Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sharon's Christmas Prayer

She was five,
sure of the facts,
and recited them
with slow solemnity
convinced every word
was revelation.

She said
they were so poor
they had only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
to eat
and they went a long way from home
without getting lost. The lady rode
a donkey, the man walked, and the baby
was inside the lady.
They had to stay in a stable
with an ox and an ass (hee-hee)
but the Three Rich Men found them
because a star lited the roof.
Shepherds came and you could
pet the sheep but not feed them.
Then the baby was borned.
And do you know who he was?
Her quarter eyes inflated
to silver dollars.
The baby was God.

And she jumped in the air
whirled around, dove into the sofa
and buried her head under the cushion
which is the only proper response
to the Good News of the Incarnation.

– John Shea, The Hour of the Unexpected

Via Tale Spin (via Felix Hominum)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thanks Dan

No animals were injured in the process of making this video. A number of mice were possibly a little pissed off.


Thought for the Day
Good Morning Scotland
Radio Scotland
Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

It’s those Christmas cards. They leave us with a series of still images in our heads. Our Lady and St Joseph on either side of a manger, the shepherds looking up into the sky, Wise men standing quietly at the door with gifts in their hands.

Hearing the story read, however, offers a very different perspective. Great changes are promised. Angels appear in the darkest bit of the night to shepherds and announce that the old order is being overturned. The universe is on the cusp of tremendous and wonderful change.

We know what the ‘old order’ is – it’s what we wake up to on Boxing Day - bills to pay - work piling up on our desk. The same damned thing. And the newspapers - filled once again with headlines about the bloody conflict on the border of Israel and the Gaza strip. The world, it seems, didn’t change overnight. When is this novel departure announced by the angel going to take place?

People are constantly migrating in the Christmas story – hither and yon. It’s movement and not stasis – to Bethelem – towards the star – away from the sheep - into the town. No matter how much the new thing is God’s thing and is something that God is going to enact himself the human actors have to move in order to witness it and participate in it.

Peacemaking is rarely a case of sitting still and seeing what will happen. We know what will happen on its own. Peace in a poisonous office environment requires people moving together into each other’s proximity. Peace within a family requires time spent at each other’s tables – front doors being opened to people we’ve not been getting on with. All the glimmers of hope in the Middle East in past years have involved travel as well – old enemies greeting each other at the bottom of steps leading down from an aircraft.

We’ll file away those Christmas cards in the coming week. The invitation to make peace and to be active citizens of a new kingdom will remain.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Edinburgh's Hogmanay

The four day celebrations began this evening with the torchlight procession leaving from the City Chambers, down the Mound, along Princes Street and up Calton Hill. There were lots and lots of us with torches. The evening ends with the burning of a viking longboat and a large Lion Rampant up on top of the hill.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Did you miss it?

Were you eating turkey at the time or engrossed in conversation with your family?

The Boxing Day walk

...didn't take place on Boxing Day since there were family gatherings, tables to set, etc etc. So the boxing day walk took place today. Very bright and frosty.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Children's Christmas Eve Service
at West Linton.

Lots of babies and little children this evening at our Christmas play at St Mungo's West Linton. A good crowd. Not exactly a quiet crowd though. It was nice to see all sorts of visiting grandparents and returning children and grandchildren.

Every year we say we're going to get a little hands free microphone and a sound system of some sort. The children are starting to read a lot more audibly these days - they're growing up and are no so wee any more. Some of these children were very small when I first arrived here.

David King our Rector's Warden was the donkey (again!). He's agitating for a speaking part next year. Notwithstanding the pious legend of the animals speaking on Christmas Eve I think I'm going to steer him away from this. I'll promise him a smaller Mary next year.

The Calm Before the Storm

The Church was decorated yesterday morning
and everything is pretty well in place for Midnight Mass tonight.

The Nativity Scene characters are all in place but the bambino is not in the manger. He's hiding on the window sill near an electric cable from where he'll be collected during the opening hymn and placed in the crib.

One of my colleagues and I will take the two services in different places (Penicuik and West Linton) tonight at 11:30 pm and will switch churches on Christmas morning for what are usually rather cozy and informal services in both churches.

The list of parishoners who will want Holy Communion brought to them over Christmas is about a third done. I managed to get to a couple of nursing homes yesterday. We've eight or nine parishoners on this year's 'shut in' list who suffer from some degree of immobility or dementia who will need to be visited this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Santa Claus Bailout Hearings

Fr Joe Walker over at Felix Hominum has some reflections on "The Two Types of Christmas Sermons"

Baby it's cold outside!

Betty Garrett and Red Skelton
For all my family and friends in Canada who are enjoying a real winter.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Nine Lessons and Carols right out of the book. With a few added touches à la Penicuik. Lots of old friends. Quite a few small children sitting in a big lump with toys at the back and singing along when they knew the carol. Good participation from other denominations. A "happening", if you will.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

You don't mess with Canadian Knitting Bloggers!

I made reference a week or so ago to one of the Canadian Blog Award winners for Best Activities Blog - a knitting blogger who, in 2007, had actually scooped the Best Blog award in any category. Well it seems that another knitting blogger has been making the news: this time for having faced down an aggressive Ottawa police officer involved in what appeared to her to be a rather 'over-the-top' takedown of a young woman on Bank Street in Ottawa.

Every vigilant she started snapping some photographs of the cluster of five large police officers who had just rendered the young woman unconscious:

I snapped another picture. The cops noticed this time. One of them strode directly over to me.

“You can’t take pictures of this,” he said. His tone was aggressive.

I slid my camera back into its case.

“Okay,” I replied.

“Erase it,” he ordered me.


“I said ‘Erase it’!” he said, “I work undercover and I don’t want my picture anywhere.”

I really didn’t want to erase my picture. Not unless I had to. Besides, if he’s so concerned about keeping his undercover identity secret, he shouldn’t walk around in a police uniform.

“Do I have to?” I asked.

“I told you, I don’t want my picture anywhere.”

“Is it the law?” I asked.

“I asked you nicely,” he said, but he didn’t say it very nicely. It sounded threatening to me.

“Is it the law?” I repeated.

“I asked you nicely,” he said menacingly as he stared down at me, “Are you refusing?”

I looked at him. Maybe if we were in a dark alley with no witnesses, I would have deleted it. But here? In broad daylight, surrounded by witnesses, with a tiny, bleeding, unconscious, handcuffed woman lying on the street? He was probably in enough trouble already.

“Yes,” I said, “I’m refusing.”

“Real nice,” he said in disgust, “Thanks a lot.”

And he turned around and started to walk back to the knot of officers and the unconscious handcuffed woman.

The story hasn't been picked up that widely - it was in the Ottawa Citizen - but it's worth noting courage and reasonable non-compliance when it is demonstrated. Read the entire blog post. BD has some followup.

Oh, and Officer Post?

Merry Christmas from Scotland/ Joyeux Noël d'Ecosse!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Service - Cornbank St James School

Yesterday morning Stewart said to me "Could you drive me to school?".

Couldn't the boy see I was busy - trying to find the coffee somewhere in the back of the cupboard where my wife had hidden it - it's never where I think it's supposed to be!

Last time I had checked outside it hadn't seemed a particularly dreich day so I said something firm, yet loving, along the lines of: "No - you stupid, lazy boy, walk to school like you always do".

Now equipped with a hot cup of coffee I walked into the living room and caught a glimpse of the sort of day that my step-son had just trudged off into muttering something under his breath. My goodness, but wasn't it an awful day. I spent the rest of the morning feeling like a miserable offender.

Anyway - water under the bridge. The boy proved to be solid drip-dry citizen and waved off my abject apologies when he got home that afternoon.

We did have a problem though. There were 300 small children from one of the Primary Schools where I am chaplain who were due to trudge from Cornbank St James Primary to the Church for their Christmas service the next morning (today - Friday). And the weather was not cooperating. The head teacher and I had played email tag about whether the service would take place at the Church or at the School - it would depend on the weather. This was a departure for us. I've always gone there for assemblies and class visits and a visit to the Church hadn't taken place in anybody's memory for a very long time. We had a lot invested in this.

A lot of preparation had gone into this morning's service. We have one active teacher at Cornbank and one retired teacher in our congregation and the active teacher had spent quite a bit of time planning the service. We'd laid out a zillion chairs late last night and predicted how many little backsides we could accomodate in the pews. We'd enlisted the organist and appointed a "fire marshall" for the event. There'd been a crisis with the heating during the week and a heating engineer had to be wept with, whined at and otherwise cajoled to get the boiler working again properly before the service. It would have been awful if the children could not have safely walked in groups the third of a mile to the Church and the service hadn't been able to go ahead as planned.

While the weather was terrible during the day, I did walk out last night and see some stars. This morning the horizon was a nice pink colour. We were fine. The service was great - good readers, carols sung in full voice and the P5 recorder group acquitted themselves admirably in their rendition of We Three Kings. Within an hour following the service and the children's trudge back up to the school (with the police blocking the road so that they could get back safely) the weather closed in and it's presently blowing a hooley out there.

I never take responsibility for the weather even though the heathen joke with me about it all the time. "The rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous", I always say.

Yeah, yeah, I know all that. Nonetheless......

Thank you Jesus.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I suspect that Fr Richard Major has never understated a single thing in his life. His as-yet-unfinished book The Epic of God

being an account of the Eucharistic Mysteries of the Christian Church,
described historico-empirico-polemically and at enormous length,
by the Rev'd Dr Richard Major

has been placed online (quite conveniently divided into chapters which open as .pdf files) by one of his former congregations. I gather that the link I included a few weeks back was dead and I thank whoever it was at The Ascension and St Agnes who got in touch for sending me an updated link.

Irascible is probably the word that comes to mind. Character is another. There's plenty therein which one should probably object to but, frankly, I can't be arsed. I spend too much time marvelling how much of it there is that I agree with and simply loving the language used.

So, if you don't mind, I'll just hang around outside and will tell the first policeman who arrives at the China Shoppe that "....the bull went in that way!"

The chapter on Incense is one of my personal favourites.

I'm just hoping that he finishes writing the damned thing one of these days.

From another chapter: Not Facing the Altar:

.......I have no doubt that she [the Church] will find her way out eventually, back out of her cul de sac, and reorient herself. She'll recover the classic shape of worship, lined up eastward towards a high altar, and she'll recover all (or most) of what goes with an eastward gaze. These notes describe pretty much what the Mass will be like in 2100 - and I hope in 2020. But they do not describe what Masses are generally like in 2001.......

......If anyone under forty enters a church nowadays - and, unsurprisingly, fewer and fewer of us do - he is surprised by a museum-perfect recreation of the spirit of 1968, exact down to such details as slang, sub-Jefferson Airplane music, infantile slogans sewn onto day-glo hangings, strident informality, nylon costumes, strained glee. Good God! we say: hippiedom! it's a 'happening'! it's a 'pray in'! - all good for a laugh, unless we see through to the eternal sense, and regret with a pang what we have missed.............

........The Church's modernist mania will not last. We can be so certain it will not last that the issue becomes how to manage the inevitable reaction. For it would be tragic if ecclesial counter-revolution, when it comes, not only recovers liturgical order, but hurries us into theological and moral fundamentalism.........

[emphasis mine]

Holy Chaos, or:
What Episcopalians can learn from Baptists

Emily Scott's ARTICLE in the Daily Episcopalian.

I was attending a preaching course at Union Seminary maybe ten years ago and snuck off to Riverside Church on the Sunday morning.

It's one of those places that stays with you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The winners of the Canadian Blog Awards in the category of Best Religion/Philosophy Blog have been announced, and they are as follows:
First Prize - Dennis Gruending: Pulpit and Politics
Second Prize -
Holy Experience
Tied for Third Prize -
Bene Diction Blogs On and
Whatever He Says
Fourth Prize -
Felix Hominum

Special congratulations to Fr Joe Walker (Felix Hominum) for making the list (the only blogger on the list I was familiar with - not that we're overly familiar or anything),

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Amazing Together"

Amazing Grace sung coast to coast by sundry groupings of Canadian Anglicans. This is a little documentary about the project itself. Thanks to Simple Massing Priest for reminding me about it.

And this was our particular contribution at the Sorrento Centre this summer when I was there on a course with my family. Brings back memories - like what the sun and blue sky looked like.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Bishop's "At Home"

Every year, Bishop Brian and Lissa have an 'at home' for clergy and lay employees/volunteers of the Diocese of Edinburgh. We don't have many occasions to meet each other socially during the year. Here in the SEC we stick to tending our own garden plots rather a lot. We certainly never get to meet each others' spouses and so the annual "at home" at the Bishop's house is an opportunity not to be missed.

There are rather a lot of us and so the 'at home' takes place over a number of evenings. One always tries to figure out what the criterion is for why one has been invited on a particular day. My chums in the Diocese always get invited to a different soiree than me. My designated group is a bit older - fairly sedate. Nice folks to be sure but my evening at the Bishop's house is always the occasion least likely to produce people sporting lampshades on their head and blurting out inappropriate emotions. I'd sorta thought that maybe this was intentional and the that the Rector of Bathgate and Linlithgow, the Rector of North Berwick and your humble servant were being safely peppered throughout the week's gatherings at different times for the greater good of the Scottish people and the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

This year I was unable to make my appointed evening due to Advent Studies in Penicuik and West Linton on those nights. I had to try and wangle an invite for Caireen and myself on another night.

There was a pause on the other end of the line. "I suppose you could come on Monday the 15th" the bishop's secretary said
"Are you sure that's okay" I asked.
"Uh, yeah, why wouldn't it be?" she asked.
"Well, you know, I thought maybe the groups were arranged in a particular way and....."

Well it now appears that it's merely alphabetical and that my surname, beginning with a "W" is in merely coincidental proximity to a group of people who tend to be restrained, tranquil and reflective.

But tonight we're with a different group.

Party on!

There's one in every congregation!

My colleague and friend RevRuth has taken the plunge and will include a Caganer in her Nativity Set this Christmas. She doesn't mention whether any of her faithful yet know this and we await a paragraph in some future Bishop's Letter about Achieving Consensus in the Local Congregation.

The Caganer is of course a little pooping fellow who you place in the straw somewhere to the left of the Pious Donkey or the Praying Sheep in your Nativity Scene. It's a Catalan tradition unknown in Scotland until Christmas 2008 "....when it's inclusion in a local Nativity Scene provoked the first recurrence of ecclesiastical chair-throwing in Portobello since the Reformation."

The Wikipedia entry for Caganer includes the following rationale for the use of the little pooping fellow in Nativity Sets - much of which makes eminent theological sense but will not dissuade any children from suddenly blurting out "Mommy there's somebody doing Number Two behind the sheep!" during a moment of silent adoration on Christmas Eve:


Possible reasons for placing a man who is in the act of excreting waste in a scene which is widely considered holy include:
  • Tradition.
  • Perceived humor.
  • Finding the Caganer is a fun game, especially for children.
  • The Caganer, by creating feces, is fertilizing the Earth. However, this is probably an a posteriori explanation, and few cite this reason for including the Caganer in the Nativity scene.
  • The Caganer represents the equality of all people: regardless of status, race, or gender, everyone defecates.
  • Increased naturalism of an otherwise archetypal (thus idealised) story, so that it is more believable, taken literally and seriously.
  • The idea that God will manifest her/himself when s/he is ready, without regard for whether we human beings are ready or not.
  • The caganer reinforces that the infant Jesus is God in human form, with all that being human implies.

Anyone wanting to purchase something for the Midlothian clergy who have everything can follow this link

Update: I have checked with Alison our Sunday School superintendent and her greatest objection to acquiring such a figure for our Nativity Scene is that I or some subsequent Rector will want to do a live nativity scene in the Precinct one day and will insist on having a live Caganer in order to make the whole thing authentic.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Flash - Penicuik youngsters reinvent Glam Rock

The bass guitar at the birth of our Lord may be an addition by a later author. Nonetheless this morning's (admittedly early) Pageant was a great success with a good crowd and a lot of fun. Everyone got together for breakfast in the church hall at 9 am before the final rehearsal.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

While waiting for the results of the Best Canadian Philosophy/Religion Blog (a competition I got bumped out of on the first ballot) I notice that they're not going to be announced until the 16th of December. So I checked out what had been announced and noticed that in the Activities Blog category there was one which won with something like 90% of the vote - which seemed like rather a large percentage.

So I checked it out and it turned out to be a knitting blog - which doesn't interest me overmuch. But it was a very very good knitting blog. The sort of blog which makes you not only want to point the blog out to others but makes you wonder why the hell you bother blogging yourself.

"My blog is just no feckin' good" you say.

I'm hoping that the second stage in the process will be something along the lines of "I'm going to make my blog better".

Maybe it's just a Kubler-Ross sorta thing where there are stages. You reconcile yourself to upping the morphine dose and eventually you see the light and dead relatives and feel better about the whole thing. Shantih Shantih Shantih

Anyway - there's even a post where the author of this knitting blog (which is called Yarn Harlot) decides that she needs to explain to her overseas knitting friends why the Canadian political process has suddenly become chaotic and messy.

I guess it's what people might talk about while they're knitting.

Anyway - check it out. It's really quite good.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Stuff I did not know

Carrying on with the theme of 'this is bigger', tonight's full moon is to be the largest of the year - 30% brighter and 14% larger from one edge to the other. It's immaterial to me here in Scotland because tonight we have our usual complete cloud cover. If it's clear where you are, though, you might want to go outside and have a look around. From the NASA website:

Dec. 9, 2008: No, you can not see Neil Armstrong's footprint. But go ahead and look: The full Moon of Dec. 12th is the biggest and brightest full Moon of the year.

It's no illusion. Some full Moons are genuinely larger than others and this Friday's is a whopper. Why? The Moon's orbit is an ellipse with one side 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other: diagram. In the language of astronomy, the two extremes are called "apogee" (far away) and "perigee" (nearby). On Dec. 12th, the Moon becomes full a scant 4 hours after reaching perigee, making it 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser full Moons we've seen earlier in 2008.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New York is big
.....but this is Biggar

I live down the road from a town called Biggar. South Lanarkshire, here in Scotland. I guess once upon a time a few folks from Biggar moved to Saskatchewan. When they established a town they decided to call it Biggar instead of something catchy like Pile of Bones (Regina, Saskatchewan's name before they decided to call it something that would make schoolboys giggle).

Anyway - the Rector of Biggar, Saskatchewan has a blog called Expanding the Circle and the readers of Raspberry Rabbit (that's all of you - Mom, Dad, Anne, Ruth.....

Karl! stop chewing the Guinea Pig and listen up!
........need to read it.

No, Canada is not Zimbabwe

But to see the Prime Minister asking the Governor General to suspend Parliament in order avoid being subject to its voice can't help but provoke the comparison among the simple and hysterical (i.e. the media).

The GG agreed to prorogue Parliament until some time in January (she must have had her reasons - chief of which being that handing over to the particular Coalition made up of the three other parties would have been unthinkable and we've just had an election.)

The present Liberal leader, Stephane Dion, is a laudable idiot who was put in post to avoid THIS MAN, Michael Ignatieff. Dion's idiocy having now revealed itself in its purity and singularity (best typified by an interview he gave a while back which his opponents have now circulated widely), THIS MAN has now been acclaimed in post as Liberal leader. We'll see what happens.

Maybe Ignatieff's views on torture have been tweaked in such a way that they won't be too much of an affront now that there's a man in the White House to the left of him.

It'll be good to see the back of the present incumbent, however the change takes place. Canadian politicians are responsible for a geographically large and delicately mixed country. The sorts of attacks which the PM has undertaken in recent weeks have done little to pave the way for good government of any sort and won't even end up protecting his precious and fragile ego.

Our brother in Christ, Simple Massing Priest has a good thumbnail of the present political crisis (although the bit about the Anglican wars is a bit of a stretch - just nod politely and ask how the weather is in Winnipeg.)

The rarely-seen and last-known honest man in Canadian politics. Ed Broadbent, spoke out on the subject last week and pretty well summed up the ethics of the PM trying to drag the country down with him when he's in trouble.

By the way - our Governor General is way prettier than the Queen and can do many of the same things (at least in Canada). She could be borrowed by other Commonwealth countries should the fellow with the ears end up not abdicating and actually replacing his mum.

American media is a bit slow on the uptake but they're coming to terms with it as you can see HERE. Starts about 45 seconds in - quite entertaining.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Old Email

January 16, 0000 6:14

At InnsService/Bethlehem we are committed to maintaining a high level of customer care from our member Inns and Roadhouses.. On 10/12/01 BCE you, or someone from the same IP address peformed a search for Inns/Roadhouses BETHLEHEM_REGION for the NIGHT OF 24/12/01 AND THREE NIGHTS THEREAFTER for TWO ADULTS arriving LATE AFTERNOON by HORSE/DONKEY

In order to achieve a continually improving accomodation experience for the peak season traveller at competitive rates it would be helpful if you could answer the following questions.

Did your InnsService search provide a satisfactory range of affordable accomodation options in BETHLEHEM_REGION?

Did you subsequently contact any of Inns/Roadhouses provided by the search.

Were individual contact details for the Inns/Roadhouses provided or were you forwarded to other accomodation brokers or accomodation websites?

Did you eventually book accomodation for BETHLEHEM_REGION for the nights in question.

Did you find your reception to be cordial and helpful?

Was the final price the same as listed on the InnsService website.

Was parking/water/fodder for your HORSE/DONKEY included in the price of the room?

Was your room clean and well appointed?

Was your room in the Inn/Roadhouse protected from the noise of animals or local industry/agriculture?

Were security arrangements adequate to keep strangers out of corridors or common areas?

Was there anything else remarkable - either positive or negative - about your stay at a member Inn/Roadhouse in BETHLEHEM_REGION that you think we should know about?

Was the InnsService sign (with logo and contact details) clearly visible at reception?

Did you mention to the proprietors that you had discovered your accomodation via the InnsService website?

We thank you for your time.

Benjamin Ben-Benjamin
Customer Satisfaction Officer

It had to happen eventually. It was just a matter of time. The number of electrons in the world is finite, the number of people with extra time on their hands is not infinite. I'm talking of course about the following hyperlink. If we'd known before we could have had a party. Before you click it I just wanted to say that it's been a slice.......

Monday, December 08, 2008

According to an article in the Telegraph, these lists are the words which are being taken out of the Oxford University Press' Junior Dictionary and those being put in. Further comment is probably unnecessary.

"Here are the words taken out:

Carol, cracker, holly, ivy, mistletoe

Dwarf, elf, goblin

Abbey, aisle, altar, bishop, chapel, christen, disciple, minister, monastery, monk, nun, nunnery, parish, pew, psalm, pulpit, saint, sin, devil, vicar

Coronation, duchess, duke, emperor, empire, monarch, decade

adder, ass, beaver, boar, budgerigar, bullock, cheetah, colt, corgi, cygnet, doe, drake, ferret, gerbil, goldfish, guinea pig, hamster, heron, herring, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow, mussel, newt, otter, ox, oyster, panther, pelican, piglet, plaice, poodle, porcupine, porpoise, raven, spaniel, starling, stoat, stork, terrapin, thrush, weasel, wren.

Acorn, allotment, almond, apricot, ash, bacon, beech, beetroot, blackberry, blacksmith, bloom, bluebell, bramble, bran, bray, bridle, brook, buttercup, canary, canter, carnation, catkin, cauliflower, chestnut, clover, conker, county, cowslip, crocus, dandelion, diesel, fern, fungus, gooseberry, gorse, hazel, hazelnut, heather, holly, horse chestnut, ivy, lavender, leek, liquorice, manger, marzipan, melon, minnow, mint, nectar, nectarine, oats, pansy, parsnip, pasture, poppy, porridge, poultry, primrose, prune, radish, rhubarb, sheaf, spinach, sycamore, tulip, turnip, vine, violet, walnut, willow

And the words put in:

Blog, broadband, MP3 player, voicemail, attachment, database, export, chatroom, bullet point, cut and paste, analogue

Celebrity, tolerant, vandalism, negotiate, interdependent, creep, citizenship, childhood, conflict, common sense, debate, EU, drought, brainy, boisterous, cautionary tale, bilingual, bungee jumping, committee, compulsory, cope, democratic, allergic, biodegradable, emotion, dyslexic, donate, endangered, Euro

Apparatus, food chain, incisor, square number, trapezium, alliteration, colloquial, idiom, curriculum, classify, chronological, block graph"

Saturday, December 06, 2008

One more idea for Scottish Episcopal bumper stickers. For those of you not in the UK it's a piss-take on the RSPCA's "a dog is for life...." campaign. General Synod might elect not to adopt it in its present form since it tends to prejudge the whole issue of rectorial tenure.

Still, there are some poignant similiarities: The new priest arrives, he's unwrapped quickly (although the way everybody's been shaking the package to guess its weight and substance it's a miracle the poor man isn't missing his bits). The parents speak sharply about being careful with him.

"We want him to last longer than the last one did", they say.

Billy notes that he didn't look at all like like the one advertised.

"He'll do", says mom, and offers Billy a cinnamon swirl.

Later, the children take their toys next door to show to the Anderson children. Billy's about to haul the new priest out of the bag to show him off, when he notes that Bobby Anderson got a Johnny 7 gun for Christmas which was just as good as the one advertised on the telly, and so he shoves the vicar back into the bag.

A work in progress, then.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thought for the Day
Good Morning Scotland
Radio Scotland
Thursday, December 4th, 2008

So how do we get to where we’re supposed to be?
My godson is a military policeman with British Forces in Iraq. He finishes his term of service close to Christmas and has a tiny window of opportunity to fly back to the UK and from there to his parents’ dinner table in British Columbia. There may be touch-and-go moments at airports but once Justin is strapped into his seat on the plane he can leave the navigating to the pilots.

Birds seem to find their way by navigating with the help of the stars. And there’s been a story this week of a new theory about how Scottish salmon manage to get from Greenland or Norway back to the exact bit of the Scottish stream where they were hatched. The theory suggests they have a map of the magnetic fields of the earth printed right into their circuits. Not overly clever creatures, salmon, but they know where they’re supposed to be heading.

We don’t all feel so connected to our origins or our final destination either. In December we feel the distance rather than the closeness – distance from other people – and distance from a familiar story of Love and Reconciliation – a star – a baby – a new beginning.

We’ve perhaps just accepted that. It’s the way our cookie has crumbled. But some of us would give our right arm to feel like we were home again - like we were somewhere on the way to understanding that Story –maybe for the first time.

People will come to Church this Christmas seemingly out of the blue. I was always taught that nobody shows up in Church by accident. We are all at the midpoint of some journey. Feeling some longing within us – our perceived distance from our destination we set out to discover our route. We too have a map imprinted deep within our circuits. Or as one African saint, Saint Augustine put it in his Confessions:

'You have made us for yourself, O Lord,
and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you'

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The first of our three Advent Studies begins this evening at St James' Penicuik. We're going to discuss common conceptions of the afterlife (as exemplified by the lyrics of a number of songs by the Carter Family) and compare them to what we find in the Gospels and Saint Paul.

I'm making use of an old book - Oscar Cullman's Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection of the Dead and a relatively new book - Tom Wright's Surprised by Hope to see what can be said about our future hope as individuals once the idea of a separable soul going where it naturally belongs has been set to one side.

Quite a touching and worthy article appeared in the last day or two over at Episcopal Cafe on the subject.

Astrud Gilberto
The Girl from Ipanema

Snow has fallen on Penicuik and the sky is blue. Cozy here inside the Rectory preparing for tonight's Advent Study and tomorrow morning's Thought for Today. Time for my favourite winter video. I was around in 1964 but I don't think I'd spend a lot of time pining for the fashions of the time - be they women's hairstyles or men's jumpers (although I do own a button-up cardigan sweater).

Brief side note a propos of nothing: The vanity of American Episcopal clergy knows no bounds. They are notorious for either lying about their ages or posting ridiculously out-of-date photographs on their blog pages or parish website. Scott Gunn must be older than he's letting on because this is clearly him playing the Vibraphone in the background at some point in his life where his mojo was a mysterious thing best left concealed.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

We Love our Naughty Vicars

From Martin Beckford at the Telegraph:

"Sunday service attendances continue to fall. Militant atheism is on the march. Government ministers and even the heir to the throne hint that the established religion could lose its privileged place in society.

Yet one aspect of the Church of England retains its power, one side of it still has a hold on the public imagination. I refer of course to the naughty vicar, that figure of fun beloved of sitcom writers and seaside postcard illustrators who comes to life occasionally to delight tabloid editors and horrify churchgoers."

Read the rest HERE

Thank you Fr Heron

Thanks to Scott Gunn for bringing this oldie back from the recesses of everybody's memory.

The combination of an overnight snowfall coupled with a broken water main on the A702 leading into Edinburgh has left any number of people at home from work today. Edinburgh, interestingly enough, doesn't have any snow at all. The ducks were out having a great and noisy time. They jumped up and down complaining about the ice covering their water basin. The cockerel charged out into the snow once the little door was opened. As I write, the hens are still cautiously putting their heads out the door, changing their minds and climbing back onto their perches.