Thursday, 16 August 2007

A nice cup o' tea

抹茶

Contrary to Japanese sentiment, my blunt European palette had never been able to discern the nation's mystical heart in a cup of tea. On tasting Shizuoka green tea this morning, though, I think I may have come a step closer to tisanical enlightenment. As one looks through the pond-green murk to the black heart of leaves that slides at the bottom of the cup, subtle flavours gradually emerge through the overall nutty plasticene aroma; on the tip of the tongue, something floral, rose or lavender, rolls back to almond and leaves a lasting freshness in the mouth until the next sip. Tastes rise and swirl like life's episodes and emotions perceived through a glass darkly, hints of light refracted through an overall harmony of shadowy oneness. This very Japanese aesthetic could also be Christian. The plenitude of God's confections and our fractured experience of them do not contradict His overall unity: taste and see, the Lord is good.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Corpus Christi Sermon 2007



"He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the final day” (Jn 6.54)

Looking around at the congregation, I think it's fair to say that I'm not alone in enjoying a good meal. The best meals are those we enjoy in company, especially if they celebrate something special: weddings, birthdays, Bar Mitvahs. For me, Christmas lunch is one of the most anticipated meals of the year, not only for the endless reams of turkey and booze-addled Christmas pud but also for the chance to spend time with friends and family – and to see Noel Edmonds on the telly. Again. As well as eating together to celebrate, we also do so at more sombre commemorations. I understand from my Ghanaian friends that they prepare vast feasts on the anniversary of their loved ones' funerals.

Yet I would attract some funny glances, to say the least, if at one of these special meals of celebration or commemoration, I put a bit of the meat on a platter or a stick and started parading it around with candles and bells.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Ascension 2007


It is perhaps unsurprising that a culture that dismisses its religious heritage as an embarrassing and primitive appendix to modernity and idolises novelty as much as ours does should laud ancient half-truths as if they were modern – and therefore correct – discoveries. One such is the division of the spiritual from the worldly. Among the many moderns who claim to be 'spiritual but not religious,' whether neo-pagans, agnostics, broad theists or pseudo-Buddhists, it is almost axiomatic that one must transcend the merely material to achieve spiritual gain.