Friday, January 30, 2009

Time to think about Summer Camp

The Scottish Episcopal Church has a great summer camping programme. I've never managed to convince any of my young people to attend. There are generally issues of other summer activities or summer jobs which get in the way but, at base, there's not a tradition in the congregation of sending our kids along so it's really just a question of inertia.

Nonetheless, there is a sufficient enough number of active life-long lay saints and even a few clergy who got their start at summer camp. I shall endeavour once again to roll this large rock to the top of the hill and we'll see what happens.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I liked this.

Good video and (as song lyrics go, anyway) reasonable poetry.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

'Cello Scrotum' Debunked

Yet more misbehaviour from high unelected officials. The cash-for-laws scandal which has been rocking the House of Lords during the past week was bad enough. Now it appears that the Chief Medical Officer for the country, Baroness Murphy, has confessed to having cooked up a fictitious ailment with her husband back in the 1970's and sending it off to the British Medical Journal as a letter to the editor to see if they'd publish it, which they promptly did.

The then just plain old Doctor Murphy and her husband John had just seen an article about a work-related ailment among musicians called Guitarists' Nipple which they suspected was a hoax.

Fiddler's neck, yes and flautist's chin - these are apparently well-known and verifiable work-related ailments. If Guitarist's Nipple passes muster why not Cello Scrotum or Triangle Player's Pinkie.

I gather that 34 years down the road, Baroness Murphy decided to fess up when Cello Scrotum began to be discussed elsewhere 'in the literature'. Her conscience got the best of her.

So far nobody has reported in with the illness - no cellist walking into a GP's office like John Wayne having just gotten off a particularly barrel-chested horse saying 'Doc, it hurts down there - can you write my conductor a sick note'

As for the British Medical Journal who might have caught the hoax before the imaginary ailment 'entered the literature' so to speak? According to the BBC they are fairly sanguine about the whole affair:

A BMJ spokesman said the inclusion and subsequent debunking of "cello scrotum" had "added to the gaiety of life".
No disciplinary inquiry at the British Medical Journal, then.

According to BMJ nobody yet has had to "...face the sack...."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Having a go at the British

In the five years I've been living in the UK I've noted just how eager the British are to hear what other people - particularly the French - think of them.

When John Foreigner begins to speak the room suddenly takes on a hushed silence. Quiet now, this is important!

Jacques Monin's article How Britain Lost its Way which appeared in the G2 section of this morning's Guardian hasn't attracted quite the degree of vitriol in the comments that I had expected.

The piece is a bit smug.

You recognize all the nasty bits about the British, to be sure. As for the French, they seem to come off remarkably well in the article.

The author is probably homesick.

The Vicar of Baghdad

A story from the Times Online about a remarkable man - Canon Andrew White.

There are still places around the world where the possibility of abduction, injury, instant or even lingering death must simply be absorbed as a possibility and as part of the costs of ministry.

Behind the quite understandable interest in Canon White as an individual, however, you have to think of his family (who have returned to the UK) and. most especially, his congregation at St George's, Baghdad who have less protection than their vicar from those who might wish them ill.

An earlier profile can be found HERE.

Thought for the Day
Good Morning Scotland
Radio Scotland
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Good morning.

Proposals are afoot at Westminster to deprive drug addicts of their benefits if they don’t sign up for medical treatment. It’s one of those proposals that gets heads nodding in agreement – maybe too quickly.

It is so easy to scold.

“Getting tough” gets votes. Government money should not end up lining the pockets of drug dealers. True, but, for that matter, government money should not end up in the hands of people who sell cheesy snacks instead of leafy green vegetables or large screen televisions instead of books. People will continue to make choices - whether they’re receiving government benefits or not. 

The SNP government is seen as opposing the enactment of such legislation north of the border. For their pains they’ve been labelled ‘obstructive’.

I ran a 500 bed night-shelter in downtown Montreal for a number of years. Among our clients were well-established addicts – men and women who generally suffered under a cloud of problems – often psychiatric - which included substance addiction. Choice was them was limited – power of choice seemingly quite lost.

Of enormous concern to us were the many thousands more who were not yet ‘sleeping rough’ – who were still in flats and still connected in some way to their families. It is such a group which will be most affected by what is being proposed. There are children here and community and family ties. The withdrawal of benefits leaves such individuals without accommodation, nourishment or community and family support – it reduces people to a form of life where the ability to choose is less likely to be operative - the pointy end, essentially, of what is being proposed by the Westminster government.
Jesus had strong words, at one point in the Gospel story, for those who tied heavy burdens on others while doing nothing to lift them themselves.

Support can be withdrawn with the flick of a pen.
But it is no victory. And it’s certainly not righteous.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Burns Supper

I don't know what you all had for supper tonight but here in Penicuik it was our annual Youth Group Burns Night Supper so Haggis was in great supply. We ran out and had to do some more so everybody could have seconds (or thirds).