Monthly Archives: October 2011

God, Gospel, Jesus

Well, now, Mammon or God? Health and safety, or the Gospel? Christianity or Jesus? Middle-class busybodies and lay-abouts or principled protesters ?

I suppose that everybody even remotely interested in the Occupy movement, or in the outworkings of the Christian faith in daily life by now knows that the Dean and Chapter have decided to close St Paul’s Cathedral, and this has become a matter for intense debate. Whether the Dean and chapter like it or not, and Christian charity dictates I suppose they do not like it, it is now plain that this has become a fault line for the debate over the Occupy movement. On the one side, the right. They side with the Cathedral and argue that the protesters ought to use due Parliamentary means to be heard, and that it is a disgrace that the Cathedral has been forced to close.

On the other hand, the radical Christians simply cannot believe that the Cathedral really had to shut – and moreover do not understand why, if it DID need to close, it did not simply move most of its services outside. Why are they not preaching and teaching and celebrating in the public space, in the public eye so generously offered to them?

Whether they meant it or not, it is an own-goal of horrendous proportions. The Church of England is once again seen as clearly aligned with the Establishment in its most unattractive form, an image sections of it, though not well-heeled City sections, had struggled hard to escape.

Dear knows if the protesters can actually achieve anything, but it is totally clear that the unprincipled or rather aprincipled manipulation of money is a wrong thing, wrong in its assumptions, and wrong in its fruits. It is always the fruits of an action which are the test of the action. Dearly as I would like to believe otherwise, I do not see the protesters as having any solutions to offer. That is not the point. The Church, and any church, has no business doing anything which LOOKS LIKE siding with a system which makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Neither side of this debate, neither side, believes that this action of closing the Cathedral does not spring from a fundamental assumption about the rightness and the wrongness of of the Occupy movement. Beyond doubt, St Paul’s is seen as having sided with Mamon. As I say above, this may not have been their intention, but it has been the result of their action. I can see no way out of this now for St Paul’s – so it is the more necessary that the rest of us make our position clear.

God, Gospel, Jesus, and therefore, protesters.



I have now been in this house, still my ‘new house’, for three years and one week. Tonight, for the first time in weeks, I have a working oven – a happy reminder that despite occasional despair I am making progress with creating a home.

I have managed to get the property re-roofed, and the rising damp is dealt with either by tanking walls, or by an injection damp-course except in one tiny area where work is, as they say, ‘pending’. All the new floors downstairs are in, and insulated, again except for a small area at the two outside doors which need different treatment. The ‘new’, that is to say, re-cycled, kitchen is going in, hence the oven. The living room has a new door, as well as floor and walls, and its old wooden ceiling is exposed and restored. The upstairs bedrooms have Velux windows. That is the positive stuff.

The negative is that I still have nowhere to sit and to be other than in the bedroom, which is not decorated, or, well or anything. The new shower-room is not completed, the downstairs bathroom is not touched, and there are no lights in the living room, although the wiring is there.

And there have been losses – all three sheep who moved in with me have died, and all the chicken – the cheering thing with the chicken is that I have the descendants of the pioneers. And I have things like guineafowl which I did not have before.

My biggest regret? The time I spend on the wretched biography, which I enjoyed writing but which has brought nothing but grief since I began the process of getting it published, and which, after further serious glitches this last week, is something of which I would be happy never to hear or see ever again. If I had that time back, I would be living in a real home. In real terms, that book has cost time and money it will never repay.

But, tonight – I shall celebrate. Maybe, just maybe, in this house all the hard work will begin to pay off. Maybe, one day, I will sit in my living room, and round me will be those books I have not seen for three years, and my biscuit barrel (ditto unseen) will be full, and my television on (10 months and counting) and I will see the lights reflecting on the polished wood of the ceiling, as the fire burns in my new wood burning stove. And, unlike the process of publishing the book, at least there has been some fun along the way with the renovation of my house to balance the hard work and the disappointments.

Once more, with feeling

In brief as I have said this too too often:

it is commitment that makes a marriage, not the gender of those making the commitment

marriage between LGBT people supports the so-called institution of marriage, and strengthens families, it does not weaken them

I totally agree with Beth and Kelvin on the ill-judged, ill-informed and down right stupid statements from the Scottish hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church these last few days.


I had a whole day of holiday – not just a day off, but a holiday. I left home in a leisurely manner. I bought a magazine, an expensive one. I read it on a train. I bought a hat, with an odd grey and pink tartan which goes with my wonderful pink Doc Martens. I had lunch with a friend. I went to the Scottish National Gallery, and among other things, looked once again at Ruben’s amazing ‘Feast of Herod’ and pondered its symbols. I came home on the train, and bought a cup of tea from the trolley.

But none of these, dear and good things as they were and very life-enhancing, were quite the point. The point was that, apart from the time for lunch (for which I was just nicely hungry there was NOTHING I had to do. I was free. Free for all the daylight hours. I could, if I wanted, suddenly and arbitrarily decide to walk into a bookshop and buy a book (I did) or go the long way round to a destination or anything. No constant need to be efficient, to get it done, to just press on, and not to take a break yet, but to get a bit more done first.

After a summer of almost constant pressure it was like – well, NOT like rain on dry ground, so much, I think, as like sun on soaking ground. I could feel myself expanding.

Michaela, Raphaella, Gabriella

I collected them on St Michael’s Day, three almost-featherless innocents. There is a charity which re-homes hens when they are due to be culled, at the end of their profitable life, which is some three years before they actually stop laying and become elderly. It used to be battery hens they rescued in this way. Now it is free range hens, largely, since in December cages will be outlawed. The idea is that free range hens get a bit of space, have some feathers, have a life. These three were supposed to be free range. The only place they have feathers is on their heads. They have huge pale combs, another sign they have been a heated environment for a long long time. These girls, and their sisters, are lucky. All have gone off to new homes. But what of the others? What of those who buy free range, believing their egg were laid by hens which could get out of doors? Does anybody inspect?

I am furious, distressed. I know too well accidents can happen, standards slip. But a whole consignment of hens looking like this? It looks like fraud, not accident.