HOW CAN IT BE A GAIN?

How can it be a gain, for this reduction:

to witness these villages and towns

that once within living memory had their own Vicar or Rector 

with thriving church and congregation presently so diminished





So many parishes are now grouped together 

for a pastor to tend with ease, and with services curtailed

No longer is the church attender visited to enquire:

Why were you not at Evensong?





The riches of rural ministry and the involvement of the clergy

in ordinary living are lessened of necessity

though highly valued and most necessary

these may hardly compare with what went before





Women’s ministry may shore up numbers

but has been no panacea to have arrested a decline 

in the practice of the faith, does it remain cool to be a Christian?

some complain the message now is too woke





With house building gobbling up the countryside

Populations doubling as  estates are signed off

but this is hardly reflected in church membership

yet the church is there to foster and build community





Pretty churchyards no longer are tended and neatly mown

having become sanctuaries for wildlife

The people forget these places are for them also

For their souls’ health





to give full hearted vent to the worship of and joy in God the Almighty

Father, from whom all things take their origins

Yet in the deep sticks of the countryside perhaps

is where might be hoped for this recovery to begin?

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The Scream

We are comfortable with the familiar:

the sights sounds and smells from our childhood,

places we have frequented, loved and become accustomed to





An accessibility of churches, pubs and village greens,

streets, paths and passageways

The character of a Lavenham, Aldeburgh, even a town centre in decline





But beware, what we gaze on is a facade;

this supported shell of a former Post Office *

remains all of what there once stood, not as is today





Incremental dissolution of countryside’s pastoral past,

denuded for agribusiness, replaced by mass housing.

leaving nature exhausted, in retreat, as uglification replaces and dominates 





Were we able to stand back from the hurly burly, and discern the reality

of these changes so rapidly transforming, the loss and finality,

we would scream





There have been those warnings we have chosen to ignore

we rather would embrace other siren voices that seek to placate, reassure, and control

But what will remain at the end of it all?





  • actually there is an imaginative scheme for the redeveloping of the Post Office site, but the photo is included to illustrate the superficial appearance may not represent the reality

Margaret

For Margaret what really matters is:

do you “know” the Lord?

She did, the love of her life

source of her being, fount of joy and goodness





To visit her house-plants showed her green fingers,

a young midwife in Suffolk

helping many bring

their new arrivals into the world





unselfconsciously sharing inner faith

and new life, with friends

who entered the waters of baptism

of a Kedington swimming pool, as witness





A teacher of music, writer of poetry

who played the church organ and

sang in choir, as angels do …

A lifetime spent in doing good





She read and re-read David Adams of Lindisfarne,

whose saints became her soul-mates

She rejoiced in the bright and beautiful,

the pure and the good





She applied her craft, raised funds for

Embrace the Middle East: card sales and

knitted gifts, ducks containing Easter eggs,

a nativity set for a chef of a Sudbury care home –





where, gaining entree – herself being disabled,

she arranged to take services

travelling in her electric wheelchair

to the appreciation of the elderly





Finding a home at St Gregory’s,

accepting God’s will in all things,

praising through on-going suffering

and in death receiving her “crown”

A call for the English to return to their Church

May we link – measure – the fate of the English nation to that of their national Church, the Church of England?  eg there used to be the questioning of an individual’s religion when everyone was assumed to be “C of E” unless they stated they were something else. Times have changed since

It seems both the English folk and their faith community, which is expressed by the Church of England in particular have suffered decline, which is concerning  for the English and for church folks in particular

Since first writing this I was challenged about “decline” and do agree there are (always) encouraging signs of life and new churches, however in considering the longer term and how things were I reflect on the difference with when each parish had a resident priest, Vicarage or Rectory with regular Sunday worship Martins Evensong each Sunday, with choir MU Sunday School etc. Times have changed

How often does the fate of a people seem irrevocably linked to the practice of their religion, Israel par excellence, but many other examples: Tibetans Armenians Copts, native Americans etc

This is a call to pray for and rally round the churches of the people, as our national future quite literally depends on it, as it always has, on a return

No matter what the clergy are like, saints or sinners, wise or foolish. No matter how boring inaudible or culturally Marxist their sermons. We are there to worship the God of our forefathers.  On Him all else depends

These local churches are there in addition to build community and bring all classes of the one people together as one people before God. We are witnessing the kind of spiritual and cultural desert unfolding in a society without their presence

Does it not matter if/when there may be an eventual end to the pandemic crisis and with the opportunity for a return to something approaching normality – however we may think of that – if the national church the C of E is faced with a financial crisis and is forced to reduce full time clergy, even having to  start closing churches, making some redundant? : https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/church-to-cut-paid-clergy-as-a-fifth-of-flock-wanders-off-3l80qk2mb. The Sunday Times article I refer to speaks of people deserting post covid, and it is that crisis I am seeking to avoid

This belonging is an aspect of who we are, culturally and spiritually As a people we are irretrievably linked communally and individually. Gone are the days we could dismiss the Church as rich, it has progressively seen its privileges in society comprehensively withdrawn

There has been an understanding that to be English and a church person were two aspects of the same “coin” or phenomenon, ie facets of our identity.  Both in recent times have been near fatally undermined as society has become fractured.  As we have become accustomed no longer to have an Empire we have also been instructed to be apologetic for the achievements of our forbears, we are declining into nothingness

As a people having welcomed Commonwealth peoples who have gained their independence, to the motherland, we have also become accustomed to being apologetic for a past Empire colonialism and worse

Christianity also has increasingly come under scrutiny, as if it were essentially European (which it is not)  Including its seeming depiction of an Aryan Jesus seen as something misleading, in so denying a form of self identification/recognition under God has been undone

Its leaders have been taking a more relativistic approach to religion and theology , it has resulted in a less dogmatic approach and with attacks by such as Dawkins has felt increasingly beleaguered and irrelevant (when paradoxically it has a necessary and essential Gospel to proclaim)

Yet this is our God (even if He is not an Englishman) and that has served us well as a nation until now

Would that we might respond to a campaign to return and rebuild. Would that there were such a campaign

I reflect on a pattern of life and worship that is in danger of passing, the parish priest the local Vicar with his pastoral care living in the midst of the people, the church at the heart in the midst of the village/parish

The village – including also its village store pub village school etc The church caring for all, from births through marriages to death

Without recourse to God the people perish and other people’ cultures religions will supersede. All lives matter, but including our own

To what extent may we be able to summon up resources to rebuild ? Our future literally depends on it, Let us earnestly pray …

For those who self identify as English we live in troubling times


I am sufficiently old to have lived through successive (post war) waves of migration: the Windrush, the Ugandan Asians, and latterly Tony Blair cum Mandelsons’ contrived push to boost immigration to swell the ranks of Labour voters. The Conservatives have been content to continue a virtually open door policy

My own recollection is this breathtaking transformation of English society was owing to decisions by the governing “elite”, the people who came to be known as Middle England never were happy with having to share their native land. They may have tried to resist and push back like the dockers’ riots or via Enoch Powell but just were derided discredited as racist for it. Nowadays there are stricter controls against discrimination and people would lose their jobs if they spoke out

The addition of perhaps up to 5 million Hong Kong Chinese * being invited to Britain is thought to be a moral victory a cock a snook against China for its perceived human rights violations, and those who may come may well be intelligent industrious entrepreneurial and Christian, but therein lies an additional injustice for the English:

They are capable of being as good if not better in virtually everything. To the extent it may well be argued what’s the point of the English anyway? And there lies the rub. Much as those perpetually decrying English as not wanting to work eg in agriculture or care, there will be inevitably those consigned to the “white trash” designation, ie at the bottom of the heap

Just at a time post-Covid when unemployment is set to rise severely and competition will be even more intense

UK economic outlook for 2021: Covid surge deepens the gloom https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/jan/01/uk-economic-outlook-for-2021-covid-surge-deepens-the-gloom

Perhaps a lesson from history might have been born in mind, eg in considering the impact of Chinese migration into eg Malaysia, where tensions historically arose for a variety of reasons not least the Malays’ resentment of the business and financial acumen and achievement, and the Chinese considering they had corresponding inadequate political representation. There is no white privilege existing – or Government – that would protect the white working class from a similar fate of becoming an underdog, here in the UK

Apart from that dire warning is “replacement migration” desirable or just, per se.? Chinese have their venerable ancient culture and homeland, similarly Asians Arabs and Africans all have theirs. Where else can English Europeans go?, they have nowhere else, no other homeland they may call their own

Is this not unfair racial injustice imposed in the name of liberal values?

*https://www.migrationwatchuk.org/briefing-paper/487/how-many-people-are-expected-to-take-up-the-new-hong-kong-visa

Cookie & the twitter staircase

A bedtime routine with Cookie the cat

is a race to the top, up steep stairs

He at the bottom, first using the doormat as scratch post

then, wham bang flight up to the top of the narrow treds

like a flash of lightning, In an instant






No way can I beat the cat

Unless standing almost at the top

But then he doesn’t play

Otherwise he races and with satisfaction waits, for praise,

Something resembling a smile rather than smirk






The aftermath of Trump with Twitter’s purge Is much the same

game, his supporters lost in their thousands

impossible to make up the numbers

you may not add sufficient to offset the decline

enough is enough







Is the perceived bias justified?

dead accounts do need pruning,

some will have gone voluntarily to Gab

Twitters “purr” has been to rebuild replace with new

mostly Arabic speaking followers: Twitter’s smirk





29https://s.yimg.com/rq/darla/4-7-1/html/r-sf.html

AWAY FROM THESE ALLOCATED ACRES

Image

Away from these allocated acres

such land, now lost to housing,

for newcomers, overspill, the migrant and the rootless

from without community






still- just – may be found fragments of a natural beauty

remnants from an ancestral past

surviving as the occasional oak overlooked unloved

yet of especial value






Those who retain rooted-ness

enjoy an attachment, to an ancient sacred landscape

grieve and protest at unceasing unbeautifying desecration

Imposed on their particular native soil






The loss of the dream is the death of a people

Familiar sights sounds smells:

flowers birdsong bleeting sheep rutting deer running streams hills valleys footpaths

ingrained in the minds of succeeding generations





Those who have lived together in community

in such places folk have shared – enjoyed -a common life

they have no other homeland

Than this their own to which they belong





Their villages and towns grew slowly,

through the centuries naturally out from the soil ,

forming part of a landscape, giving meaning

self sufficiency in agriculture not just a business but an entire way of life





Those moving from the cities to the country,

unfamiliar and uncaring at the loss

of land grubbed up for profit and to provide boxes

An escape to a countryside destroyed by it





The genteel who care seem ill equipped to withstand

the force of these eco crimes against the people and their land.

it’s an unequal struggle against the rolling back and imprint of the foot of

modern man on the neck of the folk

#EPIPHANY: A personal journey, (but why has @pontifex seemingly unpicked this narrative?)

A childhood wonder: “We Three Kings” *

different but equal

the journey of the Magi

the dawning of Epiphany





A chance discovery in Koln **

outside the Cathedral, with snow falling

that within were treasured

the relics of these wise men





In Genesis it states God created

evolution suggesting how

the sons of Noah fathering ***

the branches of humankind





the revealing of God’s glory is to all

His peace replacing conflict

all ethnicities are to be found there before Him

in joy worshipping before the Lamb ****





Why should such an apparent order:

the worth of family tribe nation

attachment to a homeland now be questioned,

only to be supplanted by rootlessness?





*Caspar Melchior Balthazar, seen as representatives of the major branches of humanity

** a personal visit when in my twenties

*** Shem, Ham and Japheth

**** at the end of time:

Rev 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one was able to number it, out of every nation, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues

A land whose Churches Are firmly Closed

After the New Year walking at Welnetham

up over green fields and muddy pathways

to where happy memories of

candlelit Christmas services

and the gathering of local folk …





These churches have stood as silent witnesses

for 100s of years, millenia even

sentinels occupying – striding – the land

speaking of God’s presence in the midst

and beneficence: our Fathers’ loving care





“Salt of the earth” churchwardens and those others

who have carried the torch

refusing to be that generation

to abandon these shrines, places of meeting

of giving thanks and praise





Yet so paradoxically after a year of Mercy

and open doors These the people’s places

are firmly shut against their entry

Whatever the theology

they are shut and none may open





Seemingly silently telling of abandonment

of roots and connectedness

of a slipping away from faith, of the spirit of the age

Of God removing himself and his glory,

if so of a possibility of hope





A foolish people who who have forsaken

ancient ways face now their own eradication.

With Israel there was always a remnant

who would return and repent,

without which what future is there?

When the value of the faith to a nation comes under question

I was disturbed by this tweet from an Armenian: Wally Sarkeesian: 

“While the Jews and the fake muslims Turkey, Pakistan, Azerbaijan and Israel united and destroyed Christian Armenian Artsakh not a single Christian country came to Help Christian Armenia. is it worth for Armenian staying Christian?” @gagrulenet

This is my response (I had found even the suggestion shocking):

“Ultimately “the truth” (ie I AM Truth) will out and the building on “the Rock” (which is Christ) is what enables long term security, but there is the saying “as cold as charity” and the Christian West needs to address this question urgently: are only certain fashionable pc issues of concern to the Church? @pontifex”

His cry of desperation brings into question at least rhetorically the worthwhileness of any nation adopting Christianity as their national state religion

Just consider that this is Christian Armenia, the oldest nation to have as a people collectively to have become Christian.  And upon this foundation the history of it’s people and their culture has been built.  Yet now it is being called into question as having achieved little for the survival of that ancient people, whose territory has shrunk to a miniscule fraction of that formerly occupied

This is a question that likewise all national churches might conceivably be asking themselves: Greek Russian Serbia Assyrian etc. The effective disappearance of Greek and Assyrian populations as also an Armenian presence and its replacement by Turkish Muslim dominance is challenging historically

Until recently other national or “established” churches might have claimed such an heritage ie the Church of England to be the Church of the people of England, only recently has it abjured such legacy preferring rather to be seen as “inclusive” of all citizenry

What is at stake however is the change in position taken by the leaders of Western Christendom since the end of World War 2 in generally adopting liberal cultural marxist values rather than a natural patriotic traditional affirmation of identity and family life

In other words the question subsequently raised is does the faith in practice in retrospect undermine the existence of a people or rather ought it to be expected to affirm it?

In comparison with Judaism where the understanding is that it is the collective obedience to the words of God that leads to their survival and national prosperity, albeit that does also include social justice.  This is what historically has led to the ethnic survival of the people of Israel  even through times of great persecution.  Is this not indeed the very same answer to such as Wally Sarkeesian? ie of continuing in steadfast faith through whatever adversity even genocide?

This is the second significant (to me) occasion in which I have heard the existence of a world faith questioned in as far as it affects the wellbeing of a people.  I had previously worked with Z…. a lady from Tanzania, who was a nominal Muslim – perhaps because her husband was, but who posited what if the African hadn’t adopted Christianity or Islam but had instead continued in practicing his/her ancient native religion?  The benefit then being its peoples and societies wouldn’t be riven or torn between competing Christianity and Islam in a unresolvable (?) struggle for supremacy (at least in the case of Islam) as they seemingly both are now in Africa and perhaps increasingly in Europe

Some are questioning certain Church leaders’ support for mass migration including and in particular economic migration which is leading to the replacement of European peoples in their own historic homelands. This seems a radical novel form of extreme altruism resulting in subsequent racial and cultural injustice to the indigenous, rather than an unbroken understanding of Christian tradition

In the case of Armenia however Wally Sareesian protests the constant weakness of the Christian West in its absence of any shared solidarity by any of its leaders with one of its members – let alone coming to its defence.  The Western Churches are seen as craven almost in wanting to appease Islam – described as its Muslim brothers – even when their fellow Christians are suffering  persecution.  The bond stressed is of common shared humanity rather than the bonds of a shared faith in Christ.  The conclusion is that this seems unworthy and lacking in brotherly love for the brethren, let alone concern at the prospect of a genocide of a people such as that the Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians have already experienced *

Are there not grounds for saying “woe woe woe” that some of the leaders of Western Christendom have got this seriously wrong,  both concerning identity but also and as well the ties and responsibilities of Christian fellowship?

* https://news.barnabasfund.org/A-blanket-of-shame-covers-the-world-s-continued-denial-of-the-Armenian-Genocide/?utm_source=BF+NEWS+GB&utm_campaign=ec26936dd3-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_11_23_04_57&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_7a60abd81d-ec26936dd3-152300505