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Stebbing, Great Dunmow, Essex, United Kingdom
The occasional blog of an Anglican priest in rural Essex

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

'A life on every face

Ekklesia, The Church Mouse, Michael Wenham and Cranmer's Curate are among many people blogging away at the moment around the subject of the Pete Broadbent Facebook debacle and the Bishop of London's subsequent [overre-]action in withdrawing Bishop Pete from public office.

I have emitted many deep sighs about this sorry affair over the last few days, and probably need to write this post just to get stuff out of my system (but I shall be careful not to rant (too much)).

I like Bishop Pete. We met at NEAC, and  we were Facebook friends until I recently culled him along with a number of other "famous" people clogging up my wall  (mostly because he goes on about Spurs all the time).

He has been good for the church and good for Spring Harvest for many years. He is an Open Evangelical like me, and so there have been very few things he has ever said in public that I have disagreed with. Until now.

If you read the church press or read Anglican blogs or news feeds you will be fully aware of the kind of mudslinging that goes on between conservatives and, well, everybody else really, around the topics of Women Bishops, homosexuality, Flying Bishops, and so on and so on. On the Internet in particular feathers can fly. Very rarely does anyone get disciplined for (say) slagging off the Bishop of Chelmsford or Rowan Williams on the Ugley Vicar or slagging off Reform on Fulcrum. People lick their wounds and retreat out of range until things flare up again, or they (like me) get sick of the circular arguments and stop posting.

But Bishop Pete's Facebook discussion has elicited a big can of worms being opened. The comments, which weren't even as public as some stuff one reads,( e.g. the comments on the Guardian's Comment is free every time Christianity gets a word in edgeways, which can make your blood boil) have been splashed around the world, and the chap has been withdrawn from public office - I guess that means he's just doing a desk job.

One one level I'm thinking "you wally, Pete" - I don't think he should have posted what he did. But on another level, I'm bearing in mind cases such as that of the Priest who blessed a homosexual couple - and who received (from the Bishop of London no less) a letter slapping him on the wrist and telling him not to do it again. And that was for doing something that we have all been specifically told no to do; like, not ever. To my mind that applies, under church discipline, even if you disagree with it. Why wasn't he asked to "withdraw from public office"? After all, the daily mail (and yes those lower case letters are deliberate) hardly approved!

OK, breathe now .....

The wider issue I suppose is, do we take seriously what we have to do and say to be a minister in the CofE? All those ordained have to swear an oath of allegiance to their Bishop and to the Queen. Bishop Pete must have done that  - most recently at his consecration as a Bishop. Clearly he didn't mean it, as he is a declared Republican, but what is also clear is that being a Republican is not a bar to ministry in the Anglican church. Do the oaths mean anything then? Or are they just anotherr anachronism clogging up Ministry.

Don't get me wrong, I disagree with Bishop Pete about the Wedding and about the Royal family per se. I am just increasingly frustrated that both liberal and conservative words and actions go unpunished while leaving the church rather bruised and battered, and thus (actually, albeit indirectly) the Monarch under attack.

I can't see a way back for Bishop Pete under the current bishop of London. He was supposed to also be looking after the Stepney episcopal area during the vacancy there so that can't be much fun for them either.

I was going to call this post "Just remember there are two side to every story" from Billy Bragg's "It says here" but in the end went for an intriguingly relevant line from Talk Talk's "Such a shame"

Monday, 22 November 2010

Facebook books meme technical fail

I was tagged in a note on Facebook, but owing to my rubbish computer, I  was unable to comply there so am doing it here.

Instructions: Copy this into your  Facebook NOTES. Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt and underline the ones you’ve seen the movies of. Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses!







1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen


2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien


3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte


4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee


6 The Bible


7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte


8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell


9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman


10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens


11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott


12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy


13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller


14 Complete Works of Shakespeare


15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier


16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien


17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger


19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger


20 Middlemarch – George Eliot


21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell


22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald



23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens


24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy


25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh


27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck


29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll


30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Graham

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy


32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens


33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis


34 Emma – Jane Austen


35 Persuasion – Jane Austen


36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernier

39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden


40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne


41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez


44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving


45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins


46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery


47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy


48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood


49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding


50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel


52 Dune – Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons


54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen


55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth


56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon


57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens


58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon


60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez


61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck


62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov



63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt


64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold


65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas


66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac


67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy


68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding



69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie


70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville


71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens


72 Dracula – Bram Stoker


73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett


74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson


75 Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath


77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal – Emile Zola


79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray


80 Possession – AS Byatt


81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens


82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell


83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker


84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro


85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert


86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry


87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White


88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom


89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton


91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams


95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute


97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas


98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare


99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl


100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo



My only comment would be that 100% of the classic literature titles here that I have marked as read I read before the age of 18 and probabaly haven't picked up since then - that's English and French S level in the 80's for you! So there should be a way of marking "read for pleasure" over against "read at school/college".
anyway, consider yourelf tagged if you are reading this

Thursday, 11 November 2010

I'll always remember

As I mentioned in a recent post, my grandfather died in 1942.
I only found out yesterday that 10th November is the anniversary of his death, for that is the date that his ship, HMS Martin, was sunk by a U-Boat off Algiers. He was 42, which is very old for a stoker. Had he lived, he'd have been one of those men who said "I fought in two world wars for the likes of you".

Just today, as I was doing my remembering, I started to look for songs around the theme of remembrance and stumbled upon "Union Street (Last Post)" by Show of Hands. you can find the lyrics (with comments) here. If you have Spotify you can listen here. Can't find it on Youtube.

The song makes reference to 14th June 1982, the day the Falklands fell - and my 16th birthday!

I pray that, by 2022, there may be fewer BFPO correspondences because our troops are home.

Incidentally did you know that Army chaplains can furnish you with the names of soldiers who would like to receive letters ...

Monday, 1 November 2010

happiness more or less

Recently, in a discussion on the Psalms, a friend used the expression "all human life is here". I had usually associated that with the News of the World, but it does work for the variety of emotions you find there - cries of joy, of anguish, of depair, of praise, of love and of revenge adorn the hebrew Bible's hymnbook. We concluded by saying it would be good if our worship gave enough space for such a breadth of emotion. It doesn't really though, does it?
I also concluded that it was about time I stopped suppressing my emotions when I am deployed pastorally. You know like when you are at a funeral you probabaly don't expect the minister to be overly emotional because (and cringe, I have used this phrase of myself0 they are paid to keep a straight face. It is quite hard to shock me, but now I am unafraid to weep at a funeral I am taking, if only because (like the psalmists, I feel) I would want everyone there to feel comfortable expressing emotion.
Then again, I watched Marley and Me tonight and blubbed like a girl ...

What do you think?
(btw since I am fasting from Fb this week please reply here)