Millennials", not least as this science-fictiony term perfectly captures the alien appearance of the young-men-in-whiskers currently plaguing London and similar locations.
But if we'd continued with the X-Y pattern originally established, then we're currently about halfway through Generation Z being born.
Generation Z will be a troubled and troubling bunch. Half of them will be dedicated apocalyptics, convinced that - if they are "Z" - there is nothing to come after them. They will reject the previous 50 years of environmental angst, gleefully consuming whatever we leave them of this world's resources in the belief that after them, the Flood. The other Generation Z-ers, convinced that they are the generation that all the previous ages have been in preparation for, will just act like teenagers for their entire lives.
Meanwhile, the offspring of the Millennials will be being born. Having run out of Latin letters, they will be Generation α.
Generation Alpha will, I predict, be the ones that bring it all to an end. Addicted to small-group meetings and dinner parties, they will spend their lives deepening their spiritual awareness and driving 7-seater cars. They will know that Generation Z are sending the world to hell on a Segway but they won't care. They'll have a home in glory land that outshines the Sun - which will be a great consolation as Generation Z declares war on the Moon.
Generation α will be like an extended edition of the Great British Bake-off, set to Matt Redman music, while global nuclear meltdown occurs outside the force-fields of suburbia. Nobody else will be born in the West - Gen Z will be too busy consuming and destroying, while Gen α will never get away from finger buffets and prayer triangles.
It'll be a shame to miss it.
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
Quite a shocker, this morning's "Power of Storm" liturgy. The idea was that we'd get the walls of the Moot House opened - they rotate on a hinge to point outwards. Then, as we could see outside through the windows, we would be awed by the awe-ful awesomeness of this awful weather.
Turns out if you do this on all sides of the Moot House, you convert the entire place into a giant anemometer. On the down side, the Beaker Folk aren't going to be much use for the rest of the day. On the plus side, quite a few of them think they've had a spiritual experience.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to lay down.