Posts Tagged ‘church’

Church of the Metamorphosis (Kottakis)

March 18, 2023

Church in Plaka.

St Nicholas Church

March 28, 2016

St Nicholas Church

St Nicholas Church

A fine example of a Baroque church that dominates one corner of the Old Town Square in Old Prague.

St Nicholas Church was completed in 1735, and replaced a parish church mentioned in records dating back to 1273. Its construction was by the Jesuits, designed by Giovanni Domenico Orsi.

A Gothic parish church consecrated by Prague Bishop Tobiáš in 1283 stood at the site until 1743.  Construction lasted approximately one hundred years, and three generations of Baroque architects – father, son and son-in-law – worked on the church: Kryštof Dientzenhofer, Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer and Anselmo Lurago.

The Baroque organ has over 4,000 pipes up to six metres in length and was played by Mozart in 1787. His Mass in C was first performed in the Church of Saint Nicholas shortly after his visit. Jesuit Thomas Schwarz built the small and main organs as well as many others in Bohemia. Built in 1745-47, the main organ has over 4,000 pipes up to six metres in length.

St Nicholas Church hosts many excellent concerts.  I regrettably attended not one.

This would be an excellent venue for The Sixteen, performing music of the period, especially if using the original manuscripts held in The Lobkowicz Collection in The Lobkowicz Palace.

What’s the point of ordained ministry anyway?

July 24, 2012

Anglican Identities: A series of talks at St Nicolas

Anglican Identities: A series of talks at St Nicolas

What do we need Bishops for? Do we need them?

No one seemed to know, least of all the panel.

One panel member said people she knew who were friends, had changed when they became Bishops.

Another said they become spineless.

The United Reform Church has an entirely different system. No Bishops. A church calls its minister. He or she, applies for the job, if the church like he or she, they are called to take up the post. Moderators act to resolve any problems that may arise between church and clergy. They are not in charge of the church, nor senior to the minister.

At the time of the Reformation, there were no Bishops, the Bible was seen to be the authority. Under James I, Bishops were brought back in.

Even within churches there is a hierarchy.

Church of England, did, maybe still does, use psychometric tests to determine suitability of clergy.

Do we need clergy? What is their role? Can we do without them?

Clergy claim their job is a calling. Clergy claim there’s is a stressful job.

40% of clergy in the Church of England are due to retire in the next ten years. This will cause a crisis in the church.

Following the discussion I asked the Minister of Guildford URC why the Worship of Mammon? He denied the large banner poster on entry to the church. He was adamant not true, he would not permit. I showed him a photo.

I then gave him two books for his church:

Discussion held at St Nicolas Church in Guildford: Father Andrew (St Nicolas), Rev Philip Jones (Guildford United Reformed Church), Canon Barbara Messham (All Saints Church).

Anglican Identities: A series of talks at St Nicolas during July.

Once again failure to post information on the main noticeboard (the only one most people see) facing the High Street and the bridge over the River Wey. No mention on website either!

Hymns Ancient and Modern

June 14, 2011

The Victorians brought us sewers and railways. They also brought us Hymns Ancient and Modern.

It was not uncommon for each Victorian clergyman to have his own hymn book.

Two clergymen who met on a train decided it would be a good idea to publish a hymn book. They invited contributions. The result was Hymns Ancient and Modern.

Now celebrating 150 years, Hymns Ancient and Modern has stood the test of time. We find football anthems, spirituals and soul versions.

A pleasant contrast to the sacharine songs with their awful lyrics that are sung in too many churches.

Something Understood – Hymns

Ancient Christian site opens in United Arab Emirates

December 29, 2010

The only known pre-Islamic Christian site at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, located at Sir Bani Yas Island, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, has opened to tourists for the first time.

A Christian church is the latest attraction in this conservative Muslim nation. Christian monasteries have already been discovered in nearby Saudi Arabia, though rarely publicised due to reluctance to embrace pre-Islamic religions in the region.

An absolute must read Jesus Wars which looks into the first 500 years of Chrisianity.

The Grand Inquisitor

April 1, 2010

medieval torture

medieval torture

‘What a pity that so hard on the heals of Christ come the Christians.’ — Annie Dillard

It is the height of the Inquisition in sixteenth-century Seville. Into this city wanders Jesus in disguise. Heretics are being burnt daily at the stake. The Grand Inquisitor, a 90-year-old cardinal, tall and erect, with a withered face and sunken eyes, spots Jesus and recognizing who He is, has Him thrown into prison.

The old cardinal visits Jesus in his cell. He accuses him of wasting His opportunities, and that the Church has been making up for lost ground ever since. During the Temptation in the desert, Jesus turned down miracle, mystery and authority. He made the mistake of not taking what the Devil had on offer. He should have followed Satan’s advice and performed miracles on demand, in order that he increased His fame and popularity with the people. He should have taken up the offer of authority and power. He forsook the power to command people to obey. He gave them free will and the ability to think for themselves.

Fortunately the Church had recognized the error of His ways. For this reason the Grand Inquisitor would have to order the execution of Jesus a second time lest he would hinder the good work of the Church.

The Grand Inquisitor is taken from the novel The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. It is discussed by Philip Yancey in The Jesus I Never Knew.

Tolstoy took the Sermon on The Mount too literally and could never meet its high expectations. Dostoevsky understood the meaning of grace.

John Milton in his sequel to Paradise Lost, placed the Temptation as the centerpiece, not as we see today the Crucification.

Forty days, forty nights in the desert. What the Devil offered was not intrinsically evil. Feed people, perform a few miracles, show that you are who you say you are by jumping off a high place. But, he wanted a soul in return.

Jesus went at His own pace. He did not try to force anyone. People had free will, it was their choice whether they followed Him or not, and he warned those who chose to that it would be a rocky path to follow.

You can force people to do your bidding at the end of an AK-47, put them on the rack, burn them at the stake, but you cannot force them to believe.

A point Noam Chomsky makes in Necessary Illusions.

The Church has for far too long been more concerned with power and controlling society. And of late covering up child sex abuse scandals.

We no longer burn people at the stake, but Alpha, with its half truths and cult of its founder, has become a cancerous growth within many churches of many denominations. Bums on seats being more important than Truth.

A tale for contemplation over the Easter weeekend.

For Sian who asked.


The Brothers Karamazov

The Jesus I never Knew

The Witch of Portobello

No mosteiro de Melk

Where does religion come from?

What is wrong with the church?

What is wrong with the church?

October 26, 2009

‘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

‘God loves all her children, even her straight ones.’ — protester in DC

‘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

Listening to the discussion that has been festering for years now in the Anglican Church on homosexuality and women priests, especially that which I have heard in the last few days, I am taken back to the Middle Ages: arcane theological discussions on how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, the burning of heretics at the stake.

What is sorely lacking in the church today is grace.

In What’s So Amazing About Grace, Philip Yancey discuses a prostitute who to earn the money for her drug habit hired out her two-year-old daughter to men desiring kinky sex. She made more money from her daughter for an hour than she could make in a night, even on a good night. You cannot sink much lower than that in depravity. To try and help her she was asked had she ever thought of turning to the church for help. Her reaction was one of disbelief, were she to turn to the church they would make her feel even worse about herself than she already did as she would not be made welcome.

She was right, she would not have been made welcome.

In The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho, Athena who is searching for spiritual enlightenment is turned away from a part of the church service because she had recently been divorced by her estranged husband. What is more important, compliance with the rules of the Catholic Church than welcoming those in search of Truth before God?

In What’s So Amazing About Grace, Philip Yancey describes growing up in the Deep South where Blacks were barred from the White-only churches. Now those same churches are thriving with vibrant Black congregations, the difference being all are welcome no matter what the colour of their skin.

At the weekend I heard on the radio a priest complaining about the relaxed attitude of the church, allowing sinners through its doors who had been divorced and dismissing this as political correctness. Clearly he had not come upon grace, let alone been touched by it. We all make mistakes. People marry the wrong person. Are they to spend the rest of their lives in purgatory or are they to be given a second chance? Who was this priest in any case to sit in judgment, is that not reserved for a a higher authority?

Was Jesus not a shepherd? Did he not speak of one lost sheep and when found that one lost sheep was valued more than all the other sheep?

Why the fuss about females in the Church? Are half the human race to be excluded? Or more than half if we exclude gays too?

God is not male or female, God is. God is unknowable. It is only the arrogance of a male dominated society that gives God a male appearance and deigns to call God Him.

Jesus surrounded himself with women. Mary Magdalene was one of his key disciples. It was the women who remained by his side when he was deserted by the cowardly men.

I have come across homosexuals who are tearing themselves to pieces because they feel excluded from a church that means so much to them. What self-appointed right has a handful of bigots to exclude them?

I meet Christians, that is followers of the Church not of Christ, who tell me how they go on Christian holidays, attend Christian conventions. Is this meant to impress me, if yes, then it falls flat on its face. If I go on holiday, or attend meetings, it is, I hope, to meet interesting people, to expand my horizons, not to reinforce my existing prejudices. They listen to Christian music. I listen to good music.

I have heard speakers in church brag of how they preyed on vulnerable students far from home. They were praised. I hung my head in shame. Others told of success in converting Muslims. Then there is the appalling Alpha Course, bums on seats. Has the Church descended to the competition ideology of a Wal-Mart?

The Catholic Church in the guise of the Pope has been quick to offer a lifeline to those Anglicans who lack grace but believe in dogma (they call it tradition). They will be offered an enclave within the Catholic Church, they do not even have to comply with the rules. Amazing how easily dogma can be set aside when it suits. Smacks of hypocrisy to me.

Ritual is important because it gives a sense of meaning, but ritual should never be confused with dogma.

Did Jesus not say: Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Did Jesus himself not stick two fingers up to the church authorities of the day? Was it not he who walked into the Temple and kicked over the tables of the money changers and drove them out with a knotted rope?

Jesus excluded no one: women, children, prostitutes, tax collectors, criminals were all welcome at his side, no one was turned away.

Is the church any different today than seven hundred years ago when in the south of France the Cathars were burnt at the stake for offering a more enlightened Christianity that did not require the intervention of priests? The first Crusades were not against Muslims in the Holy Land, they were against fellow Christians in the south of France.

One of the most moving sermons I heard was from Archbishop Desmond Tutu on a trip to London, and I am very grateful that he kindly gave me a copy. In that sermon everyone was welcome, Blacks and Whites, Gays and Straights.

Would Jesus not look at the Church today and say: It has been a very long time since they allowed me in there.

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