Saturday, 27 April 2013

Who ticks your box?

I was flipping through the old Church Crimes on the train home and I read a wee article reminding us that this year it's the 50th anniversary of the publication of "Honest to God".  It reminded me that Bishop John Robinson was much influenced in his thinking by Tillich, Bultmann and Bonhoeffer, the cutting edge theologians of the days of his formation in Cambridge.  My theology was formed by being introduced to Karl Barth at University.  However, equally significant was my encounter with C S Lewis and my discovery of a variety of different "spiritual writers" - St John of the Cross, Ignatian writers, Martin Thornton and the Rule of St Benedict.  Perhaps my temperament naturally inclines to a more structured and dogmatic outlook, although the encounter with darkness and a profound sense than mystery rather than logical system are central.  But I think part of the attraction was a willingness to engage with the world.  Barth was anti-Nazi, Lewis experience both the horror of the trenches and the pain of bereavement.  John of the Cross was imprisoned for his views, Ignatius suffered a disabling injury at Pampalona.  Perhaps what made me engage with a thinker was their engagement with reality, even as I sometimes ran away from that.

Engaging with reality requires a level of honesty that I always find impressive.  Even if the person has human flaws, that is always a quality I find impressive.  Of course some use honesty as an excuse for being plain blasted rude.  Spiritual honesty is a gift I value.  Who floats your boat in terms of theology and spirituality?  And why?

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher

In the passing of Margaret Thatcher, we have witnessed the end of an era.  Love her or loathe her, she was without doubt one of the most significant political figures in Britain in the 20th century.  Only Clement Attlee compares as a peacetime Prime Minister.  Having grown up in a mining district during the Miner's Strike of 1984, I can admit unashamedly to having absolutely no taste or liking for her policies or their effect.  I would not go so far as to say I hated her - I never knew her and cannot summon up the energy to "hate" a person I did not know.  Nor will I laud her unreservedly as her acolytes would - I happen to choose less divisive figures as my heroes.  Some of spleen vented is singularly unpleasant - but I do understand it.

The simple fact is she was a major figure and held a great office, that of Prime Minister.  Therefore it is perfectly appropriate that she be given a Public Funeral (technically she's getting a Ceremonial funeral like the Queen Mother and Princess Diana).  I detested her policies and I wouldn't say a requiem for her - I'd leave it at a prayer during the intercessions, commending her to the mercy and love of God who will judge us all.