Monthly Archives: November 2010

C’mon baby, light my fire!

Oh dear, a long absence of posts. I have been frantically busy at work on the house. My youngest daughter tells me it is not a restoration, but an up-grade. My neighbour, hard at work on it in his allegedly free time, says it is one hell of an up-grade.

I am not sure how much I am contributing, really. Just clearing rooms, buying materials, feeding the workers (Small Neighbour is usually here in the role of apprentice) seems to take most of the time. One offering I am making however, is starting removing the filling from the fireplace.

The more of the fireplace I uncovered, the more it became clear that it was the original, battered and splendid. And large. And filled in with Very Hard Cement and Well Jammed Bricks. I am getting somewhere, but VERY much doubt I will have all of the filling out by Friday, when Neighbour is supposed to start work on installing the new wood burning stove.

Any vernacular architecture experts reading? Do you think the slight ledge suggests it was made to carry a wooden beam at the top? Along the line of the recessed lintel?

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Stop the tail wagging the dog!

‘Gay children are bullied at school. Parents reject children on the basis of sexual orientation. Tragically, this much we might expect. ‘ So writes Stephen Platten Bishop of Wakefield in the Church Times, and he argues that his church has hardly even begun to listen to LGBT people, and that it needs to. And yes, this is a brave thing for a C of E bishop to say, and yes, it is too little and too late, and too irrelevant, if I can offer an inadequate account of Colin Coward’s critique at Changing Attitude.

So how did the church EVER get itself marooned here? Not where some church people still think gay sexuality is a sin and are willing to tear the church to bits over it, as though Jesus was well known for his attitude on the subject, and the main thrust of his ministry was to affirm heterosexual marriage, and public virtue. I understand that the church reflects society and some people still are homophobic. It is a pity, but the church needs to take them in so it can transform them.

No – when did it become dangerous for those who lead the church to debate freely? How did those are, in fact, a minority in the church, as they are in society, get such power that they can make it hard for bishops to speak out and remarkable when they do. It is great that Stephen Platten has the courage to speak, and utterly disgraceful that a bishop speaking out needs courage.

I can only think it is because of the passion with which certain people in the church announce that they are perfectly happy to ‘scream and scream and scream until they are sick… they can, you know.’

Well, we need to oppose this when and where ever we can. Anything else is to become complicit in the bullying of school children. And we need to make it perfectly plain we do NOT expect school children to be bullied, and rejecting your child because the child is gay is simply ludicrous. Not only immoral but laughable. We all need to make it plain that the tail cannot wag the dog.

Meeting the judge

A couple of weeks ago a friend and I were pondering the Sunday gospel reading, Luke 18-1-8. A widow besieges an unjust judge, who finally caves in. In the conventional reading, it is about keeping on asking for justice, which God will grant. Only two things wrong with it. Firstly, he usually doesn’t. Secondly, in the Hebrew Scriptures, our Old Testament, it is usually God demanding justice. Then I found a good article supposing that perhaps God is the widow. Shocking, in the kind of way Jesus tends to like. So, what follows below is my retelling of this parable in that way. I think the power of the story and the easy with which it works, makes this ‘reading’ of it more probably. No actual judges were harmed in the making of this story.

The Judge.

And there she was, in my face again. I was having a quiet chat with Jim, and she was there shouting at me again. It was a dispute over a field, and frankly she was not being realistic. That of course is the trouble with these people. Nothing to offer, no place in the scheme of things. They don’t accept reality. Which was that Jud needed a bigger plot to make the development he had on worthwhile, and her field got in the way. That is how it is. I was the judge and she needed to accept that.
But she didn’t accept it, and there she was, in my face at every turn. I was furious. Jim was laughing of course. ‘It’s not like she can DO anything, is it?’ he said. The trouble was that to ignore her was one thing, but to take action against her would cause the wrong kind of talk.
First, she caught me at the gates, where I sat with the other elders. She stood there crying out about the Law – and what it said about widows, and fields, and justice. And I made a joke of it. I turned to Jim and said: ‘She got a right good education, didn’t she?’ and that turned it off.
Then I was in the market place and it was the prophets. I got Amos, and his comments on selling the needy for a pair of shoes. I got Micah, and the Lord requiring justice and mercy. I raged inside. But I said: ‘I’ll prophesy then, that you will lose your voice if you keep on blabbering like that, hen.’ And that again made a joke of it, and John thought it quite funny.
I mean, I wasn’t selling her into slavery was I? Or beating her up? All I was doing was ensuring that a much-needed development went through, and that those who ought to benefit from enterprise did.
And then in an alley way. I was alone, except for the nonentities around me. And I looked right into her face. For the first time I saw the anger. Her eyes held mine, and time and place swung away. Her face, the sexless ageless face of a woman past child bearing, was now crowned with gold, and light and fire played in the gold. She grew, and now she was three, four times my size, and she moved back, and I saw robes flowing around her, embroidered, coloured. I was no longer sure if she was man or woman. This regal figure stood on the warm fiery backs of two immense creatures, like female sphinxes, whose wings bore the monarch aloft. Around the figure were others. Those who looked as I expected angels to be. Then there were wheels on fire, dragons, a monstrous bull, an eagle. There were dark figures which filled me with fear, and bright ones even more terrible.
Then I saw, around this throne, the figures of men and women. They were dressed in rags, and robes, and clothes I cannot describe. They all turned to the throne, which now filled the whole of the sky and they cried out, ‘How long, Oh Lord, how long? We hunger and thirst to see right prevail. Fill the hungry with good things!’ I could not count them, and I could never describe the longing and the anger of their voices.
The figure on the throne turned to me, and still with the face and the voice of the widow thundered: ‘Grant me justice!’
I wet myself.
I was suddenly standing in a dark alley, and I stumbled home and the slaves got me to bed.
The next morning, I went to the gate. Jud was there. I sat down. The widow came forward. She did not say anything. She looked at me. I gave her justice. I heard the disgusted comments of Jud, Jim, John. I cared. Oh, yes, I still cared. But caring or not, I had set off in a different direction.
It is an easy thing to say you do not care for God or humankind, isn’t it? It is different when you meet them.