Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Oddities 2) Winnie the Pooh

So many of my old newspaper cuttings are dated and in a way this one is, because it was written about the church denominational scene in the 1970's. Christopher Idle, one of the Church of England's prolific hymn writers at that time examined: The Theology of Winnie the Pooh.  

I see that a new Winnie the Pooh story collection is to be released shortly to celebrate the bear's 95th. anniversary so why not mention this cutting. I realize that for some readers these book characters may be hazy in memories at best.  But I chuckled as I read this. 

Idle explained that each of A.A. Milne's famous characters had denominational identities. He had no doubts that Rabbit is a Baptist.  Unlike the Pentecostal Tigger, Rabbit neither bounces people into the river nor speaks strange tongues -' Worraworraworraworraworra'.  Nor does Rabbit mother everyone like Catholic Kanga with her liturgically repetitive offspring Roo.  

Rabbit is not so high-flown as Owl, but earthed in the world. He does not need such learned language as his Reformed and Presbyterian friend.   Nor is he so easily excited with Methodist Piglet's enthusiasm.  While serious in an 18th century way, Rabbit cannot retain the gloominess of Eeyore, who know no denominational label but is found in all of them.  Above all he is is not Winnie the Pooh. No-one ever accused Rabbit of having Very Little Brain. Rabbit does not wander through the Forest aimlessly, vaguely compiling pointless statistics of his steadily diminishing assents (honey) nor does he walk around in circles pursuing non-existent quarries (Woozles) like his easy going Anglican friend.  

Don't forget this is an Anglican assessment of the characters. More strikingly he also sees the positive signs that Rabbit is a committed Baptist!....see next. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Oddities 1 - A note to the preacher

When I left for the US in 2000 I left bundles of papers in the UK to be sorted later.  Only now am I struggling through these masses of old newspaper cuttings and personal papers. I am uncovering oddities.  For example, a note passed onto me after a service when I was minister at St. Andrew's Street Baptist Church.

Please, please, PLEASE!

1. Can we have some more 'proper' hymns and not just the statutory two at morning service - usually chosen from the same half dozen.

2, Can we give Paul a rest for a while and get back to Jesus.

3. Have some more of Michael's humour in sermons - which differentiates them from long years of worthy (but dull) dissertations and drives home the points with unerring accuracy!

Why did I keep this?  I think it was part of my 'listening to my listeners' process which blossomed into some of my writing as a preacher.  Not always comfortable (far from it) and always to be balanced by others, yet vital.  

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

An Accident 4) Mental Re-construction

Hopefully this is my last accident posting as we nudge closer to a replacement car.  But I must relate the session Carol and I had with a retired police Inspector, who belongs to our church.  He called and offered to give us both a post-accident talk in order to help us face driving again.  From his long experience of dealing with people involved in accidents he has devised a way of providing a kind of mental reconstruction.  Actually, he mentioned that he had offered to help others but few had wanted help.

Well, we said 'Yes please'.  He arrived with a large notepad and wide felt-tip pen.  He began drawing road plans, including the crossroads where the van had smashed into us.  Painstakingly he began to point out the hazards in each scenario, emphasizing the need to 'cover the horn' , ever ready to use it as a warning, as well as braking to notify the driver behind.  The high levels of anticipation required as you drive everywhere. As he tore off each sheet to draw yet another possibility he kept reinforcing the danger of assumptions that creep in over the years.   Especially assumptions that there is no danger round the next corner.

It took me back to my driving lessons (also with a retired police chief) with the deliberate anticipation of the possible hazards in different situations.  Was it helpful?  Most definitely.  As I reflect on the moments before our crash I realize that having enjoyed a coffee at the Emmaus charity store, I was too relaxed driving along the hedge-lined road.  Yes, I had low levels of anticipation as I approached that cross-roads.

So going back to basics is to be recommended. I am a chastened driver.  

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

An Accident 3) 18 days later

At last, 18 days later, I have heard that my car is definitely a write-off and I have been allotted a sum towards a replacement car.  The frustration of dealing with the insurers is nearing an end. My neighbour told me last week that I am far too nice and kind to be dealing with the hard realities of my accident!  He told me when an organization is obstructive: "A red mist descends and in rage I tear into them, disturbing their tea break.  Perhaps they thought they could fob me off one more anger (and imagine the language) rips into their organization and its incompetence and uselessness.  That's the way to get noticed. Michael, I think you probably don't have a nasty bone in your body,' he said, 'so you really are out of step with what it takes in today's world.'  

It makes you wonder about all the anger and assertiveness that does seem so often to be the way the world works! Perhaps I have been out of step.  No red mist moments.  But, after all I have just been preaching the Beatitudes!   Anyway, the immediate aftermath of the accident is over. A friend has loaned us a car while we try to organize a replacement and we remain grateful.

Actually, we are especially grateful because today marks our 53rd. Wedding Anniversary. Still together!