Surely This is the Wrong Way Round!

A schoolgirl is offended by a bus driver’s view of Pride marches so she complains and the driver is suspended.

An habitual criminal, offended by a judge’s kindly meant advice, which he interprets as abusive language complains, too. The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice (no less) uphold the complaint and reprimand the Judge – twice. Once for making the remarks and secondly for refusing to apologise.

This seems to me to be completely topsy turvy, if not barking mad. Since when have middle aged bus drivers been told what they may and may not believe by school girls? And, even more bizarrely, when have judges been condemned for hurting the feelings of habitual criminals?

Let’s take the judge and the fat man first.

Recorder Julian Malins QC was the judge in a case that, in the end, was dismissed. The accused, who was so obese that he had had to be helped into the dock, said that the verdict was a weight off his shoulders. Mr Malins replied ‘You had better not worry about the weight off your shoulders, but should rather worry about the weight on your body’.  The defendant then asked the judge to repeat himself, which he did, along with sound advice about the benefits of losing weight and getting a job.

In the circumstances I think it was very kind of Mr Malins to take the trouble to bother with the defendant at all. Most people would have washed their hands of him.  He is now in his fifties, has appeared in court 40 times in 35 years, has accumulated 60 convictions and served several prison terms including a lengthy sentence for GBH with intent. 

Mr Malins, an eminent QC with an international reputation, on the other hand, took the trouble to tell him the truth. The obese gentleman in the dock, whoever he is, would definitely be better off if he lost some weight. In addition, if you are unemployed and have a propensity to commit crimes, it’s a very good idea to try and get a job. This shouldn’t be too difficult if you were a chef, as this chap was, given the way cafés and food outlets are replacing shops on every high street. These are common sense facts of life. If at all possible you are better off in work and healthier if you are slimmer rather than fatter. Mr Malins was telling the Truth. 

But in this mad world of 2019 the law was firmly in the side of the fat old lag.

Fortunately, Mr Julian Malins, QC is senior enough, eminent enough and sensible enough not to take his formal warning too seriously. Had he been much younger with a career still in front of him, make no mistake, the statement from the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office could have done a lot of harm.

The schoolgirl and the bus driver is less serious in some respects but just as worrying in other ways. To those of us who thought we knew the difference between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, feelings and facts this incident shows how offended feelings trump common sense every time, particularly young offended feelings. Have you noticed how often young students win hands down over older, experienced, wiser, cleverer teachers? What makes it worse, though this is becoming increasingly common, the complaint was made and the driver condemned on Twitter!

This story begins with a Norfolk bus driver. 

“I am not driving this bus because it promotes homosexuality,” the driver told passengers at Norwich Bus Station. It was promoting something which was against his religious principles. He said they would have to “wait a minute” for him to swap buses.

This appears to have been a red rag rather than a rainbow flag to sixth former Rebecca Sears. While the bigoted driver swapped buses she complained to the front desk of the bus station, then she took a photo of the driver, then she twittered.

“Today I was waiting for the 501 bus to Thickthorn and we were told by the driver we had to wait for him to swap buses as ‘this bus promotes homosexuality and I refuse to drive it’ due to the multicoloured ‘501’ sign. Norwich doesn’t appreciate homophobia,” she tweeted.

 “I’m aware everyone is entitled to their own views however, if you can’t do your job properly because of your bigotry, maybe you need rethink your choices,” she wrote.

Quick as a flash the bus company responded.

“As a company we do not condone any behaviour from our drivers that does not support this view. The driver involved in this incident has been suspended and a full investigation is underway.”

Well, we can hardly blame the bus company for reacting like that since they have the example of the Lord Treasurer (David Gauke MP at the time) and the Lord Chief Justice jumping straight in to support offended feelings.

I still have limited hope for Common Sense because, in the eyes of the Law of this Land, discrimination on the grounds of beliefs is just as bad as discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Not in the eyes of all its minions, however. If we aren’t careful we will soon have Law by Twitter. Perhaps we should try and reach agreement over Brexit by Twitter.

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Hero or Villain?

 

 

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Yes, of course he was — Churchill, that is.

He was a great man so everything about him was larger than life. He drank too much. He smoked too much — even though those cigars were often unlit. He had unacceptable views about non-white people.

 

 

He also had enormous courage, faith in the people he served as a politician and was prepared to tell the truth no matter how unpalatable.

 “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

Imagine anyone having the guts to tell us something like that these days.

I can remember seeing him. I was taken to the Victory Parade when I was seven and I saw Mr. Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with the Royal Family. Aged 15 I can remember being in a cinema in France. When Churchill appeared in a newsreel there was a burst of applause and cheering.

So, all you, who think you are valiantly fighting for justice and liberty, don’t get too cocksure of yourselves. You need to begin looking at things from the ‘Both/And’ perspective.

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The solid rock of Snowdon

Can’t you see how limited and illiberal your ‘Either/Or’ attitudes are? Things are almost never strictly one thing or another. Certainly a rock is a rock, solid as the Snowdon Range which I can see outside my window. So was the sand in the Conwy Estuary which I can also see if I turn my head.

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Sand on Conwy Estuary

People are always ‘Both/And.’ Good and bad. Saint and sinner. Hero and villain. Straight as a die and as crooked as a corkscrew. Right and wrong — all together in the same package.

Please remember that, you who are so sure you are all right, and the rest of us are all wrong. Don’t be so loud in your condemnation of those with whom you disagree.

All you tinpot little heroes, don’t try to stop free speech in order to silence the villains. You may think you are rocks today but you could well be mere grains of sand tomorrow.

 

I love curry . . .

There’s nothing like a good takeaway curry on a Friday night for rounding off the week and giving a spicy start to the weekend. I also love reading and knitting and a good straight malt.

And I “love” God. For that reason I think the English word love is one of the weakest, niggardly, most pathetic words in the English language.

However, over in America there’s a Curry that doesn’t love Love and a Love that doesn’t love Curry! Which is awkward because both Curry and Love are Bishops in the Episcopal (i.e. Anglican) church.

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“Love” says Bishop Michael Curry

Over here in Britain millions more people now know about the Right Reverend Michael B Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal church thanks to the impassioned sermon he preached at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, all about love. Not at all the sort of sermon we’re used to in your usual society wedding but certainly memorable.

This same Bishop Curry is now at odds with one American bishop – ironically with the name of “love”! The problem is simple. Bishop William Love is the only bishop in the Episcopal Church who believes, deeply and sincerely, that marriage is between a man and a woman. (There may be other bishops who don’t much like SSM but Bishop Love is the only one who is prepared to stand up and be counted.)

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Bishop William Love of Albany, USA

Bishop Love cannot support something called resolution BO12, which basically says if you won’t allow same-sex marriages in your diocese nor allow other bishops to come in and oversee them for you then you have to go. So much for good disagreement and embracing diversity.

Type ‘love’ into the thesaurus and you get dozens of synonyms, from ‘affection’ and ‘adoration’ to ‘mad for’ and ‘soft spot’! ‘Lust’ is also included but it’s interesting that the word ‘charity’ doesn’t appear. Perhaps wisely. Charity doesn’t always show itself in the best light these days. There have been too many charity workers who have clearly mistaken lust for love.

The Greeks had six words for genuine love, but Christians are usually happy with three. When we use love, and we don’t just mean “I very much like . . .” we mean eros, romantic love; passionate, over the moon love.

Romantic love is wonderful. Even thinking about it sends shivers up my spine! But, it has its limitations.

Imagine five years down the romantic line and you and your wife have three children. The youngest has a stinking cold, which she has given to you, a stuffed up nose so she can’t breathe and it’s three in the morning. Number one son has an ear infection and is screaming with pain.  Your wife has fallen and sprained her wrist. Half way through a full wash load yesterday evening the washing machine died.

I know, from long experience, that memories of candle light dinners, watching fireworks while drifting along on a boat on the Seine or tumbling abandoned in the hay, will be no help whatsoever in that scenario. If all you’ve got is Eros one or other of you will walk out at first light.

What you need – what we all need all through life – are masses of Agape and Philia.

Agape was a word we used to hear often in church years ago although Bishop Curry didn’t mention it and I never hear it in the church I now attend.

Agape is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love. After five years of marriage and three children, don’t forget Eros, but Agape is the love that will get you all through. Marriages thrive on romantic moments but only Agape will get you through the inevitable grim bits.

Then there’s Philia. This describes brotherly love and true friendship and in family life you need a lot of this—shown by loving friends and neighbours who will rally around in a crisis.

However, the addition of Agape and Philia will more than see you through. Because by now your love will have deepened to such an extent that you have compassion and tolerance and generosity which has not only enriched your own lives but those of your friends and neighbours. You are no longer alone living in an exciting erotic bubble.

This is why I thought Bishop Curry’s wedding sermon was inadequate. This is why I don’t trust Jayne Osanne and her Just Love slogan. That’s why I think love is the most inadequate word unless it’s attached to Bishop William Love who is a brave man.

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And I just love Milly!

We still live in interesting times.

I more or less gave up blogging last Autumn. I had a little flurry of activity in August when I posted four blogs in quick succession, and a re-post. Then nothing.

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The first of the August blogs recorded my difficulties in trying to spend some of the £10 million that the Church in Wales was giving to us for evangelism.

This is Allan Coote, a London bus driver, reading the Bible outside St Paul’s Cathedral last summer. But only for half an hour a week. The Dean and Chapter can’t cope with more than that.

 

In the second blog, among other things, I was expressing amused disbelief that the Freemasons had voted to include women—but only if they had first joined as men! The third blog, entitled ‘The Absurdity Goes On’ and posted on the same day, was inspired by a row over a wall plaque in York. It was to honour somebody called Anne Lister who was apparently the first famous English lesbian. The row erupted because the word lesbian did not appear on the plaque for fear of causing offence.

The fourth one, Storm in a Teacup appeared on August 11. It concerned the furore caused by Boris Johnson’s comment that a woman in a burqa looks like a letterbox. Actually he wasn’t completely correct. He meant the niqab – the burqa doesn’t have a slit in it.

Well, it was the silly season. So I decided to enjoy the summer and write again when I felt inspired. I re-posted one more blog – Tommy Tubby Again – on 28thSeptemeber as a tribute to my father. On September 28, 1918 he won the DSO. It was also his 25th birthday. After that nothing inspired me at all.

Three things have brought me back.

The first was checking my blog site for the first time in three months and discovering that people were still reading me. December 21st was the only day when I didn’t have a single visitor. Sometimes, someone obviously settled down to read many blogs one after the other. And when I counted I discovered I have readers far from the boundaries of Wales—in 28 different countries, in fact.

Well, I thought, perhaps I have still got something worth saying.

Secondly, serendipity. Several times in the last couple of weeks I have come across words and phrases, especially in the psalms, that seem to be nudging me to stand up and be counted.

And thirdly, the nudges and winks from my dear friends in Cardiff.

However, to be honest, I have nothing new to say. I still have just three things that I think are of fundamental importance.

The love of God as revealed in the Scriptures

The Anglican Church as it used to be but is no longer

Traditional marriage between a man and woman for the sake of family life which is the bedrock of a civilised society.

So while I’m wondering where to begin I am going to re-post my most read blog by far, from April 9th 2016. If I knew what there was about this particular blog that made it so popular I would do the same thing again and again. I suppose it must strike a chord with all the old Anglicans still sitting listening to meaningless words through empty services.

In any case, I suspect I shan’t be short of subject matter. Welby’s representative in Rome doesn’t believe in the Resurrection. Welby doesn’t want a lorry park in his Kent back yard. Curry is trying to silence Love. I’m sure I’ll find something to say.

Empty boxes, empty gestures, empty words

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“You Cubes” in a Welsh Cathedral-November 2014

When you leave something, whether it’s the Front Bench, a job, a marriage or a church, it may seem to onlookers that you have left after a row. When it becomes clear that it was a relatively small straw that broke the camel’s back, it may be thought that you left in a fit of pique, or on a whim, and that you’re too stubborn or too proud to apologise and return.

In fact, in almost every case, the small straw comes along after months, or years. In my case I came to the conclusion that I must sadly cut my ties to the Church of Wales after a couple of years of increasing frustration, irritation and hopelessness. After a Diocesan Conference in October 2014 which had left me feeling utterly disillusioned, the scales began to fall from my eyes the following month. That’s when I became convinced that the C in W was bumbling along a road I didn’t want to take, to a place I didn’t want to go.

Do you remember these boxes? The trendily labelled You Cubes.

For many years, in our village church, we used to fill old shoe boxes—at Christmas, or for Water Aid, or in response to a disaster like an earthquake. Some boxes were filled with baby clothes, others with small toys, games and crayons, and still others with toiletries—toothbrushes and toothpaste, scented soap, face cream and after shave. (In a crisis it’s important to restore self esteem and nothing does that better than a bit of luxury.)

The boxes in these photos are different. They are empty. Covered with shiny paper and all sorts of bits and bobs, they are supposed to tell the story of individual spiritual journeys. They seemed to me to be a perfect illustration of the saying “Fur coat and no knickers;” the complete antithesis of what our Lord Jesus Christ is all about. The more I looked at them the more I felt shock, puzzlement and finally outrage. Could no one, from Bishops, through Archdeacons, down to Area Deans, see the symbolism of the empty boxes, particularly just a few weeks before Christmas? Did no one in a lowly post in a Diocesan office dare say, what many must have thought, “this is a daft idea”?

Matthew 7:9-10 “Or which of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?”

These empty boxes summed up what I thought of the Church in Wales. Empty boxes, empty gestures, empty words.

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An altar of empty boxes. This says it all.

Tommy Tubby Again

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Today I am re-posting something I first published over two years ago.

It’s one way I can pay tribute to all those who have fought and suffered and died in all the wars throughout the centuries. I hope it may inspire a wave of prayer, not just against war but against the greed and sheer insanity that causes wars.

My father enlisted in August, 1914 aged 20. The reason for today’s post is because, 100 years ago today, it was my father’s 25th birthday.  It was also the day that he won the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

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(*I’ve added the words in italics to bring the old post up to date.)

“It’s always been a very sobering moment when I’ve told someone that my father fought in the First World War and they ask “Did he survive?”

Had he not survived I would be at least twenty years older than I am, and to be taken for 50 when you’re only 30 is certainly sobering, at least until you can get to a mirror, at which point you realise it’s their maths at fault not your face! [Of course, at 80, it doesn’t matter a scrap.]

The TV programmes about the Somme have been more than I can cope with, even though my father wasn’t there. This time 100 [98] years ago he was in France but further north and before the battle ended he was in Salonika. Then he went to Egypt, fought his way, literally step by step, to Jerusalem, was wounded so never got to Jericho and then returned to France for the last few months of the war.

Over the last two years, watching programmes about WW, and in conversations with friends, I’ve heard the word “damage” used over and over again, as if that needed to be emphasised. One only has to watch the News to know what sort of “damage” any sort of war causes. And, yes, my father was left damaged; by the time he was demobbed he was extremely deaf, though he rarely mentioned the fact. He had also won the Distinguished Conduct Medal, but he didn’t mention that, either.

But, and it’s a very big but, he would have been horrified if he thought anyone had believed him to be “damaged”.

Most of his friends and colleagues were also old Tommies. They were staunch, loyal, generous and utterly dependable. There were one or two ‘Eeyores’ among them, but most of them had a great sense of humour and also, perhaps surprisingly, a great sense of fun. They had been through unimaginable horrors and having learned to cope they continued to cope. In 1939 they took “Keep calm and carry on” in their stride.

I often wonder what my father would make of Now.

I have no idea if he would have voted to Leave or Remain but he would have been disgusted by the sheer nastiness the referendum provoked. Surprisingly, for someone of his generation, he was not racist, though he was slightly anti-semitic, and loathed Picasso and the Pope. He had learned to have great admiration for the Arab camel drivers in the desert, and though he and his comrades complained about the filth the Turks left behind them he respected their courage as soldiers.

As a cricket lover one of his heroes was W G Grace, whom he watched play many times. Another hero was Leary Constantine, [the West Indian all rounder who ended up High Commissioner of Trinidad and a life peer.]  Anyone who could play that beautiful game so elegantly had to be all right.

Then, take football. (Easier for the Welsh than the English at the moment.)[I can’t remember what that refers to.] If they camped in one place in the desert for more than a few days one of their first off-duty tasks was to clear space for a pitch. He was most generous so I don’t suppose he would have grudged Wayne Rooney his pay. I’m the family member who thinks it ridiculous that Rooney earns three times my school teacher son’s annual salary—in a week. [I believe Rooney is a bit of a has been now. Don’t know who the latest overpaid youngster is.]    However, he would have assumed that high pay demanded equally high standards of play and behaviour, to say nothing of some sort of repentance and recompense when you let your country down.

The old are set in their ways and we must move with the times. Of course! Where would I be without my iPad and iPhone? If only we could hold on to some of the old-fashioned standards and values that helped to make men like my father. They deserve more than mere remembrance.”

 

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My father’s DCM and the two identity tags he wore throughout the First World War.

 

Storm in a Teacup?

More like a hurricane in an eye bath.

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Should she have gone to Spec Savers?

This is Ruth Davidson. She is leader of the Scottish Conservatives and therefore an important and influential person. Her words carry a lot of weight. This is what she says:

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Daily Telegraph headline

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This is the sort of cross Christians can choose to wear if they so wish. This is the cross – not a crucifix – I normally wear around my neck. It is a symbol of my religion and, apart from occasionally getting entangled in bushes when I am gardening, it doesn’t impede me physically in any way at all.

 

 

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This is a burqa.

 

It is not a symbol of religion, according to Taj Hargey, Imam at Oxford Islamic Congregation. In a letter sent to The Times, Dr Hargey said there was “no Koranic legitimacy” for the burka, adding it was “a nefarious component of a trendy gateway theology for religious extremism and militant Islam”.

 

 

I would think it would certainly be a serious impediment to almost everything that one does in the normal course of outdoor life — which is when it is worn. Walking must be difficult and running impossible. Sight must be severely restricted. Hearing must surely be impaired. Imagine never feeling the sun on your face or the breeze in your hair. Inevitably, hidden inside something more nearly resembling a tent, the wearer must feel isolated, invisible and yet conspicuous in equal measure.

Several  countries around the world have already decided that this particular garment is an affront to human dignity and have banned its use in public. Boris Johnson hasn’t suggested banning the burqa — quite the reverse. He doesn’t think we should. Given how very few there are in Britain there doesn’t seem much point. All he did was make a very British funny comment likening a person in a burqa to a letter box. But Boris got one thing wrong.  You couldn’t post a letter in a burqa – it doesn’t have a slit. He meant the niqab.

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Fortunately, it’s August and the Silly Season in the media, otherwise I would be seriously worried about the sanity, to say nothing of the sight, of many of our leaders.

 

 

 

 

 

Get the L out of here.

 

 

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I’ve always been grateful to God for giving me a sense of humour. It has been my salvation so many times. Recently, I have begun to appreciate even more my sense of the absurd. In fact, I am coming to the conclusion that it is through a sense of the absurd that God is going to show us the dire straits we’ve got ourselves into. Some people have made the fatal error of taking themselves and their perceived needs too seriously. What is worse, they have done infinite damage by convincing those in places of power and influence that they must also have due respect for all this nonsense.

Remember when the Archbishop of Canterbury, no less, stood up and assured us that any sort of coupling, between any sort of gender, to create any sort of “family” unit, was as good as any other because that was the way the world is now. Untold studies and statistics have proved that children brought up by a man married to a woman in a long term relationship do better than any other arrangement. That is just a simple truth but very few people thought the Archbishop was being absurd.

Here are two pieces of news that have helped to convince me of God’s sense of the absurd.

Stonewall, the gay rights organisation, explain why they exist.

“We’re here to let all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, here and abroad, know they’re not alone. We believe we’re stronger united, so we partner with organisations that help us create real change for the better. We have laid deep foundations across Britain – in some of our greatest institutions – so our communities can continue to find ways to flourish, and individuals can reach their full potential. We’re here to support those who can’t yet be themselves.”

Unfortunately, yesterday’s Times explained how the organisation has managed to upset the Lesbians.

“Lesbians have accused Stonewall, the gay rights organisation, of erasing biological women by saying that ‘male-bodied persons with penises’ can be lesbians.
The Lesbian Rights Alliance (LRA) has sent an open letter to Stonewall demanding that it take the L out of LGBTQ because it makes ‘lesbians invisible and erases lesbians through its promotion of the Trans Agenda’.
“The 135 signatories say that Stonewall supports the absurd idea that male-bodied persons with penises can be lesbians’.”

Well, it is absurd. But there’s so much that’s absurd about LGBTQAI brigade statements. Those 7 letters could have another 64 initials added to them to include the 71 different genders that are supposed to exist at the moment. Once one gender, such as the Lesbians, break away that will be the start of chaos. I foresee a time when there will  be a ‘Pride’ march every week to cater for every category. There’ll be a Bi-gender march, not to be confused with the Non-Binary march, and a Trans-sexual female march which is not the same as a Trans-gender female march. In addition, Agenders, and Androgynes appear to be quite separate from the Androgynous, to say nothing of the Two-spirits or the simply Other.

What worries me is that this nonsense isn’t limited to the 2% of the population who claim to belong to one or other of the 71 different genders. If you don’t believe me look at this from yesterday’s Guardian. Even the most respectable and dignified of organisations can’t seem to see the absurdity of what they are doing.

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‘“A Freemason who after initiation ceases to be a man does not cease to be a Freemason,” says new guidance issued by the Freemasons’ governing body, the United Grand Lodge of England. Those who have transitioned from female to male can also apply, the guidance makes clear.’

How can any journalist write that and not question the logic? Why would anyone who had loaded his body with hormones and had his penis chopped off, in order to become a woman want to join a men only organisation. Doesn’t that strike you as really, truly mad?

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?

 

 

 

 

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.