Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Purgatorio

April 12, 2014
Gate of Purgatory -- William Blake

Gate of Purgatory — William Blake

Having left Hell, Dante accompanied by Virgil who he calls Master, now ascends Mount Purgatory.

Before the Gates to enter Mount Purgatory, Dante finds souls who have been excommunicated by the church and sinners who renounced their sins before they died.

On the ascent of Mount Purgatory, tortured souls who go round and round in torment, but unlike Hell, where they are doomed for all eternity, in Purgatory, there is the prospect of Redemption, and the souls are slowly moving forward.

Dante has to ascend Mount Purgatory to reach Heaven.

Excellent dramatisation by BBC, all the more the crass stupidity of the BBC only on-line for one week, now only 15 hours left.

Bible bashing

March 31, 2014
Bible bashing

Bible bashing

If you’re using the Bible to hurt other people, you’re using it wrong.

Love does no harm to its neighbour, therefore love is the fulfilment of the law. — Romans 13:10

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção

March 21, 2014
Our Lady of the Assumption

Our Lady of the Assumption

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção is a simple whitewashed church on the outside, fronted by lawns and palm trees, inside a delight to the eye.

I had briefly popped into this church one evening, but last night, late night, I was walking back from an excellent meal at 28 and was surprised to find open. Out of curiosity, I walked in, to find a service had just finished.

I discretely took a few photos, no flash, then when I saw the priest was free, asked him why the church was open.

He explained a little about the history of the church, and we had an interesting theological discussion until almost midnight.

As well as the gilt work, amazing blue ceramic tiles on the walls. This I have noticed on many of the buildings in Cascais. I learnt quite common in Portuguese churches.

I asked was the blue stone that surrounded the altar and formed the altar, marble? I was told yes. Blue marble I have never seen before. I was told it was quite rare, it was sourced from Brazil.

The church dates from the 16th century. The 1755 Lisbon Earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake, destroyed much of the surrounding area, leaving the church standing, but not untouched.

I assume the former Royal Palace, Residencial Solar Dom Carlos, I was staying in dated from this period.

My attention was drawn to an arch at the back of the church which could be seen to have partially collapsed in the middle, and columns either side which were slightly out of alignment to vertical.

A special thanks to the Parish Priest for sparing a passing pilgrim the time at so late an hour.

Synchronicity: It was the day after Festa de São José I was in Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção talking to the Parish Priest. I mentioned a prayer by Abbot Burkhard in Istanbul. One week and one day later, Paulo Coelho in a tweet, referenced this prayer on his blog.

A sign of the times

March 12, 2014
admission charge for entering a church, a bar of soap

admission charge for entering a church, a bar of soap

Admission charge for entering a church, a bar of soap, not a symbol that those who enter are unclean, but as a contribution to a local food bank.

Food banks are the fastest growing sector of the economy in the UK, a clear sign of the failure of the evil ConDem government. Hit the poor and elderly, the vulnerable and disabled, help the rich get richer and take a softy softly approach to tax dodgers.

snouts in the trough

snouts in the trough

When Members of Parliament debated poverty and food banks, the chamber of the House of Commons was almost empty, when it came to discussing their own salaries, it was full to overflowing. Business as usual, pigs with their snouts in the trough.

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven.

    Matthew 19:23-25: And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?”

    Mark 10:24-26: The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?”

Top Story in War On The Working Poor (Thursday 13 March 2013).

Museo Parroquial de Arte Sacro Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia

March 12, 2014
Custodia del Corpus

Custodia del Corpus

Museo Parroquial de Arte Sacro Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia en Plaza de Iglesia en Puerto de La Cruz en Tenerife.

Part of the main church, Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia, in Plaza de Iglesia, has been opened up to exhibit the sacred art of the church dating from its founding as a simple chapel in the early 17th century.

The Supreme Gift

February 6, 2014
The Supreme Gift

The Supreme Gift

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” — Luke 7:44-47, New International Version (NIV)

THOUGH I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not LOVE I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not Love, it profiteth me nothing. — Henry Drummond, The Greatest Thing in the World

The Supreme Gift, a rewrite by Paulo Coelho of The Greatest Thing in the World by Henry Drummond, a book that was to greatly influence the life of Paulo Coelho.

The Supreme Gift, is currently only available as an e-book, only available on Amazon and iTunes (it may become available on Kobo).

But why restrict to Amazon and ITunes (and maybe Kobo), when there are distinct advantages to author and reader to release on leanpub?

Writers get a far better deal on leanpub, as do readers.

Leanpub pays 90% royalty to authors, less a 50 cent flat fee.

For the reader, multiple download formats, open source formats, not propriety formats.

Amazon is a propriety format, restricted to an Amazon Kindle. iTunes I do not know.

Kindle spies on what the reader is reading, Amazon can and do arbitrarily delete contents of a Kindle.

Kobo readers are better than Kindle. Open source format for e-books.

Kobo Touch is currently in WHSmith in UK at £30 (approx 45 euros), it was £90. The equivalent six inch e-reader from Amazon, Kindle Touch, is double the price.

For those who do not have an e-reader, download and install Calibre.

Calibre can also be used to manage books on an e-reader.

A few ball park figures (for writer can substitute publisher):

The Supreme Gift on Amazon — $3

Assuming writer gets 40% — $1-20

The Supreme Gift on leanpub — $2

The writers receives 90% less 50 cents — $1-30

Thus reader and writer get a better deal on leanpub.

But let us go a step further, a book about a gift, let us incorporate the principles of the Gift Economy that Charles Eisenstein describes in Sacred Economics.

Charles Eisenstein, in keeping with his idea of a Gift Economy, gift to others with no expectation of return, you can purchase Sacred Economics from a bookshop (if you can find), download as an e-book (pay what you wish), or download for free.

Leanpub lets us do something clever. We can set a low minimum price, say $1, a suggested selling price of say $2. A slider lets us pay what we choose, we can pay more than the suggested price, and we see how much of the price we choose to pay, goes to the author.

If we choose less than the suggested price, the author has granted us a gift. It is then for us to decide what we do with our gift. We may, for example, tell others, we have then passed the gift on, if they choose to download and pay, then we have also repaid the author.

It is what bass player Steve Lawson calls a zero cost transaction. No one has actually lost anything, you do not know where it may lead.

Bandcamp in part, operates in this way. You can listen as often as you wish, you are encouraged to share, sometimes download for free or pay a low minimum price, pay what you wish. And surprisingly it works, people are willing to pay, and if they share, more people discover the music. A complete contrast to the greedy Big Record Labels, who rip off everyone and criminalise those who dare to share.

Steph Bradley spent six moons walking around the country, sharing and collecting tales of what is possible, what people are trying, and collecting together in Tales of Our Times. She was inspired by Paulo Coelho to follow her dreams. On St Valentine’s Day, she will publish on leanpub, Searching for Love, an anthology of love poetry.

The Greatest Thing in the World (1874), a meditation Henry Drummond wrote in 1874 that illuminates the importance of 1 Corinthians 13. Widely read and quoted during his lifetime, it went on to sell over 12 million copies and it continues today to influence people to follow God’s two great commandments: to love God and to love each other.

Bethlehemian Rhapsody

December 9, 2013

Bohemian Rhapsody, now for Bethlehemian Rhapsody.

Not your usual Nativity scene.

Shown on screen at Spirit of Rock: rock n roll Christmas party at North Camp Methodist Church.

Spirit of Rock: rock n roll Christmas party

December 8, 2013
rock n roll Christmas Metal Fatigue with Elvis

rock n roll Christmas Metal Fatigue with Elvis

Not quite what one would expect in a church, a rock n roll Christmas party, and we were joined by Elvis, well the echo of Elvis.

Music by a Metal Fatigue, a seven piece band.

Their blues version of Away in a Manage, mind blowing.

Then they were joined by ‘Elvis, for some classic Elvis hits.

On the screen Bethlehemian Rhapsody.

Canon Andrew White at St Saviour’s

August 19, 2013
book signing

book signing

It is strange, I had been thinking of meeting with Canon Andrew White, and early hours Sunday morning, I found I had a message that he was at St Saviour’s Church in Guildford.

I had not planned on being in Guildford, but a change of plans, afternoon in Guildford, lunch in Guildford, maybe a walk along the River Wey, then wander along to St Saviour’s for the evening service.

Not quite according to plan. I did not get the roast pork I was looking forward to for lunch, nor did I get my walk along the river, but I did experience a black church called The Upper Room meeting in St Nicolas, and had afternoon tea at Glutton & Glee.

I arrived at St Saviour’s more than half an hour early and was told I was first one.

I was not sure I had the correct evening, as no mention on their website, but on arrival I saw a space had been reserved for Andrew White and there was a notice on the church door.

The service started with music. During rehearsal, they were awful, but during the service far better.

We were then told of the situation in Egypt, or rather were were told half truths.

It is good that a church is recognising the plight of Christians in Egypt and the Middle East as too often they feel ignored and the churches in the West do not give a damn, but what we should also recognise is that the Christians in Egypt especially their leadership, are not a reliable witness to events on the ground and will give a partisan view.

We should not forget, that when people occupied Tahrir Square and refused to leave until Mubarak was overthrown, those who supported Mubarak to the bitter end and condemned the brave people in Tahrir Square, were the leaders of the Christian Church in Egypt. Neither should we forget that Muslims and Christian stood shoulder to shoulder in Tahrir Square.

Morsi betrayed the revolution. He tried to Islamise what is a secular country, betrayal of rights for women, installation of cronies to positions of power. In other words, no different to every corrupt government in the Middle East.

20 million Egyptians took to the streets to overthrow Morsi. A lot of rubbish in the West about the democratic overthrow of Morsi. The will of the people was executed. That is democracy. Democracy is not rule by unaccountable elites, the people reduced to election fodder and having no further say.

But, the overthrow of Morsi, has been hijacked by a military junta.

Attention was drawn to a letter from Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis. This proved to be little more than a propaganda sheet for the brutal military junta, demonisation of the Muslim Brotherhood.

St Saviour’s need to be very careful that they are not being used as unwitting tools of the military junta.

Morsi supporters, and it is not only the Muslim Brotherhood, have every right to peaceful protest. The response of the junta, to massacre in cold blood several hundred peaceful protesters.

Yes, there has been attacks on Christians, on churches, but these attacks, pre-date the overthrow of Morsi, they are nothing new.

The slaughter of innocent protesters will have only one consequence, it will open the void for Islamic terrorists to step into.

We must hope, that the crimes against humanity being committed by the military junta, are documented and they are brought to justice, in the meantime, all Egyptians must unite to overthrow the junta, otherwise Egypt will descend into bloody civil war.

Coverage of Tahrir Square by mainstream media was poor. Post-overthrow of Morsi much better.

For good coverage turn to Democracy Now, Russia Today and Al Jazeera. On twitter follow Sharif Kouddous.

The pastor leading the service, invited Andrew White to join him, and they discussed what had led Andrew White to where he is today, leading a church in Iraq.

Andrew explained his interest in the Middle East had started when he studied at an ultra-Orthodox university in Israel.

Andrew White started from when he was a curate, then a vicar, and how he had then been asked to head the peace and reconciliation unit at Coventry Cathedral.

Formed out of the ashes of the bombed Coventry Cathedral, the focus had been Europe. Andrew refocused on the Middle East. He had acted as envoy for the then Archbishop of Canterbury, engaging in dialogue with Israelis and Palestinians and encouraging them to talk to each other.

Diagnosed with MS, he was asked to step down from what he was doing. His response was to take over the running of St George’s in Baghdad. His assistant was Justin Welby, now Archbishop of Canterbury.

The church costs over $175,000 a month to run. They have no money, no reserves. They rely entirely on donations, on people inviting Andrew to talk at their church, on buying his books.

The money given on Sunday, and during the week, will all go to FRRME (of which Andrew White is the Founding President).

The church has a school, a medical clinic, feeding programmes, all paid for through donations. All the programmes the church runs are free to all.

Beside the work at the church, Andrew acts as Embassy Chaplain, works on peace and reconciliation between the various factions, advises on security.

FRRME was formed to support the work in Iraq and the Middle East.

Following the reading of the lesson, Andrew White was asked to give the sermon.

Andrew started by blessing the congregation in Ameraic, the language used by Jesus, and the language still used in the Iraqi Church.

His theme was Matthew 24:6-8

You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

For people of Guildford, words in the Bible, for people of Iraq, daily occurrence.

There are rumours of war, there is war, there is bombing, there is killing.

Of the church over 1,250 have been killed.

When people have lost everything they have everything.

The church in Iraq is filled with joy.

To love your friends is easy. We have to learn to love those who are our enemies.

Andrew was once kidnapped. When he looked around, he saw severed fingers and toes.

He has to deal with his friends, who bomb and kill.

When dealing with one of he founders of Hamas, he invited him to dinner. He convinced him to work with a rabbi. When accused of being a Zionist, the founder of Hamas said no, he was walking the path of peace and reconciliation, a very difficult path to walk.

Often asked: How do you deal with Muslims? Easy we love them, we welcome them. The church is over 6,000 people, of which over 600 are Muslim.

When you love can also be very painful, when you see the people you love killed.

Andrew has three adopted Iraqi children. One, Lina, now also his personal assistant, has recently become engaged.

The service lasted almost two hours, but it seemed much shorter. I have known half hour service seem longer.

Too many people spend their lives griping about their lives and never getting off their backsides. Andrew is the exact opposite, faces danger every day, sees more tragedy in a day than most people would see in their lifetime, and yet, he is full of hope, full of joy, and always willing to take risks.

He said when people shake hands and say take care, no, they should shakes hands and and say take risks.

It is unfortunate the service was not filmed. As much my fault as I did not think to ask. It has at least been recorded, or at least the sermon recorded, and possibly the exchange at the beginning. This will be available on the church website.

Andrew then signed books:

I gave Andrew a copy of Manuscript Found in Accra. He said he enjoyed Aleph. He asked me did Paulo Coelho know the new Pope? I said I did not think so, but at a press conference in Athens, Paulo Coelho had been asked two questions, his thoughts on the Catholic Church and of the new Pope. He said there was much wrong with the Catholic Church and that he had high hopes of the new Pope implementing much needed reform.

I also gave Andrew a letter I have had in possession for many months, which a lady had entrusted me to give to him.

A chat with Andrew.

I came away with several signed copies of his latest book, Father, Forgive, one for me, the others I will have pleasure in giving away.

Next year, Andrew is to be awarded the William Wilberforce Prize.

The Upper Room at St Nicolas

August 19, 2013

I was on my way to The Keystone for a drink. Passing by St Nicolas, I saw it was open. This is rare for St Nicolas, and I did not think they had an afternoon service.

I walked in, to find a Black Church had taken up occupancy, I learnt later they were called The Upper Room.

I sat down. Not wise, as I would then have to leave in the middle of the service.

Had the woman leading the service not been shouting, she may have been intelligible. Those near me seemed more interested in their mobile phones.

I thought it would never end, but luckily after 20 minutes, but seemed more like two hours, it did end.

I asked a few people who they were, and they told me it was The Upper Room, that met in St Nicolas. They asked would I be returning. I said no, explained I was on my way to Saviour’s and invited them along, and said they had Canon Andrew White giving the sermon. Sadly none of them did.

I had what was probably the only white man there, come up to me, demand to know my name and tell me he wished to talk to me. Maybe it was his idea of being friendly, but I found him to be rude and offensive. You do not walk up to stranger and ask who they are, and say you wish to take them to one side and talk to them as though it is a police interrogation.


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