A Wolf Whistle a Day . . .

Keeps a girl bright and gay*

*Gay meaning “merry and lively” as it did when I was young. At college I had a friend who had been christened Gay. I wonder what happened to her.

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That was today’s front page of the Daily Star. I’ve never really trusted them since they told me that knitters and bird watchers were ashamed to admit to their hobbies. I do both avidly and don’t care who knows it. But after ‘up-skirting’ I’m afraid what The Star says may be true. 

I am not ashamed to admit that I was always delighted to get a wolf whistle as I walked passed a building site, nor did I get offended or feel degraded by the sight of a “builder’s bum”.

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Offensive? Degrading?  Not really.

I suppose I’m lucky. I’m too old or too stupid or too much of a mis-fit in modern society to recognise most hate crimes. That’s why I thought making ‘up-skirting’ a crime was equally bonkers. Well, I did, once I’d found out what the word meant. Should it come into law it could carry a two year jail sentence and life on the sex offenders’ register.

I would have thought taking photos up women’s skirts was already an offence under existing sexual harassment laws.

Where I live, if I’d been burgled two years ago, the criminal had only a 16% chance of being caught. With so many extra hate crimes being added to the statute book the police will now have even less time to investigate minor annoyances such as robbery, burglary, larceny, theft, motor vehicle theft or arson. That worries me much more and would cause me infinitely more distress.

The reason I’m not very sympathetic is because it seems so incredibly infantile. I can remember male people looking up female people’s skirts but that was in the school playground when I was seven. It was the sort of stupid thing boys did. There were various responses. You could burst into tears and tell teacher. You could be outraged and tell teacher. You could push him over and get your mates to stand around and laugh. On the whole the third option worked best.

Will de-bagging become the next hate crime, I wonder.

I used to live next to a big teaching hospital. At wild parties the female nurses took great delight in de-bagging innocent young male doctors. One night, a naked junior registrar escaped into his car but on a sharp corner lost control, shot through a fence and landed up in our garden. It was on a private road so the police couldn’t charge him with any motoring offence so they arrested him for indecent exposure. I assume that is still a crime but is it a hate crime?

 

 

 

 

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What am I Missing Here?

Please can someone tell me what is going on here.

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Darth Vader I know but who are the rest of the front row?

 

And who are these?

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I know I’m old but I am not senile. Yesterday I went to church. I have enough long term memory to say much of the service by heart and I have enough short term memory to remember the sermon. It was very good and with a fresh slant* on the gospel reading – Mark 5. (Two wonderful stories of the woman with the haemorrhage and the raising of Jairius’s daughter.)

I think, in this ordination photoshoot, the things that aren’t clergy are from Star Wars but I don’t understand why? There’s something in Star Wars about the Force being with you but if you’ve just been ordained shouldn’t a very different kind of Force have just been bestowed on you.

This sort of thing makes me feel that I’m mis-fitting more than usual. If anyone can explain the significance of all this I will be most grateful and will publish the comments to aid other old-timers who grew up believing ordination was a very serious, spiritual commitment.

*It was a bi-lingual service – English and Welsh – and the preacher brought in the fact that Jesus was probably tri-lingual and that Mark very deliberately used the Aramaic for Jesus’ command to the child.

Golly, what a lot of Jolly Lolly!

There’s a lot of lolly floating around the church in Wales these days. Of course, there’s been a lot of comment, too, about the spending sprees and the jaunts and about those who know the right pockets to pick. These comments have been going on for a long time. Too long. I  wish the Bench of Bishops had reacted sooner and also been a bit more effective in their support of the needy people in the pews.

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Back in March these six Welsh bishops went to Rome for the week of Christian Unity

Bishop Joanna of St Davids and Bishop June of Llandaff also flew to the United States, apparently, for some mentoring by Bishop Katharine Jefforts Schori.

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I presume +June and +Joanna were seeking instruction in how NOT to do things

+Katharine, you remember, was the Presiding Bishop in the Episcopal Church of America before +Michael Curry. She certainly knows all about spending money, having used up $30 million in legal fees suing any Bishop or church congregation that dared to challenge her definitely dodgy theology.

The senior clergy from Llandaff, pictured below, went to Devon for a retreat in May.  Later, +June announced her first Clergy School — a five day “pilgrimage” to Santiago de Compostela in May, 2019.  This will be for any clergy from the diocese who wish to take part (possibly 100) but, instead of walking, the pilgrims will be flown out on a chartered plane.

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Senior Llandaff clergy enjoying spiritual refreshment.

The Diocesan Secretary of St Asaph, the Youth Officer and one of the Archdeacons went to Helsinki recently. Helsinki, in Finland? Yes, indeed. It’s supposed to be a fascinating city in the midst of most beautiful scenery.

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Helsinki, capital of Finland

The Church of Finland isn’t actually Anglican; it’s Evangelical Lutheran, but it’s undeniably successful.  More than 80% of Finns, some 4.4 million people, are members of the Church of Finland. Those numbers must have made Bishop Gregory’s eyes water!

There’s also plenty of money sloshing around for new appointments, like several more Archdeacons and, most recently, an Education Director. Mrs Elizabeth Thomas, formerly head of Bassaleg School in Newport, will have 150 schools and 26,000 pupils, though it wasn’t clear from the notice of this appointment whether it was the schools, the children or the Bishops she was educating.

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Finally, and most wonderfully, the Bishops have announced an Evangelism Fund of £10 million for Mission. Ten million pounds to “grow” Christians across Wales “in vibrant and exciting ways”. +Andy was given the job of announcing the news at Pentecost. No wonder he is smiling.

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Andy John, Bishop of Bangor

Recently, a gentleman called John Pocket wrote a letter to the “Western Mail” complaining, as I have been doing, about all the jolly jaunts and other expenditure. It must have struck a raw nerve because a spokeswoman for the Church in Wales issued a statement. First she gives a short paraphrase of what she says are Mr Pocket’s views.

“Mr Pocket’s complaint seems to be: We shouldn’t be spending more on organisation. We shouldn’t invest in the resourcing and development of our leaders. We shouldn’t treat our people well. Failing to invest in our people and facilities would be an indication that we have no expectation for the Church in Wales.”

I’ve read the whole letter and I don’t think that’s quite the right tone; he certainly never suggested that long suffering clergy should be treated badly. And the “our people” she talks about are “them” not “us”, the pew sitters. She goes on to explain why the CiW is spending all this money.

“We believe in effective support for hard-working clergy. We believe that effective Christian leadership is resourced by times of spiritual refreshment — hence the retreats. We want to attract and retain exceptional staff, work efficiently and effectively and gain all the team-working benefits that an open-plan office brings. We are organising ourselves with an expectation of growth.”

The fund will provide grants of between £250,000 and £3 million, for diocesan projects that “will focus on people rather than buildings,” the Church in Wales said.

It’s time I confessed to something. I haven’t been blogging for over three months. It’s hard to blog positively when you are indulging the vices of envy and greed and the truth is I just hadn’t appreciated the worth of all these jollies and other initiatives.

I have been much more aware of how desperately the Faithful Few of pewsitters need money. I had equated the bishops and the senior clergy, who have been benefitting from all this largesse, with the Pharisees. There they were, I thought, self importantly going on retreats to learn how to do church better, seeking to appoint more and more people as directors of this and that while tiny congregations struggled on apparently disregarded.

The village church to which I have recently returned has 19 people on the electoral roll, only two of whom are in paid employment. Those 19 people have to fund a Parish  Mission Share of £15,000 per annum. That’s before we can begin any repairs or maintenance on our listed building.

Our Vicar is on indefinite leave. The Mission Area has the task of organising substitutes, but, for all their committees and organograms  that doesn’t always work out well.

Sometimes we have a Priest and Communion and sometimes we have a Lay Reader and Morning Prayer. Sometimes we prepare for Communion and only a Lay Reader turns up, and sometimes a Priest turns up unexpectedly and then we have to rush around preparing for a Eucharist. Sometimes we get a Priest and a Lay Reader, which is overkill, and sometimes no one turns up at all.

Actually, when that happens it’s fine. We organise an excellent Matins left to ourselves. In place of the sermon we have plenty to talk about; mainly how on earth are we going to raise enough money to pay our Share, let alone find anything extra for outreach, or attracting teenagers, or restarting something for children; to say nothing of funding a loo. The loo in the car park of the pub across the road is rather too far away.

So, it seems that all this effort and the £10 million is actually for us.

Or is it?

The announcement sounds more like management speak than Holy Spirit. Once again the bishops  are in danger of letting advisers and “experts” decide how the money should be spent — on expensive projects that will sound good and make great photos for the same old snouts. I hope I’m wrong.

Our village church doesn’t need anything like £250,000, let alone up to £3 million at one go. We need modest amounts of funding and some informed enthusiasm, advice and support.

Then we and the Holy Spirit can work miracles.

 

At Last. Common Sense from a Bishop!

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The Bishop of David’s celebrates St David’s Day

Every year on St David’s Day, the Bishop of St David’s sends a message to members of the Senedd. [For overseas readers: the Senedd is the Welsh Assembly of politicians who make decisions (frequently daft) about matters specific to Wales.] Here, in italics, is the text of the Bishop’s message.

“Like St David, we live in difficult times”.

Too right, particularly in the Church in Wales. As Bishop Joanne will know only too well, out of a population of 2.1 million fewer than 30,000 attend church regularly.

“In Wales, we are facing an uncertain future over which even our politicians in the Senedd and local government have a limited amount of control.”

Perhaps it’s no bad thing the Welsh politicians have limited control.  I’m worried about their interference in family life and education. Too often it seems politicians, not teachers, decide what children must learn. Even more worrying, parents find they have little say when they are unhappy about some adverse effect on an individual child. It seems impossible to ‘opt out’ any more. 

“As ever, it is the voices of suspicion and bigotry that shout the loudest.”

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At times like these, it is important that we hold onto our core Welsh values of community, common sense and honesty.”

 At last, a bishop calling for common sense—a value that I have elevated in frequent years almost into a virtue. Surely honesty should be a core value everywhere and always?  Community! That’s the best bit. I sincerely hope the Bishop intends to do everything in her power to rescue the whole community of the Church in Wales from further decline.

“On his death bed, St David called his community to a renewed commitment to “the little things”.

Those words remind me of the poem, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum.

Among those ‘little’ things he tells us: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder.

Very little things but what a difference if we all lived by them every single day.

“We may not be able to have much control over Westminster politics or the mainstream media but St David reminds us that the control we can exercise over our own words and actions are vital. Whether we are politicians, journalists or members of the public, it is our words and actions that form the Wales of today and tomorrow.”

Only ‘politicians, journalists or members of the public…’ ? What about the words and actions of Church of Wales clergy? Or has the bishop omitted the clergy because she knows so many of them don’t count for much these days.

 “On this St David’s day, let us renew our commitment to honesty, kindness and generosity and, at least on this side of Offa’s dyke, nurture communities of welcome and hope.”  

+ Joanna Tyddewi

Welcome and hope. Oh, yes, please. Do everything you can, Bishop Joanne, to persuade your fellow bishops, not only in Wales, but throughout the UK, to offer a welcome and give hope to all true Anglicans, even those who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Post Script

Only as I was previewing this blog before posting did I notice something that should have been staring me in the face. This message was to celebrate St David’s Day—St David, our Patron Saint, brought Christianity to Wales. Joanna Pemberthy is his 128th successor. But there is no mention of God, no mention of religion; I suppose I should be glad there is no mention of sex. This could have been written by a worthy social worker or a politician seeking re-election. Just out of interest I checked on the Bishop of Llandaff’s last Christmas message. In over 500 words this was her only sentence with a reference to Christianity. “As Christians recall how God gave His own son, born as a baby and sharing in human experience, we are invited to remember the power of gifts.” I wonder what they’ll find to talk about at Easter? Cadbury’s eggs, perhaps.

 

 

 

 

 

“The highest result of education is tolerance.” Helen Keller

I always seem to be ranting on about Sex on this blog, along with Marriage, which in my opinion, go together like a horse and carriage. Marriage between a man and a woman, preferably for life, for their mutual benefit, and particularly for the inestimable benefit of any children they may have. I only rant about same sex marriage in church because, although it is the law of the land, I believe it is not according to the law of God. What’s more, it is still not the law of the Anglican church and I don’t like hypocrisy, although bishops seem not to mind.

What I do object to are the strident demands, the claims of victimhood, the posturing, the shrieks of “hate crime” and the manipulation by the 2% of the population who march under the LGBTQUIA+ banner. Most of all I am genuinely frightened by the effect this is having on innocent children.

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Female Father gives birth to Male Wife’s child. 

This photo, from my blog of 24 September 2016 shows Diane, on the left holding the baby which she fathered. On the right is the baby’s mother,
Fernando.  I wouldn’t want to try and explain that situation to my granddaughters.

My two granddaughters, aged six and four, now live with me. They are amazing chatterboxes. Every afternoon I hear the details of their day; what they did, what they learned, what Mrs This and Miss That told them, who they played with, what they talked about. It all comes tumbling out and I do  my best to make sense of all the gabble. Only once was there any discussion about boys and girls. The four year old complained that a boy in her class keeps kissing the girls.

“What for?” asked her sister.

“He says he loves them.”

“Ugh!”

They obviously know some of the basic facts of life. When I mentioned a particular incident to the four year old she informed me that she hadn’t been there; she was still in Mummy’s tummy at the time.

I’ve always believed that you should answer children’s questions truthfully, but only by giving them as much detail as they need or can cope with. Can you imagine the pit into which you will quickly descend if you try to explain transgenderism to a normal 5 year old?

What on earth are they supposed to learn from a group of cross dressers imported into schools to read them stories.

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Drag queen Alyssa Van Delle reads to children at Parson Street Primary School, Bristol

I adored pantomimes as a child and had no trouble at all with the Dame being a man and the Principal Boy being a woman but that has nothing to do with transgenderism.

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Widow Twanky in Aladdin

Don’t tell me all this clamour is in the interests of tolerance.

Of course, children must learn tolerance and the sooner the better, given the attitudes of the adult population, but let’s get this business of tolerance in proportion. LGBT+s form a mere 2% of the population.

Nine million people in Britain, (19%) are deaf or very hard of hearing. I know from personal experience how much tolerance is needed coping with those. I grew up with a deaf father and am now deaf myself.

There are 11,000,000 people in the UK living with a disability. How much tolerance do we show to them? Well over half of us (60%) admit to avoiding the disabled because we don’t know how to behave around them. Every day, in Britain, 180 disability hate crimes are reported and hate crimes against disabled children are up by 150% in the last two years.

Don’t those figures put the LGBT’s sufferings into perspective. They certainly reveal a desperate need for far more tolerance.

 

 

If this is what Sisters are like I’m glad I haven’t got one.

The church I had belonged to and whose rules and commands I had tried to live by, has changed its corporate mind. Forget “mutual flourishing”. Those two weasel words have done immense harm. Mutual flourishing doesn’t happen. You either ‘like it’ — the secular, liberal, anything goes way, especially if it has anything to do with sex —or you lump it. Jayne Ozanne, says people like me have been reading the Bible all wrong all these years. Now she has a Foundation to give that same message to the rest of the world.

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L. Jayne Ozanne, gay activist and biblical re-interpreter. R. Justine Greening MP. Ex Minister for Education and transgender activist.

Over the last several weeks I have discovered something else, as fundamental to my existence as my church which has changed so drastically that I am feeling as badly shook as ever I did when I discovered that marriage is no longer only between a man and a woman. This time I seem not to be a woman.

I don’t think I have ever actually defined myself as a ‘woman’. I’ve been called various things—Mrs Mason’s little girl; John’s girl friend; the paper boy’s Mum. But that didn’t define me. I certainly didn’t think of myself first and foremost as a woman. I don’t think we defined ourselves as anything in particular, back then. We were just who we were. Even when Germaine Greer was encouraging Cambridge gals to burn their bras on Parkers Piece most of us put personal comfort above solidarity.

#MeToo and the Sisterhood have been filling the headlines but, for all their torrent of words, I don’t know exactly what constitutes sexual harassment.

During the Harvey Weinstein disclosures one woman, who claimed he’d raped her, had also had a sexual relationship with him off and on for ten years. Then there was the woman in Britain, who claimed she’d been raped, by a man that she’d been badgering for casual sex with innumerable text messages. Which makes me wonder about the definition of rape. Sexual harassment seems to involve anything from a comment about your clothes, a hand on your knee or a hand in your knickers. Forty years ago I would have ignored the first, laughed at the second and known exactly how to deal with the last.

Perhaps I have been viewing the whole world as simplistically as, in Jayne Ozanne’s opinion, I have been reading the Bible. I will admit I was never offended by builders’ bums and I enjoyed wolf whistles.

The celebrations to mark 100 years of Women’s Suffrage — which it strictly wasn’t—I found frankly bizarre. The BBC, along with almost every women’s magazine and most newspapers, behaved as if they had just invented women. Until this year women, in the eyes of the women who know best, had been under valued, totally unremarkable, full of misery, angst and frustration; victims, one and all, of man’s inhumanity to women.

What a load of codswallop. If that view of the ‘Sisterhood’ were true the human race would have died out thousands of years ago.

In truth, what these modern women are doing is killing off the genuine camaraderie, fellowship and jollity that has always existed between women. It depended on shared experiences, chores, ideas, child raising and man-management. It involved compassion, independence, collaboration, resourcefulness and enormous amounts of fun and laughter.

I can remember walking home from school with a group of friends and their mothers. To my intense embarrassment, at one point, my mother collapsed on the ground with the bike she’d been pushing on top of her. No, she wasn’t drunk; nor were the other Mums. They were just helpless with laughter.

Don’t see much of that with the modern ‘for your own good’ activists, do you? Moaning minnies, most of them.

I certainly wouldn’t want to belong to any gang, of which Ms Justine Greening is an example. Thank God she’s no longer Minister of Education. I wouldn’t trust someone so insensitive and illogical to take charge of anything involving people, especially impressionable young people.

Among the things she wanted to do was to allow men to claim they were women just by thinking themselves women. What sort of encouragement is that for women athletes for example? Don’t believe that can happen? It’s happening in America. What’s more, in an American High School, when a top girl sprinter got beaten into second place by a boy who said he was a girl, the beaten girl just shrugged and said “That’s the way it is.” Doesn’t seem to me fifty years of women’s lib has done much for real women.

For sheer insensitivity how about this. Ms Greening can see no reason why a man who thinks he is a woman shouldn’t work in a Women’s Refuge. A Women’s Refuge is a place where you go to escape extreme physical violence and abject terror in your home. Imagine arriving at what you trust will be a place of safety and peace to be welcomed by a hulking male assuring you he’s really a woman.

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NOT members of the Sisterhood. Too busy doing their own jobs.

Sadly it’s not just political women who say daft things. Women bishops are as bad. The latest nonsense from an episcopal pulpit comes from Bishop June of Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff.

“But isn’t it inspiring that social history is changing in front of us? If you think back to Florence Nightingale, she would probably have been a bishop had she been allowed.”

Come to think of it perhaps that’s not so bizarre. One bishop tipped to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury is an ex-top Nurse, now Bishop of London. Given Florence Nightingale’s decidedly unorthodox views on Anglicanism, these days she’d probably be a prime candidate. Except that I think she would have aimed much higher — Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, more like.

 

Weasel Words and Nonsense

Once upon a time, long ago when I was young, Bishops were wise men of learning and Vicars and Rectors knew a fair bit of Theology. Even when they weren’t quite so clever nor so well educated they still had an abundance of common sense. If you went to them with a problem they could talk it through with you to a sensible solution.

Obviously times change, standards change, ideas change, but is it only my age that makes me think bishops these days have gone bonkers?

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“Celtic” bishops vainly hoping for Unity with the Vatican

Certainly, when I saw the above photo it seemed to me that the Welsh bishops—all six of them—had, collectively, lost their marbles. They had all toddled off to Rome with the excuse that they were there to aid Christian Unity. This jolly was despite the fact they all support—fairly agressively—women priests, women bishops, and same sex marriage. They must be stupidly naive if they thought there was any chance that Rome would adopt their views just like that.

Perhaps they got the idea from +Gregory, the bishop up here in St Asaph. He had a jolly to Ireland recently in the interest of Christian Unity with various Orthodox bishops, none of whom will have anything to do with women priests or same sex marriage. (These bishops should not be confused with the great Russian and Eastern Orthodox churches, which is presumably why the meeting was held in Dublin.)

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The Bishop of St Asaph is in Unity with them but not with me.

Of course, any initiative which can bring about Christian Unity must be a good thing but the so-called Celtic bishops had a fat chance of achieving anything with the Vatican. I can’t help feeling they could have spent their time much more effectively, though not so exotically, closer to home.

Where is all this “good disagreement” we hear so much about? Where are the forums where differing views can be discussed and debated quietly and intelligently? Not in Synod, I’m afraid. Where is the “diversity” the clergy are bending over backwards to embrace. I wouldn’t be welcome by the Vicar in my “parish” church because I can’t support SSM. Worse than that,  as an advocate for marriage between a man and a woman, preferably for life, the inference is that I must be homophobic. So far, the vaunted advantages and benefits of Mission Areas haven’t provided even one church in my Area which will give me a “safe, sacred space” where I can feel at home.

A year ago—was it really only 12 months ago? It seems like another age—the Bishop of St. Asaph appointed an LGBT chaplain. At the time, when asked what she would say to people who couldn’t support her, the Revd Hildreth-Osborn replied: “To those who aren’t supportive, I’d say, ‘If you’re judging people, you have no time to love them!”

If you take the time to think about those words you realise they’re a typical ‘soundbite.’ Sound good: mean nothing. What does she think Jesus meant when He said, to the woman taken in adultery, for example. (John:8) over, “Go, and sin no more”?He realised she had done something wrong, had told her so, but had not stopped loving her.

The ridiculous phrase, “Radical new Christian inclusion” used by Paul Baynes, Bishop of Liverpool, in his endorsement of the Jayne Ozanne Foundation, seems to mean kicking out the Gospel of Jesus while supporting “Just love for all”, whatever that means.

Jayne Ozane says she believes people can believe what they like.  Good, In introducing her new Foundation she also said that people like me have “A simplistic and ill-informed view of the Bible.” That’s exactly what she has.

Sadly, the Celtic Bishops would rather jaunt off to Rome than potter round their dioceses trying to establish any sort of unity with those of us who have been pushed out of our churches in the name of new radical LGBTQUIA+ inclusion.

 

 

The Time is Now

 

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The Holy Family by Murillo

Just before Christmas my son and his family moved in to live with us, so, instead of making New Year resolutions I’ve been meditating on the world in which my two granddaughters, aged four and six, will be growing up. They were not entirely happy thoughts; there is too much in the media that I find confusing and alien.

Curled up in an ancient armchair reading Beatrix Potter to the granddaughters is a timeless experience although I’m surprised Potter’s books haven’t been banned yet. “The Tale of Two Bad Mice” involves a story of theft and vandalism and there is surely too much cruelty to animals in the “Tale of Peter Rabbit” to be tolerated by the snowflake generation. Sitting on the floor playing with Elsa and Anna from “Frozen” isn’t quite so nostalgic; these “dolls” are more like dolly birds, with their sexy outlines and enormous Disney eyes. Fortunately, the elder one actually prefers Lego, the younger is animal mad and both seem healthily ignorant of sex and gender.

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Elsa from Frozen

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Peter Rabbit and his family

In such an idyllic family scene what can there be to worry me?

I am worried because the two pillars of my world are the two things that are now so under threat that they could well disappear before the girls reach adulthood. Those two fundamental ‘pillars’ are the Anglican church and the Family which have formed the bedrock on which I have built my life.

Way back in November, 2014 the Welsh bishops held a conference in Llandudno, called ‘The Time is Now’ to announce the great reformation that would result in 2020 Vision. (2020 Vision is intended to celebrate the 100 years since the Church in Wales broke away from the Church of England.) It was designed to ‘revitalise churches’ and provide ‘a place where ministry and mission would be done in new and creative ways.’

We can all see what these ‘new and creative ways’ are doing to our revitalised churches, can’t we?  Parishes have been abolished (though I doubt many parishioners know that) and the newly created Mission Areas are driving to depression and despair the few valiant souls who are trying desperately to keep open their moribund churches.

At the time of the conference three years ago I already had grave doubts about it. Why Llandudno? Nearby St Asaph and Bangor both have cathedrals on sites dedicated to Christianity since the sixth century. However, this conference was to be held in a theatre. Not just any theatre but an aggressively secular concrete box with nothing remotely spiritual about it. And in keeping with the surroundings an altar was built out of empty cardboard boxes. Honestly! I couldn’t make it up.

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Altar of Empty Boxes

However, the time is truly Now if we want to save the two fundamental institutions of church and family. There are many strands woven together that have caused this disaster but at its heart are hubris, hypocrisy, LGBT+ and the fuss made about Same Sex Marriage.

Christian Marriage has to be between a man and a woman.

I believe marriage serves a purpose—nothing less than the continuation of the human race. Creating and nurturing a new human being is not only the most important thing we do but is the only completely, utterly creative thing we do.

Very early on, homo sapiens discovered that the best way to care for the next generation was within a close knit family unit, with a mother and a father who were prepared to commit to each other and their children until death—not divorce—divided them.

That is what marriage is. That is what it is for. That is its purpose.

Since we are fallen, finite human beings we make a mess of it over and over again, but that is no reason to abandon the ideal. I could list endless studies that prove that children brought up by a father and a mother who are married and who stay married to each other are given the best possible start in life. Nothing else does the job as well.

Unfortunately, even the Archbishop of Canterbury seems happy to accept second best.

During a visit to Christian leaders in Moscow he warned that churches must learn to live with a world in which families are no longer led only by married couples.

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Archbishop Welby meets His Holiness Kirill in Moscow on  21st November 2017

He went on to say, ‘in the last 40 years there has been a great shift in the understanding and the reality of family life’.

There has certainly been a great shift in the reality of family life and a universal acceptance of what my generation quaintly called ‘living in sin.’ Which wouldn’t matter except for the fact that only one in three children born to co-habitating parents remains in a stable family until the age of 12, compared to three out of four children born to married parents. That’s quite a significant difference, no matter how good a job single mums and assorted step parents are doing.

            He ended up by saying ‘The family, however it is experienced, is the place where we can be at our strongest and most secure.’ True, but why tag it on the end of his speech, without emphasising its crucial importance. I think he was cowardly not to  make it crystal clear that Christian marriage is the best option.

If the Archbishop won’t stand up for marriage and all the benefits that accrue from it, including to the state, then we, us, you and me, will have to.

The Time is is NOW.

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How to entertain two small girls on a cold wet Saturday afternoon. Nor are these boxes empty. They have been beautified in order to keep special treasures in them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know

This is mad.

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This was an invitation to members of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario to attend an inclusiveness training session in Canada back in the summer. I would like to think it was a joke but I doubt it. Have you noticed how totally lacking in humour activists of any sort are?

The acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Genderqueer, Bisexual, Demisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Twospirit, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Asexual, Allies, Pansexual and Polyamorous.

About the only thing that is clear from this is that these people are certainly into sex!

The ad makes the claim that “only 1% of members of the ETFO are open with their identities.” In addition, there is this extraordinary statement. “Some surveys suggest as much as half the public secretly identifies as LGBT …..”

That really is mad.

This is bad.

Christians should pray for Prince George to be gay, says senior Scottish reverend –  headline in the Independent newspaper.

I wasn’t surprised when I learned who the “senior Scottish reverend” was. (I’ve commented before on this particular Rev on my blogs “How to Get Your Knickers in a Twist” Jan 17th and “Shame” Jan 23rd, 2017

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The Very Revd Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, and a campaigner for LGBT rights in the Church suggested in a blog that ‘the fastest way to make the C of E more inclusive [is] to pray for Prince George to be blessed one day with the love of a fine young gentleman’.

Is this Very Reverend gentleman seriously suggesting that we should pray that a four year old boy will grow up gay in order to make churches more inclusive! Clearly our Kelvin isn’t a parent. We pray a lot for our children but mainly along the lines of keeping them fit and healthy and happy. Perhaps we’ll add an occasional request that they are also tolerant, generous and kind.

Surely there can’t be parents who pray that their children will be somewhere—anywhere—on the LGBDTTTIQQAAPP spectrum.

Churches already have a far higher proportion of the LGBT+ brigade in their ranks than the general community so if they’re not inclusive whose fault is that?

I presume that the Rt Revd Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, must be already so deep into his pre-Christmas Retreat that he hasn’t had time, away from his prayers and meditations, to notice this. If he were aware he should be yelling from his pulpit “This will not do!” Given the way his church just voted on Same Sex Marriage I suppose he thinks it will do very well. It won’t. It’s really very bad.

This is Dangerous.

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Everything about this advert is awful. 

This is promoting something so dangerous that I thought the Archbishop of Canterbury should sack the All Saints clergy immediately, and close the building until it has been fumigated or re-sanctified, or whatever is done to a church in which heresy and blasphemy have occurred.

My concern and outrage had nothing to do with Islam. What was worrying me was the appalling lack of understanding of the most basic tenets of Christianity that a service like this reveals.

However, although All Saints was built in 1120 AD I’m not sure how much of the atmosphere of a sacred space it still retains. Here is a page from the church website.

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Start of the church website

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Reviews for All Saints, Kingston

Have you noticed how often, just as you think it couldn’t get any worse—it does. These little birthday parties, for the Prophet Mohammed and a chap called Jesus, are the creation of the Church of England Liturgical Commission.

I used to bemoan the falling congregations in the church. Now I thank God that so many more Christians are turning away from all the mad, bad and dangerous absurdities that are being spouted in once sacred spaces.

 

“It Beggars Belief!”

That, at least, is what my builder said a month or so ago, after he’d spent a week trying to buy three square metres of Welsh slate for a hearth. He could get Brazilian or Spanish slate delivered in a week, but not Welsh slate. Not only could he not get a delivery date for Welsh slate—“depends how long it takes us to dig it up” he was told—but he couldn’t even get a price for it, beyond the information that Welsh slate would cost about twice as much.

Given that I live a mere 21 miles from Blaenau Ffestiniog I could understand his frustration.

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Blaenau Ffestiniog – The nearer ‘hills’ are actually great heaps of slate

When this photo was taken, in the 19th century, Blaenau’s proud boast was that this was the town that roofed the world. They still use slate today, but mainly to make little kitsch items for visitors’ souvenirs, which in a way sums up this century, so far. Twee and trendy coasters. Nothing like the old slates that have been providing solid floors, impervious to the mud and muck of farmer’s boots, for over 200 years.

Not that the people of Blaenau aren’t trying hard to move into the 21st Tourist century. It’s not just mountains and castles up here.  All the old world is still here but transformed into places of amusement, information and, frequently, thrills. The Ffestiniog Railway offers steam engine tours, in retro railway cars, through the Snowdonia National Park, all the way down to Porthmadog.

In the Llechwedd Slate Caverns you can now experience life in a rock quarry and visit workshops and history exhibits. If that’s not exciting enough a trip to the Deep Mine takes you down the steepest (1:1.8) passenger railway in Britain. There’s also the world’s largest underground trampoline and a zip wire.

Surf Snowdonia’s wave machine provides superb surfing waves every few minutes in what was once an Aluminium works.

And then there are zip wires on a mega scale.

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This zip wire will take you for a mile over the Penrhyn Quarry.

However, to get back to my slate hearth. Nigel is nothing if not persistent and he finally found Richard, in Blaenau, who said he could supply enough Welsh slate, cheaper than the Brazilian quote, and within a week.

‘Yfory’ is Welsh for ‘tomorrow’ — it’s a word we hear frequently. Finally, more than two weeks later, the slate arrived. It was the right slate, but the slabs were far too small. ‘It’s what people want these days,’ Richard said. ‘Not my client,’ Nigel told him.

Finally, big, thick, second hand slates were delivered and have been installed. They’re obviously from Blaenau originally; how do we know? slates from different quarries are different colours.

Apart from being persistent, Nigel is an old fashioned craftsman, highly skilled, knowledgeable, shrewd and with the true craftsman’s appreciation of other fine workmanship.

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I used to use this old range as a sort of “hostess” trolley but my grandchildren all thought of it as part of a scary witch’s kitchen

After he and Mark, his mate, had removed the old kitchen range (c. 1875 and therefore a ‘modern’ addition) he called me to inspect the result. It was clear that, in order to install their new range, the then owners of the farmhouse had had to dig down about 18 inches below the original hearth. This left walls—if you could call them walls—and floor of rubble, soil and clay, apart from one large rock which must have been too big to move.

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To give them their due the people who did this work were probably sheep farmers rather than builders doing their best at a bit of DIY.

Then Nigel drew me into the inglenook to look up the chimney. Above me, arching up 20 feet or more, was the most beautifully shaped and pointed stonework.

“Awesome,” said Nigel. “As good as anything in Caernarfon  Castle.”

This house may not be built on solid rock, there’s quite a bit of rubble and clay underneath it, but those old farmers were faithful chapel goers. At least they knew not to build their home on sand.

As for the slate quarries—I’m glad they are making a new life out of the old, but surely, if there is still a need for slate, and there must be if it is worth importing it more than 5,000 miles across the ocean, why on earth can’t they still do what they used to be best at?