• A storm in a communion chalice?


    Although this organ generally “does not do God” to borrow a phrase from a certain Mr A Campbell, the latest set of complaints from the hypersensitive politically correct “We have the right NOT to be offended!” brigade reached new heights (Should that be “plumbed new depths” – Ed.) when these poor sensitive flowers flocked to the entity known as “the Twittersphere” in high dudgeon to protest at a cleric in the Church of England using this entity to ask Christians to pray for that well known unbeliever in God, Professor Richard Dawkins who has had a stroke and is recovering.
    Such luminaries as Ms Nikki Sinclaire, former MEP and former UKIP member stated thus: “It is disrespectful to [Professor] Dawkins……. You should respect others beliefs or none [beliefs]”
    Ms Sinclaire then questioned whether the cleric was being: “Sarcastic or ignorant?”
    At this point, Your Editor feels constrained to answer the former “kipper” – to put her out of her ignorance. Was the cleric being sarcastic? No. Was the cleric being ignorant? No, quite the opposite in fact.
    In St. Paul’s First Letters to the Thessalonians, he states “pray constantly” [17] and “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus for you.” [18] and to underline it, “Do not quench the Spirit,” [19]
    So it should be fairly obvious – even to Ms Sinclaire – that the C of E cleric was merely doing what was expected of him.
    But of course, THAT is not the point!
    The point is that those such as this C of E cleric CAN ONLY put THEIR BELIEFS into practise and exercise THEIR RIGHTS only as far as it does not impinge even notionally on the rights of anybody and everybody else. Meanwhile of course any atheist or Muslim or member of any other faith or sect have COMPLETE FREEDOM to put THEIR BELIEFS into practise and exercise THEIR RIGHTS and that any Christian who would even think of demurring or taking issue with any statement – no matter how absurd or extreme – would be regarded as a bigot, a fascist and a xenophobe.
    And now to other critics of the cleric: The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/feb/14/church-of-england-defends-prayer-tweet-for-richard-dawkins-after-stroke) reports that Twitter users have accused the church [of England] of ‘trolling’ the famous atheist.
    At this point, your Editor would have concluded the article, but asks the Reader’s indulgence for a little while longer:
    Most British Gazette readers will be familiar with the modern internet meaning of the word “troll” but also aware of the traditional meaning, viz. A supernatural being in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore dwelling in [amongst other places] caves ….. and rarely helpful to people.
    Well, when this article was being written, the biblical passages were taken from a copy of the Bible that is a Revised Standard Version and was given to me as a Christmas present in 1963 from my parents. On a frontispiece it states “Presented to Peter Henry Rogers by Daddy and Mummy [I was 8 years old at the time] Date 25th December 1963. The text in bold was in my late mother’s handwriting and written in a blue biro.
    OK, so what you ask?
    Well, the Holy Bible has many pages, but as a boy this particular copy had twelve pages that grabbed my interest. They were at the back of the book and were not actually part of the bible itself. Four comprise a Time Chart of Bible History, two comprise illustrations or ancient relics and the remaining six are maps of the Middle East and Asia Minor during biblical times.
    I remember paying much attention to looking at these pages. As to the other pages, err well, not a lot!
    This book has not been regularly read (by me) ad has been used mainly as a reference source. However, something most interesting has come about, for in the text, certain passages and verses have been marked, in biro – the same blue biro as in the frontispiece. Now I can tell you than not only has this book being rarely read by it’s owner, it’s owner most certainly did not mark the passages. In fact, this is the one thing I do not do with any book I own. Mother clearly marked certain passages and they were marked for MY attention!
    Of course, being the son of a Methodist lay preacher one cannot escape without a certain knowledge of scripture and a basic grasp of what is in the Bible and where to find it; which of course meant that I knew to go to Paul’s letters. Well, in One Thessalonian 5, before we get to 17 – 19 we have marked for me “For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness [6] Mother does not leave it at that, she makes sure that I know that I am the intended recipient as she marks “But, since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” [9] Mother was clearly determined for me to get this particular message as she underlined the text (that has been put in bold) and to ram the point home marks up “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” [11]
    An amusing coincidence about the marked passages being about “sons of light” and not “of darkness” and then trolls traditionally associated with darkness.
    No doubt, by publishing this article we will have given further offence to such as Ms Sinclaire!
    As to Professor Dawkins, the British Gazette was sorry to hear of his stroke and wishes him a full and speedy recovery. Some readers may even pray for him! I know Mother would!
    Presumably officers from Devon and Cornwall Police are on their way!

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