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From The Rectory – September

Of all the myriad of applications, or apps, that are now available for Smartphones, there are some that are truly pointless.

“Celebrity Heights” enables the user to see how tall famous individuals such as Barack Obama, Tom Cruise or Madonna are, although why you might wish to know that is a mystery.

“Fan Cooler” shows a video of a spinning fan. The angry messages from those who have bought the app, and were then surprised and disappointed to discover that it doesn’t actually produce a moving breeze, is somewhat disturbing.  read more

Library News – September

How would you link hermit monks in the Egyptian desert 1500 years ago with Aslan, the Lion of Narnia? Well for a start they’re both Christian things, They’re rather different, perhaps, but both speak of the ways we all experience God. Closer to home, they are both subjects of books by Rowan Williams, and we have both of them in our Library, “Silence and Honey Cakes; the wisdom of the desert.” and “The Lion’s World; a journey into the heart of Narnia.”

I am very taken by Rowan Williams’ books; we have half a dozen different ones in the Library. He has spent much of his life as an academic, as well as being Archbishop, and he knows how to teach. He knows how to draw you into a book, and how to reveal to you new ways of looking at his subject. You get fascinated with what he is showing you, and then suddenly you find you’re deep into theology you never knew you could cope with. But don’t worry. He takes you through on such an interesting journey that you follow safely. read more

From the Rectory – August

If you ever take a cursory glance at the collected musical works of writer and composer Lionel Bart, you’d be forgiven for thinking that he had more than a passing fondness for the exclamation mark. Having had moderate success with both Lock Up Your Daughters in 1959, and then Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’be later the same year, the runaway popularity of his most famous work Oliver! just twelve months later encouraged Bart to write the World War Two themed Blitz! Despite a run of more than a year, Blitz! didn’t achieve the global popularity that Oliver! had. Bart put this down to its subject matter resonating more clearly for UK audiences, although playwright Noel Coward described it as ‘twice as loud and twice as long as the real thing’’. read more

From the Rectory – July

For church junkies who enjoy nothing more than travelling around the country and visiting places of worship – and there are some – the lack of imagination when it comes to the naming of Anglican Churches must be quite striking. St Mary is far and away the most frequently used. More than 2300 churches in the UK are dedicated to her, with the catch all ‘All Saints’ the next most popular, followed by St Peter, St Michael & St Andrew.

This makes it even more noticeable when a church is dedicated to a Saint that is unique to one particular place. read more

Library News – July

People are very generous to our Church Library. They leave boxes and bags full of books in the tower space, or they bring me books they hope I can use. We are given surprising and wonderful books. I don’t always catch up with organising them, though.

Just lately a combination of me being not very mobile, some generous gifts of books, and the tower space being blocked off for that splendid Flower Festival left the Library in more than usual disarray. I’ve just been rearranging it.

I thought at first I could just put the extra books into the same shelves as before, but no. I found that books had been put back all wrong, so there was a muddle to sort out. Then I saw that “Bible Study” had spilled over into “The Christian Life”, and the “Prayer and Meditation” section had taken over “How to Look at a Church” and that some books were too tall for their shelf and had been put somewhere random. I sat there and despaired. read more

From The Rectory – June

The logo of the actors union Equity features a pair of masks, one smiling and one frowning. This traditional symbol has long been associated with drama and represents the ancient Greek Muses of Thalia and Melpomene, the muses of comedy and tragedy.

Masks were first used to enable actors, who were originally all men, to play a variety of male and female characters and differentiate between them with a mask for each. Not a disguise as such, but a way of hiding the actor’s own features, and presenting an alternative face to the world. read more

Library News – June

If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshipped.” wrote Evelyn Underhill.

I picked up the February newsletter of the St. Edmundsbury Cathedral Library the other day, and found this splendid article by James Knowles.

“Although Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941) wrote poetry and novels, she is best remembered for her prolific writings on spirituality and mysticism. Spirituality, contemplative prayer, and mysticism have always been part or Roman Catholic personal devotion, but until the early 20th century, the Church of England and other Protestant traditions had viewed them with suspicion. Through her writings, she was instrumental in changing this. As well as being an author, she was much in demand as a retreat conductor, and in promoting the retreat movement, which is now part of mainstream Anglicanism. She was the first woman to be invited to be a member of the theological faculty of Oxford University. read more

From the Rectory – May

The Shepherd Gate clock that is mounted on the wall outside the gate of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich is unusual in one key respect. Designed to display Greenwich Mean Time to the public the clock, that was constructed and installed in 1852, has a 24 hour analog dial rather than the usual 12. Originally the clock indicated astronomical time, where the counting of the hours starts each day at noon. In the 20th century this was changed to the more familiar system of the counting of the hours beginning at midnight. read more

Library News – May

Having a cataract operation on one eye has made me see very badly. My eyes are out of balance, my glasses don’t work, everything is out of focus with or without them. It’s horribly frustrating. I wait with longing for the optician to give me new glasses to see properly again.

There’s often an echo between physical things and spiritual things. What would it be like, I wondered, to see so badly with my spiritual sight? To see only through a fog the way that God has laid out for me? To see Jesus all out of focus, so I can’t recognise Him? Where would I find a spiritual optician who could give me a way to see Jesus clearly? read more

From the Rectory – April

The seventeenth century dutch artist Johnannes Vermeer was a slow but careful painter, often using expensive materials to produce his pictures which mostly depicted domestic scenes of middle class life.

Although he remained largely ignored for more than 200 years after his death, by the nineteenth century, his reputation began to grow and he is now considered a significant figure among the painters of the Dutch Golden Age.

Among his most popular paintings is ‘The Guitar Player’. It depicts a young girl – probably one of Vermeer’s daughters – wearing a full green dress, yellow fur trimmed shawl, and clasping a finely made guitar. read more