Showing posts from June, 2014

Peter: a model for leadership in the Church

Being on paternity leave gave me the perfect opportunity to put my feet up and read a good book (Nao's going to love me for saying that). So, I scoured my shelves through all those novels that have been sitting there gathering dust for years, and finally settled on an absolute thriller: a biography of Rowan Williams. An absolute page-turner!
Whatever the Archbishop's faults, he did ultimately manage to steer between the Scylla of foaming fundamentalists and the Charybdis of anarchistic liberals pretty deftly, in my view, and sailed the ship of the Church out into clear waters just about in one piece. He made unpopular decisions and didn't stick to a party line, and so every party picked on him. I can't agree with everything he did, but I do think his record, his lack of self-regard and his refusal to please the crowds are impressive.
Still, few would say that Dr Williams' leadership was an unqualified success. Perhaps his attitude to leadership gives us a clue as t…

Corpus Christi 2014: whose body is it anyway?

This is my body. 
This is my teddy bear - it belongs to me, and I'll do what I want with it. If I want to tear off its head or shave it or dye it purple, that's what I'll do, and it's none of your business. 
This is my body. 
This is my country - I belong to it, I am a part of it and it is a part of me. I'll fight and die for it if I have to, I'll give myself up to serve it.
This is my body.
This is my body, and I'll do what I want with it, it's none of your business? Or this is my body, I am a part of it, it is a part of me? This is my body, all for me, or this is my body, given for you?
When we call someone "God's gift," we don't usually mean it as a compliment. But you are God's gift: all of you. I mean, every part of you, soul and body. You are gift; in fact, you are *given* by God, body and soul. It doesn't make any sense for us to separate them, to talk about "my body" or "my soul," because there's no su…

Trinity 2014: does God exist?

"Do unicorns exist?" 
Presumably, your answer is "no." But it is a question you can answer only because you know what a unicorn would be if it did exist. If you didn't, you wouldn't be able to answer. But as it is, you do know that a unicorn is a magical horse with a single horn in its forehead, and knowing that no such horned horses exist, you can answer the question with a fair degree of certainty. 
But what if I were to ask you, "do squaggligogs exist?" You wouldn't be able to answer, except with another question which would have to be answered first, namely: "what is a squaggligog?" Unless you know what a squaggligog is, you can't say whether or not it exists. If I were then to tell you that a squaggligog is a rare marsupial found in the lower Andes, you might consider its existence a possibility. If, on the other hand, I were to tell you that a squaggligog is an intelligent, blue flying rodent from Pluto capable of space trave…

Two's company?

It is quite timely to be called to meditate upon the Trinity as a third person enters my family. Perhaps this is what prompted a very kind couple from the congregation to bring us a beautiful icon of the Trinity from Greece as a birth gift.

Some may say that two is company, but so far it seems to me that the effects of a third person on the dynamic between an original two can be very positive. Indeed, it can bring out the best of that relationship and open its joy and love to a wider world. Yet other families will know all too well that bringing forth new life is not without its risks.

So it is, I think, with the Holy Spirit and its role in the relationship between the Father and the Son. It is therefore no coincidence that Trinity Sunday follows so closely after Pentecost. For while the Spirit gave inklings of itself long before - such as when it moved over the waters of creation, or overshadowed the Blessed Virgin, or descended like a dove at the Baptism of our Lord -…

Pentecost and the Santa Barbara shooting

This week, as every week, people have died needlessly and violently. Some of their deaths reach our ears more readily than others, partly because of an understandable media bias towards people who are more like us rather than those who are less so. There is of course an added shock when not just the victims but the perpetrator also seem so familiar. Young Elliot Rodger, "British-born," as the American papers are keen to point out, could be the boy next door; quite different from, say, an Arab terrorist, he appears very plausibly to be one of us. 
You have no doubt read the various analyses about why he did what he did and will have formed your own opinions. Various factors are speculated to have contributed to Rodger's mindset and actions, such as lax gun control, poor psychiatric care, pornography-fuelled notions of masculinity and the chaos of modern young people's sexual expectations, to name but a few. Each of us will place a different weight on certain of these…