Monday, 28 June 2010

Flying the flag

You didn't know Jesus was an England supporter, did you? Here he is in this painting by della Francesca, stepping out of the tomb while waving one of those ubiquitous flags. Let's just say that nobody is going to be harrowing hell waving one of those things right now...
(H/t Bishop of Stockport's sermon yesterday)

Sunday, 27 June 2010


We received this photo this morning, a picture of bliss and innocence. Mia is our niece's first child, a little girl (despite the blue blanket!) This means that I am now great Aunt Susan! Kev keeps rubbing this fact in, he says "You're a great Aunt " now - and I add "by marriage."

Friday, 25 June 2010

Church Walk

I appropriated Rjam's role (very badly!) as official church walk photographer. A few more on flickr.
The view from the Edge above

A lampost? Could this be Narnia... and where's Mr Tumnus..?
A wild Orchid, don't ask me which variety.

Light fading on the lovely Cheshire landscape.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Fudge Recipe

Classic Anglican Fudge (Deluxe – Bishop flavoured)


The decision of Synod to admit women to the Episcopate
One Revision Committee
Solutions that have seemed inadequate
One “bright” idea wrapper
Baffling language
The kudos of being Canterbury or York


1. Place the decision of Synod to admit women to the Episcopate on the table, prod it a bit and wonder how you can make it palatable to everyone.
2. Place the decision in Revision Committee for as long as possible and pray it comes out alright.
3. When it comes out and you realise it is not to all tastes – try not to panic.
4. Take a few of the solutions that have seemed inadequate – flying bishops, delegation and statutory transfer.
5. Place these in a bowl and squish them around vigorously using a good fudge making technique until nobody can tell one from the other. Try to use the “side by side” method.
6. Now combine with the decision of Synod to admit women to the Episcopate
7. Add a substantial dose of baffling language; try to apply so that nobody can see any holes.
8. Glaze your fudge with the kudos of being the Archbishops of Canterbury and York
9. Wrap it in a “bright idea” wrapper and serve it up to those of differing views making sure it is labelled either “equality” or “man in charge” respectively.

Yes, this is a bit mean isn't it, and who would want Rowan William's job - but at the same time a sense of humour is badly needed.

But WATCH isn't!

Some bishops are more equal than others...

Pluralist is amused...

If you haven't seen it, a great take on this from Pluralist.

Monday, 21 June 2010

A cunning plan

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written a proposal in which they suggest a “new” way forward for the consideration of Synod. They seem propose that, rather than powers being delegated from the diocesan bishop, there will be a co-ordinate role. Any parish could write a letter of request to have access to a nominated bishop, but that bishop would have to act in conjunction with the diocesan bishop and would have to act in accordance with the plan drawn up by the diocesan under the terms of the Code of Conduct.

I have only quickly read the proposal, and it is a bit more complex than that and not entirely clear cut! I am not good at quickly assimilating such documents, but I think it throws up as many questions and problems as it aims to answer. These were my , very inexpert, thoughts:

1. Couldn’t this just be seen as effectively delegating authority but calling it by another name? It seems to be optional, but expected for the diocesan bishop to comply - it says diocesans would "in practice" refrain from exercising their ministry in parishes that are opposed?
2. Isn’t being expected to share authority, when this wouldn’t normally be the case for a man , still an affront to the autonomy and dignity of a diocesan bishop? How effective would a Code of Practice be in the case of conflicts?
3. If it is the case that the nominated bishop is truly acting in conjunction with the diocesan rather than acting in his own right, would the fact that he was taking advice from a woman still be a problem for the most hard line Anglo-Catholics or Evangelicals? It is certainly not statutory transfer. Would there be the right to insist that the nominated bishop has not been ordained by a woman - or by a man ordained by a woman...
4. The document seems to suggest that the proposals apply equally to men and women and that, " women will enjoy exactly the same legal rights as men", a statement which suggests an awareness that sooner or later the Church may fall foul of the law of the land on this issue. This “same rights as men” claim seems disingenuous since the vast majority affected would be women, but also begs the question of on what grounds might or could a parish object to a male bishop? Could a parish, hypothetically, say that they would prefer a female bishop? Are they thinking ahead to when parishes may reject a male bishop who was ordained by a female bishop? Surely this is still discrimination which has its roots in gender bias?
5. The Archbishops explain that these new proposals would not involve a further round through the Revision Committee. One response is, “Thank the Lord for that”, the other is that if Rowan Williams and John Sentamu were going to come up with a fiendishly cunning plan ( see Blackadder clip) two weeks before the start of Synod, why the heck did the Revision Committee spend all those months deliberating over the issues and possible ways forward?

(Answers on a postcard, please)

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Aspiring to heady heights

Sorry about the dreadful pun in the title! Given all the fuss about mitregate, I'm loving this cute advert from the Anglican Church of Canada in which baby girls try out mitres for size. Just a shame the PB wasn't allowed to wear hers.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Where did you get that hat?

I have not yet contributed my two penn'oworth over what is being dubbed "mitregate" - you can't have missed it - Rowan Williams allegedly banned Katherine Jefferts Schori from wearing her mitre while officiating at Southwark Cathedral. I have not speculated because A. I don't know if it is true B. It might just be part of churchy protocol anyhow, rather than a slur on women as bishops or the PB personally C. I don't really care that much.
Church Mouse gives an eminently sensible response and asks whether the whole woes of the Anglican Communion are now to be focused upon a hat? I did ponder the whole concept of the mitre though, and would like to ask whether the chance to raid the fancy dress box in grand style once one gets ecclesiastical promotion doesn't sometimes go to the head?
...not every man can get away with wearing yellow...
... the full wingspan of this magnificent creature measures over six foot...

... the PB nails her inclusive colours to the mast....

... OK, the Sunday school kids made this from the arts and crafts box, but it looks no dafter than hers above...

...Honestly Officer, I am a bishop. I've just been presiding at midnight mass...

Friday, 18 June 2010

Monkish murders

I am currently reading a book club novel, C.J. Sansom's Dissolution, which falls into the nicely alliterative murder-mystery-in-a-medieval-monastery genre. It reminds me of the few Brother Cadfael books that I read many moons ago and of the Name of the Rose, which I have never been able to watch right through, but seems to have all the same ingredients. It also occurs to me that a large part of the popularity of books such as The Davinci Code ( which is entirely a work of fantasy by the way) is its setting of ancient churches and monasteries and elements such as spooky monks with dark secrets.

Has anyone any idea why the presence of a monk ratchets up the spooky-scare factor by so much - and why don't nuns seem to have the same effect?

This post is dedicated to Rajm ; just remember that loathing a book with a passion can be fun...

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Speak easy

Back in the dim and distant past (a year ago) before I had this job, I used to venture out once a fortnight to Stockport Ladies Speakers club, supposedly to perfect and hone my public speaking skills. The pressures of dealing with pastoral and discipline in a thriving sixth form college, on top of a near full teaching load, soon put paid to that! Over the last few months the little darlings have been preoccupied doing their exams and I have had a bit more time to myself.
The upshot is that yesterday I managed to get out to speakers’ club for the second fortnight in a row and have discovered I do need to refresh those old skills. I mentioned at work that I was speaking and had a long conversation with a colleague about things which we dread or make us anxious. I had volunteered to speak briefly on an impromptu topic and the subject, aptly enough, was fear!
I do recommend the ASC ( Association of Speakers Clubs)as a great place to develop confidence and meet friends, and possibly have a nice drink in the bar afterwards.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Justice and forgiveness

I have been listening to the reports about the Saville enquiry into Bloody Sunday, and, although I do not feel qualified to comment in detail on the events of that day or the handling of it over the years, the whole issue did make me think about justice, forgiveness and revenge.
C. S. Lewis wrote that forgiveness is a lovely idea – until we have someone to forgive and then it can become a huge source of bitterness, anger and pain. Having been wronged, and never getting justice for that wrong, is difficult and painful, as it must have been for so many families waiting for thirty eight long years.
I heard a man speaking on the radio this morning who said he would gladly have killed the soldier responsible at one point in his adult life, but that now he felt maybe forgiveness would be possible, if only there were remorse. That may sound grudging, but it is actually huge progress and I hope that others affected will be able to find closure.
Forgiveness is central to Christian thought, but it isn’t easy to forgive without a request to be forgiven and are we even required to? To be honest, I don’t know, but I do know that forgiveness is much easier from the outside looking in and that when we try to force forgiveness we often exacerbate wounds that just are not ready to heal.
(Above - families celebrating the Saville report and tearing up the Widgery report today)

Monday, 14 June 2010

Is it wrong to laugh at other religions?

Ask Phillip - Is it wrong to make fun of others religions? from Audio Advice on Vimeo.

Of course it is wrong boys and girls, it isn't nice for one thing. Oh, but hang on, maybe just a little smirking and ridicule might be in order?

World Cup Dogs

I don't know if anyone has drawn Brazil in a World Cup sweepstake? If you have you will be heartened to see they have some real talent at work.
Significant Truths - bringing you breaking news on the World Cup with a canine twist!

Saturday, 12 June 2010


I am entered into the World Cup sweepstake at work and my teams are: Mexico, Chile, Slovakia and Spain. I am not overly thrilled with Slovakia, but Spain is a hot favourite - or so I am told by those who know more about such things than I ever could.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Selfish, confused or honest?

According to this article,Canon Mark Hocknull has spoken out criticising the “you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian” or the “I’m spiritual but not religious” attitude prevalent in today’s society. He suggested that this showed a selfishness and the depth of public disdain for Christianity.
I was discussing with a friend recently the problem that Christianity faces when confronted with a pluralistic and post modern society in which each and every view is valid and to assert a monopoly on truth can be seen as a heresy in its own right. If we truly believe that, “no man comes to the Father” except through Christ, then does this mean that we deny the evident good – and I would say the presence of God – in other faiths? Do we happily agree with those who tell us that they are Christians but don’t go to church? Do we accept people who see themselves as spiritual rather than religious? What about those who no longer believe in the devil or the virgin birth – or even the divinity of Christ and are there any limits?

You may have already guessed that I am pretty post modern – the title of this blog is Significant Truths (plural) not truth ( singular) – but I do think the way we respond to a post modern society is something we increasingly struggle with. Many Christians and Churches do not want to be too prescriptive or controlling, it is important to accept people at the stage they are at in their journey and to recognise people will bring different levels of understanding or approach, at the same time it is important to retain the distinctive nature of what makes us Christian and some common boundaries.

I suppose one of the problems with the sentence above is that ideas about “the distinctive nature” of Christianity may differ so much that finding common ground can be difficult, and that is often just among ourselves, let alone when reaching those from a secular background with very vague ideas about the Christian faith. To some people you are not really a Christian, for example, if you do not believe the bible is inerrant (that rules me out) or perhaps if you do not believe in a personal devil. This approach brings security, but it can be stifling and exclude. I would really hesitate to judge whether anyone else was a “real” Christian (that’s the kind of fuzzy liberal I am folks) but I would not personally feel that I was a Christian if I did not believe Jesus was the Son of God and died and rose again. I do see this pretty basic tenet of the Christian faith and am quite happy to defend that view as entirely reasonable!

So can you be a Christian and not go to Church? Is it better to be “spiritual” than religious? Is God bothered about your rigorous and carefully worked out Christian beliefs, or more that you love God and your neighbour? Is a Christian just someone who says that that is what they are?

And for a bit of light relief – let’s hope Canon Hocknull’s frustrations don’t lead him to this...

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Just an image problem?

"I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians do not resemble him." (Gandhi)

H/T to Lesley's blog.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Westie wonders

Here you can see some talented canines in training for the Westie world cup.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The best things are not things

With a view to the upcoming emergency budget, here are some thoughts on austerity from the wonderful Colophon blog. I think the nuns of East Hendred offer some wise advice. After all, who really needs material riches when they have a lovely dog like Duncan to help with blogging?

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Gaskell's Knutsford

Knutsford, home of Elizabeth Gaskell, is currently holding a literary festival and we've been meaning to go to all half term. We went over this afternoon to look around the display at the heritage centre and also to visit the dissenters chapel in Brook Street where Gaskell is buried. The chapel , now a Unitarian Church, was one of the first institutions to benefit from the religious toleration act of 1689, which allowed greater freedom of religious expression and worship. However, dissenters did still face considerable prejudice and persecution, the Brook Street chapel was built with numerous doors and exits in case of attack, and someone we were chatting to told us that certain members of the local church are still very disapproving of there being a Unitarian Church in the town!

More double standards

Thinking Anglicans carries a report from The Telegraph that the Church is to allow remarried divorcees to become bishops. So, leaving a spouse and breaking sacred marriage vows is considered less culpable than entering into a life long same sex relationship? Is this the steer from the Church? Some traditionalists may complain, but will this be a Communion breaking issue? Far from it ; deviations from scripture which are convenient to heterosexuals are tolerated.

It is not the decision itself that I necessarily disagree with, just the double standards. More and more I fight the feeling that being involved in the Church makes me a part of something which is nasty and morally shabby.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Twelve points to Finland!

The Lutheran Church of Finland, which is in communion with the Church of England through the Porvoo agreement, has appointed its first woman bishop. I also hear that Irja Askola is the third Finnish bishop who will bless same sex couples. Read all about it at Eurobishop.

Do dogs have souls? (Part ten)

Dogs are officially music lovers now that Sydney Opera House has opened its doors to 1,000 dog lovers and their pooches.
The 20-minute concert kicked off with a mellow set featuring whale calls and soothing white noise, before moving through a rhythm and beat section to a discordant crescendo almost drowned out by hundreds of barks and howls.
The capacity to enjoy music has long been regarded as a sign of a spiritual side; Tolstoy described music as “love in search of a voice” and Kurt Vonnegut opined that “The only proof needed for the existence of God is music.”
You can also purchase this CD for your canine. This clip from Youtube is well worth playing, not only because listening to music is a form of prayer, but the accompanying pictures also score high on the “awwww...cute” factor

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Home truths

The Presiding Bishop's response to William's Pentecost letter (you have to scroll down a little to find it.)

Jefferts Schori writes,
"We are further distressed that such sanctions do not, apparently, apply to those parts of the Communion that continue to hold one view in public and exhibit other behaviors in private. Why is there no sanction on those who continue with a double standard?"

Goodness! Do you mean there are parts of the Communion that knowingly ordain gay bishops but have a tacit agreement to keep quiet about it? Thank goodness that could never happen here...

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Paint it black!

Our elder son recently requested a new duvet set; like Henry Ford he stipulated that it could be any colour as long as it was black! He has also requested that when we next decorate his room he would like quite a lot of it to be black. I am worried about this request, after all black is NOT psychologically healthy is it? My son does not agree and has pointed out this is just in his nature! While he is not an emo , (or so I am informed) he does also tend to dress in blacks, greys, browns and, when he is feeling very daring, navy blue. He will not purchase any item of clothing with a logo, piping or anything that might be considered detail. He likes things plain and, if at all possible, he likes them black.

Sartorially speaking, our younger son couldn’t be more different from his brother, for a start he is interested in clothes. His wardrobe is full of patterns and colours and I frequently get asked if a particular item can be washed and ironed in time for a particular event. So I was a bit surprised when I discovered that he also approves of the black bedroom look, although his description of a more a monochrome look with black, white and gunmetal grey did sound more -er- human. So yesterday Mr M bought two black and white duvet sets -the one with checks above was rejected by elder son as “a bit too fussy” - and I suppose at some stage we will be at B&Q (reluctantly) buying tins of black paint!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Not worth reading, writing or bothering about...

Just to get some balance, here are Jim Naughton's reflections on the ABC's Pentecost letter, at Episcopal Cafe. In it Naughton writes that Williams wasted his time writing the letter and that Naughton feels he is wasting his time analysing it ( hmmmm... I know how he feels.)