Sunday, 5 December 2010

Making a way in the wilderness

It's a cold day in Husborne Crawley. And nowhere is colder than here in the little vestry of Bogwulf Baptist chapel. Unless it is the hearts of the local Council.

It was a low-key service of praise and preaching this morning. To be frank, it was just myself. And how I weep when I remember Zion. Zion Baptist Chapel, Frisby on Soar, that is. Marjorie occasionally drops me emails to let me know how well things are going, together with photographs of crowds of sinners being saved and mass-baptisms. Although I note that after the outside baptism last week, seven people were hospitalised with hypothermia.

So I opened the letter that was dropped through the letter box of the chapel yesterday morning. I would have read it yesterday, but the chapel door was frozen solid. I do not normally like to sully the Sabbath day with business, but I felt that, my application for planning permission being the Lord's work, He might overlook my minor transgressions in favour of my greater ambitions.

It has always been my belief that as Christians we can bring in the Kingdom of God in more quickly, if we but establish an outpost of it down here. Not for me the Pietist apathy and prayer-life in which nothing is achieved. And I had a vision of how I could prepare for the coming of the Lord in a way that none had done before.  But once again the Prince of the World has brought my plans to nothing. They have rejected my planning permission. I quote.

"Dear Revd Drayton Parslow

In place of the more formal standard letter, we thought it would be better to give you some explanation why we have rejected your application for planning permission for "Construction of the Way of the Lord".

The suggestion that every valley would be exalted has run up against problems on several fronts. Firstly, I should point out that the Vale of Aylesbury covers parts of Herts and Bucks as well as the Bedfordshire portions, and you would have to seek wider permission from the relevant bodies.  Secondly, the people of Eaton Bray and Tottenhoe have indicated that they would not "appreciate the improved view", liking their villages as they are. The Dunstable Downs are an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - at least they are if you aren't looking towards Luton. They are also Green Belt. Therefore your proposal to raise up the Vale by "laying low"  the Chiltern Hills is not going to be acceptable. Likewise your alternative proposal to exalt the Ouse Valley. This will have a lesser overall impact on the landscape, but you are still going to cause severe flooding in Milton Keynes, or - as you so eloquently put it - "The Sinful City on the Plain".

We now turn to your proposed changes to the road network. You are right, the A5 is a nice straight road - the old Watling Street, indeed, and the Romans did tend to build them quite straight. So I am pleased that you are happy to leave it in its current position. However your suggestion that it should be reduced to one single lane with passing places, on the grounds that "narrow is the way that leads to salvation" would cause awful congestion in Hockliffe. And when the M1 has trouble one shudders to think where all the the traffic would go. Which brings me onto the real problem with your proposals. That the M1 be re-routed to ensure that "the crooked be made straight" would require an awful lot of work and I really don't think your budget of "treasure in heaven" is going to be much use in the current financial climate. Especially as re-directing the motorway in a straight line from Junction 6 to Husborne Crawley would require us to flatten Dunstable, which would already be suffering from the narrowing of the A5. Yes, technically knocking down Dunstable does come under  making "the rough places plain", but a lot of  people actually live there.  As for your request that we pipe vast quantities of water into your local sub-soil to create "streams in the desert" - yes, we agree that the Woburn and Husborne Crawley area is famous for its sandy soil, but Aspley Heath hardly counts as "desert" and we think  that kind of hydrological exercise would really require the involvement of Anglian Water."

So you see what I am up against. If I were a weaker man I would despair. But instead, like Elijah in the cave, I wait for the still small voice to tell me whether it is worth appealing to the Secretary of State for the Environment.

1 comment :

  1. Should I assume those sinners would also have declined to make the crooked places straight, andb the rough places plain? It's no wonder these people are headed for an especially hot corner of hell.


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