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  • No Honour Among Thieves

    I am one angry minister!  Today I finally managed to get some folk from church to come and retrieve the roll of honour from our former day school that listed all the boys who'd won scholarships to the grammar school.  When we unlocked the church and went to the room where it had stood, it was gone.  As was virtually all the copper piping in the building.

    Frankly, I don't care about the copper but I am MAD about the roll of honour because there is nothing useful they can do with it and it is an irreplaceable historical artefact.

    Now I'm waiting for the police to arrive, waiting for a crime number for the insurers (who won't cover us because the building is closed but I have to notify them anyway) and trying to calm down enough to write a logical press release.  That and pray for the thieves - that they'd find their way out of this path that will ultimately destroy their humanity.  Do I forgive them?  In so far as it is my power, yes, I do.  But it isn't them who has to deal with a wounded congrgeation come Sunday...


    (updated - the police have said their media department will put out a press release which saves me the job of trying to concoct something)


  • The Hyacinth-Bucket-isation of Baptist Forebears?

    This is an aside, not even vaguely important, but it delays a bit of essay wrestling!

    When I was learning Baptist history the twin-forebears (they weren't twins but there were two of them, together, even thought they squabbled and fell out later) were Thomas Helwys and John Smith.  Common or garden Smith, nothing fancy.  Recently he seems to have had a Hyacinth experience, especially across the pond, and become John Smyth, pronounced smythe to rhyme with scythe.  Googling him (with Helwys who is rarer, so makes the whole thing work) brings back both spellings, though from UK sources more typically Smith.

    So is 'Smith' just not posh enough?  Should Smyth be pronounced smith or smythe?

    And just who are the equivalents to Onslow and Daisy?!  Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

  • Song Words - Alternatives?

    That lovely task, choosing songs and hymns for worship for the Sunday after next - this is how it works in Dibley!

    One of the songs I want to use comes from Junior Praise and is (ok not everso profound but we're having it)

    Praise Him, Praise Him

    Praise Him in the morning,

    Praise Him in the evening,

    Praise Him, Praise Him,

    Praise Him as the sun goes down.


    I've chosen it because I recall it having a verse that says


    Praise Him, Praise Him

    Praise Him when I'm laughing

    Praise Him when I'm crying

    Praise Him, Praise,

    Praise Him the whole of life


    (Or words to that general effect, not sure of the last line)


    But Junior Praise does not have this verse, or anything like it, so did I dream it?  is it in some other book I haven't yet checked or don't have?  or did it just arrive in my mind by direct from God?!

    If anyone can help me out I'd be grateful.  If I happen to have invented it and you like it, well feel free to use it!

  • History and Spirituality

    I am suffering a form of acute writer's block as I try to get my paper done for the Manchester - every time I try to write something, I end up repeating what I said in the paper I presented at Prague: bother!  I have some nice headings and some ideas but as soon as I put a pen in my hand or switch on the computer some connection in my brain decouples and nothing happens.  Ah well, it will happen, I tell myself... hoping furiously it will!

    Anyway, one of the ideas rattling around my brain arises from the Prague event, and that relates to my discovery that some UK Baptist colleges now have tutors who title is 'history and spirituality.'  This intrigues me, and I think I need to find out from them what they think that means.  Talking to one person this week, they thought that it was, at least in part, an endeavour to recognise that 'spirituality' is not something 'new'or 'new age' (hence, presumably a bit iffy) but actually a long established, historically justified subject.  If that's so, I'm glad I trained in Manchester where there seemed to be no such qualms!  If what is happening is that either spirituality is being taught as essentially a history subject or that it is taught alongside history, then I think something important is being overlooked - that is the spiritual dimension of church/denominational/Christian history.  Whilst I've already begun to think about the 'God-factor' in denominational historiography (something I think needs to be recovered) I wonder if 'spirituality' is also part of this, and will force me to explore further how this shapes the telling of the story?  For example, pinching a few of the categories of spirituality we used at Northern (and pinched/adapted by them from Richard Foster as far as I can recall) , how would a 'social justice' or 'evangelical' or 'Celtic' or whatever spirituality influence both 'what' and 'how' the story is told at both 'human' and 'theological' levels?  History and spirituality, held together, informing and shaping each other, seems to relate pretty much to what I'm trying to research; history and spirituality as two disparate entities sheltering under a common umbrella feels at best like more of what we already have and potentially just one more consequence of staff shortages and financial constraints forcing people to double up on roles.

    At the same conference, I had a conversation with someone who accused Northern of being anti-history because it doesn't have a church history tutor.  I am not sure this is a fair comment, since the person concerned was, so far as I could tell, unaware of the balance achieved across the Partnership (though even there, I would concede, no one explicitly had a Church History title) and the inevitable limitations of having a small staff.  However, the comments made me think (which is a good thing!) about the significance of nomenclature and subliminal messages.  Would it automatically raise the profile of, and interest in, denominational history to have a Church History tutor?  I'm not entirely convinced it would.  Does the absence of the title indicate that the topic is deemed unimportant?  Does sharing out the teaching suggest it is the person who gets the short straw who teaches this time?  Or does it say this matters to all of us?  How much does it depend on personalities (after all, how many of us were shaped in our youth by specific teachers who inspired us or otherwise?).

    Lots to think about - and not stuff that will make into the paper this time - but all grist to the mill, nonetheless.

  • Lectionary Loopiness

    Lectionaries and Syllabi (as SU seem to prefer to call their schemes) can be really useful... or not.  Sometimes when I look at the lectionary readings I conclude that either (a) I'm missing something (b) the Holy Spirit has a very weird sense of humour or (c) the pepoe who collate the reading take a very old Bible, pull out the pages, discard a fair few, then toss the rest in the air and see how they land.

    As I've looked at readings for the next few weeks I am drawn to the last of these options!  Can anyone please tell me the connection between either Joseph being sold in to slavery (track 1) or Elijah on Mount Horeb (track 2) and Romans 10:5-15 (including the missionary's favourite 'how shall they call...') and Jesus walking on water?  The rest of August doesn't get a whole lot easier.  One begins to appreciate why so many Baptist churches cop out and preach on half a verse from a very narrow repertoire of scriptures. Anyone got any bright ideas - not for alternative schemes I can do that easily, but for using at least two of these lectionary passages at a time?