Sunday, 30 November 2008

It's a new Year, but the same old me!

Advent has started, the candles are lit! My wee bloop at the 9am service was a minor classic. In Advent and Lent, we use the 1929 Prayer Book version of the Scottish Liturgy and the 10 commandments. Sadly, I omitted one today. Yep, adultery! To be fair, the 9am congregation are really a bit beyond adultery on the whole! I'll mention it next Sunday - I promise! Still, I have never surpassed my legendary double whammy at Evensong in Coates Hall. Opening versicle "O Lord open thou our legs" followed by prayers for "Edward our Queen" in the suffrage's!

The lunch party went well 30+ gathered to eat lentil soup and apple crumble. Very good indeed, the crumble. The orange peel made all the difference! Evening prayer at St Francis was OK, our annual renewal of the FCT Commitment went OK.

is off to court to do jury service after cancelling in August. No idea what that involves, but we shall see.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Funny people fascists!

Yesterday's Sunday Herald had an article on some eccentric bloke who teaches the idle rich to shoot arrows at Gleneagles and who has appeared of TV programme "Ladette to Lady" (which I have never seen BTW!). Evidently he thinks it might not have been so bad if we had been conquered and ruled by the Nazi's! Possibly not if you're a right wing bloke, but hardly the case if you were Jewish, black, gay, left wing or Christian. That wasn't what set me off on a wee think, really. I've been reading a book on the relationship between Churchill and Lloyd George and had got as far as the run up to the War. LG visited Germany and came away very impressed with Adolf. Churchill was a vehement opponent from early days. Isn't it odd how some very intelligent people can be fooled by the apparent glamour and social programmes of the far-right? After all, Lloyd George along with Churchill effectively started the modern welfare state with the 1909 People's Budget. Not the type you'd have thought who would have been fooled by the Nazi's.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

I will survive.. the AGM!

Yes! It's over for another year. We zipped through the business in 1 hour and there were no riots (well, one picky pest who wanted to speak to a written report - we have written reports to avoid having people speaking to them - and he was squished from the chair!). Joy abounds!

The night before was the opera at the cinema and it was superb! The Met live from New York in Hi-Definition and it was absolutely marvellous and enthralling. OK, one has to suspend belief at the plot (like a teenager is really going to fall for the older guy whose been watching her undress through her bedroom window and has broken in to meet her! Rather than scream at the weirdo and use mace! Yeah, right!), but it was a stunning production with interactive scenery, CGI and all sorts of fabby modern tech stuff. And Napoleonic costumes. And all for a tenner! Roll on Thais on the 20th December!

Friday, 21 November 2008

A night at the opera/cinema - eh?

Yesterday, I rather oddly decided to buy a ticket at the cinema to watch live opera. No, I'm not actually off my tiny little rocker (well, no more so than is my custom!) - Cineworld in Falkirk are putting on a live broadcast in HD of the Met Opera in New York tomorrow night, so I will spend 3hrs in a comfy seat, with popcorn available, watching the Damnation of Faust by Berlioz. I'll be interested to see how the experience compares with the live operas I've attended. Makes a change from the the football! And will doubtless be as spectacularly costumed as "Strictly Come Dancing", with blokes as tubby as John Sargeant!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Voices on Liberty

The BNP are continuing to bewail their "outing" on the Internet. It raises an interesting question (OR 4!)about freedom. I agree that everyone has a right to express their beliefs, even if I hate their contents. But there is no such thing as total unconditional freedom. If you have the freedom to express objectionable views, then others have the freedom to oppose or criticise them. One strain of complaint is that the public revelation of political views may put the holders employment in danger or even their lives. But there are certain views that ought to debar one from certain posts. Racist views are rightly unacceptable in the Police or Prison services. Similarly I as a Christian would not expect to be employed as media officer for the National Secular Society - my beliefs and theirs are mutually incompatible. if you are misguided enough to think like the BNP, then it should scarcely come as a surprise that people might not want to employ you because they do not wish their organisation to be tainted with your views and attitudes.

But this is a slippery slope. We see objections to the employment of Muslims in certain posts because of what it is assumed they believe. And ditto Christians. There has been considerable fuss about Christians adopting children because they are seen as being homophobic. Surely sense says that individuals ought to be held accountable for what they believe, rather than using broad brush prescriptions? After all, there are liberal and conservative shades in all belief groups. Some Anglicans are horrid homophobes and not all RC's are anti-abortion.

Besides this, there is certainly a degree of hypocrisy in the BNP (who ain't in favour of the EU or the Human Rights Act) threating to use that legislation to secure privacy.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Fascist incompetence.

Well, the morning paper contained the reassuring news that British Fascists are no more clever than HMG when it comes to information security. The fact that you can now go online and find which of your friends are members of the British Nasty Party will doubtless delight the leftists among us. Personally I think if you have political beliefs then you ought to be willing to go public about them. And if your views are such that that would earn you public opprobrium, then doesn't that tell you something? Like you are wrong!

Home Communions and a confirmation class today. although these HC's are in Kincardine which isn't even in this diocese. Go figure!

Monday, 17 November 2008

The Madness of the PC.

There are moments in one's cyber-life when an item just appears and you giggle, grin or loft at least one eyebrow towards the biretta you sometimes wear. Today, I got the news that the Central Scotland Racial Equality Council are organising a Family Day @ Falkirk Footie Stadium for Ethnic Minority families. Very commendable. It's on a Saturday. Match day in the real world. On offer are free tickets to the Falkirk/St Mirren game. What in the name of Dagon have our local ethnic minorities done to deserve such a fate and threat? St Mirren - last time I watched them was at Pittodrie and Charlie Nicholas scored a hat-trick against them for Aberdeen! Why do FFC want to expose the ethnic folks to the baying mob of Ferguslie Park residents and Thunderbird swigging shell suits? Are they mad? Or just desperate to fill the ground a bit more on a duff Saturday?

And tomorrow is a day in sunny Stirling on hospitals and Spiritual direction. Life's rich tapestry, etc.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Christmas is coming!!

You know it's getting near Christmas in Dougaltown when you hear the Falkirk Children's Theatre doing selected numbers from their annual Crimbo production in front of the Steeple. This year it's "Oliver" (well, it was on the telly with Andrew Lloyd Wotsit earlier in the year, so it's hardly a surprise). Sadly, as I passed, Nancy was hitting "I'll do anything" in a pitch that would suggest Bill Sykes had mitigating circumstances for his evil deeds! Nerves, no doubt and the fact it was bleeding Baltic out there today!

This morning we observed St Margaret of Scotland, not out of any deep principle or devotion, but because the organist picked the hymns and went for St Maggie. Coincidentally, the organists name is Margaret. Funny that! We had 6 Margaret's in the pews this morning, which I think may be some sort of record. Maybe. Had the Rector's Warden been there, it would have been 7!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Praise where praise is due!

As has doubtless been noted by the Internet Thought Police, I am not the chair of the Falkirk branch of the Alex Salmond Fan Club. But all credit to the man, he was actually very good last night impersonating the Rev I M Jolly for Children in Need. Funnier than Tony Blair when he did "Am I bovvered?" with Catherine Tate. Mind you, I don't personally find her terribly funny anyhow and I always was a Rikki Fulton fan. Humour is a very personal thing and I never found Russell Brand amusing but I love Frankie Boyle.

Today it's off to the old home town to watch the Blue Brazil take on Stenhousemuir. Who are a Falkirk team. Divided loyalties? Nope, I am a faithful BB and will back my team. A draw would be fine, but we need to beat them if we are to keep up our promotion prospects. And as I spellchecked this blog, Stenhousemuir was queried and the machine suggested that I meant to type "satanism"! So let's hope for a victory against the goat sacrificers of Larbet!

Friday, 14 November 2008

Merrily on High.

I was browsing in Cornerstone yesterday when I discovered to my delight that the Canterbury Press have brought out a paperback version of Fr Colin Stephenson's "Merrily on High". The sub-title "An Anglo-Catholic memoir" describes it exactly. He was Vicar of St Mary Mag's Oxford and ran the Shrine at Walsingham after Fr Hope Patten dropped down dead at Benediction. MoH evokes the craziness of the high watermark of Anglo-Catholicism in the UK from the 1920's through to the 1960's, but in an amusing way. Much of the eccentricity, pottiness, pretension and real spirituality of the movement is captured in it. I read it years ago and looking into it again, am surprised by how different thing were for the spikes in days of yore. Still, it's got some good giggles in it. Never thought of a cotta as "tropical rig" as opposed to a surplice before!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

And by tea time...

I am a DOS (that's Doddery Old So & So, not Desk Operating System). I'd forgotten my specs so have purchased cheapo reading glasses as a back up set in the office - and the nice young lady in Superdrug threw in a free string thing to keep them round my neck so I don't lose them. The fillings keep on detaching and my hair is receding! And I'm still 19 years off the bus pass! Blast! eyes, teeth, hair all on the blink - what else will cease to function soon?

A good week-end.

Indeed it was. Saturday night was spent munching asparagus risotto and tarte au chocolate whilst watching "Strictly Come Dancing". Remembrance Sunday went OK with the amusement factor of somebody asking if we could take a retiring collection for the Earl Grey Fund! That is just soo Diocese of Edinburgh! I'm thinking of renaming the Coffee Fund.

Monday was hardly a thrill, with the office Internet not working and then the evening spent discussing the proposed Covenant at St Peter's Lutton Place. Frankly, there appears to be no real enthusiasm for it and most of the folks who had gathered wondered if there is any point in it. Its judicial leanings do not commend it to the mind of the majority in Edinburgh and I suspect that, whilst we will engage with the process, the General Synod will not vote to accept it.

The Tuesday Vestry meeting went well enough, with all business sorted in 2hrs. The trip to the chip shop beforehand was more fun though. And today? Well, prayers for Unity in St Francis Xavier's went well, although only 8 came. and it's confirmation class tonight. Life goes on.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Another day at the...

office. And Church. And hospital. And not at the football. What happened to "6 days shalt thou labour", eh? Never mind, it comes with the territory. Doing the pew sheet, sorting out the sermon etc.

As to Labour, despite my totally never having voted for them and having voted SNP on a regular basis to stump the Socialists at Council and Holyrood level, I am really quite pleased that Irn Broon's place man won in Glenrothes. It at least temporarily silenced Eck the Smug, our glorious leader and showed the arrant stupidity of his economic arguments: "Arc of Prosperity" - Phooey! Plain fact is, we're far too wee to survive on our lonio, the oil is running out and we can't use it to pay the pensions and fuel economic growth at the same time unless we spend it twice - which is the sort of fiscal dumbness which would have us all jobless, homeless and benefit less in short order.

And so, to preparing a Remembrance day sermon. Oh joy! Oh rapture! Oh...never mind!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Happiness is...

a cigar called Hamlet. (No it's not - I discovered Cohiba cigarillos in Dortmund!) Actually, it's getting into the office and finding the magazine ready for my bits to be added, doing all of them and having it all printed off in seasonal red before close of play! It's getting a decent espresso from the coffee shop rather than yukky Fair trade instant and finding the new office is more warm and snug that the old damp ridden dump of a converted Vestry. It's the redone missing filling holding out at the 2nd attempt. It's all sorts of little things just clicking and coming together in happy coincidence and making for a better than average morning.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Clergy Conference.

Underwhelmed I am after the clergy conference. The 1st session really made me lose the will to live - and all I can say about Indaba is, the Zulu's have certainly revenged themselves for Rorke's Drift! And the pheasant was tough. The 1st night was not really a success.

Luckily, it did improve on day 2 and we did some useful thinking about clergy support. The Bishop evidently had a rough time in his group - which I personally think is unfair and doesn't match my personal experience of him as pastor. Don't bash the Bishop was what I was taught in confirmation class!! Mind you, the Rector may have been on about summat else...

Of the conferences I have attended this was the least stimulating. No external input for a start. It also hit us with a 2 hour lecture as an opener, when we really needed to wind down from the Sunday and the rush to get there. Still, the meal on the Tuesday was far better, so I was a happy bunny after supper!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Liturgical car crash or what?

Yesterday was one of those horrid collisions of liturgical principles which horrify the purist and confuse everyone else. All Saint's fell on Saturday, so yesterday was All Souls, right? Nope, because All Souls is a much lesser festival than a Sunday in Ordinary Time. So I kept All Saint's Sunday. Easy enough so far. But it is the local tradition that we also observe the reading of the list of the departed on the Sunday. And it's meant to be a Family Service. Arrgh! So the order for Festivals was used, 2 readings dropped and a lengthy list of departed recited. Seemed to meet general satisfaction. Probably not to the taste of the high heid yins of the Liturgy Committee, but then I've never thought much about their collective wisdom - 'handsel' forsooth!

The afternoon had the pleasure of a baptism interview. For the first time in my career, I'll be baptising twins on the 10th January! I must get the names in the right order! And then "Godtalk 3" at Erskine Church. Discussing music and spirituality. Stimulating given that 2 of those present were on the Editorial Board of CH4. Quite a lively day, all told.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

One man and his dog, an electrician and a gym instructor!

Just kidding folks! No clerical scandals in Falkirk.

We had a slightly hairy night last night, Max and I. He, like many a dog, hates Halloween/Guy Fawkes. He was a bit jittery with the bangs last night. Luckily, I'd been dosing him with a new herbal concoction from the vet, which meant he wasn't as upset as he has been. The good thing is, it doesn't dope him out, so it has my vote.

The bathroom light in the Rectory is playing up a bit, which is probably due to the electrical system being installed by Thomas Alva Edison, so it's bathing by the light of the shaving lamp if I choose to shower in the evening! Which might be romantic, if I wasn't single! Willie the electrician is dealing with it as I type.

My disinclination for solo bathing inclines to a trip to the health club for a wee swim and sauna. The pool is patrolled by the gym instructors. Hence the headline!