At Last. Common Sense from a Bishop!

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 10.14.16.png

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.”

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 14.11.35.png

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.

Advertisements

Easter Eggs? Cadburys Eggs? Curates Eggs?

2012-08-12 20.05.14.jpg

A new day dawns

I have been knitting. It’s what I do when I need to sit quietly and ponder on things.

There have been plenty of things that have plunged me into a period of despondency, puzzlement and confusion that required a lot of contemplation and hours of knit one, purl one.

Bishop Philip North is a traditional Anglo Catholic, who is not to be Bishop of Sheffield. The Revd Gavin Ashenden is a traditional Anglican and once a Chaplain to the Queen, who no longer recognises the Church of England as the church into which he was ordained. The Revd Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, is less traditional, is not to be the Bishop of Llandaff but nevertheless embroiled himself in the shenanigans despoiling that diocese.

Then there is the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, BA M.Ed PhD, 45th Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, professor of Theological Education at King’s College London, Professorial Research Fellow at Heythrop College London and an Honorary Canon of Salisbury Cathedral. (You’d be forgiven for thinking you can’t get much more traditional and establishment than that.) He wrote 5,000 words and then another 5,000 words from his privileged position telling us—sorry, I’ve forgotten what exactly he said—but it wasn’t entirely traditional.

Lastly, to come down from those lofty heights, there was the case of the misnamed eggs involving Cadburys and the National Trust.

All this in the run up to Holy Week and Easter. No wonder I found it too much.

“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

Obviously not. We were all far too busy getting our knickers in a twist. About sex, naturally—it’s what the church talks about these days—also lies, including the BBC’s wilful misinterpretation of the ComRes poll that claimed that 25% of Christians don’t believe in the Resurrection. There were arguments about who said what to whom and when, and the true meaning of contentious words like agreement, disagreement, discernment, discrimination. And always, of course, how to be a victim in three easy lessons. Nothing new there then. No let up for Lent.

I don’t remember it was ever this complicated when my children were growing up. Easter and eggs are a potent symbol—so simple a child can understand.

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 12.54.57.png

New Life

An egg cracks open and a chick emerges. The tomb has been broken open and Jesus has risen from the dead.

Far from being a symbol of New Life a Cadbury’s Creme Egg is a dead egg.

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 13.50.19.png

A Cadbury’s Creme Egg

The inside of a Creme egg is full of a sickly gloop. Not much chance of new life there.

I suppose the closest it gets to a Christian egg is as a Curate’s egg—good in parts. A bit like the Anglican church in the UK.

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 12.03.58.png

The original Punch cartoon

A very happy and blessed Easter to everyone, especially my friends in Llandaft.