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!