Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali and Egypt

Marriage or Matrimony?

Hilary and I are back from a weekend in Geneva, where I met grandson Tobias for the first time, we were there for grand-daughter Maeva’s baptism; Tobias and his older siblings, with mum Jessica, have come back with us for a few days. Yesterday was anniversary day (thanks Adrian for the reminder), 42 years of Christian marriage, time to reflect on the world we will bequeath to what will soon be 14 grand-children, God willing.

The word marriage is changing its meaning, by act of Parliament. Is it now necessary to preface the word with ‘Christian’ to make it mean what it has up to now, meant? Perhaps it will be better just to use the old word ‘matrimony’ from now on – ‘making a mother of a maid.’

“Holy matrimony is given….” to begin the service in church, instead of just “Marriage is given….”. At least the meaning of the word matrimony can hardly be changed.

My reading of Nevile Shute’s novels continues, in order of publication. Today, I come across a paragraph I highlighted long ago, in ‘LONELY ROAD’, a yarn I first came across when I was around 20 – it is about a World War One hero, who became rich building up a sailing boat business in Devon and who fell in love with a dancing girl from Leeds. The author needs to be forgiven for sometimes giving his hero thinly veiled racist comment, the book should  be read understanding the political background of the early 1930’s – when it was first published, Winston Churchill held much the same views. The last sentence of this paragraph is perceptive (page 206 of the Pan paperback edition….)
“I had been shocked by the revelation of the nature of the gun-running. I do not know that I was less shocked at the high ideals that lay behind it all, and at the spirit in which it had been carried out. For the root of it lay in a real patriotism and a love for England, distorted but sincere. And here may I say at once that I found no villainy about the thing. Merely an overwhelming vanity, that could not brook another view of what was beneficial for this country that we live in now.”

So with marriage, or matrimony. Many in the West now, count the nurture of children within the love of the two parents who conceived them, as of less importance than adult life choices, Prime Minister David Cameron among them, who drove through the same-sex marriage bill. Only a minority voted for him and his party in the last election. He calls himself a Christian…

So now, I must ‘brook another view of what is beneficial for this country…’ – or, turn my back on the democratic system of government forged here. Sadly, for all the children brought up within our western culture, who will not know the ‘shalom’ for which God created them to enjoy, at least not in this life; they are of course already in a minority in some parts of Britain, and in most London boroughs….

Meanwhile in Egypt, many more hundreds killed yesterday by the military who have displaced a democratically elected government, they were after all demonstrating to uphold an election result.  The West may not have liked the election result, but now ‘….. international inaction amounts to acquiescence.  The bet the United States is taking is that the government of General Sisi will prevail.  That is looking like a risky one.’  So says today’s Guardian editorial.  It could have added… “The Muslim world has all the more reason to write off the bankrupt West.”

But for today, the immediate task of entertaining grandchildren must take priority.


Neville Shute re-reading….

What is patriotism?  Nevile Shute describes Peter Moran’s answer to the question, in  “SO DISDAINED”, first published in 1928. In the Pan paperback edition, page 162, Peter Moran says to Mary Lenden: “I’ve got this place, and my job here in Sussex and my friends. And you’ve got your shop and your home in Winchester. Little things – but what else would you call patriotism? Just being fond of the little things you’ve got at home, and that you don’t want to see changed. A house with a bit of garden that you can grow things in, and a dog or two, and all the little inconveniences and annoyances that you couldn’t really get on without. That’s your patriotism, and that’s all there’s in it. And that’s what Lenden hadn’t got.”
My last ‘blog’ had a view south from where we now live, to Ashdown Forest. A couple of hundred yards away is another long view to the north and west, past Chartwell, Winston Churchill’s home, to Leith Hill 40 miles away, where many Morden groups went for weekend camps. The point of the blog, and of the camps, was to emphasise that for a disciple of Jesus Messiah, patriotism is best expressed in relationship with Him and His Kingdom.
But to have roots in such a place of quiet beauty, with its history (our house name is Bounds Cottage, after Great Bounds, one-time nearby home of St Thomas More), and to be able to return to those roots, while still remembering that they “must not be mistaken from home” (C.S.Lewis), is a privilege indeed.

“Do you see yonder shining light?”

image“Then said Evangelist, If this be thy condition, why standest thou still? He answered, Because I know not whither to go. Then he gave him a parchment roll, and there was written within, Flee from the wrath to come. [Matt. 3.7]. The man therefore read it, and looking upon Evangelist very carefully, said, Whither must I fly? Then said Evangelist, pointing with his finger over a very wide field, Do you see yonder wicket-gate? [Matt. 7:13,14] The man said, No. Then said the other, Do you see yonder shining light? [Ps. 119:105; 2 Pet. 1:19] He said, I think I do. Then said Evangelist, Keep that light in your eye, and go up directly thereto: so shalt thou see the gate; at which, when thou knockest, it shall be told thee what thou shalt do.”  (John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.)

Two daughters have been staying with us, Claire and Rachel, the latter with her three children, dad Jason has been finishing off a Christian camp.  Reading from a children’s Pilgrims Progress has been part of the routine here each day.  One early morning recently, I took the picture above from a bedroom window where I like to sit; Crowborough Beacon, on Ashdown Forest is in the distance.  (The picture may need to be enlarged to see what I am talking about).  There must have been an expanse of glass, perhaps a big greenhouse, reflecting the rising sun back to me.  So the lines of John Bunyan came to mind.

The last camp Hilary and I organised for youngsters from Morden was a couple of years ago, we stayed at the Zion Centre on Ashdown Forest, our camp title was “children of Zion”.  Just one visit to Morden this week for a Park Trust meeting, but I tied in a few visits that should have been made before we left, and a youth club member shouted (friendly?) abuse at me as I drove past.  One of my new tasks is to encourage Christian youth workers in Merton and Sutton Boroughs in understanding their vocation In our fast-changing world.  How best to do that – in the context of the question at the end of my previous blog comment?