Monday, 25 December 2017

Happy Christmas to all!

To all readers a very happy Christmas to you and your loved ones.


john haggerty said...

Church bells ring out for all, but not all hear them with joy.
In his autobiography Sir Peter Medawar said he felt oppressed by the church bells of Oxford on Sunday mornings.
In his novel 'The Death of Napoleon' Simon Leys pictures his deposed Emperor cringing in agony at the sound of the bells calling the faithful to prayer. 'It was terrifying. The big bells boomed and roared mercilessly ...'
Historian Barbara Tuchman ended her book 'The Proud Tower - A Portrait of the World Before the War 1890-1914' with the words of Schiller, 'I summon the living, I mourn the dead...'
In Tuchman's book the bells of Europe are tolling for war.
The war that shattered Europe, and so many lives.
John Betjamin said that church bells on Sunday mornings ring out for eternity; and that was why so many people hated the sound.
Hilaire Belloc, who fought with the French artillery in the 1914-18 War, exulted in the pealing bells of his beloved Sussex:

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
A Catholic tale have I to tell! And a Christmas song have I to sing
While all the bells in Arundel ring.

I pray good beef and I pray good beer
This holy night of all the year,
But I pay detestable drink for them
That give no honour to Bethlehem.

May all good fellows that here agree
Drink Audit Ale in heaven with me
And may all my enemies go to hell!
Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
May all my enemies go to hell!
Noel! Noel!

john haggerty said...

On this holy Christmas night I should like to draw your attention to a short article in the American Jesuit blog, 'Pope Francis Prays for World's Suffering Children' (December 25 2017) by Cindy Wooden of the Catholic News Service.
In both Roman Catholic and liberal Protestant churches I have always noticed posters and booklets on poverty as a generational issue; the emotional trauma of war on children; low wages; social exclusion; the violence women suffer daily at the hands of abusive men etc.
With sadness I also notice that these reminders of hunger, poverty and despair are rarely present in the Reformed churches where I worship; this just has to wrong; our Lord uttered the gravest of warnings 'Woe to you who are rich' and those words apply to many of us in the developed world.
As Fr. Michel Quoist said long ago, there is really no such thing as the social gospel; there is just one Gospel and it makes serious demands on we Christians.
We are bidden to come and die so that Christ may live in us.
Francis Schaeffer in his last years said Christians had a divine mandate to campaign for social and economic justice. (See 'Francis Schaeffer and Social Justice' in the blog : A Daughter of the Reformation.)
Frank Schaeffer said his father was hijacked by the Religious Right; so it is important to understand Schaeffer senior's broader Christian vision - see the online essay by Udo Middelman, 'The Unusual Francis Schaeffer'.
As I said here before, our government in the United Kingdom has given up on the poor.
Globalization has created a trashy society in which the haves feel no responsibility for the have-nots.
The fire in London last summer which claimed so many young lives showed the true face of economic austerity - a political device to keep people docile and fearful.
Our Chancellor has invested his own personal fortune in land which has been earmarked for high-income housing. The greedy get greedier.
Yet the crying need for affordable social housing is not being met.
If they were alive today Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton would be condemning our ruling class as decadent and heartless.
This is not what one reads in The Daily Telegraph and Spectator which proclaim the gospel of 'blessed are the rich' and 'woe to you who are poor'.
Pope Francis is right.
Children are suffering everywhere.
The baby in the manger reminds us of St. Paul's warning:
We shall all have to stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ and give an account of ourselves.

Mary Kay said...

I pray that you and your loved ones enjoy a blessed Christmas, and that you continue your wonderful musical offerings in the new year!

Justina said...

The fact that children are suffering everywhere does not make Pope Francis right. Nothing does.

john haggerty said...

I clicked on your name Justina and discovered (with some sense of wonder) your blog: On Riphaean Hills. The references to Ariosto, Dante and Virgil delighted me.
T.S. Eliot reflected much on Virgil and Dante; reading Russell Kirk's 'Eliot and his Age' I was not too surprised to learn that George Orwell wrote a bad review of The Four Quartets; Orwell is one of my favourite writers, but he had no interest in the Christian faith.
Pope Francis for all his puzzling remarks and errors of judgement has been marked by Jesuit spirituality.
The founder of his order said, 'Pray as though everything depends on God; act as if everything depends on you.'
I am no longer a Roman Catholic so it would be improper for me to say anything else about Francis as pope.
I shall follow Riphaean Hills (a new word for me) with much interest.
If I could sum up my own theology in a book apart from the Bible it would be John Murray's 'Redemption Accomplished and Applied' (1955) republished by the Banner of Truth.
A reformed theologian, John Murray (1898-1975) was born into a family of poor crofters in Caithness in northern Scotland; lost the sight of his right eye in the Great War; and became a professor of systematic theology at Westminster College, Philadelphia.
R.C Sproul who died last week was an authority on Catholic theology from a reformed perspective; you can hear him on YouTube and see a tribute to him.

Irenaeus said...

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Happy new year!

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