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A story I was told at St Mark’s, a “high” Anglican church:

St Mark’s has a rather large contingent of de jure Roman Catholics in its congregation, who argued with the local parish priest or the Vatican and just decamped down the road. Many times this only gets discovered when they die and ask for their ashes to be interred in St Mark’s columbarium, whereupon the local RC priest turns up and objects.

So after this had happened a few times, they agreed that a small part of the columbarium would be dedicated as a RC burial place. And so that God wouldn’t get confused, they put a cardboard divider between them.

The person telling me this story concluded, “So apparently cardboard can block the Holy Spirit, just like alpha particles… wait. Don’t mitres have cardboard inside to keep the shape? I think we’ve discovered something here…”

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On 23 January 1867, the Rev. Edward Dodd, a fellow of Magdalene College Cambridge and the vicar of St Giles' church, was caught and publicly horsewhipped by the Rev. J Sumner Brockhurst, of Emmanuel College, as Dodd was leaving formal hall. When asked by a court to explain his actions, Brockhurst said that Dodd had said grace without mentioning the name of Jesus, because a Jewish man was present, and that any reasonable person would have whipped Dodd under such provocation. The court did not agree.

The "Saturday Review" said that this was the result of "muscular Christianity". This was a movement among certain evangelicals at the time, who were worried that religion in general was losing its focus on Jesus by trying to be nice to everyone. (I suspect there was a fair amount of misogyny mixed in: trying to accommodate people was seen as womanly, weak, and unworthy of men.)

Article in the "Spectator": https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=GU3hAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA124&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

Article in the "Saturday Review": https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Z9UcAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA142&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

diagonal

Nov. 3rd, 2015 11:34 pm
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A friend of ours has just been made vicar of a parish nearby, so we went along to his installation service on Sunday-- it was packed. Before the start, the bishop was walking down the side aisle in his cope and mitre. There was a pushchair on one side followed by Kit's chair on the other, making a sort of slalom. He paused, and I heard myself saying, "Don't worry, you can just move diagonally."
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This morning I'd set the alarm assuming Kit was coming with me to church, but she was soundly asleep-- we'd stayed up to watch the Nebula awards in Chicago last night (because a friend was a nominee and another friend was speaking).

So I got to church uncharacteristically early, and there I discovered I'd been elected a sidesperson in absentia at the parish meeting a fortnight ago. (I had to miss the meeting, and I forgot I'd put my name down as a possible candidate.) Not only that, but today was my first day on the rota, and I had no idea what I was doing. But if there was one day I should have got there early, it was today!
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My (long) answer to someone who asked me what I thought of Justin Welby as the new Canterbury:

Pluses and minuses, I think. Minuses: he's only been a bishop for a couple of years, and he's much-loved in Durham and my friends there report they're sorry to lose him (though that's a plus for the rest of us). And it is certainly not the best thing that he went to Eton, especially in the current political climate. But on the other hand he's a smart guy, he has experience running large organisations, he went into the priesthood for very good reasons, he's heavily critical of capitalism despite his background, and I think it speaks volumes that he sent his own kids to state schools. I could wish he was more pro-LGBT rights than he is (though despite what some have said I see no reason to call him actively homophobic; at worst he colludes with a homophobic status quo). But one of the important things with an archbishop is not so much what he himself believes, but what he's prepared to allow others to believe. I certainly doubt he'll drag the church to the right, as some have been saying, especially given his critiques of capitalism. Out of all the candidates, he was probably the best choice overall (Cocksworth would have been good, but I think on balance not quite as good). So I'm pretty hopeful about the next few years.
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Yesterday I went to mass first thing. Our priest had just come back from seeing his new granddaughter and was full of the news; it was very happy.

Then I went on to the dentist. They took X-rays of my teeth, but I kept gagging on the thing they put in your mouth, so they had to take a picture with the big X-ray machine. For that I had to take some of my piercings out, and some of them healed up in the time it took to put them back in again.

The dentist was very friendly and helpful. He says I have a broken wisdom tooth, and it'll have to come out. That will be next Tuesday, when the dental surgeon comes in. Until then, I have painkillers.

In the time I was waiting for the dentist, I mostly finished the last chapter but four of the current novel. I believe I might be able to get it done entirely today (Thursday) if I put my mind to it.

Later I went shopping for new trousers with Fin, since we're going to Tracy's wedding.

I cooked dinner (it was ravioli and meatballs) and while I cooked I talked to Kit on the phone: it was her birthday. So it was a pretty good day.
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Thou who sent thine own Anointed
once for all the world to bless:
Should we make our windows pointed?
Should our deacons wear a dress?
Should our candles light the dark?
Lord, remain within the ark.

Should our priests be mild and matey?
Should our men be nervous types?
Should our women all be eighty?
Art thou fond of organ pipes?
Or dost thou, above the stars,
yearn for amplified guitars?

We shall sit around the fire, and
mumble of the Crucified,
preach his gospel to the choir, and
never mind the night outside,
where despite the rain and chill
winds are blowing where they will.
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There was simnel cake, because it's Mothering Sunday.

I sang in the choir for the first time.

The bishop turned up to confirm some people. He talked to the children for around twenty minutes, and THEN said "Now I'm going to speak to the grown-ups", and preached another full-length sermon. So church ran very late today.

I got talking to the father of one of the confirmands, who didn't usually come to our church, and he introduced the rest of his family. One of them was a girl of about nineteen wearing an IWW pin. "Oh," I said, "you're a Wobbly." "What's that?" asked the father. So the girl and I spent several minutes explaining industrial unionism to him.

A little girl of about ten was reading "Not Ordinarily Borrowable". "It's the best book I ever read," she explained solemnly, so I signed it for her.

One of the other choir members turned out to be a children's librarian, and wants a copy as well.
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Kathryn Rose was asking whether I'd written any metrical psalms. I phoned my parents and asked them to look through an old file, and they found a sonnet based on Psalm 6 that I wrote back when I was 21. I think I've improved since then, though.

O Lord, withhold your wrath against my wrong!
Be merciful to me - I faint and fail.
My vision draws to darkness, and I wail:
How long until you rescue me? How long?
Still groaning, since my strength is spent with groans,
By night I weep until I drench my bed,
My sight grows dim from sorrowing and dread,
My pains absorb my spirit, sleep and bones.
My Father, turn and save us as you said!
Display your love declared to us of old:
No hearts or mouths can praise you once grown cold,
Nor any man remember you when dead.
Away! The Lord has heard me call his name!
And all my foes shall surely fall in shame.
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One of my dad's favourite songs is I'll never find another you by The Seekers. He said to me once that the tune would make a good hymn, and I've been turning the idea over in my mind, and here it is. This is a recessional hymn, i.e. it's for the end of a service. I didn't do the bridge, because hymns don't have bridges.

I like the way this came out, because it has the traditional trinitarian structure without explicitly naming names. Obviously it would be difficult actually to use the hymn, because of the copyright on the tune.

When you made this planet,
you saw it at its best,
for a week you laboured
then brought it to a rest;
you designed the whole creation
to rest and labour too,
and Lord, we pray our lives will mirror you.

When you walked this planet
you saw it at its worst,
and in all our troubles
you bore the burden first;
for you trod the path before us
in everything we do,
and Lord, we pray our lives will mirror you.

When you stir within us
you see us as we are;
as we face temptation
your word is never far;
for within our hearts you've written
your message through and through,
and Lord, we pray our lives will mirror you.

Rosary

Feb. 1st, 2011 05:20 am
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Every stone a story.


This is my rosary: I carry it with me everywhere I go. It has the conventional design of five decades, but it's made of knotted string.

I don't know whether I'm doing it right, but whenever I pray the rosary I feel myself in Mary's shoes. In the joyful mysteries, I hear the sound of feathered wings at the Annunciation; I feel her joy in seeing and hugging Elizabeth; I imagine her alarm and the pains of childbirth; her happiness at the naming of her son; her worry twelve years later at finding him missing, and her relief in finding him and her wonder at finding where he was.

The other night I dreamed that I asked Kirsten if I was praying the rosary correctly, and she pointed out a couple of mistakes. In the dream, Mary appeared to us and said, "She's right, you know."
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Those of you who pray the Daily Office, and make use of missionstclare.com to do so, and run a free desktop, may be interested in a little script I threw together which downloads the PDFs month by month when required, and displays the correct one for the time and date.
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The Bishop said, "You celebrate
the mass an awful lot.
I've heard the other priests of late
suggest that it's a plot.
You have to write the homily;
you have to heat the hall
three times a day; it seems to me
the congregation's small:
there's four, or even fewer folk.
It's almost microscopic."
The Priest replied, "The Lord once spoke
upon that very topic."
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This morning, since I was up early, I thought I would visit a church within walking distance that I hadn't visited before. There are two services, one at eight and one at nine, and I went to the eight o'clock one, which was Rite I (i.e. 1970s liturgy in 1660s language). I was welcomed by an usher with a friendly handshake. There were about forty people present; it was a little more High Church than I was expecting (chasubles, ad orientem, intinction…), which is certainly no bad thing. The oldest memorials were in honour of members of the family of the founder of this town, which makes this place quite old for a building in these parts.

The text was the parable of the unjust steward, which usually makes for interesting sermons, but in this case turned into a discussion of the current state of the church's bank account (the implication that they have unorthodox methods of balancing the books is presumably unwarranted but amused me). They seem to be dealing with money difficulties by spending less, which I think is commendable. Somewhat to their apparent surprise, people have started giving more than they'd promised.

Unlike almost everyone else, my neighbour held her hands aloft at appropriate moments during the service, and nobody seemed to mind her doing her own thing, which made me glad. The Peace was also a happy moment: I think almost everyone shook everyone else's hand.

a swordAfter the service, I was about to leave when someone said, "There's cakes and coffee in the back, and you'll be very welcome." I thanked my informant and explored the building until I found "the back", where there were indeed some coffee (less than stellar; dear Lord, if You ever put me in charge of the coffee after a service, I will make actual ground coffee in a cafetière, and there will be rejoicing) and some extremely good chocolate cakes. Several people came up to talk to me. One recognised me from having met me in a different church in a different town. Another said, "I can see you've been an Episcopalian for a while." The priest, who was apparently fairly new in the role, talked to me for several minutes. He invited me to the Alpha course dinner that evening, where they were having a speaker from England; I thanked him but told him that I had a lot of editing work to finish today.

On the whole, it was a good visit, and I think I would like to go back.

On the way home, I found a sword.
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This is the churchyard of Little St Mary's, so called because there's another church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, called Great St Mary's. There was a tabby cat standing beside this tombstone, but he ran away when I took my camera out. LSM is a very friendly high church which has mass every day, but I didn't drop in today because it's during work hours on Wednesdays.

Last night I went to see ghoti, Jon, Bene't and Judith (with Ian and Clare also making welcome appearances) at Relativity. It was so good to see them all again! We had some rather delicious stir-fry, and summer pudding, which isn't something I've had for a very long time. After dinner I played my first game of RoboRally, which Bene't won.

xzibit is progressing rather excitingly, and yesterday I played minesweeper (Simon's version) on an X display other than the one it was actually connected to. Next I have to learn a great deal more than I know already about MPX.

Tonight is the only night of the week when I'm not due to go and see someone. An old friend of mine has turned up living in one of the villages, and I might go out there to see them, but I might also just have a spare peaceful evening when I'm not going anywhere— especially because the second draft of one of my chapters is due tomorrow.

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