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From the Rectory – August

French military leader and statesman Charles de Gaulle was a man with a good grasp of attempting the impossible. While serving as President of France he asked the presumably rhetorical question ‘How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?’ Understandably, he didn’t attempt an answer.

De Gaulle understood the impossible. Others less so.

William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin was a hugely successful mathematical physicist, engineer and inventor. Among other things he was knighted for his work on a transatlantic telegraph cable, he determined the lower limit of absolute temperature, and had had the scale of temperature measurements named in his honour. He wasn’t always right though. In 1895 he declared that ‘heavier than air flying machines are impossible. It was just eight years later that he was shown to be completely and utterly wrong. read more

Library News – August

All through July we did Romans. Simon and Sally have expounded St. Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, week by week, bit by bit, until we ought all to know the text and understand Paul’s message. Shouldn’t we?

Well, you can’t cover the letter to the Romans in four sermons, and Romans is only one of Paul’s letters. So I looked in the Library to see if we had any books that would help us carry on listening to what Paul had to say.

It’s important to listen to him. His letters are the earliest accounts we have of Christian experience and Christian thinking, earlier than the Gospels by about twenty years. In them he thinks about and explains the transformation God brought about through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. His thoughts have been the foundation of our Church’s doctrine and practice ever since. read more

From the Rectory – July

Several years ago, the company that make Swan Vesta matches encouraged their employees to make suggestions that might improve their business. History doesn’t record how many different ideas they were presented with, or how truly dreadful the majority might have been. One however, ended up with a change to the business that had a significant financial impact.

Every box of Swan Vesta matches had a strip of sandpaper stuck to both sides of the box for the matches to be struck on. The ingenious member of staff asked why two were necessary – surely one would be enough. read more

Library News – July

Greetings to all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints.” says St. Paul, beginning his letter to the Romans. “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi” begins another. For Paul it was not just the great, grand figures of the church who were saints. It was every follower of Jesus, every church member. We too are saints.

The tradition of the Church, however, has been to single out special people to call saints. People whose lives showed a special devotion to God in how they lived, or in what they did, or what they wrote. People to take as rôle models, to inspire us to live in the same way. read more

From the Rectory – June

The local elections in May 2017 had many fascinating moments. As neighbourhood issues came to the forefront, the partisan nature of national politics was not as pronounced. Tribal loyalties featured less heavily as is inevitably the case in a nationwide General Election.

Despite the lower turnout and relative lack of engagement, the contests were still keenly fought, and in some places extraordinarily close run.

Nowhere was this more the case than in the South Blyth ward in Northumberland. After two recounts, the number of votes stood equal, so the candidates drew straws to decide who would take the seat. For a result of an election to come to quite literally to the luck of the draw was an extraordinary piece of political theatre. read more

Library News – June

I’ve spent almost all the last six weeks being political. It’s not really a choice for me. I’ve been doing elections at one level or another for the past 40 years and I can’t seem to stop. I thought I’d retired, could sit back and be a benevolent elder in the local Party, but then came this General Election, and there I was, back in the thick of it, coloured rosette flying, organising our candidate, designing leaflets, pushing stuff through letterboxes, accosting perfect strangers, the lot. read more

From the Rectory – May

At the end of the 1970’s, in the days before multi-channel television, children’s programming was limited to two hours on a weekday evening. Alongside controversial school drama Grange Hill, adventurous space dwellers The Clangers, and magazine show Blue Peter, was Vision On. Aimed especially at children with hearing impairment, Vision On featured an assortment of segments, one of which was The Gallery. This section consisted of artwork sent in by viewers which covered every subject imaginable, and ended with one of the presenters apologising that they couldn’t return the pictures, but there was a prize for everyone whose art had been shown. read more

Library News – May

 The Lent course this year was built around the great Christian teacher C. S. Lewis, using scenes from his Narnia books for children, and scenes from “Shadowlands”, the film about Lewis’ love, marriage and widowhood. It was a thoughtful and nourishing Lent course, so I went to the Library to see what we had of C. S. Lewis and his writings.
Lewis lived from 1898 to 1963. I read him a lot when I was a student, when he was still alive and writing, and I am glad to see him still so influential, and read so much today. But I shouldn’t be surprised. He has a marvellous way of showing us how we experience God, and how God brings us to him and uses us for his purpose. He is very clear-eyed about our self-deceptions, and deals ruthlessly with woolly thinking about Christian life and thought. His writings and his insights are as vivid now as they were when he first wrote them.
We have several of Lewis’ books in the Library. We have all his children’s books, the “Chronicles of Narnia”, from “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” to “The Last Battle”. We have “Mere Christianity”, his classic introduction to the fundamental teachings of Christianity. We have two books that I find very helpful at times of loss and grief, “The Problem of Pain” and “A Grief Observed”. He wrote that last one after his wife died, and I often give it to friends who have lost their partner, to help them live through their own grief. We have “The Screwtape Letters”, very sharp on temptation and how to handle it, and “The Four Loves”.
I have also put into the Library some books about Lewis and his work. Rowan Williams wrote “The Lion’s World” about the Narnia books. Not at all what you expect – I recommend it! “Shadowlands” in book form by Brian Sibley gives you the story behind “A Grief Observed”. And I have put there the book of our Lent Course “Not a Tame Lion” by Hilary Brand.
So if you’ve never met any C. S. Lewis books, now’s the time to begin! And if you know him already, try some more…
Rosemary Smith read more

From the Rectory – April

Forty minutes for a soft boiled egg sounds like overkill. And if it’s chickens you keep in your garden, that would undoubtedly be the case. If however you’re an ostrich farmer, forty minutes seems just about right.

Decorating eggs is a practice with a long history. Sumerians and Egyptians who lived more than five thousand years ago placed embellished eggs in graves, and in parts of Africa engraved ostrich eggs that had been used as water carriers have been found which date from some 60,000 years ago. read more

Library News – April

From the Library

I’ve been re-doing the children’s’ books in the Library, and I’ve just added some new Bibles and some Bible stories that I hope children and young people will find interesting to read. Have a look and see…

There are some very good versions of the Bible nowadays for children and young people. After the last Family Service, an enthusiastic 7 year old asked if he could take one home, he’d enjoyed reading it so much. Of course he could. That’s what the Library is for. read more