December 20, 2014 2 Comments
A friend of mine tweeted this yesterday, it is incredibly powerful.
The view from the Prairie, with an emphasis on Energy
November 3, 2014 16 Comments
Do you remember that we talked some about Julian of Norwich’s theology last week? I said in that article that we didn’t know much about her life. Well we still don’t but, I did run across an article that tells us a lot more than I knew. To me, the people are what makes history fun. Here is Susan Abernethy
Julian of Norwich was a mystic, theologian and anchoress in late fourteenth-early fifteenth century England. Very little is known of her actual life, not even her real name. We do know she wrote two texts in English on her visions and their meaning. English was rarely used for literary purposes during Julian’s time which makes her books remarkable. But the books were also written by a woman making them even more extraordinary. And her compositions were works of theology by a woman which may explain why her books were not well known or publicized during her lifetime and for hundreds of years after she died.
From her writings, we know that Julian was most likely born in 1342. She lived in Norwich or nearby and may have been from a privileged family. Her real name is not given in her texts. She may have taken her name from the parish church of St. Julian at Conisford in Norwich where she had a cell and lived as an anchoress or perhaps her real name was Julian or Juliana which was a common name at the time. We don’t know if she married or if she had children or even if she was a nun. We don’t know how she got the education that allowed her to write her books. Julian may have learned reading and writing from her mother or from the priests in her parish. Throughout her writing it is evident she sought teachings and preaching from her local priests. Everyday medieval life was inextricably linked to the church.
Norwich at the time of Julian’s life was a vibrant town whose wealth came from sheep breeding and wool production. There was trade with the Low Countries, Zeeland and France. At the time of Julian’s birth, Norwich had a population of about ten thousand and it was the second largest city in England. She and her family would have spoken English. Latin was spoken in the churches and the merchants and upper classes spoke French. A decade after her birth, the King made English the official language of his court.
When Julian was six years old, Norwich was visited by the pestilence known as the Black Death for the first time. Julian herself survived but within a year, three quarters of the population of the city was dead. It persisted for three years. The city itself came to a standstill. There were no workers to repair roads or shepherd the sheep. The wool trade ceased. Slowly, slowly life came back to the city.
All in all a fascinating woman, an interesting story, a wonderful book, and what seems to us as a romantic time as well.
November 2, 2014 5 Comments
This is a post of Jessica’s first published on 31 December 2013. It was sort of a retrospective of what has gone wrong in our countries. She also makes the point, with which I strongly agree, that we need to be choosing by the person, not by the party label. In this election, most of the people I would vote for are Republicans but, I look for the character, not the label. Neo
As we come to the end of 2013, conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic could be forgiven for not wishing each other a happy New Year. On my blog, my co-author, Chalcedon has penned a philippic [I am sorry, very sorry in fact, but it is no longer available because that blog is now private.] about the shortcomings of conservative politicians which amounts to saying they aren’t worth voting for.
I’m not a politician or an analyst, but I am instinctively conservative on social norms, at least by modern standards. My instincts are those of a Christian: I loathe abortion; I am not a fan of contraception (although see where it can be useful); I dislike the ways in which easy divorce is leading to generations of children without fathers; and I am in favour of the traditional family and see it as the bed rock of social unity. So I tend to vote for any politician who also seems to favour these things. Were I fortunate enough to be an American, I should have noted Republican last time; and I would have done so without great enthusiasm, as I know many of you did. I would have been downcast at President Obama’s victory, as I would have been at the disorganised nature of the Republican opposition to him.
Over here we have a Coalition Government in which the Conservatives have a large majority of seats, but which is hell-bent on pushing through an act to legalise gay marriage. It is content to allow Courts to rule that Christians have no protection against being made to work on a Sunday, or to abstain from having to perform civil partnerships in Registry Offices. I am sure it differs in some significant way from the other parties, but perhaps it needs to enlighten me as to how.
But perhaps we need to remember that, at least for the Christians amongst us, politics are not the most important thing. Jesus and the Apostles were not, whatever some of our church leaders think, involved in social activism and political reform. For us, nothing is more important that witnessing to the Gospel message of love and repentance. Jesus knew what our politicians of all types don’t – that the only change that actually effects the world’s problems is a change of heart. Real change, unlike President Obama’s mantra, only comes from a supernatural rebirth of the corrupted human heart. From that personal transformation comes other tranformations – of the family, the community and the nation. America’s Founding Fathers understood that – ‘One Nation – under God’.
So, call me Pollyanna, and I’ll put my blue dress on and put my hair in plaits, but I cannot get myself worked up about conservatism and its plight. The politicos will continue to play their games, and what we really need are more like dear Rebecca Hamilton. If I lived in her District, I’d be voting Democrat, because of her, not because of anything that party does. And perhaps that is where the real fight back begins? Not with labels, but with people. Get the right people willing to do what Rebecca does, and we can say, as Churchill (http://youtu.be/mdImjJzAAIs) did:
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.
And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light;
ln front the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
But westward, look, the land is bright.
But you know, this week we again get to choose who represents us in Washington. I like you, am often disappointed with the quality of the candidates. While I’ve written little about it this year, I have been paying attention, and I will vote for those I think best. I ask you to as well.
This ad, I think lays it out almost perfectly.
And so the main thing to remember is this:
November 1, 2014 15 Comments
Yesterday, 497 years ago, a priest (and a monk) by the name of Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to the door of the palace church in Wittenberg. Some say this started the Reformation, and in a way it did. But these were things he thought the church should discuss, and this was the normal method of bringing them to the authorities attention.
And see that’s the thing, the Reformation didn’t really get going until the Roman Church excommunicated Luther, that’s when he decided he had no more choice. And I note that the Roman Church also reformed along the same line quite soon as well. Even in churches, competition is a good thing, it seems. But there were some bad consequences as well of this schism 500 years ago, such as the 30 Years War which devastated Germany.
Some people have told me that every 4000 years the laity have to reform the church, and you know it does sort of seem like it. At Chalcedon in 451 we lost the Copts, In the Great Schism in 1054 the Orthodox split off from Rome, and in 1517 the Reformation got started. Well, its 2014 now, and all our churches seem riven by strife, What’s next? i doubt anyone knows, but I think we’d be well advised to stick pretty close together, or Islam or cultural relativism might inherit the earth. Perilous times, indeed.
One thing we should note in these times when so many try to restrict the availability of the internet and social media. One of the main factors in the success of the Reformation was the availability of a new social medium: The printing press, that spread the word of what was happening all over Europe within a few months, instead of years (if ever) as formerly.
Perilous times call for men and heroes, and Edward Bouverie Pusey has a message for us:
Many things will combine to wrest it from you, my younger brethren. Through one thing only can you hold it, the grace of God. New, though false, lights dazzle at the outset of life; novelty attracts ; the old faith may be pictured to you as antiquated ; a strict oneness of faith as illiberal ; the very Love of God is set in array against the Revelation of God, as though God could not mean what yet He has said ; belief in God, as He has revealed Himself, may be pictured to you as derogatory to God. “Go not after them, nor follow them,” is your Saviour’s warning as to those who shall come in His Name, and whom He hath not sent. Old must the faith be, since as soon as man needed redemption, the Redeemer was promised, and the truths of the Gospel lay implicitly involved in the revelation to Adam; and He Who eighteen hundred years ago, more fully declared it as the power of God unto salvation, changeth not. “One” must it be, for contradictories cannot both be true, and He has said, there is “One Faith,” as there is “One God ” and “One Lord.”
Read more at FAITH: THE GIFT OF GOD (17): HOLD FAST TO THE FAITH
Interestingly, he was a friend of the Blessed John Henry Newman. I hear that there is a coffee house in Oxford, that has two drinks, that are exactly the same, the Pusey, and the Newman. One is designed to stay and the other to go.
Last Sunday was Reformation Sunday and tomorrow is All Saints Sunday, or where I grew up Totenkopf, when we remember those that have gone before us in the Faith, Amongst them the Rev Dr. Martin Luther
October 30, 2014 28 Comments
Have you ever heard of Julian of Norwich? She was a mystic who is venerated in the Anglican and Lutheran churches although not officially in the Roman Catholic Church. She also wrote the first book by a woman in the English language.
Her Revelations of Divine Love was published in 1395. Wikipedia tells us this about her life
Her writings indicate that she was probably born around 1342 and died around 1416. She may have been from a privileged family that lived in Norwich, or nearby.[…] Julian may have become an anchoress whilst still unmarried or, having lost her family in the Plague, as a widow. Becoming an anchoress may have served as a way to quarantine her from the rest of the population. There is scholarly debate as to whether Julian was a nun in a nearby convent or even a laywoman. […]
When she was 30 and living at home, Julian suffered from a severe illness. Whilst apparently on her deathbed, Julian had a series of intense visions of Jesus Christ, which ended by the time she recovered from her illness on 13 May 1373.
In other words nobody knows a lot about her life
Her theology is interesting, she comes fairly close to being an Universalist, although some of it appears to be based somewhat on St. Augustine, and her thinking is such that I have heard her called a Proto-Lutheran, because it does somewhat parallel Luther’s beliefs.
I would guess that I will write on this again, since I have just obtained a copy it (it is available online here). But I wanted to introduce you to some of her theology and Journey Towards Easter wrote about her yesterday.
In the thirty-ninth chapter of the Revelations of Divine Love, Julian of Norwich writes about the effect that sin has upon the conscientious soul. It is a great pain to one who desires to escape vice and to grow in virtue, and in a certain sense is its own punishment. However, the sense of unworthiness that comes with an experience of the ‘scourge’ of sin does have its positive benefits – it humbles us, […]
When we have sinned then, we recognise not only that we have done wrong, have offended against the good will of our Creator, but that there is also a profound sense in which we know ourselves to have done violence to the fabric of reality itself. Deep down we know that the will of God is reality, and so when we sin we find ourselves in a kind of spiritual disjunct. This sense of disjuncture, perhaps even more than the feeling of moral outrage, is what so often causes a sense ofembarrassment after sinning – ‘how could I have done this again?’ ‘Am I mad…what was I thinking?’ It is at this point that it is important not to fall into another kind of pride, lambasting ourselves only because we should have known better, because we have fallen short of our expectations, instead of turning to God in a spirit of true contrition.
This is an extract of the book that is quoted in the article that I wanted to share with you, although somewhat out of his context.
‘Sin is the sharpest scourge that any elect soul can be flogged with. It is the scourge which so reduces a man or woman and makes him loathsome in his own sight that it is not long before he thinks himself fit only to sink down to hell…until the touch of the Holy Spirit forces him to contrition, and turns his bitterness to the hope of God’s mercy. Then he begins to heal his wounds, and to rouse his soul as it turns to the life of Holy Church. The Holy Spirit leads him on to confession, so that he deliberately reveals his sins in all their nakedness and reality, and admits with great sorrow and shame that he has befouled the fair image of God. Then for all his sins he performs penance imposed by his confession according to the doctrine of Holy Church, and the teaching of the Holy Spirit. This is one of the humble things that greatly pleases God…
…Dearly indeed does our Lord hold on to us when it seems to us that we are nearly forsaken and cast away because of our sin – and deservedly so. Because of the humility we acquire this way we are exalted in the sight of God by his grace, and know a very deep contrition and compassion and a genuine longing for God…
Do read the article, in its entirety it makes more sense, Julian of Norwich: The ‘Sharpness’ of Sin and the Goodness of Contrition | Journey Towards Easter.
Remember that this was written by a woman in 14th century England who referred to herself as a “simple creature unlettered (Rev. chap. 2), it is possible that she was educated and that “unlettered” carries a more nuanced meaning.”
September 28, 2014 2 Comments
[Neo] I can’t speak for you but, I always find it a comfort when the cousins come with us on our military operations. Over the weekend Parliament overwhelmingly voted to join us in the air strikes in Iraq. That gives me some confidence that we may be doing the right thing. They aren’t joining us in Syria, at least yet, and I also understand that, it’s a much more confused situation.
It is indeed ‘A Thin Red (actually RAF blue, but whatever) Line of Heroes’. If I read correctly they’re committing 6 Tornadoes. And that is a measure of how overstretched HM Forces have become, and how much their budgets have been cut. But you know, as I do, that they will acquit themselves superbly, as always.
That’s all well and good but the reason I’m rerunning this piece of Jessica’s is because we all sometimes forget just how hard it is on those who wait for their loved ones to come back from the war. We shouldn’t, I suspect that in some ways they are more heroic than those who so willingly go in harm’s way for us.
I don’t know how it is in the USA with civilian/military relations in everyday life, but, as ever, Kipling in his Tommy still sums up the British attitude:
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!
As a sometime Army wife, I know this all too well. For a long time, thanks to IRA activity, British soldiers were advised to wear civvies when off duty, and it is indicative of something bad that the first reaction of some of the Top Brass to the brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby was to suggest that soldiers might want to revert to that; it is indicative of something right that our soldiers give the old two-fingered saute to such nonsense.
But there’s bound to be a divide between civilians and the military in times of peace when you have a professional army. Although the analogy with Monks might raise an eyebrow or two, there is a parallel (no, not that one). Soldiers live a life apart. They are trained to do things which ordinary people don’t do, and probably don’t want to do.There has to be a high level of commitment, and at times the dedication to duty means that a soldier puts everything else to one side. Although no soldier’s wife worth her salt would dream of saying so, we all wait in terror for the knock on the door or the telephone call from the CO. Every time we kiss and wave good-bye, we know that for at least one of us, it is the final good-bye. And if your marriage doesn’t come to that honorable end, well the stress and strains on your man and marriage may make it come to another sort of end. The price soldiers pay to serve us all is huge. But they also serve, who only stand and wait – and love.
Yes, here in the UK on 11 November, Armistice Day, we all remember our armed forces and the glorious dead, and we have pubic ceremonies where we celebrate and congratulate out Armed Forces; but what about the other 364 days? Well, unless there is a particularly horrible series of death, we forget – the ‘we’ being the vast majority of the population who know nothing and care less about our soldiers sailors and airmen.
I don’t know whether it is different in the US, but here, the armed forces are very much the Cinderella services – except when they are needed. Kipling, as ever, said it best:
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.
But how thin does that red line have to be before it breaks?