Showing posts from April, 2011

Rowan Williams on the Royal Wedding

BBC news posted an extended interview with the ABC this morning. You have to go to the BBC website to view it, since they don't enable video embedding (come on, BBC). Although not gripping TV (the chemistry between Rowan and Huw Edwards wouldn't light a candle), it is an interesting chance to hear the Archbishop reflecting on the role of weddings in a society which seems to have little time for marriage. Two royal wedding links also worth reading: Cranmer , who is always strong on church and consitutional issues, on the importance of the wedding to the country and to the Church of England. Clayboy reflects on the unusual choice of the 1928 liturgy for the wedding, and what that says about the past and future of the C of E.

Happy Easter

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels! Exult all creation around God's throne! Jesus Christ, our King, is risen! Sound the trumpet of Salvation! Rejoice, O earth in shining splendour! Radiant in the brightness of your King! Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkness vanishes for ever!

Des Hommes et des Dieux - The cross, discipleship and matyrdom

The image I posted on Good Friday has filled my mind these last few days of Lent. The cross looms large over the whole Gospel story, as we follow the Son of Man who came to give his life as a ransom for many. And if we really want to follow him, the first thing he says is "take up your cross". In a sermon on Palm Sunday (it's on our church website if you are very keen) I reflected that Jesus calls us to follow him and die. I was struck by this blog post from Joseph Black, and his reflection on success: Western Christianity has no category for martyrdom. We are so oriented towards and seduced by our host culture’s worship of success that persecution and martyrdom would seem the opposite of achieving God’s ‘blessing’ on our ministries and on our lives. This is such a profound challenge that I haven't been able to walk away from it. What does it mean, and what would it mean, to lose our lives for Jesus? Then last night, in a moment of confirmation or serendipity, I


Please don't bother Always Hope this weekend with tales of Brent Council banning Easter, plausible though you may find it (guess which newspaper website has been trumpeting this one today?). It's true that it looks like a group of churches in Willesden won't be having their Easter march because they haven't complied with the council's health and safety protocols. But then, a headline in the Daily Mail saying "church fails to submit procession application in good time" wouldn't have quite the same impact, would it? Father Hugh MacKenzie who, according to the Mail, is "defiant", is adamant that the procession cannot proceed on the pavement alone, although if the picture above is anything to go by, it's difficult to know why. It would certainly be preferable to the solution offered by Cranmer , who declares "it's the Queen's Highway", so "just go out and march". All well and good, but it should be noted tha

Weird Lenten Twitter List

Thanks to Stuart at echurch Blog for drawing attention to Stephen Smith's list of what Twitterers gave up for Lent . Stephen, with techie skills beyond the comprehension of mere mortals, trawled Twitter between March 7 th and 10 th , aggregating all the tweets that referenced "giving up for Lent" and came up with a ranked list (as apparently he does every year). Here's the top 10 (with the number of occurences in brackets): 1. Twitter (4297) 2. Facebook (4060) 3. Chocolate (3185) 4. Swearing (2527) 5. Alcohol (2347)  6. Sex (2093) 7. Soda (1959) 8. Lent (1493) 9. Meat (1352) 10. Fast food (1303) There's serious intent here, but also sarcasm ("religion" also ranks at 14), and humour (147 people went for "lint"). Click on the link to see the top 100, and see what you think. But my reaction to this is more like a bronze age tribesman gazing at the stars and feeling very small. We post things on Twitter and the like and imagine t

That Royal Wedding Prayer

Oops, we did it again! The Church of England (or, we suppose, some person or persons within the Church of England), regularly produces prayers for special occasions. This is a great idea, but sometimes when the prayers appear, they somehow don't quite hit the spot. Yesterday a prayer for the upcoming royal wedding raised a few eyebrows: God of all grace, friend and companion, look in favour on William and Catherine and all who are made one in marriage. In your love deepen their love and strengthen their wills to keep the promises they will make, that they may continue in life-long faithfulness to each other; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. We could dismiss the critics as petty fault-finders, determined to criticise the church at every possible opportunity, or alternatively, we could be honest and admit they have a point. The problem with this prayer is the heavy emphasis on the keeping of the vows. William and Kate haven't even said "I will" yet, but we&

Always Hope does not review "The Good Book"

This week saw the launch of The Good Book , by (or, as the cover has it, "made by") A. C. Grayling. This, as he no doubt hoped, has triggered a huge reaction, at least if the blogs are anything to go by.  It's difficult to find a Christian blog in the UK that hasn't reacted to this (although I haven't yet found anyone who has read it).  Of all the interesting responses, my favorite is Phil Ritchie's , which really nails the issues from a Christian perspective.  The Good Book is billed as a "secular Bible".  Many people, hearing this, have jumped to the conclusion that it is a Bible with all the bits about God taken out, but it isn't.  It is an alternative to the Bible, a tome of wisdom to live by.  Nor is it, as some people are assuming, an entirely original work by Grayling, although it seems to contain some of his own thoughts.  In fact, he has edited together a collection of texts from various philosophical traditions from many centuries, th

Can ministers be volunteers?

Last week I found myself part of a quite heated debate on the question of "volunteers". The context must remain confidential, but 'a person' expressed his suspicion of the idea that certain people in ministry see themselves as volunteers. He described how he gives short shrift to any self-supporting clergy who believe that they only need to do "the things that they want to" in ministry. To a certain extent this is standard stuff, heard from Bishops and Archdeacons throughout the land. Still, this person was not simply grumbling, but expressing a theological conviction - that gospel ministry is not voluntary. Jesus said "follow me" and did not add "if you want to". So, the argument runs, those of us who are called to something in the Christian life (and this does not apply only to clergy) do not do it out of voluntarism, but obedience to Christ. The implication of this is that if you accept a particular office or role in the church, you ac

Bus crash prompts theological reflection on Thomas the Tank Engine (a serious post)

Stay with me, and you'll see... This photo from today's local news reminds me irresistibly of Thomas the Tank Engine. Or rather, of his associate Bulgy the Bus, an unsavoury character who suffered the same fate as the one in the picture. But to cover the news angle first: this incident took place in Falmouth on Friday. From the relative dimensions of the objects in the picture, we can infer that this is not the usual bus route into Falmouth. From the fact that, fortunately, there were no passengers on board, we can guess that perhaps the driver nipped into town for a bit of shopping and forgot that he wasn't driving his Ford Focus from home. I don't think this is an April Fool, although I drove under this bridge today (without harm, you will be pleased to hear) and it looks quite unscathed. But if it is a fool, it doesn't make any difference to what I'm about to say, and it isn't very funny anyway. Returning to Bulgy, you may remember that this vulgar

Truro Cathedral to be sold

Everyone who loves this corner of the UK will be sad to hear today's news that the Church Commissioners have decided to sell Truro's historic Cathedral. The mother church of the Diocese, one of the Church's newest Cathedrals, and only recently refurbished at huge expense, is expected to fetch at least £3 million, although the building itself is likely to be demolished. The name of the buyer has not been released, but last night insiders were saying that Tesco has acquired the site for a Tesco Metro, Starbucks, and TK Maxx. It is understood that the Cathedral Shop will be left standing and developed as a "Cornish Spirituality Centre" selling crystals, angel chimes, and badly made models of dragons. A spokesman for the Church Commissioners said "we understand there will be some opposition to this, but we cannot be responsible for the upkeep of these ancient, crumbling buildings. The money we spend on the Cathedral would be much better spent on things like mis