Saturday, 4 January 2020

In 1973 I sassed an Archbishop - and got away with it.

At the end of the South West Ecumenical Conference in Bristol 1973 (see my prior blogs on this)  I,  as one of the few Bristol Diocese Theological Students who owned a car, was instructed to drive Russian Orthodox Archbishop Anthony Bloom  to Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station for his journey back to London.

In those Cold War days, Archbishop Bloom was the British face of the Russian Orthodox Church.  His official title was Metropolitan and Administrator of the British Diocese.

As well as his duties as the Bishop for Russian Orthodox Churches in Great Britain, he was much sought out as a Christian "guru"  on contemplative and  meditative prayer; respected by Anglicans and Protestants alike.

I drove him to the Railway Station, conscious of his greatness.

We strode up and down the railway platform as we waited for his train.

We passed a young man, a hippie,  dressed in all the colours of the rainbow, as he sat on the ground.

"Goodness gracious"  said the Archbishop, "whatever does he think he looks like?

So here I was with Archbishop Bloom in all his street regalia.

I couldn't resist.  "Well Archbishop" I said, "maybe he is looking at you and saying what ever does he think he looks like?"

Anthony Bloom let out a hearty laugh in his deep bass voice.

To see ourselves as others see us.   I sassed the Archbishop and he liked it.

Then, as we  waited for his train,  we had a gentle and deep conversation about prayer.

Archbishop Bloom most likely forgot our conversation.   I never did.

Training Schnauzers

Photo' of a tee shirt worn by my friend William B.  He and his partner Patrick C. are co-parenting a Schnauzer named Max


Friday, 3 January 2020

The one and only time I met my sponsoring Bishop - and his guest.

I wrote yesterday about my sponsoring Bishop, Oliver Tompkins. Although I went to theological college with his approval we had never met ....  until ...

Bishop Tompkins, with other Christian Church leaders in Bristol sponsored what was called the South West Ecumenical Conference  (SWEC)  in 1973.

As one of his Ordinands  I was pressed into service, and had no choice in the matter.

I owned a car, so was press ganged to be a Chauffeur for the visiting dignitaries.

I arrived at the Bishop's House in Clifton, Bristol for my first gig.

The Bishop himself opened the front door of his home.

Then he summoned my passenger from inside the house.  Bishop Tompkins said to the passenger " I want you meet one of my ordinands" .  This tickled me pink 'cause the good Bishop had never before met me and did not know my name.!

Then came my brush with ecclesiastical  fame.  My passenger was none other than the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches from 1948 -1966, the famous (or infamous for conservative evangelicals )  Dr. Willem Visser 't Hooft.

Visser 't Hooft was one of the great heroes of the post WWII movement for Christian Unity;   and I met him!

I have no memory of our conversation as we drove from Clifton, Bristol  to the site of SWEC seminars in Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol.

But of course I will always  remember that I chauffeured one of the ecclesiastical greats.  

Not one, but two  for at the end of the day I ferried  another "great" to Bristol's Temple Meads Railway Station.

I'll tell you about that tomorrow.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Being Pigheaded to the Glory Of God. (He Was My Bishop, I Met Him Only Once.)

Oliver Tompkins, a noted Ecumenist, was the Bishop of Bristol, U.K. from 1959 - 1975.  As such he was my sponsoring Bishop when I went to Theological College /Seminary in 1972. 

But I met him only once -  and I'll tell you more about that tomorrow (a meeting which enabled me to meet two very famous (in the Church world at least) ecclesiastical  figures).

Bishop Tompkins delegated his work with "would be Priests" to  what were called Diocesan Directors of Ordinands.  

My first was Geoffrey Paul, later Warden of Lee Abbey in Somerset, and subsequently first Bishop of Hull, and then Bishop of Bradford.  He was a gentle man of God. (His daughter Jane Paul married one Rowan Williams,  yes that Rowan Williams who later became the Archbishop of Canterbury.)

My second was Peter Coleman, the husband of a German Princess. Peter was a liberal Churchman with a big heart.  He and I hit it off splendidly.

Peter Coleman became a much loved Bishop of Crediton in  Devon-shire until his untimely death in  terrible road accident.

By the time I was ordained Deacon in Bristol Cathedral (June 1976) the Bishop of Bristol was one John Tinsley.  He had never before seen me, nor I him.

Back to Bishop Oliver Tomkins.  He was a moderate liberal who tried to be gracious to priests and congregations of all stripes.

But I love these words of his!

"O God of truth, grant me grace to know when to stop being tolerant and when to be pigheaded to thy glory."

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

New Year's Day Feast

I made the traditional southern U.S.A. dish for New Year's Day 2020.

It's called "Hoppin' John";  though no one knows why.

Some say that it originated in the South Carolina low country, but  there are variants in other southern states.

In truth it was the simple New Years's food for slaves or ex-slaves from Africa (brought to the U.S.A.  as cargo); and for poor whites.

The simple ingredients are rice and black eyed peas, sometimes with collard greens, and  maybe also cooked with salted pork.

There are myths that the dried  black eyed peas represent a wish for increased wealth (dried peas expand when they are soaked) and that the green colour of the collards speak of "green-backs"  (dollars).

I am sceptical about these myths; and especially about the idea that eating Hoppin' John on New Year's Day will bring you "luck" in the year that follows.

Poor people: black or white do not need good luck.  They need justice.

Nevertheless I have made and eaten Hoppin' John every year since  I moved to Florida.  It's a potent reminder of the cruelty of poverty. 

It's a mostly healthy dish, with lots of veggies:  (as well as black eyed peas and collard greens my version also includes celery,  green onions, and diced tomatoes); and this year with a  smattering of meat from a pork hock,  and a wee bit of smoked bacon.


So I had my Hoppin' John today.

I also enjoyed this catchy New Year song which you may have missed.

"One More Step"   -  please listen and enoy/

A Song For The New Year

"One More Step"     -   sing along, and even dance!

We sang this every year at St. James's, Cambridge, MA  (on the Sunday nearest to New Year's Day)

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

An End Of The Year Message From J. Michael Persnickety.

Despite what you may have read, said, seen on T.V., heard on the Radio, or believed  this is not the end of a decade.

The decade began in January  2011 and will end in December 2020.

Think about it.   We count from 1-10, not from 0-9.

The Gregorian Calendar  (Pope Gregory XIII) was introduced in 1587.  It revised the Julian Calendar (Julius Caesar 45 BC), a noble work which had small errors in the calculation of the Earth's annual journey around the Sun.

The Gregorian calendar ( now the international calendar for trade, diplomacy and travel) corrected most of the errors of the Julian.

Pope Gregory, for good or for ill, decided that the first year of  Our Lord (the birth of  Jesus)  would be A.D. 1 ;  prior years were designated B.C,  (before Christ).

Thus the first decade, in the Calendar we all use,  began in January A.D. 1, and ended in A.D. 10.

So  it is that our current decade began in Jan 2011 and will end in Dec 2020, not in Dec 2019.

These things are important  to old coots such as I!

If I'd had better eyesight I'd have seen this New Year coming.

Monday, 30 December 2019

I Have The Chief Ingredients

I'll cook them on 31st December 2019.

Once  cooked in vegetable stock, with celery, green onion and diced tomatoes,  I plan to enjoy the finished meal on 1st January 2020.

Wish you could be here.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

The Good And The Ghastly

The Good

So much prime rib with the fixings left over from Christmas Day!

Enough to give me re-heated Christmas dinners on December 26th and 27th.

Even then I had a huge chunk of leftover meat.  "Waste not, want not";  so it went into pretty decent Beef Curry.

Beef, onions, red peppers, plum tomatoes with Thai style green simmer sauce. YUM
The Ghastly

Bought a baguette at the Lakewood Ranch Farmers Market this morning (29th Dec) from a so called French Bakery.

What a fail!

You can see that the crust is under cooked.  Beneath the crust the bread was horribly chewy (as chewy as Alligator meat - which itself  is similar to  munching on slightly salty rubber bands). 

What a disappointment.

Never Mind.

Life is not perfect.   

The Beef Curry was great 

The Baguette will be redeemed when it is  toasted for breakfast.