Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Catedral de Santiago

March 20, 2015
Catedral de Santiago

Catedral de Santiago

Catedral de Santiago is the final destination for pilgrims walking El Camino de Santiago.

Catedral de Santiago is the final resting place for the remains of Santiago Apóstol, the Apostle James, brother of John the Baptist, and follower of Jesus.

Midday each day, a special mass is held for pilgrims.

Friday evening a special mass is held where the Botafumeiro is swung.

I attended mass four times, spent different times of the day wandering around inside the cathedral, sitting in quiet contemplation, even one evening walked the stations of the cross, had a chat with the priests, Holy Communion from the Bishop.

What struck me looking at the gold and the figures that are the centre piece, that if I was not aware I was in a Catholic Church I could have been in a Hindu temple as the figures were very much reminiscent of that seen in Hindu art.

The gold centre piece is breathtaking, as is the swinging of Botafumeiro.

The centre of the gold centre piece, is not as would expect Jesus or Mary, but Santiago. You can walk up and through, and hug the Saint.

Buried below in a tiny crypt in a silver casket are his remains.

Before visiting the cathedral, I would recommend first a visit to Monasterio de San Martín Pinario, which contains the original carved choir stalls from the cathedral.

Monasterio de San Martín Pinario

March 19, 2015
Monasterio de San Martín  Pinario

Monasterio de San Martín Pinario

Built between IX and XIX centuries, Monasterio de San Martín  Pinario, illustrates the wealth of monasteries. Even the entrance doors have gold leaf.

Leading off the main aisle, impressive side chapels.

The choir stalls carved walnut.

The church is now a museum.It contains a printing press and wood blocks used for printing.

Where did the monks go? Where did all the wealth go?

For God So Loved the World

January 9, 2015
For God So Loved the World

For God So Loved the World

Malcolm Guite drawing on John 3:16-17, for a forthcoming poetry collection Parable and Paradox.

John 3:16-17

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

The Greek in John 3:16 is glorious:

16 ουτως γαρ ηγαπησεν ο θεος τον κοσμον ωστε τον υιον τον μονογενη εδωκεν ινα πας ο πιστευων εις αυτον μη αποληται αλλ εχη ζωην αιωνιον

The Word for ‘Loved’ in that verse is ‘egapesen’ that means ‘Agape’ Love, the highest and fullest and most selfless love, but best of all the word for ‘The World’ is ‘Ton Cosmon‘ -the whole cosmos!

The whole round world, in Greek the total cosmos.

Is all encompassed in this loving word;

Not just the righteous, right on, and religious,

But every one of whom you’ve ever heard,

And all the throng you don’t know or ignore,

For everyone is precious in his sight,

Chosen and cherished, loved, redeemed before

The circling cosmos ever saw the light.

He set us in the world that we might flourish

That His beloved world might live through us

We chose instead that all of this should perish

And turned his every blessing to a curse.

And now he gives himself, as Life and Light

That we might choose in Him to set things right.



In the beginning the Word, the Word was made flesh.

Early religions respected Mother Earth. We still see this today with Amazonian Indians.

Mehinaku attribute spirits to everything in the natural world around them, living things, inanimate objects, stones, streams, mountains. The spirits are to be respected, granted due reverence. Mehinaku blame white people for what is happening to their world.

Carla Stang discusses the relationship Mehinaku have with the natural world in her essay Rampant Rainbows and the Blackened Sun in Dark Mountain 6.

Then along came Christianity, granting Man dominion over everything that lay before him.

Genesis 1:28 (revised King James):

And God blessed them, and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’

Francis Bacon De Augementos Scientiarum (1623):

You have but to follow and as it were hound nature in her wanderings, and you will be able, when you like, to lead and drive her afterwards to the same place again.

Neither ought a man to make scruple of entering and penetrating into those holes and corners, when the inquisition of truth is his whole object.

Rev William Derham, Physico-Theology (1713):

We can, if need be, ransack the whole globe, penetrate into the bowels of the earth, descend to the bottom of the deep, travel to the furthest regions of the world, to acquire wealth.

At least that is the traditional view.

Not all Christians took this view

In The Way of Wyrd Anglo-Saxon man recognised that he and the world around him were part of a complex web of life. The early Celtic Christians saw the interweaving of their religion and the natural world. Celtic music, then and now interwove the spiritual and the natural world, harmonious, natural rhythms.

The early scholars St Ephrem the Syrian, St Dionysius the Areopagite, St Maximus the Confessor, Hildegard von Bingen all recognised the complex web of life and the oneness of Creation.

St Ephrem the Syrian (306-373) in a hymn wrote:

As the water surrounds the fish and feels it,
So also do all natures feel God,
He is diffused through the air,
And with thy breath enters into thy midst.
He is mingled with the light,
And enters, when thou seest, into thy eyes.
He is mingled with thy spirit,
And examines thee from within, as to what thou art,
In thy soul He dwells …

St Ephrem the Syrian recognised that God permeates everything, we cannot separate God from his Creation. Therefore if we exploit His Creation, then we are exploiting and abusing Him. St Ephrem the Syrian also introduces the concept of oneness, familiar to Hindus and Buddhists.

Bhagavad Gita:

No work stains a man who is pure, who is in harmony, who is master of his life, whose soul is one with the soul of all.

St Dionysius the Areopagite (circa 500) defined hierarchy (The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy):

We have a venerable sacred tradition which asserts that every hierarchy is the complete expression of the sacred elements comprised within it. It is the perfect total of all its sacred constituents. Our own hierarchy is therefore said to embrace every every one of its sacred constituents.

William Blake’s ‘infinity in a grain of sand and eternity in an hour.’

The hierarchy of St Dionysius the Areopagite is not the rigid authoritarian pyramid command structure as implemented by the Catholic Church and Big Business, it is a network concept where the interlinking of the parts forms the whole, and the whole creates the environment for the parts. Each component part contributes to the maintaining of the stability of the whole, as organs exist within an organism and cannot exist without, unlike Modern Man who is determined like Samson to bring the temple crashing down.

But why would God wish Man to abuse his creation? Would he not appoint Man as the guardian or custodian of his creation?

Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), Abbess of the convents at Bingen and Rupertsberg (which she established), was a philosopher, mystic, visionary, artist, poet, writer of treatises on theology, natural history, medicine, and composer of beautiful, haunting music. Describing herself as a ‘feather on the breath of God’, much of her work was derived from divine inspiration and visions. She saw that as God created all life, then all life must be permeated with His divine spirit.

Oh fire of the Holy Spirit,
life of the life of every creature,
holy are you in giving life to forms …
Oh boldest path,
penetrating into all places,
in the heights, on earth,
and in every abyss,
you bring and bind together
From you clouds flow, air flies,
Rocks have their humours,
Rivers spring forth from the waters
And earth wears her green vigour

Hildegard von Bingen saw that Creation existed before Man, that it could survive without Man, that Man needed Creation in order to survive, and that the only purpose of Man’s appearance in Creation was to glorify God’s work and to act as His steward. God had to give Man reason in order to enable him to admire God’s work and to act as His steward, but Man then used his reason to decide that he was wiser than God and could improve upon His handiwork.

Malcolm Guite is Parish Priest, musician and poet.

He has released Dancing Through the Fire. But why insult people and release through CDBaby, a few seconds lofi samples? Why not release on bandcamp?

Russian Christmas Day

January 7, 2015
Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my Russian friends.

С Рождеством Христовым всех моих русских друзей.

Christmas greetings from Canon Andrew White

December 25, 2014

For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. — Isaiah 62:1, King James Bible

Canon Andrew White bringing Christmas greetings from Jerusalem.

Andrew White is no longer in Iraq, where he was known as The Vicar of Baghdad, as no longer safe, but the peace and reconciliation work in the Middle East continues.

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2014
Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas.

Vinegar Bible

September 13, 2014
Vinegar Bible

Vinegar Bible

The Parable of the Vinegar

The Parable of the Vinegar

Vinegar Bible

Vinegar Bible

On show in Farnham Parish Church during their church fête their Vinegar Bible, the first time, I was told, in twenty years.

So called because of the misprint of Vinegar for Vineyard though it could equally have been a mistranslation.

This is a King James Bible printed by John Baskett in Oxford in 1717.

The copy held by Farnham Parish Church has been spilt and rebound as two volumes.

This is one of only twelve known copies.

The Vinegar Bible was presented to Farnham in 1739 by Arthur Onslow, speaker of the House of Commons from 1727 to 1761.

John Baskett was printer to King George II and to the University of Oxford between 1711 until his death in 1742. He was responsible for printing many fine books. However his name is remembered above all for his 1717 printing of the King James’ Bible. His edition, which contains many neo-classical engravings by James Thornhill and Michael van der Gucht, should have been one of the highlights of his career, but so many printing mistakes were made that people referred to his Bible as a “Baskett-ful of errors”.

Anglican Vicar of Baghdad: “Child I baptised cut in half by ISIS”

August 10, 2014

Warning: This is pretty horrific to read.

Andrew White at St George's

Canon Andrew White at St George’s

The five-year-old son of a founding member of Baghdad’s Anglican church was cut in half during an attack by the Islamic State on the Christian town of Qaraqosh.

In an interview today, an emotional Canon Andrew White told ACNS that he christened the boy several years ago, and that the child’s parents had named the lad Andrew after him.

“I’m almost in tears because I’ve just had somebody in my room whose little child was cut in half,” he said. “I baptised his child in my church in Baghdad2. This little boy, they named him after me – he was called Andrew.”

The fact that Andrew’s brother was named George after St George’s Anglican Church in Iraq’s capital demonstrates the strong ties the family had to the church there. The boy’s father had been a founder member of the church back in 1998 when the Canon had first come to Baghdad. Canon White added, “This man, before he retired north to join his family was the caretaker of the Anglican church.”

Though the move north should have proved safer for the Iraqi Christian family, the Islamic State made sure that it became a place of terror. “This town of Qaraqosh is a Christian village so they knew everybody there was part of their target group,” said Canon White. “They [the Islamic State] attacked the whole of the town. They bombed it, they shot at people.”

The Islamic State group captured Qaraqosh overnight Wednesday/Thursday after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces.

The boy’s family, along with many other townspeople, have now fled to Irbil. However, news reports suggest this may be the Islamic State’s next destination.

Anglicans at the forefront of relief

The violent takeover of parts of Iraq by the Islamic State is threatening to bring about what the UN has said would be a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the beleaguered nation.

Canon Andrew White said that Anglicans there have been working hard to provide a lot of support for the Christians who have fled Mosul and Nineveh to the north, as well as the many other minority groups targeted by the Islamic State.

“Anglicans are literally at the forefront of bringing help in this situation and there’s no-one else,” he said adding that the church is supplying much-needed food, water, accommodation and other relief items thanks to financial contributions from supporters overseas. The church’s activities are led by a Muslim, Dr Sarah Ahmed.

“We need two things: prayer and money. With those two we can do something. Without those we can do nothing.”

Those wanting to donate can do so at As regards prayer, Canon White said, “I have three ‘P’s that I always mention which is for Protection, Provision and Perseverance. We need protection, we need to provide for those people and we need to keep going.”

It’s clear from social media posts on Facebook and Twitter that members of the Anglican Communion right across the world are praying for this situation. Many have also indicated their support for persecuted Christians in Iraq by changing their social media avatars to the Arabic symbol for ‘N’ denoting Nazarene which ISIS has been using to identify Christian homes.

Leaders speak out

In recent days, Anglican leaders from countries including Egypt, Wales, Brazil and South Africa have all expressed their dismay at the situation unfolding in Iraq.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, issued the following statement today on the situation in Iraq, shortly before he travelled from the Philippines to Papua New Guinea.

“The horrific events in Iraq rightly call our attention and sorrow yet again. Christians and other religious minorities are being killed and face terrible suffering.

“What we are seeing in Iraq violates brutally people’s right to freedom of religion and belief, as set out under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is extremely important that aid efforts are supported and that those who have been displaced are able to find safety. I believe that, like France, the United Kingdom’s doors should be open to refugees, as they have been throughout history.

“The international community must document human rights abuses being committed in northern Iraq so that future prosecutions can take place. It is important and necessary for the international community to challenge the culture of impunity which has allowed these atrocities to take place.

“With the world’s attention on the plight of those in Iraq, we must not forget that this is part of an evil pattern around the world where Christians and other minorities are being killed and persecuted for their faith. Only this week I received an email from a friend in Northern Nigeria about an appalling attack on a village, where Christians were killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Such horrific stories have become depressingly familiar in countries around the world, including Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

“We must continue to cry to God for peace and justice and security throughout the world. Those suffering such appalling treatment in Iraq are especially in my prayers at this time.”

Other Christian leaders have also spoken up about the situation in Iraq including Roman Catholics, who, in England and Wales, have designated Sunday, 9 August, as a Day of Prayer for Christians in Iraq. The Syrian Orthodox Patriarch yesterday wrote to the UN, following an emergency meeting of Patriarchs, calling on the UN Security Council to “fulfil their responsibilities in stopping this genocide”.


1. The brutal, extremist group, which claims to have fighters from across the world, announced the creation of a “caliphate” – an Islamic state – across its claimed territory in Iraq and Syria a month ago. Learn more at

2. Baghdad is part of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf which is part of The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, a Member Church of the Anglican Communion.

Originally published by Anglican Communion News Service.

A common cry of Christians not only in Iraq, but across the Middle East, is why has the West forgotten us. That cry could be particularly aimed at churches.

The last few days, the atrocities committed by ISIS, appears to have woken the world up. That documented by Canon Andrew White merely the tip of a very horrific nightmare.

I was shocked when I saw the Kurds withdraw, as they are the only ways capable of taking on ISIS.

At least US, UK, and France had finally decided to act, with both military action against ISIS and humanitarian aid to those most in need.

The Kurds urgently need heavy weapons, ammunition.

The West should have intervened after the First Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was defeated, but the West allowed him to regain control.

With the second Gulf War, the West destabilised the country.

Al Maliki is a disaster as Prime Minister and must be removed.

The atrocities being committed by Israel in Gaza, has led directly to support for ISIS. ISIS has already mounted incursion into Lebanon.

If Israel defeats Hamas, into that void will step ISIS.

In London, Islamist supporters of ISIS, now control a London estate, with the ISIS flag flying over the entrance. Islamists from UK and France are fighting with ISIS. Now UK and France have mounted military attacks on ISIS, we can expect those Islamists if they return, to carry out terrorist attacks in UK and France.

It is wrong, as the media does, to refer to ISIS as a terrorist organisation. They are an insurgency that carries out terrorist atrocities.

Canon Andrew White at Alton Maltings

June 20, 2014
Andrew White Alton book signing

Andrew White Alton book signing

I never knew Alton had a Maltings. Signposting needed from the town centre.

An excellent job done on the interior of the building. Strangely, you enter at rafter level. A large meeting hall (ideal for concerts) and a cafe. I did not explore the lower levels, but was told contained meeting rooms.

Tea was served in paper cups. Not good for the environment. The coffee I was told was single sourced.

Following a blessing in Aramaic, Canon Andrew White started by giving the background of how he came to be in Iraq.

At age ten, he was asked by his teacher, what would he like to be.

An anaesthetist and a priest.

You cannot be both, and you are a Pentecostalist, and they do not have priests.

Andrew was an anaesthetist at St Thomas in London, where he headed the cardiac arrest unit, then gave it up to be a priest.

Christian theology he did not find very interesting,and changed to oriental studies, part of which included studying in Israel at an Ultra-Orthodox University.

He became a curate, then a priest, and was then sent to Coventry, to be part of the peace and reconciliation unit. It had until then focussed on Europe. With his background in the Middle East, it changed focus to Middle East.

He was sent to Iraq, to St George’s Church, an Anglican Church that was derelict.

At first he was not wanted, you are bombing us. No, it is not I who is bombing you.

He had a minder. One day, the minder told him he was invited to dinner. He was to be guest of the two sons of Saddam Hussein. He at first decided to decline the invitation, but his minder pleaded with him to say yes, else he and his family would be executed.

Originally, St George served the diplomats, the military, but when it proved too dangerous, the Iraqis.

First week one hundred, second week two hundred, third week, three hundred, fourth week four hundred. Not bad growth rate, one hundred a week. Eventually six and a half thousand.

More than just a church. A food distribution centre, a school, a clinic.

Several types of service: wacky for the children, Anglican for the Embassy, very formal Catholic for the Iraqis.

The service at St George’s is in Aramaic

Iraq had a very good education system, Iraqis were well educated. It has now collapsed, those with education and the means, have fled the country, leaving behind the poor and uneducated.

More than looking after the church, also involved in peace and reconciliation.

Prior to 2003, there was not a problem of sectarian violence. One was an Iraqi. Now one is a Sunni or a Shia. Under Saddam Hussein, Sunni minority ran the country, now it is a Shia majority.

ISIS aka ISIL is an insurgency and a terrorist organisation. It is well funded, paymasters are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

The country has de-facto broken into three.

In the last year, over 1200 of the congregation of St George has been killed. In the last two weeks, 1000 have been killed.

People fled Baghdad as deemed not safe, back to their homeland, back to Mosul. Minerva is a Christian area. It is this area that has been overrun by ISIS.

Churches need to take much more account of what is happening in the Middle East.

Next week, Andrew returns to Iraq, to begin reconciliation talks with Sunni leaders.

Running the church, its various programmes, reconciliation, all costs money. It is only made possible by the generosity of people in the UK. If every church, held but one collection for the work that is being done, it would make a huge difference.

Sales of books went very well.

The meeting had been publicised in other churches. Farnham Parish Church had a poster in the porch. More though needs to be done communicating with the wider community. The press invited.

The dire situation in Iraq will only improve if the government changes, and is inclusive of all Iraqis, including the Christians, who are the minority of the minority.

The talk was filmed, and it is hoped once edited, to have uploaded to the net possibly as early as Sunday. It will be added here once available.

Andrew White is author of several books, including Vicar of Baghdad and Faith under Fire.

Andrew White is recipient of the Wilberforce Award.

Church of Virgin Mary

May 20, 2014
dome of Church of Virgin Mary

dome of Church of Virgin Mary

Three churches in the central square, of which Church of the Virgin Mary is the newest, are the only features of interest in Paralimni.

Walking the streets is a very unpleasant experience. If you do not get run down by the cars, you will surely be poisoned by their exhaust fumes.

Epodi make a half decent freddo cappuccino.


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