Sunday, 27 February 2011

drunkenness, slander and fornication...


I occasionally worry about my love of the wacky, bizarre, and slightly gross - on the other hand, I do get to harness that into a PhD!
The other day I came across an account from the Burntisland records from June 1604, concerning one James Young.
'James Young confessit that the last Saboth in tyme of the reading of the word he vomit in the kyrk, his stomach trublitt with sundrie drink of new and old aill’
He was required to pay a fine and threatened with banishment if he repeated his ‘knavish tricks’.
Perhaps the moral of the lesson is don’t mix your drinks...and if you do, don't do so before going to church!?

It was an odd week, last week.  I gave my first ever uni. lecture - this to a class of honours students.  We examined the establishment and purpose of kirk discipline, and talked through the actual disciplinary process, both within the context of a kirk session and then within the framework of worship.  I did manage to include the story of James throwing up in church, which seemed to appeal - it got a good giggle, at any rate.
One slightly awkward technological moment when I looked at the powerpoint and realised I should have been a couple of slides further on.  Hey ho.

While I'm now no stranger to standing up in front of groups of people and doing things, my more usual context is within worship.  So it was a tad strange to be doing the lecture and watch pens flying across notepads/ fingers tapping furiously on keyboards.  The thought floated through my mind at one point that I could have said anything and they may have written it down, revised it, and later put it in an exam answer: that was a little sobering!  And I hadn't quite thought about closing the lecture - I had the general 'in conclusion' bit to round off, but then, had it been worship where I would normally conclude with a blessing and dismissal, Lecture Room 1 was not the place.... I stopped and said 'thank you'. They all kindly applauded, I blushed, and then stammered 'er, any questions?' 
It was all slightly surreal - but it was good fun, and I was totally shattered afterwards.  Have even more respect for those who do this full-time.  I suspect you get used to it, but even so....

This coming week, we'll actually be walking through the disciplinary process: the students have agreed to have a go at staging the drama of discipline in their seminar - what stars. 
Supervisor and I currently organising 'props'. 
I get to make a large hat and paint 'penitent' on it as a starter for ten.
Who said history was dull? :)    

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

the tale of the grumpy snowdrop

I've never been the biggest fan of winter.  In June, when the summer solstice hits, the phrase 'well, the nights are fair drawing in the noo' jumps to my lips and a little slough of despond enters my soul.  When winter does actually hit, I get the logs piled high by the fireplace, put fairy lights up to cheer... and spend post-Christmas searching desperately for the first sign of snowdrops: gentle heralds of spring and light and warmth to follow - that all is not given over to the darkness.  Which is possibly why a story in the news today quite tickled: grumpy snowdrops.  Love it.  And I learnt a new word as well: 'galanthophiles' - lovers of snowdrops.
Now all I want to do is set up a thought bubble above this pic of said grumpy snowdrop and imagine what is making it quite so grumpy.  :D

And now, back to writing a lecture on discipline!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

pop idol meets Paul Tillich in the Church Times

A student pal at uni. had brought in his copy of the Church Times - with front cover a full page shot of the ubiquitous Cheryl Cole.  This, apparently not an attempt to boost flagging circulation, but rather to flag up an article about our modern cult of celebrity - or [pop] idol worship. 
The article was a snappy one by Pete Ward and had a rather neat hookline that ran along the lines of:
"Cheryl Cole may be omnipresent but she is not the ground of anyone's being."

Marvellous - pop idol meets Paul Tillich - happy days! :)

Monday, 7 February 2011

Problem students? No problem!

Picture at left currently making me laugh - probably very inappropriately.
However, I am most fortunate to have had very affable students in my tutorial group both this semester and last.  They will not be going in the 'pot'!  Delighted that my lot all passed last semester, and willing them to do well this time around.

In between tutoring, palaeography, and blood feud I am kept very busy, however I have now booked my flights for Geneva.  I'll be spending April there and getting to know the current Church of Scotland congregation.  Worshipping in what was the english speaking exiles church where Knox and Goodman were ministers - an odd, spiritual/ historical pilgrimmage - v. exciting.  Am curious to see how the dynamics work - a CofS congregation outwith Scotland: how it works, why folk come, how it differs/is similar to CofS in Scotland, as well as the ecumenical context.  I think I am ridiculously fortunate that the minister and session have agreed to this, as well as 121.  Now just pondering how to make the most of this amazing opportunity :)
Meanwhile... time to get back to the bloodfeud!