Thursday, 12 December 2013

I listened to the radio today and heard a woman exultant that she was being allowed to be married in a ‘church’ of scientology. I am no expert but my view of scientology is that it is a sort of way of coping with life by a series of strategies. Few could deem it a religion. No longer satisfied with allowing two people of the same sex to be married in church the demands increase.

It made me think of the words of St John Chrysostom who examined way back in the fourth century what gifts politicians have.  In the case of gay marriage some of our present day leaders have exulted in the ‘freedoms’ newly permitted ( and no doubt the popularity it brings them in aligning themselves to the issue. )

But whether they ( leaders )  have natural gifts, there is another type of gift which surpasses all others: the gift of knowing right from wrong, and the courage to chose what is right. This gift is not given at birth St John goes on but is nurtured through reflection, education, prayer and practice.

It would be better that our leaders were poor in natural gifts, but rich in this moral gift, than that they exuded authority and wisdom.

Most politicians and many clergy these days seem to strive to be relevant rather than seek the haven of God’s will, the expression my prayer book uses.  

Sunday, 8 September 2013

O is that what He meant?

It is interesting how some of our Lord’s sayings do not really hit home until you get older or at least that is how it is with me. 

The parable of the sower and the seed becomes more and more pertinent to me as I see friends who were so strong in their faith give up or just drift away. Only a few seem to be seeds fallen on fertile ground. With many it just seems they are distracted by ‘the cares of the world’ which is often a love of the good life in preference to the hard road that our Lord asks us to walk sometimes. 

I have just come back from Regents Park in London. It is a beautiful place and reminded me that God gave us the seed and Man the ability to tend the outcome’ There is a lovely section of the park with a mix of flowing water and plants. 

A friend of mine loves to photograph fashion shows and loves the mix of beautiful women  in their finery and all the razzamatazz of the cat walk. However, neither Solomon nor Kate Moss is arrayed like the model above. 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The s word

When I did my training in spiritual direction, attendance to talks would fade away to about 50 per cent attendance towards the end of term, however worthy the subject. A talk on sex was announced and there was full attendance. For the prurient the talk was a disappointment. Watching the film Yentl last night the old priest asks ‘where does strength come from? The student replies- from controlling his passions.’
Teaching on sex in the Western Christian tradition seems to range from the unhealthily repressive to the down right libertine. St Augustine, the wisest of men, does get a bit self punishing on the subject after the excesses of his youth ( blimey they were not that bad!! )
St John Chrysostom, from roughly the same time, seems far more balanced. He stresses the importance of remembering the human nature of Christ ( and the Church at his time was riven by heresy that did not. )

We know that at times life becomes a battlefield as the spiritual and the physical aspects struggle for supremacy. Yet it would be wrong to say that the spiritual aspect should defeat and destroy the physical; rather we want harmony between the two. Our physical wants and desires should not be ignored; rather they should be satisfied within the framework of morality which the spirit dictates. We should understand Christ in a similar way. It is not a question of his divine nature conquering and destroying his human nature; rather he revealed how human flesh and blood can live in perfect harmony with God.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Old school ties

I have a had a little exchange of emails lately about going to the school reunion. I have been to the last two but my problem is that not having really enjoyed secondary school, nor thrived there, and having had a bit of a checkered career I always feel a bit ill at ease. I listen to the stories of success and know what big pensions some of my old school pals are on. 
One particular boy I met barely acknowledged me although I went through primary and secondary school with him. He had done well in architecture and was obviously rather pleased with himself. God forgive me but I found him rather pompous.

I found the people who had struggled in life more interesting and especially those who had had some major setbacks like severe illness. They seemed more accessible and empathic. Even though they may not have had a walk of faith they had experienced suffering and therefore had the capacity to sympathise. Mercy cannot exist apart from suffering St Augustine wrote.

The dramatic changes that age has made to my old school colleagues reminded me of a  quote from that other theological heavyweight,  Bruce Willis ‘Life is hard and then you die.’

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound Psalm 4.7

Friday, 31 May 2013

What's In A Face?

George Orwell famously said that at 50 a man has the face he deserves. This man could be twice that. I wonder what we can read into his life from his face. 

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Point in time

I took this photo at the open air passion play in Trafalgar Square on Good Friday.  As I stood looking at the scene ( and a bit annoyed by people around who were disrespectful ) I had the not original thought that this is a depiction of the most important event in history. John Main has better words than me-

The cross is the great Christian symbol because its horizontal plane is intercepted by its  vertical plane and the Christian vision is not a denial of this life, not a denial of history or of time, but an openness to the great fact of history itself, that time has been intercepted by Christ’s love. This is the reality out of  which we must live. We can only live out of it if we ourselves are open to it in our inmost heart- not images, not imagined illusions, however holy, however religious, but the reality, the rock that is Christ. 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Divine Greengrocer

I recently heard a talk on prayer. The speaker said that if are Christian faith is having an effect on our lives then we should be showing signs of that change. If we are not showing signs of ‘fruit’ then perhaps we should examine how real our faith is. 

These are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Have an honest look and see if these ‘fruits are in your bowl.’ If you are really brave you could ask your spouse or best friend if they think you have them on your stall!!

long suffering, 

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Love me, love my dog!

The test of a good society is that the great majority are engaged in the basic arts, and only a few in the arts of luxury. When large numbers are engaged in producing luxuries for the rich, that society has become corrupt.
St John Chrysostom

Sunday, 10 February 2013

The King and Us

One of the stories that has come out of these islands this week has been the finding of the remains of Richard the Third under a car park in Leicester. One wag claims Richard 3 now owes three and a half million pounds in parking fees. 

The monarchy no longer have the same power in Europe or elsewhere. Democratic governments we now claim are our strongholds and freedom a sort of totem. However, what happens when the majority are wrong? Moses came down from the mountain to find God’s people in revolt demanding gods not God. 
On the radio this morning I heard of a Lutheran church in Denmark who claim to be happy with the decision, presumably in Denmark ( it was in the early hours and I only heard the broadcast once ) to have same sex marriages. The reason for their contentment was that the congregation were agreed they were OK and that they the congregation were moving in the same direction as the citizenry of Denmark. 
People do have to make decisions and the Byzantine method of opening a page at random in scripture and finding what the verse says seems ludicrous to us now. 
However, the idea of making our decisions to be in line with the people as Aaron did seems equally madcap. Poor old Aaron was at gunpoint though ( had guns been invented!! )
I fear the freedom we claim in the West to be our strength could ultimately lead to our downfall.

Ironically, as Christians we are being called to spend eternity with a king and not a democratic government. 

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Famous Faces

I recently watched a film called The Social Network about the college student who set up Facebook thus becoming the youngest billionaire. According to the film he had no social skills and could not find a girlfriend and had only one close friend who he double crossed in establishing the business.
I was reminded of some lines from Dr. Keith Ablow.
On Facebook, young people can fool themselves into thinking they have hundreds or thousands of “friends.” They can delete unflattering comments. They can block anyone who disagrees with them or pokes holes in their inflated self-esteem. They can choose to show the world only flattering, sexy or funny photographs of themselves (dozens of albums full, by the way), “speak” in pithy short posts and publicly connect to movie stars and professional athletes and musicians they “like.” 
My own problem with Facebook is that it turns friends into ‘potential customers.’ Also, a lapse of judgement can widely broadcast a comment you might not have made on second thoughts. I found this out recently to my cost and the cost of others.
The word has become a tiny place!!