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April 30, 2004

Manager or Leader?

I came across an interesting set of points by a person called Myles Munroe [unknown source] which sets out the prime differences between "managers" and "leaders". This fits with what I have always understood about corporate change - it can't be managed, it must be led.

Mr Munroe gives the following key points:

Managers administrate - Leaders innovate

Managers are copiers - Leaders are original

Managers maintain - Leaders develop

Managers focus on systems and structures - Leaders focus on people

Managers rely on control - Leaders inspire trust

Managers have a short range view - Leaders have a long range perspective

Managers ask what and when - Leaders ask what and why

Managers keep their eyes on the Bottom Line - Leaders have theirs on the horizon

Managers imitate - Leaders originate

Managers accept the status quo - Leaders challenge it

Managers are good soldiers - Leaders are their own person

Managers do things right - Leaders do the right thing

Rather sums it up, really. Perhaps this is what is wrong with our society and with all its so-called public services. They are not being led, they are being managed. Cloning is happening in the workplace, incompetent and poor management practice is what is being duplicated and cloned.

Even in politics we see the same thing; ideology is a substitute for facts and for truth. We have no leadership, we have lawyers, accountants, and trade union organisers masquerading as "leaders" when in reality they are simply "managers". The tragedy for us all is that they will drag us all down through their incompetence while deluding themselves that they are "managing" everything efficiently.

Beam me up, Scottie; the last intelligence is outnumbered by the management.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 29, 2004

An outbreak of sense?

I begin to warm to Trevor Phillips - Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality - and that really is saying something. Following up on his condemnation of the concept of "multi-culturalism", we have another swipe from him at the politically correct liberal fraternity who seek to excuse everything from wife beating to murder - if it involves anyone from an "ethnic" background (does anyone else find that term as offensive as I do?) - on the grounds that it might be "racist" to intervene or to say anything. Included in his broadside was the Chief Constable in Wales who has addressed a meeting of the Black Police Officers Association in "rap".

There are several issues here. Firstly, I find it offensive that there are now "special interest" groups in many spheres of work and society which are exclusively for "gays", women, ethnic minorities, and people with special needs, yet I am forbidden, as a white male, to have anything that is exclusively for white males! "Gentlemen's Clubs" are now compelled to accept members of both sexes; fine, but why are "Ladies Clubs" allowed to stay exclusive? Why does my trade union have "special interest" groups for certain members, yet will not allow that a white male may be bullied, racially or sexually discriminated against,or excluded from forming any sort of exclusive association?

Mr Phillips is absolutely right; if we want to have an integrated society in which we are all proud to be British, we must stop this ridiculous pandering to politically correct concepts which are fostering divisions and creating a new and insidious form of apartheid. This is something that is playing right into the hands of extremists such as the BNP and M'sieu le Pen and his French Nationalists.

Something else our gutless politicians must get tough on is the fascist scum who take it upon themselves to impose their right to protest, all the while preventing the voicing of any opposing view to their own. The scenes of violence as M. le Pen, whose views on society I find abhorrent as well, left his meeting with the protesters provided the BNP with more than ample excuse for their attitudes in the torrent of assault and violent threat to their "enemy". What the hell happened to freedom of speech? What happened to the right of anyone to hold an opposing view to mine? What makes this left wing scum any different to the BNP and its supposedly right wing scum?

Peaceful protest is one thing; violence to enforce one's view upon opponents is quite another matter and is intolerable in any society - particularly one which claims to be tolerant!

It is time to look again at this cesspit created by well-meaning but frankly practically inept flock of cooing and strutting moralising harpies. Their concept of a society of culturally pure and separate groups is a nonsense. Their idea that you should not criticise the unacceptable actions of any "oppressed" minority within our society is equally spurious. If we are to create an integrated and equal society it needs the disparate groups to be open and honest at all levels and at all times. This cannot happen in a society which separates and enshrines a system of "superior" rights for any one group over another. We cannot afford to adopt any of the well meant, but frankly disasterously divisive, programmes of "affirmative action" or "preferential selection" - this is what apartheid did in South Africa, and it is as unacceptable now and here as it was then and there.

Mr Phillips is making sense; let us hope that he is heard loud and clear and that his common sense is not derided by the PC industry - whose main interest now seems to be to preserve their own positions of influence and power at any cost rather than the creation of fair and just societies.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:13 AM

April 28, 2004

We are not amused .....


With packing now well advanced, Madam le Cat is getting very unsettled. Every time I sit down, she comes rushing over to talk to me about it all - long conversations ensue with both of us trying to convey our intentions and feelings about it all. Anyone witnessing these would be convinced that white-coated men of the burly persuasion might be required at some point.

Madam's latest is to intercept me as soon as I am on the phone. Then she sits on the arm of the chair and demands attention, insisting on inspecting the phone and voicing her opinion of the whole affair. It is pretty traumatic for her, and I can well understand her feelings about this, but it does have an amusing side; she now seeks me out wherever I sit down and insists on being in the same room.

She will visit the vet for a few days; he and his staff know her and are quite fond of her, so it is safer leaving her there while all our stuff is in transit between Wednesday and Saturday. On Saturday evening she will be retrieved and taken to the new (and by then hopefully partially settled!) home. Unfortunately she will now have to become an "indoor" cat, as there is no garden and the roads are very busy. That said, I am reasonably confident that she will be settled down with the right encouragement and soon adapt.

Several people have offered to take her in, but she has made it very plain that she does not approve of them or the cats they already have. Given the legendary independence of these creatures, I am finding it rather interesting to find her "clinging" to me in this way. At the age of 12 she is becoming very affectionate and very determined in her efforts to ensure that her food provider doesn't escape!

Between us, I think we make a pretty odd couple; but, hey, as long as we're happy, who cares! Just don't ask Her Ladyship to be amused about moving!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:48 AM

April 27, 2004

A failure of society?

Yesterday I had news that a friend of mine who had planned to help me move will now not be able to get time off from his job as Assistant Verger in one of our great Cathedrals as the Head Verger is in hospital. You may well ask what this has to do with our society at large. Simply this, the reason the Head Verger is in hospital is because he asked some of the local “youff” to stop their foul mouthed and distasteful behaviour inside the ancient cloisters of the cathedral.

They attacked him, stole his portable radio, and - having knocked him to the ground and applied their feet – ran away as the other vergers ran to help him.

Sadly, this is not unusual behaviour; we frequently see families enter the Abbey, several ill behaved children in tow, the father usually wearing a baseball cap and not removing it. Ask him to do so and, like as not, you’ll get a few choice words on the subject of his right to do as he damned well pleases. Meanwhile, his unruly brats are climbing on things, pulling at gates, and screaming at the tops of their voices. Last night a boy climbed the scaffolding shrouding our West window, no mean feat, as to do this he had to scale a secure fence, then some sheer poles in order to reach the first platform, and then spent some time undoing parts of the scaffolding and hurling these at the tombs below. The Police were called, but failed to arrive, and the miscreant, having told the Vicar to perform an impossible sexual act on himself, slouched off to go and find something else to amuse himself with, presumably because he had discovered that he could not loosen anything else.

At Gloucester Cathedral, recently, a whole series of 12th Century stained glass windows in the cloisters (Harry Potter fans will have seen them) were smashed by a teenage yob who “just felt like it”. He was never even required by the Prosecution Service to appear in court, the matter was dealt with by a Police man who “talked to him.” His Social Worker and the usual bleeding heart brigade all protesting mightily that he was a deprived youth, from a broken home, and that he was only giving vent to his pent up frustrations. Well, in my youth, which is actually not that long ago – I’d have got a damned good clip around the ear, been hauled before the magistrates, and would have been very lucky to have received six strokes with a light cane – a period in an Approved School would have been worse!

The young have been taught that they have “rights” to everything, respect, safety, health, wealth, and anything else they fancy. They believe that they are entitled to do as they please, how they please, and when they please – and damn anybody who objects. They have all the “rights” and know how to exercise them, but have no responsibilities. Perhaps it is time to change the law.

You may have the rights – but you will also accept full responsibility for your actions. No more hiding behind the ludicrously advanced “age of criminal responsibility.” A child of 4 knows right from wrong. It is therefore capable of being held responsible for its wrongdoing. It is time to stop excusing the inexcusable and to demand that these misguided attempts to explain away criminal behaviour and to excuse it .

How many more Jamie Bulgers must there be before we wake up? Society is failing these kids, it is failing to teach them that respect comes from showing respect to and for others, it is not a “right”. If you behave responsibly there is benefit for all and it need not be “boring”. We have created a society wherein the young are protected from their actions, bad behaviour and criminal damage is excused, and then we expect them to grow up to be model citizens.

It may be time to find somewhere else to live.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:13 AM | Comments (4)

April 26, 2004

St George's day marked.


The Tewkesbury Town Crier proclaims St George’s Day and the festivities to be enjoyed.

I am delighted to report that, at least in my part of the country, St George has been remembered in style. A voluntary organization spent most of that day handing out roses and accepting donations for a cancer charity, a St George Pageant had been staged in the town, including a march down the High Street, and a “Dragon Slaying” on the Abbey Lawn.

I confess that I am always tempted on these occasions to hold up a placard proclaiming Dragons to be an endangered species and myself to be the Dragon Protection League, but I have not yet had the courage to do it. The first several florists I approached for a rose all said they had sold out – that they had failed to foresee the demand, so I battled to get one – eventually buying a small bunch at a filling station and distributing them to colleagues – to ribald comment as you may imagine – but we all had a rose!

I hope Mr Blair and his Islington Intellectuals have taken heed. They have stirred a far deeper pool than they supposed, and the English are now stirring in return. So far it is good natured; Tony and his cronies better hope it stays that way. Their pathetic attempts to pass it off as a “passing phenomenon” related to the “England football and rugby teams’ successes” is proof, if any were needed, of just how shallow and out of touch these people are.

They may have a real dragon to deal with if they continue to ignore and deride the English. After all, we pay the piper.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:08 AM

April 25, 2004

Alternative Potd?


The Cross of St George flies from the Abbey Tower for St George’s Day.

The Abbey boasts the highest Norman Tower in England – one hundred and thirty five feet from foundation to parapet. It was originally a “lantern” tower topped by a wooden steeple and open internally to the galleried “lantern” just below the clock. Subsequently the wooden steeple blew down and two more storeys were added before, in the 14th Century, the present stone rib vaulting was inserted internally throughout the nave, transepts and choir, cutting off the lantern.

The tower was last restored in 1939 and now needs a further restoration which will cost around £1 million to complete. This will see the damaged stone replaced with new stone cut from the same quarry the original came from and other remedial works which will keep it standing and safe for another 900 years at least.

Anyone who wants to be a part of this scheme should contact the Abbey Appeals office at office@tewkesburyabbey.org.uk

More information can be found on the Abbey website.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:13 AM

April 24, 2004

Meet the Church Mouse

The Gray Monk has acquired a wee helper, someone who fetches, finds snippets, and tidies up behind him. Church Mouse is a Christian Warrior in her own right - one who has strong views on right and wrong and is not afraid to voice them. She carries a Mace and has upgraded her armour from time to time since the Abbey was built - but not to be too modern!

Meet the Church Mouse - A Warrior Mouse - Defender of the Abbey Church Mice.

With the Monk moving his "domus" at the moment, and likely to be offline for a few days at least, Church Mouse will keep this blog posted with news items in his absence. Please give her a warm welcome.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 12:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 23, 2004

St George for England

Today is St George's Day. In case you did not know, St George is the Patron Saint of England, and has been since the return of Richard the Lionheart from the Crusades. Despite Mr Blair's cronies decreeing that England does not celebrate its Saint's Day - while the Welsh can celebrate St David, the Scot's St Andrew, and the Irish St Patrick, the English may not - we might upset some minority group if we do.

Today, and in defiance of the Labour Party's having purloined and disgraced it, I am wearing a red rose - the symbol of St George - and I wear it in his honour. The first person to ask if I have joined our illustrious leader's shower of tax consumers will get a black eye at the very least. I am wearing it for another reason as well. Today marks the 86th Anniversary of the Zeebrugge Raid, in which a small force, under the command of Vice Admiral Roger Keyes, attempted to block the entrance to the canals used by the German U-boats to access the sea from their lair in Bruge. The Raid was only a partial success, but the highest number of VC's awarded in a single engagement were won by the men who took part. Admiral Keyes and his men risked and gave their lives in the Great War for this nation's freedom from tyranny - not to have this latest generation of mealy-mouthed upstarts deprive us of our nationhood, our freedom of speech and thought, and, above all else, our pride.

Mr Straw and Mr Cooke will, alongside their Leader and the rest of their nannying nincompoops, learn to their cost that there is such a thing as an Englishman - and an English Nation and peiople - and they have just about had enough of being told that their culture, their existence and their history is to be derided.

Bring on your election - let us see what the English really feel about you, Mr Blair.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:00 AM | Comments (11)

April 22, 2004

Expedition to find the Waratah

This is one I could not pass up posting on. The Waratah dissappeared off the coast where I grew up (much later!) in 1909. It is thought that she was the victim of a notorious wave formation which occurs off this coast when a strong South Westerly wind blows against the prevailing Aghulas Current which flows North East to South West - and massive waves are piled up along the 100 fathom line as the two forces clash.

The Waratah was an almost new ship (she was only on her second voyage to the UK from New Zealand) when she vanished off the Bashee River mouth. Observers from the shore saw a large liner sail into a squall of rain in the rising gale and she never reappeared. For years there has been speculation as to what happened, since no wreckage that could be identified as coming from her was ever found. Now she is to be searched for in an expedition funded by Clive Custler, the author of several books on maritime disasters. The news item can be found here on the sma.au news site.

Another author, Jeffrey Jenkins, has also written a book in which the Waratah features as a major player - it is called "Scend of the sea" and ties together the Waratah, a SAA Viscount passenger plane that went missing in this area as well, and a SAAF Buccaneer bomber that also dissappeared in the same area.

The monster waves that arise in the South Westerley gales still cause damage and now all VLCC, ULCC, and Bulk Carriers using the Cape sea route keep well out to sea in these conditions. More than one has been severely damaged by the freak seas that the locals call "Cape Milestones" - monster waves caused when the seas pile up as they hit the continental shelf close in. Having "fallen off" one of these in an offshore lifeboat some years ago - all I can say is - they are best avoided, even in small craft!

I hope the Waratah is finally found. At least then surviving relatives of her crew and passengers will now be able to know where their relatives lie - and one of the great mysteries of the 20th Century will have been laid to rest.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 05:06 AM

April 21, 2004

Alternative Potd

The River Windrush - a tributary of the Thames - runs past the Cotswold Motor Museum.

Can't let Ozguru have the only pretty pictures on this blogosphere of ours. So this is one of my neck of the woods. A converted water mill that now houses a wonderful collection of motor cars and memorabilia.

It is in the Cotswolds, at a very picturesque village called Bourton on the Water. It was originally developed by a family friend and his wife, but now belongs to a motoring club.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 06:20 AM | Comments (3)

April 20, 2004

The Power of One.

I received this today from an unlikely source at work. While it is most likely an apocryphal tale, circulating throught the 'email chain letter' system, it clearly illustrates that each of us will have had presented to us during our lifetime at least one similar chance to do the right thing! I know there have been occassions when I have seen someone in difficulty and recognised that I should stop to help - and haven't. Now I wonder if I could have made a difference. Perhaps this story could, in other circumstances, be told of any one of us.....

[ Subject: Let's see if you send it back. We all know or knew someone like this!! ]

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, "Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd."

I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on. As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him.

He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes.

My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye. As I handed him his glasses, I said, "Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives."

" He looked at me and said, "Hey, thanks!" There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude. I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school before now.

I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play a little football with my friends. He said yes. We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, "Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday! He just laughed and handed me half the books. Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends.

When we were seniors, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship. Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn't me having to get up there and speak.

Graduation day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him. Boy, sometimes I was jealous. Today was one of those days.

I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, "Hey, big guy, you'll be great!" He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. "Thanks," he said.

As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began.

"Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach...but mostly your friends...

I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story."

I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend.

He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn't have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile. "Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable."

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his Mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize its depth.

Never underestimate the power of your actions.

With one small gesture you can change a person's life. For better or for worse. We are all in each other's lives to impact one another in some way. Look for the Good in others.

"Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."

There is no beginning or end.. Yesterday is history.

Tomorrow is mystery.

Today is a gift.


It's your turn to go do the right thing for someone.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 06:28 AM | Comments (2)

April 19, 2004

Does the EU Gravy Train stop at this station?

I note with interest that our Illustrious Leader has, through his pitbull Deputy, I understand, decided that the British people may, after all, be allowed to vote on his plans to destroy the English nation and sink us into Europe. Not a bad ploy for a lad from a privileged Scottish background, actually. Interesting, too, that only around six of his 23 Cabinet members are "English" - the rest are all Scottish or Welsh, even though they purportedly represent "English" constituencies.

But, as anyone who is aware of the deviousness of politicians and of this lot in particular, we will need to watch him closely on this one. First, he has not indicated a date - best guesses seem to be "sometime after the EU Elections and possibly after the next General Election. Naturally this will mean that some other country could have rejected it by then and so he will not need to consult us. Also, by promising us one, he is no doubt attempting to forestall our turning it on him at either of the the two intevening elections. Or so he hopes.

If he is forced to hold the Referendum, watch very carefully the exact wording of the question. It will either be extremely ambiguous or it will be worded in a manner that will allow him to claim "endorsement" of whatever he wants to do after it, no matter which way the electorate actually vote. Don't be surprised if we see more than one wobble over this - and even if we do get to vote on it - don't count on it's being the final say if he loses it.

Perhaps this is why he thinks lowering the voting age to 16 is a good plan - the kids are much more likely to be suckered into voting for his vacuous promises.

I suppose the best we can really hope for is that the Gravy Train gets delayed for a bit longer.

In the same weekend, we have actually had confirmation that the Tories poster campaign in 1997 - the infamous "Demon Eyes", one of our hero's face with a strip torn away across the eyes to reveal the glowing red eyes of some demon - may have been closer to the truth than we imagined. Dear John, the DPM, let slip in an interview that Tone's eyes always betrayed his insincerity. Apparently he has actually said this before - when he and the saintly Tone were locked in combat for the Leadership of the Labour Gravy Train.

Makes one wonder what he has on Tone that allows him to stay in post.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 12:50 PM | Comments (3)

April 18, 2004

Low Sunday

This first Sunday following Easter is often called “Low” Sunday, the simple explanation being that it is rather “flat” after the excitement and rollercoaster of emotions surrounding the Easter Festival. It probably has a deeper meaning as well – this, after all, is exactly a week after the death, burial and resurrection. The disciples would by now have been trying to get used to the idea that things can never be the same again – but, what to do?

This morning's sermon by our “Prior”, resident Retired Archdeacon of the Royal Air Force, Chaplain to HM, and Priest in Charge of our sister parish in Twyning, was an excellent one. He posed us the question – why do we have so many different Jesus’ after the resurrection? He tells one, don’t cling to me, and another, feel my wounds, and with others actually eats a meal. Clearly he is not a ghost, yet he is also capable of passing through locked doors (St John’s Gospel and St Luke’s) and appearing and disappearing from their company at will. Hardly the attributes of a normal human body.

The answer, put simply, is that He is become whatever we need at that time. Mary Magdalene in the garden needed to move on from the physical form she had loved in life, Thomas the Twin needed confirmation of the fact that Jesus did in fact live. Others needed His forgiveness. Each receives the Risen Jesus in the form that they most need. In effect, this seems to be saying that the death and resurrection was a transition – a translation from one state to another. More importantly, it is a translation which each of us can look forward to as well through the example of the Risen Christ.

In Him we are alive. The Resurrection is the ultimate triumph over death and decay, it is indeed the gate to life.

Tewkesbury Abbey
Easter 2 Evensong
18 April 2004

+ In the name of God.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering, like one from whom men hide their faces; he was despised and we esteemed him not.”

So writes Isaiah, in a passage widely interpreted as describing the Messiah to come. Yet it is a passage that many Jews still do not see as giving a vision of the Messiah - if it is interpreted at all. It is also very likely this passage of Isaiah that our Lord read out in the Synagogue in Nazareth, the exposition of which resulted in his being ejected and threatened with stoning. Yet, who can blame the Jewish people for rejecting this suggestion that the long expected Messiah was not to be a new Solomon? What they wanted more than anything else was a release from the series of oppressive and alien regimes that had ruled them for the previous six hundred odd years, not some promise of future hope and an ethereal “paradise”. Does this strike any cord with what is tearing the Middle East apart in our generation? Does it say anything about ourselves and our hopes for our own vision of “paradise”?

I rather think it does, and perhaps no wonder; our eyes are usually all too firmly fixed on the material world around us, not necessarily in an avaricious way, but in terms of the realities that we face day in and day out. We have enough troubles of our own - who needs more? Especially, who needs more when it is much more pleasant to look forward to a Messianic figure who will take all those cares and worries and create a fair, just, and invincible kingdom for our comfort. That’s a much more enticing vision than the one of a “Suffering Servant Saviour” whose promise, far from being one of addressing our needs in this life, is come to address the needs of some rather vague, and let's face it - unprovable - future existence beyond the grave!

No, this is NOT the Messiah they were looking for, wanting, or prepared to accept. Is He the one we would look for? Or would we, too, have doubts - doubts that could cause us to call him a prophet rather than the Chosen One? Is this perhaps the problem with the party on the road to Emmaus? They had clearly heard that the tomb was empty, that Peter and others had seen this for themselves, and perhaps even that some of the women claimed to have seen the risen Christ. Yet they still refer to Him as “a Prophet”.

St Luke is generally held to have been the only Gospel writer to have never seen or met Christ in the flesh. Yet it is in his Gospel that we get the fullest picture of his life, death, and resurrection. This man is generally considered to have been a Greek who may or may not have converted to, or at least studied, the Jewish faith. It is through his painstaking gathering of eyewitness accounts that we encounter Christ - and in many ways, it is with Luke that we are most closely able to identify - precisely because we, too, come to the Gospel through this medium, rather than at first hand from Christ himself. It is through Luke that we have Mary’s story, and it is through Luke that we have this eyewitness account from Emmaus and all that it means for us. Some interpreters have also asked the important question - was Luke one of the party on the Emmaus road? This seems unlikely, although we are not told who was present, except in the naming of Cleopas, who appears nowhere else.

There are several aspects to this particular account that raise some important questions. And here it is also important to remember that Luke was a very organized researcher with an excellent command of Latin, Hebrew, and Greek, “an artist with words” as one commentator has described him. There are four very important things that he tells us in the lesson we have heard tonight.

First, he tells us that Jesus “overtook” the party on the Emmaus road, and that none of them recognized Him, even though they discussed the events in Jerusalem at some length with Him and must have been in some distress about what had been happening. As they walked, they talked, and Jesus seems to have embarked on a comprehensive review of scripture with them - yet they still do not recognize him, even when He explains that the whole of the Old Testament leads to this one point in time - and to one person: The Messiah.

Secondly, he tells us that Jesus appeared to be going further, but stopped to eat with Cleopas after being invited. It is clear from the text that the invitation was a key element of His staying; without it, He would have continued. We are not told specifically where they stopped to eat, but it is most likely that it was the home of at least some of the party. It being “towards evening”, it would have been prudent to stop and look for shelter, as to continue would have been to invite danger from robbers or wild beasts at that time. Thus, we are told that the party enters a house and prepares to share a meal.

The third thing we are told is that, contrary to custom, Christ takes and breaks the bread, an act normally performed at the opening thanksgiving in a Jewish household by the host, and definitely not by the guest! And it is by this act of thanksgiving that He is at last recognized! Yet clearly, from Luke’s text, the members of this party were not present at the supper on what we now call Maundy Thursday. So what did they see which finally penetrated their consciousnesses and told them that the story they had heard of Mary Magdalene having met and spoken to Jesus in the garden was true? Did they suddenly see the wounded wrists? Or was it something else? And what prevented them from recognizing Him before this?

Finally, and perhaps most startlingly, we are told that, as soon as they recognized Him - “he vanished of their sight!”

The Tynedale commentary says that his exposition of the scriptures had clearly moved them deeply, and they now rushed back to Jerusalem in the gathering darkness to tell the others gathered there, only to be confronted by the news that Peter, too, had met the Lord, that He was indeed alive and walking among them.

Were we to read a little further, verse 36 tells us:
“While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.””
Their reaction reflects my own in a similar situation. “Startled and frightened” hardly conveys it adequately!

Luke appears to be telling us here that the risen Christ is no longer constrained by physical rules, that He is, in effect, with us all, all of the time, yet we can only see Him when it is right that we should, or necessary for us to do so. The important message is that He is here with us even though we may not see Him or recognize Him among us.

This Sunday is called Low Sunday. The crucifixion, the empty tomb all point to an end. Now we are alone, as the angels told the women at the tomb:
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen!”
Yet, all they can see is a desecrated tomb. Moreover, the empty tomb of one they loved deeply. It is in the angels' words, though, that they begin to hope for the impossible - that He is indeed alive and will remain with them. Yet, there must have been nagging doubts, possibly even reinforced by the reaction of the remaining eleven disciples.

Impossible; unlikely; it’s a hoax!

But Peter, obviously curious, goes to check. And here Luke gives his readers a further point to ponder. Grave robbers or body snatchers would have taken the grave clothes with the body. They would not have taken the body without its wrappings, and had they done so, it would not have been to leave those neatly to one side. Again, Luke is telling us that the evidence given by the witnesses is that they saw things that cannot be explained in material terms, things which indicate that something strange and unusual had happened in this tomb.

Consider for a moment the resurrection of Lazarus, or of the widow’s son. In both cases, it is the physical body which rises from the tomb or the bier. In both cases it is an earthly body which can get sick, age, or even die again which is restored to the world. What Luke seems to be saying to us in His Gospel, is that Jesus was and is different. He not only rose from the tomb, but did so in a form that permits Him to move among us and be real to us now as much as He was to those who walked with Him and loved Him in the first century.

He is not some sort of ghost, He is the reality which lies beyond this material and limited existence. He is, as St John so eloquently puts it:
“The Word become flesh and dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the Glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
As He has explained so carefully to the group on the Emmaus Road, the fulfillment of the Old Testament requires that He embrace both the Glory and the anguish. Thus He is both the King of Glory and the Suffering Servant. In His death we see the fulfillment of the anguish and the pain, in His resurrection we find the glory and the hope for us all in a life to come so far beyond the constraints of this one that we must needs grope blindly toward it in faith and in trust of His promise to us.

Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 07:42 PM

April 17, 2004

Conversations with God

My thanks go to the Postulate for sending me this URL. It took me to a site that made me stop, watch, and think. Always a good thing. Sometimes we do forget that God is there, He always has the time, and He always listens.

Pay this site a visit and see for yourself the beautifully thought through presentation. It really does raise a number of things that we forget or don't consider when we attempt to "talk" to God. I think we also get far too wrapped up in our own demands and forget that our timescale is not necessarily his.

Ummm, excuse me God, got a minute?

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:18 PM | Comments (2)

Intelligent stupidity?

A quick browse of the blogs today revealed this corker of a story on An Englishman's Castle. It concerns a newly published report by a left wing think tank.

Sometimes the arrogance of the socialist elite is breathtaking in its lack of contact with reality. Such is the case with the latest report by one of our Illustrious Leader’s favourite “Think Tanks”. They must, at some level, be reasonably intelligent people. After all, they have degrees, they attended Grammar Schools (which means they showed sufficient intelligence to pass an 11+ at some point!), or they went to Public Schools and thence to Oxford, Cambridge, or some other extremely prestigious university. So they can’t really be stupid, can they?

Well, this latest lot certainly challenge that assumption. According to their eminently expensive and detailed research – the government should raise taxes by a large margin for everyone above average income levels – to lower our standard of living. Yeah, right, a real vote winner that one, Tone. Especially among those of us who did not enjoy the privilege of Grammar School or Public School, who couldn’t get a place at a Blue Brick university and have had to fight our way up the tree in the teeth of the opposition you and your cronies have put in place.

Perhaps it is time to add to the Litany as published in the Book of Common Prayer the following intercession:

From politicians, advisers, and intelligent idiots - Good Lord deliver us.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:09 PM

April 16, 2004

The original computers?

Looking at a beautiful pipe organ, most people would probably not think of it in terms of computers, yet, the action which lies hidden behind all the pipes and other bits and pieces that are on display, is just that. A mechanical computer. If you ever have the opportunity to look at the mechanism which operates the valves for the pipes you will see what I mean.

Each valve is linked to a "Stop" and to a "key". The "Stop" determines which rank of pipes will sound when any given key is pressed. Pressing the key operates a signal or a linkage which opens either a mechanical valve (Tracker action), an electromagnet (electro-pneumatic), or a pneumatic valve.

The "Stops" can be preselected by means of a "Selection" box - in effect a programmer which allows the organist to set the organ up to open certain groups of stops at the touch of a button on the console. A look at the mechanism which allows Fairground Organs - or "player pianos" - to play from a paper roll (or wooden "plates") will show that this is almost identical to the system which allowed a computer to run off punched cards. In effect this was the first "automated" programming for the operation of a "computer" whose function was to produce music.

It may surprise many people to learn that the organ is one of the oldest instruments in the world. The Romans had them, called a "Hydraulis" because it used water to create a stable wind pressure through the wind chests which supply air to the ranks of pipes. It has developed and grown over the years, coming to the form we know today around the 16th Century. The addition of electric blowers and the electro-pneumatic controls has allowed them to become much larger than previous instruments. That said, it was a joke in the 14th Century that the Cathedral in Winchester had been built around the huge organ that the city boasted, an instrument sadly now destroyed by the iconoclasts in the 16th and 17th Century.

Smaller instruments have survived and there is one at Sion in Switzerland which was built and first played in 1370. It is still played today. In different countries the organ has developed differently, with Spanish organs having no peddle organ - but they do have the most amazing "Reed" Stops including fanfare trumpets and incredible Clarina and Horn stops. French organs are rather lighter in combination of stops and pipes and have a more Symphonic sound, while German and Dutch Organs are amazing in their variety and range of sounds, each having been indivdually built to fit a specific building. English organs are also highly individual and range from small "Chamber" types up through the spectrum to the monsters that furnish the sound for the Albert Hall and, of course, our Cathedrals.

A variant was an instrument known as a "Regale", which is fitted with "Reeds" instead of pipes. Thiese create a rather rasping sound, but their advantage was that they were portable and easy to pump with hand operated bellows.


The Milton Organ at Tewkesbury Abbey. Reputed to be the largest collection of playable 17th Century pipes in England.

So, if the organ is really a computer, perhaps we should, in the parlance of "modernisation" now refer to the organists as "Air Programmed Computer Technologists"?

Maybe not - it doesn't quite convey the sense of artistry these folk bring to their playing.

Appended, for the interest of pipe organ anoraks like me, is some information on the Organs of Tewkesbury Abbey, with acknowledgement to their website.

The Organs of Tewkesbury Abbey
The Milton Organ

The history of this instrument is a long and fascinating one. In 1631, Robert Dallam built a new organ for Magdalen College, Oxford, where it was erected in an 'organ house' opening on to the south side of the chapel. In 1654 it was moved to Hampton Court Palace, where the poet John Milton is reputed to have played it. The instrument was returned to Magdalen in 1660 and re-erected the following year. The organ was substantially remodelled by Renatus Harris in 1690.

In 1736 the organ was sold to Tewkesbury Abbey and later placed on a special stone screen constructed on the site of the medieval pulpitum. A Swell Organ was added by John Holland in 1796. Major rebuilds followed - by 'Father' Willis in 1848 and J.W. Walker in 1948 (when the Echo and Solo depatments were added and a detached five-manual console was installed).

In 1997 the Milton Organ was rebuilt and reconstructed by Kenneth Jones and Associates of Bray as a four-manual instrument with 68 speaking stops and 4611 pipes. The lower three keyboards have mechanical action, whilst the Solo and Apse divisions have electro-pneumatic action.

The inaugural recital was given in May 1997 by Nicolas Kynaston, who also acted as organ consultant.

The Grove Organ

This wonderful Victorian instrument was built by Michel and Thynne for the 1885 Inventions Exhibition. The aim of the builders in this, their 'Model Organ', was "an attempt to place in the hands of the player a grand and complete organ, reduced to the smallest possible dimensions as regards the number of slides (stops)." It was also exhibited at the Liverpool Exhibition the following year, where W.T. Best declared it to be "the finest organ of its kind that I have ever played upon".

The Reverend C.W. Grove, a great benefactor to the Abbey, purchased it in 1887 and presented it to the Abbey to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. It was placed in the north transept where it has remained ever since.

When the Milton Organ was rebuilt in 1948, it was planned also to restore and enlarge the Grove organ, making it playable from the Walker five-manual console. This scheme was not carried out, and eventually the organ was restored in 1980-81 by Messrs. Bishop and Son on 'conservation' lines, the only modification being the insertion of the five largest pedal pipes acquired from the old organ in Christ Church, Oxford. The re-opening recital was given by Dr Francis Jackson of York Minster.

The Chamber Organ

This little instrument of five stops was built by Thomas Elliot in 1813. It was presented to the Abbey in 1918 by Colonel H.N. Thoyts. This lovely little instrument is currently being restored and will soon be again heard in concerts and at services when a smaller and less powerful accompaniment is needed.

Milton Organ Specification

The most recent restoration of this organ was in 1996/1997. This pipe organ of four manuals and pedals, with 68 stops and 4611 pipes, includes certain of the best of the pipes of the previous organ, carefully restored and revoiced.

GREAT ORGAN (13 Stops)
Double Diapason 16'
Open Diapason No 1 8'
Open Diapason No 2 8'
Claribel Flute 8'
Principal 4'
Wald Flute 4'
Twelth 2-2/3'
Fifteenth 2'
Sesquialtera III ranks
Mixture 2' IV ranks
Cymbol 1/2' II ranks
Trumpet 8'
Clarion 4'

SOLO ORGAN (enclosed) (9 Stops)
Harmonic Flute 8'
Violincello 8'
Transverse Flute 4'
Piccolo 2'
Orchestral Oboe 8'
Voix Humaine 8'
Horn 16'
Trumpet 8'
Clarion 4'

SWELL ORGAN (enclosed) (12 Stops)
Open Diapason 8'
Stopped Diapason 8'
Salicional 8'
Voix Celeste TC 8'
Principal 4'
Open Flute 4'
Flageot 2'
Mixture 3' III-IV ranks
Double Trumpet 16'
Cornopean 8'
Hautbois 8'
Clarion 4'

APSE ORGAN (enclosed except Tuba) (8 Stops)
Cor de Nuit 8'
Dolce 8'
Unda Maris TC 8'
Fugara 4'
Flute 4'
Harmonia Aetheria III ranks
Corno di Bassetto 8'
Tuba (high pressure) 8'

CHOIR ORGAN (12 Stops)
Stopped Diapason 8'
Quintadena 8'
Dulciana 8'
Principal 4'
Chimney Flute 4'
Nazard 2-2/3'
Fifteenth 2'
Flute 2'
Tierce 1-3/5'
Larigot 1-1/3'
Sharp Mixture 1' IV ranks
Cremona 8'

PEDAL ORGAN (14 Stops)
Open Wood 16'
Open Diapason 16'
Subbass 16'
Pedal Bourdon (Apse) 16'
Quaint Flute 10-2/3'
Principal 8'
Flute 8'
Nazard (extension of Quaint Flute) 5-1/3'
Fifteenth 4'
Mixture 2-2/3' IV ranks
Double Horn (extension of Horn) 32'
Trombone 16'
Horn 16'
Trumpet 8'

COUPLERS for Solo to Swell, Solo to Great, Solo to Choir, Swell to Great, Swell to Choir, Choir to Great, Apse, Sub-octave, Apse Octave, Apse Unison Off, Solo to Pedal, Swell to Pedal, Great to Pedal, Choir to Pedal.

TREMULANTS to Solo, Swell, Choir and Apse.

The organ is provided with a comprehensive combination system, with eight pistons per division and eight general pistons, also reversible pistons for the couplers. The combinations on all pistons are adjustable by setter piston and there are sixteen separate levels of memory for divisional pistons, ninety nine for general pistons. A 'stepper' facility progresses through the general pistons and level by level, giving nearly 800 sequences, and a memory-card facility can store the settings of the entire system.

The heart of the organ consists of the Great Organ, Swell Organ and Pedal Organ (in the Milton organ-case) with the Choir Organ within the screen, to the west. These divisions have tracker (mechanical) key-action. The Solo Organ and Pedal Basses (also within the screen) have electro-pneumatic action, as does the remote Apse Organ.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 11:08 AM | Comments (2)

April 15, 2004

The shroud of Turin could be genuine ....

A new controversy has broken out over the famous shroud of Turin. New research has cast doubt on the Carbon Dating results due to the presence of soot from a 14th Century fire and the repairs done at that time. Apparently there is quite a bit of 14th Century dust, dirt, and "fluff" embedded in the shroud from that period. A textile expert has come out in favour of its authenticity because of the pattern of its weave, which was a unique one used for high quality cloth at that time. This is also supported by a number of new scientific studies done into some of the other aspects of the shroud.

The story on the BBC news webpage is worth reading in full.

As the comments below that story indicate, opinion is divided between those who wish to see the shroud discredited and those who want it to be genuine. Those who are uncomforatble about the fact that it may be genuine are, in my opinion, afraid of having to reassess their denial of the existence of God. A genuine shroud would prove the fact that the resurrection was not some "sleight of hand" trick perpetrated by the disciples and raises some very difficult questions about the nature of God, the nature of our "spiritual" being, and precisely how Jesus rose from the grave - or more correctly - what manner of being rose on that day.

The facts as we have them are these:

1. The tomb was found to be empty on the First Day of the Week (Sunday in our calendar),
2. The stone, a very heavy one, had been rolled aside, and the guards posted had run away or been rendered unconscious, although apparently not by any human agency,
3. The grave clothes were left in situ, only a single clothe which had been wrapped around the head of the body was displaced,
4. Matthew's account tells us that the terrified guards reported to their Masters what had actually scared them and had been paid to say it was the work of the disciples,
5. The living Christ was seen by a fairly large number of people across both Jerusalem, Emmaus, Galilee, and other places - but not recognised until he approached them with some familiar gesture,
6. Several witnesses report seeing "angels" at the tomb, all described as "beings of light" with faces like lightning - hardly a description of a human.

The shroud displays a negative image, and the recent discovery of a second "negative" image raises even more questions about its origins. More importantly, it raises a whole new set of questions about why it would have been created in this manner in the first place if it were a forgery. The problem with the forgery theory is that no one is able to explain the way it was produced, and even more difficult is the question of who did it and why? If this had been created by a truly incredible artist, what was his (or her!) model and what was the motivation? Why have we not seen or found any other evidence of this sort of work? Why just this one incredible piece?

To those who would argue that the Bible speaks of "bandages" used to wrap the body, I would offer this advice, re-read those passages in the original Greek. Bandage is an English translation of the Greek words and does not reflect the practice of burial preparation in the first Century at all. Now to the image. This is the most intriguing part, as it shows the wounds in the wrists - not the hands, which a 14th Century artist would have been much more likely to depict. The only other "negative" images of a comparable sort were those observed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki following the A-bomb blasts that burned negative images of the victims into concrete and brick. Yet, if that is how the body was removed and these images created, how did the fabric survive the incredible temperatures needed to achieve this effect.

The obvious explanation creates a great difficulty for us all - believers and non-believers alike. It suggests that Christ's body was converted, in the tomb, into pure energy, passing through the clothe on its way to a new existence in a different form. Does this mean that the resurrection didn't happen? Of course it doesn't; it simply means we may have to re-examine very carefully our understanding of the meaning of life, and particularly what life really is, what our "true" being really is.

What do I believe? I will stick my neck out - and admit that I believe the Shroud could be the genuine article. And now I had better start to think carefully about who I am, what I am, and what lies ahead. The resurrection happened. Of that I am in no doubt. How it happened, and what manner of being walked forth from the tomb, I may be a little less sure of now, but I do believe that it holds out the most incredible promise of an existence far beyond anything I can currently imagine - and not bound or confined by the physical (and aging!) reality that is our current existence.

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed - and with Him our hopes of the life everlasting.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:41 AM | Comments (2)

April 14, 2004

A thought for the day ....

An item on Sketches of Strain, the blog of David F, caught my eye, and I think his thoughts on this are worth visiting, too. Go here to see what he has written - it is a very profound statement, and one we could all do well to consider very carefully.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 02:40 PM | Comments (1)

Let's negotiate ....

Mo Mowlem and a number of other "peaceniks" want to negotiate with a certain group called al Qaeda. Well good luck to them; I agree with Samizdata.net and his wonderful 10 point plan for our surrender. It is worth remembering that it was the saintly Mo who sold out to the IRA and their surrogates in Northern Ireland. A wonderful piece of revenge by the Labour Party on a Province that staunchly rejects them at every poll.

I think the simple answer is let's send all our wonderful Peacenik politicians, Mo Mowlem, Robin Cook, and George Galloway out to Iraq and let them get on with trying to talk to al Sadr, Osama bin Laden, and their respective chums. This might prove an interesting dose of reality for them. Just one thing, though: make then abide in the state their negotiations create.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:35 AM

April 13, 2004

Back-to-work blues ...

It's back to work after a decent break, albeit one that saw me shift what felt like half a ton of stuff I have lugged around through four moves of home. No more; shredder and bin liners to work! But, now I need to do the same in my office! A week and a half away and the place is buried in other people's "too hard" jobs that have been "slope shouldered" onto mine.

Time for an outbreak of Foul ole Ron "Buggerem, buggerit, I tole 'em, millenium hand and shrimp!"

Works every time - a lot of things have suddenly left the pile!

So, my thought for the management today, borrowed from that eminent man of letters, Dr Samuel Johnson

"Sir! I have found you an argument. I am not obliged to find you an understanding!"

Until tomorrow, dear Reader!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:46 PM


Racial stereotyping must be one of the most abominable forms of racism going. The problem is that it is insidious; we don't really notice that we are doing it. To an extent we all suffer from it in that it operates both ways. On one side we, (whoever "we" may be) have our preconceived notions about "them" (whoever "them" is today), and this is evident in the way many in the West see people from non-Western countries and vice versa.

The real trouble is that it is built into so much that is related to "culture" in any society. Thus Hollywood, in looking for a villain will always give him a cut glass British accent and possibly a title as well. Take a look at Star Wars. Why does the evil side become "Lord" something and why an evil "Emperor"? There are far more truly evil "Presidents" around than there are Emperors, and most of those were simply incompetent rather than "evil". Does being "Lord Muck of Upper Piddle" mean that someone is an evil dastard out to ravish every maiden in sight and steal all the crops, money, and land from everyone who has the misfortune to cross his path? Of course not, so why do we put up with these stereotypes? Especially, why do we put up with stereotypes that are much more damaging - the ones that actually underpin and re-inforce racial prejudice?

I felt a deep and very cold anger when I read on G'day Mate that my wonderful little niece-in-law had been subjected to a racial comment. Children at her age should not be capable of making such a remark - and it is obviously something that whichever child made it has picked up from careless and unthinking comments made at home. That is what I find so damned intolerable.

I am no saint myself; I have as many racial and cultural stereotypes in my head as anybody, but I have learned the hard way - by being on the receiving end of a few here in the UK - just how stupid it is to walk around with such a closed and blinkered approach. I do not believe in "multi-culturalism" or any of the PC claptrap that goes with it; I do believe in a free and fair society where this kind of stupidity is not reinforced or accepted.

I take my hat off to Oz (I hope I'm on his list of "mates", still!) in the calm and unflustered way he dealt with this. I hope, too, that when I am next in his part of the world, an opportunity will arise for me to show the bigots just how much that little girl and her brother mean to us all - even in the extended family. In the meantime, let's all have a look at the things we think when we look at each other - and do something about getting rid of the stereotypes that underly such evil bigotry.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 12, 2004

Cultural incompatibility?

An item on the BBC News Web page has Cardinal Cormach O'Connor, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England, supporting Lord Carey's comments on the failure of Islam to condemn acts of blatant and unholy terrorism. And before anyone says "what about the IRA", it is only fair to note that the Cardinal was among the few to be vocal on this issue as well.

Equally, he criticises the developed nations for not doing enough to tackle the poverty gap which is clearly one of the underlying causes of the resentment that festers in the hearts of so many in the undeveloped world. This provides a very fertile breeding ground for recruiting terrorists. If you have nothing to lose, why be afraid to die? If all you have to look forward too is a life of grinding poverty, what incentive is there to live? And why not take some of the "rich pigs" with you?

Coming on top of the statement last week from the head of the Commission for Racial Equality, that the concept of Multi-culturalism is causing divisions and tensions in society, it is perhaps timely to look at both these issues.

Firstly, while I agree with both Lord Carey and the good Cardinal, I do have a problem with the practicalities of some of what they say. Yes, the West needs to do something to distribute its wealth more evenly, but this cannot be one sided and it equally cannot be done without lowering the standards of life for a substantial majority of those who currently enjoy the benefit of living in the "Developed" world. The Cardinal acknowledges this, saying that the West needs to make a truly "sacrificial" effort.

OK, but at whose cost? It certainly won't be at the expense of Whitehall, Washington, or Brussels - it will be at the expense of the usual suspects - us. Now, as a Christian, I do not have a problem with sharing my good fortune with others, but I have worked extremely hard for what I have and have made a lot of sacrifices in order to maintain my small place in society. I would be extremely reluctant to see my living standards reduced to something approaching the third world's if all it meant was that Tone and his cronies in the governments of the Third World, Mugabe, Mbeki, Sayad, and the rest of their dictatorial ilk simply milked the system and we saw no change at all in the living standards of those most in need.

So, before we can talk about how we redistribute the wealth, we need to sort out WHO will do it - and it should not be the fat cats of Whitehall or any other Capital - and we need to sort out the most fundamental issue of it all - the governments that thrive on corruption and nepostism. It is they, more than any "wrong doing" in the developed world, that lock their own people into poverty. It is they who destroy opportunity for their people and refuse to share the wealth of their own nations. When we have that little issue sorted out, the wealth issue becomes a viable discussion, or even it begins to sort itself.

This feeds into another part of the problem. Examine the press and media in many of these "Third World" nations and you find day on day that there is a tirade against anyone of "Western" origins, aginast "Western" exploitation and "Western" "crimes". The most vociferous and strident are naturally located in the most oppressive and corruptly ruled nations. With their access to any other source of information limited or non-existent, what are the people living there to believe? The "truth" as presented by their governments, or the "lies" of the West, about which they hear only the selected and most damaging bits and pieces. It would seem to me that you would have to start by correcting that and by having a completely unbiased and balanced media. Oops, now we really are getting in over our heads!

Then there is the issue of colliding cultures. This is never going to be an easy one to resolve. Globalisation is held to be the current root of all evil in the undeveloped world, but is it? What is happening is that gradually all nations are having to adapt, to develop a more "global" culture which crosses national and religious boundaries. Only those who want a future locked into a past viewed through rose tinted spectacles could possibly think that this is a way forward. This is also where those who insist on "multi culturalism" fail to see that they are promoting conflict and cultural clashes between groups. Inevitably, if my "cultural" comfort zone comes under threat, I have two choices, move away and find somewhere I can live in "my" cultural environment, or adopt the "new" culture.

Having moved about a bit and seen different cultures at work, there are clearly some I will have no truck with at all - head hunting is definitely not my bag! Others I could live within, but I would end up creating a ghetto and surrounding myself with friends and a lifestyle that would support my "cultural" needs. The dominant culture would obviously impact upon this in a number of ways - my pattern of worship would have to change if I were living in a non-Christian Society which celebrated a weekend which did not co-incide with Sunday. You can see this in microcosm in any city in the Far East or the Middle East - expatriate communities who have their own areas, their own golf clubs and their own restuarants. Those who "go native" and adopt the local culture generally find themselves outside the social circle "ghetto" fairly rapidly.

This is where, in the UK, the multi-culturalists have created a monster - and it is one which will soon bite, and bite hard. Already we have seen the rumblings in the North East and around Sheffield, and it is not confined to there either. I suspect that it is already happening in the US as well, although I am making a guess there based only on what I read and see in the news from there. The promotion of "keep your own culture" and "don't blend in" philosophies has created a situation where communities now form enclaves - another word for ghetto - and soon it becomes so alien to the residents who are not from that particular background or group that they feel compelled to move out. If this is combined with a lower than expected income or a lack of jobs, the next phase is dissaffection among the youth and you see the development of street gangs. These lead to or may be drawn into criminal activities and it begins a downward spiral which can only lead to confrontation. In short, a ghetto develops around an underclass.

It is in this atmosphere that the likes of Abu Hamza and other poisonous and twisted individuals can thrive. They have a ready made set of "victims" on which to prey - and do they ever make use of the well intended but ill thought-out concept through "rights" that our legislators have given them!

Legislators traditionally respond to these situations by "passing a law" supposedly to promote the "underprivileged" or "disadvantaged", but the law is a very blunt instrument, and one which usually compounds the original problem. Here lies the road to Apartheid. By affording "privileged" status to any one group in a community you create resentment, you create division, and you create opportunities for exploitation. That is what has happened here and I dare say elsewhere, and more legislation will only compound the error. It is not escaping people's attention that the Civil Service has been "minority-ised" to the point where population groups who make up around 3% of the population are now occupying over 8% of the positions in the Civil Service. And this is not an isolated case - the same is being done to all Public Services. In fact, like it or not, the situation is now polarised to the point where it would not be surprising if a public backlash undid all the good - and there is some - that has been done.

We need to break the ghetto mentality - to encourage people to retain those parts of their cultures which they consider most important, and to adopt those parts of the culture in which they now reside, which do not clash with their own beliefs. We need to have an open and honest debate about all of this - not one limited by the usual mantra howled by the promoters of Multi Culturalism, that all who disagree with them are "Bigots", "Racists", "Fascists" or "Neo-Nazi" - but an honets debate involving all peoples and opinions. Sadly, we are unlikely to see this.

Far more likely is the move that the MC promoters will adopt a regime of renaming their poisonous philosophy, or at least those elements of it which have come under closest scrutiny. They will sneak things in through back doors where they cannot get away with bringing it through the front door, and they will continue to be a powerful influence until once again they touch off the explosion that will lead to far worse than 9/11 or Madrid.

The only hope is that the men of Lord Carey's and Cardinal O'Connor's standing will keep saying what needs to be said - and that the rest of us will continue to expose the purveyors of weasel words and false "inclusivity". They have highjacked morality and perverted it, they have also highjacked the language and perverted that as well. It is time for all those who support fairness, decency, and truth to take back the language and the morality and expose the charlatans who hide behind this discredited concept.

Does anyone else out there not find it strange that the generation that spent the 60's, 70's and 80's in boycotts, digging up cricket pitches, and promoting anti-apartheid causes (including terrorism) are now the very same people who are promoting the underlying principle of apartheid - separation of cultural identities?

I rest my case.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:09 AM | Comments (2)

April 11, 2004

Maundy Thursday through to Easter

Passiontide to Easter - an intensive and busy haul in any Church of the Catholic or Orthodox tradition. Sometimes it seems we are so busy providing worship and marking the steps along the way to the Cross and to the Resurrection which follows the Cross and Tomb of Good Friday that we are almost in danger of forgetting the importance of each step on that road.

Having been one of those selected to have his feet washed by our Vicar on Maundy Thursday, I have to say that I agree entirely with St Peter - "not my feet only Lord, but my hands and my head as well." It is quite an emotive experience to have someone you know and hold in respect come and perform this simple ceremony for you. I know exactly what the disciples must have felt when Christ did it for them. In a way, though, it prepared me for the role I played in the Solemn Liturgy for Good Friday. Here I was the Sub Deacon at a service which brings a large Crucifix into the Church for the first time since all decorations were stripped out on Maundy Thursday.

The service begins with the three Ministers prostrating themselves facing the bare altar. Prayers are led from the head of the Nave once they stand, and a lengthy passage from the Epistle to the Hebrews is read before the Passion is sung by the Priest and two other "voices" instead of the normal Gospel proclamation. Once the Passion is finished, the Deacon and two Acolytes process via the South Aisle to the West End, while the Sub Deacon and the President move to a position at the head of the Nave and lead the people in the Prayers of Intercession. When these are finished, they return to the Sedillia on the South Side of the great crossing and face West, the contgregation turning with them, as the Deacon begins the acclamation of the Cross.

The Deacon, flanked by the two acolytes now carries in a large (Four feet tall) Crucifix, veiled in purple silk. At the font, he unveiles one arm of the cross and hiolds it aloft to sing "This is the wood of the Cross, on which hung the Saviour of the World" and the congregation respond "Oh come let us worship". He repeats this again at a point midway down the Nave and again at the head of the Nave when the veil is finally removed and the full Crucifix is now displayed. It is placed on a stand fixed to a Priex Dieu and supported in place by the two Acolytes while the Sacred Ministers and then the congregation file forward and kneel at the foot of the cross. Those who wish too may kiss the wood and say a brief prayer.

When all the congegation have venerated the Cross, the Sub Deacon holds it while the Acolytes make their obeisance, and then they escort the Sub Deacon, now carrying the Cross aloft into the Choir, where the choristers have their opportunity to venerate the Cross before it is carried into the Sanctuary and placed in a stand on the High Altar.

While the Cross is being moved, the Deacon and another pair of Acolytes move to the Lady Chapel where the Deacon dons the Humerail Veil and carries the reserved sacrament from its overnight resting place back to the High Altar. Here the President receives the sacrament and, after leading the congegation in The Lord's Prayer and a Collect, distributes the communion bread to the Sacred Ministers and Servers and then to every member of the congregation. When it is finished, he cleanses the Ciborium and leads the congregation in two short prayers. Then all the Ministers and Servers scatter and walk out of the Sanctuary by as many different exits as they can and the Choristers do likewise - all keeping as silent as possible.

We reassemble in a darkened Church on the Eve of Easter - Holy Saturday night. The service begins with three readings and three prayers and a psalm sung unaccompanied. A procession of Thurifer, Crucifer and two acolytes, Sub Deacon, Deacon, and President (Thurible and candles unlit) forms up and moves silently to the West Doors, which are opened as they approach and reveal the newly lit fire - the new "Easter Fire" representing the cleansing light of Christ coming back into the World. As soon as the Ministers, Servers, and Choir are in position at the West End the lights are put out. This is an eery moment as the light of the fire spills in through the West Door and lights the whole length of the Church with its flickering glow.

The fire is blessed, sprinkled with Holy water and coals are used to light the Thurible charcoal which is then charged with incense and the taper is lit which is used to light the great Pascal Candle which has been specially marked with five "grains" of Incense (representing the "wounds") and the symbols of the risen Christ. The candle is carried into the Church and held aloft by the Deacon who intones "Behold the Light of Christ" at which the congregation respoinds "Thanks be to God." A light is now taken from this and the Acolytes' torches are lit, followed by the candles held by the Sacred Ministers and the sister parishes Pascal Candles. The Procession then moves down the Nave to the Screen and great crossing with three "stations" at which the proclamation is repeated and the light taken to more candles until everyone in the congregation is holding a lighted candle.

At this point the Paschal Candle is placed in a special stand next to the pulpit where it will remain for the forty days of the Easter Season. The Exultate is now sung from the Pulpit, and then a great Gloria is sung praising God. The opening of this is accompanied by the ringing of bells, and the organ improvisation which makes use of the noisiest and most glorious stops that are available (which on the Milton Organ is saying plenty!). The Gloria sung, the Gospel is proclaimed from the Pulpit, and then a procession forms and leads the sacred Ministers to the Font. Here, the water is blessed and a bowl is drawn off which the Deacon cariies while the President uses a sprig of fresh Rosemary to dip in the water and sprinkle the congregation and choir and the Easter Garden is blessed. (In Tewkesbury Abbey) a small enclosed Chapel at the rear of the South Aisle is converted at Easter into the Garden Tomb complete with the great stone at the entrance. This same chapel is used at Christmas as the Stable where the Holy Family are displayed in life sized models.) Everyone is then invited to renew their baptism promises and to declare their faith.

Once the Peace has been shared the procession moves to the High Altar and the service continues as the first Mass of Easter.

Easter Day at the Abbey begins with a Mass said in the Tomb chapel itself. This is followed by another said service at the High Altar and then a "parish" Eucharist at the Nave Altar and the Sung High Mass at 1100. Easter Day always finishes with a Solemn Evensong and Procession which ends with the choir standing before the High Altar to sing the Te Deum.

Emotionally it is a bit of a roller coaster ride, but spiritually it is something that goes with you for the rest of the year.

A happy Easter to you all. Christ is risen - he is risen indeed! Allelulia!

May his peace be with you all.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 03:22 PM

The Good Friday Crucifix

This is the Crucifix carried into the Abbey on Good Friday. All who carry it remark on how heavily it weighs in their hands.


The Crucifix stands on the High Altar following the Solemn Liturgy.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:24 AM

April 10, 2004

Multiculturalism divisive?

From An Englishman's Castle I learned somothing that has made me seek a horizontal position, a damp towel, and a darkened room for a couple of days! Shock, horror, the head of Britain's Commission for Racial Equality has come out in the open and said publically that "multiculturalsim is deepening divisions in society".

The Monk is speechless. Go read it for yourself. Take some precautions though - the feeling of lightheadedness may be overpowering!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 12:11 AM | Comments (2)

April 09, 2004

Joseph of Arimethea - burying Christ.

Ever wondered what it must have been like for those who had to bury Christ? I have, and a few years back, I got the chance to do it out loud. The result was the text in the extended post below. It was done for a Good Friday Devotion, and in it I tried to put myself at the foot of the cross as a man who had watched Jesus grow, watched his ministry from a position of wealth and power, and then had to stand by and watch him die.

Who was Joseph of Arimathea? We don't know a lot about him. It is likely that he was a relative, and we can safely infer from the gospel texts that he was a very rich and powerful man. From other sources we know that he was, with Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin. But, and this is important for what it tells us about that body's response on the events which culminated in the Passion, neither seems to have supported the "unanimous" decision. Had they supported it, Joseph would hardly have sought an audience with Pilate to obtain the body. Burial of such victims of this form of "justice" was never permitted to be this private or elaborate.

It also tells us that Joseph was a man of considerable influence and wealth. No doubt several bribes changed hands and Pilate would still not have seen him if he had not been influential. Nor would he have released the body without some incentive!

Joseph's relationship is an enigma, but he it was who buried Christ. Not the disciples, not the public friends. Joseph and Nicodemus, men with a lot to lose. As they disappear from the Gospels after the resurrection, we know little of their subsequent history, but tradition from the Eastern Churches suggests that both made a huge contribution to the growth and spread of Christianity.

And so to the feelings they must have had during the events of the Passion and while burying their friend, son of a friend, and rabbi.

Good Friday Service of Devotion
April, 1999

St Lawrence, Bourton on the Water

Joseph of Arimathea
“Burying the Christ”

Matthew 27: v 57 - 60

“As evening approached, there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own tomb, that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.”

“Hear Oh Israel, the Lord your God is one God; Blessed be the Name of the Lord and great is his gift to his people Israel. For He that is mighty has given great things to all who believe in Him and worship his name, to their enemies He has brought shame and despair, blessed is His Holy Name above all Names. Behold my children, the Lord has given and the Lord has taken away, Blessed is the Name of the Lord and blessed is His faithful servant Yeshua ben Youssef here returned to the God of his fathers and of Moses. Bless the Name of the Lord and give thanks for His mercy on his people Israel. May His will always be our guide.”

I am an old man, awaiting my time to depart this life and be judged by my God. I have served my people and the Law of Moses for all of my life until this day. From today I stand revealed as a follower of him whose death I now mourn, a death which has made me stand away from the Council of which I was member. To reveal that no more can I be of the same mind as those who have argued that this Man of God was a deceiver, a false Messiah seeking to lead our people astray. I have long been a secret disciple with Nicodemus and others. I have listened to his discourse on every aspect of our faith, our relationship with our God, and on our observance in worship and of the Law. No longer can I remain secret; with Nicodemus I now stand revealed and my life is now his, my life is from now no longer mine but Yeshua’s for as long as I may continue.

It was no easy thing to do. To go publicly to Pilate and ask for the body of this son of my friend, my pupil, and then my teacher. I have been secret in following him for fear of losing the esteem of my fellow councillors, the people who work for me and whose opinion meant so much to me in my own community in Arimathea. In going to Pilate I have revealed my fellowship with Yeshua and his followers. Pilate could not refuse me, in truth he was angry with the Sanhedrin for causing him to be involved at all. I think he gave me the body as much to anger them as to please me. Such favours do not come cheaply, and I know that a suitable donation will have to be made in return at some time. But, I could not do otherwise. Youssef and Mariam have been my friends since I took them into Egypt soon after Yeshua was born, and Yeshua has been to me both son I have never had and teacher of my soul in my age. Nicodemus, too, has forsaken much to help me render what is proper to a son and kinsman killed in treachery.

It is only now that I see that he was always my teacher, even before he reached his manhood; he was wise and old ahead of his years. He traveled with me on my trading journeys, learning the languages that I trade in, seeing the peoples who surround us, and speaking with their wise men. When I ceased to travel, he returned to his father Youssef, and made Youssef’s craft his own. Strange how only now can we see that the stones he cut, the wood he fashioned was always better cut and better fashioned than any other. It was almost as if it sought to fashion itself to his will as he worked. Even then he stood apart, he was different; with an inner purpose and a strength that comes not from human experience, but from the experience of God. As the Centurion charged with the killing said at the cross, “This man was truly the Son of God.”

It has been a strange day and I am old and tired. Forgive an old man in his grief and hear my testimony. My part has been small in this great venture. I have contributed money when it was needed to enable the work to be done and now I give the tomb which should have seen my body before ever it saw His. Many will talk of this day in time to come in wonder and awe. There will also be those who will try to explain it away and deny it happened. It did, although I was not here until late, I was not here when the Sanhedrin met, neither was Nicodemus; we hurried here when word reached us last night, but arrived only in time to witness the crucifixion and could do little but watch as he died. At that moment it seemed as if the sun itself darkened. There was no cloud in the sky, it was as if some great and invisible host had gathered in front of it to receive him. The ground itself trembled and it is said that the veil in the Holy of Holies has been torn, but the priests say this is because of poor workmanship in the hanging of it. In the end there was nothing I could do but bury him.

So might Joseph of Arimathea have spoken to an inquisitive newsman if challenged on his role in the events of Good Friday. The gospels tell us little of the man or of the things that happened to him after these events. He is not mentioned in any of the later Acts of the Apostles or the letters. Yet, from the little we are told and from other contemporary sources there is a great deal that can be deduced or pieced together. We know he was one of the leaders of the Jewish nation, a member of the Sanhedrin, the Council which ruled on all matters of the Law. The councillors themselves were appointed by the Roman Procurator, who also appointed the Chief Priest and his assistants. As a body they represented the ruling classes of the Jewish Nation, the people of power, wealth and learning.

Joseph was a man well connected both with the Roman administration and with the Tetrarchy of Herod’s sons. He was also a man of considerable wealth, and there are suggestions that his trade links extended to Spain in the West and to at least the Arabian Gulf in the East. To hold the position of councillor in the Sanhedrin he would have also been a man of the Law, well versed not only in the Law of Moses but also of the myriad laws which extended it into every aspect of existence. To have access to Pilate himself as quickly as this he would have had to have been known in the Procurators court and almost certainly was sufficiently well respected by that worthy to be able to risk asking the unthinkable. Under Roman law, those who had been crucified did not get private burial - they were simply flung into a communal pit, denied any funeral rites and thus any future chance of becoming any sort of icon for potential trouble makers.

That Pilate consented to Joseph’s request tells us a great deal about his standing in the eyes of the authorities. Whatever his standing with the authorities he could no longer be a “secret disciple” - from now on he was out in the open, a supporter of the man who had claimed to be the Messiah, the Christ. Both he and Nicodemus were now marked men, their own would now shun them and even their families might be the target of attempts to discredit them, yet the events of the crucifixion had brought them out of the shadows and into the main arena.

Our four gospels all contain a version of this event, some giving a little more detail than others. Luke tells us that Joseph and Nicodemus must have been absent from the council that condemned Christ, since “they had not consented” yet the council's decision was unanimous. Luke also tells us that “he was waiting for the Kingdom of God” a phrase that can have two distinct meanings, either he was already old and expecting to die soon, or, he belonged to a Messianic sect. This latter is unlikely since, as a member of the Sanhedrin, he could hardly have subscribed to one of the many sects which at this time were advocating violent revolution. John tells us that Nicodemus provided 75 pounds of the spices for burial, yet these do not appear to have been used immediately, since the other three tell us that the women, after seeing where Joseph placed the body, went away to prepare the spices.

Joseph’s story is important for us today because of what it says of so many of us. In many ways we are all “secret disciples”; we do not do much more to proclaim the faith and the gospel than attend church, the odd house group, and maybe acknowledge that we are among the dwindling numbers who still go to church on Sunday. For many of us it is the same dilemma that Joseph faced; if I admit to being a Jesus Freak it may damage my career, my standing in the eyes of my friends, and the society I move in. Certainly, for Joseph, this would have been a very real consideration; his whole life, his entire reputation as a Jew, a man of the Law, and a member of the Council was on the line. His courage in stepping forward and exposing himself to the anger and possibly the revenge of the Sanhedrin in securing a decent burial for Christ cannot be underrated; it is an act of courage we, who have so much less to risk, would do well to emulate.

Now, as we contemplate the broken body of the Son of God, the Man of Sorrows who has died to secure us the benefits of the love of his Father and ours, let us join Joseph and Nicodemus as they take Christ down from the cross, wrap the body, and place it in the tomb Joseph has had prepared for himself.

“Hear O Israel, the Lord thy God is good, the Lord gives, the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Let us pray

Father, hear our prayer and forgive us.
Unstop our ears that we may receive the gospel of the cross.
Lighten our eyes that we may see your glory in the face of your Son.
Penetrate our minds that your truth may make us whole.
Give us grace to have the courage to risk all as Joseph and Nicodemus did in your service, we ask this in His name who died for us, Amen

Job said;

I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes behold, and not another.

In the midst of life we are in death; of whom may we seek succour, but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins art justly displeased?
Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts; shut not thy merciful ears to our prayer; but, spare us O Lord most holy, O God most mighty, thou most worthy Judge eternal, suffer us not, at our last hour to fall from thee.

Let us say together the prayer that he who died for us taught;

Our Father,
Which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name,
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done,
On earth as it is in Heaven,
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation
but, deliver us from evil,
For thine is the Kingdom
The power and the Glory
For ever and ever

Hymn : 464 : Take my life and let it be, consecrated, Lord to thee.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 12:05 AM

April 08, 2004

An Easter Story.

Could not resist this one from the blog of NZPundit. Entitled "The meaning of Easter", it had me roaring with laughter. Unfortunately it would be true no matter what complexion or hair colour for most of the developed world today!

Now, I wonder if he lives anywhere near Wal Footrot's little spread .... Maybe the Iron Paw could pay him a visit?

Posted by The Gray Monk at 11:17 AM | Comments (1)

April 07, 2004

Peace in our time?

The war in Iraq is officially over. Or is it? More troops are being sucked into the conflict all the time, and the violence simply seems to escalate. Is there something we are all missing here? Is there perhaps something we need to pause and consider?

My own response to the horrific images of the civilian aid workers being mutilated and burned filled me with a "righteous" rage - nuke them 'til they glow! Wipe the entire damned nation from the face of the earth as a warning to anyone else with such a contempt for decency! Yet, would that solve anything? Would it not merely serve to prove that the West simply wanted to preserve its lifestyle at the cost of everyone else? Would it not lower us all to the level of the murderous mob?

Yes it would.

Believe me when I say that I am still certain that it was right to remove Saddam and his murderous henchmen. What has gone wrong is that we do not understand the culture which produced him. We do not understand the needs and desires of the men and women who live and work in Iraq and other countries like this. We do not understand their pride and their desire to live their way, under a government of their choice - and I use that word with qualification! - and not one seen as "imposed" or "approved" by someone else.

Essentially this is a tribal society, and such a society is fraught with tensions. There are familial bonds, tribal bonds, and religious bonds. The state is not separated from religion; it must live within it - especially in a culture such as that which pervades the Middle East. The history of the region is a very chequered one, too, and the mix of tribes is compounded by the imposition of "national" boundaries, which owe more to politics than to history. And, as we have seen in the Balkans, if you remove a strong and dictatorial leadership/government, however oppressive, it is not unlike suddenly opening a valve on a vessel holding a liquefied gas - it immediately boils up to vapourisation.

History is a teacher that often comes back to bite, and Iraq is a good example. Look back at the history of the 1920's and 30's under British Rule. The RAF bombed tribesmen, and the Army fought them on the ground. We held things in some sort of check for as long as we could, but eventually gave it up as a totally unwinable situation. We had mastery in weapons of destruction, we could shoot far more of them than they could of our people, but we could not gain complete mastery of the ground - and that is what finishes wars, not merely occuppying territory or controlling the organs of state. Ask the Austrian rulers of the Balkans, ask the Russian governors of Chetchinya or Khazakstan. Ask the Japanese about Korea or Manchuria. Ask us about Aden and the Yemen! There does come a point where the military solution is no longer an answer in itself; there needs to be a winning of hearts and minds and in this we are failing dismally.

Sometimes war has to be fought. It is never clean, it is never clinical, and attrocities will happen during the conflict - in a sense, in the rage of battle it is impossible to control it completely. Wellington never forgot or forgave, entirely, the behavuiour of his troops in the storming of Badajoz in the Peninsula War. The problem is, once the last "military" action has been fought, the final set piece blown away, you now have to occupy not just the territory, but the hearts and minds of those you have just beaten as well. You can do it by oppression, or you can do it by partnership, by incorporating their structures and their people into any new arrangement.

Once the ground has been won, the role of the military (and its attitudes to the people!) needs to change very rapidly. It needs to become a police force - there when needed - supporting a truly enormous push to replace aid structures, health services, housing, and above all hope of self rule. This is where the followers of al Sadr have beaten us into a corner - his people were out on the streets setting this up before we had even gotten our helmets off and the smoke and dust cleared. While we argued about who should police the territory and who should not, this guy was organising aid and services to those in dire need. While we were still talking about what was needed and what to do about it - he had it organised and running. No wonder he has such a strong following.

OK, so he wants us out. Well, don't we want out as well? Or are we only prepared to leave if we are satisfied that we have set up a form of government that is alien to this part of the world? Ask your self when the "democratic" tradition was first introduced there. Did it previously operate in the tribal system? Did it operate under the Turkish Ottoman Empire? Did it ever operate there at all? So why do we expect them to be able to adopt, without any development of their own systems for dealing with it, the extremely sophisticated system we have developed for ourselves over barely three hundred years? Even now, our own system is far from perfect!

If we are to find a solution to the madness that is descending on the people of Iraq, we need to put in place less of a kneejerk reaction to their frustrations and much more in the way of using them to find the solutions. Repugnant as it may be to actually talk to al Sadr, perhaps a better solution would be to get him round the table and to make him responsible for the setting up of relief for all the people. Of course there are dangers in this, but the alternative is to stand off in little enclaves and bomb the country to death by degrees with our superior weapons and fire power. Which is better? At the end of the day we and the Iraqi people want the same thing - a country that is stable, at peace with itself and well governed. We cannot achieve that by force, it has to be achieved by some positive action to move forward, or we will simply preside over the tiotal destruction of goodwill and hope alongside that of the entire country and its people.

We cannot allow that to happen. If our arrogance is getting in the way, perhaps it is time to try a different tack, a different team - one which does not compound our ignorance of the Iraqi people and their aspirations with our arrogant assumption that we have the best system for everyone.

The writer of the show Babylon 5 put a telling line in the mouth of an alien character in one of the spin-off movies. Addressing an arrogant and bombastic Earth Force General he says "How economical you humans are - arrogance and ignorance in the same package! I just hope that it is not to be your downfall as well!"

The mindset in Iraq at the moment seems to be heading that way on both sides. Can we not find a way to draw back, draw in the people who are so inflamed about what they see as our bid to dominate them, and find a way to work with them to realise their hopes and dreams rather than ours? It may be that our objectives can be achieved simply by listening to their solutions to what are, after all, their problems.

As Easter approaches, pray for all the troops who have such a superhuman task to perform, pray for the leaders on both sides that they can put aside prejudice and work together, and pray for those killed, injured, and the mourners on both sides. This is not about Christianity versus Islam, it is about caring what happens to people, about caring for all those drawn into this mess, and for all the victims of oppression everywhere. It is about trying to live up to the true teachings of both the Christian and Muslim traditions which are that men should live in peace, harmony, and justice.

Let us all pray for that.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:39 AM | Comments (4)

April 06, 2004

Crisis? What crisis? Tone�s in charge!

Well, we can all relax! Our illustrious leader has taken personal charge of the immigration debacle. That will screw it up permanently, if nothing else. After all, it’s his wife’s biggest earner after “human rights”. There are two problems with the immigration system in this country, Blair’s incompetents and their insistence on “targets” and “performance indicators” is one. The other is the fact that as soon as you attempt to have a reasonable debate about asylum and asylum seekers, you are branded racist, fascist, or worse, and the usual liberal refuge in any indefensible argument – it’s a Human Right!

The incompetent civil service management, whose only contribution is to “manage” the finances, usually wastefully, of course, compounds it. How these people can call themselves “managers” beats me, since most of them know nothing at all about the functions they are supposed to manage, and usually ignore anything that gets in the way of their “vision”, even if it is the cause of the problem. It beggars belief that the frontline troops in this – the guy who checks your passport at a point of entry actually has a “target” of numbers of people to refuse entry to each shift. This is based, it seems, on some Whitehall Walla’s analysis of statistics that show that “x” number of would be visitors are here to work, settle or apply for benefits illegally. The predictable result is that visiting youngsters are singled out as soft targets – usually from countries such as Australia or South Africa, and almost exclusively of Anglo-Saxon descent. They won’t attract the attention of the “anti-racist” lobby and are unlikely to attempt to apply for asylum. Meanwhile, the real problems are not picked up at all, yet the “targets” are met. What a mess – but don’t hold your breath – Tone’s conferences have never yet produced anything other than more useless targets and some good sounding sound bites.

Even more annoying is the revelation today that the NHS now employs more paper shufflers and managers than it does medical staff. No wonder it can’t deliver a decent service, there are now roughly two “managers” to every Consultant and GP. What the h*ll do they do?

The National Health Service (an oxymoron if ever there was one!) currently employs 1.8 million people in the UK directly, yet only 800,000 of these are medical staff and that includes Consultants, GP’s, Interns, Nursing Staff, and Ambulance personnel. Some of the rest are, I will admit, essential personnel and include Porters, Receptionists, and technicians, but the vast majority are simply clerical and “management” – and it doesn’t actually include all the other “non-executive” directors serving on Health Boards in every area! All of them on nice little earners, thank you. Competent management? You have to be joking!

Recently in my own area, the Board came up with a proposal which was supposed to save them £1.2 million and “improve” health services in our town. The scheme involved the closure of a suite of operating theatres and a modern ward, which would be “mothballed” and all the work done there would then be transferred to another hospital 12 miles away. Apart from the fact that the second hospital is already badly over stretched, the proposals simply don’t add up. The proposed saving would, in fact, be heavily offset by the cost of maintaining an empty suite of theatres (you can’t stop cleaning and disinfecting them otherwise the bugs breed unchecked) and an empty ward (same problem) nor can you stop heating them. In the end, the only saving would be wages – and that only came to a two hundred thousand. Not enough to offset the rest of the £1.2 million they were looking for.

This is the major problem we face today. Our companies are hardly better, the top management rarely understands what is made, sold, or done within the firm and have no experience or understanding of how it is done either. This is compounded by the stuffing of boardrooms with has-been politicians and civil servants and graduates from MBA courses. With no understanding of the coalface, they have no option but to try and measure everything in terms of financial “outcomes”. They know the cost of every paperclip, but have no understanding of “value”. Thus, by the targets set, everything is rosy in the garden, and some managers openly admit that they rely on the dedication of the workforce to actually make things work no matter how tough it gets.

As you will have guessed, I am of the school of managers that says, if you don’t understand it – you can’t manage it! Take a look at the most successful and growing companies in the UK or Europe today. Most, if not all, have someone at the helm who is a “hands on” and “dirty fingernails” type who does understand exactly what his company does, can do it better than his people, and knows the value of everything in it. This is what is completely lacking in the civil service – there is no-one at the top who knows what it is like at the bottom facing the customer and trying to explain why the “rules” say what they do. You may get away with this as long as their political masters do know something of what they are supposed to be responsible for, but, as we have seen over and over again in recent years, this is no longer the case. To often the Minister or Secretary of State is even more ignorant of what he or she is supposedly responsible for than the clowns in the civil service who manage it for them.

Well, now that we have Mr Blair in personal control of immigration all this will become academic. As the Romans would have said “ad utrumque paratus”. It is only a matter of time before our illustrious leader and his coterie of cretins declare that there is nothing wrong with the immigration policy, it is all the fault of the native Britons who simply won’t emigrate to make room for all these lovely new Labour voters.

And now back to my packing!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 11:39 AM

April 05, 2004

Oh the pressure, oh the deadlines!

The Monk is goofing off. He should be sorting, chucking, and packing, but what he is in fact doing is taking some time out! The business of sorting and chucking is quite draining - especially as you rediscover things that remind you of better times or places. Events or milestones in the kids' development and much more. Enough! It is time for a coffee break and a short blogspot!

Actually, he is also trying desperately to think of something intelligent to say in a paper he must write (by tomorrow!) for the Parish Magazine, and of things he can say in a sermon for Easter Sunday Evensong. So far - writers block!

Oh well, the car needs its annual servicing and health check. Perhaps something will come during the wait for that to happen. Divine inspiration required, methinks!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 11:14 AM | Comments (1)

Minor Orders

Over the years the church has divided its ministry up into a wide range of groupings, each having its own particular duties. This probably began when Constantine made it the religion of the State, at a stroke giving the church a secular as well as a spiritual role. Only three "ministries" appear in the new testament - Apostles, Bishops and Deacons. The Apostles appointed Bishops to oversee the churches they had founded and preside over the congregations and particularly the breaking of bread and the blessing of wine. The "Deacon" is a role that is taken from the Greek word "Diaconia" which means "to serve". As congregations grew and then had to be divided into new congregations, it became impractical to have more "Bishops", and someone with the Apostolic authority of the Bishop was felt to be needed to lead a congregation and preside at the Eucharist, so Priests or Presbyters were created to act under the authority of a Bishop and to have a care for a particular congregation.

By the time Constantine made the Christian Church the "official" Church of State, these three "Orders" were well established. Three Bishops together consecrated a new bishop, and one could "ordain" priests or presbyters, and deacons and deaconesses. The term "Priest" is also a late title; the original was Presbyter, a term that means a leader under authority. It was still seen as the duty of every Christian to minister. The special positions of Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons were a combination of administrative, ritualistic, and leadership/teacher. Not until Constantine's time would these become paid vocations; they were, until then, very much the position of a volunteer - what today would be called "self supporting ministry" or, in Church of England parlance, "Non-stipendary".

The medieval church further expanded on these and created a whole slew of "minor" orders beneath these three "ordained" orders, retaining a form of "ordination" for the commissioning of each. Thus the church acquired Sub-deacons, Acolytes, Thurifers, Catechists, Missioners, and a host of others. Some of these have dissapeared altogether; others survive in a different form. Thus, Acolytes have ceased to be an "ordained" order, and are instead a function performed by lay "servers" in the Anglican Church and by members of the Guild of St Stephen in the Roman Church. An Acolyte is someone who precedes the Priest bearing a lighted "torch", actually a candle on a suitable wooden or metal "torch". They also assist in the preparation of the Altar at the Eucharist by handing the priest the vessels such as the Ciborium (the covered silver bowl in which the communion bread is held) and the Chalice, the cup from which the wine will be given to the congregation. These the priest will fill from a bread box held by one Acolyte while the other provides the wine and the water from large cruets.

When the Priest moves in procession he will be preceded by the Cross, carried by a "Crucifer" or "Cross Bearer" and the Acolytes walk on either side of the Cross. Again, the Cross bearer was a minor order, but is now usually a server. Evidence of his former status is to be seen in High Church parishes were you will see that he wears a Tunicle when carrying the Cross. The Tunicle is less elaborately adorned than those worn by the Deacon and Sub-deacon, but it serves the same purpose. It marks him out as a person with a special ministry in that service.

So where does the Sub Deacon fit into all of this? He (or she) is now drawn from the Lay Orders. Usually the person selected for this ministry will also be a person trained to do the office and Licenced by the Bishop as a Reader or as a Lay Administrator in the CofE or, in the Roman Church, as a Deacon of Honour.

I am licenced as a Reader, having a ministry of teaching, preaching, visitation, administration, and leadership in taking the Offices of Evensong, Matins, and Compline, and such other services as the Vicar may require. Other Sub Deacons are drawn from the Servers at the Abbey, all of them licenced as Lay Administrators. All of us fill what is today referred to as "Minor Orders" - in other words, servants of the Lord within our congregation. Only the Readers may be required to perform their ministry in another congregation or parish at the request of the incumbent or the Bishop.

To give some idea of the role they fulfil, I have appended a copy of the Sung Eucharist service and the "rubrics" - stage directions by a fancy name - which each person must carry in his head as you go through the service. This is a particularly complex form of the Eucharist service, but any act of worship needs to have directions if it is to run smoothly without distracting intervals while the leaders sort out what happens next.

I hope it is useful to some and provides at least an insight into the manner in which the ceremonial becomes a vehicle for meaningful worship, directing and focusing attention solely on the Almighty as we celebrate His grace and love.

Tewkesbury Abbey

Order for Sung Eucharist

Common Worship
Order One
Traditional Language

Rubrics for the Sub Deacon


Having put on a cassock, go to the Sanctuary and check the Missal is marked in the appropriate places and that you can identify which pages you will need to turn to ensure the President is not distracted.

Check the Epistle reading and that the marker is in place for the Confession card. If necessary, rehearse the Epistle silently. Check that the Intercessions are in the Folder with a copy of the Notices turned to show the Sick and Departed. If this is ready, give it to the Crucifer to place on the Sedalia.

Don the Alb, Amice, Girdle and Tunicle about fifteen minutes before the service saying the prayers for each stage printed on the card at your station. Wait for the Deacon and President to finish robing, then lead the Deacon and President to the Chapel of St John and St Catherine for the Preparation with the Servers. Take up position on the South side facing the Servers and to the President’s left.

At the end of the Preparation, take the President’s Prayer Card and hand yours and his to the Servers, then retrieve the Gospel Missal from the Sacristy and take up your position in the Procession between the Crucifer and the Deacon, facing East. The Missal should be held comfortably in both hands with the spine to your left.

Once the President has blessed the incense, respond to his bow and turn “right about” to follow the Crucifer keeping about six feet between yourself and the crucifer. On reaching the Black paviours at the head of the nave, turn sharply left toward the congregation and then, when in line with the upright marking the Eastern edge of the Lectern platform, turn sharply right toward the Pulpit. Stop when in line with the North side of the Chancel screen gate jamb. As the President moves into position between yourself and the Deacon, turn right to face the High Altar and bow together.

The Gathering

+ In the name of the Father, And of the Son, And of the Holy Spirit.


When the President turns to face the congregation for the Greeting, turn to your right and face the President. Respond to his greeting with the congregation.

The Lord be with you

And with thy spirit.

Grace, mercy and peace, From God our Father And the Lord Jesus Christ Be with you.


The President turns to face East and begins the Collect for Purity, the Deacon and Sub Deacon turn with him to face East.

Almighty God, Unto whom all hearts are open
All desires known,
And from whom no secrets are hid:
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
By the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit,
That we may perfectly love thee,
And worthily magnify thy Holy Name,
Through Christ our Lord.

The Prayers of Penitence

The President faces the congregation, with the Deacon and Sub Deacon facing inwards as he exhorts the people to confess…

God so loved the world
That He gave His only begotten Son Jesus Christ
To save us from our sins,
To be our advocate in heaven,
And to bring us to eternal life.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith,
Firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments
And to live in love and peace with all.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
We have sinned against thee
And against our neighbour,In thought and word and deed,
Through negligence, through weakness,
Through our own deliberate fault.We are heartily sorry
And repent of all our sins.
For the sake of thy Son Jesus Christ,
Who died for us,Forgive us all that is past,
And grant that we may thee in newness of life
To the glory of the name.

The Choir sing the Kyrie eleison.

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy,
(Kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison.)
Christ have mercy, Christ have mercy, Christ have mercy,
(Christe eleison, Christe eleison, Christe eleison)Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy,
(Kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison.)

At the end of the Kyrie, the President turns to face the congregation, the Deacon and Sub Deacon face toward him on either side and the Sub Deacon opens the Missal to the Prayer Card, holding it so that the President can read the Absolution.

Almighty God
Who forgives all who truly repent,
Have mercy upon you,
Pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
Confirm and strengthen you in all goodness,
And keep you in life eternal;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.


The Sacred Ministers turn and face East for the Gloria.

The Gloria in Excelsis

(Sings) Glory be to God on high ... (Or: Gloria in excelsis deo ...)

Choir & People

Glory be to God on high,
Glory be to God on high,
And in earth peace, good will towards men,
We praise thee, we bless thee,
We worship thee, we glorify thee,
We give thanks for thy great glory,

O Lord God, heavenly King,God the Father Almighty.
O Lord the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ:
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
That takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
Receive our prayer.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father,
Have mercy upon us.

For thou only art holy;
(Deacon & Sub Deacon:
Sub Deacon takes two steps forward and turns to stand in front of the President the Missal open to the Collect the Deacon takes one step forward and faces North.NOTE: If the Choir sing a special setting or a Latin Gloria, the Deacon and Sub Deacon must judge their cue to move carefully and move to position as the Choir reach the end
Thou only art the Lord;
Thou only O Christ,
With the Holy Ghost,
Art the Most High,
In the Glory of God the Father.

The Collect for the Day

Let us pray (A brief silence may be kept before the President sings the Collect.)


Sub Deacon:
The Sub Deacon returns to his place at the President’s side facing East. They bow together then turn right and the Deacon leads the President to the Sedalia, with the Sub Deacon mounting to the Lectern as he reaches this.

The Reading

Sub Deacon:
The Sub Deacon reads the Epistle, introducing it with the words …
A reading from the [Epistle/Book] of [ ] [to the ( *)] At the end of the reading he says …
This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

The Gospel Proclamation

The Sub Deacon takes the Missal and returns to the Sedalia and stands at his seat facing East. The Gradual Hymn will be sung (unannounced), by the Choir and congregation, while the Deacon receives the incense and assists the President to charge the thurible. The Sub Deacon steps off the Sedalia and joins the Deacon, as the Thurifer moves away. While the Deacon receives the Gospel Blessing, the Sub Deacon should face East and turn the Missal so that the spine is now to his right. When the Deacon faces him after the Blessing, passes the Missal to the Deacon. Both turn North and move to the line of Black paviours, and then move across to the centre of the Screen gate as the Acolytes move from the North Side in line across.

The Gospel Procession

The Deacon bows to the East and all bow with him, then turn “right about” to follow the Thurifer and Acolytes to the position for the Gospel Proclamation in the Nave.On reaching the stones set in the floor at the Gospel position, the Sub Deacon moves aside one pace short of the stone marked “MM”, turning sharply left and then facing North as the Deacon passes, before following the Deacon to stand on the MM stone between the Acolytes.The Deacon will turn and face East and pass the Missal, opened to the Gospel, to the Sub Deacon who will hold it at a level convenient to the Deacon to read. The Deacon will Cense the book while the Choir and congregation sing …

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
(Choir and people)
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
(The Choir sings a verse from the Gospel.)

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Deacon: (Sings)
The Lord be withyou.

Choir & People: (Sing)
And with thy spirit.

Deacon: (Sings & Censes the book)
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to (N).

All: (Sing)
Glory be to thee, O Lord.

The Deacon now sings the Gospel, at the end he takes the book from the Sub Deacon and holds it aloft as he proclaims…
This is the Gospel of the Lord.

Praise be to thee O Christ.

If the Deacon is preaching, he will hand the Missal back to the Sub Deacon, if not he will carry it prominently, open to the proclaimed Word as they process back to the head of the Nave, bow and return to the Sedalia. If the Sub Deacon has the book he will do the same. The Acolytes take their cue to turn from the Sub Deacon and will turn as he turns to face East. He should wait until they are about two paces away from him before stepping out to follow them. He should stop opposite his seat in the Sedalia, bow and then turn and go to his seat for the sermon, standing until the Preacher’s prayer has been said. He will then assist the Deacon to draw the President’s Chasuble up at the back and sweep it over the back of the Sedalia as the President sits, before sitting himself. It helps to flick the back of his Tunicle clear of the seat as he sits to avoid sitting on it as it will crease badly. (This is especially important if wearing some of the silk or Clothe of Gold vestments!) The front “skirt” should be folded back on itself and the hands placed flat on this during the sermon.


At the end of the Gospel, The Preacher (If it is not the Deacon or Sub Deacon) will mount the steps to the Pulpit and turn to face the President in the Sidellia. Once the Deacon and Sub Deacon are in place he bows to the President and turns to lead the congregation in his introductory prayer.

Should the Deacon or Sub Deacon be the Preacher, he will bow and turn toward the pulpit when in line with the pulpit steps, mount to the Pulpit and then turn to face the President.

The Sermon

At the end of the sermon the Preacher leaves the pulpit and stands at the foot of the stairs for about two minutes. If he is one of the Sacred Ministers he then makes his way back to the Sedalia, if he is to be Verged, the Verger will lead him back to his seat.

The Nicene Creed

The Sacred Ministers will turn East and the President leads the affirmation of Faith. The Sub Deacon should take up the Intercessions Folder as soon as he has turned East.The President begins by singing .....

I believe in one God .....

I believe in one God,
the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,
And of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ (Ministers bow),
The only begotten Son of God,
Begotten of his Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God,
Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father,
By whom all things were made;

Who for us men and for our salvation, Came down from heaven, (Ministers make a profound bow)
And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary,
And was made man,
(Ministers straighten)
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.
He suffered and was buried,
And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures,
And ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of the Father.
And he shall come again with glory
To judge both the quick and the dead:
Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, the giver of life,
Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son,
Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified,
Who spake by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
[Here the Sacred Ministers turn North and step off the Sedalia, the follow the Black Paviours to the Lectern and lead by the Sub Deacon turn across the head of the Nave.]
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.
And I look for the resurrection of the dead,
And the life of the world to come.

The Intercessions

While the President turns to face the congregation, the Sub Deacon takes two steps forward and turns to stand before the President with the Intercessions Folder open to the appropriate place. The Deacon stands facing North opposite the gap between the President and the Sub Deacon, turning pages as necessary for the President. The President invites the congregation to join in the intercessions.The President introduces each intention in turn and the people make the appropriate response to the bidding sentence.At the invocation of the Saints the Hail Mary may be said by all.

Hail Mary, Full of grace, the Lord is with thee,
Blessed art thou among women,
And blessed be the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

A brief silence may be kept. At the end …

Merciful Father
Accept these prayers
For the sake of thy Son,
Our Saviour Jesus Christ.

The President turns to face the congregation and the Deacon and Sub Deacon take their places at his side facing West.

The Peace

The President introduces the Peace.

The President:
The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And with thy spirit.

The Deacon:
Let us offer one another a sign of peace.

The Sacred Ministers share the peace with each other and then the President and the Deacon share the peace with members of the congregation, returning to the Head of the Nave as the Offertory Hymn is started.

The Offertory

The Ministers bow together and then the Sub Deacon leads off moving behind the Crucifer and follows the Acolytes through the Presbytery and into the Sanctuary, on the broad step he turns left and then, when in line with the first candle on the North side of the Cross, faces East again, the Deacon follows and goes to the mirror position on the South side so the President can stand between them.

The Preparation of the Altar

All bow and the Deacon and Sub Deacon mount to the top step, the Sub Deacon places the Intercessions folder on the altar out of the way while the Deacon prepares the chalices. The Acolytes will receive the ciboria and the wine from the congregational representatives and bring these to the Deacon and Sub Deacon. Both turn to face the servers and take the vessels, turning to place these on the Altar. The Sub Deacon must place the two ciboria on the North side of the corporal and remove the covers placing them conveniently alongside them. He must also uncover a third small ciborium which contains the bread to be reserved. The Deacon will fill both chalices with wine and water and place these with one on the South East corner of the corporal and the other on the centre of the corporal behind the Paten.

Both ministers turn to face the President and bow to indicate that the Altar is prepared, then turn East again as he joins them and offers the bread and wine for the Eucharist.

The Deacon and Sub Deacon respond with the words…

Blessed are you Lord God of Hosts, For by your mercy we have this [bread/wine] to offer, etc.

Deacon and Sub Deacon
Blessed be God for ever.

The Deacon will cover the chalices with their palls in preparation for the censing, the Sub Deacon must loosely place the covers on the three ciboria as soon as the prayer of offering is complete.

Receiving the Collection

The President and Ministers turn to face the congregation as the collection is brought up, and the President offers a blessing. All three bow to dismiss the Sidesmen.

Censing the Altar

The Thurifer will move to the step and the Deacon takes the offered boat from the Boat boy and holds it for the President to put incense into the thurible. The boat is returned to the Boat boy and the President blesses the incense. The Thurible is presented to the Deacon (NB: He should take it LEFT HANDED) and he gives it to the President.

The Sacred Ministers face the Altar and bow together. The President censes the Crucifix, the Deacon holds his hand on the pall covering the centre Chalice. With the crucifix censed all bow and the President is lead by the Deacon to the South side of the Altar censing the upper surface and ornaments as he moves, the Sub Deacon keeps station on the President. At the South end the party reverse and return to the centre, all bow and the Sub Deacon now leads to the North side, the President censing the upper surface and ornaments as they move. Direction again reverses and they return to the centre, bow and then move to the North side again before censing along the frontal back to the centre. All bow, then cense the South side of the frontal.With the censing completed, the President hands the Thurible to the Deacon, the Sub Deacon returns to a point level with the first candle on the North side of the cross, and then turns West to step down to the lowest narrow step, turning to face South across the Altar. The Deacon censes the President, then returns the Thurible to the Thurifer and takes his place on the narrow step above the Sub Deacon but to the South of the President’s position, the Deacon and Sub Deacon now face West towards the Thurifer, bow in response to his bow and after being censed turn to face toward each other, leaving the centre space behind the President open.

Positions for the Sacred Ministers at the Sursum Corda

The President turns to face West, and invites the congregation to offer their sacrifice of praise with his.
Pray, my brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours,
May be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father.

May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands
For the praise and glory of His name,
For our good and the good of all his Church.

The Eucharistic Prayer

The Lord be with you.

And with thy spirit.

Lift up your hearts

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks unto the Lord our God

It is meet and right so to do

[The President turns to face the Altar and the Deacon and Sub Deacon move together in line with the President, the Sub Deacon stepping down onto the broad step as he does so. Both turn and face East behind the President.]

It is very meet, right and our bounden duty,
That we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto thee,
O Lord, Holy Father,Almighty, everlasting God,
Through Jesus Christ thine only Son our Lord.

[A Proper preface may be used here, if not, the President continues …]

For he is thy living Word;
Through him thou hast created all things from the beginning,
And fashioned us in thine own image.
Through him thou didst redeem us from the slavery of sin,
Giving him to be born of a woman,
To die upon the cross,
And to rise again for us.
Through him thou hast made us a people for thine own possession,
Exalting him to thy right hand on high,
And sending forth through him thy holy and life-giving spirit.

[As the President begins the next part, the Sub Deacon moves up to the Deacons step and then both move together to take up position on each side of the President.]

Therefore with angels and archangels,And with all the company of heaven,We laud and magnify thy glorious name,Evermore praising thee and singing:

[The Sacred Ministers bow as the choir sings the Sanctus. They stand upright as the choir sings the second line.]

Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Hosts,

(Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus sabaoth,)
Heaven and earth are full of thy glory
(Pleni sunt coeli et terra Gloria tua.)
Glory be to thee, O Lord most high.
(Hosanna in Excelsis.)

Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord,
(Benedictus qui venit in nominee Domini)
Hosanna in the highest.
(Hosanna in Excelsis.)

[As the choir sings the Hosanna in the Benedictus, the Sub Deacon removes the covers from the ciboria and the Deacon uncovers the chalices.]

Accept our praises, heavenly Father,Through thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ,
And as we follow His example and obey his command,
Grant that by the power of thy Holy Spirit (An Acolyte rings the Tintabulum)
These gifts of bread and wine

(The President holds the host and touches both ciboria and both chalices.)

May be unto us His body and blood.

(The Deacon and Sub Deacon turn to face slightly inward as the President commences the Institution, so that they face the elements.)

Who, in the same night that He was betrayed, took bread;

(The Ministers bow over the elements)

And when He had given thanks to thee,
He broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;
Do this in remembrance of me.

(The President elevates the Host, then replaces it on the Paten and all genuflect together.)(An Acolyte rings the Tintabulum three times at the elevation and genuflection)

Likewise after supper he took the cup;
And when he had given thanks to thee, he gave it to them, saying:
Drink ye all of this;
For this is the blood of my new covenant,
Which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this as oft as ye shall drink it,
In remembrance of me.

(The President elevates the chalice, then replaces it on the Altar and all genuflect together.)(An Acolyte rings the Tintabulum three times at the elevation and genuflection)

Wherefore O Lord and heavenly father,
We remember his offering of himself
Made once for all upon the cross;
We proclaim his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension;
We look for the coming of his kingdom
And with this bread and this cup
We make memorial of Christ thy Son our Lord.

Great is the mystery of faith.

Christ has died,
Christ is risen,
Christ will come again.

Accept through him, our great high priest,This our sacrifice of thanks and praise,And as we eat and drink these holy giftsIn the presence of thy divine majesty,Renew us by thy Holy Spirit,Inspire us with thy love,And unite us in the body of thy Son,Jesus Christ our Lord.The President will raise the paten and the host, the Deacon takes the chalice and raises it with the President’s paten while the President sings .. By whom, and with whom, and in whom,In the unity of the Holy Spirit,All honour and glory be unto thee,O Father almighty,World without end.


(The Sub Deacon must turn the pages of the Missal to page 448 for the Lord’s Prayer and then keep the place for the President as the service continues.)

The Ministers genuflect together, then the President introduces the Lord’s Prayer.)

The Lord’s Prayer

President (Sings)
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name;
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done;
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power and the glory
For ever and ever.

Breaking the Bread

(The President breaks the consecrated bread, saying …)

We break this breadTo share in the body of Christ

Though we are many, we are one body,
Because we all share one bread.

(The President and Ministers turn to face the congregation and the President says …)

Draw near with faith.
Receive the body of our Lord Jesus Christ
Which he gave for you,
And his blood which he shed for you.
Eat and drink in remembrance that he died for you,
And feed on him in your hearts
By faith with thanksgiving.


Behold the lamb of God
That taketh away the sins of the world.
Blessed are those who are called to his supper.

Lord I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof,
But speak the word only and my soul shall be healed.]

(The prayer of “Humble Access” may be said next …)

President & People:
We do not presume to come to this thy table,
O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness,
but in thy manifold and great mercies.
We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs from under thy table. But thou art the same Lord whose nature is always to have mercy.
Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ and to drink his blood,
that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body and our souls washed in his most precious blood,
that we may evermore dwell in him and he in us.

The President first communicates himself, then gives the bread to the Deacon, the Sub Deacon and the Assistant, repeating the motion with the chalice to each. When all have received communion, they all genuflect.

The President then takes one ciborium and the “Gluten Free” host, the Deacon (or the Assistant if he is ordained) takes the second ciborium. The Sub Deacon takes the first Chalice and the Assistant the second. Each takes a purificator (and turns it so that the embroidery is not at the point of contact with the chalice rim), the Sub Deacon goes to the President on the South side and the Assistant to the Deacon on the North.

[NOTE: If the Assistant is ordained, the Deacon has the first chalice and follows the the President, while the Sub Deacon goes to the North side with the Assistant]

Each administers the chalice to the acolyte on his side before continuing to the rail and administering to the people.

The Agnus Dei

The Choir sings the Agnus Dei once they have returned to their stalls.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world; have mercy upon us
(Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi; miserere nobis)
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world; have mercy upon us
(Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi; miserere nobis)
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world; grant us thy peace.
(Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi; donna nobis pacem.)

This is followed by an anthem or a hymn.

Post Communion

When all the people have been communicated, the President will wait for the Deacon and they will return to the Altar together with their ciboria. The Sub Deacon and Assistant will also return together after all have received the cup and place their chalices conveniently on the corporal. All genuflect together, the President retires to the broad step and a server washes his hands while the Deacon passes the Reserve Ciborium to the Sub Deacon, who now carries it reverently down the steps and follows the Acolyte out of the Presbytery to St Margaret’s Chapel.

The Deacon will consume the remaining elements, taking care to count to the remaining hosts. After emptying any crumbs into the chalice, he empties one chalice into the other, drinking the remaining wine, he then receives water, poured over his fingers on the first, into each chalice from the server and drinks this after carefully rinsing it around the cup. Lastly he receives water into the paten and empties this into the chalice and drinks this also. The ciboria are covered and then passed to the server for removal. He wipes the rims and bowls of the chalices with the purificators and dries the paten, then places the purificators over the chalices, covering one with a pall and passes it to the server. The second chalice he covers with the paten and a pall, moved aside and the corporal is folded and placed in the burse, the chalice and paten are covered with the veil and the burse placed on it, then the whole is handed to the server.Lastly he draws the Missal to the centre and checks that it is open to the final collect. He then turns and bows to the President who returns to the Altar while the Deacon moves to his position on the South side of the narrow step.

The Reservation

The Sub Deacon opens the pyx and consumes the remaining hosts it contains. He then empties the crumbs into the lid and transfers the fresh hosts to the pyx. After emptying the crumbs from the lid into the ciborium, he closes the pyx and returns it to the hanging pyx, locking the case. He receives water from the server in the ciborium and ensures that all crumbs are consumed, wipes the ciborium dry and, after bowing to the server, returns to the Presbytery.

If the President has started the prayers he waits at the rail standing against the Beauchamp Chantry for the prayers and the Blessing, then joins the procession as it begins to retire from the Sanctuary. If the choir is still singing the anthem, motet or hymn, he may move quietly to his position on the North side of the President on the lowest narrow step, facing East.

Will take his place before the Altar and lead the congregation by saying the Post Communion Collect as set for the day.

He will then lead the congregation into the general prayer of thanksgiving and offering of ourselves ....

Almighty God, we thank you for feeding us with the body and blood of thy Son Jesus Christ.
Through him we offer thee our souls and bodies to be a living sacrifice.
Send us out in the power of thy Spirit to live and work to thy praise and glory.

The Dismissal

The President turns to face the Congregation, saying …
The Lord be with you

And with thy spirit.

The President gives the Blessing


Deacon: (Sings)
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

Choir & All:
In the name of Christ.

The Sub Deacon moves to the broad step behind the President and faces East, the Deacon moves across his step to behind the President and faces East. The retiring hymn is sung by choir and people while the servers move into position.The President bows and all bow with him, all turn “right about” and follow the Crucifer and Acolytes to the West End of the Nave.

In the Arch adjacent to Holy Cross Chapel, the Crucifer, Acolytes and servers turn about and face North, the Sub Deacon and Deacon move aside to the East and West of this group and the President moves into the gap to offer a final prayer.

The Sacred Ministers then remove the Chasuble, Dalmatic and Tunicle laying these in the arms of the Servers. The Deacon and President remove their Stoles and radio microphones, the stoles are placed with the server carrying the other vestments and the radios are given to the Boat Boy.

The Servers retire up the South Aisle while the Ministers make their way to a position from which to greet the people.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:00 AM

April 04, 2004

Moving forward

The responses to Dr Carey’s lecture from various quarters reveals a great deal about the rather negative attitudes held by some in the developed world towards Christianity. Instead of focusing on what the Archbishop has said, they have immediately jumped on the anti-Christian bandwagon and focused on the attempts by a few fundamentalist types – admittedly influential for a short period – to hold things back. Stephen Newton has posted an article which is a counter-blast to the Archbishop's lecture - yet he, too, focuses on the fundamentalist view - not the wider view taken by the greater Church, and which, in due course, prevailed. They miss the fact that Dr Carey also roundly criticized those within Christianity whose fundamentalist views are as damaging as those that have brought Islam to its current state.

The fact is that this view of Christianity is fundamentally flawed and is based on a slanted view of the Church promoted by the likes of Marx and others who have attempted to push the “Humanist” view that all good comes from a basic goodness within the individual. This completely fails to explain why so many are now searching desperately for a “spiritual” dimension to their lives. Hence New Age, Wicca, Paganism, and a whole slew of other “Earth Mother” style religions springing up to replace the “certainties” one could formerly seek in organized religion.

To those whose view of Christianity is that it is anti-science, I would point out that it was in Christianity that the great Universities were founded. Certainly we owe our knowledge of the Greek and Roman philosophers to the early period of Islam, but, after the sack of Baghdad by the Mongol hordes, it turned in on itself and ceased to explore the sciences, while Christian scholars continued to do so. Yes, it was a stop/start business, and yes, it was by no means without its problems, but, the fundamentalists did not prevail – indeed, they could not, as the basic tenet of scholarship is not to learn things by rote but to study them, taking them apart, and examining them by comparison. They did this by looking at them and trying to create understanding as the underpinning principle. Rote learning is fine for those who do not wish to understand or to have their preconceived notions challenged, but it is not the path by which any form of real enlightenment can come.

Islam proclaims itself as a “revealed” religion: that is, one received by its members not by understanding or by examination of the roots of the scriptures it holds as its foundations. This is where Christianity and Judaism differ markedly – their scriptures are studied for understanding. They are examined critically, and each tenet is examined in every age by philosophers seeking to interpret them afresh in the light of new understanding of the world about us. To do otherwise would be to stagnate. We would still be clinging to the view of the pre-Christian era which proposed a “heaven” beneath the earth inhabited by the blessed and established beneath the soil of the Holy Land.

Those who claim that Christianity is responsible for all the conflict and wars of the last two thousand years are also refusing to acknowledge the important point that it is not the religious philosophy itself which is responsible for the wars and conflict, it is the deliberate perversion of these by people seeking to use the power engendered by faith that is responsible. The Crusades themselves were a response to a deliberate campaign against Christians in the Holy Land and the rest of the Middle East. Yes, they went sour – because the leaders saw an opportunity for personal wealth. But, was the Islamic leadership any better?

Since the renaissance, which saw the flowering of the arts, followed swiftly by the sciences, as trade opened up and travelers brought back information which challenged accepted views, the Christian world has seen a flowering of social and scientific thought. This has not been the case in Islam, which has locked itself into the view of social order pertinent in the Middle East in the 6th Century.

Certainly in Christianity there is a great deal still to improve upon, but simply sitting outside and throwing stones will not do it. One commentator on this blog accused Dr Carey of throwing stones from within a glass house. Perhaps that is what is needed! Perhaps Dr Carey is being particularly courageous in doing so. No one denies that the Church has got a lot wrong over the last two thousand years, but it has been a brake as well on the excesses of “enlightened” humanity. Ask yourself why China now boasts 50 million Christians, many of whom held fast to their faith despite official purges and attempts to torture anyone denounced to them into confessing that they were “misguided”. Ask yourself why Christianity is growing rapidly across the non-industrialized world. Could it be that, in attempting to make a religion out of prosperity and science, the developed world has lost the plot?

To those who wish to criticize Dr Carey I would say this: study what he has said – not the sound bites the media have given us – and then see what he is challenging us to do. Rev Mike made a very good point in a posting on his blog to the effect that the journey of faith is a parabola. It starts as a faith based on nice certainties and childish images, then, as we age and learn, it diminishes and becomes very shaky indeed, but with experience and perseverance, it gradually becomes less rooted in certainty and more based in the acceptance that some things are beyond our understanding, eventually returning to the faith of a child – acceptance, but now enriched by the knowledge and experience gained along the way.

Inevitably some will start out in faith and loose the way. Others will start out in faith, find the going difficult as the path becomes less certain and pass through it eventually by perseverance until they find the path again. Sadly many, and here I think we must put the fundamentalist approach, never pass beyond the first faltering steps on the downward curve toward discovery. They cling to the childish “certainties” and refuse to grow up. These are the people so many identify as the “Church” or as “Christianity”, and they simply refuse to acknowledge that there are far, far more people of faith who take a very different view. One which leads to an ever widening sense of wonder and of hope that one day peace can truly be found between the nations and between all people of true faith.

I hope that Dr Carey has sparked a proper debate, and that it will not be dragged down to the usual mudslinging claptrap of the Politically Correct vision of anything not rooted in Christianity or in European culture must be superior and cannot be debated. Let us, for once, have some intelligent views expressed on this issue of such importance to so many, Christian and Muslim.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 02:26 PM | Comments (1)

April 03, 2004

An ever-reducing spiral?

Two days in Birmingham have left the Monk with a bit of catching up to do. This leaves little time for blogging, but he felt some sort of token effort was necessary, and then he realised that there was a lot happening which he would like to remark upon, but hasn’t time to …

Oh, the dilemma!

Part of the problem is that the Monk must soon move house. This means packing up and sorting out. Both activities are not ones the Monk enjoys, and so, he has started by sorting things out. Oh dear! Why is he such a packrat? Why has he kept articles, magazines, notes, and even junk mail for over 15 years? He needs a bigger skip (Dumpster to the US) – do they come in “house size”, he wonders.

Then, in a quick skim of the web, he noticed that there are several converging items of news about people and jobs. Ozguru is busy job hunting, and so are several of the Monk's colleagues. Mr Blair and his chums recently announced that they were axing 40,000 civil service jobs – most of us probably won’t even notice the difference – and there has been a spate of other “downsizing” announcements in the last week. The noticeable thing about these is that they are always the people who actually do the work that get “let go”. Never the management.

This raises the interesting spectacle to look forward to of the day when all the workers will have been laid off and the managers will have the perfect management environment. There will be no one below them actually doing the work, just them in their ivory towers attending meetings, deciding budgets, and re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. I wonder at what point they will notice that they have themselves become redundant? Apropos of that, this little story illustrates the real truth.

Thus goeth the world !!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 02:26 PM | Comments (3)

April 02, 2004

Friday late ....

Just back from Brummigen - Birmingham to the non-Brummie - and waded through a rather full mailbox. OK, so it isn't that far from there to here, but the roads on a Friday can be "entertaining", to say the least. And we had to go via somewhere else to drop off the company car (faster in all gears, especially reverse!) and pick up my own.

A quick visit over to G'day Mate, to catch up on his news, has left me with a bit of a shock. There are some things that really get me going and dishonesty in an employer is one of them. Read his post for yourselves. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all the way, mate.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:26 PM