Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's that Archbishop again

Dr Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury) was involved in a public discussion with Prof Mona Siddiqui at Glasgow University today (well, yesterday if you're being picky).

Watching it on webcast on a machine with insufficient memory that kept stopping to buffer, and watching it over the tea table was perhaps not the best way to experience it, but among many interesting points was one particular comment.

Regarding the Humanist Society's Bus Campaign, Dr Williams commented on the use of the word 'probably' in their slogan as being a typically English approach (or words to that effect - I don't have a transcript!).

Or a Welsh one, your Grace?

PS My blogging, never as regular or dependable as even a (bendy) bus, may become even more sparse for the next while, as I try and get to grips with this year's academic and other work, and perhaps even re-think what my purpose, motivation and approach to blogging is or should be. So in the meantime, thanks for reading, now go and do something less boring instead.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In memoriam

I heard this morning that Ted passed away last night around midnight.

I don't know what to say.

I'm shocked but not surprised. The shock still comes from the suddenness of the onset of his cancer - about six weeks since diagnosis, I think. And if it affects me (and others connected with ICC) how much more so will it affect his family? The 'not surprised' part comes because I was hearing/reading updates over the last few days that simply made me think - this can't go on, this has to end one way or another quite soon - whether by miraculous healing, or by death.

Yet as Ted said himself in the messages (see previous post) - why, what's so bad about what happens next? (He, like me, is a Christian and in particular a believer in a heaven where there will be no more tears or pain) It's a 'no-brainer'! The hard part, as he acknowledged, is for those left behind.

Ted's family, a couple of months ago, had they even thought about this, would have had reasonable expectation of having him around for another 20-30 years. Now what? His children are adults, yet I know that had I lost my dad when I was 20 rather than 28, I would have missed out on a whole lot. A developing relationship between two adults, not between a child and an adult. Even now, I miss my dad, regret not being able to talk about my training and progress (though he wasn't a churchgoer), regret him not knowing his grandsons - our son and our nephew, though he did know our niece. I regret him not having a reasonably active and healthy retirement, or the fact that he had to retire just as he felt 'on top of his game', workwise.

And yet... we could have lost him when I was 8. Or 9. Or various times in my teenage years. At least we had 'bonus time'. Anyway, this wasn't supposed to be about my dad.

I urge you again, please pray (if you do) for Ted's wife and children, and the wider family.

And remember ICC, too. A whole new intake of first years may only have met Ted on an open day, or just heard the second of the two messages below, yet many more continuing students, graduates, and of course the college staff past and present will also miss Ted, as a person, and also for the key role he played in the operation of the college. Of course there are others who play key roles too, of course the institution is bigger than any one person, but nonetheless this will leave a big hole that will never be filled in quite the same way. Adjustments will need to be made, and will not necessarily be easy.

Ted was someone I first knew through my wife getting the job as afternoon receptionist, right at the beginning of ICC (formed from the merger of two previous colleges). Then I came to chat to him when I was considering coming to the college. Then, of course, I took O101, the famous 1st year Old Testament course, with 'Ted's Tests' (interestingly he told me they weren't his idea - he inherited them from a previous lecturer!). Obsessed with what a guest lecturer once called 'the fruitless pursuit of perfection', I did manage to achieve high scores, even with the 'word on the street' that Ted was very particular about the answers. Yay for my good memory. But boy did it make us read the set texts, since we knew we would have a test every other week for a whole term!

He was simply always there, doing probably far more than I knew about for the college - certainly in the process of seeking accreditation to train Church of Scotland ministers, in gaining validation by the University of Aberdeen, and in so many other things. Once he even took a Greek class for us, self-deprecatingly suggesting that he was the fourth or fifth down the list to stand-in (I can't remember now why the NT staff were all unavailable).

He was interested in everything, sat with students at lunches, played TT like nobody's business... what a guy. Maybe I should have said all this last week, and passed it on via his daughter. But anyway, it needed said, so here it is. Probably not the last or the most complete word, but an honest word from a former student.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dr Ted Herbert

An inspirational man from an inspirational college, ICC - ok so I'm biased, I studied there and I still work there. But check out these testimonies from him - in advanced stages of cancer.

First, in person to a prayer meeting at his church.

The second covers similar ground to the first, but directed to students of the college. It was done as a recording, less than a week later.

If you pray, please pray for him and his family and the wide circle of friends, acquaintances, colleagues and students who are affected by this. Healing, relief from nausea, I don't know what else to pray but please do.

If you don't (or if you do) - I hope it inspires and moves you as much as it does me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What is Anglicanism?

A short but hopefully provocative post for my return to blogging.

Having been reading all about the Glasgow East by-election, I happened across the BBC's Lambeth Diary (don't ask me how...) and came across a wonderful quote from the ABofC, Dr Rowan Williams. In the context of whether worldwide Anglicanism forgave the US bishops for ordaining an openly gay bishop (Gene Robinson) "50% of the provinces (individual autonomous national Anglican Churches) or a bit more said that's probably all right" [my emphasis]

Probably all right. Ish. A bit. We think. Well most of us. Some at least.

I don't know whether to laugh or groan, if only because I see this kind of thing closer to home too. I am not an Anglican, but I am married to one (albeit she currently has her 'lines' in the CofS) and so I am (hopefully) not criticising another denomination. What I do hope to do is say, why can large organisations not be a bit more definitive in what they think? Is it the very fact that they're large? I include the CofS in that definition though it's obviously a lot smaller than the Church of England. Regularly complaints are heard in Scotland (and were particularly before the death of Cardinal Winning) that the Catholic view and voice is always heard in the media but rarely that of the Church of Scotland. Usually because there can easily be found two (or more) opposing views among ministers, even in the same Presbytery (or town?). In extreme cases, opposing views from the same minister?

Is this the price we pay for Presbyterianism, for government by the many (or by committee)?

If so, how does this square with Anglicanism, which is instead, somewhat like the Catholic Church, hierarchical, top-down, bishop-led, but crucially (!) has no 'Pope-figure', instead deciding things in Conferences and Synods - again, government by the many?

How can we hope to gain converts, members, disciples or even just fellow-travellers if we hold a vast range of disparate views on (what for some are) vital topics, and seem not to stand for anything in particular, but sometimes fall (in different directions) for anything?

Answers on a postcard please, or comment if you prefer.