What was that?
We popped home yesterday to see in the New Year with my parents. It was a very pleasant affair. I'm not a big fan of New Year's Eve in general, so to spend a relatively quiet night in with my wife and with my parents was all very restful and civilised.
....How blest are those who hunger and thirst to see right prevail....
New Year isn't a big religious festival, and it's not Sunday today either, no matter how much may feel like one, so we didn't have a repeat of the religious conversations that dogged the dinner table the last time I was at home.
I think it was 'Blessed are the cheesemakers'.
God is never very far away though, so they tell us, and this never seems more true than in my parent's house. I was innocently sat at the computer in my dad's study looking up the various DVD editions of "Das Boot", when a note stuck onto the wall caught my eye. It was the programme for the local Christian Discussion Group (run by "Father" Gary, of course).
Here are some of the topics up for discussion over the next few weeks:
-> "The Rosary and the Rhythm of Prayer"
-> "Icons and Visual Images in Prayer"
-> "Heresy, Creeds and Councils"
-> "Exploring Mary, Mother of God"
-> "Exploring Church: I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" (capitalisation and punctuation all as written. I'd always thought that the "catholic" in this context was specifically without the capital letter)
Ahh, what's so special about the cheesemakers?
Bear in mind that this is an Anglican church. Would anyone care to hazard a guess what on earth they're doing talking about rosaries, icons, the Virgin Mary and the like? Ah wait a minute....don't tell me.... this is "High Anglicanism" again, isn't it? You know, where your bog standard Anglican vicar goes around his rural parish calling himself "Father" and where they pick and choose the shape of their religion to suit themselves and their lucky dip beliefs. Like incense and confession but hate the idea of the pope? Hate the ordination of women but hold out the hope that one day you might find someone stupid enough to actually marry you? High Anglicanism could be for you! Apply today. Generous dog-collar allowances provided.
Not only does my dad have a rosary (in a little box helpfully labelled "My Rosary"), but according to the note on the wall, he also appears to be leading some of these sessions: "Realms of Glory", "Elijah - Man of God", "Something Sacred to Share" and "Come Lord Jesus".
Sounds good, no?
Well, obviously, this is not meant to be taken literally. It refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.
The irony of us all sitting together around the telly and watching "The Life of Brian" last night is not lost on me.
My mum has much more sensible hobbies: according to the minutes of their last meeting, the local art group still has £10 in the tea kitty, although they still need pictures of seascapes bringing in for the next session, and a couple of volunteer models would also be nice for the portrait session.
It might be good fun and all, but does drawing save your immortal soul though? Eh? Tell me that.
One of the bonuses of spending Christmas somewhere else this year was that we had all of the presents from my family still to open. Over recent years, I'm afraid I've taken to handing out a list. I know it takes something of the romance away, but to be honest, the giant plastic budweiser bottle money box was the final straw. As a result, I largely got things that I asked for. My younger brother and his wife however saw fit to give us a plastercast plaque with the following legend:
"SI . HOC . LEGERE . SCIS . NIMIVM . ERVDITIONIS . HABES"
As it happens, I can read that, and I read it to be a swipe at us because they think we're too clever half. Well, glorify in your ignorance if you want, and a happy 2008 to you too.
My mum and dad got me a magic kit, which I much prefer, to be honest.
Oh, and I have no objection to Jools Holland's annual New Year's Eve Hootenanny per se, but I can't help but think that it would be much better if he didn't insist on inviting and then talking to the same old people year after year after year.... Roland Rivron? Seriously? The programme also helped me realise, once and for all, that the Kaiser Chiefs are absolutely shit. Ricky Wilson was completely pie-eyed for one thing, but performing next to Madness just shows them up for the no-marks they really are. Seasick Steve was the best thing on the show by miles.
4 hours ago