Saturday, 28 July 2012

you're welcome...

From weddings to welcomes...
[I thought the following church welcome so excellent that I decided it should have it's own blog entry - apol's to those of you who've already seen it!]  

Came across this wonderful 'welcome' sign from Our Lady of Lourdes, Daytona Beach, Florida:

We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds.

We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism.

We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion,” we’ve been there too.

If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.

We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts … and you!

Yes, yes, and thrice yes.  Fantastically well said.

If anyone's reading this, what might your version of a 'welcome' be?  Just curious! :)
Aaaaaand back to the thesis...

Thursday, 26 July 2012

of weddings...

Some very, very good news.  And even better - a multi-party endorsement on this.... 'this' being the intention by the Scottish Government to allow same-gender marriage.

I thought Nicola Sturgeon's comments were very well measured, taking into account differences of opinion on the matter, as well as reassuring those amongst various religious communities who are against the move, that they will not be 'forced' to do this as they kept claiming.  The new legislation takes into account those religious groups who actually do want to perform weddings for same-gender folk as well as those who in conscience don't want to.  This works along the same lines as a minister's right to refuse - if they don't agree with it - to marry a divorced couple... and a minister's right to choose to marry a divorced couple.  I've been very puzzled by all the claims regarding 'being forced' into marrying LGBT couples.  Nevertheless: good news and jolly well done to the Scottish Government.
Sturgeon stated:

"The Scottish Government understands and respects the fact that there are very deeply held views in Scotland both for and against same sex marriage and, in coming to our decision, we have had to carefully consider a number of different factors.
"We are committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal and that is why we intend to proceed with plans to allow same sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships. We believe that this is the right thing to do.
"We are also mindful of the fact that the leaders of all of the other parties represented in parliament support same sex marriage and that there is significant parliamentary support for legislation.
"However, we are also deeply committed to freedom of speech and religion. The concerns of those who do not favour same sex marriage require to be properly addressed. It is therefore right that the next step in this process will be to consult stakeholders on any provisions that may be required, in either statute or guidance, to protect these important principles and address specific concerns that have been expressed.
"The Scottish Government has already made clear that no religious body will be compelled to conduct same sex marriages and we reiterate that today. Such protection is provided for under existing equality laws.
"However, our view is that to give certainty on protection for individual celebrants taking a different view from a religious body that does agree to conduct same sex marriages, an amendment will be required to the UK Equality Act. We will work with the UK Government to secure agreement to such an amendment before the formal introduction of a Bill to Parliament, with a view to it being in place before the legislation comes into force.
"A range of other concerns have also been expressed and we will take the opportunity to discuss with stakeholders what additional protections should be included, either in the legislation itself or in guidance, to address these.
"This will include consideration of any provisions that may be required to protect religious beliefs of teachers and parents in schools.
"We also intend to protect the current situation whereby the faith content of the curriculum in Catholic denominational schools is determined by the Scottish Catholic Education Service.
"Scotland is by no means the first and will not be the last country to legalise same sex marriage. However, as we proceed towards legislation, our overriding concern will be to respect the variety of views that exist on this issue and do whatever we can to address those concerns that have been expressed, while ensuring that Scotland lives up to its aspiration to be an equal and tolerant society."

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Thistle 'do'

Royal Archers stand guard in b'ground
Well, that was fun!!
'That' being in St Giles Cathedral this morning for the installation of Prince William as a Knight of the Order of the Thistle.
order of service - green ink to match Thistle robes
Sheer happenstance a couple of weeks back meant that I ended up with a ticket to be in the Cathedral sitting in my best suit less than 15 feet away from the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne, and Prince William... and the assembled Order of the Thistle.
The industrial work gear being worn by the Order, Court of the Lord Lyon, and the Company of Royal Archers was utterly fab.

burgundy is apparently the colour of one's limo
Still grinning and finding it all rather tricky to concentrate on getting back to writing up the thesis... no photos during the event - as it would have been rather poor form to have done so during what was a service of worship ... but before the event, I took a photo from where I was sitting... chairs in foreground for the assembled Order, the two 'big' chairs for the Queen and the Duke of the right of the Queen sat Prince William -  yes, I really was 'that' close.

One's bit of paper from the protocol people to let one in for the Thistle do...

Monday, 2 July 2012

'man's' chief end...

Stumbled upon this pic. the other day and it just made me laugh out loud.  It is a somewhat different approach to the answer to the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism!
q1/ What is man's chief end?
answer/ Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

I often wonder why it appears that we seem to forget the 'enjoy' part: what is it about our inner workings that cause us to get caught up in the 'seriousness' bit of faith that we forget that 'silliness' is sometimes also okay.  And even in that sentence, I realise I put a qualifier word in when it comes to silliness - 'sometimes'.

I'm minded of a conversation around one of the tables in the Rainy Hall a couple of years ago.  We were discussing God, humour, and such like.  I remember observing that in some of the stories Jesus told, you could almost see a twinkle in the eye and a grin; that sometimes, because we are so used to the stories in the bible, we lose some of the impact and the effect the stories may have had on the early hearers.  I went so far as to say that I could imagine Jesus laughing out loud in certain situations.
A rather serious young woman, who had been frowning at most of the conversation suddenly spoke for the first time.  I found myself being utterly reprimanded:
'Jesus would never laugh!' she exclaimed, sternly rebuking me.
A caveat: I do not, in any way, want to cast aspersions on how this young woman chose to work through her faith - that is her own journey, and that is totally fine, and if it works for her that is all that matters.

Reflecting on my own faith dimension:
Perhaps I am a very bad example of a Christian - I think I probably am - but in the dark places I have occasionally found myself in, knowing I follow one who has the capacity for laughter and enjoyment, as well as having the full gamut of emotions, has been the very thing that has kept me hanging on in there. 
Sometimes, you have to laugh as part of engaging in enjoying God forever...well, I do. 

[blogging ever more infrequently as I write up the thesis...]