who to hire

Just a reminder of the disaster that was averted on Monday 25th when the House of Lords defeated the government’s attempt to remove the right of churches to employ only people whose lifestyle is consistent with the church’s ethical teachings.

Yet again the government has shown itself oblivious to the significance of such fundamental freedoms as freedom of association, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religion. Yet again the House of Lords has had to spell out things that should be utterly unassailably taken for granted. Thus Dr John Sentamu:

“Noble Lords may believe that Roman Catholics should allow priests to be married; they may think that the Church of England should hurry up and allow women to become bishops; they may feel that many churches and other religious organisations are wrong on matters of sexual ethics. But if religious freedom means anything, it must mean that those are matters for the churches and other religious organisations to determine in accordance with their own convictions. They are not matters for the law to impose.”

And Baroness O’Cathain, clearly the hero of the hour:

“A belief in freedom of association demands that, even if we do not share the beliefs of an organisation, we must stand up for its liberty to choose its own leaders and representatives. That, in essence, is what this debate is all about.”


cake frenzy

I’m just surfacing from a lovely baking spree. This evening’s results:

* Mary Berry’s walnut cake

* a pint of real custard

* chocolate sponge (pending)

I only ever embark on real custard (eggs and all) with great trepidation, but each time it seems to turn out fine – strangely soothing to make and truly the ultimate in comfort eating.

Anyway. Worship wars. Where were we?

in the sitting room

The reason there’s a problem with instruments and non-scriptural songs in worship is because there is a great, yawning gap in the scriptural mandate where you would look to find a warrant for dispensing with the inspired psalter and introducing musical instruments.

That principle applies to all of worship, whether in the congregation, the family, or private devotions. Offering something as worship which is not divinely required as worship isn’t really worship at all (does anyone out there still know the term ‘will-worship’?).

But that does not require a ban on non-inspired praise songs or musical instruments outside of worship, because not all of life is worship. Not all of life is worship, says Matthew Vogan in a two-part series (here and here), and so says Glen Scrivener much more dramatically here.

So if people are musically inclined and talented, by all means they should take up harp and psaltery and make a loud noise skillfully (although a quieter noise might be better from the less skillful). There is a requirement to do whatever you do to the best of your ability and to the glory of God, whether work or household chores or daily routines. These things may include more or less of what is overtly conscious of God, and more or less of what directly draws attention to his glory, but if there is such a thing as eating and drinking to his glory, there must be such a thing as writing or singing a hymn about his greatness to his glory.

Prayer is an interesting one though. Private and public prayer should be scriptural in wording and tone, but extempore prayer is in general preferred to reading or reciting set forms of prayer – not least because there is no Book of Prayers provided in the scriptures.

[In reference to this.]

place holder

Where does the time go – it’s well over a week since the last post, and this is a miserable excuse for one.

I’ve got loads to say (you’ll be delighted to hear) but no chance to compose it. Maybe sometime over the next few days.

hearing things

Turned on the radio this morning to hear someone saying, “The problem is that in Britain, people have the concept that ‘mass is so boooring, so boooring,’ and you just don’t get that in the rest of Europe and America.”

And: “The other thing is that in Britain people stop doing mass when they’re about 16 or so, whereas in other places they keep it up till much later.”

And I’d just about formed the thought, How interesting, hearing people on the BBC talking about declining attendance at religious activities as a problem! and, I wonder if the Catholics have any strategies for keeping their young people that are different from ours? – when I realised that actually, they were talking about maths.

Moral: don’t try to decipher fricatives without a spectrogram handy.

the week that was

Since recovering from the Train Experience, I’ve been home, had a non-festive holiday, set the world to rights with my oldest schoolfriends, read several books, caught a flight back to Edinburgh, reached Edinburgh two and a half hours late, didn’t complain, went to work, was entertained by the McAmbroses, completed a paper draft, and decided to hibernate due to the snow.

More to follow in due course.