Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Nine Lessons and Carols at St Nicolas

December 18, 2011

Happy fourth advent, my friends. — Rudolf Schenker

Jesus taught us to serve, not be served. A message we should all heed. — Father Andrew

I have been to more carol concerts in the last week than I had up until then in a lifetime: An African Christmas Concert, Boiler Room Carols, a children’s carol concert, and that is not counting the awful carol singing at Creative Arts @ Costa at the beginning of December

An African Christmas
Guildford Boiler Room Christmas Carols
Children’s Carol Concert at St Mark’s

This evening I was at Nine Lessons and Carols at St Nicolas in Guildford, choir, Father Andrew resplendent in full regalia, lessons read by various members of the local community. We learnt the local St Nicolas School had introduced ‘value-based learning’ whatever that meant and a group of children sang their value song which apparently they sing every morning. Followed by mulled wine and mince pies and Fair trade goods for sale.

Value Song

Whenever you’re down, I’ll be there.
Whenever you’re sad, I’ll dry your tears.
Wherever you are, you can count on me.
I’ll carry your burden when it’s heavy.
Together we’ll share the load.
This is how it’s always meant to be.

We open up our world
and we grew from many friends.
We open up our hearts,
May this journey never end.
We found a place where we belong,
We can see a brand new day,
Embracing life together is the way.

Whenever you smile, I’ll join you.
Whenever you laugh, I’ll share your joy.
I’ll be there when you spread your wings and fly.
Whatever you do, I’ll be there cheering.
When you cross the finish line,
You can count on me to be nearby.

We open up our world
and we grew from many friends.
We open up our hearts,
May this journey never end.
We found a place where we belong,
We can see a brand new day,
Embracing life together is the way.

Sung with great enthusiasm by the children.

Give me a child until he is seven said the Jesuits and we have him for life.

The readings were from the King James Bible which this year has celebrated 400 years. Archbishop George Abbot, one of the contributors to the King James was a Guildford man, baptised at St Nicolas.

I was not quite sure why I was there. It was a lovely sunny day when I got up at midday, earlier frost on the ground, spiked the grass. I had intended to make the effort and prepare a Sunday roast dinner, but instead off to Guildford. By the time I set off, clouds had rolled in.

I lit candles for my lovely but sadly mad friend Sian, Paulo Coelho for writing Aleph and Canon Andrew White in Baghdad.

I chatted to a very pleasant Fiona, one of the choristers, and thanked her for the singing. I learnt she had read and liked Paulo Coelho. I told her of his latest book Aleph, of which she was not aware (Waterstone’s have a lot to answer for). I invited her to come along to Keystone Spirit at the Keystone Pub and Creative Arts @ Costa (first Tuesday of the month). I also said I would let her have a DVD of a talk Canon Andrew White gave a few weeks ago.

Curious ‘value-based learning’, I managed to catch the headmistress of St Nicolas. Apparently introduced at a school where the kids beat the hell out of each. They learn respect, to look out for each other, to respect the environment. I suggested she took the kids on an outing to St Paul’s in-the-Camp.

Anything that teaches children not to be greedy bankers or tax dodging spongers or corrupt politicians, to contribute to society not take, has to be welcomed.

I told her how impressed I was by the children at St Mark’s School and suggested she attend one of their concerts and then try something similar.

Children’s Carol Concert at St Mark’s

I thanked Father Andrew for the service.

St Nicolas is at the bottom of the High Street just over the bridge.

4pm Christmas Eve Christingle Service for the Children at St Nicolas Guildford.

8pm Wednesday 21 December 2011. Canon Andrew White at Pioneer Church in Leatherhead.

11-30pm Christmas Eve midnight mass at St Nicolas Guildford.

evening Tuesday 3 January 2012. Creative Arts @ Costa, Swan Lane, Guildford.

7-30pm Tuesday 3 January 2012. Canon Andrew White at The Vineyard Cente, Church House, Union Road, Farnham.

The story of Saint Lucia

December 16, 2011
Saint Lucia ceremony

Saint Lucia ceremony

The story of Lucia, the symbol of light amid the darkness for Sweden, has many different versions. Although her feast day is celebrated on December 13th in Sweden, she was born far away in southern Italy, in the third century A.D. It is said that she became a Christian after she prayed for her mother to be healed. After she witnessed her mother being healed, she made a vow never to marry and to give the money that would have been her dowry to the poor.

She refused to marry the man her family had chosen for her. Some say he denounced her for her faith and was responsible for having her put to death. Lucia died a martyr’s death in 303 A.D. and was declared a saint. She is Santa Lucia to the Italians, Santa Lucia to the Swedes, and St. Lucia, or St. Lucy, to all English speakers. How the story of Lucia came to be such an important part of Swedish culture is somewhat of a mystery. Did the Vikings know of her and brought her legend to the North? Did the monks and priests tell of her martyrdom’s? Of course. Sweden was once a Roman Catholic country and the stories of the saints were often told & retold in the Catholic religion. However, Sweden has been Lutheran for hundreds of years. It is not clear how the saint from Sicily became Sweden’s beacon of light during the darkest period of the year. To this day, December 13TH is one of the high points of the Christmas season and candles are lit all over Sweden to bear light against the darkness, as Lucia did.

Lucia was said to wear a white gown with a red ribbon tied around the waist. On her head she wore a wreath crowned with a ring of lighted candles. She would bring food to people, who were dying of hunger during a famine many years ago. Every year at my church we have a Lucia service. A new girl is chosen every year. On her head is a real crown is actual candles that are lit. It is a beautiful service. I myself am Italian. The church I attend is Swedish. My Uncle(Zio) had told me that in fact the man Lucia was suppose to marry was the one who turned her in. Not only did they burn her body but took her eyes. In Italy all the statues show Lucia holding a plate with two eyes on it. I find it interesting that the Swedish honor her in such a wonderful way. To all St. Lucia was one who beared light against the darkness even though it cost her life. What would we do if faced with the same situation?

Told by Jessica Gottling on her blog.

Top story BackwardsAhead Go Ahead Magazine (Saturday 17 December 2011).

House of Lords debates the plight of Christians in the Middle East

December 15, 2011
Rowan Williams addresses House of Lords

Rowan Williams addresses House of Lords

Friday of last week, the House of Lords devoted an entire day to debate the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

The debate was opened by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams:

My Lords, many people these days have a short and skewed historical memory. It is all too easy to go along with the assumption that Christianity is an import to the Middle East rather than an export from it.

Lord Mackay was first to respond:

Today I want particularly to mention the position of Canon Andrew White as the vicar of Baghdad. He has played a very important part in maintaining Christian witness in Iraq under extremely difficult circumstances.

He went on to speak of time spent with Andrew White in Israel:

I have to say that the relationships he had with people from right across the community were very remarkable. He has shown in more recent times a fine example of Christian fortitude in the troubles that now beset Iraq.

I wish particularly to pay tribute to Andrew White’s work and I hope that he will be able to continue for a long time in his office.

This was greeted with cries of “Hear! Hear!” from the 80 Lords in the chamber.

Lord Patten urged both their Lordships and the Government to act in response to religious persecution:

There can be no walking on the other side of this road, even in the Palace of Westminster. I hope that our secular leaders in the coalition will restate religious freedom as a human right.

Lord Turnberg and Lord Palmer commended Canon Andrew White’s work, Lord Alton spoke of his “indomitable spirit and incredible courage” and Baroness Cox paid tribute to “his magnificent work in Iraq, especially in improving interfaith relations”.

Lord Carey praised Andrew’s “remarkable work [as] one of the key players in the Alexandria Declaration” bringing together parties for the religious track of the Israel Palestine peace process. He went on to state that Andrew “is currently making a powerful contribution to harmony in Iraq and the Middle East.”

Lord Hylton spoke at length about “my friend Canon Andrew White” and the work with the High Council of Religious Leaders in Iraq. “Lives have undoubtedly been saved as a result.”

The Minister of State, Lord Howell, stated that, in the view of the Government, religious freedom is a basic human right. He confirmed Government support for the Alexandria Declaration and “the High Council of Religious Leaders in Iraq, which seeks to bring together religious leaders and combat sectarian violence, and of course to continue the invaluable work of Canon Andrew White.”

Lord Howell concluded:

I end my comments by saying that, unlike Mr Richard Dawkins, I have faith in the faiths. We will continue to highlight and condemn all instances of violence and discrimination against individuals because of their beliefs, wherever they occur.

Archbishop Rowan Williams wound up the debate by thanking their Lordships for their high calibre contributions to the debate and observed:

Not the least among those was the admiration widely expressed for the work of Canon Andrew White in Baghdad, and I am happy to associate myself with that admiration.

Peter Marsden, FRRME Director, spoke to Canon Andrew White who was in the Lords for the debate:

It was wonderful that the House of Lords debated this issue and took seriously the plight of Christians in the Middle East. What really matters is that we must make sure that the political world gets behind the religious means of working at reconciliation. This is the only hope for all minorities in the Middle East.

It is good that the House of Lords devoted an entire day to the plight of Christians in the Middle East. For far too long churches in UK have turned a blind eye to what is happening to Christians in the Middle East, though they need to take care with their actions as it is the crass stupidity of Western Christian fundamentalists that have put the lives of Christians in the Middle East at risk.

End of Christianity in the Middle East?
Crass stupidity by Christian fundamentalists leads to persecution and massacre of Christians in the Middle East

Christianity is not an alien religion in the Middle East, this was was its birthplace as a Jewish sect.

House of Lords Debate on Christians in the Middle East
Christians in the Middle East: Motion to Take Note
Parliament TV coverage of debate

God is not a Christian

December 13, 2011
In Him was life and the life was the light of men - Lalo Gutierrez

In Him was life and the life was the light of men - Lalo Gutierrez

lady of Villers-Carbonnel

lady of Villers-Carbonnel

God is not a Christian. – Desmond Tutu

If the triangles made a god, they would give him three sides. — Montesquieu

Quite a profound statement by Desmond Tutu: God is not a Christian.

Three religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, all recognise the same God. So what is God? A Jew, a Christian, a Muslim? All three, none of these?

For many Christians they are having problems getting their heads around Jesus was a Jew.

To heaven with Scribes and Pharisees

At two thousand years old, Christianity is a relativity new religion. Far older, Judaism, Hinduism. Far older still, the spirits of the forest, of the trees, the wind.

A recent find in France is of a small figurine, typical of the Middle East, a Mother Earth figurine, large breasts, large hips. Thought to date from somewhere between 4300 and 3600 BC

The earth mother of all neolithic discoveries
Six-thousand-year-old earth mother statuette found on banks of the Somme is named ‘Lady of Villers-Carbonnel’

The Somme “earth mother” appears to have broken into five or six parts while she was being fired between 4300 and 3600 BC. She was found in the ruins of a neolithic kiln at a French government “preventive” archaeological dig near Villers-Carbonnel on the banks of the river Somme in the département of the same name.

After the Romans left, Christianity has a struggle regaining a foothold in what is now England. Paganism was the dominant religion. Eventually rather than trying to defeat it was assimilated, many Pagan Temples became churches or their scared sites became Holy Sites, the festivals were adopted.

Christianity A History: Dark Ages

We cannot know God, we make guesses in the dark.

A man lives in a cave. All he sees is the shadows. One day he comes out. Who are these people? He does not recognise them for all he has seen are their shadows.

We are arrogant when we think our religion is superior to another.

Religion is man made, an attempt to know the unknowable.

John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

The light was not brought to Christians, it shone on men.

Or as made more explicit in other translations

New Living Translation: The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.

International Standard Version: In him was life, and that life brought light to humanity.

GOD’S WORD Translation: He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity.

Good News Bible: The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to mankind.

The light was not reserved exclusively for Christians, it was for everyone.

In the Koran is recognised that there are many religions and they are to be treated with respect, especially those who are the descendants of Abraham.

The Jewish sect established by the followers of Jesus was just that, a Jewish sect, but it was not exclusively Jewish, it welcomed Gentiles.

Rich poor, black white, gay straight, male female, war criminal genocide victim, we are all members of the human race, part of humanity, there are no outsiders. All are God’s children.

What I do effects those around me, what they do effects me. As individuals we are networked to form families, communities, society. In turn these networks sustain us and provide the environment in which we grow.

No one religion has absolute truth, though they may think they do. They may even claim what they say is superior to others. They may even tell you that you will go to Hell if you do not accept what they tell you. They of course always being by their own definition of the Chosen Few.

God, or G-d as some would write out of respect, is no more Christian than he is the old man sitting on a cloud answering prayers like a friendly old grandfather handing out sweets to the children.

An infinite entity cannot be known by a finite mind any more than by a finite man-made religion.

Those who try to tell us otherwise are at best misguided, at worse bigots and fundamentalists.

Sacred text were not set in stone, they were written by man, rewritten by man.

Most people recognise the Dalai Lama as the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi led what could be seen as a moral enlightenment, he influenced Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela. He was also a Hindu.

Rob Bell writes of an art exhibition where someone posts a note that Gandhi in Hell. Are they sure? How do they know? How kind of them to tell us.

There are those who see it as some sort of failing that Dalai Lama has not converted to Christianity.

Does God, the Christian God, have a conversation and say, sorry guys, I know you have done a lot of good in the world, but not quite good enough, you are not Christian, you belong to the wrong club, so you have to be sent to the fires of Hell for all eternity?

Complete and utter nonsense, but that is what Christian fundamentalists, bigots by any other name, would have us believe.

Tutu: The Authorised Portrait
The shack
Love Wins
Crass stupidity by Christian fundamentalists leads to persecution and massacre of Christians in the Middle East
What is wrong with the church?
God is
Where does religion come from?

Crass stupidity by Christian fundamentalists leads to persecution and massacre of Christians in the Middle East

December 7, 2011
Armageddon

Armageddon

Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite, for he is thy brother; thou shall not abhor an Egyptian, because thou wast a stranger in his land. — Holy Bible

Political correctness = Church in the Dark Ages. If you don’t follow the rules they burn you. — Paulo Coelho

Yes, I believe the words of the Lord to Mary Magdalene to be his most radical utterance. We are family – all of us. We belong in God’s family. There are no outsiders. All are insiders. — Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Many years ago I was driven to the conclusion that the two major causes of most emotional problems among evangelic Christians are these: the failure to understand, receive, and live out God’s unconditional grace and forgiveness; and the failure to give out that unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace to other people. — David Seamands

Jesus said: I tell my mysteries to people worthy of my mysteries. — Gospel of Thomas

Yesterday I came across a tweet which I cannot now find of Christians bragging of several converts from Islam to Christianity.

Do these imbeciles really think this is something to be proud of, to brag about?

Do they think it earns them a few brownie points in heaven? That God is someone to be impressed: Look, we have brought along a few more converts. It is probably completely lost on them that their converts recognised the same God before and after conversion.

The Koran says to recognise all religions, especially those of Abraham.

Do these imbeciles who brag about converts not understand they are putting lives at risk in the Middle East, where memories of the Crusades are as if they happened yesterday? The First Crusade was launched to wipe Muslim contamination off the face of the Holy Land. Knights sought salvation in the blood of slaughtered Muslims.

Christianity A History: The Crusades

Like modern-day carpet baggers, Christian fundamentalists rode in on the coat tails of the US-UK illegal invasion of Iraq. Christians in Iraq have suffered the consequences ever since. Many have fled Iraq, many have been slaughtered, their homes and businesses destroyed. Christians who had been at peace with their neighbours.

The violence has spread to Egypt from where many Coptic Christians have now fled.

Jesus was a Jew. His early followers were Jews. He was the leader of a Jewish sect, one of many at the time. It welcomed all, Jews and Gentiles. Slowly, slowly, over the next century, it diverged from its Jewish roots to become a separate religion.

To heaven with Scribes and Pharisees

St George’s in Baghdad welcomes all. Not just Christians of all denominations, but Jews and Muslims too are also welcome. Inclusive not exclusive, the same God, respect for each other. A place of peace and tranquillity surrounded by razor wire. A place where angels appear.

We have people like Canon Andrew White who work tirelessly at Peace and Reconciliation in the Middle East. His work is undermined, his life and the lives of those around him are put at risk by these imbeciles who far from doing God’s work are doing the Devil’s work.

Canon Andrew White at the Boiler Room

In one year, Canon Andrew White had his entire Church leadership killed, his head of security was also killed.

Will these Christian fundamentalists not be happy until the Middle East is emptied of Christians? Or maybe, as indeed some are, trying to trigger Armageddon as they think it will force the Second Coming. They of course being self-appointed as the chosen few who will be saved.

Top story The Digital Mission Daily (Wednesday 7 November 2011)!

Love Wins
What is wrong with the church?
God and real life
What a Rabbi Learns from Muhammad

Canon Andrew White at the Boiler Room

December 4, 2011
anointing with oil

anointing with oil

books by Andrew White

books by Andrew White

Happy Second Advent, my friends. Love and peace — Rudolf Schenker

Suffer the children to come unto me. — Jesus

We are not the person other people wish we were. We are who we decide to be. — Paulo Coelho

Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander. — Holocaust Museum

A house has been blown up said Andrew somewhat nonchalantly after checking his phone as though commenting on the weather. Not quite an everyday conversation, but then I was not sat next to an everyday person, I was sat with Canon Andrew White aka the Vicar of Baghdad who as well as checking his phone was doodling with the children on the table cloth.

We were both at the Boiler Room in Guildford, not to be confused with the Boiler Room in Guildford. We were at a rather drab function room well passed its sell-by date at the Stoke Pub where Andrew was about to give an eagerly anticipated talk.

In the Middle East it is very tribal, it is too in the West, it is just that we do not notice.

A little girl Amy, Canon Andrew White had worked with both her grandfathers, as a medic and as a cleric.

We are at the Second Sunday of Advent. It involves a little more than getting the chocolate out of the Advent Calender, it is not preparation for Christmas, but rather to mark the return of Jesus, the Second Coming.

Isaiah chapter 40, prepare for the Second Coming, a message repeated in Mark.

On this day we also remember the birth of John the Baptist.

No matter how bad a situation there is always hope.

In Iraq today, houses blown up, shops blown up, not that we would know if we relied on the news (though try Al Jazeera which has far better news reporting).

Iraq: Muslim mob shouting “Allahu akbar” attacks, ransacks, burns Christian-owned shops and hotels
Christians Attacked in Iraq by Kurdish Extremists
Kurdish leader: Clerics ‘instigated … acts of sabotage,’ wounding 25

Iraq is an amazing place, the setting for many Biblical stories.

The Garden of Eden was in Iraq, between the Euphrates and the Tigris. Abraham was born in Iraq. Job came from Iraq and his tomb or shrine can be found in Iraq.

We know Job was in Iraq, because although it is not explicitly recorded that he was in Iraq, it is recorded that he was killed by the Chaldeans or Mandeans and they were only in Iraq.

Mandeans are followers of John the Baptist. They hold their services in water, they even get married in water.

The Second Exile (the First Exile was to Egypt) was to Babylon.

According to the children in Iraq, Jesus was also in Iraq, he was the fourth person who was seen in the flames.

If you want something, pray!

An Ayatollah sought from Canon Andrew White some meat, when told he had no meat, he said pray.

Please God, send me some meat. Amen.

Next morning at a breakfast, a burly American asked, Father, do you want some meat? How much? Over 100 tons of meat!

Think BIG!

In 2003, St George’s in Baghdad re-opened. Until then, its congregation was a few pigeons. The first service was for military and diplomats. Soon it became too dangerous. Then the Iraqis started to come. First Sunday 100, next week 200, then 300, then 400, then a thousand, then two thousand, then three thousand, then four thousand.

When many of the congregation were killed or fled, it was thought there would be less mouths to feed, but not so, the Christians were replaced by 500 Muslim women. For them it was the same God, the God of Abraham.

Many, many people have been killed, kidnapped, tortured.

The entire church leadership were kidnapped one night and killed.

Last October, when Canon Andrew White was in Guildford to give a talk, he heard the tragic news that 58 people had been massacred in a neighbouring Catholic Church including the priest. It was a period when many Christians were killed, their homes and businesses destroyed.

Dinner with Canon Andrew White

St George’s is no longer a church, more a city. It has an associated clinic which is better than you would find in England. It provides a school, welfare, food. After Sunday service, everyone is given a bag of groceries to take home.

The Curate at the church is the first ever Iraqi Anglican!

24-7 Prayer is run from the church.

Angels appear, or what are believed to be angels. Even when asked to go away, even if only for a few minutes in order that photos can be taken they stay and appear as blobs in photos. An example can be found in Faith Under Fire.

In Iraq, you cannot just walk down the street, knock a few doors and ask would you like to come to church this Sunday? Too dangerous.

But there is no need. They turn up anyway.

Muslims are made very welcome in the church.

In the Middle East you show respect by inviting to dinner and having plenty of food on display to eat.

Special place for children, of which there are several hundred, 21 of who form a special inner circle.

Several of these children are in the book Suffer the Children telling their stories.

One of these girls now works as Andrew’s PA.

Occasionally a few of the children are brought to England.

One of Andrew’s sons said he wished to go to Iraq. Why? He wished to update his facebook profile and wanted a picture with big guns.

His request was acceded to. He spent most of his time with the soldiers who guard Canon Andrew White. One day when asked where he had been when he vanished for three hours, he had apparently been with the soldiers learning how to strip and reassemble an AK-47!

Isaiah spoke of a chosen people: Egypt, Iraq (Assyria) and Israel.

There is a t-shirt in Iraq: Don’t worry it can only get worse

Another t-shirt shows a smiley face with a bullet hole in the head and blood dripping down the face with the slogan: Have a nice day some place else

Canon Andrew White had with him two very special objects: a little bottle of anointing oil and a very old Bible. Both had belonged to Smith Wigglesworth, who his grandfather had worked for as an assistant.

The oil was used to anoint everyone present. One person invited forward, hand held out, who then anointed those at their table.

After talking Canon Andrew White led a singing session, then chatted with the children and signed books.

I picked up three more signed copies of Faith Under Fire.

I came bearing gifts.

I gave a copy of a talk Andrew had given a few weeks earlier in Guildford.

Canon Andrew White at Guildford Baptist Church

To Andrew too a copy of the talk within a Christmas card plus to take back to Baghdad: Aleph, The Alchemist and The Valkyries, all by Paulo Coelho. As the people there cannot read English, I will see what I can do to arrange for copies in Arabic.

Smith Wigglesworth (1859-1947), was a leading light in the Pentecostal Church. He was known as the Apostle of Faith, moved in mighty signs and wonders and it was even claimed raised people from the dead!

Smith Wiggleworth Prophecy for Britain Coming to Pass!

Guildford Boiler Room is a Christian community that meets at Stoke Pub in Guildford.

Creative Arts @ Costa evening Tuesday 6 December 2011 at Costa, Swan Lane, Guildford.

An African Christmas The Occam Singers evening Saturday 10 December 2011 at St Nicoals Church (bottom of High Street over the bridge), Guildford.

Guildford Boiler Room Carol Service evening Sunday 11 December 2011 at Stoke Pub, Guildford.

Keystone Spirit evening Tuesday 13 December 2011 at Keystone Pub (behind St Nicolas Church), Guildford.

Christianity A History: Reformation

November 29, 2011
antichrist and the devil - detail from  Deeds of the Antichrist

antichrist and the devil - detail from Deeds of the Antichrist

Luther Bible

Luther Bible

For a thousand years there was only one Christianity in Western Europe, Roman Christianity. It tolerated no rivals as the Cathars learnt. Heretics were burnt at the stake.

The Reformation hit the church like an earthquake.

A humble monk Martin Luther nailed his demands to the church door. Those hammer blows still reverberate around Christendom.

The demands of Martin Luther were simple. An end to corruption by the clergy. An end to indulgences, the veneration of bones and other relics. Salvation was to be sought through direct communication with God, it was the Scriptures that should take precedence over the words of priests. The Scriptures to be in the vernacular, not requiring the interpretation of priests.

The Pope damned Martin Luther as a heretic and demanded that he be burnt at the stake. Martin Luther in turn called the Pope the antichrist, the only leader of the church was Jesus.

Luther saw himself as a prophet at the End of Days fighting the antichrist.

Under the sentence of death, Luther fled into exile. In exile he translated the Latin Bible into German.

The revolution that Martin Luther instigated coincided with the printing press. It was no coincidence that one of the first books to roll off the Gutenburg press was the Bible in German, though that was a commercial rather than religious decision.

Europe was torn apart in religious wars. It seemed that the End of Days had indeed arrived.

England never had a religious Reformation, which is why it is still ongoing unfinished business.

The Reformation in England was political. Henry VIII wanted a divorce and he wanted church property to finance foreign wars. Prior to the split with Rome, Henry VIII had followers of Martin Luther hunted down and killed and German Luther Bibles destroyed.

At the time of Henry VIII, the monasteries owned 2 million acres of prime land, a sixth of the land in England. They were incredibly rich. They housed vast libraries, they were centres of learning and education, helped the poor, were local employers. As self-declared Head of the church, all this wealth now belonged to Henry VIII.

The most wicked act of Henry VIII was the destruction of the monasteries.

An afternoon walk along the River Wey to Waverley Abbey

The Abbot of Glastonbury who spoke out against the looting and destruction of the Abbey was executed under false charges.

Henry VIII was succeeded by his son Edward, a devout Protestant, who in turn was succeeded by his sister Mary, a devout Catholic. Both waged religious wars on their own people. Your faith was decreed by your King or Queen, the people had no say in what they believed. To challenge the ruler in belief was to risk execution.

A far cry from what Martin Luther believed that the people should be free to choose.

In France, thousands of Protestants were slaughtered by their Catholic neighbours. The Pope had a special medal struck to celebrate a glorious Catholic victory.

In England, Elizabeth I banned Catholicism. Catholics were banned from celebrating Mass, priests were outlawed. It was illegal to be a practicing Roman Catholic and would remain so for 200 years. Priests practiced at risk to their lives.

catholics were forced underground. Services were held in houses, not churches. Houses had priest holes, a secret room within a house where a priest could hide with his symbols of office should the house be raided.

Archbishop George Abbot had his own network of spies and informers. Catholics were rooted out and executed.

To this day the British Monarch can be neither a Catholic nor married to a Catholic. The British Monarch is Head of the Church, Defender of the Faith.

In Amsterdam, under the eyes of their Protestant neighbours, the lovely Church in the Attic, a Roman Catholic church.

Today in Northern Ireland, Liverpool and Glasgow, sectarianism still exists. Both sides in Northern Ireland speak of ill deeds done by the other as though yesterday but which took place centuries ago. Secatarian marches still take place.

A central tenet of Christianity has been love thy neighbour. For most of its history it has been denounce and slaughter thy neighbour.

For the last 100 years the Catholic and Anglican churches have been in discussion about a possible merger, though in reality a takeover by the Catholic Church. Discussions that the laity are blissfully unaware of. Discussions that apart from a few documents and points of agreement have got nowhere and are unlikely to get anywhere. The supremacy of the Pope would never be accepted by Anglicans nor the relegation of women to second class citizens.

Bishop Christopher on closer Anglican ties with Catholic Church

To placate the Catholics, ordination of women as bishops has been put on indefinite hold. Anglicans in US have been all but excommunicated for their embracing of homosexuals

People are free to choose what church they go to or to go to no church at all. There are churches of various flavours, Anglican churches which are Catholic in all but name.

Maybe the church of the future is that of St George, an Anglican church in Baghdad, where all are welcome.

The followers of Jesus, a Jewish sect that morphed into Christianity was inclusive not exclusive, it welcomed Jews and Gentiles, women and children, sinners, everyone.

To heaven with Scribes and Pharisees

Christianity A History: Dark Ages

November 27, 2011
Lindisfarne Gospels

Lindisfarne Gospels

Christianity first came to Britain with the Romans. When the Romans left, Christianity all but died. Roman Christianity never displaced the local pagans and their temples of worship.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, the only centres of learning and Christianity in Western Europe were the monasteries.

In England there were three competing religions: paganism, Roman Christianity and Celtic Christianity.

Celtic Christianity with its links to the East and the Coptic Church survived in the West of the Isles, Cornwall, Ireland and Wales.

Rome sent emissaries to Canterbury.

Rather than trying to subjugate the pagan kingdoms, they were too powerful, Christianity adapted. Pagan sites became the sites of churches, often the pagan temple became a church, festivals were adapted.

The Venerable Bede defined what it was to be English.

The Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (trans: Ecclesiastical History of the English People) is a work in Latin by Bede on the history of the Christian Churches in England, and of England generally; its main focus is on the conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianity. Referring to an English people, a Christian people. Several kingdoms, but one people.

Lindisfarne Gospels incorporated Islamic art. Incredible detail in the illuminations as you zoom in. Very reminiscent of fractals.

Charlemagne expanded the Holy Roman Empire across Europe. It was from England the conversion to Christianity took place.

King Alfred was a devout religious man, a scholar. He united the English under a common English language, he also translated parts of the Bible into English, one of the forerunners of the King James Bible.

King Alfred saw learning as important. Clergy had books but could not read them. He saw it as important that the people should have the word of God in their own language, that the Latin should be translated to English. Israel had the word in Hebrew, the Greeks in Greek, Romans in Latin, therefore why not the English in English?

Medieval translations of the Bible before King James

For these early Christians the empasis was inclusiveness, social justice. One could be a Dane and English.

We see echoes. The anti-slavery movement, the early socialists.

We see it today with St Paul’s in-the-Camp and St Paul’s working with the camp for social justice.

Responding to Occupy LSX
Cathedral protest — the tour

Canon Andrew White at Holy Trinity Clapham

November 24, 2011

Canon Andrew White speaking at Holy Trinity Clapham, 23 May 2010.

Canon Andrew White talking about St George’s, his church in Iraq. A church that used to be at $600 a year, one of the cheapest churches in the world to run. May 2010, it was costing $170,000 a month to run.

St George’s has an associated clinic.

At 3 o’clock in the afternoon the doctors go home. Canon Andrew White then takes over.

Strange things happen at St George’s. People are healed through prayer, even raised from the dead. Strange apartitions appear, thought to be angels.

Subjects discussed in more detail in Faith Under Fire.

Canon Andrew White at Guildford Baptist Church

Christianity A History: The Crusades

November 24, 2011

An accursed race. A race absolutely alien to God has invaded the land of Christians. — Pope Urban II, 1095 AD

Holy men do not posses those cities, nay base and bastard Turks hold sway over our brothers. — Pope Urban II, 1095 AD

Pope Urban II launched the Crusades with a speech in the French town of Clermont Ferrand. The Christians of Europe were to go to the occupied lands, seize them back and kill any Muslims they found there. It was to be a Holy War. The Knights were offered salvation through slaughter.

Chroniclers of the Crusades were chronicling God’s work, a continuation of God’s work as recorded in the Bible. Jerusalem had to be cleansed of Muslim pollution

To the West, the Crusades are history. Islamists believe they are still fighting the Crusades today.