Friday, 29 January 2016

Rhodes must not fall

Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College
he can stay right where he is.

Oriel College, Oxford, one of my old Alma Maters, has finally seen sense and decided that they are not going to take down the statue of Cecil Rhodes (after whom that dead lion must have been named... where else do you think the name Cecil comes from in Zimbabwe??).

A lion, perhaps called Cecil, perhaps named after Cecil Rhodes
The statement can be read here. I actually don't want to criticise Oriel. I think that they were caught on the hop and then they froze in the headlights of the oncoming 'historical racism' van. Let's face it without Rhodes Oriel by now really would be Christ Church's back shed. With the Rhodes' cash she could spread her wings physically, through the buildings it financed, and academically, by being associated with the Rhodes Scholars. Had none of that happened then all those people who now in such a tedious 'right-on' student way have decided to raise their voices, they would not be at Oriel. It would have been even smaller than it is now, and infinitely less significant.

A fitting tribute to Cecil Rhodes
(Rhodes is disguised as a lion)
I suppose it is in the DNA of students to find a cause. How I remember my own student days campaigning for the repeal of the corn laws. As I type this I am sitting in the library at Durham, and I am sure that a few around me would willingly sign up for some weird thing or other, but I have a horror of destroying the past. Why should Rhodes be pulled down more than anyone else?

Thank goodness sense prevailed. And I'm sure that it had nothing to do with the threatened withdrawal of millions of pounds in legacies.

But even if it did, I just know that Rhodes would have approved!

Friday, 22 January 2016

A useful correction

From the Vatican Information Service

Vatican City, 22 January 2016 (VIS) – The date of the Holy Father's letter to Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, regarding the selection of people for the rite of the Washing of feet in the Holy Thursday liturgy is 20 December 2014, not 2015, as erroneously implied in yesterday's Vatican Information Service bulletin. We apologise to our readers.

Presumably that means the the Pope didn't break the law, he had just changed it and not told anyone for over a year?

Still it gets him off the hook...

Doesn't look suspicious...

No siree...

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Bye, bye feet

Well that's me saying good bye to the old washing of feet. We don't do it in Swinburne, but I have done so in all the parishes where I've been a priest. Oh and in school a well.

I have to say I found it humbling, which I suppose is the thing really, showing the humility of Christ. Humility to the rite, humility to the rubric... but I won't go on.

Stop it... wash your mum's feet. Why didn't you do that in the first place.
Din't you realise that we're just going to copy you
(especially when you tell us to)
so really it's all your fault

Indeed I won't go on at all. Thankfully it is optional. So I will never perform the rite again.


  • Pique... not a good reason I know.
  • Up till now I have washed the feet knowing that I, as the Priest, imitating Christ the head, was washing the feet of my disciples. Not one bloke washing the feet of some people.
  • It demeans what I have done, for me, in my life. If I am no longer re-enacting the action of Christ, and am now showing service, as a priest, then I should be doing a hell of a lot more than symbolic washing. I have cared for people. I have washed them, properly... where I came back dirtier than them. I have touched the dying, the unclean, the homeless. I have been into prison and came out with the smell on my clothes. I have ... oh what's the point? I have no intention of 'symbolically' doing it in front of people. It smacks of sham acting and hypocrisy.
  • Yet again it is another 'if this, then what next'. Frankly I dread to think.
  • Sociologically, I think it is fine for me, a 45 year old man, to wash the feet of old men and women, and young men and women, and even, in the days when it clear that they were there because they were disciples, even boys. But now, I do not think it appropriate for some old priest to wash the feet of little girls and boys (and we could not exclude them, otherwise we'd be serving only some). As if we do not have enough dodgy feeling about the child abuse thing anyway.

Not here.
So, bye, bye feet.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Maneki-neko, the Japanese Lucky Cat

Maneki-neko at Tesco (other supermarkets are available,
but there's only one Maneki-neko lucky cat!)
For many a long year, I have been inordinately fond of Maneki-neko, the Japanese lucky cat. I am reminded of this because I saw them for sale in my local Tesco. Indeed were it not for the fact that they were £4.00 and thus officially a rip off, I might have been tempted to buy one.

Of course they are on sale for the Chinese New Year, and so far so nationally disorientating, because every fool knows that Maneki-neko is a Japanese lucky cat - and not Chinese at all! Still, I'm sure in its feline wonderfulness it doesn't matter at all.

Solar powered Maneki-neko so that you are never without luck
A lucky cat is a lucky cat after all.

We in the west can have a bit of a problem with Maneki-neko. We think that the cat is waving to us, because its paw is turned outwards, but actually it is beckoning to us to come closer. What we think is waving is Asian beckoning. Funny little cat!

Maneki-neko is supposed to bring luck, health or wealth, or indeed any manner of good things. We like Maneki-neko.

Too many Maneki-nekos together can start to look a bit spooky

And the little cat is not a god, never thought to be one, so no problem for yours truly buying one from a supermarket. Not like buying a statue of Buddha holding a bird-bath, or the Book of Common Prayer. No nothing to cause scandal there.

In fact I once preached about the importance of Maneki-neko. By name... from the pulpit. I even held up a picture of the sweet little cat formed muppet, just in case anyone in my congregation didn't recognise him.

"I want a statue of Maneli-neko this big"
My homily was on these lines, that you should never trust a religion that cannot incorporate a Japanese lucky cat. Maneki-neko appeals to the superstitious side of us that tries to cope with a world which we cannot control. We do now know what is going to happen to us in the next five minutes, or the next five hours or the next five years. And so human beings have always had charms, amulets, good luck to try to give us some comfort.

Of course our faith should be strong enough for us not to need such things. We should stand forth life strong people relying only on God. But our faith is not always strong, we are not always so stable, not so educated, not so catechised. We are week, and a good and holy church, a good and holy mother knows when to avert her eyes at our weakness, as long as it is only weakness and nothing more.

So I do not worry when I cannot pass a statue of St Peter seated without rubbing his toes (for luck?? Damned right for luck, wrapped up with a slice of devotion and a side garnish of intercessory prayer) or immediately put lost things next to St Anthony (after all where are you going to find them again?). And let me tell you, my statue of the Infant of Prague has never been without a fiver blue-tacked underneath it (and five Euros - I used to live in France after all), because then you'll never be without.

Where's the cash? Get a fiver under him - quick!
My faith knows my weakness and patiently surrounds them with things that point to God. Our holy Mother know that we will never stray too far, and that sometimes our human weakness is a bit too strong. But she allows it. She takes everything to herself and tries to turn it to good - and there is not much which is too far gone.

And so if your faith is so serious, so rigid, so unbending that it would not allow Maneki-neko, or the equivalent of a Japanese lucky cat, or the tickled toes of St Peter, or a fiver under the Child of Prague, then I think it is a rubbish religion.

Who wouldn't trust a living embodiment of Maneki-neko?

And what's more, I wouldn't trust it.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Glass Slipper Church

In Taiwan they have built this glass slipper church. It is not really a church, it will just be used for photo shoots with wedding couples. And it simply a gimmick to make the place a bit more famous.

But the bit in the report, link here, that I simply love is by Lao Fu Qing who said "I like it, it looks better than most modern churches anyway".

With a Cathedral like this...

I make no comment.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Happy Easter

I'm always happy when stuff happens. Things happening is a joy for my soul. And stuff happened this week for the Anglican Communion. In a classic Anglican accommodation, the traditionalists stayed, naughty American liberals had a stern finger wagged at them, and everything continued as before.

Except that the Anglicans in Canada are on the point of voting for/against Same Sex 'Marriage', and the Scots are debating it soon, and lets face it, there are only so many fingers you can wag, before you run out of fingers!

But that is a bit depressing, so we also got "Archbishop Justin Welby hopes for fixed Easter date", link here. Apparently we're all up for it.

It is a bit daft that all Christians do not share the date of Easter, so far, so 'Yea!'

The different dates came, I think, from two issues. One is the change in the calendar in the 16th century onwards, Simplistically the West went all Gregorian, the East eventually went Gregorian, except the Church. The other thing is the way we calculate a full moon and the Spring Equinox.

In 1990 we proposed a resolution to this, with an astronomical way of determining the full moon, and deciding when the Spring Equinox actually was.

This would be a good thing (though not picked up yet). Not least because it keeps our links with Judaism. We have this inconvenient moving date (potentially agreed by all Christians) because we, like the Jews, in this matter follow a lunar calendar, Our links with Judaism are reinforced every year as we celebrate our central feast, the rising of Our Lord from the dead, and its intimate link with Passover.

Now, if we go down the 'fixed Sunday in April' model, at a stroke we damage the ties with Judaism. We no longer have a link with Passover, we simply have a link with Western convenience. Heaven forbid that we should inconvenience anyone!

So if we have a common Easter on the new moon after the Spring Equinox in common, excellent, but some random Sunday? Hmmmmm...

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Time and Space

I can now wake up anywhere in time and space. 


Actually it is not a bad idea. But I'm
Not sure that I'd want to go a little bit into the future. I'm not sure I'd like to know what that is going to be like. And I've always had a bit of a problem with the past because I sometimes have problems with my teeth. I once had an abscess and believe me, if I had not had vast amounts of pain killers I'd have been even more of a basket case than I fear i am now. 

So I'm off to the planet Zaaarg. 

We colonised it in the year 3276. 

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