Showing posts with label England. Show all posts
Showing posts with label England. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Thanks to Colin Coward at Changing Attitude for the transcript of an interview with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby by Sarah Julian for BBC Radio Nottingham.  The interviewer asked questions about the recent civil marriage of Church of England Canon Jeremy Pemberton and Laurence Cunnington, which went against the rules laid out in "House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage".  The document states in bold type that despite the fact that same sex marriage is legal in England, Church of England clergy are not permitted to enter into civil marriages.
SJ  So what happens to Canon Pemberton?

ABC  “Well, the Bishop of Lincoln .. he’s actually in Lincoln Diocese .. the Bishop of Lincoln has commented on that and I’ve said all I’m going to say on that, really; I’ve commented on that a great deal recently and I don’t intend to add to it.”

SJ  We’ve not spoken to you here on BBC Radio Nottingham, though, and he actually does live in our diocese and does some work in our diocese so I’d appreciate if you could, you know, reiterate that, then …

ABC  “No, as I’ve said, I’ve said on nationally and it’s been in all the press and on the radio and, and I’m just not going to add to it.”

SJ  So you won’t repeat what you’ve said already?

ABC  “Er, no.

SJ  What will happen in future when more and more priests either do this or bless a gay wedding themselves?

ABC  “Well, the Church is heavily involved at the moment in discussions about policy, organised discussions which will take, er, involving loads and loads of people from all over the world and, er, all kinds of activities and that’s going to take quite a long time to do and as I say, I don’t want to preempt those discussion so I’m not going to comment further on that.”

SJ  But you must have an idea of what the Church should do in these instances ‘cus it’s already happening, you must have had a plan for what will happen to priests who do this.

ABC  “Well, that’s been announced publicly, it’s on the record, erm, but errrr, as I say, I’m not intending to add to what I’ve said previously.”

SJ  And if priests do break the rules, are they going to be kicked out of the Church of England?

ABC  “There’s processes for, errr, what happens and it’s very much down to local bishops and umm, yeah, that’s, err, you need to ask the relevant bishop about that.”

SJ  But you’re the head of the Church of England, they must come to you and ask you those questions, what do you tell them?

ABC  “Well, actually the Church of England doesn’t work that way, we don’t have an Anglican Pope, we operate on a collegial, collective basis and errrr, it’s very much shared, errr, decision making, and there was a paper published at the end of errr January on that.”

SJ  How do you think God feels about gay marriage?

ABC  “Well as I’ve said I’ve commented an awful lot about it, I’m not going to add further to what I’ve said already.”

SJ  But how do you feel about the current situation and the turmoil that this is in and how this looks to the rest of society?

ABC  “One of the things … there’s always disagreements in Church, there’s always been disagreements in Church, it’s, it’s varied over the centuries on different issues; there’s always been disagreement. One of the key things in the Church is that the Church is a family, it’s not an institution, it’s not a political party, erm, it.. it.. the way we operate is that we are bound together by the love of Christ, and in the way we disagree we have to express that love to each other.”

SJ  We have two women here in Nottinghamshire who we’ve spoken to, they are planning to get married, the two of them. One of them actually works for the Church and she wants to become a priest. She feels that she’s had to choose between getting married and her calling to the Church. Is there any hope for her, or how does that make you feel?

ABC  “Well, I can only repeat what I’ve said before, that we’re, there’s a lot of discussion going on, err, we’re listening very, very carefully to people, but I don’t want to preempt that by adding further to the numerous things I’ve said on all kinds of media, including the BBC before.”

SJ  But not here in Nottinghamshire, and these are Nottinghamshire people who …

ABC  “I rather suspect that the BBC does reach in Nottingham, not only through the local radio.”
Kudos to Sarah Julian for not letting the - err - ABC get away with his - err - avoidance tactics. Most interviewers do.  The ABC's responses are beyond pathetic.  What message does Justin send when he refuses even to repeat his own words?  Not everyone in England pays attention each time he speaks.  Is he embarrassed by his words?  If this is the best he can do, perhaps he might consider refusing to grant interviews.

You may wonder about my excessive interest in the affairs of the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and you may even call it an obsession if you like, but I have friends in England whose lives are already gravely and adversely affected by the words and direction of the leadership of the English church.  As a fellow Anglican, I care about them and all the others who pay the price for the delay of justice and equality for all members of the church, clergy and laity - the delay seemingly without end.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Penzance in Cornwall, UK

The process of clothing elimination happened yesterday as I packed for my trip to England. I so wanted to take my dress boots, but they are made for walking only short distances. For walking long distances, only trainers work, so my black trainers will have to do for dress shoes. What does it matter? The last time I heard an opera at Covent Garden, I wore jeans and WHITE trainers, due to a miscalculation in time allowing for change. The visit included dinner at the elegant restaurant at the Royal Opera House. Humiliation past and gone and not so very bad after all. "Madame Butterfly" was gorgeous, and I enjoyed every minute, despite attire in jeans and WHITE trainers.  Where will I go that will be dressier than Covent Garden? I've already been there dressed down, way down, so no worries about dress.

I carry a small, folding umbrella in my car, which I was going to pack for rainy days in England, but when I opened it, I saw "Chevrolet Truck" emblazoned in gold on the black umbrella. Then I remembered that it came with Grandpère's truck, and he gave it to me, so I bought another. The Chevrolet umbrella is fine for here in town, but it was not quite the note I wanted to strike in England.

Next week, the temperature in London will rise to 70°F. Also, the long range predictions for Cornwall and Copenhagen don't bode for cold weather. Looking good.

I leave my house early tomorrow morning to begin my travels, and I will have access to the internet only through Cathy's notebook, mostly for emailing my family.  Probably, no blogging while I'm away, but I'll have lots of news and pictures when I return.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


In a little more than a week, I will head to Merrie Olde England for my final trip across the Atlantic. Traveling by plane has become so difficult and unpleasant, that I don't see myself making the attempt again. Even I think it's a bit crazy for me to attempt it now. Grandpère surely thinks so, and he will not travel with me. On this trip, I will be in the south of England, with Oxford as my outpost farthest to the north.

While I'm there, I will have access to the internet mostly on my friend's laptop.   Email messages to and from my family will be my priority, so it's likely few posts will appear on Facebook or my blog.

I've just been summoned to jury duty on a date when I will be out of the country, so I must write to be excused, though I like to do my civic duty when called upon. The notice tells me that I may also be excused due to my great age, but I would not ask on that account.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


For the most part, those of us with deep roots in New Orleans and south Louisiana do not think of England as the mother country.

Friday, June 7, 2013


Since I found it difficult to excerpt parts of the splendid speech by Lord Harries of Pentregarth, retired bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Oxford, at the second reading of the same-sex civil marriage bill in the British Parliament House of Lords, here it is whole and entire.
My Lords, I understand very well the unease that many of your Lordships feel about this Bill. I was brought up in a world where homosexuality was whispered about in dark corners and any hint of its expression resulted in expulsion. Our understanding of homosexuality is undoubtedly the biggest social change of my lifetime.

My own change and understanding came about when I realised—for example, through reading the biographies of gay people—that often, from a very early age, they had found themselves predominantly attracted to members of their own sex, not just physically but as whole persons. While some people are bisexual and there is a degree of fluidity in the sexuality of others, we know that for a significant minority their sexuality is not a matter of choice but as fundamental to their identity as being male or female. That is a fact that must bring about a decisive shift in our understanding.

The question arises as to how the church and society should respond to this. Both have an interest in helping people live stable lives in committed relationships. For this reason, many of us warmly welcome civil partnerships, not just because of the legal protections that they rightly afford to those who enter into them but because they offer the opportunity for people to commit themselves to one another publicly. Personally, I take a high view of civil partnerships. The idea of a lifelong partnership is a beautiful one. I deeply regret that the Church of England has not yet found a way of publicly affirming civil partnerships in a Christian context. I wish that it had warmly welcomed them from the first and provided a liturgical service in which the couple could commit themselves to one another before God and ask for God’s blessing upon their life together. If only the church had made it clear that although these relationships might be different in some respects from the union of a man and woman, they are equally valid in the eyes of the church and, more importantly, in the eyes of God.

Sadly, too many who now say that they accept civil partnerships have done so only slowly, reluctantly and through gritted teeth. Today we are not in a situation where civil partnerships are regarded as different but equal to marriage. Rightly or wrongly, the impression is inevitably created that one form of relationship is inferior to the other, and people believe that marriage is a profounder and richer form of relationship than a civil partnership.

Most importantly, many gay and lesbian people believe this and want to enter not just into a civil partnership but a marriage: a lifelong commitment of love and fidelity, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. Marriage affords legal advantages that are denied to civil partnerships, such as their legal status in many countries, but that is not the main point. The point is that those who wish to enter into this most fundamental of human relationships should be able to do so legally. I am aware that this involves a significant change in our understanding of marriage, but marriage has never had a fixed character. The noble Lord, Lord Pannick, eloquently pointed out that its legal meaning has changed over the years; and no less significantly, its social meaning has changed.

For most of history, among the upper classes, marriage was primarily a way of controlling titles and wealth. Among all classes, it involved the radical subservience of women. Often it went along with a very lax attitude—by males, not females—to relationships outside marriage. Contraception was forbidden and this resulted in many children, and as often as not the wife dying young. Only in the 18th century did we get a growth in emphasis on the quality of the relationship of the couple. Now, this mutual society, help and comfort that the one ought to have with the other, in prosperity and adversity, is rightly stressed. This is equally valued by all people, whatever their sexuality.

I really do not underestimate the linguistic dissonance set up by this Bill and the consequent unease felt by many but, for those reasons that I have briefly outlined, I warmly welcome it. I believe in marriage. I believe, with the Jewish rabbi of old, that in the love of a couple there dwells the shekinah—the divine presence; or, to put it in Christian terms, that which reflects the mutual love of Christ and his church. I believe in the institution of marriage and I want it to be available to same-sex couples as well as to males and females.
Just imagine the joy in the LGTB community if Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby had given a similar loving and pastoral address.   I know - water under the bridge, no rewind button, but perhaps the archbishop might take a lesson from Lord Harries, as he has said his views on same-sex marriage are evolving.

Lord Harries rightly calls the leadership of the church on their present claim to have supported same-sex civil partnerships in the past characterizing it as coming "slowly, reluctantly, and through gritted teeth."  His lovely words affirming that "the shekinah - the divine presence...that which reflects the mutual love of Christ and his church" is present in the relationships of same-sex couples are quite moving.

Thanks to Erp, who called my attention to the speech by leaving a quote in my comments. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Earlier I had thought of commenting on at least parts of  Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby's speech yesterday in Parliament's House of Lords, in which he announces that he cannot support the bill that would allow civil marriage for couples of the same sex in England and Northern Ireland.  Since Colin Coward, in his post at "Changing Attitude", covers what I would say and more, only in far better words, I decided to let him have the floor. Colin is, after all, over there in England, and he is gay, so his response carries more weight than would mine.

Before I move out of the way, there is one point I'd like to make.  (Are you truly surprised that I could not maintain complete silence on the matter?) Justin says he is sorry about the church's treatment of the gay community: is also absolutely true that the church has often not served the LGBT communities in the way it should. I must express my sadness and sorrow for that considerable failure.
Then he proceeds to insist that discriminatory treatment must continue with regard to marriage equality.  Does his apology for past actions inoculate the church from charges that it is still not serving the LGBT community as it should at the present time?  I don't think so.  Does Justin give a thought to the people he serves who will be most affected by the vote?  I am not gay, and I can only imagine the pain his words cause LGTB persons. 

On to a snippet from Colin, but please read his entire post.
Archbishop Justin’s solution to the intractable problems that introducing same-sex marriage would create is to add a new and valued institution alongside marriage for same gender relationships. Dear Archbishop, have you thought this through – have you asked those of us who are gay and represent many LGB&T Anglicans? How would you create a new and valued institution that is the equivalent of marriage but isn’t marriage.
Exactly, Archbishop.  Have you asked?

UPDATE: The Bill has now had its second Reading in the House of Lords. The Bill will now get to Committee stage where it will be scrutinised in detail and amendments may be proposed. The proposed amendments will then be discussed in a Third Reading. If the Bill passes that too, the next stage will be Royal Assent (a formality) before it becomes law.

Thanks to my friend Erika on Facebook.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Katharine Jefferts Schori
The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs
Tuesday, February 19, 2013

At the invitation of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Katharine Jefferts Schori will attend the enthronement celebration on March 21 at Canterbury Cathedral.

“I look forward to joining with other primates of the Anglican Communion for the investiture of the next Archbishop of Canterbury,” Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori said. “It is a particular delight to welcome Justin Welby in this role, as we have come to know him over the last several years, both in The Episcopal Church and among the primates.  He enters this role at a time of opportunity and challenge, when many people hope for continued growth and maturation within the Communion.”

During the trip, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will attend the Anglican Communion Primates Standing Committee, of which she is an elected member.

Archbishop Welby is the former bishop of Durham.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is considered one of the four instruments of Communion of the Anglican Communion; the others are the Lambeth Conferences, the Primates Meetings and the Anglican Consultative Council.
Inquiring Episcopalian minds want to know...about the mitre, that is.

UPDATE: My question in the headline is moot.  The Primates who attend the enthronement ceremony wear the rochet and chimere.

Rowan Williams' enthronement
Thanks to Lapin at Facebook for the photo, which is from the ACNS.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Mitt Romney on the London Olympics:
The dustup began Wednesday, as Romney, who ran the 2002 Salt Lake City games, said there were "disconcerting" signs in the days before this year's games.

"The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials -- that obviously is not something which is encouraging," he told NBC News.

"Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? And that's something which we only find out once the games actually begin," he said.
Whoa!  Then Mitt Romney backs up:
In comments before meeting with Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, Romney was more measured. "My experience with regards to the Olympics is it is impossible for absolutely no mistakes to occur," he said. "Of course, there will be errors from time to time, but those are all overshadowed by the extraordinary demonstrations of courage, character and determination by the athletes."
Wait!  What about the special Anglo-Saxon relationship that is really special?  The relationship between the US and England that President Obama does not understand because his father is from Africa?
In remarks that may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity, one suggested that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa.
“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have”.

Is the Anglo-Saxon link between England and the United States broken beyond repair?

Is it possible for Mitt Romeny and his campaign staff to be more incompetent?

Monday, June 25, 2012


The following is a letter to the Times of London, (behind their paywall) from bishops, lay members of General Synod, and other prelates in the Church of England dissenting from the statement purporting to speak for "the Church" on the proposal to allow same-sex civil marriage in England. 

To: The Editor
The Times


A number of recent statements by church leaders past and present may have given the mistaken impression that the Church is universally opposed to the extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples. We believe that does not adequately reflect the range of opinion which exists within the Church of England.

Marriage is a robust institution which has adapted much over the centuries. It has moved beyond the polygamy of the Old Testament and preoccupation with social status and property in pre-Enlightenment times.

While the Prayer Book states that marriage was ordained first for ‘the procreation of children’ the modern marriage service begins by emphasising the quality of relationship between marriage partners ‘that they shall be united with one another in heart, body and mind.’

The Church calls marriage holy or sacramental because the covenant relationship of committed, faithful love between the couple reflects the covenanted love and commitment between God and his Church. Growing in this kind of love means we are growing in the image of God. So the fact that there are same-sex couples who want to embrace marriage should be a cause for rejoicing in the Christian Church.

We welcome current moves by the House of Bishops to consider again its view of civil partnerships and human sexuality. We hope this will lead to a recognition of God’s grace at work in same-sex partnerships and call on the Church to engage in theological discussion and prayerful reflection on the nature of marriage.

We also welcome recent reported statements by the Bishop of Salisbury and the new Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral calling on the Church to affirm same-sex couples who want to take on the commitment of marriage.

It is our belief that the Church of England has nothing to fear from the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples. It will be for the churches to then decide how they should respond pastorally to such a change in the law.


Canon Giles Goddard, General Synod, Southwark
The Very Rev Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans
The Rt Rev Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham
The Rt Rev Michael Doe
The Rt Rev John Gladwin
The Rt Rev Lord Harries of Pentregarth
The Rt Rev Peter Selby
The Rt Rev David Stancliffe
The Very Rev David Brindley, Dean of Portsmouth
The Very Rev Graham Smith, Dean of Norwich
The Very Rev Victor Stock, Dean of Guildford
Mrs April Alexander, General Synod, Southwark
The Rev Stephen Coles, General Synod, London
The Rev Clair Herbert, General Synod, London
Mr John Ward LLB, General Synod, London
Just one more reminder, amongst many, to us all and to the anonymous persons who put together the statement on same-sex civil marriage that, whoever they are, theirs are not the only opinions within  the Church of England.

H/T to Peter Owen at Thinking Anglicans.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Archbishop of York, John Sentamu writes about marriage and civil partnerships. A friend sent me the link, along with the comment, "Tortuous". I decided to read the archbishop's response and parse it for her. What follows is the shorter version.

The mitre! (Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)

 Moving on:

Some of my best friends are gay.

No injustice with separate but equal.

This is the way we've always done it.

ABY says:
 I believe that marriage is the bedrock of society. It is a gift from God in Creation. It has a public element, a public commitment made to one another and to the community. For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. Already in marriage, there are the ingredients of stability that children are looking for. 
What about divorce?   I see a lot of that around.

Now what you should do is click the link to read the entire response, however, if you are pressed for time, you can take my word for it that I've given you the gist of the message.  If you read the ABY's words and disagree with my shorter version, feel free to correct me.

Friday, April 20, 2012


From the presidential address of Archbishop Barry Morgan of the Church in Wales:
Lambeth 1998, as I said, accepted homosexual orientation – what some have regarded as "a natural attribute for some people," that is, a natural predisposition toward people of the same sex –which has only been fully understood fairly recently.  Even so, the Lambeth answer was to separate orientation from practice and commend celibacy.
But can celibacy be imposed?  Shouldn't it be freely undertaken as a personal vocation by heterosexuals and homosexuals alike?  As Rowan Williams once put it, "anyone who knows the complexities of the true celibate vocation, would be the last to have any sympathy with the extraordinary idea that sexual orientation is an automatic pointer to a celibate life: almost as if celibacy before God is less costly, even less risky to the homosexual than the heterosexual."  And is not separating mind and body or feelings or orientation from practice a kind of dualism which the church has condemned in the past since human beings are a unified whole and cannot be compartmentalised in such a way.  If that is true of humanity in general, why should we expect people of a homosexual disposition to be singled out in this way?

If the legislation to allow civil marriage is passed, I cannot see how we as a church, will be able to ignore the legality of the status of such partnerships and we ought not to want to do so.  There is a further complication and that is that just as the Government only initially allowed civil partnerships outside religious premises but has now extended that provision to include them, the same may happen as far as what they call civil marriage is concerned and indeed some argue that it is against European law to separate the two since there is no distinction in law in this country between marriage in church and marriage in a register office.

The question then as now is, will the church protect and support pastorally, faithful, stable, lifelong relationships of whatever kind in order to encourage human values such as love and fidelity and recognise the need in Christian people for some public religious support....  It is a discussion we need to have.
 Dr Morgan, in a brilliant stroke, quotes the wise words of the previous Archbishop of Wales, Rowan Williams, on the folly of the imposition of a mandate to the celibate life on anyone, including those with a same-sex orientation.

Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, in his post referring to Barry Morgan's address says:
Therefore the highest duty of the Church is not to preserve institutions, but to be, simply and completely, good news. The gospel isn't “good news/bad news” or “good news as long as you buy it properly.” It isn’t even “what would Jesus do?” It’s “What is Jesus actually doing through the whole creation, and trying to do through us if only we got real?” 

Jesus referred marriage back to the way God actually made us. Marriage is a gift of God in creation that strengthens community and expresses divine love — that’s what’s meant by calling it “sacramental.” 

In fact a very small but significant proportion of every human population is gay. If some of these people want to build stable faithful relationships based on love, that has to be a good thing. Love is love wherever it is found. We know it by its fruits, not its origins. But the fruits reveal the origin. God is love and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them. This is the good news.
Amen to the Good News from the bishops, arch- and plain.  Alan Wilson has long been a breath of fresh air and a voice of sanity within the circle of bishops in the Church of England, and, thankfully, his is no longer a lone voice. 

Monday, August 8, 2011


Here it is! My People Magazine style post in which I show off the beautiful and very important celebrity people I met in England.


The first three photos were taken at The New Inn in Salisbury earlier in the day in which we visited Salisbury Cathedral and heard the choir from St Mark's Episcopal Church in Berkeley, California, sing Evensong. Our friend susan s. is a member, and the choir sang beautifully at the service.

Tah-dah! Our own susan s.!

And what a joy it was to meet susan after conversing with her for years and years on the internet. She was just as I expected, only taller, but just as smart, sassy, and witty as she is online. And look at that fast-moving hand! The camera couldn't keep up.

Laura asked that her photo be taken down, and, of course, I respect her wishes. I should have asked permission first, but I thought since she had her photo on her blog, she would not mind.

Laura, of the blog Lay Anglicana, arranged for the luncheon at The New Inn and she and her husband Robert, pictured below, kindly treated us all to lunch. Laura is another humble lay person, who is firmly opposed to the Anglican Covenant, and dares to speak out against the document. What a breath of fresh air she was when she appeared on the blogging scene. Let no one say, 'What do lay folks know? They should fill the collection plates, fill the pews, and otherwise stay quiet.' I have news for them. We know a lot more than you think we know.

Above, Laura's charming and gentlemanly husband, Robert, listens patiently to me as I rattle on. Robert is not part of the blogging scene but is nevertheless an excellent luncheon companion and an attentive listener. He seemed quite interested in my responses to his intelligent and informed questions about life in south Louisiana. We also chatted a bit about the Anglican and Episcopal Churches.


Me (laughing hysterically) and the newlyweds, Alan and Lesley Fellowes Crawley.

Lesley blogs at (Surprise!) Lesley's Blog, and she sometimes pemits Alan to write a word or two on her blog. The two love birds make a beautiful couple. How grand to meet them. They were on their way home from Alan's daughter's graduation, and they generously made time for a long lunch with Erika, Cathy, and me. Cathy is cropped out of the pictures by her own request.

Me, Alan, and Erika.

Alan was outnumbered 4 to 1, by women, but we were kind enough to let him get in a word or two edgewise from time to time. I gave Lesley a bit of advice on training husbands and cautioned her that it is the work of a lifetime. After 50 years, Grandpère still will not heel.

Lesley's and Alan's photos do not do them justice. Both are quite good-looking, but the camera does not come close to doing justice to their fine appearance. On a side note, I like the picture above of me better than any taken in recent memory. Thank you, Lesley.

I sometimes wondered if Cathy was bored with all our church talk, since she's not so caught up in Anglican/Episcopal affairs as the rest of us. Hardly anyone is, except we mad few. She said no, but perhaps she was just being polite.


Bishop Alan Wilson and me.

Alan, the Bishop of Buckingham, blogs at (Surprise again!) Bishop Alan's Blog. See how the heavenly light shines down on me when I sit near a bishop. God approves. MadPriest says I never shut up, but I can tell you that Alan gave me a good run. He's no slacker in the talk department, but he's great fun and a fine dinner companion. Also, he's a bishop who is a breath of fresh air, as those of you who read Alan's blog or follow him on Facebook already know.

The lovely Susan, Erika's beloved, and the lovely Rosie Harper are pictured above. Rosie is vicar of Great Missenden and chaplain to the bishop of Buckingham. What are the duties of a chaplain to the bishop? I expect one of them is to tell him what to do. Rosie also serves as a member of General Synod of the Church of England and, along with Alan, writes for the Guardian's 'Comment Is Free' feature. Last I heard Rosie was on holiday in the south of France.

Erika, Alan, and Rosie arranged the dinner at the Eagle Tavern in Little Coxwell, which was approximately half way between Erika and Susan's home and where Alan and Rosie live. Rosie and Alan were mystery personages to Cathy and me until we arrived at the pub. What a pleasant surprise when we found out their identities.

Dinner 2

Tracy Terry, who blogs as Petty Witter at Pen and Paper, and me. We had dinner at Marco Polo in Newcastle Upon Tyne, where we dined on tasty Italian dishes. Others at table were Neal, Tracy's beloved, who blogs as Themethatisme at Conscientisation, Paul Bagshaw, who blogs under his own name at Not the Same Stream, Chris, and Jane and Jonathan Hagger, aka as MadPriest, who blogs at Of Course I Could Be Wrong. The bright celebrity lights were shining that night!

Flat Stanley and me, with Paul back there in the shadows with his wife Chris hiding behind his shoulder. Tracy takes Flat Stanley everywhere with her and photographs him at every opportunity. How cool that I had my picture taken with the famous Stanley.

A few of the folks at our dinner that evening are camera shy, but I forgot all about taking pictures that evening anyway. In fact, I didn't take many pictures of people in our gatherings during the trip, because I'm interested in talking and listening, and I tend to forget the camera.

Once again, there was a lot of church talk, and I'm quite sure that certain people at the table were bored silly. Those of us who are fascinated and enthralled by the church scene probably come off as a bit strange, and we should exercise more restraint in mixed company. Erika suggests that all dining tables that seat more than four people should be round, because, in that situation, everyone can talk to everyone else, and those who are not particularly interested in one conversation are free to talk to someone else. I agree.

My readers, I know this post is long, very long, and it may put your attention span to the test, but think of it as similar to an article in People Magazine, although it's probably longer than most People articles. And, all joking aside, please do not think of the post as a brag, for I take great pleasure in incarnational encounters with blog friends whom I've come to know online. I experience few surprises when I meet folks face to face, because nearly all of them turn out to be very much as I expected.

Whoops! Before I finish, I must drop three more celebrity names with - Alas! - no photos. I had a delightful lunch with Jonathan Clatworthy, of Modern Church, at Prezzo, an Italian restaurant near Euston Station in London, while he was between trains. Our lunch lasted nearly three hours. Then I had lunch with Chris Hansen at Balans Restaurant, which I'm told is the gayest restaurant in all London, (They almost didn't let me in!) which, once again, lasted for nearly three hours. And last, but surely not least, Simon Sarmiento, of Thinking Anglicans, generously took time out of his busy schedule to share coffee with me at a café near the South Kensington Underground station.

If I've left out any English celebrities, please let me know, and I will make the proper acknowledgment.

UPDATE: I knew I'd leave someone out. Renz reminded me that I'd left out Celebrity Jack, who blogs at Why Do We Have To Do This, Sir? Jack and I had coffee and supper at a café in Headingley, and we were joined later by his daughter Anna. I was deputized to give Jack hugs from a good many folks, so I rolled them all together and gave him one big hug from me and from everyone.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


From CNN Belief Blog:
Hilmarton, England (CNN) - A little English village church has just made a remarkable discovery.

The ornate old Bible that had been sitting in plain view on a table near the last row of pews for longer than anyone could remember is an original King James Bible - one of perhaps 200 surviving 400-year-old original editions of arguably the most important book ever printed in English.

In fact, the Bible at St. Laurence Church in Hilmarton, England, was sitting right under a hand-lettered sign saying it was an original.

The sign said it had been found in "the parish chest" in 1857, that the cover had been added, and that it was the second of the two impressions published in 1611 - the year of first publication.

The people of St. Laurence Church are now trying to raise money to build a special case so they can keep their Bible in use and on regular display.

That would make the church more or less unique so far as Goff knows, although she speculated that there just might be a few village churches still using their 400-year-old Bibles.

"It's possible there are one or two churches that have gone on doing it and they just haven't thought to say," she said.

"People are now beginning to realize the value of this particular edition. This is the 400th anniversary and there is a lot more emphasis on it," she said.

"They value it. They want to keep it and they want to use it."

I love stories like this one from St Lawrence, of treasures hidden in plain sight in very ordinary places.

Thanks to Ann V. for the link.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


From Catholic Communications Network:
In accordance with the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus of Pope Benedict XVI (November 4, 2009) and after careful consultation with the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has today erected a Personal Ordinariate within the territory of England and Wales for those groups of Anglican clergy and faithful who have expressed their desire to enter into full visible communion with the Catholic Church. The Decree of Erection specifies that the Ordinariate will be known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and will be placed under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman.

Also today Pope Benedict XVI has nominated Reverend Keith Newton as the first Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Together with Reverend Burnham and Reverend Broadhurst, Reverend Newton will oversee the catechetical preparation of the first groups of Anglicans in England and Wales who will be received into the Catholic Church together with their pastors at Easter, and to accompany the clergy preparing for ordination to the Catholic priesthood around Pentecost.

H/T to Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans.

UPDATE: From Background information on the Ordinariate:
Will members of the Ordinariate still be Anglicans?

No. Members of the Ordinariate will be Catholics. Their decision is to leave the Anglican Communion and come into the Catholic Church, in full communion with the Pope.

The central purpose of Anglicanorum coetibus is "to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared". Members of the Ordinariate will bring with them, into full communion with the Catholic Church in all its diversity and richness of liturgical rites and traditions, some aspects their own Anglican patrimony and culture.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


The captain on the bridge.

Ah well, Doorman-Priest was captain for the day, and a beautiful day it was, as you will see from the pictures. When I woke up in the morning, it was raining. By the time DP and I left my hotel and reached the Abbey House Museum, a light rain still fell, but, when we left the museum and walked over to tour Kirkstall Abbey, the rain had stopped, and the sun was shining.

Bottoms up.

After touring the Abbey, our next stop was Golden Acre Park, where the beautiful weather continued. We walked the paths and raised bridges and enjoyed the breathtaking beauty in the park.

Around and in the lake were geese and ducks. Before we approached, DP asked me if I was afraid of geese, and, since I have never experienced an attack from an angry goose, I said, "No", and, indeed, the geese let me be. Of course, I had to have a picture of the ducks ducking for food with their little bottoms up in the air. The duck on the right is nearly perpendicular.

The beautiful lake.

DP told me that horticulturists planted an experimental garden in the park with plants that usually grow only in warmer climates, to see if they will grow in the North, in preparation for coming climate change, which may bring warmer weather to northern England. Good thinking and planning, I say.

And the lovely flowers.

I don't know their name, but the blooms make a beautiful display in red and yellow. If any of you know the names of the flowers, I will post them under the pictures.

No names again.

We stopped for refreshments at the café in the park, tea and a sweet for me, and a fruit drink with a sweet for DP.

The park covers 137 acres, so we saw only a small portion.

Cosmos beauties (Thanks to Susan S.)

From the Golden Acre Park website:

Distinctive features of the park are the areas surrounding the lake, arboretum and picnic area, where the local flora is encouraged to go wild. Reduced mowing has seen a vast increase in the biodiversity. In the low-lying wet meadows of the picnic site, Ragged Robin and sways of wild Orchid flourish. In the higher dry meadows of the arboretum, Scabious and Harebells abound. In contrast a network of shaded woodland pathways lined with many species of Rhododendron and Azaleas provide pleasing areas for visitors to explore.

Now the dahlias, hot pink above.

The flowers were gorgeous in rainbow colors, every color you can imagine.



Pink peach.

Pretty dahlias all in a row.

Flowers outside Haley's Hotel.

I love lobelia, the tiny purple flower with the white center.

After our visit to the park, DP took me to his house for a delicious meal with his lovely wife and two beautiful daughters. And I forgot to take pictures of my hosts. I'm an absent-minded photographer, when I'm enjoying the company. I have just the one picture, the captain on the bridge from the rear.

UPDATE: I reposted the pictures. Now if you click on them, you can get the enlarged view.

Monday, April 12, 2010


From the Telegraph in June of 2003, when Jeffery John had been chosen as bishop-elect of Reading in England, but before he was pressed to step down by his good friend, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, comes this charming and quite moving piece by the writer, A. N. Wilson.

The Bishop Elect of Reading, the Revd Jeffrey John, has attracted a lot of notice, particularly in this newspaper. The reason is that he has been brave enough to admit that he is a homosexual. He lives with his friend, but tells us that he will in future be celibate.

I was asked recently whether I had been at the Oxford theological college St Stephen's House at the same time as he was.

As it happens, I think I'm a bit older than Dr John. In the mists of time, I remember meeting him, and I think he was chaplain of Magdalen College, Oxford. He asked me to give a talk to the undergraduates, and I seem to recollect a fairly earnest evening discussing religion and literature. He is certainly not the wild gay revolutionary depicted in the media.

At Staggers (as St Stephen's was known), they gave most of the students "names in religion". This meant that the young men called one another by girls' names. Young homosexuals of my acquaintance aren't camp in this way any more. That whole Colony Room, Francis Bacon tradition of calling one another a silly bitch has rather gone out, to be replaced by earnestness of one kind or another.

The quoted text does not at all do justice to Wilson's entire column, which is titled, "Tawdry Audrey, Bobo, Maud, Pearl . . . all better men than I".

If you recall, in my post on Bishop Barry Morgan's Easter sermon, the bishop quotes Wilson. Wilson grew up in the faith, grew out of the faith, and later returned to the faith.

Thanks to Lapin for the link to Wilson's piece.

Cathy sent me the link to the lovely story of Wilson's return to the faith in the New Statesman in April of 2009.

Here's a snippet from Wilson's story, which includes a reference to Bonhoeffer:

I haven't mentioned morality, but one thing that finally put the tin hat on any aspirations to be an unbeliever was writing a book about the Wagner family and Nazi Germany, and realising how utterly incoherent were Hitler's neo-Darwinian ravings, and how potent was the opposition, much of it from Christians; paid for, not with clear intellectual victory, but in blood. Read Pastor Bonhoeffer's book Ethics, and ask yourself what sort of mad world is created by those who think that ethics are a purely human construct. Think of Bonhoeffer's serenity before he was hanged, even though he was in love and had everything to look forward to.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Tale Of The Lost Wallet/Purse

In England, the word for a woman's wallet is purse. The English word for a purse is handbag. MadPriest and Mrs MadPriest explained this all to me. To aid understanding of the story for my international audience, I shall refer to the wallet as wallet/purse, with the US term first and the English word following. When I mean purse, I will use purse/handbag, again with the US usage coming first. Are you bored yet?

What I believe happened with my missing wallet/purse during my visit to England is that after I paid the taxi driver, I tried to put the wallet/purse back into my purse/handbag, and it must not have gone in completely, or it fell out, and I did not know it. My driver was a Muslim with a long, pointed, gray beard. He wore a hat similar to what I would have called a lady's pillbox hat back in the day. He looked dour and did not speak during the ride. Perhaps he did not speak English well.

Anyway, I was scheduled to go out to eat with Doorman-Priest and one of his delightful daughters that evening. I misread the time and was still in the shower when they arrived, and did not answer the door for a while, but I did eventually. What were they thinking? I started off with them in a state of embarrassment and confusion. We went to an Italian restaurant with very good food, and I was going to treat, but when the bill came, my wallet/purse was not in my purse/handbag. Of course, that meant no English money and no credit cards. DP paid the bill. Second misadventure.

We returned to the hotel and called the credit card companies to cancel the cards and then the police, to be on their records with my address in Leeds in the event that the wallet/purse was turned in. They asked how much money was in the wallet/purse, and I said between 120 and 170 pounds. The staff at the hotel were wonderful, very patient and helpful. Finally, at about 11:00 PM, I told DP and his daughter to go home. They had done all they could and beyond. Lovely beginning to our real life relationship, no?

I went to my room and went to bed, but I only got about two hours sleep all night, because I was wired over the loss, and I could not fall asleep. The next day, I had to catch a train fairly early in the morning, and that was on my mind, too. All of this happened on Friday, March 20, the day after my arrival. What were DP and Mrs DP thinking? Of course, they're too kind to ever say if they were having misgivings. I know what I would have been thinking. What's next with this woman!

I made up my mind then and there that I would not let the loss of the wallet/purse spoil my trip. I still had my traveler's checks with the bulk of my money left, and I thought perhaps I could get my American Express card replaced. I played Pollyanna's "Glad Game", which is a version of "counting your blessings" and focused on how much worse it could have been and carried on with my activities. I'm not sure how I would have paid my hotel bill, because the number I had given them was no longer good, but they said not to worry about it, so I didn't.

On Monday, I took a train to Manchester, the nearest place with an American Express office, and I was given a new card. On the way back, I took the wrong train, a train to Sheffield, instead of Leeds, and the trip back to Leeds took nearly twice as long because the train to Sheffield stopped at every village along the way, but the views of the Pennines were gorgeous, much more picturesque than the views on the way to Leeds. See. I'm still playing the "Glad Game", because Monday was pretty much a lost day for doing anything else. But I digress.

On Tuesday, I took a wonderful coach trip to Whitby, which I wrote about on the alternative blog, Wounded Bird Takes Flight. Back in Leeds, the coach dropped me off near a taxi queue, and the first taxi in the line was the car and driver in whose taxi I had left my wallet/purse. I didn't think or move quickly enough to ask him if he had found it, and he took off with the passenger ahead of me, but not before I got the number of his taxi.

I climbed into the taxi behind him and noticed that there was a police station right across the street, so I asked the driver to let me out. I mainly wanted to check to see if they had any news on the wallet/purse, not to turn the driver in, because I realized that a passenger in the taxi could have found it and made off with it. The taxi driver looked confused and asked why I wanted to get out, but I told him, "Just let me out, please."

I walked over to the police station to inquire. They had heard nothing, and I mentioned that I had the taxi number, but the officer was not interested, because she said that it could have been a passenger who took the wallet/purse, which I had already thought of. Bored yet? Just stop reading. I won't be offended.

I crossed the street and got into the next taxi in line, not the same one that I'd been in before. After we started, the driver asked me why I left the taxi in front of him and went into the police station. I asked him, "And why should I tell you that?" But I thought about it, and I decided that perhaps it would be a good thing for the taxi grapevine to have the information that I was in touch with the police, and I told him the whole story. The driver, who was also a Muslim, with a short, well-trimmed beard and a pillbox hat, said over and over, as I told the story, "Honesty is the best policy. Honesty is the best policy." I said, "Indeed! I hope that somehow an honest person gets hold of my wallet/purse and returns it. It was not only the money and credit cards, but all the other cards that would need replacing, such as my Social Security card and my health care cards." He asked me when I was returning to the US, and I told him on March 30.

Somehow, through all of this, I had a strong sense that the wallet/purse would be returned, although, on the face of it, it seemed less and less likely that I would get it back as each day passed. At the end of the day, when I returned to the hotel, I hoped, no, I expected to hear that it had been found.

On my very last evening, I heard a knock on my door, and there was a Muslim man standing in the hallway outside my door. I was startled and a little frightened, because I didn't think that hotels gave out room numbers. He asked me if I had lost a purse, and I answered that I had. I thought I recognized him as the second taxi driver to whom I told my story, but he was not wearing his hat, and I was not sure. He told me that as the taxi I lost the wallet/purse in was being cleaned out, the wallet/purse was found under the seat. He said, "You are leaving on the the 30th, aren't you?" Then I knew that he was the second driver. He pulled the wallet/purse out of his pocket and said, "See if it's all there." It seemed to be all there. There were 200 pounds in the billfold. I didn't think that I had that much. Then he said, "Honesty is the best policy."

Alhamdulillah! I wish that I had asked a few questions, but the man creeped me out a little. He knew well that I had lost a wallet/purse, so why did he make a big point of asking me? He seemed too knowing, nodding his head and smiling in a strange manner. I had my wallet/purse, and I wanted to close the door. I gave him 20 pounds for his honesty in returning the wallet/purse, and that was that. Honestly, I'm still am not sure I believe his story, but it could well be true. Why didn't the other taxi driver return it? I left it in his taxi. No reason for me to think that the man at the door was anything other than a good guy, surely.

What do you think?