The historic enmity between Syria and Iran is over 1000 years old, and the west gets involved at their own peril. Both islamic ideologies are difficult for the west and indeed for liberal minds to accept. Both are repressive regimes in the minds eye of liberational ideologists and free thinkers alike, however to try to impose liberation and freedom in either ideology, by the west, is fraught with danger and is also ultimately short sighted. What do we do? I don’t know.
Waiting to die or to be raised?
Living in isolation, more or less, is particularly hard if memories of a previous time of abundant social contact, and happy contact often, become a constant reminder of the contrast in what was and what is. The attempt to take an interest in other things, study, creative activity (painting, writing, reading) is difficult without any ‘end product’ being discernable.
I am made acutely aware of the situation that so many people endure in societies globally and in particular here in England, and I am especially mindful of the isolation that older people experience. This ‘loneliness’ is perhaps harder to bear if one is living on a low income and more so if one is suffering from chronic depression. I think it is reasonable to suggest that such isolation may contribute to increased depression if not become the actual cause of depression for many.
The desire for social interaction (and maybe the simple reason that I am writing this) is strong, but one can easily become ambivalent about the prospect of social contact. Whether there is any real opportunity for being with others is another thing. The needs of the socially isolated are complex and become more involved as time goes on. The desire to be with others is opposed by the fear of being unable to successfully interact with others. One feels out of practice, and even unworthy, though this may be more to do with my own particular case.
The failure to develop regular and meaningful relationships leaves the isolated person without the normal support that we might take for granted. Simple activities, paying bills, dealing with authorities and even what to eat, are never shared; the only advice one has is ones own. Easter is indeed a time for rejoicing and the resurrection from death of Jesus is a great fact that fills us with gladness and thanksgiving. For the isolated person, though, it may also sharpen the contrast of how sparse ones existence truly is.
The Church is a vehicle for hope and it has been given a wonderful task, to declare The Resurrection of Jesus Christ anew to every generation. One issue that today’s Church of England, and others in the Anglican Community share, is the proclamation of that Resurrection to today’s world and today’s people.
The Samaritan, the leper and the prostitute were welcomed and blessed by Jesus. Today, we have the task of declaring welcome, on equal terms, to women, to all sexual orientations and to those whom society vilifies perpetually.
How will the Church declare the Gospel? To whom will it speak? Will it be able to do God’s work? Will it speak to everyone? If it does then how will it enact that Gospel? How will it welcome the isolated? Will it be generous and give the isolated bread, or will it keep it tightly locked up in the tabernacle, in its exclusive rites and laws, in its fear of popular villification? Do we hear the cock crow thrice still?
Sat in reception and able to hear every word in one of the consulting rooms! Not very reassuring. Hope I get a room down the corridor.
I did and it went well.
Nothing funny to say tonight but simply to say a massively huge thank you to all of you who have been and are being supportive spiritually and in friendship to me. I am deeply moved and thank God that I am blessed with need, and with your kindness and love. It may be that God is speaking to me of His love towards me through your goodness. I am reminded of my late Step Fathers advice, which was to remember the ravens, and not to worry so much.-
This is not a masterpiece, all wonky. It is my way of saying thank you and i hope you enjoy it a bit.
It has been reported in the Tablet this week that new proposals are being put forward By the Roman Church to the Anglican Communion generally and the Church of England specifically which are a radical departure from earlier attempts to bring the two Christian communities into a positive and lasting dialogue.
On the matter of Women Priests, the Roman Church are willing to review the Socio-theological basis for removing a male only priesthood. On the matter of the marriage of clergy, Rome is making fairly explicit statements via various informal, but authoritative spokespersons that it has no objection to this, in fact it believes that the Anglican position might act as a useful stalking horse to allow Roman Clergy to marry if they so desire.
The proposals are , as yet, unofficial
but insiders are saying that the leaking of the proposals are being deliberately engineered from the highest authorities in order to prepare the way for radical change. “Many of our differences have been worked through by the ARCIC process” Msgr Coverner has been quoted as saying.
However it is early days, and the most difficult sticking point between the two Communities has yet to be resolved. This may make real progress very difficult in the last analysis. Msg Coverner made things quite clear. Speaking on behalf of the new Pope, he said, “We are prepared to move on issues regarding marriage and possibly gender, even on the thorny matter of Gay clergy, however, we will not be moved on the Malvinas” It is reported that Lambeth are likely to be equally intransigent. It is yet to be seen if these proposals see any real progress in uniting the two communities.
In days of Old when Knights were bold and they couldn’t get hold of a woman, they’d turn their attentions to the Squire. Well at least according to Richard Bulliet of Columbia University in New York, but differently worded.
I have tremendous respect for Dick. His common sense approach and depth of knowledge concerning the whole region of the middle east and beyond is utterly impressive and his ability to communicate is refreshing.
His line about the relationship between the Knight and his Squire does establish a point though. If History is recorded, then we have the written record to accept or challenge it’s orthodoxy. If it isn’t then we can embellish the ‘story’ and add our own little bit to the story as it is retold. The last verse to Four and Twenty Blackbirds, where I grew up included this odd ending…
“the maid was in the garden, pegging out the clothes when down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose, She went to the doctors to get a wooden nose,she looked in the mirror and dropped down dead.”
Now I don’t want to discuss the problems of religious fundamentalism, but I do want to raise the question of who is writing the history of the Church today. Dick is able to conjecture the sexuality of the Knights of Old and is adding to the narrative. Today, using Social Media, the people are beginning to add to the Nnarrative of the history of the Church in a way that has never been available ‘ in the whole of history’. The social media sites offer a conduit for everyone to vent their angry reactions to bullying and such done ‘in the name of the Church’.
The stories of corruption and misuse of power are beginning to be hinted at and sometimes are being exposed. The light of the people is shining on the Middle East through Social Media and the Arab Spring is one of many surges of influence that is new to this planet.
The people with power are being challenged by the people with mobile phones. The government’s poor record on protecting sealife, here in the U.K. is being challenged by an online campaign called Fish Fight and similar single issue campaigns are developing, something that could never be imagined by clergy thirty years ago.
The dear old Church of England, or more precisely, it’s senior leaders, have a steep hill to climb if they truly believe that they can continue to keep a lid on ‘the scandal of double standards. ’Homosexuality and Bisexuality amongst ‘Bishops of old’ may be safe from exposure, but the gap between what is said from the pulpit of Church House and the bedroom, the gap between what is eschewed as unloving and unchristian and the portfolio of Church Investment or the manners of prelates will become ever more exposed, albeit in under so many characters.
So we may speculate about the Knights of Old and their Squires, indeed we might know a thing or two about the Bishops of old, but today’s leaders, including those of the Churches, are being scrutinised by far more people than Richard Bulliet of Columbia University in New York. As Robet Lindsay used to say playing Citizen Wolfie Smith… Power to the People!
Maybe our technology will instil some humanity after all…..
Given what I’ve heard of how the accusers are treated in England, and the recent suicide of a woman who could not manage the treatment she recieved, I am sorely inclined to reconsider whether i should persue the abuse I recieved…. As an isolated man I am very unsure that I could cope, hmmmm. Yet I still feel I should. What to do Lord?
The experience of not having a job, for whatever reason, is not a good one. The dependancy on state support can be very debilitating, not least because of the self-image one soon aquires. A sense of irrelevance and uselessness, especialy if you are isolated from freinds and family is sometimes quite overwhelming. It can demand a huge effort to break out of this self-perception and even then one tends to fall back into it quickly.
In my case, I do not complain, but nonetheless the hoplessness is real and trying to face the prospect of dealing with a legacy of childhood sexual abuse by making formal allegations is hard to face. Added to this, not being part of a christian Community (other than you good people) is a constant stress as worship and support that I have had all my life is no longer there.
I want you to pray for all who are unemployed and all who are isolated, and if you can, look at what you can do for those in your own community who are in this sort of situation.
My life has been dedicated to helping others, both as a Social Worker and as a Priest, and I believe that God has a purpose for me, and for us all. As our country faces more job losses the need is great but we are part of a worldwide family and it is important for us to think also of those in other countries who face isolation and have no work, people who live in countries where the state does not offer support of any kind.
In the ancient manuscript of the Peshitta there is an extensive account of the fourth wise man, and more, which the Church has suppressed.
The ancient Syrian document tells of the start of their journey beginning with a lengthy debate the night before they set out.
Gaspar. Go we now to follow the star? (as he smoked his woodbine)
Melchior . No Gaspar, on the morrow for tonight we have matters to sort out first, prithee.
Balthasar Yay, verily t’is true Gaspar for we are sore vexed and all awash with dissention.
Gaspar. How then? Whence comes this untimely discord?
Balthaser. You were outside round the back when this tension was revealed,
Gaspar oh right, sorry about that lads.
Melchior. Philip has said he will not ride with us this night.
Gaspar. Why not dear Philip, were we not agreed on the date?
Philip. Yay verily we were anon, but hie thee without me, for it is a bad omen that we travel under this cloud of disunity.
Gaspar. Disunity? Why this is news to me, what is up Dear Philip?
Philip. I am unsure that we will be welcome in all lands and this vexes me sore.
Balthasar. Philip thinks we need to include a woman in our number lest the lands we travel through think us biased and unbalanced.
Melchior. T’is true dear Gaspar, how think you on this matter my old mate?
Gaspar. I don’t know to be honest, what do our followers believe on this matter, have we consulted with them at all?
Balthasar. Of course we have, as on all matters that bother them, but they have been hoodwinked by a few who believe that women are somehow peculiar to God.
Gaspar. Bathasar, you have been our voice to them, what believe you about women?
Balthasar. I too think a woman cannot ride a camel very well and it would be awkward for us if one of us rode side saddle. I believe that it impossible to ride side saddle on a camel and thus no woman should accompany us on this arduous journey.
Melchior. Forgive me brothers but I am not certain that all women ride side saddle anymore, I have reports of women riding camels as we do.
Philip This is blasphemy for surely God ordained it so, that women ride side saddle and men do not.
Gaspar. I have heard tell of some men, in forign lands, who have taken it upon themselves to ride side saddle in secret, and more….
Melchior. Go on Gaspar pray tell…
Gaspar. I have heard that in the northern kingdoms some men are riding side saddle openly, and that the common people do not find this amiss.
Balthasar. I don’t believe it, say it is not so Gaspar…
Gaspar. T’is true, I have letters from one of my cousins saying as much.
Philip. I cannot condone this behaviour but our journey must succeed. What are we to do?
After more deliberation and much puzzling Melchior spoke out.
Melchior. I have it. Let us take into our number a fifth, a woman.
Balthasar. A Woman!
Melchior. Hear me out friends. If we compromise we can take a woman with us who would not ride side saddle and if we come to a kingdom that gives women equality we would be able to show her to them and appease them. In our journal, however we will make no mention of her and our own followers will not be scandalised. I know of such a woman who may fit the bill.
Philip. If we are found out, we would be a focus for disunity, I cannot agree.
Gaspar. Sounds like a good idea to me.
Balthasar thought and then spoke. It is a good compromise and we might get away with it if were careful.
Melchior. Philip, I entreat thee to reconsider.
Philip. No my mind is made up, I will remain here and tend the followers as before.
Baltasar. Than so be it. Take our blessing dear Philip and go back to your former work. Melchior, who is this woman?
Melchior. Her name is Katharine, a woman of clear vision and well versed in the use of the astrolabe and knows the powers of the Pebbles, shells, twigs and feathers.
Balthasar. Fetch her and be quick. We have no time to loose.
Beside the darkness that overcame me and grew day by day,
Beside the fierceness of the terror that he put into my mind and into my being
beside the utter loneliness and abandonment that was mine to taste
there was always God.
As a child aged seven, I was taken from my family and put into a home that was not mine. I was told my mother was facing a serious operation that she might not come out of alive. It was in this chaos that he climbed into my bed daily and daily he threatened me and hurt me to re-enforce his will. In my mind, too young to understand, a confusion grew and when, as a man, I was faced again with terror, I became transfixed by the images that I understood too well.
Now I am fallen and faced with uncertainty and self loathing.
Yet in all of this, even then, there is Jesus, sitting with me, whispering his love for me. and you, my friends are his servants who have joined with Him and spoken love.
None of us deserve the fruits of the sacrifice He made, but all of us are adopted by Him, and, as His children, we are indeed safe.