OK, it's like this: you move to a new diocese, to become Rector of this parish. You do something like 13 years there (including a decent stretch as Area Dean) and what do you get? An Archdeaconry of course! So, you then do another 13 years as Archdeacon until it's time to retire - a grand total of 26 years' service to the diocese. And what do you get? A tyre for a Peugeot 304 of course! Yes, that is what a recently retiring Archdeacon was given as a retirement present by his Area Bishop. Blimey. What on earth do you have to do in that mans area to get given four tyres? It might be unkind to name the bishop in question, so naturally his identity is safe with us (along with all the recipients of his recent ad clerum).
Talking of the Barking Episcopal Area, 30Days was much taken with the recent possible initiative announced by the Bishop of Barking - 'an informal confidential setting' in which clergy and readers can explore with one another intellectual challenges and doubts regarding the Christian faith'. Those interested in joining The Barking Tom Group (named in honour of the doubter, of course) are asked to contact the Barking Training Adviser. Indeed.
Inclusive Church Exclusive!
Two marvellous bits of news from the Inclusive (sic) Church website: first, they've started a Directory of Inclusive Churches all over the world. So far, it lists no less than 36. Cracking! Second, their homepage announces that (with luck) they'll run out of money this year. Apparently, all the money they raised two years ago runs out in June and, if they can't double their monthly income from £1,000 to £2,000, they're going to be, er, up merde creek without a paddle (excuse my French). Still, with 36 parishes to draw upon, that should be a piece of cake for the two Giles.
Inclusive Language Exclusive!
Mind you, what would 30Days do without Inclusive Church? Its website and Newsletter, which we always look forward to receiving, provide a rich source of material. Take the recent conference on inclusive language which IC put on with Watch at St Peter's, Walworth, in February. Two items in particular caught our eye: first, a handout distributed by the Revd Elizabeth Baxter, headed Inclusive Language for a therapeutic church. No, we don't know what it means either, but here's a taste: (Through) self-blessing, you affirm the divine you. Self-blessing is very important for (women), because too many of us have internalised our own oppression... Self-blessing rituals are a way of exorcising the patriarchal policeman, cleansing the deep mind, and filling it with positive images of the strength and beauty of (women).
Pedants might point out that, to be fair, Mrs Baxter is quoting from someone else here - but that doesn't make it any less, er, opaque. Patriarchal policeman? Does she mean Geoffrey Kirk, do you suppose? Then, there's a whole load of hymns given out by the Revd Professor June Boyce-Tillman, the highlight of which is this fantastic magnum opus, written by her and dedicated to Watch and Christina Rees. If you want to sing along, it's supposed to go to Ebenezer [NEH 474]. Enjoy!
Hymn for women bishops
1 Tides come flowing claiming freedom
Spreading over sand and rock;
So is truth engulfing falsehood
In a flood that will not stop.
Christ, our Justice, presses onward,
Guiding like a shining sun,
Moving forward, glowing strongly,
Showing how God's will is done.
2 Jesus' words ring clear through history
Calling 'Mary, I am here.
Be the voice of my disciples;
Make my message very clear.
I have sanctioned women's witness,
Valued their authority,
Made them chief of my apostles,
Broken chains and set them free.'
3 Listen hard, my Christian brother,
Can you hear your sister's sighs?
How she longs to be your pastor
As a woman who is wise.
How long will it be till all men
Know God's pow'r cannot be tamed,
And leaps up in women's knowing
As eternal Wisdom's flame?
4 Then the Church will start reflecting
God's truth of equality -
Where each person finds acceptance
Of their special ministry.
So the Church will show Christ's kindom,
All who hear the call to freedom
Promised in their Chrsitening.
(30Days thought of correcting the spelling, but decided that it would be just too presumptuous.)
The headline in the online science and technology magazine Discover certainly caught the eye: 'The End of Divorce?' The subheading was more worrying: 'Growing Numbers of People Marrying Inanimate Objects'. Apparently, there are folk out there who, presumably despairing of finding Mr or Miss Right amongst the human community, are turning instead elsewhere. Only a verbatim quote will do justice to this one: Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer is married to the Berlin Wall. Like any couple, they've had their ups and downs, but over the years, they've been able to meet each other's spiritual and emotional needs. 'We even made it through the terrible disaster of 9 November 1989, when my husband was subjected to frenzied attacks by a mob. But we are still as much in love as the day we met! Berliner-Mauer said last year.
Berliner-Mauer (the German name for the Berlin Wall, which she has taken as her last name) has since defined her love under the term 'objectum sexual,' or OS -in other words, a person who falls in love with inanimate objects. As an animist, she, along with a growing group of others, believe that inanimate objects are sentient, intelligent beings. Take Erika Eiffel, who is married to the Eiffel Tower. Eiffel says she recalls being attracted to objects even as a child, and realized she was different only when she saw other people at school dating each other, while she was dating a bridge... This week marriage; next week, presumably, ordination! After all, if we're really going to be inclusive...
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