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Showing posts from November, 2010

In the shadow of Lewis

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Oh, the things I never knew (that I would have liked to). Fortunately I was alerted to one of them by this blog post on Tall Skinny Kiwi. I'm sure you knew it, but yesterday was the anniversary of C. S. Lewis's birth (to call it his "birthday" is surely pushing the bounds of good taste). 112 years is not a significant anniversary, but Lewis is current because of the imminent release of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third Narnia movie, following the deeply disappointing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Prince Caspian, which I avoided in case it was equally dismal. The production company Walden Media bought the rights to Narnia with the stated aim of producing "wholesome" films, which seemed to equate in this case to " po -faced". However new owners Fox have apparently sacked them, so there may be hope for The Dawn Treader. I loved Narnia as a child, and honestly, I still do. As an adult reader one becomes sensitive to Lewis's

Release Sherif Hassan

Just in case any of us going to church today are tempted to take it less than seriously: Sherif Hassan is an Egyptian citizen who has been detained in Egypt after returning from the UK for a family visit. It is not clear what he is accused of but what seems clear is that he has been picked on because he is a Christian. Mark Meynell of All Souls, Langham Place has set up a website for people to follow Sherif's case and to offer support. Do visit and find out more . I don't wish to comment on this incident because idle comment isn't helpful. But we should remember those many thousands of Christians around the world who are threatened and abused for their faith in Christ. At times like this I wonder how my comfortable British Christianity would withstand the test of the scourge of persecution.

Advent Sunday

Something a bit more edifying today. Apparently Advent Sunday is the start of the Church's year, something that means very little to most people (including me), but what does make sense is the idea of preparing for a new year, for the new birth that Christmas celebrates. Isaiah 2:1-5 Romans 13:11-14 Matthew 24:36-44 This Sunday's Gospel reading calls us to be ready in an urgent way. The doctrine of the second coming is not everyone's favourite, and perhaps suffers from the over-simplistic interpretation of fundamentalism, but "He will come again" is a creedal statement which is one of the building blocks of our faith. Advent Sunday focuses us on that future coming, which completes the cycle begun with Christ's first coming into the world. Did Jesus' disciples expect it to happen in their lifetime? Certainly , at least for the first few years. Did Jesus expect it to? Not necessarily . Despite the urgency of this saying, "no-one knows the day or

You know you shouldn't be laughing, but...

Oh dear. Grossly unfair stereotyping of the Alpha course, but just enough truth in it to be eye-wateringly funny. Hop over to Phil's Treehouse and watch this: Vampires on the Alpha course Full marks to Phil for simultaneously posting a subversive clip and making a serious point. There is more to Alpha than this - have a look at their website . And nobody uses tambourines in church anymore (or do they?).

blogs today

Bloggers have raised eyebrows at this article , a dreadful piece of hackery on the Guardian's Comment is Free , which takes exception to Iain Duncan Smith's use of the phrase "that's a sin". Our author draws two earth-shattering conclusions from this: one, that he is a Christian, and two, that his faith affects his politics. Cranmer is predictably acerbic and defends the political implications of original sin. The Church Mouse dismantles the journo's argument with forensic anger. Meanwhile, Suem , among others, is interested to hear that Rowan Williams has apparently decided to suspend the Primates Conference, the zoologically-named gathering of the world's most senior Anglican Archbishops. Apart from revealing that Suem reads the Church of England Newspaper, the most surprising thing about this is that the Conference is one of the so-called "instruments of communion" that are supposed to hold the global Anglican church together. What this s

known unto God

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There was rapture of Spring in the morning When we told our love in the wood, For you were the Spring in my heart, dear lad, And I vowed that my life was good. But there's winter of war in the evening, And lowering cluds overhead, There's wailing of wind in the chimney nook, And I vow that my life lies dead. For the sun may shine on the meadow lands, And the dog-rose bloom in the lanes, But I've only weeds in my garden, lad, Wild weeds that are rank with the rains. One solace there is for me, sweet but faint, As it floats on the wind of the years, A whisper that Spring is the last true thing, And that triumph is born of tears. It comes from a garden of other days, And an echoing voice that cries, "Behold I am alive for evermore, And in Me shall the dead arise." G. A. Studdert Kennedy (1883-1929)

It takes all sorts

Comments on a post earlier this week prompted me to write a little bit more on the role of the clergy. This is a matter for hot debate at the moment, particularly in the light of the changing shape of the church and the need for more missional leaders. Without attempting to produce the final answer to the question, I offer the following observations: The clergy are human. I know some people don't believe this (indeed some of the clergy themselves don't believe it), but they are. This means there is no ontological difference between the question "what is the role of the clergy" and "what is the role of people in all kinds of ministry". The parishes that the clergy serve are enormously diverse in their situation, character, needs, and aspirations. "Vicar" is a job description, but this is only part of what it is. Ordination is an attempt to recognise gifting for the benefit of the church, and gifting comes from the Holy Spirit who provides the hu

Fresh Anglicanism is too strong for some

Thanks to David Keen for drawing attention to this article by Giles Fraser in last week's Church Times. (I don't know what it is about the Church Times, I always try really hard to read it, but the eye just seems to slip over without noticing half of it). Giles Fraser is one of the CT's regular columnists. Never dull, he is also highly opinionated and pugilistic in his style, a style which epitomises all that is best and worst about modern liberal Anglican theology. When I say "best", I mean intelligent, critical, thought-provoking, fiercely committed to the gospel values of compassion and justice. But I also say "worst", because he is completely intolerant of anything that doesn't fit his own definition of proper Anglicanism. CT readers will know that Mr Fraser has a big problem with evangelicals. But this poorly-digested column reveals that his real problem is one that he shares with many of his like in the C of E. There is a strand of Angli

clergy jobs - truth revealed

On the blog scene this week, The Vernacular Curate produces a gem on the subject of the jobs pages in the Church Times . I've long been a connaisseur of the genre, and I thoroughly enjoyed the way he nails the subliminal messages, both intentional and unintentional. Do have a read. My only complaint is that he missed out two of my personal favourites: "a person of stamina" : Don't expect to have a life outside the church. We've already finished off two vicars in the last five years. "with a sense of humour" : You'll need it. My heart goes out to all curates seeking their first permanent post, a process made more stressful by the fact that most Dioceses leave you to sink or swim at this stage, in contrast to the enormous care that goes into placing curates at the start of their titles. Further to David's analysis, Always Hope offers this guide to the commonly spotted types in the jobs pages of the CT: The over-professional. Identificat

Comments policy

Comments on this blog are moderated before publishing. I like the phrase "moderated", conveying as it does the much-needed calming process demanded by the fevered ravings of the online community. Here at Always Hope most comments pass through the net quite easily, but as traffic increases, one or two have sadly not made it. I'm aware that a couple of people may now be disappointed that their comment didn't get displayed, so here's my comments policy for all to see. Derogatory comments about religion or faith in general, trolling, ranting, and otherwise wasting my time will not be indulged. Take it to a site where comment is free (but not always worth reading). Any comments which are racist, sexist, or in any way demeaning to our fellow human beings will not be accepted. Anything insulting to the blog author will not be published. Exceptions may be made if you are sufficiently witty or I like you enough, but don't push it. Comments will only be published i

Growing Leaders 2

Last week we ran the second session of the CPAS Growing Leaders course. The course plan is really interesting. It deliberately delays concentrating on the questions of "how to" in leadership. Instead it focuses the participants' attention on character and call. Only if these two are in place does the third strand of leadership, competence , fall into place. The question we were asked in session 2 was "what drives you?" This, of course, hits home in every part of our lives, not just the churchy bits. But in spiritual terms the danger is acute: the danger of deriving our affirmation and identity from the externals of our life. Christian leaders who are driven by the need to achieve and succeed are locked into a vicious circle of constant activity in order to provide themselves with the positive feedback that they crave. On the other hand, if we derive our identity from our relationship with Christ, our calling by him and in him, then we are liberated from the ne

Secularism is not the answer

During a lull in posting (caused by the intrusion of real life, not entirely in a good way) it was nice to continue to get comments on Always Hope. This post in particular drew some interest: NSS gets in a tizzy again I was being a bit rude about the National Secular Society and their penchant for whingeing with no particular aim in mind other than to complain about how awful it all is. So it was quite gratifying to get a comment from one very open-minded secularist saying how I was absolutely right. Not presumably, about secularism having nothing useful to contribute to the greater good, but I think he was agreeing that the NSS conducts itself very poorly in the public realm. Even more intriguing, though, was to get a comment suggesting that secularism is actually the better way for people of faith. This of course is a serious point of view. A "religious secularist" argues, as my commenter did, that the Christian church is closer to its true calling when it is strippe

Protect Kea plums!

Sorry, but this is a story of strictly local interest only: Kea plums bid for European protected status Yes, the famous Kea Plum may soon be accredited with Protected Design of Origin status by the EU, putting it on a par with Cheddar Cheese and other such delicacies (but, scandalously, not Cornish Pasties) as something that cannot be ripped off by cheap imitations grown in Albania or Biggleswade. Why anyone would want to do this in the case of the Kea Plum is not clear, but that's not the point. This is long overdue recognition for what is presumably Kea's only indigenous species (a phrase that surely only a few parishes can use with a clear conscience). The observant will notice that Tregothnan is in fact on the other side of the river, but I understand that they do grow their plums at Coombe, thereby meeting the strict qualifying conditions. Always Hope presumes that the status, when awarded, will apply to the plums which still grow in the gardens and fields of many of