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.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I spent the better part of Friday morning in the Immigration offices in Glasgow having my application for Indefinite Leave to Remain dealt with by the staff there. The application was dealt with promptly - the staff were very friendly - and the results were such that I now have a piece of paper with a hideous photograph of myself over the words Indefinite Leave to Remain and Settlement.

One of the reasons that the application was dealt with as quickly as it was had to with the fact that the immigration offices were nearly empty. They had postponed the appointments of a whole series of people who needed to submit applications for Further Leave to Remain as either students or spouses (either of UK nationals or spouses of folks with Leave to Remain) People in these categories will now be issued mandatory I.D. cards, you see, and they weren't yet ready to process such folk.

As I was sitting there waiting to have my financial records perused and my excellent letter from the Bishop read by the staff there, I noticed a large room which was furiously being readied with a large picture of a finger-print on the door.

In other words, it's started! The much hated ID cards which have the backing of almost nobody are finally being introduced. The very first category of people to receive them will be those applying for FLR in these two categories.

One of the rejoinders by government is that security measures and legislation which have been introduced over the last few years will not be abused. We can sleep safely knowing that the idea of a Big Brother State looking over our shoulders and using their powers for nefarious ends is a figment of a dissatisfied imagination - doomsaying - science fiction - can't possibly happen.

Those of you who are not in the UK or who may have been engrossed with the goings-on in Mumbai (and Thailand and Nigeria) might have missed the recent story of the arrest of a fairly mild mannered senior member of the opposition - the Tories' Immigration critic. He was doing what opposition politicians generally do which is to position themselves on the receiving end of material from within government departments sent down the tube by like-minded civil servants. They then poop these embarrassing bits out during Prime Minister's Question Period and everybody goes "oooh". It's what Gordon Brown made his name doing during his time in Opposition.

Well in the case of Damian Green - the Conservative MP - the claws definitely came out. Doing what basically amounted to his job ended up provoking a near simultaneous raid on his home and his office at Westminster. Nine members of the anti-terrorism squad showed up at his house. His crime? Well - he has been on the receiving end of information from within government ministries which proved embarrassing to the government.

Matthew Parris screams the loudest amongst the mainstream media

Sam Coates Red Box Blog in the Times online is worth a read as is William Rees-Mogg.

The Guardian (the Labour Party in Print) soft peddles the political connection and blames the police for a simple and innocent overabundance of zeal

Sunday, November 30, 2008

First Sunday in Advent