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.