Tuesday 31 January 2012

Treat the Amendment Like the Covenant Should Be Treated

Interesting that this document promoting the Covenant should be sent to bishops on command of Rowan Williams. Talk about mischief! It's just one side of the argument, yet again. Here is a nugget of its summarising anti-American stuff:

And yet if we take the statement at face-value, it must express how these Episcopalians feel about their situation. These rich and powerful Americans, the most privileged people on earth, identify their own experience of being oppressed and persecuted for their advocacy of gay rights with, for example, the experience of black South Africans under apartheid.

And, later:

Rather than living as citizens of Christ's kingdom here on earth, the advance guard of his reign of justice, mercy, and peace, we are living as creatures in a Darwinian jungle, 'red in tooth and claw', using every available legal and illegal, political and verbal means to slash and savage one another, and all for what end - the right to claim the label 'Anglican'?

We do have a way out of this mess. Since we are caught up in the divine life, it ought to be second nature to us. The Covenant document...

Phew! This rubbish distributed to English bishops on the orders of Rowan Williams! No wonder half the dioceses are revolting. More is available in detail. Then, indeed in Blighty, and more immediately pressing perhaps...

It's regarding women bishops. It's been through the dioceses and it comes back to General Synod. This is the legislation to be passed on making women bishops. The idea is at this late stage to have another go at adding in the Archbishops amendment so that in some dioceses there will be a male bishop and in others there will be a female bishop and a male bishop, because there will be parishes that say no to the female one. She will have to accept that he - the pure bishop - has powers and responsibilities over the non-participants in her ministry. If there is a male led diocese but he had been consecrated by a woman bishop, then there will be a male and a pure male presumably. This is called co-ordinate ministry, though the two might not be co-ordinated. And if it is the same pure male chap hovering over many dioceses, with many different female and impure male bishops, then it will start to look like a whole of a province or at least a non-geographical diocese that guarantees purity. Should then an Archbishop arise from a female consecration of a bishop - and, let's face it, Sentamu was shoved up the greasy pole in record time - then presumably the pure male non-geographical 'diocese' as a whole will have to look for alternative oversight.

The different General Synod from the one that said no to the Archbishops' amendment last time might be told to 'read the ordinal' and vote as told by Archbishops, but if it is then it must go to the bishops. If they then said no to the Archbishops and their amendment but let's vote on the legislation as unchanged, then the Synod would say 'Hang on, we voted for its addition' and presumably would not vote for the unchanged to go through. If, on the other hand, the bishops say yes to the Archbishops, then the whole lot goes through the dioceses again.

But it went through the dioceses and most of them said no to extra special provision, as in the Archbishops' idea for co-ordinate ministry.

Once again Rowan Williams shows how he rams the brake on any progressive movement, as he is doing with the Covenant. John Sentamu is just his sidekick, and both of them operate by all the various means available to get their way, even when the whole Church by its representative bodies seems to have made its position clear. It's like a constitutional crisis between the Church and its representation from below and the purple that is its guide from above. Rowan Williams seems to think that the Church is Catholic and run from above.

But if so then the women can add themselves to gay people as doing their self-sacrifice for the purposes of the wider 'Catholic Church' project, and of course the whole female consecration thing might then come under the auspices of the Anglican Communion Covenant. After all, a province of Anglicanism that does not have female bishops might throw in an objection to the mother Church (that provides the Archbishop of Canterbury) having female bishops. The Standing Committee would then have to examine this and, of course, the Church of England could never be put on the outer ring of the Anglican Communion - after all, how then could it provide the Archbishop of Canterbury as one of the Instruments of Communion? When it comes to relational consequences or no women bishops, it will be no women bishops.

So, girls and boys, now's your only chance to say no to the Archbishops' amendment just as you ought to say no to the Covenant. It will only hold you back for years and years.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Radio Chadderbox in Jamaica

Lara Crofter: This is a networked interview from Lara Crofter of Radio Chadderbox interviewing the Archbishop of the North of the Church in England, the Most Reverend John Sendmehome. I'm not in Wykkyfish but, well, humm, Jamaica. Lovely!

John Sendmehome: She volunteered and that was even better.

Lara Crofter: Oh I get it. I've not heard that one before. You're a bit of a joker, we know that, keeps things from getting too serious: but tell me about your past. A big family?

John Sendmehome: Apparently if your parents never had children the lacklihood is you won't either.

Lara Crofter: I hadn't thought of that, like big and small families down the generations. True though. You are from Kenya?

John Sendmehome: Nah nah, Uganda. So many children yah see at Christenings look just like their father, when it's a pity they don't also look like the mother's husband; but I'm pleased to say that I look like no one on earth. Like I did a christening recently and she insisted to me he looks lack her working class man because the baby was bald, sleepy and uneducated.

Lara Crofter: But you didn't always do christenings. You were a lawyer?

John Sendmehome: What? Ahkay, let me tell yah. I grew up in a village and was often wandering off, so my mother changed my name from Luzim to Sendmehome. This way adults from various surrounding villages started bringing me back rather than using the big stick and telling me to clear off. She kept asking, "Where is Canaan?" and people would say, "In the Bible." So my first name was also changed from Canaan to Canu but since I was an adult I have answered to the simpler name of John.

Lara Crofter: Can you tell me...

John Sendmehome: Nah, John now tell yah. They say spare the rod and lose the child; I had a happy unspared childhood. I thought about Rowan instead of but that's also a girl's name. So many children in England tell me, you knah, that until they were fifteen they thought their name was Shutup.

Lara Crofter: You were successful. Well, I don't know. Perhaps I am working class or female.

John Sendmehome: Mah parrents paid for my school, but when Idi Amin became King of Scotland I thought I'd better go quick and see Scotland and so I moved to London and Cambridge as I soon preferred the Chach in England to the Chach in Scotland. Yes I have climbed or rather been pushed up the ecclesiastical grassy poll and now I am Archbishop of the North and represent an acceptable face of what they call radical inclassavity because there is acceptable and unacceptable yah see in ecclesiastical circles. But I still do christenings, just as ah still do burials and cremations.

Lara Crofter: But racism, that's a nasty feature of life. Has racism ever affected you?

John Sendmehome: Well the difference between cladgy, who are not racist because they prah a lot, and lay papple, who can be racist given the behavioural athics of secular society, is that some cladgy might call me shit but others in the laity have gone that bit further materially in their physical hattred. Racism denigrates people by category, by surface label, and no one shad do that but it has happened and badly and you have to deal with the difficulty and the pann it brings.

Lara Crofter: So radical inclusivee... inclusivity... and what is acceptable and unacceptable. I mean, here we are in the West Indies. So did the Church say yes to slavery and now only relatively recently has seen it as an evil, so, er, what about other forms of inclusivity and like valuing all human people. See, my brain hurts now and I might be thick, but it doesn't mean all women are thick. You favour marriage reform? Mr Cameron says gay marriage will strengthen bonds in society, and he's in favour because he is a Conservative.

John Sendmehome: See, Idi Amin as the King of Scotland. That's the sign of a dictator because you can't overturn the history and traditions of Scotland lack that, and in the same way David Cameron cannot overturn marriage, which is dependent on traditions and what sociatties, lack Scotland, understand. Marriage is between a man and woman.

Lara Crofter: So like gay people and relationships but they don't have the difficulty and pain that it brings.

John Sendmehome: Well friendships are good for everybody and so we said okah to Civil Partnerships.

Lara Crofter: Men and women together can be friends but they can't enter into Civil Partnerships. I thought the idea was gay people could kind of get married in a civil sort of way.

John Sendmehome: You can't have a situation where a man can ask another newly wed man in the hotel how he left his wife in the morning, and he says "smoking" and the other says, "Wow, really, mine was just a bit sore." I mean, we are tacking differently here: the State has no way of gifting marriage to anybody, you know it is not the rall of government to gift marriage.

Lara Crofter: I thought that's what they did do. Like, I got married in a civil ceremony and I can't then come down to your Church and get married again to someone else, much as I might want it you know. Not that I would but the government says I can't.

John Sendmehome: Yes it's lack the Mormon who says I wouldn't want my daughters to marry you. It's but strong traditions and what the people like working class people have long thought. Most of society actually sees this as a most ardered thing. So we said Civil Partnerships can be set up as lack civil marriage in that they should have no prayers - they are not marriage.

Lara Crofter: So a civil marriage is not a marriage then? It's just a friendship?

John Sendmehome: Nah the government, the State, says it is a marriage. So it is a marriage withat prayers. Look I am trying to find an aggament to refuse gay marriage or whatever it would be called. It can't be as good a marriage as the one I can do when I move my hands about and say magic wadds. Well, let's try the aggament from what lots of people think it all as about. I mean it's a big job to turn that around. Lots of entrenched attitudes, lack mine.

Lara Crofter: People have changed their minds, and quite quickly.

John Sendmehome: Lack as if gay people are not human beings - something that some cladgy, who are not racist, matt say, even if the lay people under secular society have changed their minds: well, look, that language doesn't work but all ah am saying is that the State should not redefine marriage. Set against tradition and history, dictators have tried to do it; even Idi Amin didn't dah that so why should David Cameron or Nick Clegg dah it or who's that other one? Social structures have been existing for a long time and the State cannot overturn them.

Lara Crofter: Who is controlled by tradition and history, who can't overturn social structures, if the time seems right to change? Isn't there an argument about new women clergy and bishops like you except they are women?

John Sendmehome: General Synod, at is contralled by tradition but can avverturn things. Well it goes through the dioceses and then needs two thirds, except the Covenant doesn't need two thirds as that might be too high a haddle. See, we are also widerning our observance of social and cultural structures through bringing in the Covenant. Archbishop Rowan Tree cannot see any ather future than having the Covenant, and this will surely not allow us to have gay marriage or bless with prayers civil partnerships, so we don't want marriage outside that wadder tradition and prejudice in the world that makes us think of as if marriage where we have prayers you know.

Lara Crofter: You're afraid the State might demand you do marriages. At the moment the Church has to marry anyone on its doorstep. Like there's your marriage and I like that, and there's civil marriage and I like that. Which one is better?

John Sendmehome: Ah no. General Synod, and lack the Archbishop says it as a body should 'read the ordinal' and take its cue from bishops. Look, we are just trying to stop others extending marriages. If people want religious registrations to lack marry them, then the present dictatorship says it will require an application to the registrar to have the worship place authorised and then the ahganisation will have to give approval, and in ahh case this means General Synod only and not bishops or anyone else. So gay friendly cladgy cannot jump the gun.

Lara Crofter: Then I can't see the problem, but may be I am a bit thick. It's then just other religious groups: Unitarians, Quakers, some Jews...

John Sendmehome: It's rather almost lack somebody telling you that the Chach, whose job is to waship God, will become an amm of the Ammed Fasses as if they must take amms and fight. You're completely changing tradition when you do that.

Lara Crofter: But my point is no one is asking you.

John Sendmehome: We ah the State Church. Does this not count for annathing anymore?

Lara Crofter: But people getting married with you has for a long time been a convenience; I mean your Church isn't much working class who use your churches like public conveniences.

John Sendmehome: Ah, yah, well that's a different matter. The Chach must do more to avoid its leadership being solely whatt and middle class.

Lara Crofter: I mean your Church was upper and middle class wasn't it, isn't it?

John Sendmehome: I don't want whatt whacking-class parishioners just being relagatted to making tea after services.

Lara Crofter: Don't women do that?

John Sendmehome: Yah. But to tackle all that I think we need to replace books with DVDs and audio books, because the simple people cannot read. We need DVDs showing whaah gay people cannot actually marry. We need support groups for single mothers and whaah they should marry men. I don't think we need theological books at the back of chaches with all that mumbo jumbo confusion but let's have cladgy tacking away for MP3 players in whatt whacking class pockets to help them disadvantaged think like me.

Lara Crofter: Or like Rowan Tree.

John Sendmehome: Does anyone manage to think lack him? Nah, we want inclassion: lack they put me on to chair the committee for minority ethnic Anglican concerns, just ethnic lack, and we mad progress but that now seems to be going backwards because black whacking class people and a lot of women who had been raised Anglicans are now joining Pentecostal churches. That’s a huge drain and I don't want to have to replace them with gays.

Lara Crofter: I fancy a walk. I've not been here before. Thank you then, is it Canaan, no Canu?

John Sendmehome: Simple John will do.

Lara Crofter: Thanks simple John. Over to the studio in Wykkyfish.

Friday 27 January 2012

Guests in Disguise at Radio Chadderbox!

Peter Levite: Well, welcome to a one off Radio Chadderbox Religion Review. Now we must be honest but we're down on our religion content broadcasting statistics, and we've taken the opportunity to invite visitors to the region and some of our old friends for a round table review of what's going on. But, apparently, I'm told some of you are not blogging any more.

Rowan Tree: I'm very pleased to hear it and whilst we may pray for people who blog I want us to pray even more for the Anglican Communion.

Graham Monarch: Excellent Archbishop: we pray for the Anglican Communion. In the name of...

Peter Levite: Not now, Bishop Monarch of somewhere I can't remember. No one remember? OK. So you, then, and I welcome our illustrious visitor to this region, Rowanov Treetri, the Archbishop of England.

Rowan Tree: No no. Apparently, the Russians as Orthodox have not exactly reviewed but we could say overviewed my standing within the identification they make of the Anglican Communion, and in such a manner have not requested but supposed that I return to a simpler name, although I must reflect upon their President Arthur Pewty and his ethical and bureaucratic standing as leader of a much larger organisation if not itself of the claim of being apparently dysfunctional.

Peter Levite: So you are now the Most Reverend Rowan Tree again.

Rowan Tree: This is the outcome of our conversations.

Peter Levite: And coming north you meet our more regular guest, Archbishop John Sendmehome, the Archbishop of the North. Have you changed your rather controversial sounding name?

John Sendmehome: What do you call a man hanging on a wall?

Peter Levite: I don't know. What do you call a man hanging on a wall?

John Sendmehome: Art. What do you call a man with a seagull on his head? Cliff.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: I worry about how we are going to train our faithful men to their parish ministries given the standard of leadership today.

Peter Levite: Welcome Bishop Bigg who is soon, what, a bishop of oversight of Confessing Anglicans? Is that a yes? Let me then introduce a woman who became a Unitarian minister here and then left it to marry the Anglican priest Rev. Tilgate after all and became an Anglican again, properly, Les...

Elbee: Nope. No no. I am now Elbee. I could be Eltee but for continuity I'll be Elbee. My husband is busy running the parish, our new home.

Peter Levite: Oh. And here we have er...

Pluto: Pluto.

Peter Levite: Pluto? You've changed your name as well? What's going on? You used to come here with Reverend Jade Stowaway. But this is...

Als Bells: Als Bells. I'm not wanting to say much. But we both worked with Wok Pan together and advanced clergy fashion and the all essential make up.

Peter Levite: So you now call yourself after a planetesimal, or a tiny planet, Pluto.

Pluto: I don't have much to do with Jade now, if I ever did. Jade seems to be very happy in London.

Rowan Tree: I am most impressed with the work you have been doing for the Anglican Communion in helping us to, I think, understand and work out the differences right in the dioceses by which we can put into process that which can bring us closer together in terms of identity in the much larger Catholic Church.

Pluto: Once I was really really conservative, but different about women, and I was and am really really charismatic and love it, but I'm also Anglican and that's wider than me and then there's all that abroad too so thank you yes. I'm Pluto but I might go back to, well, you know.

Harry Tickpaper: Yeah, not bad for a curate either: foreign travel, dealing with the big issues already.

Peter Levite: Local person Harry Tickpaper, who surely saw Elbee as a suitable Unitarian minister.

Elbee: Harry, I remind you that I co-ordinated the resistance to the Anglican Communion Covenant. And I promoted equality and gay inclusion in the Anglican Church. I said about honesty, being really honest and I told the world a lot about psychology.

Peter Goole: If liberals are resisting the Anglican Covenant, there must be an argument in favour of it. That's what that ugly chap said and I agree with him as he is Protestant and sound, though I'm a bit more Catholic and the Pope is a good chap really, gay in the proper ecclesiastical sense of the word.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: Eh? Well I don't think this gets to the heart of the problem, which is the actual need, in the churches, to maintain the narrow path of raising faithful ministers.

Rowan Tree: At this particular point I'd want to say that there is no future, corporately or individually, without the Anglican Communion Covenant coming into play; I cannot simply see what else could be suggested that would take its place. I have set out all the conclusions to which the various indaba processes must arrive.

Graham Monarch: Absolutely, Archbishop, and may I say how we receive your teaching with such humbling kneebendingness. In the great cold ice sheets of life, there is none like the Anglican Covenant. I know that people like Elbee have resisted it, and the dioceses are wobbling, but no one can resist the ice sheet that is the Anglican Covenant. And, yes, careers will depend on whether you sit on top of the ice or are consumed underneath the ice.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: I don't think this gets to the heart of the problem, as I repeat, which is the actual need, in the churches, to maintain the narrow path of raising faithful ministers and to do this we may need the same in overseers and have to look overseas, and I don't mean to The Episcopal Church or the Church of North India, but the Anglican Church of North America and many of the African Churches with their leadership.

Pluto: I invited Reverend Goole along. He's like with me but not with me, but he blogged too and, well, he didn't get a job after being a curate. So he now works in a bank.

Peter Goole: And I was upholding orthodoxy.

Peter Levite: Finally I invite a new local guest, the Most Reverend Doctor Barry Morgan Morgannwg Hankee, of the Arian Anglican Church, which is in a semi down the road from here? We were expecting your new associate Molly Lawyer Bakerman as well, but she hasn't come.

John Sendmehome: Semi or not, would your lot like to stop meeting in our cathedrals?

Barry Morgan Morgannwg Hankee: They are OUR cathedrals. The Anglican trinitarians and Roman Catholics before us are apostates and heretics. As for, humm, Bishop Molly, she is known for disappearing.

Rowan Tree: I wrote about the Arians and would suggest that your assertion is somewhat debatable.

Barry Morgan Morgannwg Hankee: Not only is the true faith Arian, but Jesus Christ was a Jewish first born of creation and spent most of his life here in England. And after his uncle buried him, and his spirit arose, his uncle came back here and established the first Christian church. So we should have our cathedral of Christendom at Glastonbury. You as a Unitarian attender should agree with me Harry.

Harry Tickpaper: Believe me. You have nothing to do with Unitarianism and all claims of connections are bogus. Francis William Newman is a hero of mine and he was no Arian, never mind many of the others your publicity mentions recent and past, near and far.

John Sendmehome: I just luuuuv Prog Rock. I met Phil Collins once and said do you play things on request and he said yes, so I said can you play cards instead?

Peter Levite: So what is with all this name changing then? Elbee, my researcher says you had this leading blog and fantastic statistics and then, without notice, it closed down.

Pluto: No more statistics chasing, unless I do.

Elbee: No, no more statistics chasing and women bloggers achieving more. Peter: can I call you that? I just love local ministry. Once we moved location we decided without notice that I should shut down the blog completely.

Harry Tickpaper: Without notice. Speaking generally, blogs are dangerous things. If you have a blog, and you are a minister of religion, the locals start to read it. And that way they start to question your direction. They don't necessarily understand. Also, the places where you candidate also read the blog and you can't get a job after being a curate. And if you are married, and your partner is the boss, you can't queer his or her pitch, so to speak. And if you oppose the core policies of the bureaucracy, like on the Covenant, then there are others that mark you down. There are lots of underhand things happening at the moment.

Rowan Tree: I hope you are not implying that I have anything to do with matters so called underhand.

John Sendmehome: I hope you were not implying that I have anything to do with these underhand things going on.

Graham Monarch: The disloyal oppostion should realise that there are career consequences as well as relational consequences. It's called Church order.

Elbee: I just love local ministry. I decided for the Anglican Church and that means, necessarily, of course, compromises.

Harry Tickpaper: But let's not mess about: when that Covenant comes into play, you folks in favour of inclusion will be frozen, stuck. All the things you campaigned for will be impossible.

Rowan Tree: They will not be impossible. These matters will rather be not quite subjected but invited into a process where those slow to accept potential change, yet without a particular consensus, will still be able to be heard and therefore those that go ahead with such change will simply undergo relational consequences - as mentioned - that will not happen if they opt in to the process.

Peter Levite: And Pluto, what about you? Your blogging?

Pluto: There are lots of exciting changes going on out there and in my head. I want to still have that debate that comes from that really really engaging theological discourse, the text that Gadamer drives our total world view as ministers of religion even if most people have a secular outlook or, as I have discovered, abroad, with different faiths. But, Elbee, that's not necessarily local ministry, and so I'd chosen just to converse the textual drive with the people who want to engage and stimulate...

Als Bells: And we can talk about fashion and make up too, without being told we are letting us girls down.

Pluto: But then that might not be enough fresh air and I want the fresh air. Let's just do it regardless.

Rowan Tree: I empathise with this desire for theological dialogue, and indeed away from my direct governance responsibilities I can discuss the exegesis of the Qur'an or the Bhagavad Gita in lectures, or tackle matters of the economy and motivation. I recommend Juan de Mariana's A Treatise on the Alteration of Money which is all about a Spanish perspective on Kings and altering the coinage: low on theory but a practical early modern theological economics. And of course there is the theology of the faithful relationship between pairing individuals that we can negotiate. I have every sympathy with the Gadamerian view derived from Heideggar that Being is dynamic and action-based through time and indeed I work upon this in some narrative detail.

Peter Goole: But is this orthodoxy?

Barry Morgan Morgannwg Hankee: The sooner we re-establish orthodoxy the better, and properly scriptural. Arius was right.

Peter Goole: You telling me I'm not scriptural?

Barry Morgan Morgannwg Hankee: Jesus walks around the earth, and yet 1 John can say no one has seen God? That's one against the Trinity is it not? You're extra-biblical.

Elbee: Oh come on. The Trinity says that God is social and Christ is the headline figure one follows, right, in the Spirit - I think.

Peter Goole: Is this orthodoxy?

Barry Morgan Morgannwg Hankee: It's clear that Christ is the first born of all creation and that is clear from the opening words in John's gospel which is far more Gnostic than the faithful direct words of the Gospel of Thomas.

Pluto: The Trinity and our faithfulness to the threefold God is part of our necessary standard of performance as Christians, delivered in revelation in total, as a whole textual encounter, and in any case I feel it as experience when I'm in the right kind of worship group. Though I'm committed to all the more mundane Anglican traditions and see more in them than I did. Do people understand this?

Peter Goole: But is it orthodoxy?

Harry Tickpaper: It looks like orthodoxy. It should appear like orthodoxy, and of course it sounds great, but when the untrained eye goes beyond first impressions it becomes a confusion. But the world view we have is technological; ours is about what works; paradigms are subject to shifts of course but need better foundations than 'expectations of performance' or story telling, and I'm saying there is a place for a return to history and what is possible and not possible in history, just as we must have science and not the make-believe of miracles or supernatural endtimes. I'm postpostmodern now, but I always was a soft postmodernist.

Elbee: I'm postmodern, I really believe in postmodernity.

Pluto: I'm postmodern - as in postliberal and poststructural. Not that I was liberal, in the past anyway. See, I understand English and grammar and I love theology when it is all about grammar!

Elbee: I'm still liberal. It's just that Harold Wilson is no longer my blogging bishop and I have other responsibilties and constraints.

Als Bells: I'm postmodern when it comes to fashion. Imagine stuffy clergy and the most fantastic things to wear - that must be postmodern because they clash.

Peter Goole: I'm orthodox. I blogged and even I couldn't get a job. People kept saying, 'You're a banker, you're a banker' on Skype and so I became a banker instead.

Peter Levite: I find interviewing via Skype very unclear with picture and sound. So then we have blogs shutting down and one going private and even an orthodox chap - he says - has paid the price. What about progress on ordaining women bishops? That's in the news.

Harry Tickpaper: You have a woman bishop now, Mr Arius.

Barry Morgan Morgannwg Hankee: Arians do not ordain women presbyters, but as Archbishop I will ordain women in exceptional circumstances when I feel like it.

Rowan Tree: I think that the dioceses have demonstrated well their acceptance for ordaining women as bishops, but have however failed to demonstrate their acceptance of necessary safeguards for those who are not able to be ordaining women as bishops, or find problematic the apostolic succession of women as bishops within Catholicism; and so both of us as archbishops will want to see that we can retain the relevance of the ordinal that does not accept women as bishops as well as that which does accept women as bishops, and members of the Synod should read the ordinal and take its cue accordingly - or I will get very angry.

Graham Monarch: We crave your leadership, Archbishop Tree.

John Sendmehome: You know I agree with you; I always do. A bishop walks along and sees a woman trip over on a bad pavement. He leans over to help her up and says it's the first time he's rescued a fallen woman and she says it's the first time she's been picked up by a bishop.

Elbee: I think ordaining women bishops is a vital first step in inclusion that will help the Church in England and...

Harry Tickpaper: So if it doesn't happen you would have to consider the future.

Elbee: Oh no.

Harry Tickpaper: So if the Church is unethical in some of its fundamentals in how it treats people, it matters not what you do...

Elbee: Stop sniping from the outside.

Rowan Tree: But in examining this the position for us has rather to be seen from the perspective of the Church not pursuing human rights as in a secular agenda but the ethics that are ecclesiologically and theologically derived, so that in wishing to retain a modicum of Catholicity of Church order and and the fellowship of belief the importance we attach is that of the process of retaining these as we struggle with the issues that seem to be simpler from the perspective of secular human rights. And therefore we ask those who are affected, seemingly on the one side discriminated against, to involve themselves in Catholic order and Reformed belief by self-sacrifice to these and to do so with a certain willingness against the wider project of retaining the Mind of the Communion as a whole.

Peter Goole: It's much simpler. We are all capable of conforming to the Bible, so if you are a Hindu man and love another man you can become a Christian man and love a woman.

Pluto: I need to think, er blog, about that.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: The narrow route certainly makes things quite simple to follow.

Elbee: I love the fact that our Archbishop is an intellectual. I really fancy him for that.

Harry Tickpaper: In your dreams.

Elbee: Yes, in my dreams. What's wrong with that? Why do you come across as so hostile? I'm a liberal like you are.

Harry Tickpaper: I'm not hostile; it is an unfortunate effect of being liberal to liberal and the difference when you do not want to cut the rope no matter what is on it.

Elbee: Why should I cut the rope? Relationships with institutions and people in them are complicated.

Harry Tickpaper: I agree. No one should cut the rope they need. If you need to sit on the branch, don't saw.

Pluto: Gosh, I know there are liberals but being liberal in the Church is really scary. I think Oh, liberal in the Church and then I put the brakes on. But if I go private, the brakes might go on and be warmer enclosed like in the garage with a green door and I won't press the pedal hard enough but if I keep in the fresh air and lots of evangelicals are looking too then I might bang the brake pedal down harder and sooner and let the heat go off away as it can. This is a Dickens of a business to decide.

Rowan Tree: 1978 I think was the zenith or nadir year for liberalism in the Church, at least that which arrived at quite an intellectual confusion regarding myth it and needed, I think, a different approach of narrative and world view and one that is more secure in the Church.

Harry Tickpaper: Not so, with clarity. Because...

Peter Levite: I wonder whether we have an intellectual weatherman or whether he is just the region's climactic joker. Hah! Where are you?

George Hudson: I left Leeds station for a tourist runaround, presently heading towards the attraction of Mill Chill church with its mosaic inside and the gothic in and out.

Barry Morgan Morgannwg Hankee: Consistent with the true Arian view to be expanded I am sure.

John Sendmehome: Ah but Leeds Parish Church, now that's the real deal for a cathedral that is not a cathedral, with an oversight that has no oversight, you know. The vicar asks a parishioner there why he gasped and then gave a large sigh of relief when he read out the Ten Commandments. Because, he said, he'd lost his wallet and 'Thou shalt not steal' made him think it was stolen but then 'Thou shalt not commit adultery' reminded him of where it would be. Don't forget to come to the real cathedral though, and that doesn't mean you Mr Morgannwg Hankee.

Pluto: Hey everyone I'm Rachel Marsovenus and I am going to carry on blogging in public! Hooray!

George Hudson: The rain will run off the pitched rooves quite rapidly and down the gothic window when it comes later today. Like everything else, it'll take longer to get to the east coast and so it's back to the behind the times Peter.

Peter Levite: Haven't they got the gothic window in yet and why is a window coming to the east coast?

George Hudson: The rain later today, etcetera.

Peter Levite: Yes so come here for the up to the minute news. Thanks to my guests for their variably anonymous appearances.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Who Jesus Thought He Was

One might suppose that Jesus did not simply join John the Baptist's messianic group, but that also that John obviously saw in Jesus qualities of leadership. However truncated regarding the loss of John the Baptist's leadership, the baptism and the temptation come together in the narrative and the first question is what is the temptation about?

In Jesus's culture and mindset, his doubts about his mission are going to be transferred to Satan working on his mind - and that suggests the trial of doubt for the full term indicated by the symbolic 40 days. If the problem is one of self-identifying as the messiah, Jesus can work a miracle. But the scriptural path of the messiah (that is also that of the suffering servant) since Moses forbad the use of a miracle since water had come from a rock. So, to be faithful, there could be no proof. But then Satan was interested in Jesus and that in itself is a kind of proof - otherwise, why be tested?

So who did Jesus think he was? The notion that he was God comes only from some in the Christian community as his titles were escalated and translated more into the pagan worldview. He might well have thought, from the desert on, that he was the Son of Man, though one that needed to be transformed from heaven to be the full-blooded messianic figure and this might have been him or someone else. That was God's business, and on that even 1 John 4:12 put that no one has seen God. So Jesus wasn't God, quite obviously, and if he was a lot of people including the man himself missed this rather important point. But if the Son of Man has an enhanced meaning for Messiah, as well as a less enhanced meaning, the gospels use it in both the first person and third person, as if Jesus is referring on some occasions to another. That's the ambiguity at the heart of it all. We also have no information that Jesus ever stated that he was in the family line of David, which would make him both son of David and Lord of David if Messiah. Again, this suggests some sort of transformation. The Son of Man who undergoes suffering becomes the Son of Man who is that transformed figure, by God - a very human and difficult existence before the mighty version. It could be two Messiahs but they ought to be connected to be fully biblical.

What is so is that these ideas are utterly strange to us, and could be said to form a cultural delusion. But then all cultures are capable of creating meaning that a later culture finds to be a form of mass deception. What looks to us as nuts can be quite credible at the time, when many expected the last days and there were a number of Jesuses running around the place and either faded away or were knocked off by the authorites, as Jesus was, suffering a Roman crucifixion rather than a Jewish stoning (by accident or intent).

The issue is his faithfulness to his scriptures, regarded as literal and historical (in that myth and story were overwhelming and without our recent centuries of critical apparatus), and then a question of strategy. That was about healing and preaching the imminent Kingdom, not changing society itself but saying the poor had preference in such a coming Kingdom (and thus he healed to remove demons and make them sinless and ready), and then putting himself in harms way so that the suffering could be complete and the transformation - or events of that kind - take place.

And this is why, in my view, Jesus is interesting for his reverse ethics, but simply a man of his time. So what if a Paul, who never turned up at the relatively unknown man's crucifixion, idealised him into a salvation figure and made a bridge from Jews to Gentiles. Jesus is not a revelation into our line of history, but history is just a spiral of cultures and forms. Transcendence might be worth pursuing, to which Jesus pointed in his own culture's style and manner, but not Jesus himself who was as mistaken as anyone can be in such a supernaturalist culture.

See Campbell, Steuart (1996), The Rise and Fall of Jesus: the Ultimate Explanation for the Origin of Christianity, Edinburgh: Explicit Books, 94-100.

Monday 23 January 2012

Loonies that would Run the Asylum


Bishop Benn has removed his endoresment. Good, though he obviously didn't read it sufficiently before endorsing and adds no apology now.

Original Blog Entry

No bellweather bishop, he, but one nevertheless, who gives support to special training of male only presbyters and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Bishop Wallace Benn, has given general support to a book that accuses the Queen of breaking her Coronation Oath by signing into legislation bills passed by Parliament that apparently break the Ten Commandments. Bishop Benn says:

“This makes interesting and disturbing reading. We desparately need to understand, as a nation, that our Creator knows what is best for us, and to return to His way as the best way to live.”
Rt Rev Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes

The book is by Stephen Green, the one well known for public ranting and dominating over a, well, strict household (to put it mildly). People committed to the ways of respect, peace and spirituality might want to keep their distance, but Wallace Benn obviously does not. Here is a choice piece from the book:

2 The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

See: Gen 18:12; Is 59:1-15; Matt 19:5; 1 Cor 7:2-5; Eph 5:21-33, 1 Pet 3:6.

This Act reduced the minimum age for homosexual activity to 18, redefined enforced sodomy as "rape," in order to equate buggery with sexual intercourse, and legalised buggery on women. It also introduced an offence of "marital rape," drafted by the Law Commission, unknown in the Law of God, and in conflict with the marriage service of the Book of Common Prayer, where the promises given by a man and woman to each other establish a binding consent to sexual intercourse. The right to petition the Court for the restoration of conjugal rights was abolished by the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act 1970 at the instigation of the Law Commission. (Law Commission Report 23, 1969)

In other words, he is a supporter of marital rape by denying that it exists as a concept. A fundamental principle of contemporary life is the consent of the individual, the individual who feels, thinks, worries and hopes. If you break that consent by unintended error, then apologies and restoration are needed, but to break that consent deliberately is simply criminal. Such a stance of consent must surely have superior value over what appears in a myth bearing book, whatever one believes about it.

We do not want Puritan rule again. It was good when that went. But nor do we want rule by the Book of Common Prayer. The other side of the Restoration, and then tolerance extended, and then humanism, was that people had fun again, had variety, and could be valued for who they were as themselves in their dealings with others.

Submitted to Hull Calendar

The roughly bimonthly calendar wants some historical content and I was given the task to tell of its origins.

Although the Elizabethan Church intended to retain and contain its Puritans, the yo-yo of liberty under Cromwell and then the Restoration in 1660 meant that many Puritans could not accept reintegration via assent to the Book of Common Prayer in 1662.

What is Puritan religion? It is a belief in God already knowing your salvation or damnation. They were trinitarians. Many a Puritan looked for and demonstrated signs of personal salvation, and this was through godly living. You might be favoured with a large income, but you didn't consume. Many were merchants, and made good early capitalists by preferring to invest than consume, and they also built charities. But they also rejected earthly displays of being religious in favour of a severe simplicty in worship.

The Presbyterian Puritans believed in the broad parish Church, not in the supremacy of the local congregation like the Independents, and they would have preferred to stay in the Church of England.

Then the Declaration of Indulgence of 1672 (for only a year) allowed licensed congregations to meet legally. Hull's libertarian governor (the Duke of Monmouth) made the city a haven for outcasts.

The Puritan Samuel Charles, ordained in 1655 and ejected at Mickleover in 1662, came to Hull and began his ministry when two meeting houses (Blackfriargate, a chapel, and Richard Barnes' house where Joseph Wilson preached) merged. They formed one congregation at Bowl Alley Lane in Christopher Fanthrope's house in 1680.

The repressive Lord Plymouth replaced the the Duke of Monmouth in 1682. This soon led to much fear. When in 1685 the Duke of Monmouth was discovered and executed, many non-conformists, including Leonard Chamberlain, were put under house arrest and feared for their lives.

However, another Declaration of Indulgence was issued in 1687 to Roman Catholics and non-conformists. Bowl Alley Lane was reopened and the Reverend Charles returned. Then William of Orange replaced James II and Protestant liberties were granted in the 1689 Act of Toleration.

The congregation left Christopher Fanthrope's house for a new chapel built by 1693. The Trust Deed of 1689 under his name gives no doctrines to be preached: only the worship of God and the administration of the Sacrament. They relied on their Bibles. Chapels built in this period copied their style from the Halls of the London Merchants' Companies. They had pan-tile roofs, strong benches and alleys between them. Self-government by trustees reflected the Gilds own governing system too. Samuel Charles died and the next minister, Reverend John Billingsley, appointed 1694, was the son of an ejected minister.

The Octagonal chapel in Bowlalley Lane Chapel was not built until 1803, and three years later the first declared Unitarian minister, William Severn, friend of John Wesley and ex-Wesleyan, took office. Unitarianism was still, as such, illegal until 1813.

Puritan faith changed because it was difficult for wealthy trust leaders to retain a severe and disciplined faith, and secondly they allowed their ministers to be their own preachers of religion. Ministers had to train in the dissenters' academies that were seedbeds for different ideas of biblical interpretation, and English Presbyterian chapels did not demand assent to credal declarations of membership. You rented your pew and the minister preached. Thus they evolved and later there was a new distinct movement that argued that the doctrine of the Trinity was not in the Bible; thus an identified Unitarianism inhabited Presbyterian chapels.

Sunday 22 January 2012

YUU at Hull

It was a day session at the Yorkshire Unitarian Union quarterly meeting at Hull. I was there from 10:30 as people gathered until 17:30 as most were leaving, many Hull folks clearing up.

The morning session was about Unitarian Approaches to Easter, especially for preachers, and I thought that would be interesting. Then the national General Assembly President would lead a session and then would come the business meeting.

I was sat alongside at least one enthusiastic chap from outside the YUU meeting for the morning session, so the interest in the potential of the session attracted in others. However, I was a little disappointed. I suppose I thought it would be a critical investigation of Easter, so that we would look at Easter say in a service and tackle it differently from those under an obligation to uphold orthodoxy (at least in public). But the session started with who comes to Unitarian churches, and the list included sceptics, rational Christians, Mystical or Gnostic Christians, Christian atheists/ agnostics, Spiritual humanists, Buddhsits, Pagans, Radical Catholics, various seekers. So it was a question of relating to them, or some of them, the preacher retaining the sense of self-integrity while reaching out to the congregation as is in each case.

My contribution was you can describe Easter, like in phenomenological RE, or critically examine it, and some of us wanted to get into details, while others said you can say focus on all sorts who take on the system. The Pagan Easter takes place at Christmas, someone well said, in terms of death and new beginnings. It sort of moved from rotating around these issues, and I'm not convinced by an apparent new flexibility of science on matters of death and life, to a video of fluffy nice type images associated with coming back to life and births, which may or may not be appropriate. Easter ought to relate to the depressed in a congregation as well as those who can see hope ahead, it was said.

I just think that whilst a worship service is there to bring people together and give a wide content, the subject of Easter offers Unitarians an opportunity to tackle what doesn't add up in the claimed Easter story; nor was there a sense (for me) of people going from this meeting to say, "Humm, I can do this in Easter services soon." I won't be doing an Easter service this year. My service is one day after the birth of the prophet Muhammad. Now that could be interesting. Already, then, cue the music of Yusuf Islam and The Beloved, but perhaps not what Yusuf would say.

Then after some snack came a well appreciated meditative devotion presented by a Hull member (with a faith stance of an Eastern direction, but he knows how to speak and lead as he does so a yoga group).

A 'Cairns and Candles' session was led by the GA President. The session used a book from 1904 about a Yorkshire Unitarian Union County Bazaar to support churches and it giving information about them at that time. In 2014 the YUU marks its bicentenary, but many Yorkshire congregations (like Hull) have origins in the 1662 Great Ejection of about 1700 Calvinist ministers from the Church of England. They met under persecution in houses and the Declaration of Indulgence allowed some chapels to appear, and then trinitarians were free to organise (with social penalties) from the 1689 Act of Toleration. Trust Deeds laid down few formal limitations but they all assumed trinitarian worship. The first Hull minister fasted on the day of his ejection each year. Some churches did begin later and as a result of disgruntled Methodists in one case and the Unitarian Domestic Mission in another (and assisting others). Scarborough started as a temperance hall in 1871.

So people from each congregation or for another congregation relayed a memory they had to build a cairn from one stone each. The cairn isn't just historical but a means to guide the way ahead. The point was made at the end of this part that not only do people come to the Unitarians from Christianity but also from an older and different Unitarianism, so that now it develops more towards a Many Beliefs One Faith position, not just accommodating but valuing persons. Also many people well up on Internet religion haven't the skills to give and take within a real congregation, whereas many in a congregation perhaps need to get Internet skills and on to its religion too.

The candles part was then hopes for the future per congregation. For example York was down to 6 or 7 people and now has 39, and there are practical and idealistic hopes for the future. Hull could improve its building inside and be more attractive outside. There was also a general hope for more tolerance in religion, a reference by one to Don Cupitt's apparent view that fundamentalism in Islam and Christianity is a passing phase.

In a general discussion but as much presenting I mentioned my participation in electronic communication and to a wider group of people. I said I notice quite positive statements about the Unitarians and this at a time of quite some flux, especially some pessimism about the behaviour in the bureaucracy of the Church of England and also the transience and questioning the sensibility of fringe Catholics, and that there is a lot of shaking out to take place in time to come.

Nevertheless, there was and going into the business meeting something of the reality of things. Pudsey is closing and that's it. Pudsey had asked for responses from the General Assembly again and again and seemed to get nothing. The process had been traumatic, and the people would remain friends but would not seek new accommodation and all the business of setting up. The General Assembly only seemed to take an interest when the remaining trust money was likely, but the trustees will distribute that. But there is good too - new people in the movement preaching and the YUU can give concrete support towards training. There is also the 50th year of Send a Child to Hucklow that gives children holidays that would otherwise miss out. This wants to raise £50,000 this year.

There was concern too for the non-participation of Leeds in YUU affairs, and then what was perhaps the (small?) elephant in the room. What looked like being passed by to me but was raised late on produced the most lively exchanges. Without going into details here, suffice it to say that Unitarian churches organise their own oversight, as oversight has different and specific meanings in church life. As congregations arrange their ministerial and other oversight, alone or associating as independent gatherings, no one person simply announces oversight of collections of congregations and such claims are bogus. Also, Unitarians have Lay Persons in Charge and Lay Pastors, and Ministers are recognised on the GA Roll. The GA cannot interfere in what congregations decide to do, but it does have a Roll of Ministers and that is the connection in the recognition of ministers. Various factual correspondences, hopefully persuasive, will be written.

And then followed the all important provided tea and chat: I mainly seemed to be talking about Florence Nightingale, with two who knew better than me, an Anglican of a lower sort according to a supporter of a higher sort, surely a lesbian, a statistician and somone who laid in her bed for later life. Also of course early members of our congregations were very anti-Socininian, and yet Socinians were tolerated better than Unitarians for opinions, but in 1813 toleration for Unitarians was followed by chapels suddenly declaring the name (although it took until 1844 to secure the trust funds via the Open Trust myth as used in Parliament).

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Hot Air and Cold Bodies


No one can read Martin Reynolds' three continuous comments without thinking that in Wales this chap once used to be a friendly neighbour of the here accused Rowan Williams; what Martin Reynolds says is direct and devastating (and surely of 'in the know'), whereas folks like me are writing only on the lines of general principles after so many dubious press reports (in the usual 'not in the know' fashion).


Original reports regarding Jeffrey John and potential legal action were worth ignoring in their interpretation at least, being caught up in notions of ambition up a hierarchy. Is it not the substance of the matter about the fact that a set of rules is created (that are allowed under an exemption from the Equality Act) and yet even these are applied with additional and distasteful discrimination? Why is there no equivalent inquiry of a heterosexual unmarried but partnered as to their current sexual conduct and repentance of previous sexual activity?

And in a credal faith, a mistake is made that the more you believe of the list the more religious you are, and the more you add to the list the more religious you are. So the attitude of discrimination assumes that its existence is evidence of religiosity whereas those who seek equality display secular acceptability. The inclusivity of the widest human fellowship is itself a religious attitude.

Saturday 14 January 2012

Jesus Talking

So what language/s did Jesus speak? The first and most obvious answer is Aramaic, related to Hebrew but not Hebrew, though Hebrew is one language of scriptures. His dialect would have been Galilean Aramaic, a bit rough at the edges, and also regarding Peter. The question is, though, did he speak any other language?

Jews in dispersal used Koine as a common language between them, whatever else they spoke. Many came together each year as Passover. There are a number of doubful meetings between Jesus and others that, with no translator, would have meant a necessity of him speaking Koine, the common Greek of the time. Despite his whole mission being of Jewish culture and end-time, and his focus upon them, there were suggested meetings between him and some Gentiles. No Roman centurion would have spoken Aramaic, though Matthew 8:5-13 is unlikely to be historical. One rather doubts much of the sequences leading to the execution, as if Pilate could be bothered. But again direct speech needs Koine. If they did, soldiers mocking Jesus at the cross would have spoken in Koine. But before all this, any meetings with Gentiles - like the woman who caused him a rethink - meant speaking the general language of the whole region and beyond.

The Septuagint is the Greek language Bible, as not everyone could understand Hebrew. It is possible that some sayings originated in Greek.

So we know Jesus used Aramaic; he might have understood Hebrew, but he probably did also understand Koine. Jesus was a builder, but in family terms he was the one who got religion more than most, and would have studied scriptures the most, and for that needed communication and languages. In joining John the Baptist's (possibly related) group and then leading it after his demise, he needed to communicate with other Jews and possibly even some Gentiles and to do that Koine was necessary.
See Campbell, Steuart (1996), The Rise and Fall of Jesus: the Ultimate Explanation for the Origin of Christianity, Edinburgh: Explicit Books, 58-59.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Jesus at the Jobcentre

Was Jesus a carpenter that got religion? I suggest carpenter is too narrow and that he also did a stint as a steward. Yes, today you'd think of stone and brick as well as wood and perhaps the steward doing tea and coffee on Network Rail or even on the HS2 to come in 14 years (wnhen others will be building maglevs). So the question is about whether Jesus was a builder and can he fix it yes he can.

For a time I liked the idea that Jesus as a carpenter was 'Tekton', a Greek mistranslation of the Aramaic 'Naggar' which can be both carpenter or scholar, and thus Jesus was actually a scholar. But no. Such is against the evidence of given metaphors in the gospels and that in the Septuagint it comes from the Hebrew charash meaning craftsman. Tekton is an artificer but archi-tekton is a master-builder and the use of tekton in the Septuagint is in the context of the building trade.

He'll have been self-employed like many of those who became his disciples. Good one for the new and coming right wing New Testament.

In Palestine at the time, houses were built of sun dried mud or clay on a stone foundation. The stones were rough, except for the corner stone that was made squared off. Timbers in walls may have been inserted to keep the walls supported as they dried off unwarped; timbers were used on flat rooves with coverings of lathing and plaster. Thus a builder handled stone, wood, plaster and bricks, being a mason and carpenter.

The reason Jesus gets called a carpenter is likely because the Authorised Version of the Bible translates more narrowly according to timber framed houses of its own day with a greater division of labour.

Really? Well, look at the metaphors. Onlookers will mock the person who lays down the foundations but can't finish the job in building a tower, says Jesus. There is a tower in a vineyard. There is a house built on sand compared with a house built on rock. Jesus's assebly will be built on stone, and the stone the builders rejected will be made into the corner stone (those Kingdom reversals again).

The best one though is the mote and the beam. Builders went about carrying beams of wood on their shoulders. Look out, they might say, and people certainly did. But someone might be rubbing their eye with a splinter in it, and thus not see the beam about to clobber them in the face. A nice almost binary opposite for Jesus to play with.

The metaphors are not from carpentry: they are from building, and so Jesus becomes the archetypal and indeed reversal by theology Bob the Builder.

But a steward, even a bar steward (careful!)? This is based around the apparent first miracle, and only in John's Gospel, of water becoming wine and the wine getting better later in the event. It fulfils no scriptural (Hebrew Bible) purpose in messianic times, and (as important, given mistakes) that John does not say it does. So it is presumably based on something happening, an event recalled that adds in to the early Church theology of Jesus.

One speculation has been that it was Jesus's own wedding, but there is no need for a rabbi to be married and nor a reason that must follow to suppress or make secret his marriage as such. Not in John's Gospel anyway. Jesus's mother is present, unusually, as the family was abandoned during his ministry; Cana is close to Capernaum (speculating as Jesus's birth place and home), and given that the steward of the wine would be bt custom a friend or relative of the family getting married then Jesus could well have been doing that job as organised by his mum (or mum and dad). Mum turns to Jesus about the wine running out, and this is the basis of his job.

But the builder might well be a bit of a newbie doing the stewarding job. Stewarding means oganising the servants doing the heavy lifting. The wine that most common people drank at that time was a pretty horrible vinegary stuff, as in John's gospel elsewhere, where water was added as of need and made it worse. The story starts with water going into the big pots, but of course it all will have started with undiluted wine sitting in them so high for some time and forgotten about regarding the start of the celebrations. Water gets tipped in at the beginning, and wine comes out in the usual kind. In that it gets better simply means tipping in some mixture to appear to reverse the usual diluting as time went on.

Theologically it has come to be another of those ethical reversals, so things get better as the Kingdom of God nears and will come.

See Campbell, Steuart (1996), The Rise and Fall of Jesus: the Ultimate Explanation for the Origin of Christianity, Edinburgh: Explicit Books, 57-58 and 115-117.

Saturday 7 January 2012

Geoff Sedman

Geoff Sedman, who I always called Mr Sedman, has died. He had a business in Chanterlands Avenue, Hull, dealing with Disc Jockey and Public Address systems.

In 2010 the church gave me the task of putting in a sound system. Up to that point CDs as available were being put into CD players and then subsequently they were prepared by me but into a domestic machine with me, the equipment and its speakers hidden behind a curtain. I wanted the church to install a stereo high quality music system.

Now one could either go and buy something and make every mistake, as I'm afraid had been done with yet another domestic player, or go to a shop where they look after you. There was an obvious shop to visit, but there you also pay through the nose.

It was by chance that near to my just moved building society branch there was a Disc Jockey and Public Address equipment repair shop, and so I went in and met Mr Geoff Sedman. Very soon I realised he was the man for the job because he knew his equipment and would sell and install. I went in a number of times and I talked and he listened and advised. I told him how we did what we did, what was wanted, and in high quality stereo. He arranged to come down to the church and look it over, and indeed arranged to install it with assistance. The powerful four speaker, mixer, dual CD system was his recommendation and taken. As we started with it, and the microphone was feeding back, he paid attention to that to come down again as part of replacing it. The point was that he engineered the microphone to be radio connected and free of feedback even when the slider is fully up: the result is people are often away from the microphone and being amplified, and yet nearby speakers are not feeding back. In fact I was only just now talking about a second microphone to be used for the notices or by me for 'how to sing this'; With Mr Sedman's death I shall have to remember what he said and whjen agreed try to purchase elsewhere - the business is simply to fold - and I must get it right.

Friday 6th I'd just dropped off a church member and made my way to Chanterlands Avenue, parked and saw the notice that due to bereavement the business was closing down and to ring a number. So I went to the building society and also asked to borrow a pen, which they said I could keep, and then went to write down the number. I thought I might be ringing Mr Sedman himself and a sudden decision to stop, though I suspected it might be his death. As I wrote the number, the next door newsagent came out and said it was he who had died, on Tuesday, and we agreed that he was very good at what he did.

At home I rang the number and said that I visited something like once a fortnight for chats. I'd given him a Freeview box which he used for a large TV in a workshop, and he was looking at a DAB radio either to tell me how to work it or to dump it. She was looking at her father's stock and wondering what was whose. So I was given the time of the funeral, just down the road, in the small chapel at 3:20 Thursday.

What I liked about Mr Sedman in our both electronics and wide ranging chats was that he investigated what was true. In his fast moving area of business, he would open up equipment and find out what was wrong and put it right if possible. So customers would come in and say what they thought was wrong but frequently it was something quite different causing the fault. And of course often items were almost built to go wrong after say fifteen months (as he once put it) and there was no purpose in repair. But he dealt with big systems like hefty speakers and mixers, and heavy lights. With him I even talked about installing video and computer input. For myself there has been the issue of a tape player not playing at quite the right speed, and he did say if I bought a simple player from him (with all the right inputs and outputs) it would be exactly right - except cassette tapes are themselves unreliable. He knew about computer use to edit and transfer. We joked about people who buy fancy packs to make these transfers whereas it's all available via a few wires and free software.

He continued to ask how the speaker system was doing, and there was always the reassurance that if there was a problem he would be on to it, and he could supervise any extension.

But all that depends on life, and once life is gone that knowledge is gone too. So is another kind of hub. He would shake his head at some of the eccentrics who turned up at his shop, never to buy anything. The DJ world and people fiddling with equipment draws in the long haired and bald male and some I met with the strangest of opinions. He constantly wondered where they came from. He seemed to treat me differently, but I bet I was just one more eccentric. He liked rational thought and not taking the obvious common view. For example, we discussed the level of freedom in Russia with some fidelity, as in it being much freer now but cut off points in the arena where Putin's power matters. These chats really were wide ranging. Religion as commonly given was about how people thought long ago, he stated, and he realised that I agreed with him. So I talked about the sociology of knowledge. I never made any attempt to ask him to try out the Unitarians; the simple fact is if he'd wanted to come along he'd have done so. The last time we met and the phone went I said I'd go, but he said, "Are you going?" So I said OK I'd stay and ended up being there an hour. I don't know who needed to stand and lean on his PA speakers more, him or me, but he often cleared a seat so I could sit down, and from there the conversation went on.

It'll be interesting to see whether any other odd-bods turn up at his funeral. There must be a DJ community that rotated around his shop, even if they are all individuals.

So there we are: Geoff Sedman, one of the little people in this world who kept up with change (he kept learning), has made a practical difference by changing things for the better in a concrete manner.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

The Right Wing Bible: Economic Miracle Passages

What an excellent idea, the best since someone produced The Golden Treasury of the Bible. It is an intended, conservative-political (as understood in the United States) rewrite of the Bible.

Translation should avoid a liberal bias
Assert free market principles (e.g. in parables)
Translate into current conservative terms (as language changes)
Remove apparently later social and liberal content
Use political terms understood today
Affirm hell and the devil Use terms of addiction
Assert open minded witness approach, especially Mark and John (as writers)
Remove gender inclusive language
Raise the reading level
Economy of words and consistent words

Peculiarly, what Americans call Conservative, we call Manchester or Economic Liberal, so that what they are against is the Social Liberal, the Progressive and Social Democracy. Conservatism in our country has been the preservation of traditions, and not to remove what works: the Thatcher government was not Conservative and certainly not One Nation Conservative, but Economic Liberal.

One of the problems now is that we have Conservative Party David Cameron in coalition with Orange Liberal (towards the Economic Liberal) Nick Clegg, though Clegg leads a mainly Social Liberal party. At the last Liberal Democrat conference he kept referring to liberals and liberalism as if the Social Democrats had never merged with the Liberal Party, and they were not exactly left wing and liberals have a successive progressive tradition.

The stupidity of the project applied to the Bible is that such thought in it is precisely NOT the thought forms of our present day. (Was it not Thomas Jefferson who produced a Deist Bible with miracles removed? What a plonker!)

According to Economic Liberals, the True Economic Bible [I shall call it] includes these messages:

By choosing a manger for his birth, Jesus's parents showed how poor people can afford cut-price accommodation. Let's face it, there is Travelodge. Animals can keep the poor warm. Also claiming that only the mother was a parent reduced the liabilities of the working father but he still took responsibility and provided maintenance. He's not like today's absent fathers and they do the deed! Non-dad Joseph of course made the crib himself and produced some repairs to the stable in barter for their stay.

The birth was in Bethlehem so that Joseph and Mary could register as right wing voters, and they ran from the Stalinist Herod - but had Jesus been a bit older they'd have faced him down.

The boy got himself a private education amongst the best RE teachers; so he showed initiative.

When Jesus was a youth, Uncle Joseph of Arimathea gave him a thorough training in self-reliance on a boat travelling to Britain, and thus Jesus established the first Christian church here; his non-dad also gave him a trade as a builder, so that all ministers of religion should be self-reliant.

Jesus was hopeless in his home town and it is quite right that the young should travel away to seek their life's fame and fortune. Yes, he did heal the paralytic in Capernaum who went on to compete in the regular Olympic Games. Jesus also healed a paralytic at Bethesda, which is proof that he visited North Wales along with other more southern parts of Britain. Bethesda of course has a non-conformist chapel free of left wing ritualism.

Jesus collected disciples from among the self-employed and hard working population. No one on benefit joined Jesus's crew.

By turning water into wine Jesus saved the sponsors of the wedding party an unnecessary expense. He saved the best until last so that those who remembered the drink when more sober went out next time to buy cheaper plonk. If Jesus was bodily alive today he would supply 'Tesco Value' wine that, when drunk in quantity, would be become better than the best French wine - and that would teach the European Union a thing or two for pursuing socialised capitalism.

Mary Magdalene paid her own way, and the boys showed how important it was to have a domestic female servant so that they could concentrate on doing the external work. She lit the fires, did the cooking and provided other favours. She thus made sure that when Jesus said he loved John, he meant only that John was just his best mate and that they could play the divine game of golf together (where Jesus resisted temptation and did not get a hole in one every time).

The story of the five loaves and two fishes demonstrates about cutting back on welfare for the poor: let them eat the barest minimum; indeed, the best welfare is that which fills the baskets back up again. Marie Antoinette was an avid reader of the True Economic Bible but the French forgot all about it when it came to setting up the European Union.

When Jesus walked on water it saved him having to hire a boat and it was quicker: Jesus shifted across that lake faster than Roadrunner. It demonstrates not having to rely on others for oil.

Jesus showed through his healing that there was no need for a National Health Service, or at least it could be privatised to volunteers like him (who did it for free or small donations). Jesus even opened his own Ear, Nose, Eye, Throat, Foot and Demons consultancy, showing the importance of the unpaid sector. He saved others and himself much on National Insurance and private insurance and then there was the miracle of the crowned teeth.

Jesus showed the strength of voluntary education when the Gentile woman seeking some medicine for her daughter and not a kennel for a dog changed his mind and he learnt something new. Educators have used this incident as a definition of learning ever since.

Jesus advocated modern agricultural methods by having the swine jump off the cliff all at once. Cursing the fig tree speeded up recycling agricultural waste for next season's manure.

Jesus produced the miracle of the spring so that Zebedee so equipped could bounce into The Magic Roundabout.

Jesus produced the miracle of camels walking through the eyes of needles and told business men to go and do thou likewise (he particularly liked talking in King James English).

Jesus said, "My Kingdom, My Kingdom, a horse for my Kingdom," and so he got a good deal with Mr Shanks and thus walked throughout his mission except for the donkey bit.

Jesus showed how to save on heating bills by eating some Ready Brek and climbing a mountain, where he glowed and kept everyone warm.

Jesus picked up a small piece of stone and, making it square, pushed it into a wall after which lots of coins with Caesar's head appeared and he said Caesar should do what Caesar does but actually do a lot less and then there could be more one armed bandits.

Jesus knowingly arranged with Judas the collection of thirty pieces of silver so that it fulfilled a biblical prophecy, and then this helped towards court costs and thus shows no need for Legal Aid.

Jesus was an inventor, like he produced the first superglue as when a disciple chopped a soldier's ear off and Jesus stuck it back on. This is an example of producing added value, as from then on the all important military had better treatment for wounds.

Resurrection was a way to avoid the effects of injuries (and insurance claims against the Romans, lots of adverts at the time) and save on health costs, extending his own life. Not being selfish, Jesus had raised a few others too, although they may have gone on to die again.

Being resurrected saved the tomb space for someone else, and so the wealthy Uncle Joseph of Arimathea could collect some death rent from another occupant's family. This is an efficient use of space.

When the boat caught a lot of fish on one side this was a principle of making a clear economic choice for which there was a major increase in efficiency. Earlier, in a remarkable miracle called 'paying your way', a fish actually paid Jesus for being caught when it produced a coin in its mouth.

The Ascension was a cost free way to dispose of the transformed body and an example again of self-reliance. It is also an example for a privatised space programme to replace NASA.

But then, of course, parables are meant to be flexible and mean what you take them to mean.