still let me guard the holy fire, and still stir up the gift in me
Alastair Cutting - husband of one; father to two; son of two medics; CofE priest for many, English-born, of Scottish heritage, Indian-raised, 3KC,
with a passion for A/NZ - and for God;
working in the UK in London in the Diocese of Southwark as Archdeacon of Lewisham & Greenwich.
Twitter is a ‘micro-blogging’ platform: like texts from your computer, or your mobile phone; they can’t be more than 140 characters long; & can have hyper links to web pages on the internet. Twitter posts can be linked to update Facebook or LinkedIn status, & have geographical position data attached with the likes of Foursquare or BrightKite.
So, it can be a bit of fun, yes. But can it be useful? Or are these Social Media just a waste of time, and a distraction from our Christian call, and God’s mission?
Firstly, Let’s not forget the influence of Facebook, with more adherents than the population of some continents. If you’re on it, you’ll know; and if you aren’t, most of your friends and family certainly are. As are many of the people in, and what is more important here, on the fringes of our churches. These sorts of social media, that are all about making relationships – however tenuous. Relationships are what churches should be about too.
This post isn’t really about hair colour, but one of the things children with red hair have to get used to, is being called ‘ginger’. (Usually ‘Oi, Ginger’ – I should know…)
Some with natural ‘auburn’, ‘titian‘ or even ‘strawberry-blonde’ hair have had such abuse that some have called it the last remaining personal attribute to be regularly abused without it being considered discrimination.
However, there is another personal attribute that is regularly and publicly discriminated against in a rather surprising, universal way. It is: being pale coloured, pale skinned; and on the dance-floor.
You may have expected that it is the quality of the dancing that is being judged in the various national dance competitions that are all the rage since ‘Strictly‘ hit our t.v. screens. But no, even the contestants skin-colour is judged.
And sometimes, skin colour is judged to be lacking. Contestants who have not fake-tanned to some particular colour or shade may sometimes not proceed to further rounds.
I was asked to contribute a bit to the BBC Surrey & Sussex Sunday Breakfast programme presented by Gavin Ashenden, on some of the BBC’s current First Click initiative to help people use internet services, and about online communities, new media and such bits and pieces. Gavin’s page is here, with this week’s listen again (probably only available in the UK, and only for one week) found here. Our discussion verged over email, blogging, Facebook and Twitter; and whether these amount to ‘real’ communities or not. Even the Twurch of England got a name check. The bit where I am chatting with Gavin comes in at about 1hr40min in, though why any one would want to listen again to it escapes me.
The edited down excerpt is available here (probably illegally), so if you really wanted to listen to it click here:
“Mind the Gap” says the voice as the doors open on the Tube train on the London Underground; and for just a minute I want share the benefit of a Gap Year, or – in acknowledgement of the cuts as a result of Continue reading “Mind the Gap…”
So, the 2010 Church of England General Synod elections are in full swing. These fortunately only come around every 5 years. Synod is a marvellous and somewhat dysfunctional institution, that many people seem to love to hate – but it is the system of national church governance, along with the bishops, that we’ve got to work with at present. ‘Episcopally led, and Synodically governed’ as the phrase goes.
I don’t really like pushing myself forward (less of the ROFL, thank you…) but having been a Proctor in Convocation (ok, member of synod, in English) for the last quinquennium, several people actually asked me to stand again, so I am taking a bit of a punt again. There can be no assumption of re-election…
Vianney almost didn’t get there, and some have argued Adam Smallbone (Tom Hollander) perhaps shouldn’t have got there – become priests that is. Vianney had problems getting past his ‘BAP‘, and once in ministry, was given a small out-of-the way parish to deal with; the Rev seems to have been dropped, very green, in to a parish setting that appears doomed before he starts.
That’s not to say that there aren’t features of Adam’s situation in Rev that aren’t instantly recognisable to most clergy families – there are many: the constant door bell/phone; relationships with the school; the often disfunctional people that churches collect (fortunately – someone should – and that includes the clergy!). But some of it was pushed beyond credibility, spoiling it for me. The Archdeacon; the inappropriate relationship Continue reading “Le Curé d’Ars – the ordinary priest”
It may be the stuff of SciFi dreams, but I have recently perfected the invisibility cloak. I neither appear to exist, nor have lived at either of my previous two addresses over the last nearly 20 years. This seems a little strange, as I had really expected that Big Brother had been watching me more closely than that.
Setting up a basic household utility at our new home, the company ran a standard credit check on me. It came up negative; I apparently appeared to be a credit risk. This seemed unlikely, as our credit card company deem us as eligible for laughably huge potential credit limits on our account, which if we were a real credit risk, they would not.
I had to find out more from a credit-check agency. They confirmed there was a problem. Perhaps it was over precise address discrepancies. However, solving it proved to be complicated. Their researches said I had not lived at my previous address – not even under three possible variations of the property address. In fact there was no evidence of Continue reading “Invisibility Cloak”
On 6th of June 1556, Thomas Harland and John Oswald, were amongst the ‘Protestant Martyrs’ burnt at the stake in Lewes. Harland, a carpenter, and Oswald, a ‘husbandman’ or farm worker, were both residents of Woodmancote, near Henfield in Sussex. After the English Reformation, and the opportunity of having services and hearing the Bible read in English, they were reluctant to come under Queen Mary’s edict that the church and services should return to Roman Catholicism, and in Latin. For this they were tried for heresy.
To Thomas Harland I finde in the Byshop of Londons Registers, to be obiected for not commyng to Church. Whereunto he aunswered: that after the Masse was restored, hee neuer had will to heare the same, because (sayde he) it was in Latin, whiche hee dyd not vnderstand: and therfore as good (quoth he) neuer a whitte, as neuer the better.
Answere of Tho. Harland.
Things are not always what they seem. Recently on a visit to Chartres, the cathedral, diocese and city twinned with our own Chichester, I was struck – as many are – by the history, the architecture and the culture of the place. On previous visits to France I had observed that even the utilities such as the bridges are crafted with an elegance and poise that we in the UK sometimes consider frivolous and superfluous on an object created for such a menial purpose.
However, on this visit, I was aware of a couple of rather uglier presences around Chartres city centre. About the size of Dr Who’s Tardis police telephone box, pressed steel structures painted battleship grey. They were probably useful or important in some way, but dull. Only once darkness fell did the surprising raison d’êtres of these otherwise boring boxes manifest itself.
They housed massive commercial projectors that in the evenings became the source of Chartres’ electronic fireworks, a festival of ‘Lumières’, light extravaganzas, a Continue reading “Another View”
So, “Judas went out and hanged himself”. There was a gap for an apostle. They held an election. By lottery: the lottery-chosen apostle.
The story comes in Acts 1:20-26, where Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias were two who’s names were put forward as potential replacements. They were undoubtably both part of the ’72’ disciples. Lots were chosen to decide between them. St. Matthias was chosen.
I have long had a soft spot for Matthias. For a while, back in 2000, I was priest in charge of a church dedicated to St Matthias. And as 14 May is St Matthias Day in the CofE calendar, it brought him to mind.
There is something wonderful about being chosen – even by lottery – to be part of something special.
My feelings are even more with Justus, Joseph Barsabbas, though. To be -almost- chosen as one of ‘The Twelve’. But not. To have been “one of those who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us”, and then only recorded as an also-ran. Like one of those left standing, one of the last chosen for a team on the school playing field.
We hear no more of Justus. But then, we hear no more of Matthias either. Both had been close to Jesus throughout his ministry; both were considered worthy of consideration. One was chosen: one wasn’t. That is just how the lottery can go. However that didn’t actually change what went on before. Or afterwards. For either of them. Don’t get too worried about the lottery. But do rejoice in God’s unexpected surprises.