Monday, 27 December 2010

No deid yet!

Things improve: I'm still a bit chesty but less achy, so another day off should see me fine. Lest it be thought I am utterly idling, I have finally got around to looking into the possibility of doing some night classes to brush up me brain.  Ages ago, I got a ILA account, through which HMG (Jockland) gives me £200 to spend on courses.  I fancied cooking, but the only ones available were for professional qualifications.  So I looked around and realised I could always brush up my long defunct foreign language skills - revitalise my schoolboy French!  The Council do an evening class from Jan 26 and Embra Yooni do a course from 11 April.  So I shall begin to explore these avenues tout suite!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

In the bleugh midwinter!

My unseasonal grump against the athesists was, as much as anything, the onsent of a mildly unpleasant winter chill (aches etc) - although the miserable sods do still need to get a life IMHO.  So, after struggling through a Christmas Day 8 hour shift, I phoned in sick today and kept warm and snoozed.  Tinned Macaroni cheese is a culinary sensation I had long forgotten about but enjoyed for lunch!  Mind you, I also went to Church - Mozart being the setting!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Peace on earth and goodwill to all - excepting noisy atheists!

A typical whinge from the Atheists on the Pope's "Thought for the Day" broadcast.

The National Secular Society described the Pope's broadcast as a slap in the face because it gave him access to the "unquestioned, unchallengeable Thought for the Day slot." "(It) may be a coup for the BBC, but it is a slap in the face for the thousands of clerical abuse victims who are still waiting for justice," it said on its website.

I just wish that this lot would get a life and leave the matter of religious faith to those who enjoy it or find it helpful.  Yes, clerical abuse is awful and the RC Church has behaved dreadfully and institutionally.  But dammit all, Benedict wanted to do summat when he was at the CDF and has made genuine inroads into addressing the problem.  These whining nihilists have unpleasantly inherited the mantle of Cromwell's Puritans and are as joyless, self-satisfied and damnably priggish as the Puritans.  Annoying and disgusting as I find some of the barmier "Christian" theologies around, these dour prigs keep me firmly out of the atheist camp!

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

"Of Gods and men"

If you get the chance to catch it, go and see the excellent film "Of Gods and Men".  OK, it's in French and Arabic with English subtitles.  And it's about French Trappist monks in North Africa, the relationship between the abbey and the local village and living with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.  But it is beautifully shot and acted with several stunning performances (ace turn by former Bond villain Michael Lonsdale as Monk and Doctor Luc  - and the abbot is excellent too).  The dinner with wine and Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" is wordless, but moving to tears (the phrase "On the night before he was given up to death" springs to mind).  There is deep and brilliant theology and spirituality in there and it really is a "must see".

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Nuns on the Run?

Not exactly great news has burst forth this weekend. and/or  I feel sad because I have met all three of the sisters who have decided to leave - indeed, I went around the High Kirk of St Giles with Jane Louise in full habit and we discovered that their douce Presbyterian gift shoppe was flogging rosaries to the faithful at a higher price than the Anglicans in Walsingham!

I can't say that this comes as much of a surprise and I think it is a pity that it all came to grief in this way but you can hardly have 3 sisters out of 7 in the house wanting away to Rome and still in residence.  I can understand the older sisters anger at being "left in the lurch" but they are supposed to understand what it is to "follow a vocation".  The thing is, a vocation is never static. Stable and rooted in Christ yes, but never static.  I can understand the call leading to a move of communion, particularly if part of that vocation has involved in living and working in an ecumenical atmosphere (one where admittedly there is hee-haw contact with Reformed Churches).  It's all very sad and I can only pray for those on the move and those who remain.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Divers Orders.

That little phrase comes from the Prayer Book collect for an Ember Day: 

"Almighty God, the giver of all good gifts, who of thy divine providence hast appointed divers Orders in thy Church: Give thy grace, we humbly beseech thee, to all those who are to be called to any office and administration in the same; and so replenish them with the truth of thy doctrine, and endue them with innocency of life, that they may faithfully serve before thee, to the glory of thy great Name, and the benefit of thy holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."  
(It of course refers to diversity, rather than to those who go under the sea and swim!)

I have, in days of yore, tended to think of these as the 3 orders of Ministry (Bishop Priest and Deacon) with the additions of professed religious (also a Vocation) and Lay Readers (all too often in the past a consolation prize for those who didn't pass selection conferences).  But as I get older and a little bit wiser, I realise that that diversity can apply to anyone who does their job or fulfills there calling to serve and enable the kingdom.  Preaching sermons or wiping bottoms - all are part of God's plan of "divers orders".  All need replenishing with truth and innocency of life if they are to continue to function well as servants of the Most High.  So a wee prayer for all who serve, however they serve to day seems appropriate.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Back from the Dam!

Yes, I have returned from Amsterdam, drug free (well, almost - paracetamol doesn't count, right?).  Despite a stinky cold shortly after arriving (hence the drugs) we tore through the city in a fine fashion.  The Van Gogh Gallery is simply one the best art galleries I have ever visited.  The Rjiksmuseum is rather good - although the progress of their refurbishment (started a decade ago and due to finish in 2030) makes the construction of the Embra Trams look like a model of efficiency!  The Hermitage (the Dutch outstation of the St Petersburg place) was OK.  To be fair, we did some museums as well: Rembrandt's House and the Anne Frank House were well worth the visit.  Rembo's place was interesting particularly for the very late Caravaggio on display upstairs - it's been in a private collection for the last 400 years and this was it's 1st public exhibition since then.  Unsurprisingly, it featured John the Baptist.  And Anne Frank's exhibition induced in me a deep, cold, icy anger: we must NEVER let dehumanising evil gain the upper hand again in the World.  Islamic or Christian or political fundamentalism which licences and affirms murderous oppression of any minority (Jewish, Christian, women, gypsies, gays, black, pink with green spots whatever has got to be fought.  I seem to recall my baptismal promises which I personally made as a 16 year old according to the Old Rite included the phrase "to beat down Satan under our feet".  Not a reference to a mythical creature with horns and a pitchfork, but to the reality of evil unchallenged in the hearts and minds of men, women and nations.  The house backs onto the Westerkerk and the Homomonument which is additionally poignant.

Other delights included a jazz concert at the Concertgebouw.  The Cloggies are most civilised and include a half time drink in the ticket price - wine, Orange Juice or sparkling water were the choices.  I can also strongly commend Ollieballen, dutch pea soup ("snert" they call it) and an interesting starter called bitterballen - think of a mini-chicken Kiev filled with stovies and you're there!  It was a great wee break and a lovely city.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Neo Bolshevism for beginners!

That hat must be going to my head!  I came across this article in Pravda - a publication I haven't read since it was free in the Skool Library (Beath High Skool, People's Democratic Republic of West Fife).

Almost as good as Private Eye!  Been and went and got Euros for Monday's wee jaunt to Amsterdam via Sleazy Jet.  5 days flights, bed and breakfast for £256!  Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Anne Frank and the Hermitage Museum on the doorstep - and tonight is my last shift until a week on Monday!!!  Roll on the annual leave!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

St Andrew's Day

Saint Andrew 
by Francois Duquesnoy 
(St. Peter's Basilica, Rome)

Our National Patron Saint always appeals to me precisely because he isn't as "in yer face" as his brother Peter.  Andrew the Introducer (see John 1:41, 6:8-9 and 12:20-22) was a description I heard in a sermon once (Fr Donald Nicholson of Blessed memory) and it struck me that was his gift: enabling others to encounter Christ and unleash their gifts.  It takes much grace to work behind the scenes - we all secretly or even openly adore attention and it can be hard to be "unappreciated".  It takes even greater humility.  But "not my will but thy will be done" is one of Jesus's most powerful prayers in Gethsemane.  The release of self and apparent greatness in order that God's will be done and his Kingdom revealed, enabled and advanced.  Blessed Andrew, inspire by your example and aid us with your prayers.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Deep and crisp and even.

Greetings from the rather icy City of Edinburgh (sharing a climate today with Vladivostok!).  Snow has fallen, the bypass is shut, the shift is over, I have a nice cuppa in my hand and really wonder if I can be bothered going to an Advent Carol service?  My stout boots are doing sterling service and the brand new, furry, Red Army surplus ushanka is keeping my ears nicely warm.  The black rabbit fur will go nicely with a cassock and cloak - the Red Star with hammer and sickle making a pleasant change from a WWJD badge!

Any how to mark the season here are some words on which to meditate:

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, 
And let the skies pour down righteousness. 
Be not wroth very sore, O Lord, 
Neither remember iniquity for ever; 
Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Sion is a wilderness,
Jerusalem a desolation: 
Our holy and our beautiful house, 
Where our fathers praised thee.
We have sinned, and are as an unclean thing, 
And we all do fade as a leaf:
And our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away; 
Thou hast hid thy face from us: 
And hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. 
Behold, O Lord, the affliction of thy people. 
And send forth Him who is to come: 
Send forth the Lamb, the ruler of the earth, 
From Petra of the desert to the mount of the daughter of Sion: 
That He may take away the yoke of our captivity. 
Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, 
And my servant whom I have chosen; 
That ye may know me and believe me: 
I, even I, am the Lord, and beside me there is no Saviour: 
And there is none that can deliver out of my hand. 
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people; My salvation shall not tarry:
I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions:
Fear not, for I will save thee: For I am the Lord thy God,
the Holy One of Israel, thy Redeemer.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Church - don'tcha just love it?

It's the silly season in the Church just now, with the Bishop of Willesden getting it in the neck from My Lord of London for being a gobby twit on Facebook (slagging off the boss's grandson when your area manager was best pals at Trinity Cambridge with his dad qualifies as just plain dumb in any walk of life).  Add to that the joys of the C of E tying itself in knots over that Covenant thing (only the Mexicans have agreed to it so far - I blames it on the tequila!), Pope Benny going slightly reasonable on rubber johnnies (marvellous news actually, as it begins to unravel the deeply destructive silliness of Humanae Vitae at long last) and you begin to wonder if it's really worth sticking with the damnable institution?

Well, yes, because when you step away from the "organised hypocrisy" (as our 1st Jewish Prime Minister described his own Political Party) that the Institutional Church often is, you mostly find the reality of a praying caring community at the local level.  Sometimes sadly, you find a feuding, inward looking, bitchy rat's nest impersonating a congregation but mostly you don't.  It is that Church, the plebs sancta dei that keeps me at it.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Worth the hirple!

As indicated previously, I decided to limp along to Evensong @ Old St Paul's tonight.  I'll be candid and confess that I have always found it a gloomy interior, personally preferring the light and space of St Michael' and All Saint's or indeed even St John's Princes Street.  But it is ideal and perfect for candlelit Evensong and Benediction on a winter's evening.  Especially when the lights are minimal and all the faithful have a taper to lighten their darkness and follow the service order with. The choir were excellent, the Psalms to Anglican chant (which I prefer to that Widow Twankey music called Gregorian chant!).  And a proper use of silence, with no home made intercessions.  Sublime!  And my hip ached not too much.  Then home to veggie enchiladas. Yum!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Feeling Funny.

I have felt rather peculiar for the last day or two.  My legs have suddenly stiffened up, like I've just been cross country running (not that I have!) and I've been hirpling like an arthritic duck.  Indeed, I feel like a twenty year old from the waist up - and a 75 year old from the waist down.  The village drums suggest it may be a bug, so paracetamol, extra vitamin C and hot baths are being taken!  Tomorrow is a working day, so no morning Church and a hirple to Evensong instead!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

A Fraction of ****wits!

As a long since pensioned off NUS activist (same sort of vintage as Phil "The Lying Toad" Woolas MP (ex), but as yet unconvicted:-)), I observe with some surprise the shenanigans in Westminster yesterday.  Obviously, they've lost the robust approach the combined Lib/Lab/SNP stewards of my vintage used towards the Socialist Lurkers, Trots and Anarchist smellies on parade! ("Get up aff yir erse, ya ****in' idiot!" was the favoured consistent response to attempted sit downs to block traffic).  I note merely this: according to the London Times, 40000 students marched, of whom 200 rioted.  That's 0.5% of the total.  50 got on the roof. That's 0.125% of the total.  The rioters are the fraction to which the title alludes.  Their stupidity has led to a powerful and legitimate protest against Government policy being squandered by a handful of bampots.

The rotas for the 1st part of the vacancy at Spiky Mike's have arrived and I find myself in the pulpit for Candlemass and Maundy Thursday!  Must find my nice lacy alb before then!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Flying Bishops say "Banzai"!

It isn't exactly news now that 5 English Bishops have taken up Pope Benny's offer to join the Ordinariate.  Actually, it was more "This you call news?" when I read it.  The usual suspects have floated over - Fulham (imitating his predecessor John Klyberg - both of whom were my suffragan Bishop in London), 3 current or retired Flying Bishops and one ex what they used to call "Colonial Bishop" (the sometime Bishop of Woolbrawonga, Upside Down Land - who writes rather good Collects).  The Guardian cartoon reproduced above I thought was quite amusing.  The sharp and pungent article by Diarmid McCullough in the Times pointing out the unrepresentative nature of the 5 I thought was better.  He pointed out all were from what might reasonably be described as the Anglo-Papalist wing of Anglo-Catholic Anglicanism.  The "Use: the Roman Office and Missal" wing.  As any fule Church historian nose, there is also the old High Tory Catholic Anglican (Keble, Pusey and IMHO the current Bishop of Winchester) and the Christian Socialist of the Stewart Headlam/Percy Dearmer/ Conrad Noel type (today think Ken Leech, Dicky Holloway and Rowan Williams).

Scotland was never quite going to go down this road I suspect. Not so much because of Synod decisions back in 1992, but because of the singular nature of Scottish Anglo-Catholicism.  There was only ever 1 Anglo Papalist parish (St Michael's Hill Square Edinburgh).  All the rest may have had fairly Roman ritual but it was always the Scottish Liturgy under the tinsel and lace.  The clergy used the Scottish Prayer Book Daily Office on the whole and the Pope's 2nd XI attitude was never present.  And the liturgical lean towards the Orthodox with our distinctive double epiclesis reflected a more orthodox inclination amongst the theological brains as well.  We were never as beguiled by the Western patriarchate in quite the same way as our Saxon brethren!  I wish the 5 well (2 of whom I know very slightly) and hope they are content where they are going.  But I think their followers will be very few.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Beware of the Ginger!

I am more than a little amused at the mess Comrade Deputy Chairperson Harrhumanoid (yer unoriginal Public School socialist wot sends her progeny to fee paying educational establishments) has got herself into over her jest about the Chief Secretary to the Treasury's auburn hair and Highland roots... It's not like her Party wasn't led to successive Electoral routs by a carrot topped Welsh peer and former Eurocrat/gravy train passenger is it?  Or that the only Blairite Cabinet member with the guts and integrity to resign rather than go through with the decision to invade Iraq was a Scottish ginger?  Or that it was a red headed Hieland alky who kept hammering their tails and costing them votes for years on the same topic? The poor wumman perhaps has reason to be cheesed off at the mighty legion of Scottish gingers - but she should have know that going for them is to invite a mighty and vicious response.  Billy Bremner of blessed memory springs to mind.  And to do it in Oban - well, look what happened to the Duke of Edinburgh when he commented on the Teuchter's drinking habits to a driving instructor!  She's obviously not going to live in No 10!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Friday gloomies!

Not so good news, as the delightfully funny Gerard Kelly (City Lights and many a Scottish panto) has died at the tragically early age of 51:

Still, it could be worse: we could live somewhere where "a learned judge" allows a geriatric to sue a 6 year old for running into her on her push bike with stabilisers: Here the law is plainly an ass!  To say nothing of the judge!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Holy, Holy ... the ref's blind!!

Well, it just goes to show that it's not all doom and gloom in the Holy Land! See this for a wee smile!

Monday, 25 October 2010

That's one heck of a cutback! Not!!

The Heil on Sunday is suggesting that the Diocese of Bradford (which describes as "historic" despite it being  a post WW 1 creation - in Church terms, it's a double glazed conservatory, not a historic monument!) might be merged due to cutbacks. See

So why did they start interviewing for a Bishop a month or two back?  I'm not much bothered really, as all Bradford gave the Church was the Bishop who let the cat out of the bag about Wallis Simpson and a Randy (allegedly) Dean of Lincoln. (Well, also the saintly Fr Ralph Crowe of St Chad's Manningham - one of the few saint's trained at Coates Hall ever).  I think the Heil on Sunday and it's weekday stable mate is fit only to wrap chips in - I mean remember Jan Moir's vile article on Stephen Gately.  Trust it not on Church matters!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Hosting the stranger.

We have a wee Ghanaian priest staying with us just now (well, he's shorter than I am, so wee is an accurate word!) and in the absence of other community members it fell to me to do the hosting this morning.  Andrew brought him to church and I took over socialising after Mass and fed him bacon rolls at lunchtime.  Poor soul, he's rather homesick, distinctly cold and a wee bit ill at ease having been shuffled around 3 churches on placement, with no set "home" for 3 months.  This has not been desperately well planned, as we only knew he was coming on Friday night and he knows who's coming to uplift him tomorrow but not where he's going to stay.  Which adds to the uncertainty, sense of dislocation and unease.  However, we chatted over lunch and he felt rather at home at St Michael's - the churchmanship being quite what he's used to!  Interestingly, he felt he could join in the liturgy here because a) we sang bits to Martin Shaw (which is almost Merbecke) and what they have in Ghana and b) the hymns were old favourite crowd pleasers!  We talked about the challenges music and hymns have made to mission and growth in Ghana.  The old UMCA style and A&M hymns have not really protected the Anglican Church in Ghana from the rise of Pentecostalism and worship that is more culturally and ethnically "African" - they are evidently moving on a bit on this, towards a more authentically Ghanaian liturgical style.  +Frank Weston of Zanzibar had the right idea all those years ago about growing an African Church in the African idiom and not importing Victorian Englishness wholesale.

What does that mean in Scotland?  Our liturgical style is pretty "Anglican".  We have our own distinctive Scottish liturgy (is that the same as distinctively Scottish?).  I suppose I tried for a degree of ethnic authenticity in Falkirk by increasing the use of the Roxburghe setting to Scottish folk tunes (and our default setting was James Macmillan - a Scot).  But I was always wary of descending into Scottish liturgical "kitsch" - metrical psalms, bagpipes at Mass and mitres with thistles on them (the Bishop as MacLeay's beer pump look!).  I'd argue that the Scots are a mongrel nation with a tradition of welcoming cultural variety and our worship ought to reflect that.  Wonder what anyone else thinks?

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Birthday Report.

As I am trying to use up my annual leave, I took a week off to include my birthday. So, in the Octave of the Natal Festival I watched the Blue Brazil twice (lost to the evil Lino sniffers of Kirkcaldy, drew with the bottom of the table troglodytes from Greenock, despite having our goalie sent off after 7 minutes). I ate out 3 times (Italian with Rachel, Chinese with the community and Spanish with Mater), saw one show (Spamalot), 3 art galleries (Mod Art, the Dean and the National), 1 museum (St Mungo's) and slept and ate prodigiously!  The world has not ended, the sore mouth is gone and I'm back to work on Monday.  and I'm 43 sober and alive! That'll do nicely.

Friday, 15 October 2010

On the sick (ish) list

Yes, the old gob was still sore, so I called in sick and tried to see a dentist.  Mine being on holiday, that'll be Monday then.  I really just want to check it isn't infected.  In truth, it is less painful than it was, in as much as I have ceased swallowing the Paracetamol/Codeine tabs and switched to plain paracetamol and ain't withing in agony.  Instead I nipped over with a friend to Midday Prayer and Mass at Roslin where we prayed in a holy garden shed with oodles of ikon's and bucket loads of silence.  A real discovery for me. And some interesting bits and bobs too: secondary relics of Charles De Foucauld, the blood of the Cure d'Ars in the altar.  I took a very secular offering of Potted Hough to lunch which made a nice change from the cheese!  it was nice to pray in our own Holy Hut in the evening, doing Night Prayer from the SSF Office.  Mind you, we could do with more ikon's!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

This week's days off (Contd)

All that rushing about was not such a cunning plan.  I made it to the bone cruncher via the Car Phone Warehouse (my old Nokia 5310, which has done sterling service, was not always locking, so it was a £20 trade in and a funky new X 2 in my jacket pocket!).  My nice Aussie chiropractor is heading back to Brisbane on Guy Fawkes Day, so I will have to get used to a new bone mangler - but the big Boss of the firm himself is taking over, so my spine will hopefully be in good hands!  I'm very sorry to see Scott go, but hope he will meet with well deserved success when he starts his own practice Down Under!

On return to da House, I sort of crashed and then got dead grumpy as the fang gap got rather sore.  Indeed, wur Chaplain pointed out it wasn't good form to go "zonk" in front of guests!  And just to skip out of dinner without excusing yourself!  (That's very Aspergers btw!)  Biting back a crabbit "I'm tired and in pain - sod the social niceties!" response, I nodded and took his advice ("You look really rough and in genuine pain - stop fighting it, go to bed!").  Which was OK until 2am, when the pain woke me up.  Some painkillers and a cup of Redbush Tea later, I returned to the Pit and stayed there until after breakfast.  So I caught 10 hours Zzz and feel slightly perkier.  We'll see how it goes.  My Friday/Saturday shift is a 3-11, sleep over, then a 7am-2pm stint.  If I'm not in too much pain I'll do it but if tomorrow morning I'm still swallowing analgesics, then I'll call in sick.  I haven't had a single day off on the sick since starting, so I have the days available.  And coping with our 5 service users at the time of day when I seem to flag might not be good for anyone!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

This week's days off..

..are a pain. Due mainly to a visit to the tooth puller who pulled one yesterday.  Mercifully, the bleeding stopped quickly and the painkillers are pretty efficient!  This morning saw a quick arrangement of meetings with Ma and the Chiropractor, a trip to the jewellers to get my signet ring repaired (Samuel's made a mess of it ages ago) and some shopping. This afternoon it's off to the chiropractor, a haircut and shave and book a table for my birthday outing with Rachel to Spamalot at the Playhouse.  I need a good Italian on Leith Walk - and Mum can't remember the name of the good one she goes to!  Have a wee lurk I will!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Back in one piece!

That may be a puzzling title: after all, I am a veteran of long haul flights to San Francisco and Kampala, I have braved the Ugandan and Maltese bus services.  The London Tube and the Paris Metro phase me not , I have crossed the street in Rome (and lived) and I have crossed the Sound of Iona in a motor boat with no life jaiket!  A trip to Englandshire shouldn't hassle me, should it?  No indeedy - unless, of course, it involves meeting someones Mother!!!

Doubtless there is many a fella out there who has faced this trial by ordeal (anticipated) before me and who will recognise the nervousness and worry (Do I take a bunch of flowers - consultation suggested After Eights instead!).  The big question of course being: "Will she like me?".  I really would rather jump out of an aeroplane with a parachute again I thought.  However, we seemed to get on, no blood was shed (well, I am house trained!) and she didn't bite!  So I think that qualifies as a successful jaunt to Sub Tweedian Mater - there still remains Mater Supra Forth!  That'll be next week - if she's in the flipping country that is!

We lurked off to Church this morning.  There was a degree of negotiation involved.  Someone felt they maybe ought to go to their local Parish Church to fit into the community.  I am disinclined to endure Presbyterian worship voluntarily unless it's in the line of duty and/or I'm being paid to do it!  I really feel that English Anglicans resident this side of the Border should (where practical) beat a path to the altars of their Scottish fellow Anglicans and not join the Kirk just because it is the National Church.  So it was 5 miles up the road to Eyemouth and an enjoyable Eucharist with hymns (well belted out to a CD of organ music), a good sermon (hat tip to Jennifer - btw Elisha the Prophet was also in Samaria, not just the Leper) and just the right friendliness of welcome without gushing.  It was very good to see a small rural congregation with limited resources doing as good a job as they did on the worship.  What they did, they did well.  No overstrain with the music, clear audible reading, well constructed competent Lay led intercessions and a decent dignity of ritual without fussiness.  First class!  And I AM a noted critic of worship done badly!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Days of "Oh crap!"

Yesterday the front door at work was broken and I had to enter the building by climbing in the front window.  I was greeted by a service user asking when he'd be getting an MP3 player.  My reply was crisp  - "I've just climbed in the window - how am I supposed to know?" "Was that a stupid question?" "Yes".  Not a good start. So to today.  Having lost a filling a day or two back, it was off to the dentist who banged in a temporary one, but suggested that it might not be re-fillable and might require extraction:-(.  I returned home to find my assistant had left the soup on a high heat and it was somewhat burnt.  It's one of those bits of life that slightly try us.

My Rector is to be the next Bishop of Argyll and all Sheepdom.  Which he will be good at and will bring a disciplined, clear headed and ruthless ability to reflect on the way ahead to the task.  Romantic Celtic-ness is not always the strength a Bishop needs.  Nor indeed a diocese with no money and damn few clergy.  I wonder what joys and challenges an interregnum will bring?  It's been a long time since I've been part of a congregation that is going through one.  I've caused them and filled them but this is a new experience for me!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

A Sermon for Trinity 18 year C

Sermon for 2nd October 2010 Good Shepherd Murrayfield.

“For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands” 2 Tim 1:6 (New American Bible)

Once upon a time (I trust this is a suitable beginning for a sermon!) not so very long ago, this text would have been preached on in both the RC and the Episcopal Churches as either (or both) an affirmation or a defence of the 3-fold Apostolic ministry of Bishop, Priest and Deacon – and ya, boo, sucks to the Presbyterians!  It would also have been cited as being written by the apostle Paul himself.  I intend to do neither of those things.  Firstly, there are more New Testament scholars than not who think this is at the very best written by Paul’s post martyrdom disciples in the spirit of and in tribute to the Apostle. The phrasing’s all wrong and the language too different for it to be by the man himself.  Some would say that the references to Church order and structure mean it is really written in the early 2nd century AD.  Paul died in 67 AD; but that the 2nd letter to Timothy contains a number of bits and pieces from his actual writings and from very early Christian liturgies (v10 might be a quote from an early Eucharistic Prayer).

But why am I telling you all this?  What, in the immortal words of a wee Glasgow woman who went to St Ninian’s Pollokshields when I was a Curate there, has this got to do with the price of Spam in Govan?  I’m illustrating what the point of this Epistle is: using the gifts God has given us.  God gave me a brain and I can use it when I read the Bible and study the Scriptures.  Just because I believe in God and go to Church, I am not by pious custom or divine commandment required to check my mind in at the West Door! And neither are you!  I confess to Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters, that I get really narked by the assumption both within the wider Church and in the non-God Bothering world that if you believe you have to be a credulous half wit who thinks that God dictated every word in the Bible by some form of ancient Dictaphone to the people who are named as the authors of the assorted bits of ancient literature that make up the Christian Holy Book. (The “I confess” by the way was an example of the sort of liturgical quoting that might have happened in verse 10!).

The gifts given us by the imposition of hands does not and cannot in the Church today refer exclusively to the ordained.  In our modern baptismal liturgies, hands are laid on, the baby or adult is anointed and the gift of the spirit is prayed for and given.  The comments attributed to Paul are properly addressed not just to the young leader of a young Church (Timothy) or even to Church leaders in general in every age – they are properly addressed to every single baptised Christian called by grace and the Holy Spirit.  In other words, to each and every person here today.

And they are challenging words indeed: we are reminded that we are not called to be cowering, timorous Church mice.  Because we have within each one of us the actual presence of Christ himself with whom we were joined in a spiritual and mystical union when we were baptised.  That gift may have lain dormant, it may never have expressed itself in anything other than quiet unostentatious faith and steadfast Christian loyalty, but it is a gift each one of us has.  Often we forget that.  We forget that Christ is part of us, especially when the  spiritual going underfoot is soggy to bloody difficult.  We forget to draw on his resurrection power, his grace and strength.  We need to hear that message today, so that we may truly live and serve – or rather, that Christ may really go on living and redeeming the world through us.

We are also challenged to follow the examples of the Great ones of God – like Paul, like John Henry Newman, like St Francis, whose Feast Day is tomorrow.  We can do worse than study the lives of God’s saints and draw inspiration from them.  Different ones will inspire different people. Some will not inspire us at all.  Personally, I cannot abide St Jerome!  The Scottish Prayer Book has a very apposite collect that sums this up nicely: it begins “O God the King of saints” and it has the neat phrase “inspired by their example and aided by their prayers” to sum up the usefulness of God’s saints for us today.

We are also encouraged to trust in the Grace of God: ”I know him in whom I have believed and am confident that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day” (v12).  Never mind Richard Dawkins and company, trust in God and Grace to win out in the end. The reference in verse 5 to Timothy’s mother and grandmother is significant here.  They were both Jewish born (you are Jewish if you mother is Jewish), yet must have been Christians (converts in others words).  Timothy is a Greek name so his mother probably married a Gentile.  Both would have been ostracised from their birth community of faith for apostasy and his mother doubly abhorred for marrying out with the accepted cultural norms of the day.    Yet they trusted and in due course they triumphed because the Grace of God surrounded them.  We too like them can learn to trust and to triumph.

The final challenge is for us to trust in the truth and power of the Gospel as it comes to us through the words of Holy Scripture.  “Take as your norm the sound words you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (v13).  At a profound level, it is quite irrelevant when or by whom this epistle is written.  They are sound words expressing the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus and have been recognised as such within the Christian Community over the ages.  That is what matters.  They have spoken and continue to speak through the action of the Holy Spirit to faithful souls in every age and culture.  That is what makes them Scripture, not who wrote them or when or what bits were added on later by well intentioned editors or fans.  It is their power to speak to us and to inform us, guide us and even change our actions and our thinking that make them the Scriptures of God.  And it is their ability to draw us nearer to God and to make us more Christ like through Grace that makes them Holy.  May the holy and life-giving Word of God, the Christ himself, stir into flame the gifts that lie within each one of us, so that his will may be done and the Day of Glory may arrive.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

A Late Extra!

I also came across this well written piece in the Guardian (I know well written and Guardian haven't always been linked since CP Snow retired but..). it's worth a shuftie on the Inclusivity of the C of E.

Mind you, when he mentions Communion tokens he's missed one thing.  Yes, we Piskies used them as did the Presbies.  But for us they were not about exclusion.  Being an illegal and penalised Church, they were a security measure to prevent Government spies from infiltrating Mattins and Ante-Communion during which we might be plotting the return of the King over the Water.  They were to keep us out of jail, not to keep us pure and undefiled!

Just sayin'!

One more day....

Not an entirely lousy day really.  I got further with one client today than the rest of the team has for a week. Well, I got him properly shaved (his sprouting 'tash was giving him the most uncanny resemblance to the late Freddie Mercury!) and he didn't create a riot on his return from shopping.  Mind you, we'd been telling the management for weeks we needed to take him out in the minibus not walk to the shops with all the traffic.  Finally, management did a couple of shifts with him and learnt the hard way that the PBI (Poor Bloody Infantry) weren't wrong.  We were cleared to bus him within 24 hours!  My Uncle the Sa'rant Major always said there was only one thing more dangerous than an Officer without a map - an Officer with one!

Back home I soaked in the bath, ate dinner and wrote a sermon.  It shall appear tomorrow.  Well, if you want to hear it you'll have to come to Murrayfield and I'm Press embargo-ing it until it has been preached!  The Mass is at 10am.  Time for bed said Zebedee!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

St Jerome's Day

St Jerome isn't one of my favourite saints.  He was a brilliant scholar and translator of the Scriptures, but he was a dangerous spiritual director and, frankly, a bad tempered git.  One of the reasons I cannot really stand Eucharistic Prayer 5 in the 1982 Liturgy is my total inability to hear the phrase about "LAUGHING with the saints" and see myself having a chuckle with old Hieronymus! Now, if the Glasgow Synod had listened to the then Curate of St Ninian's (i.e. me) suggestion, we'd have had "rejoices with the saints". But they didn't, preferring instead to go with the emotional, throbbing voiced tosh uttered by an ubiquitous and inveterate committee and synod attending lay person (Female) from the Cathedral.  Selah, as the Psalmist wrote.

However, the office for today's feast was a powerful stimulant to thinking.  First, the Psalm was 119:9-16.  2 verses leap out at me: "Your words have I hidden in my heart: that I should not sin against you" (v10) and "I will meditate on your commandments: and contemplate your ways" (v15).  Then came the Canticle from the Book of Wisdom: "you have made all things by your word" (Wis 9:1).  And of course the lesson from 2 Timothy: "All scripture is inspired by God and can profitably be used for teaching, for refuting error, for guiding people's lives and teaching them to be holy" (3:16).  

Wisdom reminded me that it was the Word himself, the Divine Logos, the Second person of the Holy Trinity who created the world.  That is the Word we revere, not the writings which the misguided thing of as infallible. See St Paul here: inspired yes, useful for certain things - such as teaching us about ourselves and God and the ways in which we do and don't work together.  It's a wise guide, not living by numbers.  Used well, hidden in our hearts to take root and transform us as we grow with God in the silence of intimacy, they do indeed teach us to be holy.  Any guide to contemplation will point that out.  Used badly, as a club to beat others with or as a defence for our own hardness of heart, then they become the source of our condemnation.  My instinct is that it is fundamentalists who will be damned by the Bible come the Day of Judgement.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

"With angels and archangels" - but only just!

Oh the embarrassment!  I turned up at the Good Shepherd Murrayfield this morning to cover the 10am Prayer Book Mass.  It was vested in green and the register said "Wednesday", so I prepared to do the proper of Sunday Trinity 17.  Only for some sharp soul to pop into the Vestry and say: "It's a Red Letter Day today!" "Who?" "St Michael and All Angels!!"  Mercifully, the frontal was all seasons, so the swift swapping of the green burse and veil for a white set and the rapid donning of the White Chasuble and all was well!

The laptop is once more functioning and I popped a nice picture into a framing shop that it might be made into a domestic decoration.  I also spent a chunk of the afternoon batting sermon ideas off a godly widow.  I am preaching at Murrayfield on Sunday and have to admit that the reading were doing very little in my head until we spoke.The suffering of the just and God's apparent silence/absence is Habakkuk's thing.  Paul to Timothy (well, pseudo-Paul anyway) and Luke on the need for faith the size of mustard seed.  Yes, we are further on after doing theology by conversation!

Hospitality and all that.

There is a certain delicious variety in living in a community with a ministry of Hospitality.  One night you sit down to dinner with an RC sister who was a headmistress in Rwanda, the next with a woman who hung out at the Colony Room in Soho in the 1960's and who turned down Francis Bacon when he asked her to model for him! (On the entirely reasonable grounds that she didn't fancy spending all day with a nasty egomaniac genius looking at her private parts!).  For the next 2 days I'm on days off but am brother Guest master.  Ora pro nobis!

Community is one of those things that can be both disturbed and enriched by visitors.  It's maybe why Churches are so odd about them.  In some you are warmly welcomed, in others frankly ignored and in others desperately grabbed!  My experience of American Episcopal Churches (both Diocese of California and affiliates of Fort Worth) has tended to be the latter.  Expatriate Anglicans in Europe the second (although Cyprus was better than Tenerife - slightly) and the last almost never.  If you welcome the visitor in they can be a disturbance to the even tenor of life (dietary requirements for example - try cooking for Crohn's Disease sometime!) but they can enrich it unexpectedly and startlingly.  Conversations can lead to friendship and even, indeed, to deeper relationships.  Which seems to have happened to me.

Yup, I am officially besotted with a former guest.  We chatted long into the January nights discovering shared experiences and interests.  We agreed to meet up in the future to view art galleries (a mutual passion) and we did.  And something rather odd grew. Well, odd to me anyway.  Affection that was reciprocated.  My version of the Great Leap Forward was that it was meant to be a peck on the cheek as we said goodnight but a head movement and my lack of specs meant it landed on the lips. (Honest!)  The next meeting started with a smooch and things really progressed and deepened from there.  So last weekend it was off as a couple to the Significant Other's work colleagues' wedding.  God save us!  Me part of a couple - I still can't really quite take it in.

Obviously, a few peeps know about this all. Fellow members of this community.  A severely dazed Chaplain of Fettes College (poor David nearly dropped his torte in Peckham's when I told him!).  Two rather stunned mothers! (I head south to be introduced on the 8th of October!!!  The Scottish event is yet to be sorted - Ma was in Turkey at the time).  Interesting times indeed!

Oh, I suppose a name might be in order for future reference.  It will explain the dazedness of the Chaplain of Fettes I suspect.  Her name is Rachel.  Don't ask me what happened (the lack of booze may have had something to do with it). That and someone said to me they had thought they were bisexual until they sobered up .  Then they realised that what was up was that they were broken and were desperate for anyone to love them and fix them and weren't fussy which gender.  I heard that several months prior to meeting Rachel by the way.

Good heavens!  I seem to have done a "coming in" post (which has been gestating for ages).  God of Surprises anyone?

Monday, 27 September 2010

Fiscal rectitude. And bolshie attitude!

You know the cut-back culture has arrived when the Kirk's Garden Party at the Queen's Hoose has been cut!

Weel, I got to one a whilie back ,so shan't miss it (utterly over-rated IMHO).  And it was serious anomaly in an allegedly democratic institution, which in reality is less so and more priest ridden and dominated than us Prelatical Piskies.  I never realise however than this shindig was funded by the tax-payer until now.  Goodbye and stay missing.

However there has been one wee bit of protocol from the Papal Visit that has been niggling me a bit: what was the Arch Beard of Canterbury doing greeting B16 at Turnhouse when he touched down?  Surely that was the task of the Rt Rev Shooie MacDooie Lth, Minister of Inversnotter Parish Church or whoever this years Chief Presby was?  The ABC really hath nae jurisdiction in this Realm of Schottland.  Apparently his Modship wasn't in the official line up at Holyrood because the wee sowel got lost in Frau Windsor's Edinburgh pied a terre and was found by a flunky in a broom cupboard.  Mebbe he got stuck on the bypass and couldn't make it to Turnhouse on time?

My snarkiness on this one is due in the main to an interview His Beardiness gave in the Times on Saturday. He was headlined as saying "Gay Bishops are OK by me".  Which is somewhat disingenuous given that he meant "celibate gay bishops who sharrup about their partners or non celibate ones who make the right mouth music are OK by me".  Go figure it out Rowan - in your interview you candidly admitted it was about preserving the notional unity of the Anglican Communion at all costs and the cost the backing of Jeffery John, Gene Robinson or Mary Glasspool would have demanded was too great for your conscience.  Full marks for candour, but far from quoting Browning on Wordsworth, I feel rather like the old donkey in Orwell's "Animal Farm".  In the last pages, his eyes are dimming and his vision going.  He sees Napoleon and the pigs dressed up in suits and bowler hats and walking on their hind trotters- and can no longer distinguish between them and the two legged humans they revolted against.  I see an Archbishop allegedly a liberal Catholic - and I'm dammed if he seems much different in my perception to George Carey.  And that's isn't meant as a compliment.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

How to critique a Pope.

I came across this amusing little event from the Papal visit:  It gave a shrewd (if belated) idea about what should have been put on the outside wall of God's Drawing Room.  Take your triptych on the wall, put a bearded, married Eastern orthodox cleric in the St John the Evangelist position with a red tick under it, do the same in the BVM position with a female cleric in Anglican choir dress and have da Holy Fadda in the middle with and big red "X" underneath and "Drop the Filoque!" as a superscription.  It's clever, mildly amusing and subtly delivers a triple critique: Rome is out of step on married clergy, women clergy AND Trinitarian Doctrine!!  Hindsight is, of course wonderful!

I rather enjoyed the Rowan Williams dig at Benedict: "I have 2 things in common with the Holy Father: I love cats and I'm hospitably inclined towards Anglican clergy." Very gentle, but rather funny.  Nice one RW!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Back from the Wilds

There's been very little blogging of late due to the fact I was away helping one of our service users on holiday (3 nights at Centre Parc Cumbria - pricey food, but  a lovely disability friendly lodge with it's own private sauna steam room and hot tub!!  I also enjoyed the flumes and that in the pool!) and then away on retreat at the Cathedral of the Isles on Cumbrae.  Friday to Sunday on the Cloud of Unknowing with two unexpected bonuses - Choral Evensong on Saturday afternoon and a good (if slightly overlong) sermon on Sunday morning from the former Primus Idris Jones.  Home via Glasgow and lunch in my favourite French bistro there (crepe with salmon and leek filling, creme brulee and good coffee) plus a wee mooch round the modern art gallery and Pauline Books.  Then home and a wee bit of laundry and Spanish chicken for tea.  It's a bit odd being back in Edinburgh, as I've grown very accustomed to fresh air and no traffic!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Religious stuff - as per usual!

Saturday was spent doing a little but long overdue visit to the historic Rosslyn Chapel -or Collegiate Church of St Matthew, Roslin - one of the few medieval building then SEC has in use.  Which is (of course) much more important than all that Da Vinci code stuff! It was quite interesting, but frankly £7.50 is a bit steep to get in.  Don't blame the Church though - it is a private Chapel and the fees are set by the Trust.  I took a wee picnic with me (chicken Caesar salad, nice healthy yoghurt with fruit clusters, lemon and lime spring water - and a triple choc donut!!) and basked in the sunshine in Roslin Glen whilst tackling the Times Jumbo crossword, getting all but 2 clues!

This morning involved the usual trip to Spiky Mike's then a wee trip downtown to enjoy the continuing sunshine.  As I passed St John's Episcopal Drawing Room Princes Street, I took note of the new mural they have painted on their wall to make Pope Benny feel welcome to Embra. On two of the 3 panels they have Copernicus and Galileo with big red crosses ("wrong" crosses like they used to put in my Math's jotter at skool) underneath them and below that the comment "Oops!".  The centre panel is a woman in a dog collar elevating a host and chalice with a big red cross underneath with the crossed silver and gold keys of  the Papal Insignia inset.  I really don't approve.  Legitimate protest is one thing but the internal affairs of the RC church are their own business, not ours and if CWO (Catholic Women's Ordination) want to do it, let them take out a billboard on some neutral space and do so.  Also, it looked rather puerile and the woman wasn't even properly vested!  Bad manners, unecumenical and rather childish. St John's run a Festival of Spirituality and peace devoted to respectful dialogue between opposing viewpoints.  this hardly reflects that ideal. Liberals, like Aunts, aren't Gentlemen, Jeeves!

Thus narked, I headed to the RC Cathedral to pray (I felt some Reparation was called for).  Sadly I arrived in the midst of some modern devotion to something called The Divine Mercy.  I say sadly, as it was liturgical ghastliness incarnate.  The monstrance was off centre (sloppy and distracting), there was a 20ft high painting of the DM next to the altar (making it utterly impossible to focus on the sacrament in the titchy monstrance - if Jesus is out, don't stick another devotion in there at the same time - it's totally contray to the principles of liturgical devotion).  There was an OHP (not a Whitby nun, but a peice of kit beloved of 70's charismatics) projecting hymns and texts in English and Polish (looks awful - use Powerpoint).  The hymns were trite modern, banal and badly sung by a duo who couldn't sing in harmony together ("Wan singer, Wan song" as they say in the West!).  The best bit was when the cats duet went quiet ,they switched off the projector and let us simply adore the Blessed Sacrament in silence. I like the Roman Church, but we Piskys do Catholicism so much better!

In the evening I went to a reasonably interesting talk on praying with icons in a Presby church given by the local Greek Orthodox priest.  A fairly diverse day indeed!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The Illusionist

There are some pleasures which come quite unexpectedly - and tonight had one of them.  I finally got along to see the film "The Illusionist".  Leaving aside the excellence of the animation (which painted Edinburgh in the most splendid light possible - I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!) and the quirky French/Scottish humour (the chippy menu was a delight!), it was the most wonderfully gentle, wistful and elegiac story, beautifully crafted and wonderfully rendered.  If you haven't seen it yet, move yer bahookie and catch it while you can!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Leisure at last!

Ah, the joys of the day off! Put out the washing so that the clean knicker supply does not decline dangerously, get the laptop fixed, do some business and then ho for sunny Roslyn to see that Chapel thingy and hopefully back in time to see an interesting film at the Cameo!  No footie this week (sorry, but going to Greenock is a step beyond even my devotion to the Blue Brazil) and Ma is off to Turkey for a fortnight, so I am left to my own devices for leisure this time around!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Word of the Lord?

There are moments when Lectionaries are a pain.  Today I had to wallop on about sodomites and catamites before breakfast.  Of course, St Paul had a far bigger target in his sights in this passage in 1 Corinthians (ch 6 v 1-11) - litigious Christian ratbags who went to the secular courts to resolve internal community/church arguments.  Hm!  ACNA should learn to read the WHOLE passage not just verse 9 !!  Verses 6-8 rather suggest  that suing TEC for buildings is quite contrary to the plain, literal sense of scripture.  I am so glad I am no longer a conservative!

My little noddle unearthed some ancient thoughts which may be worth sharing with the world. Regarding the Inclusive Language debate, here's some John Scotus Erigena from his De Predestinatione Liber:

"Nothing can be said worthily about God.  hardly a single noun, verb or any other part of speech can be used appropriately of God, in the strict sense....And yet ever since the Fall, poverty stricken human reason has been labouring with these words, these visible signs to suggest and give some sort of hint of the sublime richness of the Creator."

Trust the Irish, eh!  And with regard to Dawkins, Hawking and all them visible atheists, here's a wee nip of Richard of St Victor:

"The problem of our times is the loud mouthed, so-called philosophers who are trying to make a name for themselves by thinking up fictional speculations and searching for novelties." (from Benjamin Maior).

I might take Matthew Paris's advice from the Saturday Times and look at Butler's Analogy which he finds more congenial than either Dawkins or the Bibilical conservative.

Monday, 6 September 2010

A new day.

After a very long stint in the trenches, there is nothing better for destressing than a long soak in a hot Radox bath, listening to Tom Lehrer, before scrubbing, shampooing and shaving with muchos mint and tea tree oil and finishing off with deodorising oxter guff and a wee splash of aftershave!  I feel like a new man!

Actually, that ought to read "new human person".  Seems as if there is some yowling about the permitted gender free alternatives in the Blue Bookie:  Well, I have my opinions on this one - my post on Inclusive Liturgy covered this ground. (see  Bit of a fuss over nothing IMHO - they are permitted alternatives, not mandatory- but Darren McFarland is just ever so slightly disingenuous when he suggests we haven't done the Inclusive bit with Holy Scripture.  Many SEC parishes use the NRSV Anglicised version, which has gone down that road where the original languages permit.  Convener spin methinks.  Church politicians are not so very different from their secular equivalents.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Back at the coal face.

I got into work today to find a small staffing crisis: so it's a sleepover pour moi and the joys of a supper from the nearest Chinese takeaway (V good - large nos of Chinese peeps eating in -always a good sign!).  No hassles but!  The mobile rang at one point and it was an old pal I haven't spoken to for yonks.  He seems OK but is back on the meds, so he'll be in my prayers for a bit.  I'm a bit sleepy, as an early start beckons - so this is a pretty short post.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Clocking in again.

Nearly a week since my last blog: well, in reverse order, I read a rather good interview with the Chairman of Cowdenbeath FC in today's Scotsperson I also had the pleasant and affirming experience of a passerby commenting as she passed us coping with our service user's little quirks on Cramond Beach " You people do a marvellous job".  Nice!
 I have to admit to feeling a bit frazzled with work and vaguely contemplate going Quaker tomorrow morning - the silence is refreshing.  We'll see.  Pleasant as Lindisfarne was on the days off, it wasn't entirely restful.  Possibly more on that later.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Despite a sniffle

Yes, the annual obligatory summer cold is upon us.  I still made it through tyesterday o watch Cowdenbeath beat Partick Thistle 2-1 (sorry Kenny, but to quote Kipling's "Stalky and Co" - "Aiee, I gloat!").  Mum retails the info that as passing local had told her that Max the Dog is not a mongerel - he is a "Parson's Cross" which is evidently what you call a cross breed that is half  (Parson) Jack Russell terrier.  Between snuffles it was Holy Mass and very enjoyable too!  I think some paracetemol wil settle my cold a little further.  And a nice cuppa!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Laus Deo.

Having finished my Festival with the Gospel at Colonus (ace!) and 2 comedy acts, it was back to work with a heap of overtime duly bagged for this week (money makes the holidays better I find),  the news that i will be taking a service user on holiday in September (expenses paid trip to a CentreParc (!) with overtime and sleepover thrown in!!), a supervision session this afternoon (good reviews for Dougal :-)) and a trip to the Cathedral for Evensong with a rather decent quire of Cannucks.  The Anthem was a variant of Psalm 30, the last 2 verses of which spoke to me.

"Thou hast turned my heaviness into joy, thou hast put of my sackcloth and girded me with gladness. Therefore shall every good man sing of thy praise without ceasing.  O my God, I will give thanks unto thee forever."

Yes, that is a statement I can really affirm these days.  Disaster yielded a new spring and I do feel more like singing these days.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Annual Leave

It's been a wee while, but I have been on leave.  The 1st weekend was Festival - American concert at the Usher Hall, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Copland's Lincoln Portrait (listen to this if ever you doubt that the USofA has a culture that has great aspects) and a frankly painfuly Symphony by a Charles Ives (the 2nd movement can only be described as an American Nightmare and the slamming of exit doors in the Hall as it proceeded was quite revealing!).  Then, "5 Guys named Moe" starring the author who is now Detective Fearon in "The Wire" and has wee bowlly legs in real life!).  Oh yes and a Haydn Mass for the Assumption in St Michael's! Well, it is listed in the Fringe programme asa venue and performance so..

My Berwickshire lurk was very idle: I can recommend Bella Italia (not one of the chain BTW) in North Berwick for an Italian meal.  The Saltimbucca alla Romana was almost as good as the one I ate in Rome!  I also did some gardening: I now officially hate thistles (gardenweedius bigjaggybasturdus) and brambles (jammyfruitibush jaggybasturdus)!

Returning to da fringe I went to see "Reel to Real" a live miusical interspersing classic Hollywood clips with classic musical numbers (brill btw) and still have a few to see today prior to returning to work.  I also managed a jazz cruise on the Forth and have had a fabulous break.  Mind you ,company helps and the company was very congenial.  Dammit, I think I may be getting emotionally entangled and all that!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Aid to the distressed.

Today's Independent has a front page querying why there has been such a slow response to appeals for charitable aid in Pakistan. Two possible causes are suggested. One would be the Prime Minister's speech accusing the Pakistani Secret Service of supporting the Taliban whilst allegedly fighting them, the other "compassion fatigue". Whilst there may be an element of truth in the former, I suspect there is something a shade more venal at work than compassion fatigue. I suspect that the General Public look at their small business running Pakistani neighbours and rather assume that they will be sending generous aid via Islamic charities which means they don't have to bother so much - unlike Haiti. Not so much compassion fatigue, as an assumption that "they will look after their own"

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Stars in my eyes?

I think I may pop out and contemplate the heavens tonight - here's why: It seems a good opportunity to reflect on the immensity of the creation and to marvel at why and how the Big Yin Out there can actually care about me and for me. Today, I got a letter informing me that my probationary period as a Support Worker is over and I am now fully fledged (and on an extra £600 pa). Quite a miracle, given my appalling condition on Friday 13th March 2009. Laus Deo.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Doom and gloom!

A Scottish working class legend has passed away: Jimmy Reid, whose instruction to the work-in-ing UCS workers that "there will be nae bevvying" always tickled me, has died. Well, he was 78. A life well lived indeed.

However, it would appear that both the Israeli Army and the Vatican seem to have the same stoopid PR advisers: see and also Madness!They really haven't clue how the World sees them.

More seriously, the Beath are out of another Cup and Scotland are in the process of getting tanned by Sweden. Being Scottish isn't always easy!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Work and Play

Well, the Management aren't asking me to do the stupid tomorrow - 2 rather hefty SW's will be doing it instead:-). We went to see Thomas the Tank Engine at Bo'ness today - I recognised Thomas, but can't recall the identities of them 2 green trains. Any answers out there? Was yucked to see that the Union had asked for a 2.2% pay rise and restoration of our previous overtime rates (reduced last year due to the economic downturn for one year - ha!). The Company are proposing a pay freeze (!!!) and keeping the overtime rates as they are. Oh dear!

The mighty Blue Brazil have had their usual lousy start to the season - stuffed 2-0 by the Staggies. But we do this and still get promoted. Time will tell.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Calling Planet Stupid!

Sometimes it's not the client, but the relatives!! You thought they were human, not aliens visiting from Planet Stupid! (Mother of the Bride from Hell experiences do prepare you for this!) Enter one silly idea from family: taking our boy to the Festival Parade on Sunday. He hates children, loves things that make noises (motorbikes like) and when he decides to go for something weighs 200lbs and is built like a fecking tank! Not without a taser is my response (albeit a silent one). In reality, no way Jose, because it has not been Risk Assesed and our butts would be oot the windae if anything went wonky! Should the Management try undue pressure, I got my Union Card in the post yesterday and would simply phone the Helpline!

I have one small query regarding my new status as a Trade Unionist: do I get the Traditional Cloth Cap and Whippet uniform?

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Chooks and Transfiguration

After returning from the day job, I piled into the kitchen and chook cooking. Well, not really. The chook was ready roasted, so it was peel and mash the spuds, (too watery IMHO), steam the broccoli and peas and microwave the Cadbury's chocolate puds Easy but fairly tasty. Our evening Office pointed to tomorrows' Feast of the Transfiguration. The reading we had was from 2 Peter:

We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

(2 Peter 1. 16-19)

Be attentive - to the truth that Jesus the Christ is our Saviour and Redeemer. That God's mercy in and through him remains forever, even if we cannot fully perceive it's glory and generosity due to the faintness of our own vision and inability to bear the fullness of the light. See its light in even the darkest places of the world or of our own hearts and minds. And trust that the Day of the Glorious Resurrection will dawn and the Son of God, the Day star, will rise and reign over us and all of the Creation, that love and justice may abound.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Back to work.

After the unusual luxury of 4 days off back to back (Choral Evensong and barbecued venison burgers being amongst the highlights thereof), it's back to work with a vengeance! 10-6 training day, 6-11 shift, sleepover and then a 7-2 to follow! Still, I am nicely rested and hit annual leave on the 14th, so it's just a week (!) to go. We must have been on good form in training, as we won the NASA quiz and chocolate. We also learnt 3 new escape techniques and I spent part of the shift watching a Dancing on Ice DVD. S'not all bad this!!

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Inclusive Liturgy

The SEC has finally produced it's 1st move towards inclusive language (I think non gender specific is rather more accurate myself, but it is a flipping mouthful!). Here are the authorised variations - with my thoughts on them:

Page 2 at 5, & page 5 at 15 (Confession)

Current: God is love and we are his children… We love because he loved us first.

Change: God is love and we are God’s children… We love because God loved us first. (I've done this for years)

Current: heal and strengthen us by his Spirit

Change: heal and strengthen us by the Holy Spirit (who can object to going from 'his' to 'the Holy'?)

Page 3 at 11 (Gloria)

Current: and peace to his people on earth

Change: and peace to God’s people on earth (Fine, OK)

Page 4 at 13 (Creed)

Current: for us men and for our salvation

Change: for us and for our salvation (Not so sure - limits the concept of salvation to the gathered "elect" on one reading- but hardly worth a riot in St Giles!)

Page 6 at 18 (Opening Eucharistic Prayer)

Current: it is right to give him thanks and praise

Change: it is right to give God thanks and praise (Okey dokey)

Page 16, 2nd para, 4th line (Eucharistic Prayer IV)

Current: He renewed the promise of his presence

Change: Your son, Jesus Christ, renewed the promise of his presence (unobjectionable and Christocentric)

Page 21 at 23 (Thanksgiving and Sending out)

Current: Give thanks to the Lord for he is gracious. And his mercy endures for ever.

Change: Give thanks to our gracious God, whose mercy endures for ever. (Somewhat clunky but... fair dos)

Page 21 at 24a (Prayer (a))

Current: which is your will for all mankind

Change: which is your will for all the world (Good - not sodding humanity which sounds silly)

Of course, if we used Latin, it would be truly inclusive - naebody wid ken whit onybudy wis oan aboot!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Law and Order

When Vicar's get in bother my heart goes out to them - usually. This one is different:

Obviously, there is some explanation for this abuse of the sacraments. I suspect it is fiscal cupidity (trying to get enough money to retire into an area of his preference??) rather than stupidity. This fella has lost his job, his home and quite possibly his pension and housing rights at the age of 61. Human frailty, ill health addiction, lust - all those are understandable reasons for clerical misdemeanours. Greed has never been one I understood.

Mind you, just because a court convicts you, it doesn't always mean you're guilty. According to some, even Dr Crippen was victim of a miscarriage of justice At this rate, they'll be retrying Madelene Smith soon!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Easy in...

The beauty of a sleepover is that, the day before, you don't start until 3pm - which gives a weekday morning to yourself in Edinburgh:-) (OK, you are then ensconced at work for 23 hours but, hey, you can sleep!). Thus my morning was breakfast, washing of clothes, coffee and paper, bank, then elevenses in Peckhams with a raspberry and dark chocolate tart with an old mate who has gone a bit greyer but is still much the same as in days of yore. We caught up and he was slightly caught out by one or two recent developments in me life. Nice to know I can still surprise the troops!

Lunch now beckons, but we'll keep it light - all the choc has filled me rather!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Bits and pieces.

Today was one of parts. My assigned service user was off with their family, so I spend part of the morning in a Portobello backstreet, drinking coffee, eating a Snickers bar (Marathon in Old British) and reading the London Times and the Independent. Then shopping for essential bits and bobs in a very sun-kissed Gorgie-Dalry, before zooming out to the Thistle Foundation in fragrant Craigmillar. Walking home along the canal, I fell in with Bro John and Fr Roland Walls from the Roslin community and we ambled along,talking about odd God incidents (well, I listened). Now having made a nice cuppa Lady Grey, I await the completion of pasta bolognese before a-meeting-ing.

Monday, 26 July 2010

A gentle Monday.

A quiet enough day today with a long-ish walk at Longniddry beach, which is quite gorgeous - provided that you're not facing that damnable power station! Dinner was a rather nice (if deliberately garlic and onion free) pork tagine with cous-cous, followed by apple tart and ice cream. Then a soak in the bath with a Snoopy book and compline. Tomorrow awaits!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Sunday, Sunday

With a re-ordered shift pattern, I had to find somewhere different to go to bug God this morning. St Michael's started at 11am and I had to be at work by noon. So 'twas St Martin's Tynecastle for a wee change being only 10 mins from work and a 10.15am start. Being an ex-Baptist building, it's not exactly dazzling in terms of architecture or decor. Indeed, the apricot/toffee paint really doesn't work with a dull blue main carpet and a scarlet sanctuary carpet. but the Dali-esque mural on the Sanctuary wall works very well, artistic mediocrity notwithstanding. However, the sermon was very meaty with a fine blast of Martin Luther and bags of biblical analysis (2 sermons really). And they sang well - good modern hymns mixed with some old faves. I enjoyed it, though it's deuced low in my humble opinion. Cassock-alb and stole in not my preferred liturgical outfit!

Work was OK with shopping a major part of my day; dinner was a splendid smoked mackerel, trout and egg salad with capers, followed by roast chicken. I is gently sated!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Best laid plans etc.

Plans are often re-written at short notice. I have had to jiggle my shifts to help at work, so must find an earlier service on Sunday in order to be at base for 12 noon. My two split days off this week were both blessed with good weather - so one was spent mooching in a book shop after a veggie lunch, then reading my purchase on the grass in Princes Street Gardens with a take away latte! T'other was spent spent lurking round the Botanics in company, plus looking at a Glasgow Boys exhibition in the National Gallery and a very tasty Chinese meal in a dowdy looking restaurant where us westerners were in a very definite minority! Good going really.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Union man?

After my 1st appearance in Spiky Mike's in 6 weeks (shifts and covering holidays elsewhere) and a wee spot of overtime yesterday, I took advantage of a back shift to catch up on some Zzzz! So breakfast was a bacon and egg roll in a cafe, followed by a trip up the Bridges to do something work related. I became a Trade Unionist! I have noticed that work is fine if you are on the right side of the Managers, but get on their wrong side and it can become difficult. So having the back up of a Union seems a sensible precaution. Once the paperwork goes through I will be a member of Unison (but my political fund will NOT be going to Labour!). That said I don't feel especially inclined to renew my Lib Dem membership. In truth, I was highly unamused by the treatment of both Charles Kennedy and Ming Campbell, didn't vote for Clegg or Huhne as leader, and felt seriously queasy when we clambered into the governmental sack with the Tories. I'm iffy about Labour (fine on social and domestic policy, not brill at economics and their stupidity in getting us into Afghanistan and Iraq, coupled with their steady erosion of civil liberties post 9/11 means I'm really not inclined to join them) and whilst I feel more comfy with the SNP, I am emphatically not in favour of independence and doubt their economic sanity. Think I'll hang loose politically for a bit.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Led into temptation.

Yesterday OUGHT to have been a fairly chilled day. A 10am start, development day (paperwork, such joys as filling referrals to Speech and language Therapy and of course ordering prunes!) followed by staff night out. The 1st 2 happened but then a little problem arose with a lack of SCIP trained personnel on duty (that means trained in how to do physical interventions). So I agreed to stay on a bit. That meant 2 hours with two doses of emergency meds to try and calm one of our peeps until the On Call cavalry could arrive. I came off duty and realised that going anywhere near a staff night out in a pub would not be a good idea. I was tired, stressed and hungry and that was too much of a temptation. Home, redbush tea, compline a fish supper, strawberries and then a smidgen of brie seemed more sensible.

I'm actually quite proud that I realised the dangers and was strong enough to resist the "Oh feck it" temptation. It would have been really easy to say "I deserve a drink after a day like that" (which part of my head was saying) and I have a horrid idea where that would have led. So this morning I'll do a meeting and then go see ma. Sober like!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

New design - same old tripe!

This blog has been static design wise for ages, so I thought a Wee change of style might be overdue. Tonight followed a long shift run: 3-11pm, sleepover and then 7am-2pm (doubling as shift leader). So it was home, a long soak in the bath and a change of clothes, out to dinner with my ex Church wardens (brilliant Thai in Tollcross) and finished with a Doors documentary in the Cameo. Very relaxing! I loved the Jim Morrison quote: "I drink so I can talk to a**holes. Including myself."! That indeed rings true!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Ever so slightly petted lips?

I read this response to the English synod vote today by the Bishop of Ebbsfleet (one of the PEV's or "Flying bishops"):

"Come the final judgment when, as the Prayer Book says in the Marriage Service, ‘the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed’, some will have to account for the broken promises of the early 1990s. Traditionalists were then assured of a permanent and honoured place. Great store was set by the doctrine of reception (whereby no change in Holy Order would finally thought to be ‘received’ until it was accepted by the ancient churches of East and West). It was on the basis of these promises - both now very hollow - that Provincial Episcopal Visitors were appointed, ordinands and their families exchanged comfortable life styles for theological college, curacies, and what promised to be a lifetime of ministry"

Hang on, I was aware that ordination was a promise to follow Christ "for richer for poorer, for better and for worse", I wasn't aware that it would be a promised lifetime of status with a free Vicarage, no council tax and the faithful calling one "Father" all the time. If some people in collars have only just realised that priesthood means walking with Christ the way that may be leading to Golgotha rather than Walsingham via Barchester, then that isn't the Church's problem. If the Anglo-Catholic fantasy is not maintainable (and I draw a clear distinction between that fantasy and the reality of a truly Catholic understanding of what it is to minister in and through Christ), then it is for the ultimate good of all concerned that this be revealed and the corpse buried. Sorry, Milord Ebbsfleet, but I fear you and your tribe will soon be living another equally fantasy drenched life with the Holy Romans - only they will not molly coddle you as much as your Anglican brethren. to whine of the petted lip I can only say as they do in Glasgow : "Aw diddums! Dry yer eyes!"

Monday, 12 July 2010

Wifie bishops and Metropolitical Embarrassment!

Much yowling on the Wifie Bishops vote in Engerland. What from the traditionalist point of view went wrong?

1) The Abp's solution was identifiably ecclesiological mince that would have stuffed the Cyprianic concept of territorial episcopacy. And everyone knew it. But the possible goodwill that might have lived with that for the sake of charity had gone since 1992. Pourquoi?

2) The fact that the last time generous provision was made (not least financially) , a goodly number took the money, joined the RC's and came back when they found they really didn't care for being men under authority without handing back the moolah, meant that there there was a lot less willingness to be generous. One Rip Off is enough.

3) SEVERE umbrage was felt over Pope Benny's announcement of the Ordinariate and the way it was done. The C of E was dissed and that REALLY rankled. Payback time - your Convert Aid Societies can pay the fecking bill!

4) The Leadership of Forward in Faith's "secret negotiations" with my old friend Mgr Patrick Burke absolutely incensed the Anglican clergy. This was duplicitous p****ng around and really evaporated sympathy.

and of course...

It was the Archbishop's idea. The 2 Double crossed dudes interfered in the deliberations and conclusions of a Synod committee and Synods do not like being down graded by prelates. Also, Rowan's centralising/authoritarian tendencies could here be checked and rebuked. Warning signs for a covenant vote. This result was no surprise.